DeMeco Ryans has encouraged competition for the Houston Texans starting quarterback job, even though it seems clear where that “competition” is headed.
CJ Stroud was the second overall pick of the NFL draft. He is the future, and also the present. Davis Mills was the starter last season, but it would be a surprise if Stroud is not the Week 1 starter as a rookie. Still, Ryans does not want to give Stroud the job. Last week he said the competition is still ongoing.
But Stroud will start the preseason opener for the Texans against the New England Patriots. Ryan’s told NFL Media that Stroud would start on Thursday.
While that’s not a huge surprise, it’s a good sign.
If Mills got the first start, it could indicate that Stroud was a bit behind in picking up offense or the speed of the NFL game. That doesn’t appear to be the case and while Ryans is making sure Stroud earns the camp and preseason job, he has credit for the rookie.
“With Stroud, I’ve seen improvement,” Ryans Houston told media last weekend. “As I have it every day, we ask all our players to look for improvement. That’s what you’ve seen from him. He keeps improving.”
The Texans’ approach with Stroud is different from the Carolina Panthers, who named Bryce Young as a starter when camp opened and won’t even pretend there’s a game. But both teams will likely finish in the same spot in Week 1.
Stroud could take a step back in the league by competing against the Patriots. It would leave the coaching staff in a tight spot as to whether to back off on the rookie and start Mills in the second preseason game, or hope for Stroud to get better. But if Stroud plays well against the Patriots and the rest of the preseason, it seems clear that he would be the starter to enter the regular season.
Stroud was called up to be the quarterback of the Texans’ futures. All signs are positive so far.