|11.12.14 at 11:42 am ET|
FOXBORO — This week would not be a good time for the Patriots to take their foot off the gas of their high-powered offense.
And no one knows this better than the man at the wheel of the machine. Tom Brady and the Patriots are averaging 40 points a game in their five-game winning streak. Not surprisingly, that’s better than any team in the NFL over that stretch. They came within a touchdown against the Broncos of scoring 50 points in back-to-back games for the first time in their history.
But now comes the hard part. They have to do it on the road, against a Colts team led by the most prolific passer through nine games in NFL history.
Andrew Luck, in his third season out of Stanford, has already passed for 3,085 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Luck has thrown for 300 yards in seven straight games, dating back to Week 3, breaking the record of Peyton Manning (5 in 2009). The NFL record is nine set twice by Drew Brees in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
“Well, he’s a great player,” Brady said of Luck. “He’s in his third year and has had a lot of success. Their offense is doing a great job this year. They score a lot of points, especially at home. He’s kind of the ring leader. He does a lot of things I wish I could do.”
“He’s big, fast, shrugs off blockers,” Brady added. “He makes a lot of extended plays. He’s a great passer. I think they’ve thrown for more yards at this point in the year than any other team in history. I think it speaks to what they’re doing offensively. It’s a big challenge for our defense.”
Then came a warning from Brady to his offense.
“We’re going to have to score a lot,” Brady said. “I think when you play another great offense, you’re going to have to put up a lot of points, similar to our last game. We realize we have a big job, too.
“My focus is on the other side of the ball but you also know you’re not going to be able to score 13 points and win the game.”
|11.12.14 at 11:35 am ET|
FOXBORO — Reggie Wayne was romanced by the Patriots in 2012 as a free agent. The veteran wide receiver ended up sticking with the Colts, but it’s clear the level of affection that Bill Belichick has for Wayne hasn’t diminished.
‘He looks good,” Belichick said Wednesday of the 35-year-old Wayne, who has 42 catches on 72 targets for 504 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season.
“[He’s] really one of the best route runners obviously in the game now — maybe ever in the game. He really does a great job of making all the routes look the same. He’s got really good quickness to separate at the top of the route.
“He’s good on releases and smart in zones to find the open space,” Belichick added. “[He’s got] good hands, made a big play after the catch last week or two weeks ago, whatever it was, down the sideline there. Caught the ball, broke a tackle, 40-yard touchdown, so he’s still dangerous with the ball in his hands. He’s an excellent route runner. I’m sure the quarterback, (Andrew) Luck has a lot of confidence in him, which he should, because he’s such a dependable guy.’
|11.12.14 at 11:20 am ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady can’t wait to see his last two back-ups square off against each other.
Brian Hoyer will lead his 6-3 Cleveland Browns into battle against the 4-5 Houston Texans Sunday in Cleveland. The Texans starting quarterback will be Ryan Mallett, getting his first career NFL start.
Hoyer has his team all alone in first place in the AFC North while head coach Bill O’Brien decided to make a change, giving Mallett the chance after Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled heading into last week’s bye.
“It’s pretty cool,” Brady said. “It speaks to their work ethic and I think what they’ve been able to accomplish. They’ve both overcome quite a bit in their career, so it will be fun to see. We play at 8 o’clock, so I’m sure a lot of guys from our team will be paying attention.”
Of course, Brady will have some extra time to pay attention Sunday afternoon if he’s not napping. The Browns and Texans play at 1 p.m. in Cleveland while the Patriots don’t kick off in Indianapolis until 8:30 p.m.
Brady has already faced another former back-up this season head-to-head, when the Patriots beat Matt Cassel and the Vikings, 30-7, in Week 2.
|11.12.14 at 6:30 am ET|
FOXBORO — This weekend marks the Tom Brady Backup Bowl, a contest that will feature Cleveland’s Brian Hoyer going up against Houston’s Ryan Mallett in a duel of former New England second-string quarterbacks.
Mallett will be making his first career start after taking over the No. 1 job with the Texans. Meanwhile, Hoyer has led the Browns to a 6-3 start, completing 58 percent of his passes for 2,212 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Both those guys worked really hard here,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “They both did a good job for us. I have a lot of respect for both of them and a personal liking for both guys. We wish them well.”
‘Well, I’d say Darius has been in pretty much the same role that he was in last year as a nickel back [with Greg] Toler and [Vontae] Davis usually outside and Butler usually in the slot,” Belichick said of the 28-year-old Butler, who was a second-round pick of the Patriots in 2009 before joining Indy in 2012.
As for Brown, he was an undrafted free agent who spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons with New England before joining the Colts.
“Sergio’s had a big role in the kicking game,” Belichick said, “and then when [Laron] Landry was out the last four or five weeks then he had a lot of playing time at safety on defense and has been a little bit less involved in the kicking game.
