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Inside look at Tom Brady, Peyton Manning through eyes of former teammate

10.31.14 at 5:30 am ET
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Despite their ages, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning remains two of the NFL's most durable quarterbacks. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

With how skilled the two are on the field, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are both outstanding teammates as well. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

By now everyone has dissected everything possible on the field between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, with the debate of which quarterback is better likely continuing for years to come.

With Sunday being the 16th meeting between the two legendary quarterbacks, every stat imaginable has been compared between the two, but what are the two like behind the scenes? How do the quarterbacks compare in practice, off the field and even who is funnier?

Defensive tackle/fullback Dan Klecko is one of the few players to play with both Manning and Brady. In fact, he won Super Bowls with both of them –€“ 2003 and 2004 with New England and 2006 with Indianapolis. Klecko was a member of the Patriots from 2003-05 and the Colts from 2006-07 so he was able to provide us with some tidbits on the two quarterbacks with a very unique perspective.


What are the two like during practice?

“€œDuring practice Peyton is running the everything,”€ Klecko said in a phone interview this week. “I mean everything, from how long the periods are going to be, if we are going to repeat a period. From what I remember — look, I loved Tony Dungy — but Peyton ran everything out there. He really did, and I honestly believe he had a hand in being a general manager out there, too, but Peyton ran everything.

“€œBill [Belichick] still is going to run everything in New England — with Tom’€™s input. I think Tom more lets Bill do his thing.”€

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Read More: Dan Klecko, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady,

Darrelle Revis Report, Week 9: Veteran corner and rest of Patriots secondary face supreme test in Peyton Manning and Broncos

10.31.14 at 12:49 am ET
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Demaryius Thomas got the better of Darrelle Revis on this pass play from 2010 when Revis was with the Jets. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Demaryius Thomas got the better of Darrelle Revis on this pass play from 2010 when Revis was with the Jets. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Each week, we’ll present The Darrelle Revis Report, a look at what’s on tap for the Patriots cornerback. This week, New England will host the Broncos in a matchup that will give the winner the inside track when it comes to supremacy in the AFC.

Last week: In one of the best performances of his relatively short career with the Patriots, Revis was able to render Brandon Marshall a nonfactor in Sunday’s win over the Bears. Revis allowed one catch (on six targets) for 8 yards while working mostly against Marshall.

(There was one play where it’s unclear as to whether or not Revis was the one at fault when it came to coverage — on a quick out to Alshon Jeffery when the Bears had receivers stacked on the right side, Revis was essentially blocked out of the play. The completion to Jeffery led to a 15-yard pickup. He was in the neighborhood, but it was hard to see who exactly was at fault in coverage.)

The Patriots appeared to work in multiple coverage sets throughout the game, with Revis and the rest of the defensive backs throwing different looks at the Bears throughout the contest. For the first time all year, he was almost exclusively on the left side. Of his 60 snaps on Sunday, we had him on the left side for 48 of them, while he was on the right for 12.

In all, by our highly unscientific count, in eight games, Revis has yielded 19 catches on 38 targets for 271 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Looking ahead: Revis and the rest of the New England secondary will face their biggest test of the season against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Denver has a fleet of talented pass catchers, including wide receivers Demaryius Thomas (47 catches, 767 yards, six TDs) and Emmanuel Sanders (47 catches, 634 yards and four TDs), as well as tight end Julius Thomas (30 catches, 327 yards and nine TDs).

“It’s going to be exciting,” Revis said of the showdown with the Broncos. “It kind of reminds me of back in New York when we played against the Patriots.

“We know what’s at stake. We know Denver is a great team. At the same time, we’re trying to accomplish something like they are too. It’s the battle of the AFC. We understand. We totally understand. It’s two great quarterbacks going against each other. We’re going to have to duke it out.”

