Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO -- Both the Patriots and the Texans look like different clubs when compared to what they showed in their first meeting of the season back in Week 3.

Both have gained and lost key players, and while the Texans can't trump the Patriots' addition of Tom Brady, they'll have one of their best players available to them on Saturday with left tackle Duane Brown in uniform. 

Brown did not play at Gillette Stadium back in September due to a quad injury, but he's healthy and ready to go after not allowing a sack or a quarterback hit when matched up with talented Raiders pass-rushers in last week's Wild Card win. 

"Well, he’s an outstanding player, both run and pass," Bill Belichick told Texans reporters on Wednesday. "He does a great job in pass protection. [He's] big, athletic, long, but also really helps them in the running game.

"He makes a big difference on all plays, particularly those outside plays that [Lamar] Miller does such a great job on, and [Alfred] Blue. He’s a big addition to that group and an outstanding player. He’s one of the best left tackles in the league."

Rob Ninkovich has seen more career snaps than any Patriots defensive end on the roster, and he places Brown among the toughest tackle he's ever faced. 

"He's got good size, really good strength, really great feet," Ninkovich said. "Usually there's one thing that a tackle is lacking, either the size or the quick feet. He's got it all. When you combine all of those, you have a guy who's a really tough challenge. 

 

"You watch tape, and you try to look at weaknesses: where are their hands at, where their eyes are. I just respect the way that he's able to play and do it for a long time. From the first time I played him years ago, I've tipped my hat to him because he's a really good football player." 

Brown, the No. 26 overall pick in 2008 out of Virginia Tech and three-time Pro Bowler, will provide Ninkovich and the rest of New England's pass-rushers with a tough test this weekend. Right tackle Chris Clark, on the other hand? Not so much