After losing four straight, the Houston Texans announced that third-string quarterback Case Keenum will start against the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs Sunday.
"We're struggling, and we're looking for a spark," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "I think he deserves an opportunity to go out there. It's a tough place to play. It's a tough place to get your first start and all that good stuff."
"But I'm not sending him out there by himself. I'm sending him out there with his football team, and the guys understand that," added Kubiak.
Kubiak earlier ruled out starter Matt Schaub, who is recovering from an ankle and foot injury.
Backup T.J. Yates went into the Week 6 game against the St. Louis Rams in the third quarter after Schaub was injured. However, he threw two interceptions against the Rams, and one was returned 98 yards for a touchdown.
Keenum began the season as the Texans' third-string quarterback and has been inactive for the first six games of the season.
"It is real," said Keenum, who spent six seasons at the University of Houston. "I have to pinch myself every now and then. It's exciting. It's what I want. It's what I've wanted for a long time."
Keenum had one redshirt year to start then tore his ACL early in his senior year and took a medical redshirt.
He returned the following year and led the Cougars to an undefeated regular season, which earned the team a top-10 ranking. Houston lost in the Conference USA championship game to Southern Miss.
"It was tough for a long time there," Keenum said. "My rehab process was pretty tough. It makes it all worth it. You don't know where you're going to be. You kind of have to work with the faith of knowing where you're going to be."
Keenum went undrafted in 2012 and spent last season on the Texans' practice squad after a record-setting career at Houston. Keenum holds NCAA records for career passing yards (19,217) and touchdown passes (155), and he is one of only two quarterbacks to have multiple 5,000-yard seasons.
Texas quarterback Matt Schaub disappointed with fans' reaction
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was disappointed when he found out that several fans at Reliant Stadium cheered his injury in the third quarter of Sunday's 38-13 loss to the St. Louis Rams.
"I'd hate to think anyone out there, regardless of who was injured -- on our team, on the visiting team, whatever the situation is -- that people would be like that and act that way," Schaub said. "There's no place for that in this game and there just really isn't."
During that game, Schaub explained that he did not notice the reaction of fans, saying he was focused on getting taped up and potentially return to the field. The quarterback said he felt lucky because the injury was not worse like initially expected.
"Just watching it on film, it could have been a lot worse," Schaub said. "I thought it was a lot worse based on how that happened and the popping that I heard. It must have come out and come back into place. I'm thankful it was not worse."
The Texans were losing by 25 points when Schaub left the game, having completed 15 of 21 passes for 186 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Backup T.J. Yates finished the 38-13 loss for the Texans (2-4).
Kubiak said Schaub's game status would be an end-of-the-week decision. Asked plainly if Schaub would start against the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs if healthy, Kubiak replied: "We'll have to see where we're at."