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Texans' QB Update: Taylor Practices, Mills Starts?

Despite veteran Tyrod Taylor activated off IR and back at practice, rookie Davis Mills could start again Sunday against Rams

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans veteran starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor is being designated for return from injured reserve and will practice Wednesday, setting the stage for him potentially being under center Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

Texans coach David Culley emphasized that Taylor has to prove that he has fully recovered from a Grade 2 strained hamstring suffered in his left leg running for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns to replace rookie Davis Mills this week at NRG Stadium.

Culley added that Mills will take the first-team offense snaps because Taylor doesn't need the work to get prepared.

"As far as his status for the game, that's still up in the air right now," Culley said. "Davis will get the reps. Tyrod, we'll just ease him back into practice just to see where he's at. Tyrod is a veteran. He's been around. He doesn't have to have all the reps. Davis needs the reps, if Davis is going to be playing this week as the starting quarterback, and right now he is. As we move into the week, we feel good about where Tyrod is at and we'll give him some reps.

"Him being a veteran quarterback, that's not an issue. He needs the reps because if Tyrod can't go, he's going to be the quarterback. Tyrod doesn't have to have those reps. If we knew Tyrod was healthy to play going into this week, then he would get those reps."

A former Pro Bowl selection, Taylor completed 10 of 11 passes for 125 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 144.3 passer rating before having to leave the Browns game at halftime. Taylor completed 70.5 percent of his throws for 416 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a career-high 122.9 passer rating before the injury.

Mills has passed for 1,047 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions for the 1-6 Texans, who are on a six-game losing streak and 0-5 with the third-round draft pick from Stanford as their starter. He has primarily thrown short passes.

"We're trying to get those explosive plays, we just haven't done that," Culley said. "If we had stayed above the chains on first and second down, then we'd be getting the ball down the field. We're trying to get back to manageable situations."

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The Texans won their only game of the season with Taylor under center against the Jacksonville Jaguars to start the season and were leading the Browns at halftime when Taylor exited the game.

“He was our starting quarterback, and when he’s healthy, he’ll be our starting quarterback,” Culley said Monday during his weekly press conference at NRG Stadium. “Obviously, they knew that. Obviously, it will be a boost if he’s healthy and ready to come back. Hopefully, a lot of these things that are happening right now, not because of him, but we need a lift right now.

“If that lift comes from him coming back, fine. If not, if he’s not back, then that lift’s going to come from us doing the things that we just said that we’ve got to do to eliminate the bad things that are happening to us.”

Culley reiterated that there's no guarantee Taylor will be able to play Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. Culley has previously said Taylor would need a ramp-up period to avoid a potential setback with his injured left leg. Taylor has made significant progress recently, though, and there is some optimism that he could return as soon as this week.

“I don’t know if he will be able to go, but he will practice on Wednesday and we are just going to take it day by day on Wednesday and decide as we’re moving forward,” Culley said. “But he will practice.”

Mills is bracing for potentially being replaced and didn't sound emotional about the pending decision. Obviously, the strong-armed third-round draft pick from Stanford wants to stay on the field.

“I mean whatever decision is made, with whoever we are playing, that’s up to coach and the front office," Mills said. "I know that both of us are willing to do what it takes for the team to win. You never know, obviously. I think experience was the biggest thing for me. I’m getting that right now, and I’ve definitely grown from before I was playing. I’m willing to do whatever it takes for the team to win."

Mills completed 23 of 32 passes for only 135 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions for a 79.6 passer rating, but lost a fumble against the Cardinals.

“I think I’ve continued to progress," Mills said. "I feel like I’ve been playing better out there. Obviously, protected the football a little better this week, had the one fumble. Obviously want that back, Just have to keep making smart decisions with the football and keep rolling.”