The Runner Sports

Deshaun Watson Impresses In Rookie Debut

The Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers kicked off their respective preseason schedules on Wednesday night with a surprisingly higher scoring game than expected. No disrespect to either team, but Cam Newton was inactive, thus taking away some offensive production. However, some young players on both sides impressed on the offense. The defense, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly spectacular. 

Houston’s Rookies

The Texans have been trying to improve its struggling offense since Bill O’Brien took over as head coach. Multiple draft picks have been used on receivers and running backs, but the offense still struggled. Interestingly enough, two picks from the 2017 draft look like they could change this trend. Running back D’Onta Foreman showed off some explosive capabilities against the Panthers as he hurdled a defender on a four-yard run and later broke a 41-yard dash down the right sideline. Foreman looks to have enough juice to replace Alfred Blue as Lamar Miller’s primary backup, provided he continues the impressive plays in the coming weeks.

Of course, no rookie had more time in the spotlight than first-round quarterback Deshaun Watson. The former Clemson star and national champion has high expectations as he battles Tom Savage for the starting gig. It doesn’t appear that Watson was aware of the pressure as he led some lengthy drives and put Houston in position for some scores. Unfortunately, these drives were killed by penalties, but they don’t take away from Watson’s poise and big plays. The rookie completed 15 of 25 passes for 179 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He did miss two passes down the seam during an otherwise solid performance. What was truly impressive was the fact that Houston’s dismal second-team offensive line gave Watson no protection. However, he remained calm under pressure and eluded multiple defenders with his scrambles. As an added bonus, Watson rushed three times for 24 yards and ran one in for a 15-yard touchdown.

If he keeps this play up, Savage won’t start any games.

Damiere Byrd

The Panthers may have found a future star at the receiver position. Early in Wednesday’s game, Derek Anderson, Kelvin Benjamin, and the starting offense headed to the sideline after scoring early and taking the lead against Houston. In theory, this changing of the guard should have put a cap on the scoring plays, but Damiere Byrd had other plans. The speedy second-year receiver abused Texans corner Robert Nelson on multiple plays, including a 50-yard touchdown and an eight-yard touchdown. Granted, Nelson struggles against mediocre receivers, but Byrd appears to be the real deal after catching four passes for 98 yards and the two touchdowns.

JJ Watt

It sure looks like JJ Watt is back to full health after missing most of 2016 with various injuries. The Texans’ star pass rusher didn’t get to the quarterback but looked to be at full health in his brief time on the field. On one play in particular, Watt and Jadeveon Clowney had to chase down receiver Kelvin Benjamin after he caught a pass and broke tackles by both Andre Hal and Kevin Johnson. Watt and Clowney outran the secondary in order to catch the husky receiver. Losing on Wednesday may not be the best news ever, but at least Watt and Clowney both appear ready to go.

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John Newby

A Minnesota Vikings fan from Oregon who writes about the Houston Texans and discusses nerdy topics.
Quite fond of my wife, video games, and Blue Heelers.
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