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Dont’a Hightower ‘hopeful’ he will be able to play Thursday vs. Jets

10.14.14 at 6:31 pm ET
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Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower

FOXBORO — After missing the last two games because of a knee injury, Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower stood at his locker already knowing the question would be coming.

Will he be ready to play Thursday night against the Jets?

“The next question is do I think am I going play Thursday? That is day-to-day,” Hightower said. “I am holding up, doing everything they’€™ve asked me to do, so hopefully I will be out there.”

Hightower has missed the last two games after having a strong start to the season — recording 20 tackles in the four games he’s played — as well as coming along in terms of pass coverage, something that was a bit suspect in past years.

In his third season, Hightower only missed two games in his career prior to this year, so standing on the sidelines has been tough — but he’s done what he can to help the defense.

“It definitely sucks,” he said “Definitely these last couple games coming up are definitely games we want to have and seeing those guys out there having fun and playing the way we have been playing and not being able to have a part of — the most I can do is help give those guys checks and alerts from the sideline and doing my part. Hopefully that was the last game of the season I’€™ll have to do that.’€

With fellow inside linebacker Jerod Mayo going down with a season-ending leg injury, the Patriots need Hightower back even more now. While no one person can replace Mayo — a captain — it will take a number players on the defensive side of the ball, including Hightower, who should become more of a leader for the group.

The unit went through the same thing last year when Mayo also went down for the season in Week 6 with a torn pectoral muscle. Going through the same thing last year should help them moving forward this season.

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Read More: Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo,

Rex Ryan: ‘We’re desperate, to say the least’

10.14.14 at 5:53 pm ET
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Rex Ryan has been walking off the field a loser in five straight games. (Getty Images)

Rex Ryan has been walking off the field a loser in five straight games. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The season-opening win over the Raiders must seem like a lifetime ago to Rex Ryan. The Jets beat Oakland, 19-14, and were tied with Buffalo and Miami atop the AFC East, a game ahead of the 0-1 Patriots.

Since then, the bottom has once again fallen out on Rex Ryan. The quarterback situation is a disaster, with neither Geno Smith nor Michael Vick leading any type of consistent offense. The already porous secondary suffered another blow Monday with the loss of Dee Milliner to injury.

Oh right, they’ve lost five straight and stand 1-5 in the division.

And now, in a short week, they travel to Foxboro to take on a Patriots team that has rediscovered its chemistry and execution on the field. Despite losing Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley for the season, and facing the possibility of playing without Dan Connolly and Bryan Stork, the Patriots are prohibitive favorites this Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

How badly do Ryan and the Jets need to win a football game?

“About as bad is it gets, like you’€™re a 1-5 team,” Ryan answered Tuesday. “We’€™re desperate, to say the least.

Could a win over rival Bill Belichick and the Patriots Thursday night in the national spotlight salvage his season and, in turn, his job?

“No, I don’€™t look at that,” Ryan said. “It’€™s never been about me. You talk about job security late in the year, I’€™ve never flinched one time about it. All I do is the best job I can, and I’€™m confident in my abilities, and I’€™m confident in the guys that I coach with, the people that are here. So again, I don’€™t think twice about it.

“I just know we are going to do everything in our power to get a win. Obviously, it’€™s a lot easier said than done, especially traveling up to New England. We know we’€™re going to get their best shot, and they know that we’€™re going to give them our best shot.”

As desperate as things might be for Ryan, he still has his charm and sense of humor. Ryan was asked about the struggles of the Patriots offensive line and if he’s given any consideration of blitzing on every down.

“Oh yeah, that definitely,” Ryan began before catching himself. “You sound like my mom now. Everybody thought, ‘€˜Oh my gosh, Buddy Ryan, what kind of blitzer he’€™d be,’€™ but my mom would be worse. The league is probably happy that she wasn’€™t a coordinator. Yeah, I don’€™t know if that’€™s the most sound thing.”

Told that his mom would want him taking his vitamins and getting good nights of sleep, Ryan turned into competitor.

“Hey, I’€™m showing up, I can promise you that,” Ryan said.

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Read More: New England Patriots, New York Jets, Rex Ryan, Thursday night football

Brandon Browner ‘ready to play Thursday’: Ankle ‘feeling better and good to go’

10.14.14 at 4:41 pm ET
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Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner

FOXBORO — After missing the first six games of the season — four because of suspension and then the last two because of an ankle injury — cornerback Brandon Browner is talking like a player who will be back Thursday night against the Jets.

“I’€™m ready to go. I’€™m getting ready to play Thursday,” Browner said.

Browner’s ankle injury popped up in Week 5 — the first week he was eligible to return — and he’s been listed as questionable each of the last two games. The former Seattle cornerback said his ankle is “feeling better and good to go.” He said it’s been tough watching from afar each of the last six weeks.

“I’€™m itching, he said. “It’€™s like anyone else who has been held out or hurt, I’€™m itching to get out there. I’€™m taking it a day at a time trying to get better as best I can.”

With the new league rules and being suspended for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, Bronwer was able to be around the team while he was suspended, but just wasn’t able to practice. Asked if he was able to stay in game shape, he said he cannot answer until he plays in a game.

“That’€™s hard for me to answer because I haven’€™t played yet,” said Browner. “I’€™ll have a better answer for you after the game.”

Having not played in a game that has meant something since last season, one could try and do too much too fast, but Browner doesn’t feel that will be an issue because of the current Patriots secondary.

“You’€™re not going to try and do too much, just play the defense,” he said. “Let the chips fall where they may and I think we have a good enough team that if we just play the defense things will play as we want them to.”