Revis has faced Manning three times in his career — twice in the playoffs — and has a 2-1 mark against the quarterback, with his only loss coming in the 2009 AFC title game.
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Read More: Darrelle Revis, Demaryius Thomas, Revis Report,

These unheralded players might steal spotlight in Brady-Manning XVI

10.30.14 at 8:03 pm ET
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Tim Wright has been a valuable red-zone presence this season for the Patriots. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tim Wright has been a valuable red zone presence this season for the Patriots. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — With the 16th showdown between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning looming Sunday in Foxboro, it makes sense that most of the focus has been on the matchup between the two legendary quarterbacks. And while their performances ultimately will tell the story as to which team will win, in their previous matchups there’€™s almost always an under-the-radar performer who helps swing the balance of power. With that in mind, here are eight candidates — four on each side, plus two more who might not be relatively anonymous but could still surprise — who could have a sizable impact in Sunday’€™s game between the Patriots and Broncos.


Running back Jonas Gray — The Notre Dame product got his chance to shine Sunday against the Bears and took advantage, amassing 86 yards on 17 carries. The 5-foot-10, 225-pounder might not get the same amount of action this week against the Broncos — one of the reasons Shane Vereen might have been limited last week against the Bears was because he had the flu, but he apparently is better now — but he has earned the right to be part of the mix and certainly will be a part of the action in some form or fashion on Sunday afternoon.

Fullback James Develin — The Broncos defense is threatening on a couple of levels. Denver is capable of doing damage when it comes to getting after the passer with rushers like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, but it also is stout against the run with a league-best 72.4 rushing yards per game. That means if the Patriots are going to try to move the chains on the ground (or even do their due diligence when it comes to slowing the Denver pass rush), look for Develin, who routinely has been caving in defenders all season as a blocker.

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Read More: Brandon Marshall, Brandon McManus, Chris Harris Jr., Danny Amendola

DL Alan Branch’s absence from Thursday practice not related to injury

10.30.14 at 4:21 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Defensive lineman Alan Branch (not injury related) and defensive end Chandler Jones (hip) were the only two players who weren’t on the field for the Patriots at Thursday’s practice.

Defensive lineman Dominique Easley (knee), defensive back Nate Ebner (finger), offensive lineman Cameron Fleming (finger) and special teamer Matthew Slater (shoulder) were all limited in Thursday’s practice, similar to Wednesday.

Here is the complete practice report:

Did not practice
DL Alan Branch (not injury related)
DE Chandler Jones (hip)

Limited participation
S Nate Ebner (finger)
DL Dominique Easley (knee)
OL Cameron Fleming (finger)
WR Matthew Slater (shoulder)

Full participation
QB Tom Brady (ankle)
CB Brandon Browner (ankle)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower (knee)

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New Patriots LB Jonathan Casillas really wants to play this weekend against Broncos

10.30.14 at 4:08 pm ET
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Jonathan Casillas figures to help out with New England's linebacking depth, as well as on special teams. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Jonathan Casillas figures to help out with New England’s linebacking depth, as well as on special teams. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Jonathan Casillas hit the ground running this week, both literally and figuratively.

The linebacker, who was acquired by the Patriots from Tampa Bay on Tuesday, has been working to get ready for New England’s game against the Broncos Sunday.

“I’ve been running — I covered about six kickoffs today, full speed,” he said after practice on Thursday with a smile. “You want to test the hamstring out, I think that’s a good way to do it. I feel pretty good.

“Whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do,” he added. “[Special teams coach] Scotty O’Brien, as soon as I got here, he’s meeting with me and I’m doing extra work with him just to get caught up to speed, because they want me to go this weekend — and I want to go this weekend.

“I don’t like missing games, whether I’m new or not. I want to play. If I have to play all [on all] four special teams [units] and no defense to all four special teams and just a little defense, whatever that means, then I’m going to do it. I love this game. [Special] teams is something I do pretty well. I’m looking to get out there in all four.”

For Casillas, his best season for the 27-year-old came with the Saints in 2011 when he finished with 43 tackles, three sacks and two passes defensed in 13 games (five starts). In his five-plus years in the NFL, he has played in 55 games (20 starts), and has 138 tackles, three sacks and five passes defensed.

“We’ve known, watched Jonathan for a while,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “Athletic, smart guy. Has played defense — four-down player — played defense and in the kicking game. Been a productive player in New Orleans and Tampa. Played against him, practiced against him. I have a lot of respect for him, his experience, and his versatile skills.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Jonathan Casillas,

Deep drive: When Peyton Manning and Broncos look to attack downfield, Patriots have defenders to answer challenge

10.30.14 at 3:23 pm ET
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FOXBORO — When Peyton Manning and the Broncos look to go deep on Sunday against the Patriots, it’ll be strength against strength.

