Texans quarterback Davis Mills taking command as leader

Davis Mills delivered a hard spiral, connecting with veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks on a deep pass over the middle.

It was a sharp throw that falls in line with how the second-year Texans quarterback has performed throughout the offseason as he has continued his upward trend since a successful end to his rookie season.

Mills has drawn a lot of praise from coach Lovie Smith and his teammates. The strong-armed former third-round draft pick from Stanford organized workouts this offseason, including one in his hometown of Atlanta at his high school. He also traveled to Portland, Oregon with other teammates to work out near Cooks' offseason home.

"I am excited about what Davis Mills is going to do for us," Smith said. "He has taken that role: 'I'm the leader of the football team, follow me.' All the things Pep Hamilton and the rest of our offensive staff would like to do, we feel like he can lead us down that path."

The rough moments: a few botched snaps during a full-team drill with starting center Justin Britt not participating due to a foot injury from the spring.

Mills overthrew Cooks on a few deep throws, including one errant sideline pass.

While Mills went 2-9 in 11 starts as the replacement for veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor, he also had his moments. He completed 66.8% of his throws for a franchise rookie record 2,664 yards to surpass former top overall pick, David Carr. Mills threw 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a respectable 88.8 passer rating.

In the final four games of the season, Mills completed 68.9% of his throws to go 2-2. He passed for 927 yards, eight touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 106.1 passer rating during that span. In eight home games at NRG Stadium overall, Mills passed for 12 touchdowns with one interception. He had four games with 100+ passer ratings, including 141.7 in a loss to the Patriots, 130.6 in an upset victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, 128.5 against the Tennessee Titans, and 106.2 against the Los Angeles Rams.

"Good attitude, was in good shape, improved his lower body strength," Texans general manager Nick Caserio said of Mills. "He was able to work on some things mechanically."

Smith likes the upside of Mills, and his intangibles. He views him as a leading candidate to be voted team captain.

"Showing up, every time we open up the building, he's been there," Smith said. "He leads everything. You see him first to do everything and then making plays.

"We are going to vote for captains Monday of the week of the first game. I'm going to vote just like everybody for one special teams, one offense, one defensive guy. Davis Mills is getting my vote for captain."

Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

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