QBs Keenum,Yates on the bubble in Houston

HOUSTON -- Quarterbacks T.J. Yates or Case Keenum may soon be searching for a new NFL team.

The Houston Texans will likely enter training camp with only three quarterbacks, coach Bill O'Brien said Monday at NRG Stadium. If the Texans trim their roster from four to three QBs, either Yates or Keenum is expected to be the odd man out.

"Any time you have four ... I don't think it's easy to divide the reps," said O'Brien, following the seventh day of OTAs. "I think you can really get three guys reps in practice, which is basically what we've been doing. I know that's probably not the easiest thing for those guys. But three out of four have been getting reps."

Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, 31, is the Texans' expected Week 1 starter. He signed a two-year, $7.25 million deal this offseason, with $4 million guaranteed.

Rookie Tom Savage was a fourth-round pick and is being groomed by quarterbacks coach George Godsey and O'Brien to eventually take over the position.

The Texans, who are installing a complex new offense under O'Brien, haven't released an official depth chart. But based off last season and Fitzpatrick's experience, the current rotation is believed to be Fitzpatrick, Keenum, Yates and Savage. It could take the final three days of OTAs and a mandatory three-day camp next week for O'Brien to make a decision about which QB will be cut.

"We haven't really talked about the roster yet, as it relates to training camp," O'Brien said. "But everything we do will be in the best interest of the team."

The Texans carried only three quarterbacks in 2013. Matt Schaub was the starter, while Yates initially beat out Keenum for the backup position.

Yates briefly took over for Schaub last season but attempted only 22 passes and threw two interceptions with no touchdowns.

Keenum was the full-time midseason replacement for Schaub and went 0-8 as a starter and was clearly declining as the Texans' NFL-worst 2-14 season unfolded. The undrafted rookie (2012) and University of Houston star showed early promise, though, completing 54.2 percent of his overall passes for nine touchdowns and six interceptions.

"These quarterbacks, I have to ... everybody and the fans, especially: These guys have been working extremely hard," O'Brien said. "They've all had really good moments. They're very competitive. They've been in this building seven days a week, studying on their own, studying with myself, studying with George Godsey, mostly. ... It's a very competitive situation."

While the Texans decide which QBs to keep, rookie Jadeveon Clowney is on schedule with his position change to linebacker.

O'Brien said Clowney has been putting in extra work at his new position, while tutoring under first-year linebackers coach Mike Vrabel and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.

"He's really worked hard," O'Brien said. "That position has worked extremely hard, just like all the positions. He's a guy that's come in here and really put in extra time so far and he needs to keep doing it."

Clowney has devoted extra time in the training room to improve his flexibility, while doing more than what's officially required on the practice field.

"I think we're on the right track (with Clowney) and I think the whole linebacker position is on the right track," O'Brien said.

The Texans are teaching Clowney linebacker on a step-by-step basis, first familiarizing him with strongside responsibilities.

"That's what Romeo always does and I like that," O'Brien said. "There is a foundation there. Then you move from there to the next package, which was nickel and then then next package, which was dime."

As with all defenders, the Texans are preaching versatility for Clowney. Defensive end, three-technique and even nose tackle are on the agenda.

"Sometimes he moves around. ... You do it by package so he can in his own mind, along with all the players that do those things, they can segment in their mind and understand the importance of each package," O'Brien said.

Clowney signed a fully guaranteed four-year, $22.2 million contract last week. He plans to buy his mother a house but has otherwise been focused on learning a new playbook and adapting to a new team.

"I've been looking forward to it for my whole life," Clowney said. "Now I get paid (for) something I love to do: play football."

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