WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- After reviewing the film from the Houston Texans' preseason opener, coach Bill O'Brien said he was impressed by the poise that rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson showed in his NFL debut.
"Something that's impressed me from really the time that I met him is really his overall poise," O'Brien said. "He's a very poised guy. He plays the game in a calm way. Obviously, nothing's too big for him. He's been in big games. For his first NFL game, I'm sure he was slightly nervous, but it didn't show."
In Wednesday night's 27-17 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers, Watson was 15-of-25 passing for 179 yards. He also had three carries for 24 yards and a rushing touchdown.
O'Brien noted that Watson was correct about the Texans' offensive scheme about half the time, which he said is "to be expected with a rookie." The head coach has previously said the toughest part for Watson in his transition from college to the NFL will be learning the Texans' complex playbook and becoming familiar with the scheme.
"There's a lot to build on," O'Brien said. "I mean, there's a lot to correct. He knows that. I'd say he was about 50-50 on some of the schemes we run, right or wrong. He was right 50 percent of the time. He was wrong 50 percent of the time. And that's to be expected with a rookie. But I think his overall poise and demeanor and the way he sees the game has always been something that's pretty impressive to me."
Watson played for more than two quarters of the preseason game; Tom Savage got the start and played just the first three series for Houston. The fourth-year quarterback struggled to move the ball on the first two drives, going 1-for-3 for 2 yards. He turned it around on the third drive, leading the offense down the field on a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown run from running back Alfred Blue.
Savage finished his night 9-of-11 passing for 69 yards. O'Brien praised the job his starter did to recover from the slow start.
"I thought Tom played the game pretty resiliently, too, last night," O'Brien said. "He came back from a couple tough series as an offense and was able on the third series to lead us to a touchdown."
Savage continues to be the Texans' starter entering Week 3 of training camp, and will likely start the season in that same position, too.
"I thought both of those guys had their moments where they were really playing well," O'Brien said. "To me, it was typical first preseason game. There was some good, some not so good. A lot to build on."