The Texans have seen a couple legendary quarterbacks over the last week.
After facing off with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last Saturday, Houston greed up for its third preseason game with a joint practice against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on Thursday.
“You’re talking about one of the best to ever play the game and, just like (Brady), they just keep getting better with age,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said. “I think it’s a really good test for our defense to be able to go against guys like that.”
The Texans and Saints kick off the third preseason game Saturday at 7 p.m. in New Orleans.
O’Brien said the biggest positive to having joint practices is the repetition that they can’t get in a preseason game. Both the Texans and the Saints ran about 70 plays and more players got a chance to play significant snaps.
Jadeveon Clowney returned to the field after missing more than a week of practice and not dressing for either of the first two preseason games. Clooney will get a chance to pair with J.J. Watt for the first time since Watt was sidelined early last season.
“Being out there with my teammates, it was great,” Clowney said. “Got a lot of work in today. It was good to come out here and joint practice with the Saints. It was good to get the work before the season kicks off. You come out here, get better, work and get better. There wasn’t any pressure.”
There’s a friendly competition amongst the defensive front on who can get to the quarterback first. Clowney, Watt, Whitney Mercilus, D.J. Reader and the rest of the line take pride in winning the race to the backfield when they get there.
Houston is tied for 10th in the league through two preseason games with five sacks. Brandon Dunn, Rickey Hatley, Ufomba Kamalu, Shakeel Rashad, and Tony Washington have all brought down the quarterback. New Orleans leads the league with 12 sacks.
Before the season started, the NFL owners voted to get rid of the first roster cut-down period. Teams will go from a 90-man roster to 53-man roster following the final preseason game, giving lesser-seen players a longer time to make an impact.
“It’ll be different,” O’Brien said. “That’s always a tough time of the year. I know it’s especially tough on the players but I think it’s one of the worst days for me, personally, because you have these guys out here that are really busting for you.”