Rejuvenated Leinart confident about guiding Texans rest of way

HOUSTON -- The first name is the same, and the Houston Texans say not much else is changing, either.

Matt Leinart practiced for the first time as the Texans' starting quarterback on Monday, with Matt Schaub likely out for the season with a right foot injury.

The Texans (7-3) are coming off a bye week and play at Jacksonville (3-7) on Sunday.

Leinart has been anxiously awaiting a chance to start again ever since he was demoted in Arizona in 2008 in favor of Kurt Warner. He signed with the Texans after the Cardinals released him in September 2010.

"I've worked hard, I've been focused every day since I've been here, preparing for an opportunity like this, just in case this ever came up," Leinart said. "Now it's just time to take all that preparation onto the field."

The 2004 Heisman Trophy winner did not take a snap in a game as a backup to Schaub last season. He became a free agent but re-signed with Houston because he was comfortable with Coach Gary Kubiak and the Texans' offensive system.

He's also found a strong support system within the team that he feels will help get his career back on track.

"I've been surrounded by positivity, I've gotten my confidence back over the last 18 months," Leinart said. "I feel good, ready for this opportunity."

Coach Gary Kubiak is holding out hope that Schaub will return this season, but he's comfortable using Leinart for the rest of the season, if it comes to that.

"You can see the fire in his eyes," Kubiak said. "What a great opportunity for him in his career. He'll give us everything he's got."

And Leinart should benefit from the return of All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson, who's expected to play Sunday after missing six games with a right hamstring injury. He can also lean on the league's second-best rushing offense (158 yards per game), featuring Arian Foster and Ben Tate.

"I don't think much is going to change," Leinart said. "I just think we're going to go out there and execute the offense that we've been doing, and that's running the football, and play-(action) pass and getting out on the outside and making some plays."

Rookie T.J. Yates, a fifth-round pick out of North Carolina, is Leinart's backup, but Kubiak isn't ruling out adding another quarterback this week.

Jeff Garcia, Brodie Croyle, Trent Edwards, Kellen Clemens and former Rice star Chase Clement tried out for the team Monday morning.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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