Case Keenum will start for Texans, C.J. Spiller ready for Bills return
Keenum will reportedly get the nod over Thad Lewis for the quarterback-starved Texans. Elsewhere, Spiller is probable after coming off IR and Julio Jones is questionable.
Head coach Bill O’Brien isn’t expected to announce an official decision between Keenum and Thad Lewis until game day, but Keenum’s been rumored to be the front runner all week. That’s primarily because Keenum, who spent the preseason in Houston before being cut, is more familiar with O’Brien’s system.
The Texans, who lost Ryan Mallett earlier in the year, had to scramble to find a quarterback after losing both Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Tom Savage to injury last week. Keenum, who started eight games in Houston last season, was a natural choice.
The Texans lost all eight of those games, and despite a hot three-game start where he threw seven touchdowns and no picks, Keenum faded down the stretch, tossing six interceptions to two scores over his final five outings.
C.J. Spiller set for return
The Bills‘ wildcard chances look like they’ll get a boost. C.J. Spiller, who hasn’t played since breaking his collarbone in October, has been activated from the injured reserve/designated to return list and is listed as probable on the team’s official injury report.
Spiller was a limited participant in all three practices this week after missing the previous seven games.
His return should provide a spark to a Bills backfield that has lacked explosiveness and averaged 85 yards per game without him. The 33-year-old Fred Jackson is in danger of averaging fewer than 4 yards per carry for just the second time in his career and backup Boobie Dixon is more of a power runner.
Julio Jones misses practice, status in doubt
Jones hasn’t played since injuring his hip two weeks ago toward the end of a monster performance against Green Bay. Atlanta’s offense struggled to find the end zone without him against Pittsburgh last week, a loss that dropped them a game behind New Orleans in the NFC South standings. Jones had seven receptions and for 116 yards when the Falcons beat the Saints back in Week 1, a feat they have to repeat on Sunday to stay in the playoff race.
Kyle Shanahan still confident in Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel’s debut — a 30-0 loss to Cincinnati that saw him throw for just 80 yards and two picks — didn’t go very well. But that hasn’t dampened offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s optimism for the rookie’s potential.
“I feel the same about Johnny as I always have,” Shanahan told Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. “Johnny is a playmaker. He’s done that throughout his career. Nobody can argue with that at all. There were a couple times in that game he did make some plays. We weren’t able to capitalize on it.”
Shanahan, who had mixed results with the similarly mobile but raw Robert Griffin III in Washington, said Manziel’s first start was an example of the growing pains that will continue to crop up as he learns the ropes in the NFL.
“When he does have some of those bad plays, you hope he comes back and makes one of his great plays that not many people can do,” Shanahan said. “We overcompensate for it, and the more reps he gets the better. The more game experience he gets the better.”