TEXANS CAMP, HOUSTON He started a mere two games in his
three seasons in Atlanta, but the Texans see quarterback Matt Schaub as a
natural leader who can rally a pitiable offense. Schaub broke out his moxie
early in off-season conditioning and impressed starting wideout Andre Johnson.
One day after a workout, safety Jason Simmons joked that he would "pick
[ Schaub] off all day" in practice. "Matt was like, 'You're not going to
be picking off anything,' " Johnson says. "It kind of caught me
off-guard. He was the new guy, but he showed he has confidence in his
game." Perhaps more important, Schaub, a third-round pick of the Falcons in
2004, is winning the confidence of his protectors. "I'm excited about the
possibilities in the passing game," says tackle Eric Winston, "and
about the way he gets rid of the ball." In return, the QB says he has
"100 percent" faith in an offensive line that allowed ill-fated
predecessor David Carr to be sacked 158 times over the last three seasons.
Schaub's cool head in the pocket should help, but he's not as mobile as the
departed Carr, the 2002 No. 1 pick who spent far too much time in Houston
tasting the turf. The Texans need new running back Ahman Green to take some of
the pressure off. "[ Schaub] has got a lot on his plate right now," says
coach Gary Kubiak. "It's the first time he's ever stepped into a huddle for
two-a-days as a starter of a franchise."