WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) — Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien has insisted throughout the offseason that fourth-year quarterback Tom Savage is the starter entering the season.
And that’s even with rookie Deshaun Watson having impressed during the offseason and two days of training camp.
Watson entered camp with plenty of accolades after a collegiate career that featured a national championship last year at Clemson and being a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist.
The Texans thought so highly of the 6-foot-2, 221-pound quarterback that they traded up in the NFL draft in April to take Watson with the 12th overall pick.
The selection was the first time the Texans had selected a quarterback in the first round since taking David Carr with the first overall pick in their first season.
So far, so good for Watson’s progress — at least in the eyes of O’Brien.
“He’s a very mature kid,” O’Brien said after Thursday’s practice. “Like I said last spring, he’s wise beyond his years for a young guy. So, I think he’s handling it well, from my perspective, to this point.”
Watson said following the draft that — however soon his time came on the field — he was prepared to do whatever Houston asked of him, saying “All I need to do is put my head down, don’t say anything and learn from the veteran guys.”
Watson, who threw for 4,593 yards and 41 touchdowns last season for the Tigers, has held true to that plan.
In addition to praising Watson’s approach, O’Brien stressed how difficult the transition from the college game to the NFL can be at times.
“I would tell you that for any rookie it’s very different,” O’Brien said. “… We start with the quarterbacks at 7:30 and then they’re out of here at about 8:00, 8:30 at night. So it’s a 12-, 13-hour day and there’s a lot of information that’s being given to them and then they come out here in a very competitive atmosphere.”
Savage took over as the starter for former Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler late last season, completing 41 of 65 passes (63.1 percent) for 436 yards while starting the last two games of the regular season.
He missed the postseason with a concussion, but he’s the clear top choice at quarterback for the Texans entering this season following Osweiler’s trade to Cleveland.
That is, for now — while Watson goes about the business of adjustment to the NFL.
“That’s the big thing about being a pro; it’s a lot different than college,” O’Brien said. “I love college football. College is college and pros is pros. It’s just a little bit different.”