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Patriots add wide receiver Greg Orton to practice squad

12.31.13 at 4:45 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Tuesday they have signed wide receiver Greg Orton to the practice squad.

Orton, 27, spent part of 2011 and all of 2012 on the Broncos practice squad. The 6-foot-3, 199-pounder originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Bengals out of Purdue in 2009. He had stints with the Arena Football League’€™s Spokane Shock and the United Football League’€™s Omaha Knights before joining the Denver practice squad. Orton went to training camp with Denver this past summer.

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Poll: Who do you want the Patriots to face in the divisional playoffs?

12.31.13 at 11:18 am ET
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Who do you want the Patriots to face in the divisional playoffs on Jan. 11?

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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

12.31.13 at 11:08 am ET
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Every week over the course of the 2013 regular season, we’€™€™ve had a list of the Patriots’€™€™ “offensive touches,”€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Here’€™€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for the 2013 regular season:

RB Stevan Ridley: 188 (178 rushes, 10 catches), 15 negative rushes, 1 negative reception, 4 fumbles lost
RB LeGarrette Blount: 155 (153 rushes, 2 catches), 9 negative runs, 2 fumbles lost
WR Julian Edelman: 107 (2 rushes, 105 catches), 8 dropped passes
RB Shane Vereen: 91 (44 rushes, 47 catches), 3 negative runs, 7 dropped passes
RB Brandon Bolden: 76 (55 rushes, 21 catches), 4 negative runs, 1 negative reception
WR Danny Amendola: 55 (1 rush, 54 catches), 1 negative reception
TE Rob Gronkowski: 39 (0 rushes, 39 catches), 1 dropped pass
WR Aaron Dobson: 37 (0 rushes, 37 catches), 1 negative reception, 7 dropped passes
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 32 (0 rushes, 32 catches), 7 dropped passes
QB Tom Brady: 32 (32 rushes, 0 catches), 40 sacks, 19 kneeldowns, 3 fumbles lost
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 12 (0 rushes, 12 catches)
WR Josh Boyce: 9 (0 rushes, 9 catches), 2 dropped passes
FB James Develin: 7 (3 rushes, 4 catches)
WR Austin Collie: 6 (0 rushes, 6 catches)
TE Matthew Mulligan: 2 (0 rushes, 2 catches)
RB Leon Washington: 1 (1 rush, 0 catches)

Some offensive notes: The Patriots ran 68 plays on Sunday against the Bills and 16 of them were in the shotgun — 24 percent. Over the course of the season, the Patriots were in shotgun formation on 482 of their 1,138 offensive snaps, a rate of 42 percent. (Last year, the Patriots were in the shotgun for 585 of their 1,240 plays in the regular season, a rate of 47 percent.) ‘€¦ Against the Bills, the Patriots were in no-huddle for three of their 68 snaps. On the year, the Patriots have operated in a no-huddle on 120 of their 1,138 plays from scrimmage –€” 11 percent of the time. ‘€¦ New England ran 1,138 offensive plays this year. Not counting kneeldowns, 76 were for negative yardage. Of the 68 plays against the Bills, two went for negative yardage — one sack of Brady and a negative run from Vereen.

By way of comparison, here’s a look at the offensive opportunities for the 2012 regular season.

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LeGarrette Blount wins AFC Offensive Player of Week honors

12.31.13 at 10:32 am ET
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LeGarrette Blount was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Patriots’€™ 34-20 victory against Buffalo last Sunday. It is the first time in Blount’€™s career that he has received an AFC Offensive Player of the Week honor.

Blount set a new Patriots’€™ single-game record with 334 all-purpose yards against Buffalo, gaining 189 yards from scrimmage and adding 145 kickoff return yards. Blount’€™s performance topped the 51-year old team record set by Larry Garron on Nov. 3, 1962, when Garron had 272 all-purpose yards at Buffalo. Blount finished the game with 189 rushing yards on 24 carries for a 7.9-yard average, totaling the fifth-highest single-game rushing total in Patriots history. He also had a pair of 30-yard touchdown runs with a 36-yard run in the second quarter and a 35-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.

In addition to his rushing totals, Blount had a career-long 83-yard kickoff return in the third quarter, the second longest non-touchdown kickoff return in team history. He added a 62-yard return in the fourth quarter.

It’s the second AFC Player of the Week honor for the Patriots in 2013. Tom Brady earned the honor after the Patriots come-from-behind 34-31 overtime win over Denver on Nov. 24 in Week 12.

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Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2013 season

12.31.13 at 9:30 am ET
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During the 2013 regular season, the Patriots were flagged for 69 penalties (second-best in the league behind Indy’s 66) for a total of 625 yards (third, behind Indy’s 576 yards and Miami’s 598 yards). Here’€™€™s a breakdown of the calls that went against the Patriots, not including penalties that were declined or offset:
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Pressure Points: Which Patriots defenders have done best job getting after QB in 2013?

