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Fantasy Football: Week 11 starts, sits

11.15.13 at 9:28 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 11 starts and sits. It’€™s a tough week with a lot of bad matchups, but I’€™ve done my best to find some appealing options for this weekend. If you need some more feedback on players not listed here, hit Rotobahn for our full lineup rankings. And don’t forget to check out our weekly podcast, too. I’€™ll also be back at WEEI on Sunday at 11 a.m. for our regular chat, so send in those questions.

QUARTERBACKS

STARTS

Nick Foles, Eagles vs. Redskins

Is Michael Vick healthy yet? Will it matter when he is? Foles has been outstanding lately, and I’€™d be very willing to start him this week against a Washington defense that fails to inspire fear in opponents. He’€™s a QB1 in Rotobahn’€™s Week 11 rankings.

Case Keenum, Texans vs. Raiders

This kid can play, and there’€™s very little reason to doubt him in this plus matchup at home. Expect a few big plays and a solid performance that yields numbers worthy of a start in most formats.

Andy Dalton, Bengals vs. Browns

Dalton has played well against Cleveland in the past and he has enough options to work around CB Joe Haden if he’€™s having a good day against A.J. Green. Dalton should give you solid production that’€™s good enough to be a QB1 in 12-team leagues.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals at Jaguars

The Jaguars will give him some opportunities, and he’€™s been solid the last few weeks against stronger opponents. If you need an option this week, Palmer can give you a serviceable start.

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Read More: Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer, Case Keenum

Panthers coach Ron Rivera: Patriots are ‘one of the elites in this league’

11.15.13 at 6:15 am ET
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FOXBORO — Panthers coach Ron Rivera comes into Monday’s game against the Patriots with his team on a five-game win streak, with the latest victory an upset of the 49ers in San Francisco.

But he acknowledges that this week’s game against New England will provide a good litmus test for his team as it prepares for a possible run for the postseason.

“Is it a litmus test?” he asked on a conference call with the New England media. “Yeah, they all are, but again I do agree because of who we are playing. We’re playing one of the elites in this league, who just also happens to have one of the elite quarterbacks in this league.

“[But] they are all litmus tests. They are all important because it is our next, most important, game because it is the one we are about to play,” he added. “That’€™s kind of been my mantra. I don’€™t want these guys to get ahead of themselves. I want these guys to understand that we have to take care of business every week, so every week is an important game. You know, heck, our first game was important, our second one was, and this one is important just like last week as well.”

The 6-3 Panthers have become one of the surprise teams in the league over the first nine games of the season. Buoyed by an aggressive young defense and a third-year quarterback in Cam Newton who has come into his own, Carolina is on a roll. It’s been a particularly gratifying stretch for Rivera, who was on the hot seat at the start of the season, but is now seeing his name bandied about as a possible Coach of the Year candidate.

“It is very satisfying,” Rivera said. “It’€™s really about just the culmination of the hard work we’€™ve put in. We’€™ve come a long way in the last four and a half seasons; two seasons before I got here and my first two, have been very hard. [They’€™ve been] hard on a lot of young players. A lot of guys have gone through four tough years and now just the fact that we are winning, we’€™re playing pretty good and we’€™re doing things that right way we’€™ve given ourselves opportunities. It’€™s very satisfying.”

Rivera is someone who made his bones on the defensive side of the ball — first as a linebacker in Chicago, and then as a defensive coordinator with the Bears and Chargers. He took over the Panthers in 2011, and has seen the maturation of a talented young defense, led by Boston College product Luke Kuechly. Rivera offered a scouting report on Kuechly, who was taken in the first round of the 2012 draft.

“Probably the biggest thing and the best thing he has is a great first step, for the most part. He doesn’€™t take a lot of bad steps and then put himself in bad positions,” Rivera said of Kuechly, who was selected ninth overall. “He plays with his hands pretty doggone well, and if there is one thing I like about him, I think he is a good hit-and-wrap tackler. He led the NFL in tackling [last year] and I think for two years he led the NCAA in tackling. It’€™s something that he does very well and he’€™s adept at it. A very bright, very smart guy. He handles most of our calls and checks, so he is a complete package and he keeps getting better and better.

“He is smart like a Brian Urlacher. He is a physical tackler like Jeremiah Trotter was,” he added. “He is a combination of several guys that I have coached. I coached a young man named Stephen Cooper [who] played at Maine, from that area up there. Coop was one of the smartest guys that I’€™ve had and a very good tackler as well. There are just so many guys that he is similar to, but again he has his own personality, his own style.”

