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Jonas Gray: Tom Brady ‘knows how big of a rivalry’ it is with Peyton Manning

10.27.14 at 4:12 pm ET
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Jonas Gray

Jonas Gray

FOXBORO — Jonas Gray has been watching the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry for a long time, but this coming Sunday the Patriots running back will be apart of it, and admits it’€™s pretty exciting.

“€œIt’€™s pretty cool,”€ he said. “I was watching some of it on the NFL Network, I know they are hyping it up. It’€™s a cool thing. Brady, he does a good job of not downplaying it either, he knows how big of a rivalry it is between them two. I’€™m just happy to be apart of it.”

The Patriots are fresh off a 51-23 blowout win over the Bears Sunday — their fourth straight win and now right in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.

Aside from Brady’€™s five-touchdown, 354-yard performance, Gray was effective on the ground, rushing for 86 yards on 17 carries — getting the bulk of the carries with No. 1 back Stevan Ridley out for the season and Shane Vereen catching passes out of the backfield on most of his plays.

“It was huge. The guys did a good job of blocking up front and like I said yesterday, those holes were big enough so anyone could run through them,” said Gray. “I used my vision, used my legs and went down hill.”

Gray and the rest of the team have already moved past Sunday’€™s win and are completely focused on the Broncos.

“€œYou have to keep going back everyday, going to work, not thinking about last game — taking it week-by-week, day-by-day, focusing on the next opponent and doing everything you can with your preparation,”€ said Gray.

With the Patriots having their bye week after Sunday’€™s game, they can let it everything out on Sunday knowing they will have the next week off to refresh their bodies for the second half of the season. This will only benefit them as the Broncos come in 6-1 and outscoring their opponents 149-75 the last four games, winning all four.

“Ultimate focus this week is on the task at hand, which is beating Denver,” said Gray. “Getting our preparation, understanding our opponent as best we can and coming out prepared and at our best.”

Read More: Jonas Gray, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady,

Tedy Bruschi on D&H: ‘Don’t think [a Vincent Jackson trade] is the right move at all’ for Patriots

10.27.14 at 4:11 pm ET
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ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, in his weekly interview with WEEI’s Dale & Holley show, offered his view on New England’s blowout victory over the Bears, the challenge that lies ahead in game-planning for Peyton Manning and the Broncos and the embarrassing season-ending injury for Bears linebacker Lamarr Houston, among other topics.

Bruschi noted that the Patriots offense appears to be in a tremendous rhythm, with the performance of the offensive line in combination with the return to full Gronkitude by Rob Gronkowski combining with the emergence of wide receiver Brandon LaFell to give Tom Brady a tremendous number of weapons. That being the case, Bruschi suggested that pursuing Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson in a trade would be an ill-advised course.

“I think you look down the road and consider if it would help. I think you consider it for a moment because that’s what a good general manager would do. But in terms of this situation right here with the New England Patriots, I don’t think it’s the right move at all, especially with the development of Brandon LaFell,” said Bruschi. “You see the development. You see the progression. Ever since that first drive of the Cincinnati Bengals game is when I think this offense truly woke up and said, OK, let’s go. From that point, they started rolling and rolling.

“I just don’t think you want to put in another element into it that you may have to spoon-feed things to. You can’t give him the entire plate right now because he couldn’t handle it right now. He probably couldn’t digest the entire plan right now. So you spoon-feed him a little. But when you do that to one player, it has a trickle-down effect to others along the line,” added Bruschi. “Jobs are going to be different for other people down the road. Say Vincent Jackson comes in and you say you can only play this position. It messes up this offense. You’ve got to know how to play every single receiver’s spot along the front so they can have that flexibility that they want. You wouldn’t have that off the bat with him. Would you have some growing pains along the line to develop that? I think you would. I think you roll with what you’ve got right now.”

