CODY STOOTS

On the Texans: 3 headlines, 2 questions, 1 bet

Tom Brady is a Texans killer. Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

3 Headlines

Tom Brady the Texans killer: A hot topic amongst the Texans this week will be trying to stop Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Stop doesn't seem possible for the Texans against the legendary passer. 

Since 2012, Brady has averaged 64 percent completions, 317 yards, and three touchdowns against the Texans including the playoffs. He has thrown just three interceptions in that time. Last year, of course, Brady diced the Texans up spoiling a great Deshaun Watson game as Brady passed for 378 yards and five touchdowns. 

"We just shot ourselves in the foot," said Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus. "That's about it. We just got to play sound football all the way through."

Mercilus Returns! Speaking of Mercilus he is back after missing the entire preseason due to injury. He said he is back and ready to play against the Patriots this Sunday as the Texans open the season in Foxboro. 

"I've just been keeping my mind sharp in the meeting rooms. Seeing what the guys are doing. Just emulating that and then doing whatever I can on the field as I'm there doing my rehab so I don't think I've dropped off."

Mercilus sacked Brady last year forcing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Jadeveon Clowney. 

Foreman Starts on the PUP: Second-year running back D'Onta Foreman will start on the physically unable to perform list meaning it will be week seven before he can return and play in a game. 

"It wasn't that tough," said Foreman about learning he would be on the PUP list. He said he'd rather be ready to play and healthy than rush something. 

The Texans running backs in his absence are returning starter Lamar Miller as well as long-time Texans rusher Alfred Blue. Tyler Ervin is classified as a running back but it is unlikely he sees any work there as he is a special teams player primarily. The Texans also added Buddy Howell, a rookie out of Florida Atlantic. Troymaine Pope was cut over the weekend. 

Foreman can't play in those six weeks but he also can't practice in those six weeks either. Once he returns to practice he also has three weeks to practice before he returns to the active roster. With Jacksonville being the week seven matchup it isn't out of the question it could be a few weeks after his return before we see Foreman really hit a groove. 

2 Questions

Who will shine for the Patriots on offense? The easy answer is Rob Gronkowski. Gronk has always had a good game when healthy against the Texans. This year though with the Texans inside linebackers and new faces at safety they have never been more prepared to slow the dominant tight end. Stopping him is impossible but limiting the damage from Gronk will be key. 

That leaves Chris Hogan as the primary pass catcher after Gronkowski while all the New England running backs bring something to the table. Brady and company will be throwing a lot if the light preseason action the Texans defense had is any indication. Running the ball will be hard for New England so expect Rex Burkhead and James White to try to annoy with matchups out of the backfield. The Texans ripped off five sacks against Brady last year between his stellar passing performance so look for the quick game to be key for the Patriots. 

How do the Pats stop the Texans? It doesn't seem like the Patriots will have the players to stop or slow Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense this year. The Texans will bring a far more talented offensive line to the game than last year's slop. Watson has the offense built around him. Will Fuller will play after missing last year's game. Bruce Ellington had a coming out party against the Pats last year and now plays his best position in the slot. Ryan Griffin's best performance last season was against New England. 

The only team that can stop the Texans are the Texans. Deshaun Watson threw two interceptions in his second start last year so his ball security will be paramount. Bill O'Brien and quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan will have to avoid getting too cute with the gameplan. O'Brien will need to really go for the win this year too. Last year, staring third and a yard down from the Patriots 18. he ran Lamar Miller for no gain and settled for a field goal to go up five. Later, after the Patriots scored, he mismanaged the clock on the final drive. 

1 Bet

My bet is this thing is going to be a high-scoring affair. Even with the Texans having so much talent on defense healthy. The Patriots lack the talent to stop Watson and no one stops Brady. He always finds a way. 51 is the over/under for this week's game as of publication and with 69 being scored last year it seems like a gimmie. With both teams having dynamic passing offenses and questions about rushing the ball it will be an air affair on our way to an entertaining matchup. 

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Watson's accusers appeared on Real Sports on Tuesday night. Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images.

HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’s heavily promoted and much anticipated examination of Deshaun Watson’s legal mess involving alleged sexual misconduct shed little new light and merely presented a summary of well worn he said/she (x22) said accusations and denials.

The episode debuted Tuesday night on the premium cable service and will be repeated dozens of times throughout the week on HBO’s platforms. Check your local listings for times and channel.

The segment was hosted by Soledad O’Brien who presented compelling face-to-face interviews with two of the quarterback’s accusers: massage therapists Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes. Their stories were detailed and graphic. Both cried during the interviews.

Solis: “As I’m working, he deliberately grabs himself and put his penis on my hand. I pulled my hand away instantly and I started crying. I told that I’m done. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Solis said she felt threatened when Watson, before leaving the session, allegedly told her: “I know you have a career to protect, and I know that you don’t want anyone messing with it, just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.”

Solis added, “That’s when I got really scared because that sounded like a threat to me.”

Hayes: “He wanted me to kind of make a V motion in his pelvic area. I just kept massaging and did what he asked, until his penis kept touching me repeatedly as I did it.”

Hayes said that Watson had an orgasm, which she said was “mortifying, embarrassing and disgusting.”

O’Brien asked Hayes why she continued to have contact via email with Watson after their encounter.

Hayes: "I wasn't sure what he was capable of. He could've physically assaulted me. He could've bashed my business, so I had to protect myself and my business the best way I saw fit. Did I ever see him again after that? No. Did I give him the runaround? Yes."

O’Brien pointed out that two separate grand juries in Texas heard criminal accusations against Watson and neither found enough evidence to indict him.

Solis and Hayes, and 20 other massage therapists have filed civil suits against Watson. The cases aren’t expected to reach a courtroom until next March. Both sides could reach a settlement before then which would effectively shut down any legal action against Watson. However, both sides say they aren’t interested in any pretrial settlements. That’s what they say now, anyway.

After being banished to the sidelines for the 2021 season by the Houston Texans, Watson signed a historic, 5-year fully guaranteed $230 million contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Hayes said she feels Watson “is being rewarded for bad behavior." Solis said, "It's just like a big screw you. That's what it feels like. That we (the Browns) don't care. He can run and throw, and that's what we care about.”

Watson currently is participating in preseason workouts with the Browns and, at the moment, is cleared to play the upcoming NFL season.

That is unless the NFL suspends Watson for some, most or all of the 2022 season. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league is nearing completion of its independent investigation into Watson’s case and will reach a decision “shortly,” probably this summer. The NFL and NFL Players Association mutually agreed to have former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson decide whether or not Watson violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy and what discipline should be handed down if he did.

The Browns are scheduled to play the Texans on Dec. 4 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

O’Brien said, while producing the Real Sports piece, she tried to interview Watson, his attorneys and the Cleveland Browns for their side of the story. All declined.

During a press conference in March to announce his joining the Browns, Watson denied any inappropriate behavior with the massage therapists.

Watson: “I never assaulted any woman. I’ve never disrespected any woman. I was raised to be genuine and respect everyone around me. I’ve never done the thing that these people are alleging. My mom and my aunties didn’t raise me that way.”

Leah Graham, a member of Watson’s legal team, sat for an interview after O’Brien’s segment was complete.

Graham: "It's 22 women. It's one lawyer. There's only one lawyer who was willing to take these cases. And as we know from Ashley Solis’ deposition, Mr. (Houston attorney Tony) Buzbee was not the first, probably not the second or third lawyer she went to, but he was the only one to take her case. Why? Not because it had merit, but because he would use these cases to increase his social media following and quite frankly to get on shows like this one.”

My reaction after watching the Real Sports segment? We weren’t in the room when the massage therapists worked on Watson. We weren’t in the grand jury room when evidence against Watson was presented. We don’t know what happened. We don’t know what will happen if these cases go to trial.

Until then all we have is one big, lurid, embarrassing mess. In American courtrooms, defendants are presumed innocent. That’s often the opposite in the court of public opinion. We’ll just have to wait while the wheels of justice grind painfully slow.

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