WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (CBS HOUSTON) – Tom Savage has been the de facto starting quarterback of the Houston Texans since he took over for the struggling Brock Osweiler in week 15 of last season.
In the offseason, despite rumors of the Texans interest in Tony Romo and the drafting of Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall selection, head coach Bill O’Brien has maintained that Savage is the team’s starting quarterback in 2017.
Throughout the offseason, and through the first three weeks of training camp at the Greenbrier, O’Brien has not wavered from that. Savage is getting the starter’s reps in practice and started the first preseason game last Wednesday against Carolina.
Monday however, Watson took a few snaps with the first team offense. It hasn’t been enough to see a switch coming soon, but perhaps as a test to get Watson acclimated with teammates, he may see time with on Saturday against the Patriots at NRG Stadium. Savage isn’t worried that Watson is beginning to get a few reps and he sees it as standard procedure in camp.
“I think (with) pretty much every team, the backup’s going to get reps with the ones,” Savage said. “I’m out there competing and that makes both of us better. So, we just have to keep going with that. At the end of the day, both of us, we want to win, so we let the coaches handle the rest and we’ll go out there and focus on what we can control.”
O’Brien, sensing the competitive streak in both Watson and Savage has felt that while there isn’t an open competition for the starting spot, he’s aware that both are anxious for the opportunity to start.
“I think there’s no doubt that Tom (Savage) has brought out the best in Deshaun (Watson), and I think it’s the same with Deshaun bringing out the best in Tom,” O’Brien said on Tuesday. “I think it’s a good (quarterback) room. They’re good people, they’re very competitive guys, but they root for each other. They really do. Tom has really helped Deshaun with learning this offense how he learned it when he was a rookie.
Savage is not ready to relinquish his spot, but knows full well that the Texans drafted Watson because Savage has only two NFL starts and several injuries that have put him in a position where he needs to stay healthy and perform at a high level. If he should get hurt, or struggle, waiting in the wings is the future of the franchise who O’Brien has described as,” ahead of where some rookies I’ve been around have been.” However, still makes it clear that Savage is his starter and that the two players root for each other to succeed.
“I think Deshaun learns a lot from how (Savage) prepares and how (Savage) learns and how he watches tape and comes out to practice ready to go and things like that. I think it’s been very productive for both guys,” O’Brien said.
The competition may not be official, but Savage has said multiple times throughout camp that the starting opportunity isn’t promised to him in perpetuity and that he must earn it everyday in practice. He’s also aware that he needs to be a good teacher and teammate for Watson just as other veterans were for him.
Savage has a strong relationship with his back-up and will continue even if the situation with snaps continues to change.
“I say it all the time but it’s just a give-and-take that we have,” Savage said on his relationship with Watson. “We’re all helping each other out and we all want this team to win. That’s our main focus. We all know that we all could be out there starting. We’re just going to help each other out and may the best man win.”
Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for Sportsradio610.com and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio