HOUSTON – Coach David Culley refused to say if quarterback Deshaun Watson was with the Houston Texans this week as they began on-field practices.
Watson’s future with the team is in question after 22 women filed lawsuits alleging that he sexually assaulted or harassed them.
Houston police and the NFL are investigating the allegations, leaving his future with the team up in the air. Even before all that Watson had been unhappy with the direction of the team and requested a trade earlier this year.
Only the defense was on the field during the short portion of practice reporters were permitted to view on Thursday morning. Culley, hired in January to replace Bill O’Brien who was fired after last season’s 0-4 start, was asked if Watson was taking part in workouts.
“We have nothing more to say,” Culley said. “We’ve talked about the Deshaun situation... (general manager) Nick (Caserio) and I both and with (team owner) Cal (McNair), and nothing’s new on it.”
When pressed on if Watson had been to the facility at all this offseason, Culley was equally cagey.
“I have nothing to say about that situation,” he said.
Later Culley mentioned that these workouts are voluntary but that he’s had good participation from his players. He added that “everybody” had been taking part in Zoom meetings.
When pressed if that included the embattled quarterback, Culley evaded the question.
“I have nothing to say about Deshaun,” he said.
Caserio signed veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor to a one-year deal in March to give the team an insurance policy at quarterback if Watson can’t or won’t play for them this season. Culley said that Taylor was taking part in this week’s practices.
Culley, who coached Buffalo’s quarterbacks in Taylor’s third year as a starter there in 2017, raved about the 31-year-old.
“He is exactly what you want taking snaps from the center and leading your football team,” he said.
The Texans drafted Stanford’s Davis Mills in the third round of this year’s draft, and he and Jeff Driskel, a recent free agent signee, will likely compete to back up Taylor if Watson isn’t an option.
Mills was a two-year starter at Stanford where he threw for 1,509 yards and seven touchdowns in last year’s pandemic-shortened season. He threw for a career-high 1,960 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019.
Driskel appeared in nine games with five starts for the Bengals in 2018, throwing for 1,003 yards and six touchdowns. He started three games for Denver in 2019 and spent last season with the Lions where he appeared in three games with one start.
While flatly refusing to discuss Watson at all on Thursday, Culley did shed some light on the work the other quarterbacks are getting in these practices.
“They’re all getting reps, everybody that we’ve brought in here, we’re repping them,” he said. “They’re getting reps as if they’re the guy.”
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL