WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, West Virginia -- After watching the Texans defense stifle the Patriots in the first of their two joint practices this week, the next logical thought for anyone wondering about Houston's chances in the AFC was: What can they get out of their quarterbacks?
Texans coach Bill O'Brien seemed bullish on this year's No. 12 overall pick Deshaun Watson after the session, saying he believed Watson was further ahead than other rookie quarterbacks he's worked with in training camps past.
Watson is splitting first-team reps with Tom Savage, and on Tuesday he showed flashes of his potential. He moved well in the pocket. He didn't make any scratch-your-head types of decisions. Accuracy was at times an issue, as it was for him in college, but it didn't seem like the game was moving at a pace that overwhelmed him.
O'Brien may not be ready to give Watson the keys to the offense just yet, but he explained that there are certain boxes Watson can check that will make him feel good about it when he does.
"I think, over time, it develops," O'Brien said. "You see it in practice. There's certain things that you think about that maybe somebody who doesn't coach wouldn't see it, but as a coach, you've been through it, you've experienced, hey, this is something maybe this guy's not ready at or, yes, he is ready. He just redirected a protection or checked a run or got us out of a bad play, put us into a better play.
"And then he did it in a game, and he was able to function in a game. Then it's his demeanor, it's his poise under pressure, his ability to come out here and go against a new defense. How did he handle that? It's all of those things."
Has he seen any of those things yet from Watson, O'Brien was asked?
"There's times when he's been able to do that," O'Brien said. "That's what I mean by, for a rookie, I think he's ahead of where some rookies I've been around have been. I've seen him be able to do that. I think he needs to do it more consistently, but he works very hard to get it right. If he doesn't get it right away on the field, he goes into the meeting room and tries to fix it."
The Texans and Patriots focused much of Tuesday's practice on the run game, and they're expected to zero-in on the pass game more Wednesday, giving Watson more opportunity to show his coach that he should be his guy sooner rather than later.
FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick is often reluctant to delve too deeply into game-plan specifics, as any coach is, in order to maintain some advantage over his opponents. But this week? Keeping secrets isn't the priority, he says.
- Belichick: Patriots 'fortunate' to land Hollister as UFA
- Phil Perry: Roster projection 2.0
- Volin: Not sure Brissett will have a spot on the Patriots
This week the Patriots will travel to West Virginia for joint practices with the Texans, who are led by coach Bill O'Brien (former Patriots offensive coordinator) and defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel (former Patriots linebacker). There's no concern about showing too much in the joint workouts because both teams are already so familiar with each other that there's simply very little to reveal.
Even with a regular-season matchup in Week 3 looming, Belichick seemed as though he couldn't have been less worried about what his team would unveil at The Greenbrier resort on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Bill and I have talked about it," Belichick said. "I mean, honestly I don't think it's that big of a deal. I think this is another event that's hyped up by a lot more of the people who are watching it than the people who are involved in it. Look, we've played this team three times in the last two years. Half their coaching staff coached here. It's not a big secret how we run a certain play or how we coach a certain defense. I'm sure they're coaching it the same way that we played against them.
"That's not really what this practice is about. That's not what August is about. It's about building your team's conditioning, building your team's fundamentals, building your team's awareness of how to play together against good competition. That's what we'll do this week. We're not gonna show 'em our triple reverse and they're not gonna show their triple safety blitz and a bunch of other garbage. That's not what this is about. It wouldn't be about that with any team, but it's certainly not about that with these guys.
"They're a tough, sound, fundamental football team. We've seen that, and we know that from their coaching staff, and the way they prepare, and they way they coach, and the way we've competed against them. This is about us trying to get better and them trying to get better, and when we play them in the regular season, then we'll gameplan and we'll strategize and we'll do everything we can to win the game. They'll do the same thing. That's not really what this week is about."
"Bill and Mike probably know our calls as well as we know 'em. And I'm sure we know a lot of the ones they use because they're the same ones they use. But that's so overrated in my opinion. Not in everyone else's, but in mine. I'm just trying to get our team better this week. That's what we're gonig to try to do. The rest of it, that's like way less than one percent in my mind."