Ryan Mallett (torn pectoral muscle) out for season

Ryan Mallett's season is over.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport confirmed Monday that the Texans quarterback is out for the year after tearing his right pectoral muscle during warmups prior to Sunday's 22-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, according to a source informed of the injury. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle first reported the news.

Mallett underwent an MRI on Monday after aggravating an existing strained chest injury that landed the passer on last week's injury report. Rapoport was told Sunday that Mallett decided to play through the pain after waiting four years for his shot to start.

When asked Monday about the quarterback, coach Bill O'Brien said, "Mallett's still being evaluated. Basically, we'll have more to report towards the end of the week."

Losing Mallett elevates benched veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick back into the top spot for next Sunday's AFC South duel with the Tennessee Titans and beyond.

It's a disappointing turn for the Texans (5-6), who wanted to use the rest of the campaign to make a judgment on the little-seen, quarterback.

However, it appears what the Texans have seen is promising. Rapoport reported, per two sources informed of the situation, that the team has informed Mallett -- who's a free agent after this season -- it wants him to return in 2015. The likely scenario would see Houston hand him a short-term extension and draft a quarterback -- possibly very highly. Mallett would then battle the rookie for the starting job.

The little-seen quarterback remains as enigmatic as ever after a promising start against the Browns but gave way to an ugly showing against the Bengals. Certainly Mallett's injury played into his troubles on Sunday.

ESPN's Tania Ganguli noted that Mallett's teammates have been impressed with his toughness after he didn't even mention what he was going through physically.

While the Texans are a strong bet to draft a quarterback this spring, it looks like coach Bill O'Brien will keep Tom Brady's former backup around for a longer look.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Sunday game from Week 12 and discusses Ryan Tannehill's progression. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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