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T.J. Yates: From combine arm to playoff race

Falcons Texans Football AP

The chants must have been hard for the fifth-round rookie quarterback to ignore.  The Reliant Stadium crowd was chanting “T.J., T.J.” early in his first career start.

Yates had come a long way since February, when he was only an afterthought at the NFL Scouting Combine.  He was a “combine arm.”

“They invite you, but it’s pretty much the last three guys” Yates told Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports after Sunday’s win. “You go on the first day and stay all the way to the last day to throw to the defensive guys and stuff. It was kind of annoying because you’re there for eight days straight.

“I was ready to get out of there, especially on the last day. I probably threw like 150 deep balls to [defensive backs] during their drills. Just a hired arm.”

Fast forward to Sunday. Yates completed less than half his passes, but he averaged 7.5 yards-per-attempt, threw for a touchdown, and didn’t have any turnovers.

The Texans will probably be better off with Yates than Matt Leinart in the long run. Yates was willing to go down the field. Gary Kubiak showed confidence in his rookie during a team meeting Saturday.

“Hey, if you guys think we’re gonna dumb things down for T.J. and only give him a certain amount [of our offensive package], you guys are wrong,” Kubiak told his team, according to tackle Eric Winston.

Kubiak was unaware of Yates’ combine duties.

“He was a slappy? Ha, kind of like I was,” Kubiak said.

From slappy to starter on a 9-3 team. Yates is a fascinating story, and we get the sense he will be anything but an afterthought this January.

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33 Responses to “T.J. Yates: From combine arm to playoff race”
  1. joetoronto says: Dec 5, 2011 10:53 AM

    “He was a slappy? Ha, kind of like I was,” Kubiak said.

    You certainly were, Gary, you were the flat pass king.

  2. patriotsdefense says: Dec 5, 2011 10:55 AM

    he’s the most like Brady since Brady. i remember how much the media disrespected him in 2001. to be honest they disrespected him until 2007. they probably still disrespect him now.

    thankfully for guys like Brady and Yates, they could give a shht what we think.

    Yates is more than a spare tire. The Texans are for real.

  3. whatwouldlombardido says: Dec 5, 2011 10:56 AM

    Time will tell.

  4. realitypolice says: Dec 5, 2011 10:57 AM

    As a Tar Heels fan, I am rooting like heck for this guy to have an NFL career. But let’s slow down here.

    Let’s get a slightly larger sample size together before we start trying to define what this story is or isn’t, shall we?

  5. scra22 says: Dec 5, 2011 10:59 AM

    “didn’t have any turnovers.”

    Actually he did, though he shouldn’t have… In field goal range, Yates threw what appeared to be an incomplete pass as he was hit, and a Falcons defender picked up the ball and ran it back for a TD (unfollowed by anyone because no one else thought it was a fumble). The refs ruled ATL touchdown. The Texans challenged and after review they upheld that it was a fumble but penalized the Falcons for having a player from the sideline go on the field during the play and negated the TD. It was bizarre and probably should not have been ruled a fumble. But it didn’t hurt the Texans because “Matty Ice” threw an interception almost immediately.

  6. test2402 says: Dec 5, 2011 11:01 AM

    The crowd also chants Tim Tebows name.

  7. talkintrashallday says: Dec 5, 2011 11:02 AM

    It seems this year a lot of rookies and younger guys have stepped up and played extremely well. This makes veteran free agents like Garrard, McNabb, Rosenfels that more expendable.

  8. shecklesmckenzie says: Dec 5, 2011 11:05 AM

    With the Houston running game and their D, all this kid has to do is not turn it over and they will be able to win.

    I am not knocking the kid. Look at the QBs that have had success as rookies recently (Flacco, Ryan, Sanchez): they all had good running games and solid enough defenses to keep them in games.

  9. rexryansdirtysock says: Dec 5, 2011 11:06 AM

    Lets see… T.J. Yates.

    Decent size, but only an average arm coming out of college. Nonetheless, he played in a PRO STYLE offense surrounded by talented teammates and a former NFL head coach.

    He faces all kinds of adversity with the North Carolina suspensions, but shows he can still get the job done (even winning a bowl game). He even had to win a competition to have the starting job his senior year.

    Those are the qualities to finding a sleeper quarterback in the draft. You have to look for those intangibles. Drafting a spread-option quarterback with no size after round 2 is just a huge risk.

