|11.12.10 at 4:18 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is listed as probable for this Sunday night’s game in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. Brady was limited for the second straight day in practice after missing Wednesday’s practice with a foot injury. Safety Jarrad Page (calf) is the only active player ruled out for this weekend. Defensive lineman Myron Pryor (back) is questionable.
Patriots Injury Report for Friday:
K Stephen Gostkowski (thigh) OUT
Did Not Participate
S Jarrad Page (calf) OUT
DL Myron Pryor (back) Questionable
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder/foot) Probable
DL Mike Wright (groin) Questionable
S Patrick Chung (knee) Questionable
RB Fred Taylor (toe) Questionable
RG Stephen Neal (shoulder) Questionable
|11.12.10 at 3:34 pm ET|
Jets at Browns
* – The Jets are figuring it out: After starting the season allowing first down success (i.e. gains of four or more yards) 49 percent of the time (66-for-135), they’ve improved to 38 percent (33-for-88) over the last four weeks, the league’s best mark in that span.
* – The Jets now lead the NFL in kickoff returns (28.6) while the Browns lead the league in defending kickoff returns (16.7). Cleveland hasn’t allowed a return of 30 or more yards over the last four weeks.
* – Cleveland went 7-for-10 on third-and-5 or less last Sunday and are second in the league for the season (66 percent). The Jets have allowed just 39 percent conversions on those, the second best defense in the league.
* – The Jets have allowed 16 conversions on third-and-long (10 yards or more), the most in the league.
* – The Jets have not thrown a touchdown pass to a running back in their last 29 games, the longest current streak in the league:
29 – Jets
22 – Ravens
22 – Bills
* – One more reason the Jets were lucky to escape in overtime last week: They fumbled five times, but lost only one of them.
Vikings at Bears
* – The Vikings have allowed a touchdown in their last 55 games, the longest current streak in the league:
55 – Vikings
43 – Jaguars
34 – Buccaneers
* – The Bears were successful on first down a league low 15 percent of the time last week (4-of-27). For the season, Minnesota has been sixth best at preventing first down success (43 percent).
* – After going 9-for-70 on third downs in their last six games (13 percent), the Bears went 7-for-12 against Buffalo last Sunday (58 percent).
* – Minnesota is the only team in the league that has not stopped a third-and-one try (10-for-10), while Chicago has been the league’s second worst offense at converting third-and-one (4-for-12, 33 percent).
* – The Bears have not allowed a touchdown pass to an opposing tight end this season after allowing 10 last year. This is their first eight game streak without allowing one since they went 26 in a row in ’05-’06.
* – Over the last four weeks, the Vikings have ranked first in net starting field position (+10.9) while the Bears have ranked 29th in that span (-8.0).
* – The Bears have forced a league high 20 fumbles. They’ve recovered nine.
* – While the Bears have been bad at converting third downs in the red zone (3-for-13, 23 percent), the Vikings defense has been the worst in the league in those situations (8-for-14, 57 percent).
Bengals at Colts
* – The Colts have allowed 2.8 points per possession on their opponents’ opening drive of either half (16 drives, ranked 30th). The Bengals offense has averaged just 1.1 such points on their 16 drives (26th).
* – Bengals’ opponents have been in goal-to-go 12 times and have scored 11 touchdowns and a field goal for an average of 6.7 points, the worst mark in the league. Indy’s offense? 12 touchdowns and four field goals in 16 tries (6.0 average, ranked sixth).
* – The Bengals allowed points on 26 percent of opponents’ drives in their first five games, but that’s ballooned to 46 percent over their last three. For the season, Indianapolis leads the NFL on offense, scoring on 42 percent of possessions.
Cowboys at Giants
* – The Giants have scored 40 or more points in consecutive games within the same season for the first time since at least 1970. They did it in the final week of the 1986 season and the first week of the 1987 season though, if you want to count that. They also are the first team in 2010 to break 40 points twice.
* – The Cowboys have allowed 35 or more points in each of their last three games, their longest streak since they allowed 45, 38, 41 in their third, fourth, and fifth games of existence in 1960.
* – New York scored three first quarter touchdowns last week. It was the first time they’ve done that since at least 1996.
* – In the Giants’ eight “first possessions” this year, they have committed five turnovers.
* – The Cowboys are last in the league in defending kickoff returns (28.1) and have allowed eight returns of 30 or more yards. The Giants, however, are last in kickoff returns (17.5) with just two thirty-plus returns all season.
* – Dallas and Chicago are the only two NFL teams with two punt return touchdowns this season. The Giants rank 30th in punt return defense (14.8 average). What’s gonna give?
* – The Giants held an opponent without a single third down conversion twice in October. Prior to that they did it twice… since 1991.
