Deshaun Watson will be making his first NFL start on Thursday night and his former head coach will be watching.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said the second-ranked Tigers will be all done with their Thursday evening practice by the time Watson and his new team take the field in Cincinnati (8:25 p.m.) to play the Bengals in Week 2 of the NFL season.
“Is that cool,” Swinney asked in excitement following Wednesday’s practice as Clemson gets set to play at No. 14 Louisville on Saturday.
Watson came in for Tom Savage in the second half during Houston’s loss to Jacksonville last Sunday. The former Clemson star threw a touchdown pass to former Tiger wideout Deandre Hopkins.
Some wondered earlier in the week if Watson might get the start after he came out of the game with an ankle injury. He was sacked four times and threw an interception, but with the Texans’ offensive line playing so poorly, Watson’s mobility gives the offense a better chance to be successful than with the slow-footed Savage.
Watson’s first NFL start is not the only thing that makes tomorrow so special for the two-time David O’Brien Award winner.
“It is also his birthday,” said Swinney, who talked to Watson two nights ago. “So how cool is that? You tell me God does not have a plan, man! Getting his first NFL start on his birthday, I just think that is awesome. I really do. I don’t have any doubt he will be well prepared.
“He will play great. I will definitely have time to watch him tomorrow night.”
Injury notes. Swinney said free safety Van Smith (knee) has looked good in practice and will be ready to play on Saturday at Papa John’s Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
He also said cornerback Marcus Edmond (sprained foot) is still day-to-day. Edmond is still officially listed as questionable for the Louisville game.