    Now, I’m not saying T.J. Yates is going to be a good player in this league, let alone a starter. It’s way too early to tell, but based on his intangibles, he can’t help but remind you of Tom Brady a bit when he was coming out of Michigan (I am in no way comparing them as players, just the situation / intangibles coming out of school).

  10. dalucks says: Dec 5, 2011 11:09 AM

    Don’t put him in Canton just yet. He played good and got the win but lets take it one game at a time. But if this was poker then I am all in. I think Houston has its quarterback of the future.

  11. mrbigass says: Dec 5, 2011 11:09 AM

    He looked pretty good for his first start and didn’t seem overwhelmed. That TD throw was quick and on right on the numbers.

    Diamond in the rough? Only time will tell…..

  12. dzor22 says: Dec 5, 2011 11:09 AM

    The kid did a great job and the coaches did as well. however; to be correct, he did have a turnover. Congrats to the Texans. They are a very good team and TJ is going to be fine.

  13. docredskin says: Dec 5, 2011 11:10 AM

    Combine arm > Donovan McNabb

    Que the overdoing it stories this Sunday on the pre-game shows.

  14. jasons81 says: Dec 5, 2011 11:11 AM

    Its one game. I think they may want to hold off on the bust in Canton.

  15. letsgolos says: Dec 5, 2011 11:17 AM

    patriotsdefense says:
    Dec 5, 2011 10:55 AM
    he’s the most like Brady since Brady. i remember how much the media disrespected him in 2001. to be honest they disrespected him until 2007. they probably still disrespect him now.

    thankfully for guys like Brady and Yates, they could give a shht what we think.

    Yates is more than a spare tire. The Texans are for real.

    —————

    Did you really just try to argue that Brady is disrespected? By the media?

    Go away.

  16. mlenenski says: Dec 5, 2011 11:18 AM

    Yates has never played on a Great team before. He has always had to get rid of the ball under pressure his entire football life. But he always played like a pro quarterback with the ability to improvise.

    Yates was the best ACC quarterback on the field Sunday.

    This is a great story and an inspiration to every player on the Texans to step up and play for another team win as they head to the playoffs.

    Totally opposite of the Rolando McClain situation which has emasculated the entire Oakland Raiders clubhouse who got crushed by Miami Sunday.

  17. dionoil says: Dec 5, 2011 11:20 AM

    So many good players come out of UNC. Makes you wonder why the team is never good

  18. maddog111 says: Dec 5, 2011 11:20 AM

    patriotsdefense says:
    Dec 5, 2011 10:55 AM
    he’s the most like Brady since Brady. i remember how much the media disrespected him in 2001. to be honest they disrespected him until 2007. they probably still disrespect him now.
    ——————————————–
    Um, who exactly is disrepecting Tom Brady?

  19. rabidbillsfan says: Dec 5, 2011 11:29 AM

    @patriotsdefense

    In what World do you live in that the media ‘Direspects’ Brady? Yates played well, I actually think he will get better as the season goes on. He seemed to miss alot of throws high, which would lead me to beleive he was a bit nervous and jumpy. However, he was bailed out on a few bad throws by AJ, but overall he played well and will lead the Texans to their first Playoff berth.

  20. whitemike55 says: Dec 5, 2011 11:43 AM

    I’m STILL trying to figure out what the Refs saw in the play where they ruled Yates forward pass a “fumble” which was picked up and ran for a TD.

    I’v never seen a 10 yard spiral be called a fumble. SMH…….

    As a Texans fan I really liked what Yates did in the preseason – in throwing deep and scrambling. He did exactly that on Sunday.

    Also props to the Texans defense holding the Falcons to just 10 pts. IN WADE WE TRUST!

    TJ TJ TJ TJ

  21. westclaims says: Dec 5, 2011 12:01 PM

    “The Texans will probably be better off with Yates than Matt Leinart in the long run. Yates was willing to go down the field.” – understatement of the year. Leinart would have taken the Texans straight down with his timid play. We know that here in AZ. Believe me Texan fans, you are MUCH better off without Leinart under center.

  22. patriotsdefense says: Dec 5, 2011 12:17 PM

    letsgolos

    Did you really just try to argue that Brady is disrespected? By the media?

    Go away.

    ——

    No, I’m right here. That’s darn right what I said. 6th round pick. Everyone laughed at him at the Patriots in 2001. No one gave Brady credit even after he won 3 super bowl rings. (2002 mvp should have been bradys led the nfl in yards and passing tds) The media did nothing in 2001-2004 but talk about Manning. The Colts were heavily favored in both of those playoff games.

