Sean Pendergast

Houston Texans OTA's: Bill O'Brien Acknowledges Tom Savage's Existence

A week or so ago, fourth year quarterback Ryan Tannehill signed a nearly $100 million contract extension with the Miami Dolphins. Yesterday, news of Cam Newton imminently doing the same with the Carolina Panthers made the rounds. Both contracts are precursors to Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson setting new standards for quarterback money when they ultimately sign their new deals.

Contract extensions are getting doled out to young quarterbacks all over the league, each one symbolically showing commitment to some semblance of a future at that position by each of the teams involved. Meanwhile, here we sit in Houston, with the Texans as one of literally a handful of teams (like less than five) who have yet to commit to a long-term relationship at the most important position in the National Football League. 

Instead, much like a quarterback version of The Bachelor, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is still at a stage where he prefers to evaluate multiple candidates, with OTA's serving as the QB version of the awkward "group date." At the team's most recent OTA session on Monday, O'Brien reiterated that he's cool "dating" multiple quarterbacks for now.

“It’s really early. We do a lot of two spot drills, so we’re getting both those guys a lot of reps," O'Brien said, referring to the two leading candidates, Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer.

But then O'Brien did something that practically no one has done since the second game against the Colts last season in Week 15 — he acknowledged the existence of second year quarterback Tom Savage.

"Tommy Savage is getting a lot of reps, too," declared O'Brien. "All three quarterbacks are getting a lot of reps. So far, I would say all three guys have done a really good job this spring. They’ve been here every day and working hard and it’s been good to see.”

Since signing Mallett and Hoyer within days of each other back in March, the assumption has been that the quarterback battle would boil down to the one of those two that performs better in training camp and preseason, and ultimately that's likely the case. However, it's worth mentioning Savage, insomuch as the team didn't draft a quarterback last month, showing at least some level of commitment to Savage as a commodity.

“I think he’s made a lot of progress. I think that from the end of the season to where we are now, I think the guy has done a good job. Now again, it’s early. It’s only June. But I see a guy that’s arriving in the building at 5:30 in the morning. He is one of the first guys to get here. He’s watching extra tape and it’s showing up on the field. It’s not always pretty, just like with every player, but I see a guy that’s made a lot of progress. I will tell you that as a coaching staff, we’re encouraged with how we’ve seen Tom progress,” O'Brien said.

Savage was a late season leg injury away from perhaps being viewed very differently in this competition. When you consider that Savage sustained the season ending injury near the end of that Colts game in Week 15, and that Case Keenum was pulled out of a tree on a deer lease and went 2-0 as the starter in the final two games, it's not a reach to think that could've been Savage's 2-0 record in those two games. 

If that had happened, then what? Is Savage perceived as an equal, or maybe even a front runner for the job? We'll never know, but for now Savage sees himself as part of the mix.

“Oh yeah, absolutely," Savage said when asked if he sees himself as part of the competition. "Obviously, I’ve been in that position last year where a guy breaks his leg, and (Ryan) Mallett gets hurt. You get thrown in there with the dogs. I don’t want to do what I did last year. I want to be able to go out there and help the team."

For now, Savage has plenty of time to try to squeeze his way into the competition. When he was asked if he had any timetable for naming a starter, O'Brien channeled the brevity of his old boss, Bill Belichick

“No," said O'Brien. "No.”

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast