HOUSTON — During the Texans’ nine-week offseason program, Deshaun Watson had a set of goals in mind.
The second-year quarterback out of Clemson, who is recovering from tearing his right ACL during practice last season, said he met and surpassed them by the end of the team’s final veteran minicamp Wednesday.
“Never satisfied, I always feel like I can do better,” said Watson, a Gainesville native. “We’ll get better. Those nine weeks I’ve gained a lot on and off the field. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and I’ve been able to take my game and me as a person to another level.”
Going through this rehab process is not new to Watson.
In his freshman season at Clemson, Watson tore the ACL in his left knee during practice as well. Having been through it before and knowing the work he put in, Watson wasn’t surprised about his progress.
“I kind of knew where I was going to be,” Watson said. “I put the time, effort and work in every morning. Just been grinding, so I’m not surprised at all. I’m right where I need to be and where I want to be.”
Despite having to recover from the injury, the Gainesville High graduate feels as if he is ahead of where he was this time last year.
In 2017, Watson was selected No. 12 overall by the Texans and participated in the offseason program. During his second offseason in the NFL, his experience from the past year is paying dividends now.
“I’m light years away from where I was last year coming in,” Watson said. “Just a rookie knowing what I knew from college and what I learned in the pre-draft and what I learned in the QB room. Everything was going so fast, a lot of information at that time.
“Having a full season and offseason with Coach (Bill) O’Brien and Coach Sean Ryan, I’ve been able to advance my game and take my game to a whole other level. It’s been great.”
O’Brien has seen first-hand the improvement and development of the young quarterback.
“With the work ethic he has and the mindset that he has you’re going to get better at knowledge of the offense, knowledge of the defense and your own mechanics,” O’Brien said.
“There’s just been a lot of improvement in a lot of different areas. He’ll keep it going over the next five weeks and he’ll be ready for training camp.”
Heading into this year’s training camp for the Texans, unlike in some past seasons, there is no doubt who will be taking the reps with the main offensive unit.
With everything being settled on that side, O’Brien said he knows how the reps will be divided.
The biggest benefit is the team knows exactly what they will start working on once training camp begins.
“This year we know who our starting quarterback is,” O’Brien said. “Obviously we’re very comfortable with that. That’s a good thing for our football team. All that means is that we’re settled there.
“It doesn’t mean anything relative to last year. It just means, hey, look, we’ve got to come in ready to go in training camp and we’ve got to continue where we left off from when he was the quarterback.”
The Texans will finish their offseason program with meetings Thursday before breaking for five weeks. Houston will open training camp at The Greenbrier in West Virginia at the end of July.
The Texans open their preseason at Kansas City on Aug. 9.