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Patriots listed as Super Bowl favorites by

12.09.10 at 5:02 pm ET
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The latest updates from are out, and they have the Patriots as the favorites to win Super Bowl XLV. New England is listed as having 9-2 by the site, with the Steelers at 13-2, the Giants at 12-1, the Falcons at 13-2, and the Saints and Eagles at 9-1. (The Patriots opened the year at 12-1.) In addition, Bodog has the MVP odds, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady listed as the 4-7 favorite to win it, with Eagles’ QB Michael Vick at 3-1.

Read More: Michael Vick, Patriots, Tom Brady,

Two missing from Bears’ practice

12.09.10 at 4:51 pm ET
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The Bears reported two players missing from Thursday practice, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa and defensive tackle Marcus Harrison. Here’s the complete report from Chicago:

Did Not Participate
LB Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee)
DT Marcus Harrison (illness)

Limited Participation
LB Nick Roach (back)
RB Chester Taylor (knee)

Read More: Bears, injury report,

Absence of Patrick Chung, Brandon Spikes wasn’t injury related, say Patriots

12.09.10 at 4:48 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Safety Patrick Chung and linebacker Brandon Spikes were no-shows at Patriots’ practice on Thursday, but according to the team, their absence was not injury related. Here’s a look at the complete report:

Did Not Participate
S Patrick Chung (not injury related)
LB Brandon Spikes (not injury related)
CB Jonathan Wilhite (hip)
DL Mike Wright (concussion)

Limited Participation
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder/foot)
NT Myron Pryor (back)

Read More: injury report, Patriots,

The Big Nickel: Logan Mankins and Shayne Graham talk, plus James Sanders on the art of the takeaway

12.09.10 at 2:00 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The five most important things you need to know about the Patriots on Thursday:

1. Logan Mankins held court with the media for an extended session on Thursday morning, his first real chat during the week with reporters since he returned in early November from a contract dispute. The left guard, who has started all five games since he’€™s been back, said he feels ‘€œfine,’€ and said he felt back to normal as soon he stepped on the field to face the Browns, his first game back.

‘€œI felt fine that game. I felt good,’€ Mankins said, sporting his trademark Fu-Manchu. ‘€œHey ‘€” it’€™s not my first year here. I knew the offense before I got here. I just had to get the physical stuff down.

‘€œI’€™m happy with the way it’€™s been going. And this is going to be a big challenge for us this week, Chicago. They have a really good defense. We really admire the way their defense plays, how hard they play. The kind of players that they have.’€

Mankins drew a lot of praise from Chicago coach Lovie Smith, who said Thursday on his conference call that Mankins was ‘€œone of the best linemen in the game.’€

‘€œThey continued to win without him, but adding another special player, a special lineman to the mix, has to help your team quite a bit,’€ said Smith, who shares the same agent with Mankins, Frank Bauer. ‘€Just look at the video on him.  He’€™s as tough as there is.  He comes to work every day.  He and I have the same agent, so I know a little bit about him.  Everything is all good, so you want a guy like that on your team.’€

Mankins ‘€” who said he planned to go sleeveless on Sunday, even with the temperatures expected to dip below freezing with the wind chill ‘€” returned the favor on Thursday.

‘€œI don’€™t know what we could really say about Chicago, other than they’€™re good all the way around,’€ he said. ‘€œTheir defense is really good. They’€™ve got a good front four and good linebackers, so it’€™s going to be a tough day on Sunday.’€

As a group, the New England offensive line has played well this season, allowing 18 sacks through 12 games. The hits that did come against quarterback Tom Brady on Monday’€™s game were minimal, and as a group, they more than did their share when it came to keeping the offense moving.

‘€œThat’€™s what we’€™re supposed to do, so we’€™re happy when we do it and disappointed when we don’€™t play well,’€ he shrugged. ‘€œLike I said, Chicago is going to be tough this week, and that’€™s what we’€™re focused on right now. We’€™re not trying to look back and see what we did. We’€™re looking ahead.’€

2. The Patriots practiced in sweats and shells on the lower fields behind Gillette Stadium in absolutely bone-chilling conditions on Thursday afternoon. Not present for the media portion of practice were defensive backs Jonathan Wilhite and Patrick Chung, linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive linemen Myron Pryor and Mike Wright.

