Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/5/12

FOXBORO — Patriots players and coaches are always preaching about mental focus when talking about upcoming opponents. So, with possibly the biggest game of the season coming up with a visit from the 11-1 Houston Texans this weekend, why are the Patriots playing around with racquets? That would be because of Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Tom Brady‘s not too thrilled about having to throw over some paddles at practice, but he understands especially out of respect for Watt. “He’s impressive as a player, as you can see on film with his agility, his quickness, his length, his instinctiveness in getting his hands up in the air and getting ready to jump and bat balls down,” Brady said. “I know coach [Bill] Belichick likes to bring guys with racquetball paddles and stick those up in the air. I’m sure there will be a whole bunch of those there this week, which doesn’t always make me very happy, but that’s probably a good way to prepare for it.” Watt, at 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds, is one of the biggest and most physical defensive ends in football. But beyond his 15.5 sacks, which ranks third in the NFL, Watt is also notorious for his pass coverage. Watt has 15 passes defensed on the season, which ranks him sixth in the NFL. While 48 of the top 50 guys on that list are defensive backs — 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis the other exception at No. 50 — Watt is the only defensive lineman. In just his second year in the NFL, Watt has already gained a reputation as one of the league’s best at batting down balls at the line. It’s even become widely known as the “Watt Swat.” He did it three times to Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the season opener, three more times against Mark Sanchez, twice to Joe Flacco and a combined five times over the past three weeks in wins over the Jaguars, Lions and Titans. Watt’s precise timing and unique ability to deflect and tip balls obviously has the Patriots worried. “He’s the most disruptive player in the league certainly that we’ve seen. He’s really pretty good at everything,” Belichick said during a conference call on Wednesday. “It’s not just the pass rush. It’s batted balls.” That concern is what prompted Belichick to break out the racquets this week, which Brady made sure to note they don’t do for everyone. Belichick even joked that with the size of Watt’s arms, the Patriots may need something a bit bigger. “Yeah, maybe brooms, get it a little longer,” Belichick said in a moment of lighthearted humor. All jokes aside, though, the Patriots understand the test that Watt and the Texans will bring at the line of scrimmage. And while Watt’s hands may not perfectly resemble racquets come Monday night, Brady will at least be ready to throw around, over and even through them. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Wilson: Comments about miracle water ‘perceived wrong’

Ryan Mallett missed Texans practice after oversleeping

Report: Barry Bonds loses collusion case

Martavis Bryant reportedly failed multiple marijuana tests

Mortensen: Krafts called me to apologize amid Deflategate drama

Packers smart to sit Aaron Rodgers for rest of preseason

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Is Rich Paul steering Tristan Thompson towards Toronto?

Kyrie Irving might not suit up for Cavaliers until January

Report: Martavis Bryant suspended four games

Phillies have finally escaped from payroll hell

Report: Paul Petrino took care of players' shoplifting incident

Joe Theismann on RG3: ‘It’s time for Robert to be quiet’

Frank Gore calls Andrew Luck ‘football God’

Eddie Royal joins the list of injured Bears receivers

Terry Stotts, Damian Lillard and the shapeless Trail Blazers

Jim Harbaugh thought phone call from Michael Jordan was a prank

The Buffalo Sabres have a 96% season ticket renewal rate

Karl-Anthony Towns is perfect for today's NBA

Serena’s grand slam bid prompts sell out of women’s US Open final

The Opening Drive: Utah alum Jordan Gross is fed up with the HarBros

In defense of Ryan Tannehill

Bowman: ‘Frustrating’ to lose Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks

Virginia Tech football’s alleged monetary fine system is ridiculous

Arian Foster expected to return by Week 4, possibly earlier

Florida AD: More neutral site football games possible

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Barry Bonds loses collusion case

Packers smart to sit Rodgers for rest of preseason

Towns is perfect for today's NBA

The Opening Drive: Utah alum Jordan Gross is fed up with the HarBros

Five greatest NBAers without a ring

Exactly how bad is the NL East?

Five potential college football Week 1 shockers

Top 10 storylines for Week 3 of the NFL preseason

Wilson’s ‘Recovery Water’ plug sends the wrong message

The 12 most relevant teams in CFB

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker