HOUSTON -- Less than two months after Tom Savage was benched for Deshaun Watson in the Texans' season opener, the fourth-year quarterback will take the field again after Watson tore his ACL in practice Thursday.
In seven games, Watson was exceptional, throwing 19 touchdown passes, which tied him for the league lead. The rookie quarterback, who was placed on injured reserve Friday, totally changed the Texans' offense with his athleticism and ability to consistently find receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller downfield. Savage says he knows he cannot replicate what Watson did in the first half of the season.
"You can't really replace Deshaun Watson," Savage said. "You know what I mean? The kid's been playing absolutely lights out. But that's not my job. My job is to go out there and help this team win and do whatever I can to help."
"I'm just going to state the obvious: There's some things he can do that I can't do."
Coach Bill O'Brien told reporters Friday that quarterback T.J. Yates will also be active on Sunday. Houston also signed QB Matt McGloin.
"It's a very resilient bunch of guys," O'Brien said. "Great veteran leadership in there. And we'll battle. We're not going to give in to what's out there, [that] the demise of the Houston Texans is upon us. Like, that's ridiculous. We're going to show up and fight and play."
Also on Friday, Watson wrote in a statement posted on his Twitter account that he "let my teammates, my fans and family down."
"He's a very special player. He's a special kid. He's got a great future," O'Brien said of Watson. "These things happen. They're tough when they happen, but they happen. ... But in the short time he played for us, it's obvious ... and also the type of guy that he is, that he will be one of the top quarterbacks in this league for a long time."
Watson tore the ACL in his right leg during practice, but his teammates said they had no idea Watson had suffered a major injury based on how he reacted after the play.
"I saw him go down. He got right up, so I didn't think anything would happen," wide receiver Bruce Ellington said. "We just thought he was going to get it checked out, and everything was going to be OK. And then we heard the bad news."
Added left tackle Chris Clark: "[It was] just a freak-ish looking deal. It almost looked like he was playing around. And it just gave out on him."
Because Savage spent all offseason and training camp as the Texans' starting quarterback, he has had a lot of work with the receivers, and Ellington said the group has "a lot of confidence" in Savage.
"I'm really comfortable with the system," Savage said. "I'm really comfortable with OB [Coach Bill O'Brien] and Sean [Ryan] and all the guys up front. And obviously I've been working with the receivers all through OTAs and training camp."
"He's a very accurate passer," O'Brien of Savage. "He's got a very talented arm. He's got a good bunch of guys around him. Every game is different. This is the halfway point of the season, so he's had a lot more reps. He's improved since the last time he played."
Savage is hoping to take advantage of the success Hopkins and Fuller have had this season. The duo are tied for the NFL lead with seven touchdown catches each.
"[Watson's] doing a really good job of throwing the ball down the field, and so really that's kind of what you want to keep doing," Savage said. "You want to keep letting these guys make some big plays for you and that's what they're doing."