12.31.13 at 8:45 am ET
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Every week over the course of the 2013 season, we’€™€ provide a look at the Patriots pass rush numbers. While sacks can be overrated, when evaluated as part of a bigger picture that includes quarterback hits and quarterback pressures (the latter courtesy of Pro Football Focus), it should provide a good picture as to which defenders are consistently able to get after the quarterback. Over the course of the 2013 regular season, the Patriots had 48 sacks (fifth in the league, and the most for a New England team since the 1985 team had 51), 91 quarterback hits and 177 quarterback hurries. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™€™s a look at the pass-rush numbers for the Patriots for the 2013 regular-season:

Quarterback sacks
DL Chandler Jones: 11.5 (74 yards)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 8 (38 yards)
DL Chris Jones: 6 (42 yards)
DL Sealver Siliga: 3 (26 yards)
DL Tommy Kelly: 2.5 (15 yards)
LB Dane Fletcher: 2 (19 yards)
DL Joe Vellano: 2 (18 yards)
DE Michael Buchanan: 2 (15 yards)
DE Andre Carter: 2 (12 yards)
CB Kyle Arrington: 2 (11 yards)
CB Logan Ryan: 1.5 (14 yards)
LB Jerod Mayo: 1.5 (5 yards)
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 1 (9 yards)
DL Isaac Sopoaga: 1 (8 yards)
S Steve Gregory: 1 (0 yards)

Quarterback hits (per NFL game books)
DE Chandler Jones: 22
DE Rob Ninkovich: 17
DL Chris Jones: 8
DE Andre Carter: 7
DL Tommy Kelly: 6
DE Michael Buchanan: 5
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 5
DL Joe Vellano: 4
LB Jamie Collins: 3
LB: Dane Fletcher: 3
CB Kyle Arrington: 2
DL Sealver Siliga: 2
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
CB Logan Ryan: 2
S Steve Gregory: 2
DL Vince Wilfork: 1
DE Jake Bequette: 1
DL Isaac Sopoaga: 1

Quarterback hurries (per PFF)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 46
DE Chandler Jones: 39
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 13
DL Chris Jones: 13
DL Joe Vellano: 12
LB Brandon Spikes: 7
DE Michael Buchanan: 7
DL Tommy Kelly: 6
LB Jamie Collins: 6
DE Andre Carter: 5
DL Sealver Siliga: 5
LB Dane Fletcher: 4
DL Vince Wilfork: 3
DL Isaac Sopoaga: 3
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
CB Devin McCourty: 2
CB Marquice Cole: 1
CB Kyle Arrington: 1
DE Jake Bequette: 1
CB Alfonzo Dennard: 1

By way of comparison, here’s a look at pass rush numbers for the 2012 regular season.

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Target Practice: Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

12.31.13 at 7:00 am ET
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Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat –€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback — it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™€™s a look at the target breakdown for the New England passing game for the 2013 regular season.

WR Julian Edelman: 105 catches on 151 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 54 catches on 83 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 47 catches on 69 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 39 catches on 66 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 37 catches on 79 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 32 catches on 69 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 21 catches on 29 targets
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 12 catches on 19 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 10 catches on 12 targets
WR Josh Boyce: 9 catches on 19 targets
WR Austin Collie: 6 catches on 11 targets
FB James Develin: 4 catches on 4 targets
TE Matthew Mulligan: 2 catches on 3 targets
RB LeGarrette Blount: 2 catches on 5 targets
TE Zach Sudfeld: 0 catches on 3 targets
RB Leon Washington: 0 catches on 1 target
TE/OL Nate Solder: 0 catches on 1 target
TE DJ Williams: 0 catches on 1 target

By position’€¨

Wide receiver: 243 catches on 412 targets

Running back/fullback: 84 catches on 120 targets

Tight end: 53 catches on 92 targets

Other: 0 catches on 1 target

By way of comparison, here’s a look at the target breakdown by position for the previous four seasons:

Wide receiver: 230 catches on 369 targets
Tight end: 116 catches on 182 targets
Running back: 56 catches on 84 targets

Wide receiver: 196 catches on 309 targets
Tight end: 169 catches on 237 targets
Running back: 37 catches on 58 targets
Other: 0 catches on 1 target

Wide receiver: 177 catches on 282 targets
Tight end: 93 catches on 134 targets
Running back: 61 catches on 86 targets

Wide receiver: 273 catches on 423 targets
Running back: 74 catches on 105 targets
Tight end: 43 catches on 60 targets

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