C.J. Stroud 'improvement' emphasized by DeMeco Ryans

Operating in the pocket with a smooth delivery and fast tempo, Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud is stacking days in an ongoing competition with veteran Davis Mills.

Stroud is exclusively running the first-team offense the past few days of practice and making strides as a passer. During a Saturday night practice, Stroud displayed accuracy, poise and got the football out of his hand quickly.

In a red-zone drill, Stroud connected with running back Dameon Pierce for a touchdown pass on a well-placed lob behind cornerback Desmond King. He also found tight end Mason Schreck for another score.

And the rotation between Stroud and Mills has been discontinued for the past few practices as the rookie has taken every first-team snap. Texans coach DeMeco Ryans emphasized that the second overall pick from Ohio State has been getting better every day.

“With Stroud, what I’ve seen is improvement,” Ryans said. “Each day, that’s what we ask from all our players is seeking improvement and that’s what you’ve seen from him. He continues to improve and that’s good to see.”

As the Texans continue to develop Stroud, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist for the Buckeyes, Ryans is eager to see him replicate his efficiency in a game situation. The Texans travel to play the New England Patriots on Thursday at Gillette Stadium.

“We’ll see when games come,” Ryans said. “That’s when you can really judge on where a guy is based on game situations. Practice is one thing, but guys have to get out and get the real competition in a game.”

Mills has had his moments, too, including some sharp throws Saturday to rookie wide receiver Tank Dell, but Stroud is making his move weeks into training camp.

Stroud was a two-year starter for Ohio State, where he threw for 8,123 yards with 85 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions as the Buckeyes went 21-4. His 85 touchdowns over two seasons broke a Big Ten record held by Drew Brees.

Stroud has been building timing and chemistry, especially with 6-foot-4, 215-pound wide receiver Nico Collins.

“Man, he is throwing it up where I can get it,” Collins said. “That’s why we’re here practicing every day, just to get it and get that touch right so on Sunday’s, we can shine, for sure. And I can’t wait for the season, man. It’s going to be great for everybody.”

“Oh man, just continuing to stack days. Overall, just seeing his reads, making plays. The game is starting to slow down for him, because once that line comes, it’s flying bullets. Everything is full-speed. But, you see him, how he’s adjusted slowly every day. That’s why we’re coming out every day. Keep going, growing together.”

Before Stroud ascends to QB1 status, he and the Texans have a shared vision of him proving he’s absolutely deserving and ready for the high-profile assignment of leading the team.

“It’s been very open conversations, very transparent,” Stroud said. “I don’t want anything given to me. I want to earn everything.”

Stroud has shown signs of being able to read the defense on the fly. He has occasionally pulled it down and ran with the football, displaying above-average mobility. And Stroud is getting the football out of his hands faster in recent days, one of the knocks on him in scouting reports heading into the NFL draft.

Signed to a four-year, $36.3 million contract that includes a $23.3 million signing bonus all paid upfront, Stroud is off to a fast start at training camp.

Stroud has displayed poise, accuracy, and a growing knowledge of offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik’s thick playbook.

“Whoever gets the job done,” Texans Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil said. “That’s up to the coaches. My job is to keep the quarterbacks clean. That’s out of my hands, but whatever the coaches think, whoever the best quarterback is, at the end of the day, that’s going to be the quarterback I block for.

“Just be there for him. I think that’s the main thing. Be a leader, be a mentor for him. If he needs help with this and that, I’m here to help him. But C.J. has done a great job being a leader himself. I’m not worried about C.J.. I know he’s going to get it done.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content