Brady: Regular-season win over Texans doesn't mean anything

960903.jpg

Brady: Regular-season win over Texans doesn't mean anything

Tom Brady has been around Bill Belichick long enough -- almost 13 years now -- that the quarterback and coach are on the same page when it comes to most things football. Such was the case this morning when Brady did his weekly interview with WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show and he reiterated what Belichick said during a conference call on Sunday: New England's dominating regular-season win over the Texans won't mean much on Sunday when Houston returns to Gillette Stadium for the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

"I don't think that game is going to have any bearing on what happens next week," Brady said. "It was a big win for our season, it was a big win at that time. But this game is going to be entirely different, and I think we've got to be able to put just as much preparation into the game as we did before. 

"We know these guys. I think that's the part that I enjoy, is that I've already spent a lot of time preparing for them. So, to have another week to do it, you feel like you're going to know them that much better. Now, we've still got to go out and execute against it. They have some great players on defense. That was a very good game they played the other day."

Brady said he watched the Wild Card games this weekend, and he took note of how well the Texans defense played in their win over the Bengals.

"They've got a very good defense. J.J. Watt's as good as there is in the NFL," Brady said. "They present their own challenges. I know they didn't feel like they played their best against us, which they didn't. And in a lot of ways I feel like we can play better, too. We're going to need to play better. This is going to need to be our best game."

To prepare for Watt last time, the Patriots used racquetball paddles in practice to imitate how disruptive Houston's defensive lineman can be when an opposing quarterback drops back to pass. Brady thinks he'll see more of the same this week.

"They might be taller this time," Brady said of the paddles. "He might get five or six of them out there. Last time he had four, and they just tried to mirror where I was looking. It's actually very helpful. I'm always excited to see what coach Belichick is going to pull out of his hat."

In 2010, the Patriots were faced with a situation that, on the surface, looks similar to the one they're facing now. Back then, they crushed the Jets in the regular season. When the Pats had to play them again in the playoffs, the Jets returned the favor.

"We haven't talked about that at all," Brady said. "I'm sure coach will talk about that this week, though. I think that's a great example. The reason we lost that game wasn't because we beat them, whatever, four weeks before. It was because we sucked in the game. We just didn't play the way we're capable. I think the important part is to play up to our level of expectation. And that's from myself, to the receivers, to the tight ends, to the running backs, to the offensive line, to go out and play the way that we're capable of playing. We have a lot of confidence when we do that."

Here are some of the other highlights from Brady's interview:

On seeing Redskins offensive lineman Trent Williams hit Seahawks corner Richard Sherman after Seattle's win Sunday
"Everyone reacts differently," Brady said. "I have my own style. I just try to be respectful to the opponents, because I have a lot of respect for the opponents. It's not a bunch of B.S. Guys that are playing in the NFL are pretty good players. I just give them the respect they deserve. I've played a lot of really great players in my career -- the best cornerbacks, the best linebackers, the best defensive linemen. When you play against Dwight Freeney and Jason Taylor, and you play against those guys and you realize you're going to have to play them again, you'd better say as many nice things as you can, which is kind of what I like to do."

On tight end Rob Gronkowski's recovery from a broken arm
"He's working hard," Brady said. "Nobody wants to be out there more than him on a full-time basis. He's never really missed any games for us, so it's been really hard for him to sit on the sideline. He wants to get out there . . . He's working hard to do his rehab and get back out there and be as full speed as he can possibly be. That's what we're all hoping. Whether that's the case, who knows?"

On Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who will retire after the season
"I said last week, I've had the privilege to play against him, and that really is a privilege," Brady explained. "You talk about guys that do things the right way and play the right way and play the game how it should be played and have respect for your opponents and the preparation. We've had some battles. It's amazing for one player like that, for as long as he's been at Baltimore they've had if not the best, one of the top three best defenses in the league, year in and year out, player after player, coordinator after coordinator. They're doing it again this year."

Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

patriots-rob-gronkowski-061316.jpg

Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a welcome face back on the practice field on Wednesday, as tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action after missing the team's previous five practices as he dealt with an injury. 

Gronkowski participated in the warmup period of practice and then remained with the majority of his teammates for drills. 

The last time Gronkowski was spotted on the field was last Monday, which was the first of three joint practices between the Patriots and the Bears. He pulled up after pursuing a Tom Brady pass, walked along the sideline, met with head trainer Jim Whalen, and then left practice early. He did not suit up for Thursday's game against Chicago. 

Gronkowski has not participated in a preseason game since 2012. 

Patriots not spotted at Wednesday's practice were Shaq Mason, Jonathan Cooper, Sebastian Vollmer (on the physically unable to perform list) and Dion Lewis (also on PUP). Alan Branch, who has been suspended by the team before last week's preseason game, was also missing. 

Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Malcolm Mitchell, Shea McClellin, Tre' Jackson (PUP) and Danny Amendola (PUP) were present for warmups but went to a lower field for conditioning. Amendola and Jackson were not in pads for the short-and-shells session. 

Jon Bon Jovi was taking in the session alongside Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. 

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

red_sox_hanley_ramirez_072816.jpg

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
---
Rick Porcello P

RAYS:
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
---
Matt Andriese P