Championship matchup between Brady (NFL) and Watson (CFP)

FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts (AP) – The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots won’t be the only winners on the field on Sunday when they play the Texans.

Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson is just eight months removed from the College Football Playoff title he won at Clemson. According to the Texans, it’s only the second time in the BCS era that the quarterbacks for the reigning NCAA champion and NFL champion have played against each other.

“He was super-talented, obviously, in college,” said Brady, who got to see Watson when the teams held joint practices in West Virginia during training camp. “(It) was a lot of fun for me to see young, kind of aspiring players that really want to work hard and play the quarterback position at a high level. He looks like he has all the talent.”

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady takes questions from reporters following NFL football practice, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Since winning the NCAA title, Watson was the No. 12 overall draft pick by the Texans. He entered the season as the backup to Tom Savage, but came off the bench in the second half and then started in a 13-9 victory over Cincinnati in Week 2.

In two games, Watson has completed 27 of 47 passes for 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception. So he was almost giddy to receive such compliments from Brady, who has thrown for 459 touchdowns and more than 60,000 yards while picking up five Super Bowl rings.

“Just having an opportunity to talk to him and get to meet him and hear those words is awesome,” said Watson, who was 4 when Brady was picked by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 draft. “I’ve been watching Brady since I was a little kid. Being able to be in the vicinity of him and see him play live is going to be awesome.”

The only other time the quarterbacks from the reigning NCAA and NFL champions met in the next season was in 2011, when Cam Newton (Auburn) faced defending Super Bowl champion Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

The Patriots had some injuries in training camp and early in the season, but the trend this week appeared to be positive.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) and receiver Danny Amendola (concussion, knee) were both back at practice after missing Sunday’s game against New Orleans. So were receivers Philip Dorsett (knee) and Chris Hogan (knee) and defensive back Eric Rowe (groin), who were injured against the Saints.

Rob Gronkowski, who injured his groin Sunday, was at practice but listed as not participating. On Monday, he said he was “day to day” and that he didn’t think his injury was serious.

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt will be playing with a broken left ring finger, but after missing 13 games last season following his second back surgery, he said this one wasn’t a big deal.


AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich and AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken contributed to this story.


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