NFL preseason Week 1 takeaways: C.J. Stroud struggles in Texans debut

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The first week of the 2023 NFL preseason commenced Thursday night, with the New England Patriots hosting the Houston Texans and the Seattle Seahawks welcoming the Minnesota Vikings.

No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud got his first NFL reps in a start for the Texans. He went 2-for-4 for 13 total yards and an interception before coach DeMeco Ryans turned to incumbent starter Davis Mills.

Mills went 9-of-12 for 99 yards and a touchdown before Case Keenum took over under center. While the Carolina Panthers named No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young the starter to open training camp, Ryans still has not named a starter between Stroud and Mills.

On the other sideline, Patriots fans will have to wait at least another week to see how quarterback Mac Jones has adjusted to Bill O’Brien’s new offense.

The Seahawks’ Pro Bowl quarterback Geno Smith watched as backup Drew Lock took the start. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the second of Seattle’s two first-round picks, got his first NFL action Thursday night, along with Vikings first-rounder Jordan Addison.

Here are the biggest takeaways from Thursday’s games, along with the rest of the Week 1 preseason schedule.

Quick links:
Full Schedule | Depth charts | PickCenter

NFL preseason games on Thursday, Aug. 10

Texans: C.J. Stroud struggled in his first preseason start, which could allow the quarterback competition with Davis Mills to linger. Stroud played two series and went 2-for-4 for 13 yards with an interception. Mills went 9-for-12 for 99 yards with a touchdown. Stroud appeared to be separating in the competition as coach DeMeco Ryans gave Stroud all the first-team offensive reps in practice as he showed better command of the offense. But in his first NFL action, he was tentative, took a sack and threw an interception that led to a Patriots’ field goal. He didn’t have excellent protection, as he was under pressure on 60% of his dropbacks. On the other hand, Mills led the Texans to their only points of the first half with a touchdown throw to rookie receiver Tank Dell. — DJ Bien-Aime

Next game: vs. Dolphins (4 p.m. ET, Saturday, Aug. 19)

Patriots: On a night that most starters didn’t play, second-round draft pick Keion White turned in an impressive debut. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound defensive end out of Georgia Tech started on the edge and was disruptive and consistently around the ball. He finished with three tackles, including smothering running back Dare Ogunbowale on a loose exchange with quarterback Davis Mills that linebacker Calvin Munson recovered for a turnover. White’s performance, combined with first-round pick Christian Gonzalez starting at cornerback, infuses youth into an already strong defense that returns every player except Devin McCourty. The Patriots lead the NFL in terms of defensive retention. — Mike Reiss

Next game: at Packers (8 p.m. ET, Saturday, Aug. 19)


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Drew Lock completes 19-yard TD pass to Jake Bobo

Jake Bobo scores a touchdown from a 19-yard dime from Drew Lock in the third quarter.

Seahawks: Drew Lock has yet to put it all together over four NFL seasons, but he showed Thursday night why the Seahawks continue to believe that he’s a starting-caliber quarterback. With Geno Smith and most of Seattle’s veteran first-teamers getting the night off, Lock started against Minnesota and played into the fourth quarter, in large part because the Seahawks want to get him as many reps as possible this preseason after he didn’t play a single snap in last year’s regular season. At times, he looked like he was shaking off rust from almost a calendar year on the bench. But he mostly showed off the tools that made him a second-round pick and a player Seattle badly wanted to acquire in the Russell Wilson trade. Lock completed 17 of 24 passes for 191 yards, two touchdown passes and a tough-luck interception on a throw that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. — Brady Henderson

Vikings: Running back Ty Chandler took advantage of an extended look Thursday night as he competes for the No. 2 job behind starter Alexander Mattison. Playing for almost the entire first half, Chandler rushed for 41 yards on 11 carries, while also catching four passes for another 29 yards. Along the way, he demonstrated his ability to make the first defender miss. And he did so, coach Kevin O’Connell said at halftime, on some plays that were not blocked well. With Kene Nwangwu sidelined by injury for most of camp and rookie DeWayne McBride struggling, Chandler has a clear path to the No. 2 job at this point. — Kevin Seifert

Next game: vs. Titans (8 p.m. ET, Saturday, Aug. 19)

Next game: vs. Cowboys (10 p.m. ET, Saturday, Aug. 19)

NFL preseason games on Friday, Aug. 11

Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals: 7 p.m. ET, NFL Network

New York Giants at Detroit Lions: 7 p.m. ET

Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins: 7 p.m. ET

Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7 p.m. ET

Washington Commanders at Cleveland Browns: 7:30 p.m. ET

Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals: 10 p.m. ET, NFL Network

NFL preseason games on Saturday, Aug. 12

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills: 1 p.m. ET

Tennessee Titans at Chicago Bears: 1 p.m. ET, NFL Network

New York Jets at Carolina Panthers: 4 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys: 5 p.m. ET

Philadelphia Eagles at Baltimore Ravens: 7 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams: 9 p.m. ET, NFL Network

NFL preseason games on Sunday Aug. 13

Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints: 1 p.m. ET, NFL Network

San Francisco 49ers at Las Vegas Raiders: 4 p.m. ET, NFL Network

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