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Texans LT Duane Brown is back, but Patriots can still exploit weak offensive line

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The Texans have their best lineman back, but there are too many holes to fill.

The Houston Texans missed franchise LT Duane Brown back in week 3 and his return has clearly improved the offensive line. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is making sure that his team is aware of Brown’s value to the Texans offense, specifically in the running game with RB Lamar Miller and RB Alfred Blue.

“He’s an outstanding player, both run and pass,” Belichick said about Brown. “He does a great job in pass protection; 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 Miller does such a great job on, and Blue. He’s a big addition to that group and an outstanding player. He’s one of the best left tackles in the league.”

The Patriots will try to set a solid edge to prevent Miller from generating any momentum. The Texans rely heavily on their rushing attack to move the ball and the Patriots defenders will have to be ready.

Brown is “a great player,” Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower said. “Obviously one of the best tackles in the game. He has been a great anchor on that offensive line for some time now. Obviously they’re able to do a lot of things with protections. Obviously, with Oakland it was Khalil Mack and all those guys and the way they’re able to stunt and move. I think he really helped the communication and everything. All around, a great run blocker and pass blocker.”

Hightower often sets the edge with LB Kyle Van Noy or LB Elandon Roberts in the middle of the formation, so look for some fireworks in a clash with Brown.

I was curious about Brown’s impact on the Texans offense, so I spoke with Brett Kollmann of BattleRedBlog.com to hear how Brown has improved the line.

The line has been “inconsistent at best,” Kollmann writes. “Brown is still a very good blind side protector, but Chris Clark has been completely outmatched at right tackle this season. Putting your best pass rusher on his side for the entire game should do wonders for generating pressure on Brock Osweiler.

“The interior line has been rather erratic as well, with all three of Houston's starters having very up and down seasons. You never really know when you are going to get a great day from the rushing game, or when Lamar Miller is going to be shaking off tackles in the back field all night long. I suppose we will find out just how much fight this group has in them when they go up against a good Patriots front seven this weekend.”

The Patriots will generate pressure from all angles to confuse the Texans offensive line, while Chris Long might see some time against RT Chris Clark to see if he can harass Osweiler all night. Brown is back and Houston will be better for it- but it might not be enough to save the Texans.