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Patriots starting defense

12.19.10 at 8:36 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots opened with the following defensive personnel:

Defensive line: Gerard Warren, Vince Wilfork, Eric Moore
Linebacker: Tully Banta-Cain, Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton
Secondary: Devin McCourty, Brandon Meriweather, Pat Chung, Kyle Arrington, James Sanders

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Inactive analysis for Patriots: Devin McCourty dresses

12.19.10 at 7:20 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The following players were ruled inactive for Sunday’s game for the Patriots: wide receiver Taylor Price; offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger and Mark LeVoir; running backs Thomas Clayton and Fred Taylor; and defensive linemen Myron Pryor, Ron Brace and Mike Wright.

The biggest news is who is not on the list ‘€” rookie cornerback Devin McCourty, who suffered a rib injury last week in the win over the Bears in Chicago, is active, which should give the Patriots some depth at corner. Also active for New England is cornerback Tony Carter, who was promoted off the practice squad to the 53-man roster late this week. It will mark the first several weeks that New England will dress four cornerbacks for a game, as they will be joined by Darius Butler and Kyle Arrington. And rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez, who missed practice on Friday because of the flu, appears to be good-to-go Sunday night.

However, the Patriots will not dress Taylor (who has struggled with injury all season) and Clayton, leaving the Patriots with three available running backs in BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and Sammy Morris. Meanwhile, all three defensive linemen who are inactive have all been dogged by injury as of late, with Pryor (back), Brace (concussion) and Wright (concussion) having been sidelined the last few weeks.

And finally, Price, Ohrnberger and LeVoir have been inactive more frequently than they have been active this season, so those moves are no surprise.

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Pats-Packers inactives: Fred Taylor out

12.19.10 at 7:15 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Aaron Rodgers won’t play tonight but Aaron Hernandez will as the Patriots rookie tight end avoided the inactive list and will play in the game against the Packers. Running back Fred Taylor leads the list of inactives for the Patriots.

Devin McCourty, limited this week in practice by a rib injury suffered last week against the Bears, will play. Hernandez missed Friday’s practice and was questionable with the flu.

The three defensive linemen who all missed practice this week are also inactive for the Patriots as Mike Wright, Ron Brace and Myron Pryor will not play. Offensive linemen Rich Ohrnberger and Mark LeVoir are inactive, as are receiver Taylor Price and running back Thomas Clayton.

In addition to Rodgers, CB Josh Gordy, LB Frank Zombo, OL Nick McDonald, OL Marshall Newhouse, DE Cullen Jenkins, RB James Starks and CB Pat Lee round out Green Bay’s inactives.

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Patriots-Packers Live from Gillette

12.19.10 at 6:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For the fifth time in their last six games, the Patriots will be playing football after sundown as they battle the 8-5 Green Bay Packers under the lights at Gillette.

Three days ago, there was concern that the contest might be played in the midst of a classic Nor’Easter, with winds kicking up off the Atlantic, blowing cold winds and a snow storm toward Foxboro. But the storm stayed mainly in the Atlantic and Foxboro and those commuting to the game have been spared.

Instead, temperatures will hover around the freezing mark at kick-off, with light snow accumulating, possibly over an inch. Winds will be just about non-existent and very mild, out of the north at 7 MPH. It could be a lot worse for Dec. 19.

What’s at stake: With the Jets winning, 22-17, in Pittsburgh, the Patriots wrap up the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs with wins in two of their final three games. The Jets win in the Steel City means the Patriots won’t be able to clinch the AFC East tonight for the eighth time in 10 seasons.

Matt Flynn will need every bit of a break he can muster as he is filling in for Aaron Rodgers, who was ruled out of tonight after his second concussion of the season last Sunday in Detroit. Flynn – in his third year out of LSU – was 15-of-26 for 177 yards in filling in for Rodgers last week.

Some other nuggets to consider:

- Tom Brady looks to extend his NFL record for consecutive wins in home starts to 27 after setting the new standard in his last Gillette appearance, a 45-3 rout of the Jets on Monday night, Dec. 6.