* – The Giants now lead the NFL in first down efficency (gaining four or more yards over 55 percent of the time). They also lead the league in lowest percentage of first down successes allowed (39 percent).
* – Once inside the Giants’ 10-yard-line, Giants’ opponents have completed just 2-of-12 passes (17 percent).
Titans at Dolphins
* – Can Tennessee continue their goal-to-go mastery? In 11 goal-to-go situations, the Titans have averaged 6.3 points, the highest in the league. But Miami’s defense has done well at limiting the damage in those situations, allowing a league best average of 3.7 points, including zero points allowed twice.
* – Only 33 percent of Miami’s pass yards have come on plays of 20 or more yards (30th). Only 34 percent of pass yards ALLOWED by the Titans have come on those big plays (fifth best).
* – Tennessee has allowed 10 or more third down conversions in each of their last two games. Prior to that, they hadn’t allowed double-figure conversions in any of their previous 40. For the record, no team has allowed 10+ conversions in three straight since San Diego in 2003.
* – After a slow start (Tennessee scored on 23 of their first 63 possessions, 35 percent), they’ve cranked up the offense lately, scoring on 16 of their last 34 (47 percent).
* – Miami is the least-penalized team in the league (32 penalties for 241 yards), while the Titans have drawn lots of flags (65, fourth most) for lots of yards (558, fifth most).
* – Tennessee has committed 18 turnovers this year but has not allowed a touchdown following any of them. Their 1.38 average points allowed following turnovers ranks fourth. On offense, Miami averages just 0.86 points following turnovers, the second worst mark in the NFL.
* – The Dolphins have allowed a league high 7.0 average YAC on catches made more than 10 yards downfield this season. Only one other team is allowing an average above 6.0 (Giants, 6.2).
* – The Titans average a league best 6.7 yards when running left this season. Compare that to their 2.8 average going right (31st).
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|11.12.10 at 2:59 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Both were there for everyone to see. The fair catch call in the first quarter that caused Sammy Morris to muff the kick-off, leading to Cleveland’s first touchdown. Then came the fumble at the end of the first half on the Browns 2-yard line wiping out any chance for the Patriots to take momentum into the locker room.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski had the first forgettable day of what has been a memorable rookie season with the Patriots.
But one of his coaches isn’t very worried at all. As matter of fact, 27-year-old Brian Ferentz – an offensive assistant coach with the Pats – believes Gronkowski will bounce right back this Sunday night in Pittsburgh.
“Rob’s a tough kid and Rob’s very resilient and I’m not very worried about how he’s going to bounce back or do any of those things,” Ferentz said. “He’s certainly made mistakes all year. Perhaps, they just weren’t as visible as the ones he made last week.
“But everybody makes mistakes every week. We made mistakes as coaches last week. He was not the only player who made a mistake and he won’t be the only one who makes a mistake this week. We’ll just move forward and hopefully he’ll continue to improve like he’s done each week.”
“The most I can say about either of those guys is that show up every day, they work hard, they look to improve and they really do work at their craft, which I think is the key ingredient to being successful,” Ferentz said.
“It’s obvious that Aaron is not your typical tight end. And he and Rob are very different in what they can and cannot do. That’s kind of the nature of the position. It’s an interesting position really when you look at the last 15 years, how that position has kind of evolved, not that I’m some kind of veteran coach by any means. But even since I’ve been alive, the game’s changed a lot and that position has certainly led the charge as far as offenses morphing.”
While Gronkowski seems to be a possession receiver on the end of the line, Hernandez has clearly been a tight end the Patriots feel comfortable sending on deeper routes.
“Aaron is the type of guy who has to be ready to deal with anything,” Ferentz said. “He could see a corner, he could see a safety and he could see a linebacker. It just depends on how teams choose to play us, and what they want to do as far as focusing on covering him or how they want to try to slow us down offensively. I think he’s at the point in his career, very early, where he’s maturing, he’s starting to find his role a little bit, his niche and hopefully that continues. But as far as what he’s going to see on a week-to-week basis, your guess is probably as good as mine.”
|11.12.10 at 2:03 pm ET|
After missing five games due to turf toe, Patriots running back Fred Taylor resurfaced this week and appeared on the Dale & Holley show Friday afternoon as part of WEEI’s Patriots Friday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Taylor has missed five games with the injury he’s learned to respect after previously not taking it seriously when he heard about it from other affected players.
“It’s a frustrating injury,” he said. “You re-aggravate it with each step. I always compare it to a sore thumb or a sprained thumb. Every time you take a step, it’s brutal. For me, the one that I did on the left foot was actually a slightly torn tendon ligament, and the right foot was turf toe from after the first game of the season.”
