I spend a ridiculous amount of time watching college and NFL football, but as I watched yesterday and looked up at the screen to see T.J. Yates playing quarterback for Houston, all I could think was: “Who?” Yates was called into action when Matt Leinart — who started the game because Matt Schaub is done for the year with an injury — broke his collarbone.
Yates went to North Carolina and has been working behind Schaub and Leinart this season, learning the Texans’ system. Now he’s the man in Houston. All signs point to Yates taking over the starting role down the stretch for a team that has endured a litany of injuries yet is still eyeing the playoffs.
Matt Schaub joined KILT in Houston to discuss what it was like to be on the sidelines Sunday in street clothes, what he thought when he realized Leinart was hurt, how the team can rally around T.J. Yates, why fans shouldn’t necessarily panic with Yates now the starter and to give an update on his injury and surgery.
How strange was it being on the sideline knowing you couldn’t get out there and help the team?:
“That was tough. It was tough to do. It wasn’t any fun, but it was definitely good to still be involved in everything and be a part of helping the guys out on the sideline and helping the coaches where I could.”
What was it like to see Matt Leinart go down and realize his season was over before he’d even played a half of football?:
“That was a tough deal. We’re all so close. Matt and I have developed a great relationship over the last two years, being together. I was excited for his opportunity … because he’s been working so hard on it. I was standing right there on basically the yard line where he got hit … and I could tell he fell awkwardly on it and got driven into the ground. The way he got up, he was kind of holding his shoulder there and I could tell something wasn’t quite right. … He had had something like this before in his career. It was tough because he was playing well and making plays.”
How does the team rally around a guy like T.J. Yates knowing that things will have to be different given that he was a third-string quarterback?:
“T.J.’s been with us now for quite a while. He’s been in our meetings; he understands our system. Obviously, you don’t want to give him an incredible amount of new stuff. … At the same time, we have enough guys in this locker room that have played enough football and they’re solid players. We’ve got some talent on our team and they’re going to have to pick up their play. We’ve dealt with injuries now all season. It seems like a broken record, but that’s what we’ve done and there’s something special about this team. … We’ve got some tough opponents, formidable opponents, playoff-type teams, so we’re going to find out about our teams int he next few weeks.”
What can you tell fans about T.J. Yates to keep them off the ledge?:
“The one thing that I’ve observed, I’ve been in this type of offense now … all the way back into my college days. T.J., for being a rookie, he’s probably picked this offense up to the point where he can function in it well, faster than anyone I’ve seen, including myself, including a lot of players that I’ve been around. … That’s a big credit to him, because this is not an easy offense to pick up. … I, personally, have a ton of confidence that he’s going to go in there and play very well.”
You’re about to go under the knife. What have they told you about possible recovery time?:
“Nothing’s wrong with my arm, so I can still throw, I just can’t really drop back or step into anything. It’s actually a tough process, having a few guys on the team who have already gone through it in their career and talking to other people. It’s a lengthy rehab process, probably six to eight months. … All those things in the foot have to heal and you can’t really do anything on it until they heal up.”