HOUSTON -- Quarterback Tom Savage of the Houston Texans hasn't lost his starting job yet despite a shaky, rusty and underwhelming performance during his first game as the replacement for injured rookie star Deshaun Watson.
"We got to get Tom playing better," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said. "I think he has the ability to play better, but he's got to do it. We just have to go back to the basics, like how we read coverages.
"He's been here for four years. He knows what we're doing. I do expect that, I do right now, I do expect him to be the starter."
And free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, one of the most polarizing figures in recent NFL history, isn't coming to town at this time after internal discussions were held between O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith about the former San Francisco 49ers starter.
Kaepernick hasn't been on a roster since last season when he threw 16 touchdowns and four interceptions for the 49ers. He's been out of work this entire season, auditioning once for the Seattle Seahawks.
Kaepernick is widely viewed as being blackballed by NFL teams for his national anthem protests. Texans owner Bob McNair is among the many NFL owners facing a deposition in Kaepernick's collusion lawsuit against the NFL filed by lawyer Mark Geragos.
"We talk about the roster and what's out there every day, Rick and I," O'Brien said. "Oh yeah, everybody gets discussed. Is that a problem? Isn't that the way most teams do it? People seem shocked by that."
The Texans would be an extremely unlikely destination for Kaepernick in the wake of McNair's "inmates" comments. The Texans did protest with the majority of the teams kneeling during the national anthem before a game against the Seattle Seahawks. McNair apologized for his remarks and said he was referring to league office employees, not players.
Former Texans tackle Duane Brown, since traded to the Seahawks, said McNair's meeting with the players didn't go well.
Multiple team sources confirmed that the meeting did go over poorly with players who remained upset with McNair and his explanation. The Texans' players didn't protest during the Colts game following Brown being traded.
Kaepernick launched his protest to raise awareness about violent incidents, including fatal shootings, involving police against African-American citizens and other social issues.
Like Watson, Kaepernick is athletic and skilled at running read-option plays. However, the Texans don't sound inclined to add him to the roster after signing backups T.J. Yates and Matt McGloin last week after Watson tore his anterior cruciate ligament.
O'Brien was asked if signing Kaepernick would help him coach the Texans better.
"That's an interesting question," O'Brien said. "I would tell you that I like the guys that we have and we're going to continue to coach them and try to do a better job of coaching them."
It's not as if O'Brien is unfamiliar with Kaepernick, who played in the Super Bowl and lost to the Baltimore Ravens during the 2012 season.
For his career, the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has passed for 12,271 career yards, 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions for an 88.9 passer rating. He's rushed for 2,300 yards and 13 touchdowns.
"Look, again, I've studied him from when he was coming out of college, when we scrimmaged against them and then obviously when he was in professional football," O'Brien said. "We scrimmaged against him last year when we went out to San Francisco. Spoke to him, I've known him for a long time.
"Again, these things are discussed basically daily. And it's not just one guy. Colin Kaepernick's a good football player, hasn't played football in a while. These things are discussed daily and they'll continue to be discussed."
The Kaepernick speculation remains just that, speculation.
The Texans have bigger problems to deal with, including getting Savage to perform better. He completed just 19 of 44 passes for 219 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 66.4 passer rating.
The Texans were averaging a league-high 30.7 points with Watson at the controls, but didn't score an offensive touchdown until late in the fourth quarter Sunday.
"We went from averaging 30-plus points a game to scoring one touchdown, I mean, that's pretty bad," O'Brien said. "So, we've got to figure it out."
Texans free safety Andre Hal had plenty of opportunities to tag speedy Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and make sure he was down.
Instead, though, Hal didn't even try to touch him because he was convinced that the play was over.
The result was an 80-yard touchdown pass as Hilton, who had jumped over Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson earlier on the play, got up and raced into the end zone.
"Yeah, I thought he was down," Hal said. "I thought they had got him down. I can't make no assumptions. I've got to make sure he's down."
The play was reviewed and the call was upheld as officials didn't find conclusive evidence to overturn the play.
"We show these guys every week plays from around the league," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said. "You just keep teaching them, like, 'Look, you have to tag him down.' That was kind of a unique play because it looked like, if you're chasing the play it looked like Kareem had hit him, had at least hit his knee.
