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Friday, 03 August 2007 18:16
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 HOUSTON (AP) -Matt Schaub doesn't deal in conjecture and supposition.
Thinking about how things would be if he were still in Atlanta is an exercise in futility.
Besides, the quarterback has got more important things to focus on.
The former backup behind Michael Vick in Atlanta has his first starting job in Houston for a team that has never had a winning record, but has had plenty of protection problems. Oh, and the Texans' first and only other starter, one-time No. 1 pick David Carr, was run out of town after five disappointing seasons.
``No what ifs,'' Schaub said. ``There's a reason for everything and I'm just glad to be here.''
It seems everyone in the franchise is happy Schaub is in Houston. The same likely can't be said for a Falcons organization being forced to rely on the underachieving Joey Harrington as Vick sits out to defend himself against federal dogfighting charges.
The 6-foot-5 Schaub backed up Vick for three seasons before being traded to the Texans in March - a little more than a month before the dogfighting scandal erupted.
He said he hasn't talked to Vick since then.
``It's an unfortunate situation,'' Schaub said. ``But it's not one I've been able to think about a whole lot because of what I've got going on here in Houston and my responsibilities for this team and what we are trying to achieve this season.''
The public relations savvy Texans are guarded with their comments regarding the drama in Atlanta. When asked if he feels like Houston was fortunate to nab Schaub before the problems with Vick began, Texans general manager Rick Smith seemed annoyed.
``That has nothing to do with it,'' he said. ``We had an issue here at Houston with the quarterback situation and we felt like he could solve that problem and that's why we did it.''
As for whether Schaub feels better about how he got the starting job in Houston as opposed to the situation he'd be in the middle of in Atlanta, he avoided giving a straight answer as nimbly as Vick evades tacklers.
``I think anything in this game, the parity of the competition is so close that you earn everything you get,'' he said. ``You just continue to work hard and improve your game on a week-to-week, year-to-year basis, and you'll get an opportunity and someone will take notice.''
Schaub said the transition from the relative obscurity of being a backup to becoming the face of a franchise hasn't been that difficult. Watching Vick in Atlanta for three years, he said helped in his move to the spotlight.
``I learned a lot about football and life in the NFL as a quarterback,'' Schaub said. ``I saw what he went through ... as a starting quarterback and one of the most visible athletes in the world and I took in all the information I could so when the opportunity presented itself to me that I would know how to go about it the right way.''
Things in Houston are scandal-free, but that doesn't mean the 26-year-old won't have several obstacles to overcome. The expectations are high for him to turn around an offense that averaged the fifth-fewest points in the NFL last season.
Schaub, who has performed well in preseason games, has just two starts in his three-year career and is 84-of-161 for 1,033 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions.
A third-round pick in 2004, he hasn't started a game since 2005 and threw just 27 passes last season.
Now he'll be working behind a line that allowed Carr to be sacked 249 times in five seasons. Houston hoped 2006 draft pick Charles Spencer could be the solution to the problems at left tackle, but he remains out after breaking his leg in Week 2 last season.
With Spencer out, the Texans will rely on 10-year veteran Ephraim Salaam or Jordan Black, who was signed from Kansas City in March, to protect Schaub's blind side.
``I would hope that we're going to be better at protecting the quarterback,'' Smith said. ``Are the problems fixed? Not to the degree that we wanted. We did not find a long-term solution at left tackle. We're still looking, but I think we'll able to manage.''
Schaub is unfazed by the less-than-glowing endorsement for his line. He said the amount of times Carr was sacked while in Houston did not concern him when he was traded to the Texans.
``No it wasn't, because I knew there were injuries and there was a lot that went into that,'' he said. ``It's a team thing and the offense as a whole has to get better at that. We've been working on correcting that and guys have been healthy and we're going to do that as a unit.''
The Texans also did little to address their need for a legitimate receiving threat to play opposite Pro Bowler Andre Johnson. Coach Gary Kubiak likes Kevin Walter, but the fifth-year player has cracked 200 yards receiving only once in his career.
Houston added Keenan McCardell just before camp, but the 37-year-old has already missed practice time with a hamstring problem.
``We have got guys that can make plays on this team,'' Schaub said. ``They are just young and haven't gotten the experience or amount of opportunities that a guy like Andre Johnson has gotten.''
Schaub has gotten rave reviews for the way he has taken over the team and asserted himself as a leader, a skill Carr was criticized for lacking. Coaches and players alike talk about Schaub's presence in the huddle and his innate ability to bring the team together.
``I just like the way he operates in there,'' Kubiak said. ``I think his teammates are learning to trust him and they definitely believe in him - just watch them operate around him.''
Johnson, who has been with the Texans since 2002, is excited about the possibilities for the offense with Schaub in charge.
``He's a leader,'' Johnson said. ``He's out there working and he has a lot of confidence in his game. He's talking to everyone, trying to get everyone on the same page. I think that's going to take us a long way.''
 

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