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Fred Taylor on D&H: ‘Going to miss’ Kevin Faulk

09.24.10 at 1:42 pm ET
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Patriots running back Fred Taylor made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday afternoon and indicated he will be ready to go Sunday vs. the Bills. “I feel good,” he said of his condition. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Asked if his role would change in Kevin Faulk‘s absence, Taylor said his role is to do what is asked of him. “My role is the same, and it’s going to always be the same,” he said. “Whatever they ask me to do, I’m going to try my best to do it. I’m going to give 110 [percent] at it.”

Taylor said Faulk was always in the weight room before the other players arrived, and his work ethic was unmatched. “He’s definitely underrated, definitely the best at what he does,” Taylor said. “We’re going to miss that. We’re going to miss the positiveness that he always had. ‘€¦ You’ve got to admire somebody like that.”

Read More: Fred Taylor, Kevin Faulk,

Belichick Friday: ‘I’d rather have Kevin Faulk’

09.24.10 at 1:13 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Who replaces Kevin Faulk? What goes into putting together a practice squad? What goes into being a football player? Those questions and more were posed to Bill Belichick on Friday at Gillette Stadium. Here – thanks to the awesome work of the Patriots media relations staff – were his answers.

BB: We’€™re winding it down here. Hopefully today we’€™ll have a good review day on everything, work on our situations and be ready to go on Sunday. As I said earlier in the week, I think Buffalo is a team that’€™s been impressive with their physical toughness and the ability of their skill players. I think defensively they’€™ve really improved from last year, just looking at this game, compared to last year’€™s games. And of course they’€™re always good in the kicking game. So we’€™ve got a lot of challenges ahead of us this week, and hopefully a good day of practice here and we’€™ll finish up the week and be ready to go on Sunday.

Q: Will you practice in the stadium today?

BB: Yes.

Q: With the open roster spot, is it the same situation as last week where you’€™ll have to fill it?

BB: Yeah, we’€™ll have to do something by game time.

Q: Any idea which direction you’€™re going?

BB: Yeah, there are a number of options. We’€™ll kind of get through the week here. I think there are a couple different ways we could do [it]. We’€™ll see how it goes.

Q: Is there any way to estimate how many guys you will bring in to work out over the course of a season?

BB: No, there’€™s no set formula on that. That’€™s something we do every week. Every week we talk about personnel and we go through the players that are on our roster, the players that are on the practice squad, the players that are available that are out on the street that aren’€™t with any team, the players that are on other teams’€™ practice squads, and anything that might have changed from the previous week ‘€“ for example, players that maybe were injured in preseason and they’€™re getting healthier. Maybe they’€™re not ready to play now so the team did an injury settlement with them, but they’€™ll be ready in a couple weeks or they’€™ll be ready in month, or as those situations change. Other players that we have on what we call our short list ‘€“ if we were to go to somebody if we needed a player and he gets signed by another team, who’€™s the next player? What guys do we want to bring in for workouts based on do we need a physical on them? Do we want to evaluate them? Is it a player we know? Maybe we don’€™t need to work out a player that we know or have a lot of familiarity with, but maybe a guy that we don’€™t [know] ‘€“ a younger player or a guy that pops up somewhere along the line. You try to stay on top of the preseason games, but in all honesty, it’€™s hard to watch a couple thousand players in preseason so these first, two, three, four weeks of the season you can really go back and take a closer look at the preseason games and really zero in on a particular player that kind of flashes at you in preseason. Then maybe you can go back and watch him in college and just do more work on him. Those players might surface on a practice squad and things like that. It’€™s a constant process with no ‘€˜we have to have this many guys in,’€™ or ‘€˜we have to have this many players on this list.’€™ Sometimes you can have five emergency receivers and no emergency tackles, or whatever it happens to be. Where does your next player come from? He can either come from your practice squad or he can come from a player that’€™s not with a team that’€™s not practice squad eligible. Unless you put him on your team, you don’€™t have him, but he might be your next guy. We go through that every week. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Buffalo Bills, Kevin Faulk, New England Patriots

Pats practice report Friday: Moss wears No. 33

09.24.10 at 11:54 am ET
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FOXBORO — Randy Moss may not have been elected a team captain this year for the first time since 2007 but he showed some leadership on the practice field on Friday.

In a show of support for fallen teammate Kevin Faulk, Moss wore the No. 33 at Patriots practice inside Gillette Stadium on Friday. Per league rules, Moss will be wearing his customary ’81′ for the game on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

Faulk tore the ACL in his right knee last Sunday and is gone for the season.

