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Josh McDaniels: Buffalo defense ‘can certainly create a lot of problems’

11.05.12 at 4:45 pm ET
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One of the things that allowed the Patriots to have success the first time they played the Bills on Sept. 30 in Buffalo was the fact that the Bills used a smaller defense with more defensive backs in hopes of slowing down the New England passing game. The Patriots recognized the mismatches and ended up running the ball for most of the afternoon — Brandon Bolden (137 rushing yards) and Stevan Ridley (106 rushing yards) both went over the 100-yard mark as the team rushed for 247 yards on the day.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talked about that game on a Monday conference call with reporters, acknowledging that the New England offense “started slow,” but was able to make up for lost time in the second half.

“We were fortunate in our first game that the game kind of stayed where it was in the end of the third quarter, because we scored on our first drive, but we started slow overall in the first half,” McDaniels said of the Patriots, who were down 21-7 but ended up scoring 45 points in the second half for the 52-28 win. “We put the ball on the ground a bunch and had a lot of third-and-longs in our first game. We were fortunate to have an opportunity to come out of that game playing better in the second half.”

One thing that McDaniels was able to take away from Buffalo’s performance this past weekend against the Texans was the fact that the Bills played a lot more base defense against Houston than it did against the Patriots back in Week Four, primarily because Houston was in a two-receiver set for most of the game.

“[The Buffalo defense] created some negative plays, which they did some of that in our game as well. I just think overall they are a team that … they don’€™t do too many different things — they just continue to get better at the things that they do. And I think that’€™s something that over the long course of a season can really pay a lot of dividends,” he added. “This is a defense that can certainly create a lot of problems for you. We know them pretty well and they know us pretty well. The second game of a division rivalry is always kind of an exciting deal.”

Here are some more highlights of McDaniels Q&A with the media on Monday afternoon:
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Bill Belichick talks about possibility of more time at safety for Devin McCourty

11.05.12 at 3:48 pm ET
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With plenty of moving parts in the New England secondary — including the addition of new corner Aqib Talib and the possible return of safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory — Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked Monday about the possibility of Devin McCourty moving to safety on a full-time basis.

‘€œI think we’€™d like to try to be consistent with whatever it is we do, but at the same time, we have to deal with the upcoming opponent that we have and what we feel like is the best matchup for that particular game to try to win that game,’€ Belichick said.

‘€œSometimes those two forces are aligned and sometimes maybe they don’€™t. Ultimately our goal is to win this game. Whatever we need to do with any of our players to help us win this game, if its’€™ within our means and something we feel like we can execute and get done, then we would most likely do it. We’€™ll have to see how all that plays out with this game and the Bills. Utilization of our personnel will be what we feel like is the best opportunity to win the game.’€

McCourty shifted from corner to safety at the end of last season and saw plenty of snaps there in the playoffs. He’€™s also played safety the last two games for New England, and brought something of a stabilizing influence to the back end of the Patriots’€™ defense.

Asked if in a perfect world, McCourty could settle into one specific position and develop some consistent, Belichick said there are always going to be some moving parts, and McCourty appears to be the sort of player who can handle that.

‘€œI think he can handle the movement, but I think the more consistent we can be as a unit, then that builds their communication and better teamwork between the players that are involved,’€ Belichick said of McCourty.

‘€œThere are always going to be some moving parts — there are moving parts every week, because of the team that we play and unfortunately we’€™ve had, like every team does, guys go in and out for various reasons, so it’€™s not perfect,’€ he added. ‘€œIdeally if you could keep everything exactly the same every week, that would be great. There’€™s something to be said for trying to keep it the same, there’€™s also something to be said for trying to put yourself and your team in the best position that you can against that particular opponent. We try to balance those two forces.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty,

Bill Belichick on Aqib Talib: ‘I think he’s a good player’

11.05.12 at 2:00 pm ET
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In his first public comments since the Patriots acquired cornerback Aqib Talib from Tampa Bay last week, Bill Belichick was willing to concede he thought Talib was “a good player,” but that was pretty much it.

On a conference call with the media on Monday afternoon, the Patriots coach — as well as defensive coordinator Matt Patricia — said their focus was more about the Bills and less about Talib, who won’t return from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy until after this week’s game against Buffalo.

