No. 2 pick Stroud competing for starting job with Houston Texans

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans aren’t just giving CJ Stroud the starting job despite being drafted the second quarterback in this year’s draft.

The Ohio State star worked with the second-team offense on Tuesday while last year’s starter Davis Mills ran with the starters.

“This team accepted me very well, very honest and very transparent and what I like is that nothing was given to me,” Stroud said. “I have to win everything. What I like. It’s been like that my whole career.

New coach DeMeco Ryans said they’re a long way from deciding who will line up under center in Houston’s opener Sept. 10 in Baltimore.

“The process with all of our players is to go out and get better and better every day,” Ryans said. “And when the drop comes, that’s when we’ll talk about the starters and…who are the top 11 men to go out there and help us win games.”

But Ryans, San Francisco’s former defensive coordinator, praised his rookie quarterback.

“CJ has been the same from the pre-draft process until now – hard worker, very smart guy,” Ryans said. “He’s a real competitor. So he’s been the exact same guy…but it’s exciting to see him on the pitch working with his teammates. CJ has done a great job the past few days.

Stroud was a two-year starter for Ohio State, where he threw for 8,123 yards with 85 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions as the Buckeyes went 21-4. His 85 touchdowns in two seasons broke a Big Ten record held by Drew Brees.

The Texans drafted him after failing to find a reliable quarterback in the two seasons since Deshaun Watson requested a trade and was sent to the Cleveland Browns. Mills started most of the past two seasons, going 5-22-1 in 28 games with 26 starts as the Texans were among the worst teams in the NFL.

Mills understands he hasn’t been good enough in his first two NFL seasons and without going into details, he said he’s been working this offseason to improve on his weaknesses. He said he will continue to compete for the starting position this offseason and that the addition of Stroud will push him to improve.

“I’ve always been a very motivated person, I want to be the best player I can be,” he said. “But obviously he’s kind of another stressor, pushing me to do my best.”

The Texans also have Case Keenum on their roster after signing the 35-year-old veteran off-season. Keenum, who played for Buffalo last season, spent his first two seasons in Houston in 2013-14.

Stroud said Mills and Keenum helped him transition from college to the NFL.

“It’s something I really needed,” he said. “Just that advice and that confidence that they’ve had because they’ve both played in the league and been starters. So they’ve been very helpful, very grateful and very supportive of everything. We have a constant communication on and off the field.

Stroud said he was slowly learning offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik’s system and had already established a strong relationship with quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson, which helped him adapt to the Texans.

But the 21-year-old knows he still has a lot of work to do.

“I’ve done a decent job so far, but I have to keep growing every day,” he said. “It will not happen overnight. I’m going to have growing pains and things like that, but I think they’re setting things up…quarterbacks are successful and leading this team to victory.


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