On March 22, the Houston Texans announced that the "Matt Schaub era" had begun for the eight-year-old NFL franchise.

That day, the Texans gave their second-round choices in both this year's and next year's draft to the Atlanta Falcons for the former West Chester East quarterback.

After signing a multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract with the Texans, they designated him No. 1 on the depth chart before he even took a snap. The team said it would trade five-year quarterback David Carr.

With some obvious high expectations in Houston for this season, that puts some pressure on Schaub, who spent his first three years in the NFL as a backup to the Falcons' dazzling Michael Vick.

But the 6-foot-6, 233-pound Schaub, a drop-back quarterback who played at the University of Virginia, thinks he has the broad shoulders to lead the Texans and fulfill the Houston fans' high expectations. There's talk of being a contender for the AFC South Division championship and more.

"I don't feel there's any added pressure," Schaub said as the first week of the team's spring organized workouts opened. "I'm definitely ready after three years behind Michael Vick. I spent a lot of time observing him. He has a lot of know-how and confidence."

Playing behind Vick, Schaub received only two starts for Atlanta, passing for 1,033 yards and six touchdowns during his three seasons.

But Schaub showed his own confidence by wearing No. 8, Carr's old number, in the early workouts, after the Texans had released Carr.

"His overall field presence is probably why Houston went after him," former East coach Joe Carroll said. "He's a very smart quarterback who learned a lot in high school, but really developed in his junior year at Virginia. . . .

"He probably didn't tell you this, but after he signed with Houston, he called all of the team's offensive players the next day to introduce himself. Then he called the defensive players. That's the kind of person he is."

Said Texans coach Gary Kubiak: "What Matt is to me is just very composed. "Watching him operate, getting everybody lined up. The young guys got in the huddle with him and didn't panic. They can ask him things, and he's got control of all 11 of them."

Schaub says his job is to manage the game for the Texans, putting the ball in the right hands - whether its those of running back Ahman Green or wide receiver Andre Johnson.

Becoming an NFL quarterback is a long-held dream for Schaub, 26, who recently moved into a house in the Houston area and is planning to get married in February.

"I remember playing peewee football at seven or eight and wanting to be a pro quarterback," he said. "Everyone has those dreams when you're that old, but as I got older, I realized it was a possibility. I formulated that into a goal, and now it's become a reality for me."

Schaub said he was flattered that the Texans went after him and surprised at how quickly the Texans moved to acquire him.

Modesty has always been one of Schaub's strong suits. He didn't mention that several teams had expressed interest in him, including the Oakland Raiders.

Despite the fact that he was a restricted free agent in Atlanta and would be costly for a team to acquire him, Houston was willing to pay the price."

"This player is what an NFL quarterback should be," Texans general manager Rick Smith said. "He's a leader. He's a strong, accurate passer. We're excited about having him."

Schaub says that a lot of good things have happened to him since he left East. He just hopes it continues.

It would appear everything is in hands, or right arm.

Contact staff writer Don Beideman at 610-701-7613 or dbeideman@phillynews.com.