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HOUSTON – For the second time in three games, the Panthers will face a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start against Davis Mills and the Texans on Thursday.
Carolina (2-0) started the season with a 19-14 victory over the Jets in the debut of Zach Wilson, drafted second overall this year.
On the Houston side (1-1), Tyrod Taylor injured the back of the thigh last weekend, and he was placed on the injured list.
A third-round pick, Mills had 102 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception in the second half of a loss to the Browns after Taylor was injured.
Carolina intercepted Wilson once, in addition to getting six sacks.
The club were equally effective against Jameis Winston and the Saints, registering two interceptions and four sacks, in a 26-7 victory.
This, a week after the veteran threw five touchdown passes.
“I’m surprised, but it just shows the work we did at camp and during the activities organized by the team,” said linebacker Haason Reddick.
“We bonded and got to know each other. It makes everyone commit to a single goal. «
Carolina leads the NFL with 10 sacks and 380 allowed yards.
“Their defense is very, very fast,” summed up Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly.
“Davis did a good job of easing the transition. We will still do whatever we can to help it be successful. «
The Texans have made running their offensive priority, having placed second to last in the NFL for rushing yards in 2020.
With Mills making his first start, Houston knows that establishing ground play will be even more important.
“We want to give him a boost and make it a lot less stressful for him,” said running back David Johnson.
“Everyone’s been there. The best thing you can have are great veterans like we have, guys you can talk to about it. «
The Texans had 160 rushing yards in Game 1, but only 82 yards that way last Sunday.
Texans safety back Justin Reid already has two interceptions and against the Browns, he also caused a fumble.
“He can hurt the opponent on more than one level,” Texans defensive coordinator Lovie Smith said.
Carolina has dominated the first half of games this season, dominating 33-0 for points and 572-172 for yards.
However, in the second half, the Panthers allowed the Jets and Saints to return to the game.
“We had these little lapses,” admitted coach Matt Rhule. We just have to learn to be aggressive, while still being smart. «