‘€œRight now, really, our focus is on the Bills, and the players that will be preparing for the game, and the players that are here at this time,’€ Belichick said when asked about Talib. ‘€œSo we’€™ll take that as it comes. When he gets here, we’€™ll deal with it.’€

‘€œI think he’€™s a good player,’€ Belichick later said, adding that they were able to use the intel they gathered on him as part of the pre-draft process in 2008, as well as what they saw with their own eyes when the Patriots and Bucs held joint practices this summer.

Patricia was asked about his thoughts on Talib, and what sort of role he could have with the team once he returns from suspension.

‘€œI think we’€™re obviously going to focus on Buffalo and who’€™s on the team right now, but he’€™s a good player and when we do get a chance to work with him, we’€™ll address those issues at the time,’€ he said.

Read More: Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, matt patricia,

Logan Mankins on M&M: ‘I think I’ve been on the shelf long enough’

11.05.12 at 12:52 pm ET
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Patriots guard Logan Mankins joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about his injury, the Patriots at the bye week, the acquisition of Aqib Talib, and more team news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Mankins has missed three games this season with soreness in his calf and hip. Known for his ability to play through pain, Mankins said it has been difficult to not be out on the field.

‘€œIt’€™s been really hard,’€ Mankins said. ‘€œI don’€™t think there is anything worse than being hurt and having an injury to where you can’€™t be out there with the guys practicing or playing. ‘€¦ That’€™s really tough. We’€™ve been working on it hard and getting ready to go here and try to finish out the season.’€

Mankins traveled to London for the Rams game but wasn’€™t able to play. He hopes to be back when the Pats play the Bills this week.

‘€œYeah, I was close.’€ Mankins said. ‘€œJust one of those injuries that needs rest. We’€™ll see. We’€™re going to test it out a bit this week and see what happens and hopefully I can. I think I’€™ve been on the shelf long enough. I need to get back out there.’€

The Patriots are rushing for an average of 150 yards per game, ranking fourth in the league. Mankins said it’s a combination of everybody working together.

‘€œA lot of that goes on the players,’€ Mankins said. ‘€œIf you don’€™t do it good, coach isn’€™t going to keep calling it. This year we’€™ve been pretty productive. It goes down to the backs. The backs have been outstanding. [Stevan] Ridley has ran great, breaks a lot of tackles.  The line has done a pretty good job; the tight ends have done a good job. We’€™ve had a lot of longer runs this year, too, and that goes to receivers getting blocks in down the field. It’€™s just been a good team effort on that. When everyone is doing the right thing, it has been pretty good.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib, Logan Mankins, Stevan Ridley,

Fantasy Football: Week 10 waiver wire

11.05.12 at 12:45 pm ET
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Welcome to the Week 10 waiver wire. It’€™s been a rough eight days for yours truly. The town in which I reside still is in a state of total dysfunction in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I’€™ve been staying with friends so as to be informed enough to keep informing all of you, but please excuse the early release of this week’€™s wire. If I had confidence that I would have connectivity Tuesday, I would wait a day longer. But sadly, I don’€™t. Lastly, for those who are in a position to do so, please consider donating to the Red Cross to help those who are suffering in New Jersey and New York. The extent of the damage is mind-boggling, and every cent helps.

I will be updating this column at Rotobahn on Tuesday if I have the capability, so head on over then if you are looking for more insight. Lastly, great thanks go out to our friends in Andover, Mike and Aricia, for giving us a warm place to stay for the last few days, not to mention a place to watch football and upload this article.


Carson Palmer, Raiders

We’€™ve been pushing him for a few weeks now as he’€™s been a solid fantasy contributor for most of the year. Now, with more healthy receiving options, Palmer is posting very good numbers. As I said a few weeks back, he’€™s cheap and he won’€™t hurt you. Well, he might not be cheap anymore after Week 9, but he still is available in a great many leagues, so go get him if you need some QB help in any format.

Jay Cutler, Bears

He’€™ll be getting WR Alshon Jeffery back soon, and with Brandon Marshall fully heated up, the Bears could be a high-powered offense sooner rather than later. Add Cutler in any format. He can be your starter going forward if you are in a pinch.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks

In big leagues, he is a guy who can provide depth and he is a solid start when the matchup is right, especially at home. Pick him up in 12-team leagues.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

He is a viable fantasy asset, but the reason to consider him right now is the sweet matchup he has with Tennessee in Week 10. If you are looking for a way to replace Aaron Rodgers during his Week 10 bye, Tannehill could be your guy — in any format. He also gets Buffalo in Week 11, which is an added bonus.