    Just because Brady became who he is it doesnt mean people didn’t believe.

    Just like people are laughing at Yates. Well, look out. Texans are for real. Probably Texans -Pats AFC Championship game.

  23. We'reFineThere says: Dec 5, 2011 1:53 PM

    I actually agree with the Pats fan who said Tom Brady was not taken seriously. As an Eagles fan, even when the Pats beat my team for their 3rd Championship in 4 years I still did not believe he was as good as advertised. The winning was attributed to luck, coaching, and defense. I don’t think it was until the 2007 year that the national fan finally conceded he was good.

    You can’t really compare young Yates to young Brady if he wins again this week. We slob these guys knobs too quickly nowadays, probably fantasy-football related. Looks like we already got guys lining up to say “told ya so” about Yates. How did Josh Freeman turn out this year?

  24. bucthat says: Dec 5, 2011 1:58 PM

    Patriotsdefense,

    What r u talking bout? All I ever hear is how amazing Brady is….he’s not even close to what ur saying. He’s the Nfls when in doubt MVP, u kno like last year not sayin he didn’t deserve it but really every vote? Vick and even mojo shoulda got least one

  25. galvestontexans says: Dec 5, 2011 2:12 PM

    I thought TJ played a good game. I am worried about AJ going down. The Texans have NO wr that seems to want to step up. Jones is to inconsistent and Walter will never be a true deep threat. I hate to say it but im thinking T.O. may be a good pick up for the next few weeks.

  26. sbxxix says: Dec 5, 2011 2:15 PM

    A lot of good rookie QBs this year. I can’t wait to see what the future has lined up for us.

  27. stavreafavre says: Dec 5, 2011 3:49 PM

    Tebowmania is so two days ago.

  28. squabbbler says: Dec 5, 2011 4:09 PM

    It’s impossible to game plan for a QB you have absolutely zero film on. He had a really good debut, and may have a good game next week, but once he gets some games under his belt, his shine will dull some. Everyone said the same thing about David Carr in his first year. This guy is David Carr 2.0.

  29. txtuff says: Dec 5, 2011 4:30 PM

    Just going by what I hear here locally, but word is that TJ has a stronger arm then both Matts. And it did show on the long pass to AJ, this year most of Schaub’s passes AJ had to slow down or come back for.

    This was just one game, and that is everybody needs to take it. He made some very good throws in the game, he also made some bad ones, mainly early with over thrown balls. But more then his passes he impressed me with his pose and control of the time. He never panicked and acted like he has been there before.

    AJ going down scares every Texan fan, but the last thing a 5 round rookie QB needs is TO!

  30. goawayeverybody says: Dec 5, 2011 5:51 PM

    Dear Houston Texans, swallow your pride and sign Terrell Owens. Do it now. You need a reliable downfield threat and who gives a rat’s behind about the rest of it! You need to get someone to take the pressure off of Arian Foster and the other wideouts.

  31. cuda1234 says: Dec 5, 2011 7:19 PM

    Interesting. A young qb with bad numbers who just wins. I wonder if he “willed” his team to victory or if he “works harder” and “wants it more than” other players. Or are those magical powers only ascribed to one player….

  32. jskill3 says: Dec 5, 2011 10:25 PM

    He looked like an NFL quarterback. In an NFL game that mattered. And in a two minute drill last week that mattered. He has absolutley nothing to lose by taking every chance that presents itself.

    I would hate to play against him, cuz you should beat him – but he doesn’t seem to know that. He’s dangerous because he shouldn’t even be here and no one expects anything from him.

    Lucky SOB that wasn’t supposed to be invited to the party, but here he is. He could actually go home with the prom queen.

    Surely though, he will melt down. Probably. But I’m going to watch – just in case he doesn’t.

    Yates, you might have won the lottery. The next few numbers are worth millions. Good luck.

  33. 2ndaryinsanity says: Dec 5, 2011 10:39 PM

    Whoa, there! T.J. Yates has only played in 1.5 games…let’s hold off on the comparisons to Tom Brady. Yes, he played pretty decent for a rookie QB who went from 3rd string to starter in less than 2 weeks. But, it’s pretty ridiculous to compare him to Brady.
    Signed,
    A Hopeful Texans Fan.

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