Skip to main content

Stroud getting "groove" back as he prepares to start against Titans


C.J. Stroud spent the past couple of weeks gaining a different perspective of the game, while working his way through the NFL concussion protocol. 

The Texans rookie quarterback watched his team's games against the Titans and Browns from home. Despite being unable to be on the field with his teammates, Stroud, in his natural role as a leader at quarterback, still stayed in the fold while remaining grounded.

"I didn't try to get too up, too down. I was trying to be supportive of my teammates," Stroud said. "I was texting them throughout the week, and I was keeping up with the game plans and stuff. It was tough to watch because, of course, I wanted to play, but at the end of the day there was nothing I could do, so I wasn't going to try to control something I couldn't control and just get mad. So, I just tried to stay calm."

Stroud has been officially cleared out of the NFL's concussion protocol after a second-consecutive day of practicing on Thursday.

"He's looked the same way he's always looked," Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik said. "There's really been no difference in that regard. He's doing a great job just progressing through the stages he's at. He's on track and we'll see where he's at on Sunday."

Stroud does plan to start for the Texans against the Titans on Sunday inside NRG Stadium in their final home regular season game of the 2023 campaign.

"I feel great," Stroud said. "I feel really good. I feel back to myself, which was the biggest thing."

On the concussion and his recovery process, Stroud said it wasn't scary, but that he had to keep in mind how unique each injury is for a player.  "It was just the right precautions and the right steps I had to take to see progress. It wasn't overnight," Stroud said. "The thing about concussions that I have learned is that it's not a 'one-size-fits-all,' whatever the situation is. For me it was a little different than others. It was just unique to what I went through on the field.

"The training staff did a great job of just making sure that I was okay and wasn't forcing it and trying to come back too fast. I appreciate them for just being honest throughout the whole process and everything. Yeah, it was tough, but we're through it now, and I'm excited to play."

Due to the injury, Stroud didn't do any physical football activity from the time of the injury on December 10 until returning to practice on Wednesday.

A 16-day break.

The Houston Texans held practice on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 in preparation for the Week 17 matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

"This is the most I haven't done anything physical all year," Stroud said. "From August of 2022 preparing for my season with Ohio State, I haven't stopped since then. I haven't had a week or two break since that time before fall camp in college. It was good for me to catch up, let my shoulder rest a little bit and other nicks and pains I have. So, it definitely helped."

Stepping back onto the practice field after such a long layoff, there could have been some natural rust to knock off.

But for Stroud, the rookie felt like he didn't miss a beat at all stepping back into the huddle this week, thanks in big part to the work Texans quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson has done with him to gear him back up to full speed.

"It felt like my groove kind of got back," Stroud said. "I think Jerrod [Johnson] has done a good job of getting me back in my rhythm and getting my timing and stuff down for this week's prep. I feel like he has done a good job of putting me in live game situations."

As Stroud and the Texans gear up for his return on New Year's Eve in a huge game against an AFC South rival, the rookie is ready to roll.

"Hopefully I will come back and do as well or as better as I've been doing," Stroud said. "That's the plan, and I hope that that comes true. Excited for those next couple of games and this opportunity."

The opportunity, to be blunt, is claiming a playoff spot.

Slowik acknowledged that the team is in "playoff mode" and is excited to have one of the key pieces of the offense back.

"We have a lot of what I believe to be special guys on our team and on our offense and C.J. is one of them," Slowik said. "He's got an energy about him, he's got an edge to him. He's a great competitor, he carries himself the right way, approaches every day, practice, every game the right way. There is stuff that is intangible that isn't even football related that a lot of guys feed off of."