John Skelton, Cardinals

In really deep formats, Skelton can be a depth player for you. With rookie WR Michael Floyd beginning to emerge along with TE Rob Housler, the Cardinals QB could be more of a fantasy factor going forward. He’€™s better left for 12-team and 14-team formats, but we think he will get better in the coming weeks, so he is a guy to keep an eye on for sure.

Nick Foles, Eagles

For Michael Vick owners at minimum, Foles could be the QB in Philly next week, so we’€™d be adding him as protection if we were dependent on Vick. Foles has plenty of upside if he was to start, so add him in any league where your success is tethered to Vick.

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Read More: Carson Pallmer, Danny Amendola, Jay Cutler, Mikel Leshoure

Patriots will honor Kevin Faulk this Sunday

11.05.12 at 12:33 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Monday that recently retired running back Kevin Faulk will be honored in a special halftime ceremony at this Sunday’€™s game against the Buffalo Bills to allow fans an opportunity to celebrate his career. Here’€™s a portion of the press release that was issued by the team on Monday:

Faulk, who filled various roles for the Patriots during his years with the team, joined the club in 1999 as a second-round pick (46th overall) out of LSU. He is the Patriots all-time leader in all-purpose yards (12,349) and kickoff return yards (4,098) and is the Patriots’€™ all-time leading return specialist, totaling 5,041 combined return yards (4,098 kick return yards and 943 punt return yards).

Faulk ranks fifth in Patriots history in rushing yards (3,607), fifth in receptions (431), eleventh in pass receiving yards (3,701) and sixth in total punt return yards (943). Faulk recorded the longest non-touchdown kickoff return in team history when he covered 95 yards on a return against the New York Jets (11/15/99).

For his career, he played in 161 games and accumulated 3,607 yards rushing on 864 attempts for a 4.2-yard average with 16 touchdowns, caught 431 passes for 3,701 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, returned 182 kicks for 4,098 yards and two touchdowns and returned 101 punts for 943 yards.
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Boomer Esiason on D&C: Aqib Talib ‘definitely a very different sort’

11.05.12 at 9:50 am ET
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CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan and recapped Week 9 in the NFL, touching on the Colts, the Falcons, the Buccaneers, Peyton Manning and more news from around the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Patriots traded for suspended Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib last week, and Esiason said it’s up to the team to convince him to heed the Patriot Way.

‘€œIf he stays out of trouble, he will [be successful],” Esiason said. “I know what they’€™re banking on here. They’€™re banking on the locker room, they’€™re banking on the organization. ‘€¦ This Aqib Talib kid is definitely a very different sort, very, very different. Hopefully up in Foxboro, he’€™s not going to get himself in trouble. This is what you call rolling the dice.’€

The Colts posted a 23-20 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday behind Andrew Luck‘€™s rookie-record 433-yard game. Esiason said the way ailing coach Chuck Pagano addressed the team following the game in the locker room was very impressive.

‘€œThe Andrew Luck-Chuck Pagano show was something special,’€ Esiason said. ‘€œI picked Miami to win the game yesterday. ‘€¦ Andrew Luck doing what he did, throwing for as many yards as he did, setting a rookie record in a single game and then tying Peyton Manning for most 300-yard games in a season at the number four. How lucky are the Indianapolis Colts fans to be able to go from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck. Hopefully a career of greatness that we’€™ll see there.

“The Chuck Pagano thing, for anybody who knows anybody whose ever dealt with cancer, to see him in the locker room after that game to talk about his daughter’€™s weddings and things of that nature, just gave me chills. So I would say that was really impressive.’€

Eli Manning had a tough game on Sunday, throwing for just 125 yards with an interception in the Giants‘ 24-20 loss to the Steelers.

‘€œI thought the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to beat the New York Giants, because the Steelers now, whether you love them or hate them, these are the Steelers that we know and love or hate,’€ Esiason said. ‘€œThey’€™re coming back defensively. Big Ben [Roethlisberger] is doing exactly what he does in games in which they win — he extends plays and makes throws and stands in there in the face of the pass rush. He’€™s as brave as any quarterback in football and he showed that yesterday.

“And the Giants, Eli Manning hasn’€™t played that well the last couple weeks. They won a game in Dallas, they won a game at home against [Robert Griffin III], but when you take a look at the stats and you see the yards that opposing offenses are putting up against that defense, it wasn’€™t shocking to me that the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Giants yesterday.’€

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, boomer esiason, Chuck Pagano
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