Gary Kubiak's voice sounded defeated, deflated on the phone from Jacksonville, where his team had just defeated the Jaguars with a heavy heart. For the final 31 minutes of the 20-13 victory, the Texans' quarterback was rookie T.J. Yates, playing his first NFL game. The backup quarterback: tight end Owen Daniels. Nine years ago, Daniels had thrown six passes as a redshirt freshman at Wisconsin, but now this was the Houston backup plan if Yates, suddenly the most important player on the franchise, went down.
"Our first job was to settle T.J. down and get him going,'' Kubiak said, "and to make sure he was OK. We don't want Owen Daniels to have to play quarterback. So we had to manage things there.''
Imagine you're Kubiak. You've lost defensive cornerstone Mario Williams for the year, and offensive key Andre Johnson for six weeks, already this season; and in the last game, you lost your rock at quarterback, Matt Schaub, for the season. You get the ship steadied by spending two weeks (including your bye) getting Matt Leinart ready to play quarterback for his first meaningful snaps in four years. And 28 minutes into his first game, Leinart gets dumped on his throwing shoulder and, apparently, cracks his collarbone.