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'Cool, calm' Tom Savage prepared for spotlight as Texans' starting QB

HOUSTON -- When Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage entered Sunday's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars and ran his first huddle, he was a little nervous.

"I got the little dry mouth at first," Savage admitted after the game. "I was kind of in shock, but other than that, just shook it off and kind of went out there and tried to execute my job."

And though it took him a few plays to get used to running a huddle in a regular-season game, his teammates said they weren't aware of any nervousness.

"Tommy is cool, calm and collected," guard Xavier Su'a-Filo said with a laugh. "If he was nervous, I didn't notice."

And even in what has been a whirlwind week for the Texans’ new starting quarterback after he replaced Brock Osweiler in the second quarter against the Jaguars and led Houston to a comeback win, Savage's teammates and coaches said they haven't noticed any changes in the third-year player.

"His demeanor hasn't changed," left tackle Duane Brown said ahead of Saturday night's visit from the Cincinnati Bengals. "He's a very even-keeled guy, very calm and poised guy, as you can see when he entered the game last week.

"He's doing a good job of recognizing everything and all of us communicating and getting on the same page with each other."

The Texans saw that last season when times were not so great for Savage. While he was on injured reserve with a sprained shoulder, Savage didn't wallow in self-pity. Instead, he did the opposite: He spent as much time as he could at the facility and around his teammates.

Head coach Bill O'Brien said Savage prepared each week as if he were going to play, despite not having a chance because he was done for the season. Though the shoulder sprain Savage sustained during the preseason was healed before the end of 2015, he still couldn't play because he had been put on injured reserve.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach George Godsey said he watched Savage take a step from being a rookie to being a professional last season.

"When you're sitting there and you really can't play the upcoming game because of an injury, you take two roads," Godsey said. "One is a proactive approach and that's the approach that he took. [He] took a lot of notes as if he was preparing for the game. Certainly that's in the past, but it definitely helped him as far as his development as a professional."

Savage said coming in every day and taking those mental reps were important to him, and knowing his teammates were there supporting him helped him get through the season.

"I came in every day -- and not just to make a good impression on the coaches and show them that I'm here -- but more importantly it's the guys in the locker room that I really wanted to be around," Savage said. "That's the one thing you ask anybody who leaves the game, that's the one thing they miss, the locker room. That's what I wanted to be around, was the guys, and be around a winning locker room.

"And at the same time, get the mental reps, everything I could possibly do without taking the physical reps but just be around those guys. That's kind of what kept me motivated, seeing those guys work."

And beyond continuing to improve his football IQ, Savage said he grew a lot personally from the experience as well.

"At a young time in my career, I learned that this opportunity can be taken away from you pretty quick," Savage said. "Injuries happen, so ... that's why this week I'm just going to enjoy this opportunity and go out there and have some fun with the guys and, like I said, just let it rip and see what happens."