What the Texans are saying about the Patriots this week

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'He’s out there being the man of the team and controlling everything.'

The Patriots practiced with the Texans this week in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The two teams will meet in Houston for a preseason game on Saturday.

Here’s what the Texans have had to say about the Patriots in the joint practices:

Bill O’Brien, Head Coach

On Belichick and the Patriots:

Bill has been a great friend of mine and mentor and I owe a lot to Bill. They have an excellent football team.

On what he took away from his time in New England:

When you learn from the best, you certainly learn some things, and I did. In the end though, you have to go out and be yourself, hire your own staff and try to fuel the best competitive team you can.

On Tom Brady:

Tom (Brady) and the receivers and Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) and the backs, offensive line – it’s good. It’s (a) really good opportunity for us to go up against a great offense and I’m sure it’s a great opportunity for them to go up against a good defense. On our side of the ball, I thought, offensively, we did some decent things against a good defense. It’s good to go against a very well-coached defense like that for us. Special teams, we had some good drills, lot of competition. I thought the guys really practiced like pros on both sides and it was a good day.

On whether Texans quarterbacks can learn from watching Brady:

I’m sure they do. I mean, you have a guy like that who comes in for a couple days, certainly you’d watch him and see what he does and how he prepares. He’s been doing it for 18 years, so there’s no doubt about that they probably took a peek at how he was doing things. We run a similar offense, so I’m sure they were picking up things that way, too. It was good. It was a good workday.

On seeing familiar faces:

I think when we hit the practice field, it was very competitive, but it’s great to see these guys. A lot of these guys are real close friends of mine. Nick Caserio, Josh McDaniels, these guys are some of my best friends. It’s always good to see those guys, but once we hit the field, it’s all about trying to gain more yards than they do, trying to get the ball in the end zone, all those different things.

Tom Savage, Quarterback

On the value of practicing with the Patriots:

I think there’s a lot of things. Obviously you’re going out there and you’re competing against new guys. We’re all alpha males out there. We want to compete, we want to beat each other. That’s the goal. Also, we’re doing team periods where you get to watch the greatest quarterback of all-time play. What’s better than that?

On what the Texans can take away from the joint practices:

We still have to go watch the film. It looked good but we just have to go in and we have to correct everything that we saw. Ultimately, this is the NFL. It’s an 8-8 league and that’s the way this league is set up, so we have to go out there and we have to compete against these guys every day. It’s a good test every day to go out there and compete against the reigning World Champs.

Mike Vrabel, Defensive Coordinator

On reconnecting with his former team:

They beat our ass the last couple of times we’ve played them, so it’s been hard to sit over on the other sidelines, but I think to be able to practice against them and see them in somewhat of a relaxed setting, it’s great. They’ve got a great staff, they’ve got great players. Tom (Brady’s) a phenomenal leader, good friend, all the way down to Matt Patricia, Nick Caserio, Berj (Najarian), Ernie Adams – all those guys that I was a part of a team and a championship team with them. Now, to be on the other sidelines, it’s fun during practice and hopefully we can be a little bit more competitive this year against them.

On practicing against the Patriots’ offense:

Yeah, it’s invaluable. To be able to go against the players that they have and Tom (Brady) and the offense and Julian (Edelman) and Jimmy (Garoppolo) and Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) – all of them. They all play well, they’re all held to a high standard. I think it’s good for our guys to see how they practice and kind of how we stack up and how our fundamentals and our technique are.

On the performance of the Patriots’ offense:

Well, it’s as advertised. There’s a lot of weapons, led by Tom (Brady). Josh (McDaniels) calls a great game over there and it was good because nothing was scripted and we all kind of had to just come up with the calls on the fly and think fast, just like a game.

Responding to Bill Belichick saying he had good “situational awareness” as a player, and where it came from:

Probably from him. I think that – I learned a lot in Pittsburgh. I learned a lot of football, fundamental, physical football playing outside linebacker. Then, coming to New England, (I’ve) been able to try to take it to the next level and that’s really where I blossomed as a player. I didn’t start a game in Pittsburgh, then played eight years in New England then went to Kansas City. In those meetings, if you can pay attention and focus in the meetings, you can learn a lot. It takes some time, I think, to take it from the meetings and recognize that, oh, this is the situation, this is what’s happening, this is the formation. So, that’s why we practice. We keep going. Some guys get it quicker, some guys don’t, so we’ll continue to press upon them in the meeting room and then try to get them to see it out here on the field.

Deshaun Watson, Quarterback

On meeting Tom Brady:

It’s always good to be able to learn and watch a guy like Tom Brady, one of the best to ever do it and to see him in live practice and see how he works. But what we talked about, we just kind of congratulating each other on all the success that we had. And he was giving me a little tip here and there about this league and this system and Coach O.B., so it was a good talk.

On what he admires about Brady:

Just how consistent he is and how each and every play is a game rep. Each time he takes the field he’s out there taking charge, being a leader. He’s out there being the man of the team and controlling everything.

J.J. Watt, Defensive End

On practicing against Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense:

The old saying goes ‘iron sharpens iron,’ and I think, obviously one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. It’s always good to go out there and get some reps against somebody of that caliber. It’s a lot of fun. Any time you put two good teams together on the practice field and get great reps like we had today, you’re going to get better. So, we’ll all go in and watch the film, we’ll learn and we’ll see what we did well, see what we didn’t do well and grow. I think it was a great day.

On  whether he had the “chance to to put Patriots QB Tom Brady on his back without actually touching him at one point”:

You can report on whatever you want to report on. I’m not here to talk about any of that.

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