It's all about the "c" words for Deshaun Watson this spring: confidence and connection.
The Texans quarterback is getting first team reps for the first time during organized team activities (OTAs). He was limited last year by his recovery from a knee injury, and he was behind Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden as a rookie in OTAs.
Confidence has never been an issue for Watson. He erupted as a rookie in 2017, throwing 19 touchdown passes and running for two more in just seven games. Watson followed his injury-shortened first year with a sterling 2018, completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 4,165 yards, 26 touchdowns and just nine picks. He didn't throw an interception in nine of the last 10 games in 2018.
Though the confidence hasn't waned, it's definitely changed.
"It's a different level of confidence, so I have a better understanding of what we want to do around here being one of the leaders and also, just take the things that I've repped and things that I saw last year and try to improve on it," Watson said. "I'm encouraged to go out there each and every day and don't rush anything, let it come to me and just go out there and have fun and play football."
His head coach has noticed the change.
"He has a better grasp, obviously, every day he works hard at getting better and better at mastering our offense," Bill O'Brien said. "Understanding what we're doing. Understanding defenses. With experience and all the reps that he's had, whether it's in games or obviously in practices, he gets better and better. Because he works hard at it."
Being on the field for the entirety of OTAs has allowed Watson to build a better rapport with a lot of his receivers. Keke Coutee thinks the extra reps should pay dividends this fall during games.
"The more reps you can get, the better," Coutee said. "Just working on that connection with Deshaun. That's what OTA's are for: just to get the small things down. Just getting all that timing down right now has been very good."
Rookie tight end Kahale Warring hasn't been with the Texans long, but he recognizes what Watson means to the squad.
"He's a great leader," Warring said. "He's in my ear, talking to me. I just talk to him about different ways to keep learning, and he's a huge help."
Watson and the Texans continue with OTAs at the Houston Methodist Training Center on Thursday.
Check out some of the best shots from the second week of Texans OTAs.