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Is Texans' Rookie Davis Mills Ready For Prime-Time Debut?

No one expected the Stanford rookie to be Houston's starting quarterback in Week 3

HOUSTON -- Who else had the Houston Texans' Davis Mills getting his first start over the likes of San Francisco's Trey Lance or Chicago's Justin Fields? 

If so, congrats on winning rookie player bingo. 

Tyrod Taylor's hamstring won't heal in time for Thursday night's showcase against the Carolina Panthers. Mills, the third-round pick out of Stanford, now will land under center as QB1 against a defense that leads the NFL with 10 sacks. 

The NFL is a fast-moving game, where roster changes happen in an instant. Welcome to the league, rookie. More importantly, welcome to life as the starting quarterback for a team without an identity. 

READ MORE: Texans Name Rookie QB Mills Starter, Veteran Taylor Out

Before face of the franchise Deshaun Watson demanded a trade, he was the golden boy of the organization. That's the perk of playing the most important position in today's game — treatment is better. Life is easier.

Fans love you if you're playing well, no matter the win-loss record. And Watson? Yeah, he played the part well. After all, he was the league leader in passing yards and reset the franchise record in passing touchdowns during a 4-12 season. 

Take this as a piece of advice young quarterback; the Texans fans just want results. Not even top-tier, next level superstar results, but rather ones that show you're slowly improving on a daily basis. 

This is a team that spent years dealing with Case Keenum, Ryan Mallett, Tom Savage, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Weeden, T.J. Yates, Brian Hoyer and Brock Osweiler. 

What's a young name with potential have to lose, right? A better question? What other choice do the Texans have? 

"I mean, he is ready," Texans coach David Culley said. "When he went in the game this past week, he executed very well.. He was sharp. I think he will be a lot more comfortable now."

For Taylor, this is a crushing blow and almost a lose-lose situation for the third time. In 2018 after leading the Buffalo Bills to their first postseason berth in 18 years, he wasn't "the guy" anymore, leading to the team to draft Josh Allen and Taylor to head to Cleveland. 

READ MORE: Texans' Culley Admits Mistake vs. Browns

Too bad the Browns owned the No. 1 pick and took Baker Mayfield. Taylor lasted less than three games as QB1 due to injury. 

The same thing happened Taylor in Los Angeles. The Chargers knew rookie Justin Herbert was their future, but they were willing to wait and give the veteran a shot. 

You know, until a needle from a doctor literally punctured his lung just before Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Herbert had his "Welcome to the NFL" moment early and nearly took down Patrick Mahomes. 

Maybe Mills see something similar against Sam Darnold's squad? 

Even if Taylor earns the starting job back, it's a sign Houston remains at square one with the biggest positional concern long-term. Mills will either sink or swim early in his NFL career. 

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It always helps for young players to have a "water wings" type name on the roster has a safety net. Thanks to injuries, Brandin Cooks is the lone receiving option with decent production through two games. 

Oh no. It feels like he's sinking before even tipping his toe in the NFL first-team waters. 

READ MORE: Texans Reveal Severity of QB Tyrod Taylor's Injury

The Panthers' hot start is a reminder of what a culture change can bring. Matt Rhule's first season as a head coach was about finding stability in franchise pieces. Year 2, Carolina is living up to their motto: Keep Pounding. 

Maybe Texans' new general manager Nick Caserio should be paying close attention in that aspect as well on Thursday? 

Ultimately, fans should want Mills to be good. Right now, Houston is a .500 team, but their heart and passion has kept them in games. It took a 26-yard touchdown run from Nick Chubb to take Houston out of Cleveland's game in the fourth quarter. 

One is a projected AFC playoff contender. The other was almost universally expected to land the No. 1 pick. 

If Mills is good, Houston loses Taylor, but gains a potential franchise quarterback. The last time a Texans' rookie QB made the start came against a 'cat-themed" team as well. 

That was Watson against the Cincinnati Bengals. The game was also played on Thursday Night Football. 

For those still hoping that Watson will be all kumbaya and loving to the Texans, think again. Culley told reporters Sunday the team would "wait and see" if DW4 would come back. 

Imagine how that conversation must have gone: 

"Hey, De..."


"But we ne..."

"Don't care." 

READ MORE: Texans' Rising Star Earning Contract Extension?

The next day before the presser started, Culley said Watson would be out "indefinitely." Need any more clarification on where he stands? 

Mills isn't Watson 2.0. Fans shouldn't care. Caserio believes that he can be a starter in the league, as does Culley. 

The clock's ticking, rookie. Welcome to the starting line of life as QB1.