To listen to the complete interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page. Here are other highlights of Bruschi’s interview:

On whether Sunday against the Bears was as well as Bruschi had seen Brady play: “No, I don’t think that’s the best I’ve seen him play just because of the quality of competition he was going up against yesterday. There were some young defensive linemen who really didn’t know what they were doing for the Bears. The linebackers, oh my gosh, they looked lost at times. I’m still waiting for them to read play-action. They still can’t find it. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: lamar houston, Peyton Manning, Rob Gronkowski, Rob Ninkovich

Tim Wright on MFB: Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson ‘a great person, great player’

10.27.14 at 1:35 pm ET
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Tim Wright

Tim Wright

Patriots tight end Tim Wright checked in with Middays with MFB on Monday, after catching seven passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 51-23 victory over the Bears. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Patriots acquired Wright from the Buccaneers right before the start of the season. Now there is speculation that New England might inquire about another Bucs player: wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

“He’s a great player, I learned a lot while I was under him,” Wright said, adding: “Just details and route-running, things that the defensive backs look for. Different body controls — him being a bigger wideout, it was easy for me to see what he was talking about, and easy for me to go out there and try to implement those things that he was teaching me. … He’s a great person, great player, and I looked up to him while I was there.”

The Patriots were able to spread the ball around and have a lot of success against Chicago. Fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski also had a big day, with nine catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns.

“Our [position] coach Brian Daboll, he does a great job of instilling the mentality in the tight end room to go out there and just be the spark of the offense. Regardless of how things are going, when our number is called we’ve got to answer the bell. We just went in there, we really didn’t know we’re going to get this many catches [for] this guy, this many catches [for] that guy. But our offensive coordinator [Josh McDaniels], he definitely explained throughout the week and he displayed it to us that it’s going to be spacing and it’s going to be winning your man-to-man battle that’s going to definitely contribute to the win and contribute to our success on Sunday, and that’s what we did.”

Asked about the toughest part of adjusting to the Patriots offense, Wright said, “I would say just playing at a fast tempo mentally, going through the checks and all the nuances that Tom Brady goes through at the line, the checks and stuff like that. You’ve got to be on top of the game, you’ve got to be alert, just be locked in, just be focused.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at

Read More: Rob Gronkowski, Tim Wright, Vincent Jackson,

Bill Belichick: Trades ‘not that common this time of year’

10.27.14 at 1:29 pm ET
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The NFL trade deadline is set for Tuesday at 4 p.m., and there’s already been some speculation about the Patriots pulling off at least one move beforehand. New England has never been shy about making trade deadline moves, including a last-minute pickup of cornerback Aqib Talib in 2012.

But according to Bill Belichick, when it comes to making deals, there’s usually a greater chance of something happening over the summer than right at the deadline.

“I think this is a lot different than at the end of preseason when you’€™re coming into the 53-man cut time,” Belichick said on a conference call with the media Monday morning. “You’€™re focused on your opening game, but you’€™re also focused on your roster, and [so] is every other team. There’€™s a lot of player movement at that time, as there is, I’€™d say through the first few weeks of the season on every team.

“If something comes along and it’€™s something that we think would be worth considering, then we’€™d talk about it,” he added. “But I wouldn’€™t say that there’€™s real heavy back and forth communication throughout the league on big trades. I’€™d be surprised if that took place on any team. It’€™s just not that common this time of year. Could it happen? Yeah, there could be a couple trades. But it’€™s a lot different than what it is at the end of training camp.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, Vincent Jackson,

Bill Belichick praises work ethic of Brandon Browner

10.27.14 at 1:13 pm ET
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Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner

Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised the work of cornerback Brandon Browner on Monday, saying that after a four-game suspension to start the season, the veteran has “worked very hard,” and that’s paid off over the last week-plus.

“We saw that all through training camp and all through the spring and through training camp. He’€™s got good instincts and knows the defense,” Belichick said of Browner. “We ask him to do a lot of different things. Yesterday he was outside, he also came in, was on [Martellus] Bennett in coverage in certain situations. [He] did a real good job of tackling. I think there were a few tackles there on Forte, the big third down stop; he’€™s a good run-force player.”

