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Texans’ Watson grabs spotlight, Panthers take game

The Associated Press

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson runs against the Carolina Panthers in the first half of their preseason game on Wednesday.

The Associated PressCHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Deshaun Watson reminded everyone why Panthers coach Ron Rivera — and many others — felt he should have won the Heisman Trophy last season.

Watson shined in his NFL preseason debut, completing 15 of 25 passes for 179 yards and running for a score in the Houston Texans’ 27-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday.

Watson, who led Clemson to the ACC championship on this field last December en route to winning the national championship, received a rousing ovation from Tigers fans dressed in orange when he entered the game in the second quarter.

The cheers grew louder when Watson outran two defenders for a 15-yard touchdown — although Panthers fans tried to cover the celebration with boos.

“It was good just to get my feet wet,” said Watson, who was pleased with his overall effort.

Houston’s first-round draft pick looked comfortable in the pocket, stepping up to avoid pressure and getting rid of the football in a timely manner. He didn’t let penalties on his team affect him and didn’t turn the ball over in nearly three quarters of play.

“He’s a smart player, an instinctive player,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said.

“For the first game out there I thought he did some good things. That’s a big jump from college to the NFL and I thought he handled it pretty well.”

Tom Savage went three-and-out on his first two possessions against Carolina’s first-team defense. Savage had better luck with Carolina’s starters out of the game, completing 8 of 8 passes for 67 yards on his final drive capped by a 16-yard TD run by Alfred Blue.

But it was a strong showing for Carolina’s defensive starters.

“We put ourselves in good third down situations and we were able to execute and get off the field,” Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said. “Overall, the first half, the ones definitely had a good showing.”

NFL to hire full-time officials

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL will hire up to 24 full-time game officials.

The league will begin hiring between 21 and 24 full-time officials from among the current roster of 124 officials for this season. The decision was announced Wednesday.

“We believe this is a great development for NFL officiating overall and ultimately the quality of our game,” said NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent. “We share a common goal, which is to make our game as great as it can possibly be, and look forward to working together on this new effort.”

Full-time officials will be hired at each of the seven officiating positions and may serve on each of the 17 officiating crews.Speech

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