Texans rookie QB CJ Stroud immediately throws INT, struggles in NFL preseason debut

Houston Texans quarterback CJ Stroud’s NFL career will have plenty of highlights. I mean, it’s only uphill from how it started.

Stroud, the second overall pick in the NFL draft out of Ohio State, threw an interception in the first season of his NFL career. Veteran New England Patriots safety Jalen Mills read Stroud, broke his third-and-21 pass downfield and grabbed an easy interception. Strat will learn from that mistake. Defenses are more visible than they have been in the Big Ten.

Stroud completed just 2 of 4 passes for 13 yards before being pulled after two series. When the Texans started Stroud early in the preseason, they wanted a slightly more positive outcome than that. They certainly don’t want to rehash a quarterback competition.

The Texans let Stroud pass right away. On the first play he had a short drop, scanned the field and hit Nico Collins for an eight-yard gain. That was his most positive performance.

His second dropback reminded everyone that he’s a rookie. Stroud dropped back and held the ball a little too long as his first read was covered, then took a 15-yard sack by defensive tackle Daniel Egual. On the next play he spun out of a sack, showing off his athleticism, and had a short 4-yard run. Then came the Mills interception.

Houston Texans quarterback CJ Strode (7) gets the start in his first NFL preseason game. (Brian Fluhardy-USA TODAY Sports)

On the second series, Stroud rushed a pass under pressure and overthrew Devin Singletary on a short flare out, pulling back incomplete. He faced pressure on the next play and dropped a pass for another completion, but the passer was penalized on the play. Stroud then had a short completion, and his scramble on third down came up short of a first down. Davis Mills became the quarterback when the Texans got the ball back.

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Texans camp began with head coach DeMeco Ryans expecting an all-out quarterback competition between Stroud and Mills. It was hard to take that seriously either, considering most of the quarterbacks who were among the top two picks in the NFL draft were starting right away or at least very soon in the regular season.

It looked promising when Ryan Stroud was named the Texans starter for the first preseason game. Most teams don’t start a highly-drafted rookie in the preseason opener and then demote him to a veteran in the next preseason game unless he really flopped the previous season. Stroud getting the start Thursday means he’s on track to start the regular-season opener.

Stroud has plenty of time to improve in the coming seasons and this preseason. The Texans will want to see improvement and not have to wonder about their quarterback decision for the regular season opener.

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