ARIZONA CARDINALS

Texans QB C.J. Stroud pulled in concussion protocol after loss to Jets

Dec 10, 2023, 3:28 PM

C.J. Stroud...

C.J. Stroud #7 of the Houston Texans is sacked by Quinnen Williams #95 of the New York Jets during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on December 10, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — C.J. Stroud is in the concussion protocol after injuring his head in the final minutes of the Houston Texans’ 30-6 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday.

The Texans are uncertain if their star rookie quarterback will be ready for next Sunday’s game against AFC South-rival Tennessee.

“We’ll see how he progresses throughout the week,” Houston coach DeMeco Ryans said.

Stroud left with 6:30 remaining when he was hit by Quinnen Williams after he completed a 6-yard pass to John Metchie, fell backward and his head appeared to bounce off the MetLife Stadium turf. He was examined briefly on the sideline before he walked to the locker room. The Texans announced Stroud was done for the game and Davis Mills replaced him.

“On the hit with C.J., we’ve got to block it better,” Ryans said. “We can’t allow them to get back to our quarterback. We have to block it better up front.”

Stroud, who came in leading the NFL in yards passing, was unable to do much against an aggressive Jets defense. He was just 10 of 23 for a season-low 91 yards and was sacked four times before leaving with the head injury.

The Texans (7-6) finished with just 135 total yards and went 1 for 12 on third down and 0 for 3 on fourth down in their worst offensive performance of the season.

“It all starts with executing what we’re supposed to do to give ourselves a chance,” Ryans said. “You’ve got to start there. You’ve got to be able to execute the game plan and do what we have to do, no matter who’s in there.”

Mills, who would likely start if Stroud is unable, was 1 of 5 for 4 yards and was sacked once after coming in.

“It’s super tough,” Mills said of seeing Stroud hurt. “I love that man, battling week in, week out. Obviously, it’s tough seeing him go down.”

The Texans entered the game having won four of their last five, and the only loss in that stretch was a 24-21 defeat to AFC South-rival Jacksonville two weeks ago.

“We just came out flat today,” tight end Brevin Jordan said. “It’s one of those things as a team, we’ve got to pick it up. We’ve got to be ready to adjust. We play this game to get wins, it’s tough.”

Stroud was a major reason for the surge for Houston, which missed a chance to make up ground on first-place Jacksonville (8-5) after the Jaguars lost 31-27 at Cleveland. Indianapolis (7-6), tied with Houston for second place in the division, also lost, 34-14 at Cincinnati.

Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick last April, came in with 3,540 yards passing — the third most by a player in his first 12 games. He has 20 TD passes with just five interceptions and, despite his struggles against the Jets, hasn’t thrown an interception in his last three games.

“He’s really like the light of our team,” Jordan said. “He’s a guy who came in here and brought a lot of moxie, a lot of swag. To see him go down is tough, but it’s football. The next man got to be up and ready to go.”

It was a rough game for injuries for the Texans, who already came in without wide receiver Tank Dell after the rookie broke his left leg in the win last week against Denver.

Fellow wide receiver Nico Collins went out early with an injured calf and didn’t return. Cornerback Tavierre Thomas and LB Blake Cashman had hamstring injuries in the first half and didn’t come back, and rookie defensive end Will Anderson injured an ankle in the fourth quarter.

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