Every rookie has their “Welcome to the NFL” moment, and C.J. Stroud certainly experienced his Thursday night. The No. 2 overall pick was intercepted by Patriots veteran Jalen Mills on his very first drive of the postseason, showing the young gunslinger certainly has some work to do ahead of Week 1.
After the game, Mills revealed he tracked down Stroud to give him an important message.
The safety told Stroud, via FOX Sports’ Henry McKenna, “You’ve got all the tools. Believe in yourself. Keep working hard. You’ve got it.”
McKenna added that Mills said Stroud is going to be a “really, really good player.”
Honestly, this is extremely commendable. No one made Mills go out of his way to talk with the Texans QB. The fact he also had some very nice words of encouragement for Stroud speaks to how good of a person Mills is. It’s one thing to praise someone at their highest point, but it’s another to offer support when things don’t go as planned.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Stroud remembers this moment fondly, no matter how successful of a career he goes on to enjoy. Surely he wanted a better preseason debut, but this is a learning experience that’ll certainly stick with him. Getting the backing from a top talent and Super Bowl champ should lift his spirits a bit at the very least.
For Mills, meanwhile, this preseason interception will hopefully be a great momentum-starter ahead of a crucial 2023 campaign. After posting 2 INTs in just 10 games last year, he could be on his way to a career year if he manages to stay healthy.
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