If he does play Thursday, it would come against the Jets — a divisional opponent — something Browner is looking forward to.

“I’€™m excited to get back out there. I’€™m fortunate to be able to play against a divisional opponent so I’€™m looking forward to competing against those guys,” said Browner.

Read More: Brandon Browner,

Tom Brady remains limited because of ankle

10.14.14 at 4:07 pm ET
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The Patriots did not have any changes to their practice report from Monday to Tuesday, as offensive linemen Dan Connolly (concussion), Cameron Fleming (finger) and Bryan Stork (concussion) were all sidelined, as was defensive back Nate Ebner (finger). Meanwhile, quarterback Tom Brady was among the limited because of his ankle.

The Patriots will host the Jets Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

Did not practice
OL Dan Connolly (concussion)
S Nate Ebner (finger)
OL Cameron Fleming (finger)
OL Bryan Stork (concussion)

Limited participation
QB Tom Brady (ankle)
CB Brandon Browner (ankle)
LB Jamie Collins (thigh)
DL Dominique Easley (shoulder/knee)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower (knee)
DE Chandler Jones (shoulder)
S Devin McCourty (rib)
WR Matthew Slater (shoulder)

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Tom Brady,

Bill Belichick and Patriots ‘haven’t decided yet’ how to replace Jerod Mayo, Stevan Ridley

10.14.14 at 3:57 pm ET
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Bill Belichick. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — In a compressed week, Wednesday becomes Saturday. And with a game Thursday night against their AFC East rivals from New York, the Patriots could announce roster moves to fill the void created by injuries to Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley, both of whom are expected to miss the rest of the season with lower leg injuries.

That is, of course, if the Patriots decide they need to put both on season-ending injured reserve to create roster space for a move like running back Jonas Gray from the practice squad. Belichick acknowledged he’s spoken with player personnel director Nick Caserio about their roster options.

“I think that’€™s something that we’€™re just going to have to evaluate here in the next day or two,” Belichick said Tuesday. “I’€™ve talked with Nick Caserio and our coaching staff and Nick’€™s staff and we’€™ll just have to try to figure it all out here. It’€™s a real short week. So, we’€™ll just have to take all those things into consideration and try to figure out what we’€™re going to do ‘€“ if we would make one and who it would be and so forth. We haven’€™t decided that yet. We’€™ll see how it goes here.”

While Deontae Skinner figures to move up on depth chart and get more playing time to help with the loss of Mayo, the running back situation could be different. Brandon Bolden figures to get more carries but there is the chance for someone like Jonas Gray to be promoted from the practice squad. If that’s the case, then the Patriots need to make the move by Wednesday.

“We tell the practice squad, all those players every week, that they’€™re one sprained ankle or one day away from being active,” Belichick said. “We’€™ve made those moves as late as the day before the game ‘€“ Saturdays on a Sunday game and things like that. Those players prepare every week to be ready to play both on offense or defense and in the kicking game. As you know, we’€™ve done that before. That’€™s the same for them every week.

“There’€™s no difference for them this week or from any other week. They’€™re on the roster, on the practice squad, they’€™re potentially on the roster for the game. So, they prepare for the game as if they are on the roster. If that happens, it happens. If it doesn’€™t, then we go to next week.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Calvin Pryor, Deontae Skinner, Jerod Mayo

Mike Petraglia, Ryan Hannable preview Patriots-Jets on Thursday night football

10.14.14 at 2:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable preview the Thursday night football match up between the 4-2 New England Patriots and the 1-5 New York Jets. The two discuss how the Patriots will make up for the season-ending losses of starting linebacker Jerod Mayo and running back Stevan Ridley to leg injuries and the mood around Gillette Stadium on a very short work week.

Read More: Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Ryan Hannable

Tom Brady ready for Rex Ryan to throw everything at him: ‘He tests every part of your game’

10.14.14 at 1:51 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady isn’t looking at the 1-5 record the Jets bring to Gillette Stadium this Thursday night. He’ll be too busy focusing on their coach and what he throws at him.

“He tests every part of your game,” Brady said Tuesday of Rex Ryan. “I do have a lot of respect for that from a coach’s standpoint. He challenges you. And then when he feels he has you on something, he sticks with it. We’ve had our fair share of good games. He’s had his fair share of good games so it makes for a great matchup. They’re a great rivalry. We’ve had a lot of meaningful games with them ever since I got here. It’s always been fun playing the Jets. This week will be no different.

“This defense tests a lot of things. They really put a lot of pressure on you in a lot of ways, the front, coverages, scheme, they kind of do it all. There’s a lot to prepare for and to do it on three days is a lot. But they’re dealing with the same stuff. We’ve had a good couple of days. We need a couple good more days and then let it rip Thursday night.”

Brady isn’t one of those to rip the NFL for the short week that many players around the league have complained about since turning Thursday night football into a weekly event.

“I think it’s great to get the opportunity to go out there and do something I love to do,” Brady said. “I don’t care if it’s Thursday, Monday or Sunday or Tuesday. Whatever day they tell me to play, I’ll be ready to go.

“I think I’ll be as prepared as I can possibly be. It all comes together. It always does.”

Brady also emphasized Tuesday that his turnaround of the last two weeks will have no direct carryover one Thursday’s game begins.

“Really, whatever has happened in the past two weeks make no difference going into this week because this is a totally different entity,” Brady said. “It’s a different team, scheme, matchup, game plan, blitz package. Everything is different this week. Coach said we have to fill that tank back up and put everything we can into it and let it go.”

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Read More: New England Patriots, New York Jets, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
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