Kubiak conscious of Patriots' stout run defense

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Kubiak conscious of Patriots' stout run defense

J.J. Watt will inevitably be the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year when the votes are counted. But the Texans defensive lineman won't necessarily be the most impactful defensive lineman on the field Sunday when the Patriots and Texans get together again.

We pointed out Monday the importance of Vince Wilfork in stopping the Texans' running game.

Down in Houston, Texans coach Gary Kubiak was answering similar questions, including ones about whether the Texans are better off having seen Wilfork once.

He's going to look the same," said Kubiak. "Hes the same player. Hes one heck of a player and hes a load to handle. The thing about him is hes so athletic. We like to cut (block, where an offensive lineman fires out at a defensive lineman's lower body), we like to do those things up front offensively. And he jumped over us a couple of times.

"Theyre built right down the middle with the young linebacker and Wilfork," Kubiak added (one presumes the "young linebacker" is Jerod Mayo but it may be Brandon Spikes). "Theyre built very well right there. Against us they squeeze the ball really good off the edges with their outside players and let him do his work. Us containing him, for a player that plays inside, as many big plays as he makes, causing fumbles, those types of things, Thats the thing that concerns you the most. We cant let him do that.

The Patriots run defense in general has been very good, though statistically aided by the season opener against Tennessee when the Titans ran for just 20 yards. The 49ers ran all over New England for 180 yards but no other team got more than 120 over the final seven games.

Wilfork, says Kubiak, is the key.

"If you sit there and think youre going to run it at him consistently, its very difficult," he acknowledged. "Hes been one of the best players in the league, most dominant players in the league. Theyre very good against the run. I think theyre ranked like sixth or seventh. They have been all year long. The thing that is so difficult, is he plays everywhere. So he doesnt just play one spot. Its not like you go the other way with the ball or try to avoid something. Youre going to have to deal with him all day long. We know the importance of us playing well on the line of scrimmage. It was a key to what we did last week and Im sure it wont be any different this week."

The Texans played a very good front on Saturday when they took on the Bengals and lead back Arian Foster had 140 yards on 32 carries. The Texans defense played a big role in allowing Houston to use Foster so much. It was so stingy against Cincy's offense, the Texans never needed to get away from the running game and play catch-up. That's a dynamic that could change against New England.

And Kubiak acknowledged that as well.

"Missed opportunities they hurt all the time," said Kubiak. "But against these guys theyre a lot worse because of what they do offensively and how good they are. When you get opportunities to go down there and score some points, you better. You better not hurt yourself. Weve got to find ways to do that. Theyre going to make plays and we understand that, but we got to find a way to make quite a few ourselves."

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.