After his first game of the year earlier this month against the Jets, Browner was very upfront about the fact that he needed to work on his conditioning. But on Sunday against the Bears, he played 56 of a possible 69 snaps, and did well, finishing with three tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass defensed.

“He does a good job in all the situations. I think his on the field work ethic has never been a question,” added Belichick. “He just, unfortunately, missed a little bit of time there at the beginning of the year, but he’€™s worked very hard and the hard work is paying off. The more he’€™s played the better, just like anybody else — the better the techniques are and the better your timing, confidence, reaction time and so forth. That’€™s just been a byproduct of both practice and in-game opportunities.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Browner,

Julian Edelman on MFB: ‘We’re building up for the backstretch’ by getting more players involved

10.27.14 at 12:04 pm ET
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Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Monday, one day after Sunday’s rout of the Bears. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

While Edelman was the standout through the first few weeks — without much support from the rest of receiving corps — Tom Brady has been spreading out the passes the last couple of weeks. Rob Gronkowski and Brandon LaFell combined to make 20 catches for 173 yards and four touchdowns Sunday.

“You’re getting production out of a lot of guys,” Edelman said. “[Jonas Gray] came up again and had a big game. Timmy [Wright] comes in and has his touchdown. Gronk, Shane [Vereen] having some big plays. The more you have a lot more guys doing things, we’re building up for the backstretch.”

Added Edelman: “[LaFell is] playing lights out. He’s making plays and scoring touchdowns. It’s great for the offense.”

Meanwhile, Edelman’s production has declined. He had just one reception Sunday. He said it isn’t a matter of defenses adjusting to him.

“I think it’s more just: One week it’s this guy, the next week it’s that guy,” he said. “Hopefully it comes back.”

Added Edelman: “The offense has been doing well. You don’t want to do anything differently to disrupt that. I’m sure I’ll be getting targets my way or something like that. It’s the flows of the game. You’re going to be hot sometimes, and sometimes you’re going to be playing a different role. As long as the team’s winning, that’s all it’s about.”

Next up for the Patriots is a game against the AFC-leading Broncos.

“I’ve played in a few of these now, so you’re kind of used to it,” Edelman said, adding: “It’s a conference game. There’s some meaning behind this game, because the winner can put themselves a foot forward in the standings. Its Denver, they’re a good team. They’ve obviously been on TV a bunch. You’ve got Peyton Manning. But I don’t necessarily play against Peyton Manning. I play against the defense.”

Sunday will feature a matchup of Edelman against former teammate Aqib Talib, now a member of the Broncos defensive secondary.

“It’s going to be fun, because I loved Talib when he was here,” Edelman said. “We got along real well. I thought he was a great teammate and I enjoyed playing with him. So it’s going to be fun. I also know T.J. Ward a little bit. We train in the offseason together. It will be fun to go out there and play against premier competition.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at

Read More: Aqib Talib, Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski

Bears’ Lamarr Houston out for year after sack celebration vs. Patriots goes bad

10.27.14 at 11:06 am ET
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Lamarr Houston

Lamarr Houston

The NFL is a dangerous game, apparently even when celebrating.

Late in Sunday’€™s game against the Patriots, Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston was proud of his sack of backup quarterback Jimmy Garappolo. Despite his team being down by 20-plus points, Houston jumped in the air after he brought the quarterback to the ground.

As he came back down to earth, Houston’€™s knee gave out. He immediately fell to the ground and grabbed his right knee. Houston was helped by the training staff and was carted off the field. Bears coach Marc Trestman said he was “disappointed” for his defensive end.

An MRI on Monday revealed that Houston ruptured the ACL in his right knee; Houston will require season-ending surgery, an injury that marks the second time in 2014 that a celebration went awry.

Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch tore his ACL earlier this year after he celebrated a tackle. Tulloch’€™s injury will force him to miss the rest of the season.

Read More: Lamarr Houston, Stephen Tulloch,
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