HOUSTON -- Tyrod Taylor knew his role with the Houston Texans when GM Nick Caserio offered him a contract last March. The Texans were in limbo with Deshaun Watson's status and did not have another quarterback on the roster.
Watson now is sitting out of OTAs and is not expected to play for the Texans. Not only does the 25-year-old still want a trade out of Houston, but he still is facing 22 civil lawsuits of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.
For Taylor, he'll likely be the starter. Or starter-in-waiting. Or bridge-starter. Something like that.
A critic might argue that he's under-qualified as a full-time starter, but there is little argument that he's one good enough in a pinch.
And Houston? They fit the bill for "in a pinch."
Taylor's role, in part, will once again will be to help a rookie adapt to NFL speed over time. But it's also about being the next quarterback for Houston.
Replacing a talent like Watson comes with an added pressure. Taylor agrees.
“Deshaun played at a very high level throughout his career,” Taylor said Thursday in his first media call since joining Houston. “I’ve been a fan of his, and I know him personally, but the opportunity to be able to start here is something I look forward to. I’m looking forward to competing with the guys we have in our locker room."
Taylor might not be the ideal starter in today's NFL. That doesn't mean he can't get the job done when his number is called upon. For three years. Taylor started for the Buffalo Bills, going 22-20 in appearances and helping Buffalo end a 17-year playoff drought.
Buffalo elected to draft Josh Allen instead of keeping Taylor. He signed a one-year deal to join the Cleveland Browns during the 2018 offseason as the starter. Three weeks into the season and Cleveland turned to rookie Baker Mayfield to replace the injured Taylor.
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Last season, Taylor remained with the Los Angeles Chargers as the incumbent starter for the 2020 campaign. Ideally, the plan was to ease rookie Justin Herbert into first-team reps while the 31-year-old Taylor could manage.
After Taylor sustained a punctured lung while getting a painkilling injection — a freak injury if there ever was one — Los Angeles turned to Herbert in Week 2. He was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year in February after breaking Mayfield's rookie touchdown record.
Taylor will likely get the ball Week 1 against Jacksonville. Just like in his previous stops, the plan for the veteran is to eventually be surpassed by a rookie. Houston has high hopes for Davis Mills, the team's first selection in last April's draft.
At this point in his career, Taylor embraces being a mentor to the next generation, stating that QBs in his circumstance must "lead in their own way."
“I don’t hide any information. If it’s something I can share with a younger quarterback or whatever position it is, I’ll share it," Taylor said. "You can’t focus on outside factors. You have to bring your 'A game' every day, lead by example and everything else will fall in line the way it’s supposed to.”
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Mills, who comes highly regarded from the collegiate level, has the tools to exceed expectations as the "next man up" in Houston. A good thing for the former Stanford signal-caller is the success Taylor has had as a mentor.
Taylor can see the upside that Caserio and first-year Texans coach David Culley have seen in Mills as Week 2 of OTAs continues.
“He’s been doing a good job,” Taylor said of Mills. “All three of us are learning this system for the first time. Each day, we’re keeping the communication open and pushing each other on the field.”
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