Texans face Patriots in early season test
Published 8:21 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Three days is all the 2-0 Houston Texans have had to prepare for tonight’s game against the undefeated New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.
The short week comes after Houston’s 19-12 win versus the Kansas City Chiefs last week at NRG Stadium in Houston. This is the first road game of the season.
“Yeah, it’s a quick turnaround so we have to – like Coach (Bill) O’Brien said – we have to turn the page fast,” rookie receiver Will Fuller V said on Monday. “We’re going to start getting prepared for them today (Tuesday). This quick turnaround, got to get my mind ready for the Patriots now.”
Fuller can become the first NFL player to ever start his career with three consecutive 100-yard receiving performances.
The quick turnaround had O’Brien ditch the comfort of sleeping at home and taking up residence in his Texans’ office for the week.
“We sleep here instead of at home,” O’Brien said. “Do I look like I’m kidding? Do I look as fresh as a daisy right now?”
A Houston win over New England would be the 100th regular season victory in team history.
The Patriots own a 6-1 record against the Texans all time and have won four straight over Houston.
TWO FORMER TITANS IN A ROW
The Texans faced former Port Arthur Memorial star Jamaal Charles’ Kansas City Chiefs last week. Charles did not get on the field while still recovering after tearing his ACL in his right knee last October against Chicago. There are differing reports to if Charles will play this week against the New York Jets.
This week it is PAM graduate Elandon Roberts who is a rookie linebacker for the Patriots. Roberts was drafted out of the University of Houston in the sixth round with the 214th pick. Roberts collected his first career tackle last week in the Patriots’ 31-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
WHERE IS BRADY?
Today will mark the first time in team history the Texans face the Patriots and Brady does not line up under center for New England. At the same time, Brock Osweiler will become the fifth Texans’ starting quarterback to face the Patriots. Tony Banks, David Carr, Matt Schaub and Brian Hoyer were the other four quarterbacks to start for Houston against New England.
The Patriots are expected to start rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett following an injury to Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 2 as Tom Brady serves the third game in a four-game suspension.
“He’s a challenging guy because there is not a lot of pro tape on him,” O’Brien said. “You have to go back and watch some things from N.C. State and things like that. Then go back to your evaluation of him in the draft. We thought he was a really good player when we evaluated him in the draft. I know that they’ll coach him well.”
Defensive end J.J. Watt needs a half-sack on any quarterback tonight to tie former Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith for the fourth-most career sacks in an NFL player’s first six season at 76.5
“You just go out there and you prepare as well as you can for their team and for the schemes and for everything you’re going to see,” Watt said. “Whoever it is, we have to go out there and play our game and make sure we do what we do, We look forward to the challenge and whoever they put out there, we have to go out there and try to stop.”
IT’S PRIMETIME BABY
The Texans enter tonight’s game with a 2-5 record on Thursday night. The last time the Texans won a Thursday game was on Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 22, 2012, a 34-31 overtime victory against Detroit.
Receiver DeAndre Hopkins is not treating this week any different than any other week.
“It’s just another football game to us and this team,” Hopkins said. “We’ve been in big games before so we’re not really overly hyped about being the only team on TV.”
Another football game is putting it lightly considering the Patriots are 27-2 in their last 29 games at Gillette Stadium.
The Texans rank third in the NFL in 2016 in third down defense. Opponents have only converted 25.9-percent of their third-down opportunites. Houston ranks fourth in the NFL in opponent completion percentage at 54.5-percent. There have been many stars on defense so far including J.J. Watt, A.J. Bouye and Whitney Mercilus. The defense has also picked up with the emergence of Jadeveon Clowney who finally appears healthy for the first time in his short career.
“It’s a great feeling,” Clowney said of being on the field. “The defense counts on me and the guys around me depend on me. I’m just going out there and just being competitive and try to be all over the field, run to the ball and make plays. Everybody around us is doing the same thing so that’s what makes our defense special.”
Gabriel Pruett: 721-2436. Twitter: @PaNewsGabe