Taylor said an injured toe often leads to other injuries. “It’s the center of your universe,” he said. “Once that thing gets banged up or hurt, you start altering your walk, then you alter your run. Then you compensate, and then all of a sudden you have a tight calf, which leads to tight hamstrings, which leased to a tight back, which leads to pulled muscles. So, I mean, it’s the center of your entire universe. And I respect anyone that has had to endure turf toe, especially if they’ve had a severe case like the most recent one that I had. But I’m feeling better now.”
Taylor is eyeing a return on Sunday against the Steelers and isn’t intimidated by the team many people are calling the best in the AFC. Taylor points out that he has rushed for more yards against Pittsburgh than any other player. Said Taylor: “I get excited when I hear the word ‘Steelers’ and that color and what they bring and what they are about, what they’ve always been about, the tradition of that team. ‘¦ If you like competition, you’re looking at it this Sunday.”
Taylor said running backs that are successful against the Steelers don’t dance around before hitting the hole. “With Pittsburgh, you have to be patient,” he said. “Each run can’t be a home run. [Against] certain teams you have to alter your running style and know when to take your shot. You have to be extremely patient with those guys. You have to run physical, downhill, one cut. We’ve always been taught against the Steelers just that one cut ‘ stick your foot in the ground, get three, get four, get three yards. Try to stay away from the negative.”
|11.12.10 at 12:08 pm ET|
Page has been nursing a calf injury since the Chargers game on Oct. 24 while Pryor is treating a back injury. Tom Brady was present and accounted for and was doing his standard work with back-up Brian Hoyer and practice squad QB Jonathan Crompton.
The team practiced in sweats and shells on the grass fields outside Gillette Stadium in preparation for the grass surface they’ll be playing on Sunday night at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
|11.12.10 at 11:30 am ET|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Friday and discussed why Sunday’s loss to the Browns was particularly untimely. “You look at the schedule coming up, to me it’s the toughest part of the schedule,” began Schefter. “I know there’s no easy game in the league and it’s always a tough and challenging league, that’s true. But you go into Pittsburgh. You come home and at that point in time you’re preparing to play Indianapolis. Again, a tough part of the schedule.
“And you can argue, where is it easy? And it never really is,” continued Schefter. “But it just seems like it jumps out at you now playing Pittsburgh and Indy in back-to-back weeks before going to Detroit on Thanksgiving day, before coming home to play the Jets, [and then] at Chicago. It just seems like ‘Woah.’ ”
Schefter then explained how the loss at Cleveland makes the schedule appear even more daunting. “I guess it’s accentuated a little bit more coming off a loss at Cleveland because whenever you lose a game in the league the sky is falling and everything is terrible,” Schefter said. “When you win, and if they had won on Sunday in Cleveland, and you get a chance to win and they do. And they usually play pretty well against the Colts. And you wouldn’t be looking at those games in quite the light that you do now. But coming off a loss, a bad loss, in Cleveland you say, ‘Woah, woah woah, look at the schedule coming up now.’ ”
Following are more highlights from the interview, including more thoughts on Sunday’s contest with Pittsburgh, whether Randy Moss might have returned to New England, and Brad Childress‘ job security. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Does it give the Patriots an opening in your mind that the Steelers are so beat up on the offensive line, that maybe they aren’t going to be the same team that even beat Cincinnati?
Well, listen, I don’t know that the Patriots need an opening, the Patriots are a good team. And Pittsburgh is a good team. They have to go in there and play the way that they do. They have to play more the way they have in some of the other games this season and a lot less like they did in Cleveland. Typically in this league, good teams that come off bad games usually can respond with some good performances. And it won’t surprise me if New England comes out and plays a very good game.
The problem is Pittsburgh hasn’t played great lately. They nearly gave away a game on Monday night to Cincinnati. And Pittsburgh to me might just be the best team in the NFL right now. And you’re going to play there on a Sunday night, tough environment. This is about as tough a matchup as the Patriots can have at this point in the season.
|11.12.10 at 11:23 am ET|
FOXBORO — Patriots coach Bill Belichick played the wait-and-see game with Tom Brady when asked about the quarterback’s status for this Sunday night’s game in Pittsburgh. Brady missed Wednesday’s practice with a foot injury before returning to only limited participation on Thursday.
“We’ll do the same thing we always do,” Belichick said. “We’ll practice, go through the week, list his participation in practice based on what it is and list his status for the game just like we do with everybody else’s, based on what we think it is after we get through the whole week, after we get through Friday practice. That’s really it.”
The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that a source indicated Brady was nursing a sprained foot but the injury wouldn’t keep him from playing Sunday night. Belichick began the presser by joking about Brady’s “throwing foot”, a reference to Brady’s right shoulder, which has been listed on the Patriots injury report for several years.
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