Schaub back to normal work after hard hits
HOUSTON (AP) -- Texans coach Gary Kubiak said quarterback Matt Schaub went through his normal Monday routine and looked "fine" the day after losing a bit of his left ear lobe in a win in Denver.
The Texans moved to 3-0 for the first time in franchise history by beating old nemesis Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Sunday.
Houston is one of three unbeaten teams left, along with Arizona and Atlanta, heading into Sunday's game against Tennessee (1-2) at Reliant Stadium.
Schaub took a beating in Denver, sacked on Houston's first snap for a safety and then lost his helmet and a chunk of his ear on a vicious hit by Joe Mays.
Schaub still tied a career high with four touchdown passes and only missed one snap after Mays dazed him, an answer to anyone who's questioned his durability in the past.
"We've got to protect him better," Kubiak said Monday. "But Matt played tough all day long. When your quarterback plays like that, you're going to have a chance to win every week."
Schaub missed five games in 2007 with a shoulder injury and concussion, and five games in 2008 with a left knee injury following a low hit by Minnesota's Jared Allen. He played in all 16 games in 2009 and '10, then fractured his right Lisfranc joint on a quarterback sneak in Tampa Bay in Week 10 last year.
He went down hard after Mays crashed helmet-first into his jaw in the third quarter on Sunday, just after he'd thrown a deep pass to Andre Johnson.
Schaub's helmet bounced off and he immediately covered both ears with his hands after hitting the turf. He walked off the field on his own and told athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan on the bench, "I'm fine."
Kubiak was watching the pass, which fell incomplete, and didn't see the hit until he watched the replay of the game back in Houston on Monday.
He wouldn't say if he thought it merited a fine for Mays, who earned a roughing the passer penalty.
"Obviously, he took a really good shot there," Kubiak said. "That's the league's job, to sort those things out. Obviously, we protect our players. If we think something is wrong, we turn it into the league and then they've got to go sort that out. We're just fortunate our guy is fine, and we just move onto the next one."
Denver coach John Fox said Monday that Mays wasn't trying to injure Schaub.
"I know this, he doesn't do that intentionally to hurt them," Fox said. "I mean, that's not Joe Mays. It's not what we teach. It's accidental. It's playing football, and you see it around the league every week."
Backup T.J. Yates, who started Houston's final five regular-season games last season, only got to hand off to Ben Tate for a 3-yard gain before Schaub returned. Shayne Graham finished the drive with a 41-yard field goal to put Houston up 24-11.
Later in the third quarter, Schaub completed a 46-yard pass to Lestar Jean and a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Owen Daniels. Schaub finished 17 for 30 for 290 yards.
Houston showed the confidence it had in Schaub before the season opener, signing him to a four-year, $62 million contract. Now he has an early defining moment in this season of high expectations, withstanding some brutal hits and outdueling Manning in noisy Mile High.
"Matt has always demonstrated great toughness with his teammates," Kubiak said. "He has their respect, and yesterday (Sunday) was a great example of him growing, too, as a player. He just really did a hell of a job."
The Texans didn't get out of Denver injury-free, though.
Kubiak said Jean, who's moved up the depth chart at receiver, will have arthroscopic left knee surgery for a "meniscus issue" on Tuesday and likely sit out Sunday's game, and safety Quintin Demps had right thumb surgery and will play with a cast on Sunday, if he plays at all.
Kubiak also saw "a ton of mistakes" that need correcting, even though the Texans rank second in total defense (255.7 yards per game) and seventh in total offense (394.7 yards per game).
The Texans also gave up two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes that made the game close at the end.
Just shaky enough to keep them from getting too excited about a 3-0 start. The team arrived back in Houston around midnight, and Kubiak was encouraged to see everyone ready to work early in the morning.
"They're very humble," Kubiak said. "They understand that if they just play good football, they're going to win their games, and I think they're very focused week to week, and staying in their routines. They handled their business pretty good (Monday)."