BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots hit the practice field with the Houston Texans this week, leading to some rigorous — and occasionally frustrating — sessions for the New England offense.

The Texans tout a tough defense with pesky pass rushers and a talented secondary, which gave Tom Brady and company a great test as they work their way towards the regular season.

After putting in a good amount of work with the Jacksonville Jaguars in joint practices last week, just about every New England starter sat out last Thursday’s preseason opener. So the big question on everyone’s mind is whether or not we’ll see the likes of Brady, Brandin Cooks, Rob Gronkowski and others if we choose to spend our Saturday evening watching football that doesn’t count.

The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday morning, and thinks we should get at least a quick glance of the Patriots’ first-teamers in Houston.

“I’d be surprised if they didn’t all go, the healthy ones. If you think about it, they’re going to sit for two weeks and then all of a sudden go out and play two-and-a-half, three quarters in Detroit? That’s a tough thing to build up and would probably lend to a higher risk of injury,” said Howe. “I would guess they’re going to get some work on Saturday.”

The Texans have made the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, and with their stout defensive unit, pundits are high on their chances to take another step further this season. Some even think they could be a threat to the Patriots in the AFC.

“They probably have the best defense in the AFC, or at least the best defense the Patriots will face in the AFC. I still think the Raiders are the second-best team in the AFC,” said Howe. “[The Texans] defense is legit. I have some serious questions going into this week just because they lost A.J. Bouye, the cornerback who went to Jacksonville. He took away half the field last year in the AFC Divisional Round against the Patriots and is a heck of a corner. They like Kevin Johnson, and he had a pretty decent week, although Brandin Cooks beat him for a 20-30 yard touchdown pass [on Wednesday].

“You could tell these two practices meant a lot to [Houston], especially on defense. They made almost every single throw difficult on Brady,” added Howe. “Brady had to make the right reads and had ot do all the right things to complete these passes, which is why I thought it was even more impressive from a Patriots standpoint. The Texans broke up eight passes from Brady over the two sessions. … They made it tough on him.”

Howe also touched on Austin Carr’s chances of making the Patriots roster going into the season, and Stephen Gostkowski’s performance so far. Listen to the full podcast above!

Tune in to Saturday night’s Patriots-Texans preseason game on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots! Kickoff is set for 8pm, with pregame coverage beginning on 98.5FM at 5pm and on WBZ-TV at 7pm!

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