The Denver passing game is one of the best in the league, averaging 297 passing yards per contest, third-best in the NFL. Manning has a fleet of talented pass catchers at his disposal, including wide receivers Demaryius Thomas (47 catches, 767 yards, six TDs) and Emmanuel Sanders (47 catches, 634 yards and four TDs), as well as tight end Julius Thomas (30 catches, 327 yards and nine TDs).

When it comes to looking deep, the Broncos are tied for seventh in the league with 28 pass plays of 20 yards or more. (Indy is first overall with 20.) In addition, Denver is fifth in the league when it comes to pass plays of 40 yards of more with seven on the season. (Washington leads the league with 12.)

On the other side of the ball, the Patriots have allowed 210.9 yards per game passing this year (second-fewest in the NFL) compared to 239.0 (18th in the NFL) last year. They’ve also made sizable gains when it comes to defending the deep ball. This year, through eight games, the Patriots remain the only team that has yet to allow a pass play of 40-plus yards. Also, passes of 20-plus yards are down significantly — 74 in 2012 (worst in NFL), 55 last year (tied for 20th), 23 this year (tied for 15th).

“We talk about it, with every [team], that there’s a way to stop it,” said veteran safety Devin McCourty said when asked about some of the specifics in defending the deep ball. “The credit goes to the guys out there on the field, whether it be the guys coming off the edge and maybe somebody was free and somebody makes a big play or the guys in coverage.”

New England went out and spent heavily at cornerback this offseason, and the results have paid off. With the addition of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, it has changed the way Manning looks at the Patriots defensive backs.

“With the excellent cover corners, it allows them to do a lot of things,” Manning said. “It’€™s a matter of trying to be good at what you’€™re doing, and you know you’€™ve got to be prepared to handle the different adjustments that they can certainly make you go through during the course of a game.

“Certainly, it’€™s a great challenge playing against him,” Manning added when asked about Revis’ impact. “He’€™s just a top-notch cover corner that has great ball skills and great quickness, hip transition ‘€“ all the characteristics of a great cover corner. So, it’€™s a challenge, certainly. With the receivers we have, we’€™re trying to get everybody involved. To get everybody involved, that keeps the player involved and obviously you spread the ball around, and hopefully that can put pressure on the defense. But if you’€™re throwing against him, you better be accurate and you better be running really good routes.”

Read More: Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis, Demaryius Thomas, Devin McCourty

Patriots re-sign OL Chris Barker to practice squad; Release DL Ben Bass

10.30.14 at 2:30 pm ET
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The Patriots made a move to their practice squad Thursday when they re-signed offensive lineman Chris Barker and released defensive lineman Ben Bass. Barker was released on Tuesday when the team traded for Buccaneers linebacker Jonathan Casillas, but cleared waivers, while Bass was traded to the Patriots from Dallas just prior to the regular season for defensive back Justin Green.

Here is a portion of the release from the team:

Barker, 24, had been released on Oct. 28 to make room on the 53-man roster to make room for recently acquired LB Jonathan Casillas He began the season on the practice squad and was signed to the 53-man roster prior to the Jets game on Oct. 16 and played in the game on special teams. He was inactive for the Bears game. The 6-foot-2, 310-pounder is in his second NFL season after spending the entire 2013 season on the New England roster. Barker was claimed off waivers and awarded to the Patriots from Miami on Sept. 1, 2013. Barker was originally signed by Miami as a rookie free agent out of Nevada on May 3, 2013, but was released on Aug. 31, 2013.

Bass, 25, was acquired by the Patriots in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for DB Justin Green on Aug. 15, 2014. The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder, was released by the Patriots on Aug. 26 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 26. He originally joined the Cowboys in 2012 as a rookie free agent out of Texas A&M on May 14, 2012, and spent most of the 2012 season on the Cowboys’€™ practice squad before being activated to the 53-man roster on Nov. 13, 2013. Bass appeared in two games as a rookie before being placed on injured reserve on Dec. 1, 2012. He went to training camp with the Cowboys in 2013 but was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the regular season.

Read More: Ben Bass, Chris Barker,
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