While Wilhite (hip), Pryor (back) and Wright (concussion) have been absent for the better part of the last week with various ailments, it was a surprise to see Chung and Spikes not present. Chung dealt with a knee injury that left him sidelined for two games last month, but didn’€™t appear to sustain an injury on Monday against the Jets, and was present at the walkthrough on Wednesday. The same is true for Spikes, who saw extended snaps against the Jets and was at the Wednesday afternoon walkthrough.
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Read More: Brandon Spikes, Devin McCourty, Frank Bauer, James Sanders

Pats practice: Patrick Chung and Brandon Spikes not spotted

12.09.10 at 1:29 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Safety Patrick Chung and rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes lead a list of five Patriots missing from outdoor practice on Thursday outside Gillette Stadium. Neither player was listed on Wednesday’s injury report.

Also missing were Jonathan Wilhite (hip), Myron Pryor (back) and Mike Wright (concussion) as the Patriots worked out in sweats and shells on the lower practice field.

The conditions were ideal for the Patriots as it was cold and blustery on the lower field, resembling – at least somewhat – what they will be encountering Sunday at Soldier Field. Not only will there be new sod but temperatures are expected in the mid-teens for the late afternoon kick-off, with winds off Lake Michigan making it feel like 30-to-40 below.

Read More: Brandon Spikes, Chicago Bears, injury report, New England Patriots

Patriots will be on a new surface this Sunday in Chicago

12.08.10 at 10:38 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Before the Patriots installed FieldTurf at Gillette Stadium in 2006, the natural-grass surface was chewed up and re-sodded on a fairly regular basis. Even with the work, by the end of the season, it was often a mess.

The Patriots no longer have that problem ‘€” the field received a new synthetic surface this past offseason ‘€” but they have experience with some pretty poor surfaces this season. They reportedly lodged a complaint with the league about the state of the turf in Pittsburgh, and are heading into a game this weekend at Chicago’€™s Soldier Field, a place that Bears’€™ quarterback Jay Cutler describes as having ‘€œone of the worst fields in the league.’€

‘€œThe turf is what it is,’€ Cutler told reporters who asked about the natural-grass surface at a Wednesday news conference. ‘€œWith our speed, we would like to get something a little bit tighter, but we probably have one of the worst fields in the league at this point. We did last year, as well. We’€™ve got to deal with it, and our guys know it. They are aware of how to cut and how to move on it. So we’€™ve just got to go out there and play.’€

Cutler added that he hears ‘€œa lot of stuff [from opposing players] after the game and during pre-game about what cleats to wear … exactly how torn up [the surface] is. There’€™s usually a [high school] game the day before. It’€™s a shame.’€

The Chicago Park District resodded the playing surface late last month, and Sunday’€™s game will be the first time the Bears have played at home since the turf was replaced. New England coach Bill Belichick is well-aware of the fact that the Patriots will be playing on a new surface.

‘€œWe’€™ve been through that before here. We know what it’€™s like to sod a field in December,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œYou can imagine how well that’€™s going to take. But, it is what it is. Both teams are playing on the same field. You just have to play with your feet under you, play with good body balance and bend your knees, make sure you’€™re using proper technique and cutting off your inside, outside foot and play with good balance. That’€™s what it comes down to. If you’€™re out of control, then chances are the field isn’€™t going to be able to support those cuts.

‘€œWe practice on grass all the time. I don’€™t think it’€™s that big of a thing. Whatever the conditions are out there, they are. It’€™s the middle of December and we’€™re in Chicago. I don’€™t think anyone is thinking of suntan lotion.’€

In an ironic twist, when the Patriots made the switch from natural grass to FieldTurf in 2006, their first opponent was the Bears.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jay Cutler,

Three miss practice for the Bears

12.08.10 at 4:26 pm ET
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The Bears had three players out of practice on Wednesday. Here’s the complete report from Chicago.

Did Not Participate
LB Nick Roach (back)
RB Chester Taylor (knee)
LB Piso Tinoisamoa (knee)

Read More: Bears, injury report,
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