WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, West Virginia -- After watching the Texans defense stifle the Patriots in the first of their two joint practices this week, the next logical thought for anyone wondering about Houston's chances in the AFC was: What can they get out of their quarterbacks?
Texans coach Bill O'Brien seemed bullish on this year's No. 12 overall pick Deshaun Watson after the session, saying he believed Watson was further ahead than other rookie quarterbacks he's worked with in training camps past.
Watson is splitting first-team reps with Tom Savage, and on Tuesday he showed flashes of his potential. He moved well in the pocket. He didn't make any scratch-your-head types of decisions. Accuracy was at times an issue, as it was for him in college, but it didn't seem like the game was moving at a pace that overwhelmed him.
O'Brien may not be ready to give Watson the keys to the offense just yet, but he explained that there are certain boxes Watson can check that will make him feel good about it when he does.
"I think, over time, it develops," O'Brien said. "You see it in practice. There's certain things that you think about that maybe somebody who doesn't coach wouldn't see it, but as a coach, you've been through it, you've experienced, hey, this is something maybe this guy's not ready at or, yes, he is ready. He just redirected a protection or checked a run or got us out of a bad play, put us into a better play.
"And then he did it in a game, and he was able to function in a game. Then it's his demeanor, it's his poise under pressure, his ability to come out here and go against a new defense. How did he handle that? It's all of those things."
Has he seen any of those things yet from Watson, O'Brien was asked?
"There's times when he's been able to do that," O'Brien said. "That's what I mean by, for a rookie, I think he's ahead of where some rookies I've been around have been. I've seen him be able to do that. I think he needs to do it more consistently, but he works very hard to get it right. If he doesn't get it right away on the field, he goes into the meeting room and tries to fix it."
The Texans and Patriots focused much of Tuesday's practice on the run game, and they're expected to zero-in on the pass game more Wednesday, giving Watson more opportunity to show his coach that he should be his guy sooner rather than later.