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Robert Kraft ‘might be a little late’ to Patriots-Chargers game if Revolution win MLS Cup

12.04.14 at 10:10 am ET
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Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft

It will be a big Sunday for the Kraft family Sunday in California as both the Revolution and Patriots will be in action roughly 125 miles apart. The Revolution will be taking on the L.A. Galaxy in the MLS Cup in the afternoon and then the Patriots will take on the Chargers in San Diego at night.

“I will definitely be at MLS Cup,” Patriots and Revolution owner Robert Kraft told USA Today. “I am planning to get to San Diego too, as long as we get the helicopter permits.”

The MLS Cup is set to begin at 3 p.m. EST and the Patriots-Chargers has a kickoff set for 8:30 p.m. EST.

The Revolution will be playing in their fifth MLS Cup and are 0-4 in those games, so if they were to win against the Galaxy — who feature league MVP Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, and are seeking their third championship in four years — Kraft might be staying a little bit to celebrate.

“It is an important game for the Patriots and San Diego is a tough team,” Kraft said. “But if we win the MLS Cup and I am there celebrating with our team … well, I might be a little late.”

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Read More: L.A. Galaxy, New England Revolution, Robert Kraft, San Diego Chargers

‘Timeless’ Antonio Gates offers tips on how Rob Gronkowski can maintain durability, consistency

12.04.14 at 8:00 am ET
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Antonio Gates has been the gold standard at tight end for several seasons. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Veteran Antonio Gates has been the gold standard at tight end for several seasons. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Antonio Gates has some words of wisdom for Rob Gronkowski.

The 34-year-old San Diego tight end — who has spent the last decade rumbling through the AFC West in a fashion similar to Gronkowski — said Wednesday that while it’s OK to play physical football, there are times where you have to temper your approach.

“I’m a firm believer in being physical,” said the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Gates. “But then, there are unnecessary hits you don’t have to take. Some people think you can’t be physical and not have aggression. We talk about having aggression, but still staying fundamentally sound. What that means is you go out, play hard, and be physical, but still play smart at the same time.”

Gronkowski played 46 straight games coming out of college, but has been hampered with arm and knee issues that have robbed him of the better part of the last two seasons. The 12 straight games he’s played to this point in the 2014 season represent the longest consecutive games played streak dating back to the start of his NFL career.

“I think that’s what maybe [Gronkowski] has added to his repertoire this year — or that’s something that maybe the majority of young guys need to understand,” he added. “It’s a very physical game. It’s not like college. These guys are getting paid millions of dollars to come out and play and you have to take care of yourself. You have to take care of yourself.”

Gronkowski would do well to listen to Gates. The three-time All-Pro has been executing at a high level for 11-plus years, and despite playing an extremely physical brand of football, has managed to become one of the more durable pass-catchers in the game. He’s never played less than 10 games in a season while racking up amazing numbers — he has 766 career catches and 9,767 receiving yards to go along with 96 career touchdowns.

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Read More: Antonio Gates, Rob Gronkowski,

Darrelle Revis: ‘We can bounce back’

12.04.14 at 7:00 am ET
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Darrelle Revis believes the Patriots can bounce back this weekend against the Chargers. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis believes the Patriots can bounce back this weekend against the Chargers. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis believes the Patriots will be able to rebound after Sunday’€™s 26-21 loss to the Packers in Green Bay, a defeat that snapped a seven-game win streak.

“We started out 2-2, and we corrected our mistakes and we moved on each week to consistently win a bunch of games,” Revis told reporters Wednesday in Southern California. “This is a bump in the road for us, the Green Bay game, but we can bounce back and we have another chance. That’s the great thing about this league is week to week you get another chance, another stab at it to go out there and win.”

Instead of returning to New England for a week of practice, Revis and the Patriots went west following Sunday’s game in Green Bay, and have spent the week working out in Southern California in advance of Sunday’s game. He said Wednesday he’s enjoyed the unique experience.

