The Houston Texans will be without their star player moving forward. The team received the news they feared after Thursday’s practice: Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL, which will require surgery. He’s out for the rest of the season.
The injury was first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and later confirmed by team doctors. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said that Watson went down with a non-contact injury while running read-option drill. He didn’t yell, but was helped off the field and to the training facility by team doctors.
It’s a devastating blow for a Texans offense that was just finding its groove with Watson at quarterback. The rookie, drafted No. 12 overall out of Clemson this past spring, was coming off the best game of his young career Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. He threw for a career-best 402 yards with 4 touchdowns to go along with 41 rushing yards, but Houston lost the game in the final minutes, 41-38.
Now, the Texans are faced with a decision. With a 3-4 record heading into Week 9, they sit in third place in a winnable division. Prior to the injury, Houston led the league with 30.7 points scored per game and looked as if they had the firepower to contend for the division crown. That was primarily because of Watson. He led all NFL players with 21 total touchdowns and was tied for the league lead in touchdown passes with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
The Texans only had one other quarterback on their roster, Tom Savage, and he will get the start Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, coach Bill O’Brien said after Thursday’s practice. Savage started the first game of the season, but was unimpressive. He threw for just 62 yards in a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Houston immediately addressed the issue minutes after Watson’s injury diagnosis. Schefter reported that they signed free agent quarterback Matt McGloin, who last played for the Oakland Raiders last season.
But if the Savage/McGloin combo doesn’t work out, could the Texans give free agent Colin Kaepernick a call? He’s a similar quarterback to Watson and is very familiar with running the option. But it seems unlikely that the quarterback landing in Houston has a chance of happening.
It seemed like a possibility, though, when Howard Balzer of RotoWorld reported that Texans owner Bob McNair had “signed off” on bringing Kaepernick in for a workout.
However, Balzer’s initial report was later determined to be a “joke,” he said.
Watson’s injury comes a little over one week after controversy erupted following disparaging comments made by McNair at a meeting with other executives. McNair, 80, referred to players on his team as being prisoners.
“We can’t have inmates running the prison,” McNair said, according to an ESPN report of the conference call.
The comments came after team owners met to discuss options regarding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. The process of doing so originated with Kaepernick doing so last season before games when he played for the San Francisco 49ers. He said he was protesting social injustice in today’s society and wanted to use his platform to make a statement.
McNair’s comments were met with scrutiny by many players and other league executives. Former player Troy Vincent, who was at the meeting, took offense to the comment and got into a back-and-forth argument with McNair and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the report said.
After McNair’s comments were published in the ESPN report, he and the Texans issued an official apology.
“I regret that I used that expression,” the statement said. “I never meant to offend anyone and I was not referring to our players. I used a figure of speech that was never intended to be taken literally. I would never characterize our players or our league that way and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it.”
Despite the apology, the players on his Texans threatened to “walk out” of practice in frustration. Instead, they had to be “persuaded” to stay, ESPN reported.
Once Sunday rolled around, a majority of the roster linked arms and took a knee during the national anthem with their heads bowed.
The kneeling “crisis,” as some owners refer to it as, was spurred by controversial remarks by President Donald Trump last month. The president has been advocating for all players to stand during the anthem and said that if he were an owner, he would “fire that son of a b***ch.”
Kaepernick became a free agent this past season, but he hasn’t signed with a team yet. Many owners and general managers across the league have remained hesitant to give the former 49ers quarterback a call. Some speculate it’s because of his protests during the anthem and the media firestorm that comes with it. Others say the 29-year-old quarterback doesn’t have what it takes anymore to lead an NFL offense.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how things pan out moving forward in Houston.