With all the talk about Andrew Luck playing for the first time in 585 days and Ryan Tannehill taking the field for the first time in 606 days, it was easy to overlook another player returning from serious injury.
Deshaun Watson, who hadn’t played in 284 days since his last game before tearing an ACL, made a cameo appearance as the starter for the Texans on Thursday night, against the Chiefs. He threw one pass, completing it for a mere four yards.
After the game, Watson told reporters that he didn’t know his time on the field would be so short.
“I was just going with the flow and just going with it until [coach Bill O’Brien] said it was time to go out.”
Watson wasn’t bothered by the process of getting ready to play and then only playing a little bit.
“It’s not tough,” he said. “Even when I was hurt last year and I knew I wasn’t playing, I still got the same butterflies and prepped myself up like I was playing. It’s just something I’ve always been doing since I was a little kid and every time football season comes around — especially when the games come around, regardless of how much I’m going to play — I always prepare myself and I’m ready to go.”
Watson didn’t use the post-game press conference to publicly lobby for more playing time in future preseason games.
“I’m going to take it one day at a time and just see how it goes,” Watson said. “There’s no rush. Whenever the opportunity comes, [O’Brien] and the organization are going to make sure that I’m doing it the right way and make sure that I’m getting enough playing time to get ready for the season.”
O’Brien separately told reporters that he got what he wanted from Watson.
“I think it was important for him to go through the whole warmup process and preparation for the game and get out there and operate the offense,” O’Brien said. “Without having watched the film, I thought he did what we asked him to do.”
Last year, Watson didn’t get a chance to practice or prepare as the starter until Week Two of the regular season, and he quickly made up for lost time. This year, he’ll continue to prepare for Week One as the unquestioned starting quarterback. Whether he threw one passes or 10 in the preseason opener won’t change that, and the lack of on-field work against the Chiefs defense won’t really matter.