Yesterday we asked if Ryan Mallett was pulling ahead of Brian Hoyer based on some random reports coming out of camp throughout the week. Well, the ongoing competition for the starting quarterback role for the Houston Texans has Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett still "even," according to head coach Bill O'Brien.
Last week, Hoyer had the start against the San Francisco 49ers. He only played in the first series, which ended with a nice pass to Cecil Shorts III, who broke away from defenders for a 59-yard touchdown. Mallett relieved him and went 10-11 with some well targeted passes before the ground game stalled out at the goal-line. Tom Savage also had an excellent showing and played the entire second-half. Savage is developing very well, but isn't quite at the stage to push Mallett or Hoyer out of position....yet.
This week, Mallett will get the start against the visiting Denver Broncos. It is uncertain how many plays he'll get, as the coaches have made it clear that they are looking for a variety of different scenarios before rotating players at any specific position. This is all part of the evaluation process during preseason, and it certainly applies when trying to decide on who will lead the offense this year.
Regardless of who is eventually selected to fill that starting role, O'Brien made it clear that the other players need to be ready for each game as well. Last year the Texans fielded four different quarterbacks.
"They both have the quality of leadership; they both have the quality of intelligence," head coach Bill O’Brien said Thursday. "So, it’s an even battle. And like I said, we’ll make a decision at some point. We’ll go with one guy to start the season. That other guy needs to be ready to play. We played four quarterbacks last year, so you just never know but we can only play one at a time. So, we’ll pick one eventually and go with that guy."
"If I had the body of knowledge right now, I would probably make the decision," O’Brien said. "I need to see a little bit more and I want to give Ryan a chance to start a game, and put some more thought into it. Then make a decision at some point whether it’s next week or the week after. At some point, we’ll make a decision."
"I think that Tom Savage has really developed pretty well," O'Brien said. "In the end, with guys like Tom that are in their second year and younger quarterbacks, you really never know until they get a chance in a game. So, like the more reps you can get them in the preseason, the more you can really understand what they’re all about. And we think that he’s really improved, so we will definitely play him a good amount of the time on Saturday."
I would expect that we'll hear a formal announcement early next week on who O'Brien will name as the starting quarterback. That's because the Week 3 game in the preseason most often has the full compliment of starters to play in what many refer to as a "dress rehearsal" for the regular season.
That being said, this game tomorrow against Denver will be the final opportunity for Hoyer and Mallett to make their case in a battle that has been neck-and-neck since it began earlier this year. I suspect the next episode of "Hard Knocks" will feature a lot more about this when it airs next Tuesday.
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