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Alfonzo Dennard back at practice, but Aaron Dobson still among missing

11.29.13 at 11:41 am ET
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Wide receiver Aaron Dobson, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and offensive lineman Marcus Cannon were all missing from the start of Patriots practice on Friday, according to reports.

Hoomanwanui has been struggling with a knee injury he first sustained in a loss to the Panthers earlier this month, while Cannon went down with an ankle injury in last week’s win over the Broncos and Dobson was slowed by a foot problem he sustained against the Broncos.

One player who was back at practice on Wednesday was cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who missed practice on Thursday and has dealt with a knee injury he suffered earlier this month.

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

Tom Brady on JJ Watt: ‘He’s been pretty remarkable’

11.29.13 at 10:22 am ET
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FOXBORO — Despite the fact that the Texans are in the throes of a miserable nine-game losing skid, the continued high level of play from defensive lineman J.J. Watt offers a sizable beacon of hope for Houston.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Watt is a transformative presence, capable of ruining an afternoon for a quarterback. Through 11 games, Pro Football Focus has him credited with 10 sacks (tied for the top spot among all 3-4 defensive ends), 24 quarterback hits (best at his position) and 26 quarterback hurries (fifth at his position).

The fiery Watt, who wears his emotions on his sleeve, acknowledged it’s been a difficult season for the Texans, a team many anticipated would be in the thick of the playoff chase after reaching the postseason in 2012 but are 2-9 and playing for next year.

“Obviously, [we] came into the year with very high expectations. [We’€™ve] been on obviously an extremely rough stretch here. It’€™s been tough, to say the least,” Watt said. “We have guys who have a lot of pride in their play and take a lot of pride in their game, so we’€™re going out there and we’€™re playing as hard as we can play, and obviously we’€™re trying to get a win. It’€™s been far too long since we’€™ve had a win.”

For its part, the Houston defense has posted some good numbers to this point in the season. In their 11 games, only four passers have gone over 200 yards against Houston (Andrew Luck tops the lost with 271 passing yards), and the Texans are in the Top 10 in several major passing defense categories, including total passing yards allowed (first, 1,890), completion percentage against (seventh at 58.1) and yards per attempt (eighth, 6.7).

At the same time, the Texans have yielded an average of 26.3 points per game, tied for the sixth-highest total in the NFL entering the weekend.
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Read More: j.j. watt, Logan Mankins, Tom Brady,

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard among those not practicing Thursday

11.28.13 at 6:53 pm ET
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Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was added to the list of those absent from Patriots practice Thursday with a knee issue that’s been dogging him for the last few weeks. He joined offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle), wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot) and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) as those who didn’t practice on Thursday.

Dennard has been banged up for a few weeks — a knee issue kept him out of the loss to Carolina earlier this month, and even though he played last week against the Broncos, he was limited in what he could do.

As for the rest of the report, it stayed the same, as corners Kyle Arrington and Aqib Talib and tight end Rob Gronkowski were among those limited.

Here is Thursday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee)
WR Aaron Dobson (foot)
RT Marcus Cannon (ankle)

Limited Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
CB Marquice Cole (shin)
S Steve Gregory (finger)
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm/hamstring)
CB Aqib Talib (hip)
LB Chris White (back)

Full Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
WR Matthew Slater (wrist)
LB Brandon Spikes (knee)
RB Shane Vereen (wrist)

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

Report: Pete Morelli will work as referee for Patriots-Texans

11.28.13 at 1:46 pm ET
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Pete Morelli will work as the referee for Sunday’s Patriots-Texans game, according to our pals at FootballZebras.com.

This will mark Morelli’s first New England game since 2011, when he served as the lead official for a pair of games involving the Patriots — a Nov. 6 loss to the Giants in Foxboro, and a win over the Dolphins in the season opener in Miami.

Here’s a look at each lead official assigned to work Patriots games to this point in the 2013 season:

Sept. 9 vs. Buffalo: Walt Anderson
Sept. 12 vs. NY Jets: Carl Cheffers
Sept. 22 vs. Tampa Bay: Jeff Triplette
Sept. 29 vs. Atlanta: Walt Coleman
Oct. 6 vs. Cincinnati: Gene Steratore
Oct. 13 vs. New Orleans: Tony Corrente
Oct. 20 vs. NYJ: Jerome Boger
Oct. 27 vs. Miami: Walt Anderson
Nov. 3 vs. Pittsburgh: Walt Coleman
Nov. 18 vs. Carolina: Clete Blakeman
Nov. 24 vs. Denver: Gene Steratore

For the complete list of this week’s officiating assignments, check out Football Zebras. And for a complete breakdown of Morelli’s work as a referee, take a look at his page at Pro Football Reference.

