WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – A steady rain pelted the practice fields here at The Greenbrier, where the Houston Texans had just finalized Day Four of their training camp, and coach Bill O’Brien was on his way to watch film.
The central question he must navigate, if his team is to defend its consecutive AFC South championships and contend in the conference, is what to do at quarterback.
Tom Savage, for now, is the starter. But rookie Deshaun Watson is waiting for his chance.
And though both players have different skill sets, the one thing O’Brien vowed not to do during the regular season was to shuffle them in and out in a two-quarterback system.
“No, I’m not going to do that,” O’Brien told USA TODAY Sports in an interview Saturday. “I’ve done that before. I’m not going to alternate quarterbacks in and out of there. I don’t think that’s good for the team.
"I think Tom is having a really good camp. He’s got good command of our offense. He’s throwing the ball really well, good connection with our receivers right now. And Deshaun, for a rookie, has really come a long way. He has gotten better every day and I think that room is just a really good competitive room right now.”
Savage is the fourth-year veteran pocket passer. Watson is the first-round draft pick who led Clemson and its spread offense to a national championship last season. He flashes speed, mobility and throws with anticipation and touch.
When asked if the ideal scenario would be for Watson to get a redshirt year to acclimate, O’Brien said he was “not looking that far ahead” and was simply trying to improve the fundamentals of his entire team.
“Tom is No. 1,” O’Brien continued. “But Tom also knows the situation – that he has a young guy there behind him that’s playing pretty well, too. Look, Tom hasn’t played a whole lot for us. When he has played, he has played pretty well and we have won. Not every time, but we have won a couple of times with him in there. So he has that confidence. But it’s not like he’s a three-year starter. He knows he has to earn it every day and continue to get better.”
Savage replaced former Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler in a Week 15 game last season and became the starter before a concussion in the regular season finale sidelined him for Houston’s two playoff games. Despite entering his fourth season, Savage has appeared in only five games, and has attempted just 92 passes for 588 yards, and still has not thrown a touchdown pass in the regular season.