When Tyrod Taylor fully recovers from a Grade 2 strained hamstring, the Texans' veteran quarterback will apparently regain his starting job.
Texans coach David Culley emphasized Wednesday that Taylor, who remains on injured reserve and will not be activated this week for Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts as rookie Davis Mills will start his fourth consecutive game, will retain his QB1 status whenever he's back.
Taylor was excelling under center, winning the season-opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. And the Texans were off to a fast start against the Cleveland Browns, leading the game when he injured his leg while running for a touchdown as defensive end Myles Garrett smacked his leg on the scramble.
"Tyrod comes back and he's healthy, he's our starting quarterback," Culley said Wednesday at NRG Stadium. "As far as the quarterback situation, he gives us our best chance to win. He's our starting quarterback. He was our starting quarterback when he went down. He was doing an excellent job. When he comes back, he'll still be our starting quarterback."
Taylor has made steady progress since suffering a Grade 2 hamstring strain. He has yet to be designated for return from injured reserve, though.
"Tyrod is not available right now," Culley said. "We're hoping it's soon. We're taking it week by week. Right now, he's progressing really well, but he's not ready right now."
A former Pro Bowl selection, Taylor had completed 10 of 11 passes for 125 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 144.3 passer rating that game before having to leave the game at halftime. Taylor has 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.
Since Taylor got hurt, the 1-4 Texans are on a four game-game losing streak with Mills going 0-3 as the starter.
Mills, though, gave the Texans significant reason to feel encouraged by how he played against the Patriots.
He displayed accuracy, mobility and an ability to throw on the run, completing 21 of 29 passes for a career-high three touchdown passes and zero interceptions for a 141.7 passer rating.
Culley stated he doesn't believe in a starter losing a job due to an injury.
"No, I do not," Culley said. "He'll be our starting quarterback."
Mills had a respectable performance against the Carolina Panthers with one touchdown and no interceptions, but struggled mightily during a 40-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills last Sunday as he was intercepted four times overall with two interceptions and one completion for three yards and a 0.0 passer rating in the first half. The third-round draft pick from Stanford finished 11 for 21 for 87 yards and a 23.4 passer rating during the most lopsided defeat in franchise history.
Mills joined Texans Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson, who remains on the roster while issuing a standing trade request and dealing with legal problems, as the only quarterbacks in the past six seasons to throw for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns in the first half against the Patriots. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is the only other rookie quarterback in NFL history to have three touchdown passes against Belichick.
Mills completed 72.4 percent of his throws. And Mills was especially sharp on third and fourth downs as he completed 12 of 13 passes for 209 yards and two scores.
Mills had zero turnovers and had a better statistical game than his friend, Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who got the win and completed 23 of 30 passes for 231 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 95.3 passer rating.
Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly was asked last week who will start at quarterback when Taylor is back.
"Whatever is going to be best for our team, whatever is going to put us in the best position to win," Kelly said. "It's been pretty evident as an organization that's what we're trying to do here. We're not going to treat that decision any differently."
When asked if the team hopes that will be a difficult decision because of Mills' performance, Kelly replied: "If that's the case, that means he's playing well and making our job tough as far as making that decision. Ideally, it's a tough conversation whenever the time comes."
Now, it sounds like that pending conversation has become a firm decision on behalf of the AFC South franchise.
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128