HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns both looked to rookies to start at quarterback this season.
While Houston’s Deshaun Watson has improved each week since taking over at halftime of the season opener, Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer has struggled so much the Browns (0-5) benched him this week as they look to get their first win on Sunday at Houston.
“I think sometimes it’s good for guys to take a step back and see where they are so they have an opportunity to go back out there and do it again,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “This is by no means the end of DeShone Kizer.”
Cleveland will look to Kevin Hogan to take over for Kizer, a second-round pick who leads the NFL with nine interceptions this season. Hogan, Cleveland’s fourth-string quarterback at the start of camp, will become the 28th different player to start at the position for the Browns since 1999.
Hogan, in his second season, has appeared in four games this year and has thrown for 377 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
“(He’s) a guy that’s improved from Year 1 to Year 2,” Jackson said. “(He) did a really good job in the offseason of working out some fundamental things to improve.”
The Texans (2-3) drafted Watson 12th overall with a pick traded from the Browns, and since he’s taken over he’s helped this offense reach new heights. Houston scored a franchise-record 57 points in a win over the Titans two weeks ago, and Watson threw for five touchdowns in a loss to the undefeated Chiefs last week.
“He rarely makes the same mistake twice,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “I think that’s something that he does a really good job of and that has to continue because there’s no perfect way to play the game. You have to be able to adjust on the fly.”
Some things to know about the Browns-Texans game:
WATT OUT AGAIN: Houston’s defense will look to regroup this week after J.J. Watt broke his leg and is out for the season. It is the second straight injury-shortened season for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year after he missed the final 13 games of last season after his second back surgery. Watt was one of two starters who sustained season-ending injuries against the Chiefs, with outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus also out after tearing a pectoral muscle.
O’Brien knows that there isn’t one player who will make up for their loss.
“It’s going to be multiple guys,” he said. “It’s going to be schematic, it’s going to be a unified effort to make up for the loss of them, but it’s definitely something that you have to move forward with.”
TWO OF A KIND: This game will feature a pair of defensive ends drafted No. 1 overall in Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney and Cleveland’s Myles Garrett. Clowney, who went No. 1 in 2014, will be tasked with leading Houston’s defense in the wake of Watt’s injury. He’s off to a good start with six tackles for losses, three sacks and a fumble return for a touchdown.
Garrett, the first pick this year, is just getting going. He made his NFL debut last week after missing the first four games with a high ankle sprain. He took no time to make an impact with a sack on his first play in a game in which he finished with two sacks.
He said seeing how Clowney has developed after being slowed by injuries early in his career was encouraging for him as he dealt with his injury.
“His career at first was a little bit rocky because of the injuries (and) not being able to play full time,” Garrett said. “Watching him bounce back and see the way he’s responded, it’s good to see. It gave me a little bit of hope when I was out.”
HOW DID I DO THAT?: Watson created a bit of a stir on social media for a play he made against the Chiefs. Rakeem Nunez-Roches was trying to strip the ball out of his hands as he scrambled away from the pass rush. Watson smoothly moved the ball from his right to left hand to keep it away before switching it back to his right hand and launching it 48 yards for a touchdown to Will Fuller early in the fourth quarter.
Asked to describe how he made that play, Watson was at a loss.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know I did it until after the game,” he said with a laugh. “I saw it on social media and people were sending it to me. So, honestly, I couldn’t even tell you how I did it. Just my instincts were telling me to switch the ball because he’s coming for my right arm.”
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