Camp Confidential: First Practice With The Patriots

[EDITOR’S NOTE: MIKE MELTSER AND SETH PAYNE ARE IN WEST VIRGINIA FOR TEXANS TRAINING CAMP UNTIL AUGUST 17TH TO WATCH THE TEXANS AND PATRIOTS PRACTICE TOGETHER. THIS IS TUESDAY, AUGUST 15TH’S EDITION OF CAMP CONFIDENTIAL BY MIKE MELTSER.]

I’m no Patriots fan, but getting a chance to see Tom Brady practice in person was a pretty cool experience. I’ve been to a few Texans-Patriots game, but this was more unique. For any QB, let alone a 40-year-old, he looked outstanding. Brady’s best pass was a deep strike to Chris Hogan, but it was enjoyable to watch him compete against Houston’s first-string defense.

I did think that defense also made it hard on Brady, who wasn’t happy with the offense after one of the early periods. It seemed like JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus were consistently around the QB. Brady did hit most of his receivers down the field, but I thought the Texans defensive backs hung in reasonably well.

It’s seemingly a minor detail, but Drew Dougherty from the Texans pointed out something I’ve thought this summer: Deshaun Watson is very good at sliding. Mark Sanchez had such issues with this as a young quarterback that the Jets actually brought in Yankees manager Joe Girardi to help out. Watson does it naturally and slid after a solid 3rd down conversion in a 2-minute drill against the Patriots defense.

Since this topic seems to be the rage, I saw Tom Savage working mostly with the first string, with Watson behind the starters on the offensive line a few times in the red zone.

With both Savage and Watson, I’m always watching to see how quickly the ball gets out because I think it’s a concern that both have. Savage did make some nice throws down the field, including a nice pass on the sideline to Jaelen Strong. To my eyes, Watson got more comfortable as the practice ran along. He is pretty comfortable with the short passing game, and did a good job hitting backs out of the backfield, both laterally and across the middle.

I like Brennan Scarlett’s strength and aggression. Setting the edge could be an issue, however. He does seem to lose contain a few times.

The Texans could use one of the Patriots receivers. New England seems to be loaded everywhere, but especially at that spot: Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, and Danny Amendola, with people also impressed by UDFA Austin Carr. Unless a team gives the NE OL problems, containing those weapons (while still covering Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen) seems like an impossible task.

A few notes about personnel: Kendall Lamm and Breno Giacomini were the bookend tackles, as I didn’t see Chris Clark out there today. Kurtis Drummond had a bunch of snaps with the first team defense at safety. With the depleted WR corp, I expect to see the Texans try to maximize what they can get from Tyler Ervin and Stephen Anderson, both of whom are utility knife players.

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