What are the Texans looking for from rookie quarterback Davis Mills?

Davis Mills was 11-of-22 for 112 yards and an interception in the Texans' preseason win over the Packers. AP Photo/Matt Ludtke

HOUSTON -- As David Culley watched practice on Wednesday, the Houston Texans' coach was impressed by parts of rookie quarterback Davis Mills' performance.

The Texans didn’t necessarily need a quarterback when they took Mills with their first pick in this year’s draft, but he was the classic “best player available.” The third-rounder stood out because of the intangibles.

One tangible thing he has to improve on: turnovers.

“He’s having a really good day in practice yesterday, and he had that one bad throw yesterday, an interception during one of the periods right here,” Culley said. “But as I said before, he’s a heck of a guy from a standpoint of understanding and brushing those things off and coming back with the next-play mentality.”

And while Culley credited Mills with the ability to put the interception behind him and move on to the next play, he was quick to point out where he needs to see improvement.

“We’ve got to eliminate those kind of things,” Culley said. “And I expected him to be more consistent and take better care of the ball.”

While Tyrod Taylor will be the Texans’ Week 1 starter, the team faces an interesting decision about when Mills will play. While Houston may have a top pick and take a quarterback regardless of what Mills shows this season, it is important for the franchise to figure out whether Mills can be a part of their future plans at the position. If Mills cannot show consistency and ability to take care of the ball in practice and during the preseason games, it will ultimately be a harder decision for the front office and coaching staff to make.

In his first preseason game, Mills played 36 snaps and completed 11 of 22 passes for 112 yards and an interception. Perhaps his most impressive play, offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said, was simply getting back out on the field after he was sacked on the second snap he played.

“Davis came in and saw his first, 'Oh my gosh, this is the NFL' moment on that three-step, then ran through, he got hit, came off the field,” Kelly said. “I’m like, ‘Did that hurt? You OK?’ And he was like, ‘No.’ So he was fine after he took his first hit.”

The word used to describe Saturday night performance in Green Bay was inconsistent. Mills made some impressive throws on third down to extend plays but also missed several shorter throws throughout the game.

One area Kelly said Mills has done well in is his command of the huddle and grasp of the Texans’ offense.

“He's able to articulate the playcall, which sometimes for us can be kind of wordy, especially in some of those situational football spots,” Kelly said. “He's done a great job in the huddle communicating and all that good stuff.”

While Culley hasn’t said how much playing time Taylor and Mills will see on Saturday against the Cowboys, Kelly said it’s important for Mills to “accumulate as many reps as possible” because he played 14 games at Stanford. Kelly said the more time Mills can spend on the field, the more chances the rookie will have to “grow and develop.”

“With Davis [we want to see him] just continue to cut back on mistakes and don't have my missed throws,” Kelly said. “I think going back and watching the tape, there was probably one or two throws in particular that come to mind right now that immediately he would want back. He's going to make those throws nine out of 10 times. It just so happened that on that one screen, the ball slipped out of his hands.

“To eliminate that, let's get rid of those throws, let’s make those plays, and then again, continue to grow in his patience in the pocket.”