GREENVILLE, S.C. — In just three days, former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson will officially begin his NFL career.
On Tuesday, the Houston Texans will depart for White Sulfur Springs, W. Va., where for the first time in franchise history they will hold training camp somewhere other than at the Houston Methodist Training Center in Houston, Texas.
The reason for the change of venue is due to the extreme heat in Houston right now where temperatures are at 100 degrees. In comparison, it’s just 82 degrees in West Virginia. The Texans will camp at The Greenbrier.
“I’m the rookie so I’m just kind of going with the flow and following what the team tells me to do,” Watson said on Saturday after signing autographs for Clemson fans at the Maserati Dealership in Greenville, S.C.
Watson is excited to finally get his NFL career started as the Texans plan to hold 17 practices at The Greenbrier before heading back to Houston on Aug. 18 to finish out the rest of the preseason.
“This is something I have been dreaming about and hoping for a long time and now it is here,” he said. “Now I get go live it and go do what I do. It is going to be fun.”
Besides rookie minicamp and attending OTAs, it has been a whirlwind summer for the two-time Davey O’Brien winner as the nation’s best quarterback. He’s been traveling back and forth to Houston, plus has hosted football camps all over South Carolina, while also studying his play book and working out as he prepares his body and mind for his first NFL training camp.
“I just kind of do what I do,” Watson said. “I train. I study. I will not say it has been hard. I have just been doing whatever the coaches have asked me to do and taking it just one thing at a time.”
Early on Saturday, former Clemson wide receiver Deandre Hopkins, who is entering his fifth season with the Texans, said he has talked with Watson a little bit about camp and what he needs to be looking out for in the days and weeks to come, especially in head coach Bill O’Brien’s offense.
“This is the NFL. They give you a playbook and they expect you to know the plays,” Hopkins said. “He knows that, though. He is doing a great job right now. He is the type of kid that you really don’t have to tell him much. He gets it.”
Watson said he just listened to Hopkins and soaked it all in.
“I was not saying too much about what I was expecting. I was keeping an open mind and an open book,” the rookie said. “I was just kind of doing that and listening to all the veteran guys and seeing what they say.”
Of course Watson, the No. 12 overall pick in the NFL Draft this past April, is expected to challenge Tom Savage as the starting quarterback in camp. But Watson indicated his goal is not necessarily to be the starting quarterback.
“The biggest thing is just playing my role and whatever role that is and helping the team win,” Watson said. “That’s the biggest thing right now and taking it easy and competing each and every day and just doing my job.”
Coincidentally, Watson will play his first preseason game in Charlotte, N.C., when they visit the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on Aug. 9. It’s an intriguing game because Watson will be playing against his friend Cam Newton as well as going head-to-head against former teammate and Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware, who is a rookie on the Panthers’ squad.
So far, Watson says there has been no trashing talk with Boulware, but he knows it is coming.
“It has been all good,” Watson said. “We probably will not talk any trash until we actually step on the field. It is going to be all love off the field and we wish each other the best.”
However, after three years of not being tackled in practice, Watson knows Boulware will be anxious to get a shot or two at his former quarterback.
“He will be, but it is all good,” Watson said with a laugh. “I will just slide the protection to him.”
When asked if he has been side stepping Boulware the last three years in practice, anyway, Watson smiled and said, “A little bit or something like that. He will tell you wrong, but I think I have.”
Kickoff for the Texans at the Panthers on Aug. 9 is set for 7:30 p.m.
—Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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