HOUSTON — After nine weeks of offseason workouts, Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said he is “really happy” with where his team stands at the quarterback position.
He threw out the disclaimer that it’s just OTAs without pads, but that all three quarterbacks — Tom Savage, rookie Deshaun Watson and veteran Brandon Weeden — showed improvement during organized team activities and minicamp. During the minicamp, O’Brien said Savage will enter training camp as the No. 1 quarterback, but that as with most positions on the roster, he will be competing for the job every day.
According to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Savage has earned that starting spot by what he’s done on the field as well as the work he has put into building relationships with his receivers.
“It’s no surprise to anybody on this field that [Savage] deserves that [starting] role,” Hopkins said. “He has earned it, not just from playing, but from the chemistry he has built in the locker room with everybody.”
Savage completed around 66 percent of his passes during the spring practices, which O’Brien called “a pretty good percentage.” O’Brien said Savage “executed well” and put himself in a position to succeed when he starts going against a defense in pads.
O’Brien said he was looking for Savage to have a good retention of the Texans’ offense come training camp, then be able to take that knowledge and read coverages, understand blitzes and be able to execute the play.
A key for Savage this offseason was to protect the ball given the struggles the offense had in the category last season. In 2016, then-starting quarterback Brock Osweiler threw 16 interceptions and 15 touchdowns in 15 games. In three games, Savage did not throw an interception or a touchdown.
“Overall in the offseason we did a good job of protecting the ball here,” Savage said. “That’s going to be a key going into the season. Just bonding with guys like [Hopkins] and Will [Fuller] and Braxton [Miller] and Jaelen [Strong] and all those guys and getting some of the routes down. We still have a lot of work to go, and they all know that. That’s why we’re going to link up this offseason and go to work.”
Now, with five weeks before the Texans report to training camp at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Savage knows he cannot spend too much time enjoying the remainder of his vacation.
“They say this is a little offseason break but this really isn’t a time for a break,” Savage said. “I’m going to get some of the guys together [and] we’re going to throw and kind of just keep moving forward. We can’t plateau here. Go into training camp running.”