(AP) — Matt Schaub still has his starting job for the Houston Texans. Whether he keeps it probably has a lot to do with how the struggling quarterback performs Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
Schaub has had the worst stretch of his career over the last three weeks and has vowed to be better. He has thrown six interceptions, three of them returned for touchdowns, and the Texans have lost three in a row.
Coach Gary Kubiak considered making a change this week, but decided to stick with the 10-year veteran. He did admit it was difficult to do so.
Though Schaub is the focus of Houston's recent problems, Kubiak is looking for a number of players to perform better this week.
"We have not been playing the way we want to play in some areas as a football team," he said. "It's hurt us and it's something we've got to correct real quick ... and we've got to find a way to win a game."
Despite his struggles, Schaub's teammates said they still have faith in him and fully expect him to get back on track this week.
"I still am confident in my quarterback," running back Arian Foster said. "He needs to know that. I think everybody on this team feels the same way, so I'm going to ride with him."
Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who faced Schaub twice a year as coach of the Titans, has watched Schaub's recent rough patch. But he knows how good Schaub can be, and figures he'll be at his best Sunday.
"Matt is an excellent quarterback. He's won a lot of games," Fisher said. "I've personally faced him many, many times and know what he's capable of doing. So we're going to have our hands full with their offense, which not only includes Matt's arm, but includes an excellent running game."
Five things to know about the Rams-Texans game:
DEFENSIVE DISAPPOINTMENT: Houston's defense is allowing an NFL-best 260.2 yards a game. But the Texans are disappointed in their defense because they've only forced three turnovers this season.
"We can be the No. 1 defense all we want, but we need to force some turnovers. Plan and simple," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "It's big for momentum. It's big to give the offense the ball back. They're just big plays and we need to start making those plays and we know that."
ROOKIE RUNNER: Rams rookie Zac Stacy made his first NFL start last week and had 14 carries for 78 yards. The fifth-round pick will likely start again Sunday. St. Louis hopes his development will help improve a running attack averaging just 66.4 yards a game, 29th in the NFL. Stacy joined the Rams after running for more than 1,100 yards in each of his last two seasons at Vanderbilt.
DANIELS IS OUT: Houston tight end Owen Daniels will miss the next eight weeks after fracturing the fibula in his right leg. The eight-year veteran has started each game this season and has 24 receptions for 254 yards and three touchdowns. Garrett Graham, who has appeared in each game, will take over for Daniels. Graham has 141 yards receiving with three scores. Kubiak said they'll also look to rookie Ryan Griffin, who hasn't caught a pass, to help fill in for Daniels.
FINNEGAN & JOHNSON: Sunday's game will bring back an old rivalry between St. Louis cornerback Cortland Finnegan and Houston receiver Andre Johnson. The two often went back and forth when Finnegan played for the Titans. The always chippy matchup got ugly in 2010 when Johnson lost his temper after Finnegan jammed him at the line in a Houston win. Johnson ripped off Finnegan's helmet and punched him in the head and neck. Both players were ejected and fined $25,000 for the brawl, but no one expects any carry-over this weekend from their past problems.
"Cortland has great respect for Andre, great respect," Fisher said. "But I have no concern whatsoever. I think both of those guys have put that behind them and have respect for one another."
Both players have missed practice this week with injuries and are questionable for Sunday's game.
SPECIAL MISTAKES: More than half the penalties the Rams have drawn this season have been on special teams. They have been flagged 17 times for 145 yards on special teams alone. The penalties have hurt the performance of rookie returner Tavon Austin. Illegal blocks negated 72 yards of punt returns on Sunday against the Jaguars. Fisher said eliminating their penalties on special teams was a focus this week and he's confident they'll clean things up.
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