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Peter King on M&M: Chad Ochocinco will perform before end of season

11.11.11 at 2:05 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Peter King joined Mut & Merloni Friday at noon for his weekly appearance. In addition to discussing the Penn State scandal, King talked about the upcoming Patriots-Jets game, as well as his thoughts on struggling wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.

It has been a disappointing year for Ochocinco, to say the least. The Patriots wideout has just nine catches in eight games so far this season and has been criticized for not learning the New England offense quickly enough. With the cut of Albert Haynesworth earlier this week, many are wondering if Ochocinco is next.

But King thinks that the Ochocinco situation cannot be compared to Haynesworth and that No. 85 will have a breakout performance before the end of the season.

“We can all say whatever we want, that it’s ridiculous that Ochocino has nine catches in eight games and he just hasn’t been the answer that they thought he would be. Well, no kidding,” King said. “But I think the one thing you can’t say is that he’s not giving an effort. It’s just not working out right now. I might be wrong about this, but I think it’s going to work out before the end of the year and I do think that at some point [Tom Brady and Ochocinco] are going to get on the same page.”

Brady, Ochocinco and the rest of the offense are going up against the Jets this Sunday night in a showdown for first place in the AFC East, or at least a tie for first place. The Jets defense allowed the Bills just 11 points last week in what King called a “championship defensive game” by New York. King said that the Patriots defense will have to put more pressure on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez if New England wants to win on Sunday.

“One of the problems that I see for New England in this game is they have simply not put enough pressure on the quarterback,” King said. “And I think they’re going to need to do that in this game, because otherwise the receivers are talented enough, [Plaxico] Burress and [Santonio] Holmes, to make plays down the field against that secondary.”

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Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco, Peter King, Tom Brady

Jerod Mayo on M&M: Albert Haynesworth ‘tried his best’

11.11.11 at 1:13 pm ET
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Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo joined Mut & Merloni for his weekly appearance on Friday. Mayo discussed the improvement of the Patriots defense despite Sunday’s loss to the Giants, the team’s upcoming game against the Jets and the release of Albert Haynesworth this week.

Mayo declined to talk in depth about Haynesworth, but he did offer some brief perspective on the situation.

“He came to work each and every day,” Mayo said of Haynesworth. “I guess he did his best, but it didn’t work out. But you have to ask those questions to coach [Bill] Belichick.”

Mayo also said that he didn’t think Haynesworth was a distraction and he did not see any sort of sideline altercation between defensive line coach Pepper Johnson and Haynesworth during the Giants game.

The Patriots will move on without Haynesworth in their game against the rival Jets this Sunday. The teams are in a three-way tie atop the AFC East with the Bills, with each team at 5-3. Mayo talked about the importance of the game, which will be broadcast nationally on Sunday night.

“There’s nothing better than playing when you know you’re the only game on TV,”  Mayo said. “There’s a lot of stakes in this game.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On the Patriots defense’s fourth-quarter collapse against the Giants: “Very frustrating. Any time you go in with a great game plan and not being able to execute it in the fourth quarter, it’s very frustrating. But we prepare for situational football all the time and those fourth-quarter, last-minute type of drives and we just weren’t able to execute it. It’s very frustrating, but it did give us something to build on and hopefully it continues this week.”

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Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Jerod Mayo, Shonn Greene

Agent: Former Patriots cornerback Leigh Bodden had back surgery Thursday

11.10.11 at 7:54 pm ET
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Former Patriots cornerback Leigh Bodden underwent back surgery on Thursday, according to his agent Alvin Keels. Bodden, who was released by the Patriots Oct. 28, underwent surgery for an injury he suffered in the season opener, according to Keels, who broke the news via Twitter:

Leigh Bodden had successful surgery this morning to correct a herniated disk in his lower back that he injured week 1 against the Dolphins. It was a routine operation and he is expected to make a full recovery. No time table has been set yet for his recovery. The injury is not career threatening, however he could not play any longer this season with out getting the condition corrected by surgery.

After a successful 2009, Bodden had been dogged by several injuries over the last year, including a shoulder injury that left him on injured reserve for the entire 2010 season. In addition, this past season, he had hand, back, groin and thumb injuries.

Read More: Alvin Keels, Leigh Bodden,

Darrelle Revis recalls his last head-to-head battle with Wes Welker

11.10.11 at 2:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The matchup between Darrelle Revis and Wes Welker in the first Patriots-Jets game this season was great theatre: arguably the finest wide receiver in the league going up against the best corner.

