A 24-9 primetime loss is hardly the way any player wants to start their NFL career, but that was the case for Houston Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers.
It was a true 'welcome to the NFL' game for Mills, who suffered his fair share of hits and challenges against an aggressive Panthers defense. In total, Mills was sacked four times for a loss of 17 yards and hit a further nine times.
But, despite some brutal hits, Mills never seemed phased and this toughness impressed one Panthers veteran.
"He's a tough guy," Panthers linebacker Haason Reddick said after the game. "He escaped my grip a couple of times ... And it was shocking to see, even with the one hit, just the way he got back up. The guy, he's tough. He's mentally and physically tough."
Reddick himself had a day, recording 1.5 sacks and three QB hits, including one or two that might knock the wind out of his victim.
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This, however, failed to visibly bother Mills - which Riddick admitted was a surprise from a rookie QB, tabbed to play here due to the Tyrod Taylor injury.
"He got right back up off the ground and continued to play," Reddick said. "In Davis Mills, they definitely have a tough player."
For the last few years, the words 'tough, dependable, and smart' have been a hallmark of the now-gone Bill O'Brien era, and saying them remains a good way to get yourself thrown out of any Houston bar.
However, the sentiment perfectly describes Mills' game.
Mills' full debut may have resulted in a loss to the now 3-0 Panthers, but in terms of his individual performance, there were plenty of promising signs. He finished with a 95.5 QB rating, having completed 19 of 28 passing attempts for 168 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions.
Throw in his apparent toughness and the fact he was not visibly nervous or distressed in any way once, and Mills' NFL career has gotten off to a promising start.
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