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Patriots re-sign Marcus Forston, Justin Green to practice squad

11.28.13 at 12:06 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Thursday they have re-signed defensive lineman Marcus Forston and defensive back Justin Green to the practice squad. Both players were released by the Patriots on Tuesday.

Forston, 24, was signed to the 53-man roster from the practice squad on Oct. 12, the day before the New Orleans game. He has played in three games as a reserve and registered three total tackles. Forston was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 10, 2012 out of Miami. The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder made the 53-man roster of training camp as a rookie but was released early in the season and brought back to the practice squad, where he spent the majority of the season. He eventually re-joined the 53-man roster prior to the AFC Championship Game but was inactive for the contest. Forston made his NFL debut as a defensive reserve at Baltimore on Sept. 23, 2012. He went to training camp with the Patriots this past summer but was released on Aug. 31 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 1.

Green, 22, was signed from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Saturday, Nov. 23, and played on defense and special teams in the victory over Denver last Sunday night. He originally was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Illinois on July 21. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder began his college career at Illinois as a running back before moving to the secondary for his final three seasons. He made 29 starts over his final three seasons, registering 76 total tackles, 13 passes defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Green was released by the Patriots on Aug. 31 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 1.

Read More: Justin Green, Marcus Forston,

Tom Brady: ‘Right now is when we say football season starts’

11.27.13 at 4:40 pm ET
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FOXBORO — In the NFL, Thanksgiving not only means turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and a tripleheader of football. It also signals the real start of separation season, when the elite teams really start to distance themselves from the rest of the pack when it comes to the race to the postseason.

Quarterback Tom Brady said Wednesday that while everything the Patriots have accomplished to this point is nice — the 8-3 mark and first place in the AFC East — the work to ultimately get you to where you want to be starts this week.

“Right now is when we say football season starts,” he said. “The mental toughness, the discipline, the attitude, the work ethic, this is when it starts to show up. Those are intangibles that you don’€™t really see in September and August when things are fresh and everyone is hopeful.

“Now you really see where you’€™re at and you see how you match up against other teams. You see where their mental toughness is at. You see if they’€™re going to cash in, you see how hard they’€™re going to play. I think the mark of our team is we’€™ve always tried to make that something that we’€™ve always felt is a real strength of ours. We have to go out there and prove it and earn it.”

This week, that process includes a game against the Texans, a team that has lost its last nine games to fall to 2-9 on the season. Despite the record — tied for the worst mark in the league through the first 11 games of the season — Brady was quick to remind the media that Houston still possesses the best pass defense in the league, and “probably [has] the best front we’ve faced all season.”

“We’€™re not even concerned about the record,” said Brady, who was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday. “You look at what they can do defensively and the kind of playmakers they have. They’€™re the highest rated defense against the pass and one of the highest, if not the highest rated defense in the league. Defensively, they’€™re playing pretty good. They have probably the best front we’€™ve faced all season and good linebackers and some playmakers in the secondary. We have a big challenge.

“Like I said, anything that’€™s happened for them this season doesn’€™t matter and anything that’€™s happened for us makes no difference either. They’€™ve lost some close games, we’€™ve pulled out some close games. I think that’€™s the big difference. It could just as easily go the other way. We’€™ve found ways to win and we have to try to find a way to win this week.”

Brad added: “We were in here today, we had a good practice, and that’€™s a good way to start. Our whole season is ahead of us. I think that’€™s the most important thing — no one really cares what’€™s been done to this point. We have to go out there and try to finally play good for 60 minutes, if we can get to that.”

Here are some more highlights of Brady’s Wednesday afternoon press conference:

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Read More: Tom Brady,

Patriots Wednesday injury report: Aaron Dobson misses practice with foot injury

11.27.13 at 4:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson missed Wednesday’s indoors practice with a foot injury. He played just 36 of 90 offensive snaps on Sunday night and was not spotted during media availability on Wednesday.

Also missing Wednesday were Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) and Marcus Cannon (ankle). Hoomanawanui missed last week and the game against the Broncos after injuring his knee against Carolina on Nov. 18 while Cannon injured his ankle last Sunday night in the first half. He was replaced by Will Svitek and did not return.

Seven players were officially listed as limited on Wednesday. The Patriots (8-3) play in Houston on Sunday afternoon.

Here is Wednesday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee)
WR Aaron Dobson (foot)
RT Marcus Cannon (ankle)

Limited Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
CB Marquice Cole (shin)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee)
S Steve Gregory (finger)
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm/hamstring)
CB Aqib Talib (hip)
LB Chris White (back)

Full Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
WR Matthew Slater (wrist)
LB Brandon Spikes (knee)
RB Shane Vereen (wrist)

Read More: Aaron Dobson, houston texans, Marcus Cannon, New England Patriots

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