CHARLOTTE - The Houston Texans (1-1) surprised many with their strong Week 1 win over the Jaguars after an eventful offseason.
However, the team suffered a setback in Week 2 with a road loss at Cleveland and the loss of quarterback Tyrod Taylor to a mid-game hamstring injury.
With a short turnaround before Thursday's game, let's take a look at where the Texans stand.
MILLS EXPECTED TO START
Rookie quarterback Davis Mills is expected to make his first career start for Houston after entering Sunday's game to replace Taylor. Mills went 8-of-18 for 102 yards and a touchdown and interception.
Mills was drafted out of Stanford in the third round of this year's draft with Houston's first pick in the draft. He only played in 14 total games in college, including just five in 2020 due to the pandemic.
He struggled some in this year's preseason, posting a passer rating of 47.8 after throwing for 333 yards on 31-of-65 passing with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Panthers scouted him during the pre-draft process, and watched film of his preseason action, but there's a limited body of evidence.
COOKING ON THE OUTSIDE
Mills will rely on speedy wideout Brandin Cooks who caught his only touchdown in Sunday's second half. Cooks currently ranks 14th among active NFL players with 7,090 career receiving yards.
Cooks has 14 receptions for 210 yards this year, while no other Texan has more than 70 yards.
Former Saint and Raven Mark Ingram is now in Houston where he has 125 yards rushing, averaging 3.0 yards per carry.
Houston only had four offensive playmakers return from last season, as they loaded up on veteran free agent signings and draft picks. Overall, the team reported 21 returning vets against 27 veteran acquisitions and five new draft picks.
Houston's defense has produced five turnovers in two games, including two interceptions from Justin Reid. The Texans are tied for the second-most takeaways in the NFL, while their defensive third-down conversion percentage of 35.0 is third-best in the AFC.
Defensive lineman Whitney Mercilus already has a sack and two tackles for loss as he ranks second in Texans history in career sacks (55.0), tackles for loss (71) and forced fumbles (13).
Carolina is 3-2 all-time against the Texans.