Davis Mills has not officially been named the Houston Texans starter in 2022, but the second-year quarterback is certainly showing the skills of a leader.
"Davis is our quarterback," Head Coach Lovie Smith said Monday. "There's one thing about leadership. In order to lead, you've got to show up. You've got to be here. They have to see you in every situation and not just on the football field. For Davis, for the team to get a chance to get to know him, it's hanging out in the facility, just him being around us, the skill guys, yes, the offense, but the defensive guys too."
The Texans kicked off their offseason workout program on Monday, but Mills has been around the team facility. Following his rookie season, Mills organized offseason throwing sessions with teammates.
"If you look at all of my comments about Davis, I am a believer and him and what he's going to do eventually," Smith said. "He's got to do it all on the football field consistently where everybody loves him, every snap and all of that. But before a guy has played enough to do all of that, it's just he shows up every day. Availability. He is available and he has recruited other players to come here and what the guys see him doing is just working."
Both Smith and Pep Hamilton saw Mills' growth over the course of his rookie campaign. Mills struggled early in the season coming off the bench for Tyrod Taylor, but finished strong, tossing nine touchdowns and just two interceptions in his final five starts of 2021.
Hamilton, who served as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach last year, will get a chance to build on Mills' experience as the new offensive coordinator under Smith.
"Heading into the second season, the simple fact that we're talking about Davis as potentially being our starting quarterback, it's going to be really important that he brings a certain level of consistency every day in the meeting rooms, in the weight room, out on the field with our guys and the strength coaches, as well as continuing to work to understand and handle defense so that he can go out and play faster and be a better decision maker with the football," Hamilton said.
Selected in the third round (67th overall) of the NFL Draft last year, Mills played in 13 games with 11 starts, completing 66.8 percent of passes, the most by a rookie in Texans history, and throwing 16 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions with a passer rating of 88.8.
"If you just go back and look at the plays he made throwing the ball down field last year, there are so many good things he did and that's as a rookie," Smith said. "The improvement you see from Year 1 to Year 2 is normally a big improvement, and that's what we're going to get from him. Just like every other position, he's going to take a few hits, strengthen his body, all of that. That's what we're doing with him now."
The Texans are currently in Phase 1 of their nine-week offseason workout program.