FOXBORO -- It will be difficult for the Patriots to simulate in practice exactly how disruptive Houston defensive end J.J. "Swatt" can be in the passing game.
But they do have a few tricks to try.
"There's ways to work on it in practice with different guys," quarterback Tom Brady said Wednesday. "I know Coach Belichick likes to bring guys in with racquetball paddles and stick those up in the air, which I'm sure there'll be a whole bunch of those there this week, which . . ." -- he gave pause for a rueful smile -- ". . . doesn't always make me very happy. But that's probably a good way to prepare for it. It's like throwing over a wall. It's hard."
Watt has defended 15 passes this season. Are there players in the NFL who have more? Sure -- five cornerbacks.
And there's more.
Despite being an end in a 3-4 defense, Watt has amassed 15.5 sacks.
Belichick said Tuesday that the different sub-packages Houston employs, and the frequency with which the team uses them, affords Watt more of an opportunity to get to the quarterback.
"He's in a bunch of different places so you can't really nail down where he's going to be at. I think all those different guys on our offensive line will get a match up at one point in the game. But Houston does a good job of moving him around," Brady said.
"He's as impressive as a player you could see on film. His agility, his quickness, his length, his instinctiveness in getting his hands up in the air to bat balls down. He's a great player for that defense."
Watt is a player you can't afford to lose sight of for a single snap. But it's not Brady's job to keep tabs all night.
"There's a lot of trust that you have to have in the offensive line, so I don't concern myself so much with worrying about a particular pass rusher on the 'D'-line; for me it's more coverage-oriented, and trying to read out the coverage, trying to get the ball out to the open guy as fast as I can. I can't think too much about looking at where they're at," the quarterback explained.
"It's not like there's any special formula to blocking a good defensive lineman, you just have to stand up and play a great game."
Oh, is that all?