2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Pats defense has tough job against balanced Texans

    2012-12-06 20:17

(Eds: Updates with details, quotes. With AP Photos.)
By HOWARD ULMAN
AP Sports Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Vince Wilfork's biggest challenge when he lines up against the Houston Texans' powerful offense could come before the ball is even snapped.

Will they pass or run?

The offensive line isn't likely to give much of an indication against New England on Monday night.

``They do a real good job up front of showing you the same look on run and pass,'' the Patriots defensive tackle said Thursday, ``so we're just going to have to rely on technique, good fundamentals.''

Then, once Matt Schaub hands the ball to Arian Foster or throws it to Andre Johnson, the hard work continues for the Patriots (9-3) against the Texans (11-1) in the matchup of teams with six-game winning streaks and designs on first-round playoff byes.

Foster leads the NFL with 15 touchdowns and the AFC with 1,102 yards rushing. Johnson is tied for fourth in the NFL with 1,114 yards receiving and is alone in fourth in the AFC with 74 catches.

``They're a very well balanced team,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ``If you're stopping the run, you're light on the play-action (passing attack). If you're stopping the play-action, you're probably light on the run. They do a good job of tying those plays together, complementing each other and making you defend all of it.''

Foster has rushed for more than 100 yards in six of Houston's 12 games. He's also the Texans' third leading receiver with 30 catches, two of them for touchdowns.

``I had him out in the Pro Bowl a couple years ago,'' Belichick said. ``Impressive kid, strong, good balance. ... You've got to be able to tackle his quickness and his athleticism, but also have to be able to tackle his size and power to run through arm tackles. He's got a good set of skills.''

Very much like Johnson.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound receiver is averaging 78 catches in his 10 NFL seasons since being taken with the third pick of the 2003 draft out of Miami, where he played with Wilfork, who was drafted with the 21st pick the next year.

``He has the heart of a champion,'' Wilfork said. ``I just remember playing with him in college. He was always quiet, but he was a fireball on the field. He gave us his all. (He's) big, physical, strong, fast, can catch, can run. He's well put together. He's a specimen. He's special.''

Schaub also can throw to tight end Owen Daniels, second on the team with 50 catches, and Kevin Walters. And he can hand the ball off to Ben Tate and Justin Forsett, who are part of the NFL's sixth most productive running game.

``The quarterback will get the ball to the appropriate receiver based on coverage or based on read for that particular play so he's not always targeting one guy,'' Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said.

New England's secondary was vulnerable to big plays early in the season and has allowed the fourth most yards passing in the NFL. But it has improved since Devin McCourty moved from cornerback to safety for the past six games and Aqib Talib was acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played in the last three games.

But Talib is still adjusting after being suspended four games for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances and then adjusting to a new defensive system.

``I could be a lot better,'' he said. ``I can just go down the list on things I can do better.''

On Monday night he might be running downfield alongside Johnson, trying to shut down one of the NFL's best receivers. He and his defensive teammates probably won't get much of a hint of whether the Texans will run or pass on a particular play.

``The biggest challenge is how they run and they pass, everything looks the same,'' Talib said. ``Linemen come off one way on the run and they come off the exact same way on the pass. So you've just got to just be technique-sound and have your eyes in the right spot.''

Notes: LG Logan Mankins and DE Chandler Jones participated in practice on a limited basis. Mankins has been sidelined the past three games with ankle and calf problems, while Jones has missed the last two with an ankle injury. ... The Patriots will honor retired LT Matt Light at halftime of Monday night's game. Light spent his entire 11-year career with New England before retiring after last season.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Jake BequetteAug 28 08:52a

New England Patriots TE/DE Jake Bequette (undisclosed) was waived/injured Thursday, Aug. 27.

Miles AustinAug 28 08:32a

Philadelphia Eagles WR Miles Austin hasn't stood out, or received many chances to stand out, thus in training camp. His role is undetermined as he could start on the [ More ]

Nelson AgholorAug 27 10:22p

Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor should be the 'second-most productive receiver on the team when the season ends,' according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Ryan MallettAug 27 07:52p

Updating a previous report, Houston Texans QB Ryan Mallett missed practice Thursday, Aug. 27, because he overslept. Mallett was present for meetings later on, however. He will also be at practice Friday, Aug. 28.