WR Taylor Price [ankle], OL Nick Kaczur [back] and CB Terrence Wheatley [foot] were the only active players other than Faulk missing from the open media portion of Patriots practice.

Price was limited at practice on Thursday with a toe injury, the first time he’s been listed on the Patriots injury report this season.

Read More: Buffalo Bills, Kevin Faulk, New England Patriots, nfl

Adam Schefter on D&C: Braylon Edwards getting singled out

09.24.10 at 11:07 am ET
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ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to discuss the latest happenings around the NFL. The storyline that’s grabbed his attention the most this week revolves Braylon Edwards‘ DUI charges. Schefter was surprised at the extent of heat Edwards is receiving, especially since DUI charges aren’t exactly scarce in the NFL these days.

“As many poor decisions as Braylon Edwards has made, it’s amazing how he has gotten just ripped this week,” said Schefter. “And there have been people that have been arrested for DUIs, and I understand they don’t have some of the background that Braylon Edwards does, but Ronnie Brown got arrested for a DUI in March, has there been any outcry surrounding Ronnie Brown, as there has been Braylon Edwards and him playing this game?”

Schefter then turned to arguably the most controversial receiver of 2010, holdout Vincent Jackson, to further evidence his point. “Not only did [Jackson] get two DUIs, he got a three-game suspension! Braylon Edwards hasn’t even been proven guilty yet, has not been charged, or convicted at least, and he has gotten far more backlash than Vincent Jackson, who was arrested twice for a DUI and people are feeling bad for him.”

Schefter also believes some other factors may be at play in this scenario. “If you all want to rip Braylon Edwards for some of the decisions he’s made, I have no problem with that. My bigger point is let’s wait until the guy is proven guilty, before we rip him the way that he’s been universally ripped everywhere.

“You’re found guilty of drunk driving, you go to jail, lose your license, you suffer all the consequences you deserve, the NFL is going to suspend you, you deserve it and more. All I’m saying is, I think there are other factors here, that are involved with Braylon Edwards, that will come out. The facts and the legal system will play out. If he’s found to have driven drunk, he deserves any ounce of punishment that comes his way. ”

He was then asked about what he believed the passengers in Edwards’ car, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Vernon Gholston, would have blown into the breathalyzer, to which he replied, “We know that Gholston has blown for the last few seasons anyways.”

Following are more highlights of the interview, including his thoughts on Michael Vick’s promotion, the current situation of trades in the NFL, and which coach he prefers between Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher. To listen to the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Why aren’t there more trades in the NFL, specifically Vincent Jackson?

Great question. [Chargers general manager]  A.J. Smith is a man of principle to a fault. To the point where, when he has something on his mind, that’s it. He’s not budging. There’s no room for compromise. The unfortunate part here is that the Chargers could have gotten back a second round pick, another pick that I don’t know exactly how high, they could have helped their team in the future, and gotten rid of a headache.

The Vikings could have gotten a receiver they wanted, which would’ve helped them. Vincent Jackson would’ve gotten some of the money he wanted, which would’ve made him happy. Everybody in this particular case could have walked away from this situation thinking,  “I’m OK with this. This worked out all right.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adam schefter, Braylon Edwards, Logan Mankins, Michael Vick

Stephen Neal on the Bills: ‘It’s always a battle’

09.24.10 at 10:58 am ET
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Stephen Neal joined the Dale & Holley show for his weekly interview and talked about the loss to the Jets and Friday preparations.

First and foremost, however, is the Buffalo Bills. “They have a good team,” Neal said. “I don’t care what anybody says. They have a good powerful hard-working front. They have good linebackers and they got a great secondary. They’re a good challenge for us this week. We’re going to have to do everything right.”

Asked if it was hard for the team to block out their 13-game winning streak against the Bills, Neal said, “Last year, in the first game of the season, we were barely able to sneak one away from them. We’ve been in in some battles with them. I respect the Bills. I respect their coaching staff, all their players. It’s always a battle when we go in there or they come here. The past, I don’t even look at the past. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Neal also talked about the team’s preparations and how the team practices on Fridays. “It’s more of a mental day,” Neal said. “Really just getting your mind sharp and prepared and focused for the game on Sunday.” Neal continued: “We’re not banging into each other as hard today. We’re still practicing but it’s not one of the days where you’re trying to make each other bleed. It’s not a bloodbath out there. It’s more of a mental preparation. We go through all the situations that we do each and every week.”

