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Ryan Mallett audition hinges on Texans' record

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Taking advantage of a soft schedule, the Houston Texans are playing for first place in the AFC South on Thursday night despite a passing offense that ranks in the bottom third of the league.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is ranked a lowly 26th in Gregg Rosenthal's weekly QB Index as well as ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating.

As uninspiring as Fitzpatrick's play has been on balance, it's natural to wonder when coach Bill O'Brien might turn to the enigma that is Ryan Mallett.

The organization entered the season aiming to avoid a full-blown reconstruction effort in 2014. As long as they remain competitive, Fitzpatrick's job is secure.

In the event of a prolonged losing streak, though, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported on NFL Network's Around The NFL on Thursday, Mallett will get his chance.

The former Arkansas star has attempted just nine passes in four seasons. All of his meaningful game film is from preseason action. Since the Texans acquired Mallett as an investment into the future, they will want to see how he fares in an extended audition versus real NFL competition before he reaches free agency in 2015.

There's a decent chance Texans fans will find out by December if NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock and Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy were correct in their assessments that Mallett is a legitimate NFL starting quarterback.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses the top 10 disappointments and breaks down the surprising NFC East. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL Now.

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