HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans are sticking with Ryan Mallett as their starting quarterback despite his recent struggles.
Mallett threw an interception and didn't lead the Texans to any points before he was replaced by Brian Hoyer late in a 48-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Hoyer threw two touchdown passes and directed three scoring drives late against a Falcons defense that had pulled most of its starters. Hoyer won the job out of camp, but was benched after one game in favor of Mallett.
The Texans (1-3) have a short turnaround before hosting AFC South foe Indianapolis on Thursday night.
''He's our starting quarterback,'' coach Bill O'Brien said of Mallett. ''Like all of us, he knows that he has to play better. We all have to do better. He's got to do a better job of throwing the ball more accurately, be more controlled in the pocket, don't turn it over, gets us into the right play, but that's who will start against the Indianapolis Colts.''
Mallett has thrown for 720 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions this season. He's in his fifth season, but has started just five games in his career after playing behind Tom Brady in New England for three seasons and being injured in his second game after getting the starting job in Houston last year.
O'Brien was asked why he was staying with Mallett since Hoyer was more effective on Sunday.
''Brian did go in there and do some good things,'' O'Brien said. ''It was 42-0 at that time. It was a passing game. He did a good job. But I think right now being on a short week and things like that, I think it's important for us to stick with Ryan right now.''
Mallett will be without one of his top targets on Thursday with Cecil Shorts out indefinitely after dislocating his left shoulder on Sunday. He was hurt on the final play of the game when he was driven to the ground and fumbled after catching a pass. Receiver Nate Washington is day to day with a hamstring injury but will likely play.
Though Mallett took the bulk of the criticism for Houston's poor performance on Sunday he was far from the only one who had a tough game. Running back Arian Foster made his season debut after missing the first three games following groin surgery. He ran just six times for 17 yards and helped the Falcons build the early lead when his fumble was picked up and returned for a touchdown.
''We really need to work on the running game,'' O'Brien said. ''We've got to be able to run the football.''
Foster came out of the game healthy and O'Brien expects him to play on Thursday night.
The good news for the Texans is that as bad as they've been early, everyone else in the division is off to poor starts as well, leaving the AFC South race wide open. The Colts have won two games but the three other teams in the division all have just one win.
''There's a lot of football to be played,'' he said. ''This will be our first divisional game for us. That's a great opportunity ... we can't really look back on what happened. We can't do anything about what happened (Sunday). We've got to really focus on Indianapolis and try to improve.''
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