Pats coordinators give early look at Texans

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Pats coordinators give early look at Texans

Monday night is the game many have had highlighted on their schedule all season. So with the 11-1 Houston Texans coming to town next, it's time to look at what the Patriots' initial impressions are of the top seed in the AFC.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels knows it will be a challenge, and went out of his way to describe just how much of a threat defensive end J.J. Watt will be.

"This is an aggressive team that plays physical, tough defense," said McDaniels in a conference call on Monday. "I think they play fast. They play very hard up front, and do a lot of really good things with their front three or four . . . I don't think it's a stretch to say that this is going to be a big challenge for us. They have talented players at every level of their defense, and they're obviously very well coached. So we're going to have to do a great job of preparing for them this week.

"With J.J. Watt, obviously he's having a great year, and he's a great player no matter where they line him up. The fact that they move him a little bit inside and outside, we're going to have to have more than one guy ready to handle him and block him. It won't just fall to the guard or to the tackle. It could be anybody at times, based on the way they're playing. So we have to do a great job of trying to simulate his effort, his motor, some of the things he does to disrupt people in the running game, the passing game. And we have to make sure we're very mindful of taking care of the football, and not letting him get his hands on balls, because he's certainly creating a lot of disruptive opportunities for them defensively, by tipping the ball and batting the ball in the air. We've got a ton of respect for him."

On the other side of the football, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia expressed his concerns with Houston's "balanced" offensive attack.

"You're talking about a very balanced, very well-put-together offense," he said on Monday. "Between the run and the pass, and with a quarterback that is obviously a talented player that is really doing a phenomenal job running the system that they run.

"I think the biggest thing for us, obviously, is trying to figure out how to stop this running game, which is a critical part to what they do, along with passing abilities that they have. Their tight ends are extremely good, and they use all of them. There are very talented players there. Obviously, Andre Johnson is a phenomenal player for them outside . . . I think its a very balanced offense just from the standpoint that the quarterback will get the ball to the appropriate receiver based on coverage or based on read for that particular play so hes not always targeting one guy. Hes going to try to get the ball to the open receiver and thats really what makes it difficult in the passing game and then what we talked about with the running game with these two backs that have potential for big plays at any given time if they see any crack in the defense, they really have the ability to hurt you with that. The main point of emphasis is going to do a really good job with the fundamentals here and make sure that we play good, solid team defense and being able to stop the run and the passing game and hopefully handle the guys up front to the best of our ability and try to do a good job there."

Knighton kicks himself off Twitter

Knighton kicks himself off Twitter

FOXBORO -- If you're on Twitter and you follow Terrance Knighton, you know where he stands on all sorts of topics. 

He thought the Sen. Elizabeth Warren speech at the Democratic National Convention would be "epic." He watches the WNBA. He loves the Celtics. He hates it when his dog looks at him naked. He wants an uncensored sports talk show on the radio when he's done with his playing career. 

And those are things you could gather from his timeline in the last week alone. 

Three days ago, the avid Twitter user called it quits. For the time being. 

"I'm just gonna try something different," he said when asked about his self-imposed Twitter ban. "The environment that I'm around, everyone's just focused on football. I'll be off it for three weeks, and as soon as I break it in three weeks, I'll have a lot to say I'm pretty sure." 

Knighton said he's not concerned about getting himself into any trouble with what he may say on the social-media site, but given the amount of focus he wants to put into his job, it makes sense for him to back away now that training camp has begun. 

"I would never say anything to get in trouble," he said. "But I speak on everything so right now, all the Democratic and Republican conventions, I just keep them quiet right now." 

He added: "In the locker room, you don't see guys on their phones all the time. You don't see guys joking around. They're always doing something productive to win. I decided to give [Twitter] up for three weeks, but like I said, I can't wait to get back to Twitter because I always have a lot to say." 

New eating habits help Knighton start strong with Patriots

New eating habits help Knighton start strong with Patriots

FOXBORO -- Terrance Knighton knows the scouting report on his game has been well established after seven years in the league. 

He's an anchor in the middle of the defensive line. He occupies double-teams. He...

"...Eats up space," he said on Saturday, finishing off the standard bullet-point description of his skill set. 

While the 350-pound defensive tackle signed by the Patriots this offseason knows that holding his ground to clog running lanes is one of his strengths, he's trying to prove that he's a better athlete than he gets credit for. 

During one 11-on-11 repetition on Saturday, it was Knighton's mobility down the line of scrimmage that stood out. He sniffed out a stretch run to his right, pursued James White toward the sideline, and put a solid thud on the running back as the first defender to the ball.

Knighton said after practice that he's happy with his conditioning, and he's comfortable in the Patriots defensive playbook. As a result, he thinks he may be playing faster. 

"I take pride in it," Knighton said. "I'm in better shape than I've been in. I'm understanding the defense a lot better now so maybe I'll play faster than I did earlier in OTAs. Of course, I hear the criticism. And obviously, I feel like a guy with my skill set keeps playing on different teams. I obviously want to make a name for myself somewhere and make a home for myself, and I just want to eliminate that me being a one-type of guy and more of an all-around player."

Knighton has put in plenty of conditioning work since his arrival to the Patriots. He's already very familiar with head strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera and The Hills behind the Gillette Stadium practice fields. 

But he explained that part of the reason he feels as though he's in better shape is because his diet has changed since changing teams. 

"All my meals are cut to a T based on my body type, my blood type," he said. "I'm getting extra treatment. I'm getting extra workouts in. I have an in-home chef, something that they've set up for me. Everything's set up on point."

And it's not just his meals. It's his snacks, too. There was a time when Knighton would down a Snickers or a bag of Doritos in a meeting just to help him stay alert. He said that the Patriots, whose nutrition program is led by team nutritionist Ted Harper, have helped him find healthier alternatives.

"It's become maybe sunflower seeds, or maybe pecans or walnuts or grapes," he said. "Something where you know I can eat a lot of it and get something out of it at the same time. It's tough. It's tough. But it's only going to help me out here because I would feel it all. I would be mad about those Doritos if I had them today."

Knighton had a strong day during the Patriots' first padded practice. He won decisively in the lone one-on-one matchup I saw him participate in, and he showed some power during periods focused on the inside running game. 

His strengths are his strengths, but if he can continue to exhibit the athleticism he flashed Saturday, Knighton should only continue to get plenty of training camp reps, even when Alan Branch (on the non-football injury list) returns to practice. 

With a new team and a changed diet, Knighton seems to be embracing everything being thrown at him. In New England, he's in a structured environment that he feels may help him improve his game -- even when many feel as though they have it figured out. 

"At all times of the day, I have something to do productive whether it's staying in shape, whether it's getting stronger, or whether it's getting rest," he said. "They set it up for you so that you're always doing something. At the end of the day, you're always doing something that's productive and not going backwards."

Terrance Knighton doing everything he can to prep for training camp

Terrance Knighton doing everything he can to prep for training camp

Mike Giardi joined by Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry to discuss Terrance Knighton's performance with the Patriots. Also, a look at rookie Joe Thuney and Marcus Cannon's future.