“He’s been in those two roles. It looks like they’re kind of independent of each other, so the more involved he is on defense, the less in the kicking game; the less on defense, the more in the kicking game. He’s done both.’
|11.11.14 at 3:37 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’ll be a special teams showdown on Sunday night, as two of the best and most consistent kickers in the league will meet under the dome at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Indy’s Adam Vinatieri and New England’s Stephen Gostkowski are the only two kickers in the league who have attempted at least 20 field goals and have a success rate of better than 95 percent. (Vinatieri is 20-for-20 on the season, while Gostkowski is 24-for-25.)
“He’s really kicking the ball great,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of the 41-year-old Vinatieri. “The ball goes perfectly straight, doesn’t move. Every kick is right on the money. You have to try and block it, waiting for him to miss you’ll be waiting all day. You have to see if you can somehow affect the kick, but he’s kicked the ball great. No question.”
Vinatieri’s resume should be enough to get him to the Hall of Fame, as he distinguished himself as one of the best big-game kickers of his generation. Part of three Patriots’ Super Bowl teams, he left New England for Indy following the 2005 season, and has managed to continue to kick at a high level since then.
“He’s super impressive,” Gostkowski said of the guy he replaced. “I mean, the guy is unbelievable. I’ve heard stories of how hard he works, and all that stuff. To be able to be that good … I don’t know how he feels, but he doesn’t make it look like he feels old. I wouldn’t say 42 is old, but he’s doing a good job.”
Of course, Gostkowski has assembled an impressive resume in his own right. The 30-year-old was named an All-Pro in 2008, and led the league in scoring in 2012 and 2013. After nine games, he leads the NFL in scoring this season with 101 points — nine points ahead of Vinatieri.
Gostkowski said a head-to-head matchup with Vinatieri doesn’t enter into his thought process.
“All I’m worried about is kicking some touchbacks and scoring a lot of points and hopefully we can win,” he said. “I admire every kicker in the NFL — I know how hard it is to be successful in a week-in, week-out basis, and no one has done it better than Adam, and he deserves all the accolades and respect in the world.
“But it doesn’t pass my mind. I’m more worried about playing in a dome and getting ready to kick there. If he goes out and kicks nine field goals, it doesn’t affect me one way or another.”
|11.11.14 at 12:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Brandon LaFell, Dominique Easley and Chandler Jones were all not spotted at the start of Patriots practice Tuesday afternoon held on the grass fields behind Gillette Stadium in advance of Sunday’s game against the Colts. The practice was held in shorts and shells.
LaFell’s absence comes as a bit of a surprise, especially following a bye week. The wide receiver hasn’t missed a practice this season and practiced last Wednesday — the last practice before the team departed for its bye week. During the media viewing portion of last Wednesday’s practice, Easley was spotted being checked out by trainer’s during positional drills, and he’s been on the injury report almost all season with a knee injury, so the injury could have been aggravated during the last practice. Jones, hasn’t practiced at all since suffering a hip injury against the Jets, so his absence doesn’t come as a surprise.
Since it is Tuesday and the team is only required to put out three injury reports a week, there will not be one today. The first one will come Wednesday, following the second practice of the week.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|11.11.14 at 12:08 pm ET|
NBC analyst and former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, in his weekly interview on WEEI’s MFB show, took stock of what New England must do to slow down the Colts’ high-powered offense on Sunday. Harrison suggested that the Pats‘ game plan must account for receiver T.Y. Hilton, who ranks third in the NFL with 937 receiving yards and third in yards per reception with 16.7 through nine games.
“[Hilton] is a guy that consistently shows up on tape each and every week. He’s gotten so much better from last year. He runs excellent routes. He’s very shifty. He’s very athletic. He can adjust to the ball. You don’t have to throw the ball perfectly and he can adjust to it down the field,” said Harrison. “I think taking away that big play, because that’s what Andrew Luck, ultimately, he wants. Like most of these scrambling quarterbacks, they scramble, they buy time, and his eyes are always looking down the field.”
While Hilton must be a focal point of the defense, Harrison suggested that the schemes to shut him down must be more diverse than simply assigning Darrelle Revis for the entirety of the game.
“I don’t think you just strictly do that. I think you have to change it up, like the Patriots have been doing, with some zone and some man. I think you do your cornerbacks justice when you switch off and say, ‘We’re going to give you a break. We’re going to play a little bit of zone,’ ” said Harrison. “It’s tough, man, especially with these rules, these shifty, fast wide receivers get off the line of scrimmage. It’s tough chasing these little 23-year-old guys around the entire game. But obviously you want your best defensive back on their best wide receiver. We’ll see what happens.”
To listen to the complete interview, visit the MFB audio on demand page. Here are additional highlights:
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