FOXBOROUGH -- Thirteen years in the game and Tom Brady still gets excited for Monday Night Football.
“It builds. I think it builds. I think the Monday night game still is the one I think there’s a little bit different feeling about. How special is it to play on Monday Night Football?”
On Wednesday, the Patriots’ quarterback addressed the team’s upcoming game against Houston (11-1), the Texans’ formidable defense, and the loss of Julian Edelman.
“Well they’re a great football team,” Brady said. “Anytime you play the best, you want to see how you match up. I think that our guys are excited. It’s a big challenge for us. They’re an excellent football team in all three phases. It’ll be fun.”
The Texans defense has earned its respect. Houston has the No. 6 overall defense and No. 2 rushing defense.
“They certainly get after the football,” Brady said. “They can rush a quarterback. They do a great job stopping the run. I think coach said they have pretty much every statistic you could name. They’re on tops of the league. That’s why they’re 11-1. Because they’re playing great, they’re taking the ball away, they’re getting a lot of balls batted down at the line of scrimmage, interceptions, fumbles. They’ve won a lot of close games, they’ve won overtime games, they’ve come from behind, they’ve won on the road -- they’re 6-0 on the road. I think our guys understand the challenge and I think we have to play our best game.”
The Texans have come to rely on stud defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who has 15.5 sacks this season, second-best in the league. He’s also accounted for 15 passes defensed, batting down passes from the line of scrimmage. He’ll move around on Monday and test each of the team’s offensive linemen, Brady said.
“He’s an incredible player,” Brady said. “The way that he gets after the quarterback, stops the run. I think he does both those things well, stopping the run, rushing the quarterback, as well as defending the pass game with those balls batted down. So he’s as impressive a player as you could see on film with his agility, his quickness, his length, his instinctiveness to get his hands in the air to jump and bat balls down.”
To prepare, the Patriots will likely use racquetball paddles to simulate Watt’s length and ability to knock passes down, Brady said.
“I know coach [Bill] Belichick likes to bring guys with racquetball paddles and stick those up in the air,” he said. “I’m sure there will be a whole bunch of those this week, which doesn’t always make me very happy. But that’s probably a good way to prepare for it. It’s like throwing over this (pointing) wall, it’s hard. We’ve played other big lines before. Tall guys that are rangy. The Giants did a great job of that last year. This is another team that really challenges you to do that.”
Brady also spoke about Edelman, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a foot injury. The Patriots signed Donte’ Stallworth, who was cut in training camp, to the roster in Edelman’s place.
“Julian was having a great year. It’s an unfortunate injury,” Brady said. “I think we felt that with him, I’m sure every team is dealing with important players (hurt).
“Donte’ has got an opportunity to come back. It’s always nice to see familiar faces and people that have played within our system and understand the expectations for that position. Donte’ is really a professional. It was great to see him.”