The two weren’€™t one-on-one all afternoon, but did spend the majority of the game against each other. Revis was physical with Welker, bumping him and trying to knock him off his routes. Welker responded with a series of jukes and fakes trying to get some separation from the corner. In the end, the two went head-to-head for 42 plays in man coverage, and Welker was able to come up with two catches on three targets for 77 yards when guarded by Revis. (For the game, he ended up with five catches for 126 yards in New England’€™s 30-21 win over the Jets.)

‘€œLast game, the matchup was great between Wes [and me],’€ Revis said. ‘€œSometimes I was throwing him on the ground; sometimes he was catching some balls on me. I call him the ‘€˜Energizer Bunny’€™ because he never stops ‘€“ it doesn’€™t matter what you do to him, he just keeps on coming and coming.’€

While Revis was able to get the better of Welker for most of the afternoon when they were one-on-one, Welker was able to come up with one of the biggest plays of the season off the Pro Bowl corner. On the first play of the second half, Welker took advantage of a miscommunication between Revis and safety Eric Smith and managed to get behind the defense. That’€™s where Tom Brady found him, and it was off to the races. Welker finished with a 73-yard reception, setting up a New England touchdown.

‘€œIt was just a simple route play,’€ said Revis, who ended up chasing Welker down from behind on the play to prevent a touchdown. ‘€œHe got on top of me and Wes [Welker] made a good play. That’€™s just something that we can control over here and I can control in just doing my job.’€

The game was a unique experience for Revis — as a premiere corner, playing in the slot isn’€™t his usual routine. He said his usual approach doesn’€™t change whether he’€™s on the outside or in the slot.

‘€œI try to be as aggressive as I do out when I’€™m playing corner,’€ he said. ‘€œI think the only thing with that position playing in the slot is a lot of things in there are moving a little bit faster than when you’€™re playing outside cornerback. It’€™s a lot of things moving. You have to focus in on the linemen sometimes and what they’€™re doing and how close you are and how close the slot receiver is to the core. A lot of things when you’€™re inside as the nickel back, it moves a little bit faster than you are playing outside corner.’€

As for the possibility of a rematch with Welker this week, Revis wasn’€™t going to tip his hand.

‘€œWe’€™re still putting in the game plan this week for us to try to attack these guys the way we want to,’€ Revis said. ‘€œIf I’€™m on him, I’€™m on him. If I’€™m not, then it doesn’€™t matter ‘€“ we have confidence in everybody on the Jets.’€

Read More: Darrelle Revis, Eric Smith, Tom Brady, Wes Welker

James Ihedigbo: ‘There’s nothing to downplay’ against the Jets

11.10.11 at 2:05 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Forget the cliche: “Just another game.” This week’s game is more than that. The Jets know it. The Patriots know it.

And on Thursday, Patriots safety James Ihedigbo admitted it.

“There’s nothing to downplay,” Ihedigbo said. “There’s two 5-3 teams that are rivals in the same division, fighting for the same thing. So, there’s nothing to downplay about it. We definitely embrace it and embrace the challenge in front of us. And know that for us to win games like this, you have to play your best football.

“You’re always going to face adversity during the season. Losing two games in a row is not what you plan for but when it happens, you have to look at it, look at the mistakes you made and continue to press forward because if you dwell on it, two can turn to four quick. We’re focused. We’re focused on getting a win this week.”

What has to happen for the Patriots to get things turned around in a hostile environment? Getting a big play or two, or many, would be a good start.

“We’ve definitely talked as a defense,” Ihedigbo said. “Games like this, where lots is riding on the line and it’s a big game, you win games like this on how you practice during the week. And we made it a goal to have our best week of practice and our hardest week of practice. [Wednesday] was a step in the right direction.”

The Patriots played solid defense for the first three quarters on Sunday, and even got one of those very big plays – a Kyle Arrington interception in the end zone – before they melted down in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.

“We’re very close and we’re looking to capitalize on that this week,” Ihedigbo said. “Big games like this, guys make big plays and step up. And that’s what it’s about and that’s we’re calling on as a team, and especially as a defense, to make game-changing plays this week.”

