Londonderry's Ryan Griffin grew up watching the New England Patriots, but he's never seen a Patriots game from the view he'll have today.
Griffin, a 23-year-old rookie tight end with the Houston Texans, will face the Patriots for the first time in his professional career when New England (8-3) plays Houston (2-9) this afternoon (1 p.m.) at Reliant Stadium.
Griffin has carved out a role on special teams and has played in 10 games this season. He's started four games at tight end - Houston often lines up with two tight ends - and has four receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. His TD came on a 2-yard catch in a 27-24 loss to St. Louis.
"I was definitely a Patriots fan when I was younger, but I don't look at things that way anymore," Griffin said Saturday. "When you get more involved in the game you kind of look at each team as a business. Now I'm more a fan of individual players - how they carry themselves, how they play."
The Texans selected Griffin out of the University of Connecticut in the sixth round of this year's draft. He was the 201st pick overall.
Griffin was a four-year starter at Connecticut. He spent three seasons at the New Hampton School before he transferred to Londonderry High School for his senior season.
"People think once you're drafted you're on the team, but that's not the case," Griffin said. "My first and only goal was to make the team. From there it's just a matter of helping out the team any way I can. It's been a dismal year for us, especially because expectations were so high coming in, but there's still an opportunity for me to learn a lot and try to improve.
"I wouldn't say this year has been overwhelming, but there's been a lot to handle for sure. You have to relocate, it's a new job and you're trying to start a life by playing a game against the best in the world.
"From a football standpoint the biggest difference between college and the NFL is the detail in the playbook - the details in every play. The guys are bigger, stronger, sure, but it takes 100 percent of your focus on every play."
Griffin experienced the highs and lows of being an NFL player during that loss to Arizona earlier this month. Shortly after pulling in the first TD catch of his career, he suffered a concussion on the second-half kickoff
"(The touchdown catch) was exhilarating," Griffin said. "I got all the shoutouts from home. Then a few minutes later I was knocked out. That's just how it goes in the NFL. Have to be aware of what's going on around you. It won't happen again."
Griffin said he began receiving ticket requests for today's game more than a month ago. He said about 20 of his friends and family members from New Hampshire will be in attendance today.
"They'll all be wearing their Texans gear," he said. "It'll be a packed house, so it should be fun. Hopefully the people back home rooting for the Patriots can root for me as well."