A man known to have a quick hook on his starting quarterbacks is giving his backup signal-caller time with the first stringers.
"Tom's gotten some reps, T.J. got reps," O'Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. "I'm not saying it was 50-50, but I'd tell you that T.J. got some good reps. He got a decent amount. We're just trying to get him back into the fold of running the offense and just gave him a decent amount of reps, not more than a normal No. 2."
Normally a backup quarterback taking a few first-team reps wouldn't be noteworthy. When the coach is O'Brien, and the starter is Tom Savage, it becomes more notable. O'Brien has short patience for struggling quarterbacks, and Savage admitted he played like trash in the team's loss to the Indianapolis.
Yates hasn't thrown a pass in a regular-season game since December 20, 2015, when he threw 10 before getting injured and exiting the contest. Houston won both games Yates started that season. The 30-year-old quarterback spent this preseason with the Buffalo Bills and did not look good in three appearances, completing 56 percent of his passes with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Given Savage's struggles and O'Brien's tendency to play quarterback merry-go-round, it wouldn't be a huge shock to see the starter yanked for Yates. Giving Yates some first-team reps indicates there is at least a kernel of thought to a potential change.