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Case Keenum offers Texans ray of hope in lost season

It's been a tumultuous four weeks for the Houston Texans since the most successful quarterback in franchise history was yanked in a blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The home fans have cheered Matt Schaub's ankle injury, the season went into death spiral mode against the St. Louis Rams and the head coach collapsed at halftime of Sunday's demoralizing loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

In the midst of all that wreckage, though, the Texans have discovered a treasure in second-year quarterback Case Keenum.

On a night when kicker Randy Bullock missed three field goals, Keenum deserved a better fate than losing an 18-point lead built on the strength of his tight connection with receiver Andre Johnson.

We now have two games worth of film that suggest Keenum is less of an emergency fill-in and more of a potential solution for a franchise at a crossroads with Schaub.

Although the NCAA's all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions went undrafted out of the University of Houston due to size and arm-strength concerns, Keenum's most impressive quality has been his willingness to attack defenses down the field. He'd rather give his receivers a chance to make a play on the ball than check down to a safer throw that won't move the sticks.

Despite two close losses to the Chiefs and Colts, Keenum has already made the Texans one of the most fun teams to watch. The coaches have opened up the offense to accentuate Keenum's athleticism as an exciting risk-taker with moxie to spare, calling to mind a young Tony Romo or Jake Plummer.

It's no coincidence that Johnson found the end zone more times Sunday night than he had in his previous 20 games combined. Keenum has made the right reads, kept his composure, showed respectable pocket presence and flashed a quick release, allowing him to highlight the talents of a Hall of Fame-level talent at wide receiver.

The 2013 Texans might have met their Waterloo against the game's most impressive young quarterback, but their own signal-caller has provided a ray of hope for 2014 and beyond.

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