Asked what still bothered him about the Jets loss, Neal said, “I had a couple of plays I wish I could have had back. I was late off the ball one time and caused some pressure on third down. Each third down is super critical, especially in the second half. We’re putting that behind us and focusing on the Buffalo Bills.”

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Nuggetpalooza’s Patriots-Bills Preview!

09.24.10 at 9:58 am ET
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Not quite as much buzz for this game as there was for the first two Pats games, but it’s a divisional rival, and New England is missing an important cog in Kevin Faulk. So, what do you need to get you ready?  NUMBERS!:

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* – Buffalo has scored points on just 3 of their 22 offensive possessions in 2010 (2 touchdowns, 1 field goal), the lowest percentage in the league (14%). The Steelers have fewer touchdowns, though, with 1, but they have 7 FG.

The Patriots have ALLOWED points on 9 of 21 opponent possessions (43%), tied with Houston for the highest such percentage in the league.

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* – You probably knew this, but the New England defense has allowed 4.85 yards/play in the first half this season (13th) and 5.85 yards/play in the 2nd half (23rd).

This did surprise me, though: Against the Jets, the Patriots allowed 5.30 yards/play in the 2nd half (13th last week, thought it would be worse). Can you guess who had the WORST second half defense last week in terms of yards/play allowed? The Saints, who allowed 8.46 yards/play to the 49ers in their last second win in San Francisco on Monday night.

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* – New England has allowed at least 1 touchdown in the 4th quarter of their last 5 games, the longest current streak in the NFL (3 teams currently have a 3 game streak). The last time the Patriots had such a streak in 5 straight was at the beginning of the 2005 season.

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* – Buffalo has allowed their opponent to score on both of their game opening drives this season, joining Detroit and Minnesota as the only teams to have done so. It’s quite a turnaround from 2009, when the Bills allowed only 3 such scores during the entire season (and Minnesota allowed just 2).

New England’s offense put points on the board on their opening possession 5 times last season and once so far in 2010 (an opening day TD against Cincinnati).

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* – The Bills have averaged 3.95 yards on first down so far in 2010, the lowest average in the NFL and nearly a full yard below their average last season (26th ranked 4.95).

New England, averaging 6.84 yards on first down, ranks 3rd so far (they were 4th last season), but the Bills have been stout on defense, allowing 4.31 first down yards (5th).

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* – New England averaged 2.60 yards per rush last week against the Jets, their lowest since they managed only a 1.69 average 33 games ago against the Giants.

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* – The Patriots rushed 13 times in the first quarter last week, the most in the NFL and the most in a first quarter by the Pats since they also ran it 13 times in the opening stanza of week 2 of 2006 (63 games).

The strange thing about this, especially considering that it was a close game, was that New England eventually ran the ball just 7 more times the  rest of the game, meaning 65% of their rushing attempts came in the first quarter. That’s the highest single game percentage in the NFL in over three years.

Only 3 times in all of 2009 did a team attempt even 50% of all their running plays for a game in the first quarter.

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* – New England’s offense has found themselves in 2nd and 10 or more yards 14 times this season and are 0-14 at converting those 2nd down plays. Last season, they converted 2nd and 10+ on 24 different occasions.

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* – The Patriots have attempted 16 passes more than 10 yards downfield this season and have completed just 4. That 25% completion percentage is the lowest in the NFL. The Pats went 2-7 in week one and 2-9 last Sunday on those throws.

I guess the bright side is that they have at least 2 completions on those passes in their last 18 consecutive games, which is actually the 7th longest current streak in the league right now (Houston, 50).

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* – The Patriots have allowed their opponents 6 different drives of 10 or more plays already this season, tied with Washington for the most in the NFL. Fortunately, they’ve allowed points on just 2 of those 6 drives.

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* – Through 2 games, the Patriots are averaging 8.8 yards per pass play when opponents blitz (2nd) and 5.6 per pass play when they don’t (21st).

But you can’t see THIS in yards per play averages: Last week, the Jets blitzed on 65% of pass plays and Brady went 13-24 with 2 INT and 0 TD versus blitzes and 7-12 with 2 TD and 0 INT versus non-blitzes.

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* – After allowing 20+ first downs only 8 times in their previous 35 games, the Pats have now allowed 20+ in each of their last 3 regular season contests. It’s their first such streak of 3 games or more since they had an 8-gamer in 2005. New England has not allowed an average of 20+ first downs in a season since 2000 (20.4).

Note that Buffalo has not reached 20 first downs in any of their last 7 games.

