Texans fans will get their first chance to see former University of Houston star Case Keenum starting for the home team on Sunday night, as Houston (2-5) hosts the Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Reliant Stadium on NBC's Sunday Night Football. Keenum started his first NFL game two weeks ago and played well in a 17-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, but now he will make his home debut. Coach Gary Kubiak announced this week that Keenum would get the start over the now-healthy Matt Schaub. Sportstalk 790 host and former NFL player Greg Koch expects a much different reaction from the home crowd than Schaub received in recent weeks. "He's gonna be playing in front of a hometown crowd that's 100% behind him," says Koch.
Whether or not crowd support will be enough against the first-place Colts remains to be seen. Koch notes that Keenum's biggest concern on Sunday night might be the Indianapolis pass rush. "Will our offensive line protect him," he asks. "(Colts defensive end) Robert Mathis has 11 and a half sacks, leading the NFL in sacks, so it's going to be a very tough matchup." Another big issue could be the game plan of head coach Gary Kubiak. "This will be a chance for Case to really showcase what he does," says Koch. "I just hope that Gary Kubiak opens up the game plan to allow (Keenum) to do what he does best, get out of the pocket and hit guys downfield."
The Texans are facing other questions besides quarterback as they try to snap a five-game losing streak. This will be their first game without linebacker Brian Cushing, who was lost for the season in the Kansas City game with a knee injury. Veteran Joe Mays is stepping in for Cushing. In addition, running backs Arian Foster (hamstring) and Ben Tate (ribs) are both questionable for the game with injuries. But in the end, Sunday night will ultimately be all about Keenum and his ability to take over as the team's leader. Koch believes Keenum is ready, not just for this Sunday but for the long term. "I would have been happier if Gary Kubiak would have named him the permanent starter, so he's not looking over his shoulder on every mistake he makes."
Listen to In The Trenches with Greg Koch and N.D. Kalu weekdays from 9 am to 11 am on Sportstalk 790