By Nick Shook
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The Texans have won the AFC South in consecutive seasons, but judging by the way their quarterback position was evaluated in the offseason, you wouldn’t know it.
Need more proof? With coach Bill O’Brien showering praise on Deshaun Watson earlier this week, Houston is looking at the possibility of starting a rookie behind center in Week 1. That’s usually typical of a franchise far from the postseason (i.e., the Browns, who are giving DeShone Kizer plenty of reps), not a defending division champion.
“If anybody should be a judge of quarterbacks, I’ve played with the most quarterbacks in NFL history throughout my first four years,” DeAndre Hopkinssaid after practice Friday, via ESPN’s Dan Graziano. “So I put the stamp on Savage, and I think that’s all that needs to be said about that.”
The endorsements don’t get much stronger than that of a team’s best receiver, who truly has caught passes from more hired guns than anyone (Around the NFL’s Marc Sessler listed them earlier this week). Savage has taken all of the first-team reps and seems to have a firm grasp on the starting job, but with Watson drawing rave reviews and O’Brien’s quarterback room long having a revolving door, a sudden change can’t be ruled out.
Savage is driven by an opportunity lost at the end of last season, as detailed in a piece written by NFL.com columnist Michael Silver, so he won’t be going down lightly, if at all. A Savage-led offense has been tougher on the Texans‘ reigning top-ranked defense in camp than in previous years, Jadeveon Clowney told Silver this week. Hopkins was generous with his review of Savage in that piece, too.
“I’ve played with at least 10 quarterbacks,” Hopkins said, again via ESPN. “So because of what he does well, and what he can do for this team, I know he can help us win what we want to win.
“He does everything well. He’s a student of the game, from just being on the bench, watching and learning from other people’s mistakes, seeing what they’ve done wrong. He can put the ball in any place. He has a strong arm. He has a knowledge of this offense. He’s been in this offense his whole career.”
It should be comforting to Savage that his best target is in his corner. In a fluid league, we’ll check back to see where that stands come Week 4.