Texans battling litany of injuries

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Texans battling litany of injuries

They are 11-1 and holding down the top spot in the AFC, but the Houston Texans will enter Gillette Stadium on Monday with their fingers crossed.

Injuries all along the Houston defense -- especially in the secondary -- make a showdown with the explosive Patriots a daunting challenge.

This week, the Texans lost slot corner Brice Brown in a game against Tennessee to a broken foot. Meanwhile, corners Johnathan Joseph and Alan Ball have each missed the Texans past two games. Linebackers Brian Cushing and Brooks Reed also missed Sunday. Cushing is done for the year; Reed may need another week or two before he returns.

The secondary is the big concern, though. A concern the Texans are reportedly addressing Tuesday by signing defensive back Stanford Routt.

Second-year cornerbacks Brandon Harris and Roc Carmichael filled in last week for Houston in their 24-10 win.
We know were going to play a great player and one of the top passing games in the business for a long, long time, coach Gary Kubiak told the Houston media this week. Its a challenge.Our season is going to be about some of these young guys stepping up. Im excited for them. I liked what I saw from Brandon and Roc. Theyre going to have to rise to the occasion, and we can sure help them if we can rush the passer like we did (in Tennesee).Two Texans linemen missed lat week with concussions -- right tackle Derek Newton and right guard Antoine Caldwell missed the Tennessee game as well.

This is no pity party for Houston. The Patriots have plenty of injury issues to deal with themselves, especially along the offensive line and at wide receiver.

But the potency of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 set is compromised on the back end.

In the past three games, the Texans have allowed 372, 410 and 265 yards passing to the Jaguars, Lions and Titans. In the first eight games of the year, Houston allowed more than 300 yards passing just twice (328 to Green Bay and 316 to Denver).

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.