Even without JJ Watt in the lineup -- he's on injured reserve after undergoing back surgery earlier this season -- Tom Brady won't be taking the Texans defense lightly.
They ranked No. 1 in yards allowed during the regular season (301.3 per game), and they checked in at No. 11 in points allowed (20.5). They were behind only Denver when it came to passing yards allowed this season (201.6).
"They have the No. 1 defense in the league. I studied them all day yesterday," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan on Monday. "They have a damn good defense."
On the list of priorities for the Patriots offense this week will be figuring out how to neutralize edge defender Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in 2014, who recorded two pass-breakups in Saturday's Wild Card Round win over the Raiders -- one of which he picked off.
"Not only that, [Whitney Mercilus] is a damn good player," Brady said of the pass-rusher who typically lines up opposite Clowney. "They have two very good linebackers and then they have one of the best secondary’s that we’ll face in terms of coverage corners. They have three guys who can cover.
"Also, playing against [coach Bill O’Brien's] team, and he has [defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel], who we know how great of a coach Romeo is. [Linebackers coach Mike Vrabel], how well prepared he keeps those guys on defense. [Larry] Izzo on special teams. You have a lot of guys who know how to win football games down there. They know how to prepare their team. I think that is why they are in the position they are in."
Clowney and Mercilus both earned Second-Team All-Pro honors this season, while linebacker Bernardrick McKinney was also named to the Second-Team.
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.
Tom Brady's off-the-field workout habits are the subject of serious curiosity for those in New England and beyond. Thanks to Under Armour's Instagram account, followers got a brief glimpse of what Brady does to stay in shape.
OK. It was more like a glimpse at what he did one day in Tokyo.
The video of Brady in the dohyo ring was shot at the Sakaigawa sumo stable in Tokyo on Thursday. According to Kyodo News, leading the training session was ozeki Goeido, who won last year's Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.
"For them to welcome me means very much to me. It's hard to describe in words how special that was," Brady said.
Brady bounced around China before heading to Japan to continue to help promote Under Armour and in particular its "recovery sleepwear" line. He threw a pass on the Great Wall, and he explained that it was his "dream" to play a game on the continent.