Deshaun Watson shone in his first NFL preseason action Wednesday night and commanded the Houston Texans offense in efficient fashion after taking over for starter Tom Savage in a 27-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Before he was lifted late in the fourth quarter, the No. 12 overall pick in April's draft completed 15 of 25 passes for 179 yards. He also rushed three times for 24 yards, including a 15-yard scoring scamper in the third quarter.
Savage, by comparison, was limited to one quarter of play with the starters and completed nine of 11 passes for 69 yards. The highlight of Savage's night came at the end of the opening frame, when he led Houston on a 13-play, 75-yard drive that was punctuated by Alfred Blue's 16-yard touchdown run.
Despite those positive flashes, Watson stole the show in two-plus quarters against Carolina's backups.
Beyond the pure numbers, it was clear the rookie was comfortable sitting back in the pocket and picking apart the Panthers secondary without rushing throws, as B/R's Matt Miller observed:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Watson is routinely getting to the right read—even when it's deep progression. He's seeing it.2017-8-10 01:46:42
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and Steve Mariucci also came away impressed by the former Clemson Tigers signal-caller:
Daniel Jeremiah @MoveTheSticks
Watson looks very smooth tonight. Footwork, poise & decision making 👍🏻2017-8-10 01:45:31
Steve Mariucci @SteveMariucci
In my humble opinion..we are watching Texans QB DeShaun Watson show tonight why he will be a franchise QB in our League! @NFL @nflnetwork2017-8-10 01:52:43
Rotoworld's Evan Silva, meanwhile, saw Watson's ability to extend plays with his legs as perhaps the biggest reason for optimism moving forward:
Evan Silva @evansilva
Savage may be a more advanced passer but Watson's dual threat adds another dimension to a #Texans offense that needs it. Will help run game.2017-8-10 01:49:30
"He's a good player," head coach Bill O'Brien said of Watson, according to the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson. "He's an instinctive player. He did some good things."
With one game under his belt, Watson figures to hit the film room hard in the days ahead as he continues to fine-tune his approach before the Texans return to the field Aug. 19 for a tilt against the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium.