After two weeks of watching the game from sidelines, Davis Mills will return to his starting role with a fresh perspective.
"I'm still a very confident player, didn't lose any confidence in these two weeks," Mills said. "I'm excited to get out there on Sunday."
Mills started the first 10 games of the season before being benched for backup Kyle Allen in Weeks 12-13 against the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns.
"I think it was an opportunity for him to recalibrate fundamentally," Texans Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton said Thursday. "I think more than anything, when you look at our game, it is just a matter of being able to manage all situations. It could be something as simple as how we adapt to the pocket, finding checkdowns."
Following Sunday's 27-14 loss to the Browns, Head Coach Lovie Smith named Mills the starter for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. Mills agrees that he had a chance to work on fundamentals, watching film, working on his pre-snap checklist and his decision-making after the ball is snapped.
"You're just trying to continue to progress as the season goes but these last two weeks really allowed me to sit back and kind of start piecing some more things together in my mind of what it takes to be successful out there," Mills said. "Hopefully, we can fall back to those fundamentals that I've been doing my whole life and as Pep's taught me since I've been here in Houston to go out there and play successful football."
This year's quarterback change mirrors Mills' experience as a rookie, when he earned the starting role for the final five games of the 2021 season. He showed marked improvement from his first six starts (six touchdowns, seven interceptions) to his final five starts (nine touchdowns, two interceptions).
"I felt like last year when I came back for the second time and played really well at the end of the season, so these past two weeks really just allowed me to sit back and continue to learn," Mills said. "Early on in the season, as the season progresses, whirlwind of everything as you play a game, watch the film immediately after the game and then you're quickly onto the next opponent so there's not a time to really sit there and evaluate what you're doing."
The Texans also want an added emphasis on the production in the run game. After putting up two of their lowest rushing net totals of the season against Washington (21 yards) and Miami (36 yards), the Texans found success last week against the Browns with Dameon Pierce rushing for 73 yards and averaging 4.1 yards per carry. However, the Texans will find that balance between the passing and the ground game for Mills and the offense to bounce back Sunday against the Cowboys.
"As a unit, we often talk about we're a run-first team, we got to be able to run the football," Hamilton said. "We want to stay out of obvious passing situations. That's one thing that we can do to help any quarterback, not just a young quarterback. But you know, there's going to come a point in time as a quarterback where you are going to have to be able to manage and handle some obvious passing situations and one thing that we know can help us to manage those situations is just to make sure that fundamentally we are sound."
The Texans will travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys in Week 14. Sunday's kickoff from AT&T Stadium takes place at noon CT on FOX and SportsRadio 610.
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