Rookie quarterback Davis Mills is expected to become the Texans' QB1 again Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks and perhaps for the remainder of the season, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
While veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor has a torn ligament in his left, non-throwing hand, a magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed, according to sources, this is primarily a football decision given how badly Taylor has struggled in recent weeks since returning from a Grade 2 hamstring strain and the Texans' 2-10 record.
Taylor's hand swelled up Sunday and the injury affects his ability to grip the football when taking snaps from under center. It's possible that Taylor could operate as a backup Sunday against Seattle.
Taylor completed just 5 of 13 passes for 45 yards and one interception with a 16.5 passer rating during a 31-0 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and coach David Culley was critical of his decision making and inability to protect the football this week in throwing an interception to safety Kenny Moore on the first offensive play of the game.
The Texans might not announce their starting quarterback until as late as Friday morning, though.
A third-round draft pick from Stanford, Mills completed 6 of 14 passes for 49 yards and a 52.4 passer rating Sunday in relief of Taylor.
Taylor threw three interceptions during a loss to the Miami Dolphins.
"That hasn't been his M.O.," Culley said. "Those aren't things he's done in his history. In the past, he would run the ball (Kenny Moore interception). This time, he passed the ball and it was a bad decision. The only expectation I have of him is taking care of the ball. When he's done that, he's been a good quarterback. That hasn't happened the past few games."
Mills did have an intentional grounding penalty and nearly threw one interception that wide receiver Chris Conley prevented.
"I think he did a good job," Culley said. "I think he made one bad throw. He handled things well. I thought he did a good job and I thought he threw the ball well."
The Texans have the lowest scoring offense in the NFL, averaging 13.7 points per game.
Their drives on Sunday unfolded this way: Interception, fumble, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs, punt, punt, turnover on downs, turnover on downs. Seven of their 11 drives generated less than 10 yards.
Seven days ago, Culley said that Taylor would be the starter for the remainder of the season, barring an injury to Taylor.
Now, the situation has changed after the offense had just nine first downs and 141 yards of total offense and an average of 2.8 yards per offensive play.
Taylor has completed 60.7 percent of his passes, producing 966 yards, with five touchdowns and five interceptions.
Mills went 0-6 as the starter when Taylor was sidelined previously.
It's been the usual up-and-down progression of a rookie quarterback.
Mills has passed for 1,406 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Now, Mills is needed to start again.
“I think as a quarterback now, I'm better player than I was earlier in the season,” Mills said. “I wouldn't say more prepared, but I know more of the offense now, being in it for longer. I think the comfort builds as you get more playing experience out there. Unfortunately, went down today, and I was ready to step up.”
“Definitely more comfortable. I think the experience that I've had earlier in the season affects that and helps with that. Moving forward, it's the coach's decision to make. I'll just be ready when my number is called, if it does get called.”
Texans veteran center Justin Britt said he’s witnessed progress from Mills since his first game against the Cleveland Browns when Taylor injured his hamstring while running for a touchdown.
“Obviously, we don't want Tyrod to go down, and I'm not going to speculate or talk about injuries, but when Davis stepped in, there was no waver,” Britt said. “The confidence is up there. We know that he can play. We know that he can command the offense, and he did just that.
“You could tell it in his eyes, his belief in himself and the offense, his job, what he's got to do. He's more comfortable, more poised. It speaks volumes to who he is, how he prepares. And I thought he came in and, commanded the offense and did all he could to try to get us in the end zone.”