Why Texans' Deshaun Watson won't play on Thursday night vs. Panthers despite Tyrod Taylor's injury

Written By Jacob Camenker
Deshaun-Watson-102820-GETTY-FTR
(Getty Images)

The Texans suffered a blow in Week 2 when they lost starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor to a hamstring injury. Taylor enjoyed a good first half against the Browns, racking up 125 passing yards on 10 of 11 passing with two total TDs (one passing, one rushing) before getting hurt.

"Something happened on the touchdown," Texans coach David Culley said of Taylor's injury, per ESPN. "It wasn't to the point where he felt he couldn't go. ... The way he is, he never said anything to anybody."

Taylor was originally considered day-to-day as a result of the hamstring injury, but he was placed on IR. That means he will miss at least three games because of the problem. Soft-tissue injuries tend to linger, so it makes sense for Taylor to be sidelined for "Thursday Night Football" and beyond.

Naturally, a question bubbled up in wake of this injury. Will Deshaun Watson be active for the Texans? Could he start?

Culley originally had said "we'll have to see" when asked about that possibility after Sunday's loss to the Browns. But ahead of Thursday night's game, Culley quickly shot that notion down, and instead confirmed that Watson would remain inactive in Week 3.

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Why Deshaun Watson won't play vs. Panthers

Watson is on the Texans' active roster, but he has been rendered inactive for each of the team's first two games as he faces 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints of sexual misconduct and sexual assault.

The NFL has yet to rule on Watson's status. The league tends not to make rulings until criminal investigations are over and Watson's case is still ongoing. That has forced the Texans to make their own decision about their franchise quarterback. Their preferred option has been to stash him on the 53-man roster but not to play him until his status is settled.

It's also worth noting that Watson demanded a trade away from the Texans after the hiring of general manager Nick Caserio earlier this offseason. Houston has remained steadfast that they will only accept a certain price in exchange for his services, but the team is having trouble finding trade partners because of Watson's legal issues.

So, the rift between Watson and the Texans is multi-faceted. As such, it's in the club's best interest to sit him until everything gets straightened out.

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Texans QB depth chart

The Texans will be shorthanded at quarterback on Thursday with both Taylor and Watson unavailable. They'll be relying on a rookie to carry the load against a 2-0 Carolina squad.

1. Davis Mills

Mills was the 67th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He attended Stanford, appearing in 14 games for the Cardinal. He posted a 65.5 percent completion rate for 3,468 yards, 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions during his college career.

Mills has prototypical size for the quarterback position — standing 6-4 at 217 pounds — and he has a quality arm. He's a bit raw and was inconsistent against the Browns, completing 8 of 18 passes for 102 yards, one TD and one interception.

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2. Jeff Driskel

Driskel is on his fifth different NFL team since entering the league in 2016. He was a sixth-round draft pick by the 49ers, but he never played for them. He was claimed off waivers from the Bengals who eventually relied on him as their backup quarterback.

Driskel spent 2018 with the Bengals, 2019 with the Lions and 2020 with the Broncos. He appeared in 15 games (nine starts) and has posted solid numbers, including 2,120 passing yards, 13 touchdowns compared to eight interceptions and an additional 309 yards and three TDs on the ground. However, he sports just a 1-8 record and hasn't won a game since 2018.

How long is Tyrod Taylor out?

Taylor is expected to be sidelined for about four weeks. That would put him on track to return for the Texans' Week 7 game against the Cardinals. He will be out a minimum of three weeks after his placement on IR, so the earliest he can return would be Week 6 against the Colts.

Below is the rest of the Texans' schedule for 2021.

Week Date Opponent Kickoff time (ET) TV
3 Sept. 23 (Thursday) vs. Panthers 8:20 p.m NFLN
4 Oct. 3 at Bills 1 p.m. CBS
5 Oct. 10 vs. Patriots 1 p.m. CBS
6 Oct. 17 at Colts 1 p.m. CBS
7 Oct. 24 at Cardinals 4:25 p.m. CBS
8 Oct. 31 vs. Rams 1 p.m. Fox
9 Nov. 7 at Dolphins 1 p.m. Fox
10 Bye      
11 Nov. 21 at Titans 1 p.m. CBS
12 Nov. 28 vs. Jets 1 p.m. CBS
13 Dec. 5 vs. Colts 1 p.m. CBS
14 Dec. 12 vs. Seahawks 1 p.m. Fox
15 Dec. 19 at Jaguars 1 p.m. CBS
16 Dec. 26 vs. Chargers 1 p.m. CBS
17 Jan. 2 at 49ers 4:05 p.m. CBS
18 Jan. 9 vs. Titans 1 p.m. CBS

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