Texans' focus on developing Deshaun Watson hasn't slowed after injury

HOUSTON -- Every night when Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien sends out the daily game plans to his quarterbacks, Deshaun Watson’s email lights up, and so does Watson.

Even though the rookie quarterback is recovering from surgery after he tore his ACL on Nov. 2, Watson is still “very involved” in what the Texans’ offense is doing even if he cannot be on the field or in every meeting.

“He’s still watching the tape,” O’Brien said. “I’m talking to him about what he sees ... moving forward. Next week’s game, I want him preparing like he would be getting ready to play. That’s how his football education continues.”

Before Watson’s surgery to repair the torn ACL in his right leg -- and just three days after he suffered the injury in practice -- the rookie quarterback was on the sideline at NRG Stadium for the Texans’ Week 9 game against the Indianapolis Colts. Sitting on the bench, Watson spent most of the game talking to starting quarterback Tom Savage, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan and offensive assistant Pat O’Hara.

“It’s good just to have a different aspect from the sideline, especially from a guy who’s out there who knows the coverages, who’s studying still in the film room with those guys,” Hopkins said.

Savage said he appreciates the “little pointers” Watson -- or backup quarterbacks T.J. Yates and Josh Johnson -- can provide during games, saying he’s never been one of those quarterbacks who likes to be left alone on the bench.

“We encourage that and wanted him to be around for that,” Ryan said. “The one thing I always tell the quarterbacks going into a game is, ‘Look, five sets of eyes are better than two sets of eyes. So, get your eyes on the field, talk about what you see. If you have something to say when the time is right, say it, and help us. We’re working together, we’re a team.’

“And I think he did a great job of that, certainly as a young player, and was positive and commented if he thought he had a comment worthwhile to say, and that was big.”

Not only does Houston's coaching staff find Watson’s input valuable -- before he was injured, O’Brien noted that he was impressed by suggestions Watson contributed to the game plan -- but Ryan hopes by continuing to have him prepare like he’s playing each week, the rookie will be able to “pick up where [he] left off and continue to improve, continue building on the things that [he’s] done.”

“It’s about him being in here, getting to as many meetings as he can get to,” Ryan said. “Watching as much film with him, whether it’s game film, practice film, always picking out what we had talked about, how we look at those situations throughout the week that come up for the quarterbacks throughout the league, always making sure he gets that information.

“I think that’s the critical point now when he’s doing his rehab, is it’s all mental, it’s all off the film, and then obviously whenever he can start to do things physically, then you work that part into it. But that’s where you start.”