Ihedigbo could be called upon to make one of those big plays this Sunday night at his old stomping grounds in the swamps of Jersey. We know one target for Ihedigbo this week – running back Shonn Greene. He’s the man asked to take the weight of the offense off the shoulders of Mark Sanchez.

“They’ve really gotten their running game going,” Ihedigbo said. “Shonn Greene is a downhill runner and is running great, with a lot of power, finishing his runs. That sets up everything they want to do on offense when you have your running game going like that. Our guys up front, Mayo, Vince, they’re going to be ready to make plays in the run game.”

To Ihedigbo’s point, starting with the Patriots game on Oct. 9, when he ran 21 times for 83 yards and a touchdown, Greene has picked it up. He’s averaged 20 carries and 86 yards in the four games, the last three being wins. Against Miami and San Diego, he broke off runs of 20 and 24 yards, respectively.

Read More: James Ihedigbo, Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Target practice: Who has been Tom Brady’s favorite receiver through eight games?

11.10.11 at 12:53 pm ET
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Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains an 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. After eight games, here’€™s a look at the target breakdown in the New England passing game for the 2011 season:

Kevin Faulk: 5 catches on 5 targets (100 percent)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 5 catches on 6 targets (83 percent)
Stevan Ridley: 3 catches on 4 targets (75 percent)
Wes Welker: 66 catches on 93 targets (71 percent)
Rob Gronkowski: 44 catches on 62 targets (71 percent)
Aaron Hernandez: 33 catches on 50 targets (66 percent)
Danny Woodhead: 11 catches on 17 targets (65 percent)
Deion Branch: 32 catches on 51 targets (63 percent)
Chad Ochocinco: 9 catches on 21 targets (43 percent)
Julian Edelman: 3 catches on 7 targets (43 percent)
Matthew Slater: 1 catch on 3 targets (33 percent)
Taylor Price: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)
Dane Fletcher: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)
TOTAL: 212 catches on 321 targets (66 percent)

By position:
Running back: 24 catches on 32 targets (75 percent)
Tight end: 77 catches on 112 targets (69 percent)
Wide receiver: 111 catches on 176 targets (63 percent)
Other: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Chad Ochocinco, Dane Fletcher

On a serious note, Rex Ryan hopes his Jets beat his Patriots

11.10.11 at 11:00 am ET
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FOXBORO — Put this under the category something Bill Belichick would never do. .

Play a role in a movie that has him cheering for and being a fan of his hated arch-rival.

But Rex Ryan is certainly no Belichick. So when Adam Sandler approached the coach of the J-E-T-S to play a Boston sports fan and lawyer who cheers on – among other teams – the Patriots, he gave his classic: Heck, yeah. Why not?

Ryan filmed his role in “I Hate You, Dad” in Massachusetts this past summer. It’s expected to be released in 2012.

And with Armageddon II on the docket for Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, the first question asked of Ryan was about his new career as an actor.

“That is a very serious note,” Ryan said in a deadpan voice that showed he’d been working on his acting skills. “When you look at it, initially I went in there and only had one line but I dominated it so much that they gave me several lines. As far as you guys know, that’€™s what happened. Nah, there’€™s no telling how many lines they’€™re going to show or anything like that but it was a lot of fun. They did have a billboard up there in the Boston area and I thought that could be trouble. Hopefully they took it down shortly thereafter, but it really was a lot of fun.”

Was it tough to play a Pats fan?

“It was a stretch,” Ryan said, with those reporters on hand in the Patriots PR offices trying to fight back the laughter. “There’€™s no doubt it was a stretch. [Laughs] No, it was good though. They had Red Sox stuff in there. They had Patriots stuff all over the place. They even had some Bruins stuff in there. Quite honestly, I’€™m not a big fan of any of those teams. [Laughs] No, it was good though.”

Did you consult anyone to do research to get into that character?

“Well yeah, I did extensive research on it and all that,” Ryan said, again in deadpan. “No, I will say this: I studied my lines. I was just assuming that when you go and you do your lines and you’€™re out of there in like 30 minutes. Wow, was that wrong. They did take after take after take after take And I had rehearsed my lines and then when Adam Sandler would improvise, I’€™d be like, ‘€˜Wait, aren’€™t you supposed to say this?’€™ But, it was a lot of fun. I actually did prepare, now. Especially the day before, I was studying those lines. I never wanted to mess up.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adam Sandler, Bill Belichick, Denis Leary, I hate you dad
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