Josh JohnsonAug 27 07:42p

Free-agent QB Josh Johnson (Bengals) signed with the New York Jets Thursday, Aug. 29. QB Jake Heaps was subsequently waived.

R. Griffin IIIAug 27 07:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (concussion) has been cleared to play Saturday, Aug. 29, against the Baltimore Ravens.

Earl ThomasAug 27 06:22p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) is on track to be ready for the start of the regular season, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Markus WheatonAug 27 05:42p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Markus Wheaton could be primed for a breakout season, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler.

Letroy GuionAug 27 04:52p

Green Bay Packers DE Letroy Guion will be suspended for the first three games of the regular season after his appeal was apparently denied.

Martavis BryantAug 27 03:02p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant has been suspended four games for violating the league's Substance Abuse Policy, according to league sources. He has filed an appeal.

Arian FosterAug 27 02:22p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) has been working out in Houston, and he's expected to return to the field in some facet by Week 2 to Week 4, [ More ]

Pat DevlinAug 27 10:32a

Free-agent QB Pat Devlin (Dolphins) signed with the Cleveland Browns Thursday, Aug. 27. OL Ryan Seymour was waived.

Connor BarthAug 26 08:53p

Free-agent PK Connor Barth (Broncos) agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Aug. 26, on a two-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

DeVante ParkerAug 26 04:23p

Miami Dolphins rookie WR DeVante Parker (foot) isn't sure if he'll be healthy enough in time for Week 1. He and the Dolphins don't want to have rushed return [ More ]

Brandon McManusAug 26 10:33a

Denver Broncos PK Brandon McManus won the kicking job as PK Connor Barth was released Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Connor BarthAug 26 10:33a

Denver Broncos PK Brandon McManus won the kicking job as PK Connor Barth was released Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Evan RoysterAug 26 10:13a

Atlanta Falcons RB Evan Royster (undisclosed) was waived/injured Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Rex GrossmanAug 26 09:23a

Free-agent QB Rex Grossman (Redskins) was signed by the Atlanta Falcons to a one-year, $1 million deal Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Taylor MaysAug 26 12:43a

The Oakland Raiders signed free-agent SS Taylor Mays (Bengals) Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Orlando ScandrickAug 26 12:43a

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick (knee) suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee Tuesday, Aug. 25. An MRI confirmed the injury.

Michael VickAug 25 07:42p

Updating a previous report, free-agent QB Michael Vick (Jets) signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday, Aug. 25. Financial terms were not disclosed. QB Bruce Gradkowski (finger) [ More ]

Evan MathisAug 25 06:13p

Free-agent OG Evan Mathis (Eagles) agreed to a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Jameis WinstonAug 25 04:33p

Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie QB Jameis Winston (ankle) suffered a sprained ankle Monday, Aug. 24, against the Cincinnati Bengals. Head coach Lovie Smith still expects [ More ]

Josh JohnsonAug 25 02:53p

Cincinnati Bengals QB Josh Johnson was released Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Victor CruzAug 25 02:42p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (calf) doesn't know when he'll be able to return to practice as he continues to deal with inflammation in [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerAug 25 01:23p

Tennessee Titans backup QB Zach Mettenberger has performed at a high level in training camp and the preseason, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt laughed off a suggestion that the [ More ]

Bruce GradkowskiAug 25 12:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers backup QB Bruce Gradkowski (finger) suffered a dislocated finger on his left hand during the team's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers last weekend, according to [ More ]

Andre WilliamsAug 25 12:22p

New York Giants RB Andre Williams could overtake RB Rashad Jennings as the lead back sometime this season, maybe even to open the season. Williams has worked on his [ More ]

Mike EvansAug 25 09:13a

Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) isn't believed to have a serious hamstring injury. 'I talked to him and he didn't feel like it [ More ]

Jameis WinstonAug 24 11:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston completed eight of his 13 pass attempts for 90 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in the preseason game Monday, Aug. 24, against [ More ]

Doug MartinAug 24 11:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin rushed six times for 59 yards in the preseason game Monday, Aug. 24, against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Mike EvansAug 24 09:12p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) left the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, Aug. 24, due to a strained hamstring.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group