Here are a few more highlights of Rivera’s Q&A with the media:
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Read More: Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Ron Rivera,

Report: Clete Blakeman will work as referee for Patriots-Panthers

11.14.13 at 8:51 pm ET
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Clete Blakeman is set to work as the referee for Monday’s game between the Patriots and Panthers, according to our pals at Football Zebras.

Blakeman is a former college quarterback who starred at Nebraska from 1983 through 1987 and became a college official before moving on to the NFL in 2008. This will mark his first Patriots game of 2013 — his last game involving New England was a 24-23 loss to the Seahawks in Seattle on Oct. 14, 2012. Prior to that, Blakeman worked two Patriots’€™ games the last three-plus seasons: he led the crew of officials as the referee in the Cleveland-New England game on Nov. 10, 2010, a surprise 34-14 win for the Browns, and was the referee in Foxboro on Nov. 21, 2011 for a 34-3 Patriots’€™ win over the Chiefs.

For more on Blakeman’s work as an official, check out his page at Pro Football Reference. And for the complete list of assignments for the week, check out Football Zebras.

Read More: Clete Blakeman,

Ed Reed: Patriots, Dolphins showed interest before I signed with Jets

11.14.13 at 7:56 pm ET
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Shortly after he signed with the Jets Thursday, veteran safety Ed Reed acknowledged he heard from the Patriots and Dolphins during his brief stint as a free agent.

“I don’t think either one of them wanted me in their conference,’€ Reed told reporters.

Reed, who was released by the Texans on Tuesday, passed through waivers without being claimed on Wednesday and hit the open market that evening. In a 24-hour span, Reed said he heard from both New England and Miami, but decided on the Jets in part because of his familiarity with coach Rex Ryan. Ryan was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore during a portion of Reed’s time with the Ravens (2005-2008).

Ryan said Thursday there was no sentimental feeling when it came to the possibility of reuniting with the 35-year-old Reed.

‘€œThis had nothing to do with sentiment. We believe it will be a great signing for us and he’€™s going to help this football team,’€ Ryan said.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Ed Reed, Rex Ryan,

Steve Gregory does not practice, Aqib Talib progressing

11.14.13 at 7:39 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Veteran safety Steve Gregory was the only absence, while six players — including tight end Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm/hamstring) and cornerback Aqib Talib (hip) — were among those listed as limited in the wake of the padded practice the team held Thursday.

Talib has been sidelined since Week 6, but there is reason for optimism around his situation, as he spoke with reporters in the locker room after practice and sounded a positive note on his condition, calling himself “day-to-day.”

“He’€™s continued to progress,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked about Talib’s status. “We’€™ll keep doing, as [he] can tolerate it, do more and evaluate how they do at a little bit higher level. Then if that goes well, then ramp it up and see where we are as we go through the week.”

Here’s the complete report

Did Not Participate
S Steve Gregory (finger)

Limited Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee)
TE Rob Gronkowski ((back/forearm/hamstring)
CB Aqib Talib (hip)
RB Leon Washington (ankle)

Full Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
WR Matthew Slater (wrist)

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Aqib Talib, Rob Gronkowski, Steve Gregory,

Mike Petraglia and Chris Price look ahead to Patriots and Panthers on Monday night

11.14.13 at 1:27 pm ET
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Read More: Carolina Panthers, Chris Price, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots

Patriots practice Thursday: Steve Gregory only absentee, Shane Vereen ‘gradually’ increases workload

11.14.13 at 12:22 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots returned to the practice field in full pads on a chilly Thursday morning outside Gillette Stadium as they continue preparations for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers Monday night in Charlotte.

The only player not spotted on the lower grass field was safety Steve Gregory, who injured his thumb against the Steelers on Nov. 3.

Should he miss Monday’s game, Gregory won’t be replaced by Ed Reed, who was signed by the Jets on Thursday and reported to their practice facility.

Running back Shane Vereen was again on the field Thursday as the Patriots test his readiness to return from a broken wrist suffered in the season opener against the Bills on Sept. 8.

“It’€™s good to have him back on the field,” coach Bill Belichick said Thursday before practice. “This will really be an opportunity for us to evaluate this week kind of where he is, give him some harder assignments and see how he’€™s doing. He’€™s been able to be active and participate but I’€™d say it will be a higher level competition for him this week on the practice field. As it should be, gradually escalate the intensity of it and see how it goes.”

The Patriots will practice again on Friday and Saturday before leaving Sunday for Charlotte and Monday’s game against the Panthers.

Read More: Carolina Panthers, Ed Reed, New England Patriots, nfl

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