“I think it’s great, man,” he said. “I think this is really thought out by our organization and Bill and our coaching staff of doing this after such a big game against Green Bay. Guys are hanging out, sitting by the pool, relaxing, just being around each other.

“This is probably a crucial time in our season too for us to continue to be around each other and still have each other’s back as a team,” he added, “because we have this game and we have three left after this, so we really have to be on the same page as a team and as a coaching staff to finish out the season.”

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Read More: Antonio Gates, Darrelle Revis, Philip Rivers,

Mike McCoy compares a ‘fiery’ Tom Brady to his own sparkplug Philip Rivers

12.03.14 at 8:50 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Philip Rivers have met in big games before, like here in the 2007 AFC championship. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Philip Rivers have met in big games before, like here in the 2007 AFC championship. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Mike McCoy knows a fierce competitor when he sees one.

The Chargers head coach certainly has one in quarterback Philip Rivers. But when he looks across the field on Sunday, he’s going to have to prepare for a competitor every bit as intense as his own.

“He’€™s a winner,” McCoy said Wednesday of Tom Brady. “From the very first time he’€™s stepped in the huddle there they’€™ve won football games. Anytime you have a franchise quarterback like that you have that opportunity. All the players on your football team have [all] the confidence in the world.

“You love the way he plays the game — his fiery approach to the game. You see how excited he is, the leader he is. He’€™s just so efficient — he knows the game inside and out. [He’€™s] one of the best of all time. It’€™s great to play against guys like that. You always want to play against the best, and he’€™s one of the best of all-time so we have to do a great job on Sunday against him.”

The Patriots are going to have to contend with a quarterback who is no stranger to Bill Belichick, and a signal-caller who is getting hot at the right time again. Since the worst start of his career, a 31.0 QB rating in a 38-0 loss in Miami, Rivers has responded by beating the Raiders, Rams and Ravens, throwing five touchdowns with two interceptions. He has 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. Behind Rivers, the Chargers are 8-4 with their sights set on the suddenly winnable AFC West.

“I think Philip has been one of the best in the business for a long time,” McCoy said. “You love the way he works ‘€“ his preparation week-in and week-out has been outstanding. He’€™s a winner. He’€™s great to have as the face of your franchise. Having a franchise quarterback like who he is, he goes out and earns everything he gets. It’€™s great to have him on our football team. He’€™s been very efficient. He’€™s done a great job of leading not only the team, but the offense week-in and week-out.”

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Read More: New England Patriots, Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers, Tom Brady

Bill Belichick gets emotional making a Hall of Fame pitch for Junior Seau

12.03.14 at 8:02 pm ET
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Junior Seau pictured here in his final NFL game of a 20-year career, a playoff loss to the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Junior Seau pictured here in his final NFL game of a 20-year career, a playoff loss to the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick doesn’t often show emotion but when he does, it’s usually for very good reason.

Of all the players who have played for him, few touched him the way Junior Seau did in parts of four seasons (2006-09). Belichick was asked Wednesday to reflect on the life and times of the late linebacker who is up for Hall of Fame nomination this year.

“Tremendous. [I] loved Junior and his family,” Belichick said to reporters in San Diego. “[I] was out here for the funeral and it was very emotional. Nobody loved the game more than Junior did. Nobody would be more deserving to be in the Hall of Fame than Junior Seau. [He’€™s the] all-time leader in tackling [1522 in 20 seasons], but more than stats, his love of the game, his passion for the game, and the high level that he played at at a very difficult position. I mean, him, Clay Matthews [Jr.], guys to play as long as they did at that position as well as he did is phenomenal. He is so deserving. I hope it happens.”

Seau was one of those chosen to speak to the rally of Patriots fans in the snow at Gillette Stadium before the team went out to Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl XLII. It was in that perfect regular season of 2007 that Seau recorded the final 3.5 sacks of his career. He finished with 56.5 sacks over 20 NFL seasons.

