FOXBOROUGH — When the Patriots routed the Texans 42-14 in Foxborough in December, star running back Arian Foster gained just 46 yards on 15 carries. But Patriots defensive captain Jerod Mayo knows better than to expect the New England defensive to contain the slippery-when-wet Foster so completely the second time around.
“Arian’s great, he makes a lot of cuts,” Mayo said at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. “He makes the offensive line look good, but they’re also a good offensive line as well. He’s such a patient runner. I like to liken his running style to water. He’s not that guy who’s going to stick real hard. He’s just going to patient until the hole develops, then he makes the whole team better.”
Mayo and Foster played together for three seasons in college at Tennessee.
“I went against him one-on-one, so I think he’s always been a good player,” Mayo said. “He’s probably more patient now, he’s lost a couple of pounds, he might have been a little heavier in college. He faster now as well, he’s doing a lot of different things, catching the ball well out of the backfield, he’s just an overall good running back.”
Their friendship took time to develop at Tennessee, but it grew as the two Volunteers were both among the last to be working out in the gym at night on campus.
“He was always at the facility late, and I was always at the facility late,” Mayo said. “So it was kind of like, ‘Well, we’re both here at 8 o’clock at night, so we might as well work together.'”
Mayo was asked if the Patriots can have a chip on their shoulder after beating the Texans in a convincing fashion on their last trip to Foxborough. The veteran linebacker said he believes the fact that the Texans had to play catch-up during the last game made them one dimensional on offense and he’s expecting a tougher battle this time around.
“Those guys have won a playoff game, we’re 0-0, so I guess that’s our chip,” Mayo said. “We know a hungry Texans team is going to come in here ready to play. I’m sure those guys have been talking all week about how they’re going to play this game.
“And we know the last game could have been a lot closer than what it was. There were plays in the game that just kind of bounced our way so we know this is a good team coming in and we have to be prepared and ready to go.”
The Patriots defense has been playing better of late, but Mayo believes it’s still a work in progress even at this stage in the season.
“When you get a group of guys together for an extended period of time you’re going to get better,” Mayo said. “But there are also things that you have to improve at, especially communication, getting on the same page and doing things like that, but overall that’s probably a question you have to ask coach Belichick, I’m not really sure.”
Even though the Patriots have been resting since the last game of the season against the Dolphins, Mayo said they were ready to get back into it after the bye week.
“I think the sense of urgency is there,” Mayo said. “We have a young team, but guys have been playing a lot of games, the coaches are doing an excellent job of making sure everyone knows that you’re one play away from being at home.”
Mayo also spoke about the challenges of going against an offense they faced just a few weeks ago.
“Well obviously they know what we’re going to do, but we also know them as well,” Mayo said. “I’m sure there will be a couple of different wrinkles, but personnel’s pretty much the same since the last time we played them, a couple of guys coming back, but we know each other. It’s kind of like a division game.”