Savage gets another shot when Texans host Bengals

HOUSTON (AP) Tom Savage has been waiting for another chance with the Houston Texans after struggling when he got a shot as a rookie in 2014.

On Saturday, he'll get it when he makes his first NFL start against the Cincinnati Bengals after the Texans decided to relegate Brock Osweiler to a backup .

Savage had appeared in just one game when Ryan Fitzpatrick broke his leg in the second quarter of a game against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 14, 2014.

He finished 10 of 19 for 127 yards, but botched a handoff which led to a fumble and threw an interception in the 17-10 loss.

Although that game was more than two years ago, he was still thinking about it when he came in for Osweiler in the second quarter on Sunday against the Jaguars.

''No doubt,'' he said. ''Because as a competitor you want to go out there and that's what those guys deserved. And they deserved it that year when I went in as a rookie to go in there and be prepared. And I wasn't going to make that mistake again.''

That game was his last regular-season appearance after a knee injury in it ended his 2014 season and he spent all of 2015 on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

So when he took the field with Houston trailing 13-0 he was determined to atone for how he performed the previous time he played a game that mattered.

He was able to do that, throwing for 260 yards to help the Texans rally for a 21-20 victory that kept them in the driver's seat in the AFC South with two games left.

''I think he took advantage of his year last year when he was on injured reserve,'' coach Bill O'Brien said. ''He prepped every week ... like he was going to play, even though he was on injured reserve. When he was able to get back to throwing, he did a lot of those things on his own. He worked on footwork. He's a much improved player, relative to that time when he played as a rookie.''

Savage also discussed how much he's grown since he was thrown into action as a rookie and is looking forward to proving what he can do in his first full NFL game.

''Absolutely because at a young time in my career I learned that this opportunity can be taken away from you pretty quick,'' he said. ''Injuries happen so that's why this week I'm just going to enjoy this opportunity and go out there and have some fun with the guys and just let it rip and see what happens.''

He's glad that he has last week's experience under his belt and believes getting all of the snaps in practice this week will help him be better prepared on Saturday .

The Texans are hoping that Savage helps revive a passing game which struggled under the direction of Osweiler .

The former Denver quarterback failed to live up to expectations in 14 starts this season after signing a $72 million contract in the offseason. Houston's passing game ranks 30th in the NFL by averaging just 198.4 yards a game.

There's reason to believe that things will be better under Savage after his 260 yards in 2+ quarters on Sunday were better than all but two of Osweiler's starts this season.

Osweiler had also failed to take care of the ball and the two interceptions that precipitated his benching on Sunday gave him 16 this season with just 14 touchdowns.

Offensive coordinator George Godsey had plenty of praise for Savage on Wednesday.

''He's a real good thrower of the football, in layman's terms,'' Godsey said.

''Does a good job of really practicing with his core fundamentals and technique. If he's throwing with defenders in his face, we don't really want to do that every play, but if it does present itself, he's still got to be an accurate passer.''

O'Brien has loved what he's seen from Savage this week since giving him the news that he would start as the Texans look to clinch their second consecutive AFC South title, and the coach can't wait to see what his new quarterback can do.

''He's a confident guy. I think he has good poise,'' O'Brien said. ''He's the same guy every day ... he's got the personality for the spot that he's in right now and we're all looking forward to seeing him play and take advantage of his opportunity.''

---

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.