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Texans QB C.J. Stroud (concussion) listed as doubtful vs. Titans

Rookie sensation C.J. Stroud could miss the first game of his NFL career.

The Houston Texans officially ruled Stroud as doubtful to play in Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans due to a concussion suffered in the Week 14 loss to the New York Jets.

Stroud missed practice all week and remained in concussion protocol Friday, head coach DeMeco Ryans said. The doubtful designation gives only a sliver of hope Stroud could play Sunday. 

"C.J., he's starting to feel a little bit better, but he will still be in concussion protocol," Ryans said before the designation was announced. "We have our hopes that he can feel better. We'll see how the next couple of days go."

Ryans noted that Stroud's long-term health is more important than any singular game.

"He's just getting back healthy," Ryans said. "That's the main thing for him, getting back healthy. Starting to watch a little film, but he's just getting back healthy and getting back to normal, that's the main thing for C.J. For me, the game is the last thing. It's [about] how healthy is C.J.? And that's the only thing that matters. The game – it will take care of itself. But we're concerned about C.J.'s health. We're not concerned about, 'Is he going in this game or not?' We'll see. We don't know, but it's not about the game. How is C.J. doing? That's how we approach everything when it comes to the health of our players."

The Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite, Stroud has been sensational leading the young Texans to a 7-6 record. In 13 starts, he's generated 3,631 yards, second-most in the NFL, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. According to Next Gen Stats, Stroud leads the NFL in pass yards on passes of 20-plus air yards (938) and is tied for the most such completions (27).

On Sunday, Stroud's head banged off the turf on a hard hit from Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams midway through the fourth quarter. He exited the contest and was placed in concussion protocol.

Davis Mills replaced Stroud in last week's loss and seems likely in line to make his first start of the season if the rookie can't go. Mills started 26 games the previous two years, compiling 5,782 yards with 33 TDs and 25 INTs in 38 appearances. Last year, he tied Dak Prescott for the league lead in interceptions (15). Ryans could elect to go with veteran Case Keenum, who hasn't started a game since 2021. On Friday, the coach didn't indicate which way he was leaning, noting both "have done a great job."

"Both guys have prepared this whole week just like every position," Ryans said of the backup QBs. "Everybody is prepared. I told everybody on Wednesday [that] everybody needs to prepare as a starter, and that's how we approach it. And that's kind of how our season has gone, right? We need everybody. And whenever your number is called, just expect everybody to step up and play their best. We're going to go at this thing as a team, and that's how we'll approach it."

Stroud missing Sunday's division is a big blow to an already banged-up Texans squad looking to keep pace with a smorgasbord of 7-6 AFC clubs battling for a wild-card berth and potentially make up some ground in the AFC South race if the Jaguars falter against Baltimore.

Receiver Nico Collins (hamstring) is questionable to play after exiting Sunday's loss early. Fellow wideout Noah Brown (knee) is also questionable, underscoring how banged up Houston's weaponry is at the moment. On the brighter side, tight end Dalton Schultz is off the injury report after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury.

Tackle Noah Fant (hip), guard Shaq Mason (calf) and linebacker Henry To'oto'o (hamstring) are also questionable. 

The Texans ruled out rookie defensive end Will Anderson Jr. (ankle), linebacker Blake Cashman (hamstring), and corner Tavierre Thomas (hamstring).

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