Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud will spend time in the NFL’s concussion protocol after he took a hard tumble to the turf Sunday late in a road loss to the New York Jets.
The back of Stroud’s head bounced off the MetLife Stadium field after he threw a pass and was hit by New York defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. Stroud lay on the turf in evident pain for several moments while being attended to by trainers and walking to the sideline medical tent. He was taken back to the locker room for evaluation and did not return to the game.
The injury leaves Stroud’s status in doubt for the Texans’ matchup next week at the Tennessee Titans. Having fallen to 7-6 with its 30-6 loss Sunday, Houston sits just outside the AFC playoff picture because of tiebreaker disadvantages.
“We’ll see how he progresses throughout the week,” Texans Coach DeMeco Ryans said at a postgame news conference after confirming that Stroud would be placed in the concussion protocol.
Stroud was replaced with under seven minutes to play by backup Davis Mills, who would be in line to start next week if Stroud does not receive medical clearance.
The No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft, Stroud entered the game leading the league in passing yardage but was laboring through a rough outing even before his injury. Harassed by the Jets’ stingy defense amid rainy conditions in East Rutherford, N.J., the former Ohio State star threw for just 91 yards on 10-of-23 passing and took four sacks.
The Texans’ offense was already short a pair of major contributors in rookie wide receiver Tank Dell and veteran tight Dalton Schultz, the team’s second- and third-leading pass-catchers, respectively. Dell suffered a season-ending last week when he broke his left fibula during a win over the Denver Broncos. Schultz missed his second straight game with a hamstring issue.
Houston’s problems mounted Sunday when wide receiver Nico Collins, its leading pass-catcher, left early in the first quarter with a calf injury. He did not return.
In a tightly packed AFC postseason chase, Houston is a game behind the 8-5 Jacksonville Jaguars for the division lead. Among three other 7-6 teams, the division rival Indianapolis Colts have a head-to-head win over the Texans, who are attempting to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2019 season.
Asked if he was “disappointed” with Williams, who was not penalized for his hit on Stroud after the quarterback released the ball, Ryans said, “We’ve got to block it better. We can’t allow them to get back to our quarterback.”
“Guys get injured on every field, across the league,” said the first-year head coach, who was a decorated linebacker over a 10-year NFL career. “It’s just the nature of what we do. Injuries happen, and I can’t blame it on a field.”
The sight of Stroud writhing on the field added a troubling scene to a litany of quarterback injuries this season. Jets starter Zach Wilson has played most of the season after Aaron Rodgers suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in the first quarter of the first game. Starting quarterbacks who suffered season-ending injuries since then include the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow, the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins, the New York Giants’ Daniel Jones, the Colts’ Anthony Richardson and the Cleveland Browns’ Deshaun Watson.
Other teams that played Week 14 without their starting quarterbacks because of injuries included the Pittsburgh Steelers (Kenny Pickett) and the Seattle Seahawks (Geno Smith). In all, 54 quarterbacks have made a start for an NFL team this season.