By KRISTIE RIEKEN AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie C.J. Stroud will start Houston’s final preseason game Sunday night at New Orleans.
Coach DeMeco Ryans made the announcement Wednesday, but the first-year coach still hasn’t said the second overall pick will be the team’s starting quarterback for the season.
Ryans was asked Wednesday if Stroud had earned the right to be the starter.
“In everybody’s case, we’ll see who earns what, and you’ll see our starters in Baltimore,” Ryans said of the team’s season opener Sept. 10.
Despite this, it seems clear that the former Ohio State standout will replace Davis Mills this season. Stroud has started both of Houston’s first two preseason games and has worked almost exclusively with the first team throughout training camp.
Ryans said Wednesday that Stroud and the rest of the players who start will play about two possessions before sitting down against the Saints. Stroud played the entire first half in a 28-3 loss to the Dolphins on Saturday, looking better than he did in his debut against New England when he was intercepted on his first drive.
Stroud said after Saturday’s game that the most important thing he’s focusing on is being consistent.
“Just consistent in everything, my approach, the way it spins out of my hand, the way I call plays,” he said. “I have a lot of things I want to hit, but that’s probably the main focus is being consistent. I definitely know that I can be a really good player in this league. I think I’ve showed flashes of that. It doesn’t matter until you do things consistently.”
The Texans drafted Stroud after Mills struggled as the team’s starter for the past two years after Deshaun Watson sat out following a trade request before being shipped to Cleveland before last season.
Mills went 5-22-1 in 28 games, including 26 starts, as the Texans were among the NFL’s worst teams.
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.