It’s hard not to be reminded of Seau this week, as the former great linebacker grew up in San Diego.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Junior Seau, New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers

Aaron Dobson misses Patriots practice in San Diego, 10 players limited

12.03.14 at 7:15 pm ET
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Aaron Dobson

Aaron Dobson

It seems like last week’s Patriots-Packers game was a physical one, as the Patriots have a packed injury report this week leading up to this Sunday’s game against the Chargers. The Patriots held practice at the University of San Diego, as they will be spending the week in California.

Wide receiver Aaron Dobson (hamstring) missed the session, as he had to leave Sunday’s game with the injury suffered running a deep go route up the sideline. The only other player to miss the practice was linebacker Chris White (ankle). White missed Sunday’s game after being added to the injury report in the middle of last week.

After taking another big hit on his thigh in the game, and missing a few plays because of it, receiver Julian Edelman headlined the limited players. Chandler Jones (hip) was once again limited after being limited all last week, but wasn’t active for the game. His progress is worth monitoring this week, as there is a possibility the defensive end could be ready to play Sunday night.

Long snapper Danny Aiken (concussion) did practice after missing Sunday’s game, but reportedly wore a red non-contact jersey. Another addition was cornerback Kyle Arrington with a hip injury. He left the game Sunday, but did return.

Also added to the injury report this week was linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder). He was seen grabbing his shoulder late in the game, but did return to action.

Tom Brady (ankle) and Marcus Cannon (hip) were full participants.

Here is the full practice report:

Did not participate

WR Aaron Dobson (hamstring)
LB Chris White (ankle)

Limited participation

LS Danny Aiken (concussion)
CB Kyle Arrington (hip)
G Dan Connolly (ankle)
DE Dominique Easley (knee)
WR Julian Edelman (thigh)
T Cameron Fleming (ankle)
LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder)
DE Chandler Jones (hip)
WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder)
RB Shane Vereen (ankle)

Full participation

QB Tom Brady (ankle)
T Marcus Cannon (hip)

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Red Hot: Patriots’ defense posting improved numbers when backed against goal line

12.03.14 at 7:07 pm ET
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Chris Jones and the rest of the Patriots defense have played well in the red zone as of late. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Chris Jones and the rest of the Patriots defense have played well in the red zone as of late. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Despite the fact that the Patriots fell to the Packers on Sunday by a 26-21 count, one positive that stood out for New England was the red-zone defense. Green Bay got inside the Patriots’ 20-yard line on four different occasions, but the Packers had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns.

In their last three games, the Patriots defense has held opponents to just two touchdowns in eight red zone appearances. (That includes 0-for-5 in the last two games.) Overall, the Patriots are 13th in the league in red-zone defense, having yielded touchdowns on 51.4 percent of the possessions — 19 touchdowns on 37 possessions in all. From a percentage standpoint, that’s an improvement for a defense that was at 58.6 when it came to red-zone scoring a month ago.

Asked about the level of success New England had against the Packers, Bill Belichick said it simply comes down to execution.

“We were able to make a few plays,” Belichick said of the Green Bay game. “They took some shots in the end zone, hit a couple of them, missed a few of them. We ran into trouble down there too at the end.

“That’€™s what the red area is: it’€™s a lot of very highly contested plays with very little margin for error either way,” he added. “Offense doesn’€™t need much space and defense doesn’€™t have much territory to defend and it’€™s all just a little bit tighter down there. So you need really good execution on both sides of the ball to be successful. It’€™s just really a game of inches down there. It’€™s tight. We made a few; they made a few. It’€™s probably the way it’€™s going to be most weeks in the NFL ‘€“ it’€™s going to be real competitive and tight down there.”

“I think just higher awareness,” said defensive lineman Chris Jones when asked for reasons behind the red-zone numbers. “This year we’€™ve done a great job of realizing where we’€™re at, we’€™ve studied the situations, and we’€™re very disciplined when we get there. I think that’€™s what helps us out a lot.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chris Jones,
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