Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson played in his first NFL game on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t his first time in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Watson played in the 2015 ACC Championship Game in the stadium and led Clemson to a 45-37 win by throwing for three touchdowns and running for two others. Watson didn’t have the same kind of success against the Panthers, but he didn’t seem overwhelmed by the step up to facing what he said were bigger, faster and smarter guys than he faced in college.
Watson said “it’s still football” when discussing his performance, which included a 15-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“I was just extending the play,” Watson said. “That’s what coach [Bill O’Brien] always tell me. If nothing’s there, do what I do. Don’t change and try to force anything: extend the play. I saw a hole and tried to get in the end zone and I did.”
It was the kind of playmaking ability that served Watson well during his time at Clemson and what the Texans hoped to get when they traded up for Watson in the first round. More of the same in the next couple of weeks will lead to confidence Watson can handle starting duties in the NFL and, perhaps, a push for him to make that move sooner rather than later.