HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – T.J. Yates is best known as the third-string rookie quarterback that led the Texans to their first playoff win in franchise history in 2011. Yates, 25, is settling into his role as backup quarterback for his third season with the team.
In 2012 Yates played in four games (against Denver, Green Bay, New England, and Minnesota) but did not start. He did not throw for any touchdowns but had 1 interception in 10 attempts over the course of those four games. Going from a starting NFL quarterback in the playoffs to a backup was a tough transition for Yates.
“Obviously, the first year I wasn’t expecting to play. Unfortunate circumstances, two guys go down in front of you and you kind of get thrown to the fire. Going from that and coming into the next season where you have a completely different role, you are the backup now, you are not playing at all (I played a little bit at the end of some games) but you are not practicing to be the starter. It was kind of weird for me because I got kind of a taste of the NFL and how it is. Knowing I can go out there and compete with some of the best teams is very good for me but then it goes into a standstill for the entire next year. It’s a little different but that’s how the game goes.”
With organized team activities (OTAs) starting May 20, Yates is ready to start taking snaps. His learning curve has improved since that rookie year when he was thrust into the limelight with the injuries of Matt Schaub and the second-string quarterback Matt Leinert. Yates says that he has adjusted to the speed of the NFL and can really begin to fine-tune his game.
“It’s night and day. Just being able, especially this time, not even having to think about things, not even thinking about the motion or where this guy is going or what route he’s running. It just clicks. It’s so much faster and it’s so much easier. I’m looking forward to going into training camp and being able to take that next step. ”
Yates is currently in the midst of offseason workouts with the Texans and will be joined by three other backup quarterbacks in OTAs and training camp. In 2013 the Texans added Heisman trophy finalist Collin Klein from Kansas State as an undrafted free agent (UDFA), and signed former Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee in January. Former UH Cougar Case Keenum is also still on the roster after being signed by the Texans as an UDFA in 2012.