"They went to the replay there and they said that he didn't. You just have to learn from it and you always have to play to the echo of the whistle and make sure that you tag the guy down."
For Texans rookie tackle Julien Davenport, Sunday represented a major learning experience and opportunity. The towering fourth-round draft pick from Bucknell made his first NFL start.
Davenport held up well, allowing one sack during the 20-14 loss. Veteran left tackle Chris Clark allowed a sack to Jabaal Sheard on the final play of the game after replacing Davenport.
"I thought it went good, but there's always things I can improve on," Davenport said. "I felt good out there. My technique is still something I've got to improve on. I was very appreciative and tried to make the most of my opportunity."
The Texans like Davenport's size (6-foot-7, 318 pounds), long arms, intelligence and quickness. Clark is still dealing with a calf injury.
"Chris was banged up during the week, I don't know if we made that clear enough," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said. "We gave Julien an opportunity. He hung in there, gave up one strip-sack.
"We were supposed to chip for him on that play. We didn't get it done. I thought he did some decent things. Then, Chris played the second half and he did some decent things."
Texans rookie running back D'Onta Foreman kept plunging into the line of scrimmage. He didn't find many big holes, though.
Working behind starter Lamar Miller, the third-round draft pick from Texas rushed for 37 yards on 11 carries with a long run of eight yards during a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Texans rushed for just 94 yards on 21 carries after entering the game ranked third in the NFL in rushing offense. Miller gained 57 yards on 10 carries.
"I just try to be physical," Foreman said. "They played really good on defense. It was tough at times to run the football, but me and Lamar stuck with it. I feel like the game was balanced. I just wish we could have done a little bit better in the run game."
Foreman resumed his usual role after having zero carries in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Texans head coach Bill O'Brien had said Foreman would get back involved.
"I knew I would because he's really an honest guy," Foreman said. "I could tell when he said something he's going to stick with it."
Texans kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn had been perfect on field goals until Sunday.
The former Lou Groza Award winner from UCLA missed his first NFL field goal attempt during a 20-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, misfiring from 39 yards. He's connected on 11 of 12 field goals since replacing Nick Novak with two missed extra points.
"Just a mis-hit," Fairbairn said. "It was on me and I've got to put that one through for the team, obviously. It's always one kick at a time. The next couple of games are going to be big for us and I'm just going to focus on each and every kick."
Texans backup quarterback T.J. Yates expressed support and confidence in starting quarterback Tom Savage.
Savage struggled with his accuracy during a loss to the Indianapolis Colts, completing just 19 of 44 passes for 219 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 66.4 passer rating.
Yates isn't campaigning for the starting job and noted that Savage was shedding rust after watching rookie Deshaun Watson for six games until he suffered a season-ending knee injury last week.
"No, Tom's the guy right now," Yates said. "He's a heck of a quarterback. Obviously, it's going to take some time before he's going to get back in a rhythm. You could see that towards the end of the game. It took a little while. He's a heck of a player. He can really throw the ball."
NOTES: TE Ryan Griffin suffered his second concussion of the season.
MIDSEASON REPORT CARD
--PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus - With Deshaun Watson before he tore his ACL, the Texans had 19 touchdown passes and were in a groove. With Tom Savage, they're back to being awful again.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus - The Texans have ranked in the top five in rushing offense for weeks, but have now lost the threat of Deshaun Watson due to his injury.
--PASS DEFENSE: D - The Texans have allowed a dozen touchdown passes combined to Tom Brady, Alex Smith and Russell Wilson. They're very inconsistent. The only real pass rush comes from Jadeveon Clowney, who has five sacks.
--RUSH DEFENSE: B - Despite injuries in the front seven to J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus and Christian Covington, the Texans remain stout against the run. Especially linebacker Benardrick McKinney.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: C - The punt coverage is typically substandard despite the excellence of veteran punter Shane Lechler. New kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn has made 11 of 12 field goals and missed two extra points. The return game is average.
--COACHING: C - Bill O'Brien did a nice job with Deshaun Watson, but he has clock management issues and is struggling again with Tom Savage under center. The defense has regressed, but that's not his fault.