- There’s been a lot of talk in the last month about Brady’s astronomical quarterback rating. If you put any stock into the highly-debated statistic, consider this: Brady has the fifth-best quarterback rating of all-time at 94. 9, exactly the same as Peyton Manning entering this weekend and trailing only Tony Romo (95.5), Steve Young (96.8), Philip Rivers (97.2) and Rodgers (97.6). Of those quarterbacks ahead of Brady, only Young has a Super Bowl title to his name. Manning had a rating of 105.6 today against Jacksonville in a 34-24 win over the Jaguars.

- Cornerback Chevis Jackson probably spoke a little bit more with Bill Belichick this week since he played with Flynn when the two were at LSU. Both are in their fourth NFL seasons. Jackson was released by the Patriots on Saturday, as they signed running back Tony Carter to the 53-man roster.

- The Patriots have won 16 straight at Gillette Stadium against NFC opponents and are 16-1 all-time. Their only loss was to Brett Favre and the Pack in their first game against an NFC team in the new stadium on Oct. 13, 2002.

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Ten Final Thoughts on Patriots-Packers

12.19.10 at 2:56 pm ET
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With kickoff looming, here are 10 final thoughts on Patriots-Packers:

1. Not saying he’s going to play his usual amount of snaps ‘€” which, before his rib injury last week, was almost 100 percent of the time ‘€” but I’d be shocked if rookie cornerback Devin McCourty was inactive. You don’t talk to the media unless they’re pretty sure you’re going to play, and McCourty was awful chatty with reporters in the locker room on Friday.

2. In the same vein, I’d be surprised if Gerard Warren is unable to go. He has been dogged by a knee injury, but held court in the locker room on multiple occasions this week, and was back at practice on Friday. In just his first season with the Patriots, Warren has done a great job incorporating himself into the mix. Vince Wilfork was effusive in his praise of “Big Money” this week. “He’€™s a helluva player, a helluva person,” Wilfork said. “But it’€™s easy when you can have a veteran, a 10-year vet come in and adjust to a new system and catch on. And he’€™s done that. Everything we’€™ve asked of him, he’€™s done it. He’€™s taught people, the rookies. Even me. We sat down and watch film all the time. It’€™s very special when you sit back and hear him talk about the game itself. He’€™s very, very smart, so I’€™m happy to have him on this side with me, and he makes my job a little easier at times and probably vice-versa.’€

3. When it comes to Tom Brady, the big number to watch for Sunday is 40 ‘€” Brady has now gone 268 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. The record is 308, set by Bernie Kosar a mark he set between the 1990 and 1991 seasons.

4. Something tells me that cornerback Chevis Jackson ‘€” who was released on Saturday ‘€” will rejoin the Patriots roster sooner rather than later. Just feels like it was one of those one-week roster moves.

5. All that talk of a Sunday night Nor’easter appears to be over and done ‘€” a check of reveals that while there’s some expected precipitation in the area Sunday night, it’s not going to be the nasty storm that was projected earlier in the week. Temps should be in the 30′s, with a 30 percent chance of snow. Not ideal, but not the weather event that was originally expected.
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Patriots sign cornerback Tony Carter to active roster

12.18.10 at 4:38 pm ET
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The Patriots have signed cornerback Tony Carter to the active roster from their practice squad, the team announced. The move comes at a time when rookie cornerback Devin McCourty has been dealing with injured ribs.

Carter was signed to the Patriots’ practice squad in Sept., one week after he was cut by the Broncos. Signed by Denver as an undrafted free agent out of Florida State in 2009, he spent most of last year with the Broncos before joining the active roster for the final three games of the season. He appeared in two games and started one.

The Patriots made room for Carter by waiving Chevis Jackson, who signed a two-year deal with New England last week after being waived by the Jaguars. The 25-year-old Jackson did not appear in a game for the Pats, though he has played in 60 career games.

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Packers rule Aaron Rodgers out for Sunday

12.18.10 at 12:35 pm ET
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The Packers have ruled out quarterback Aaron Rodgers for Sunday night’s game against the Patriots. Rodgers, who had been listed as “doubtful” all week because of a concussion he suffered in last Sunday’s loss to the Lions, will step aside as Green Bay goes with backup Matt Flynn. Sunday will mark the first career start for Flynn, who entered the game last week for the Packers after Rodgers’ injury. Flynn, an LSU product, has completed 25-of-46 pass attempts for 246 yards and 2 interceptions in 27 career games, all as a backup.

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