The Texans already have declared Tom Savage the starter for the season opener, but the fourth-year veteran will go into the season looking over his shoulder based on Wednesday night.
While Savage recovered from a rough start to finish 9-of-11 for 69 yards and a touchdown, Deshaun Watson showed he could be ready to play sooner rather than later.
Watson, who drew Clemson fans to Charlotte to watch his preseason debut, went 15-of-25 for 179 yards and 81.9 passer rating. He also had three rushes for 24 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown.
Savage played the first quarter before giving way to Watson, who took over in the second quarter and played deep into the fourth quarter in the Texans’ 27-17 loss to the Panthers.
Watson isn’t accustomed to sitting and watching. In high school, he started as a freshman. At Clemson, he played extensively as a true freshman before a broken bone in his right hand and then a torn ACL sidelined him. The Texans drafted Watson in the first round but won’t rush him into action.