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* – The Patriots and Chiefs are the only teams that have yet to allow a kickoff return of 20+ yards this season. Contrast that to the Rams, against whom all 6 KOR’s have gone for 20+. Last season, 73% of all kickoff returns against New England went for 20+, the 4th highest percentage in the league.

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* – The Bills have lost an NFL-high 85 yards through two weeks on negative plays, including 71 on pass plays (also a league high).

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* – New England receivers are averaging 2.22 yards AFTER CONTACT this season (5th), while the Bills pass catchers have averaged just 1.07 YACO yards (30th). The Bears lead the NFL at 3.20, while the Chiefs (0.96) bring up the rear, slightly worse than Green Bay (0.97).

Please don’t confuse YACO yards (yards gained after CONTACT) with YAC yards (yards gained after CATCH)!

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* – Only one team has yet to ATTEMPT a pass from inside their opponent’s 30 yard line in 2010: The Buffalo Bills. That’s not much of a switch, as only Cleveland (62) and Oakland (65) had fewer such pass attempts last season than Buffalo (74).

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* – Somewhat related: Buffalo has driven inside their opponents’ 30 yard line just 3 times this season, but they’ve scored each time and their average of 5.67 points per such drive ranks 2nd in the league.

The Patriots defense has allowed opponents to drive inside their 30 on 7 occasions and has allowed an average of 6.57 points on those possessions, the worst in the NFL. Last season, they ranked 10th best allowing an average of 4.28.

New England has 9 such drives but has come away empty 4 times, tied with San Diego, San Francisco, and Carolina for the most such empty trips this season. The Pats’ 3.44 points average on those drives ranks 26th.

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* – Through two weeks, 7 different teams have committed just 1 (or zero) fumbles and the Patriots and Bills are two of those teams. The Bills are one of just 6 teams that has yet to LOSE a fumble and are also one of just 7 that has yet to RECOVER an opponent’s fumble.

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* – Through 2 games, the Bills have a total of 32 first half passing yards, by far the fewest in the NFL. It’s the fewest by the Bills over consecutive first halfs since the 2003 season.

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* – Despite converting just 5-11 third downs against the Jets last week (45%), the Patriots still lead the NFL with a 58% conversion rate of third downs. Last year, they ranked 8th at 44%.

After finishing dead last at coverting third downs in 2009 (26%), Buffalo hasn’t fared much better early in 2010, converting at just 27%.

Defensively, each team has allowed 50% conversions so far this season, among the league’s worst marks.

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* – Somewhat related, Buffalo went just 20 for 120 on third and 6+ last year (17%), the lowest percentage in the league. This year, they’re off to another last place start (1 for 18; 6%).

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* – Tom Brady still appears to be as accurate as ever as 73.2% of his passes have been rules “catchable” (4th), the same as his ranking last season. However, Patriots receivers have dropped 7 passes already, accounting for 13.5% of catchable balls, the 4th highest percentage in the NFL so far. Those guys weren’t great last year, either, dropping 8.9% of catchable throws (8th highest percentage).

Bills quarterbacks have thrown just 63.5% catchable balls (25th, after ranking 24th last season) and receivers have dropped 12.1% of those catchable passes (7th worst).

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* – If you take away any yards after the catch, Buffalo’s 11 pass completions last week would have gained a total of 11 yards last Sunday, their second lowest total since they began tracking yards AT catch in 1992. The strange thing is that their total was not the lowest in the league LAST WEEK. Pittsburgh managed -1 (minus 1) yards AT catch in their win against Tennessee.

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* – Buffalo, Miami, and San Diego are the only teams that have not allowed a first down via penalty yet this season. New England allowed 3 first downs via flags last week against the Jets, the most by a Pats defense since week 11 of 2008.

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* – Through 2 weeks, Buffalo’s average yards per pass attempt (4.63) is the lowest in the NFL:

4.63 – Buffalo Bills
4.88 – Kansas City Chiefs
5.22 – Baltimore Ravens

The lowest single season mark ever is 4.23, by the 1968 Bills. Since 1990, the lowest is 4.88, by the 1992 Seattle Seahawks.

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* – The Patriots have scored 25 touchdowns in the 2nd quarter since the start of last season, the most in the NFL in that span:

25 – New England Patriots
22 – New Orleans Saints
22 – New York Giants

The Raiders have just 6 such touchdowns in that same span.

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Check back tomorrow for a massive batch of  “Around the NFL” nuggets!  Enjoy your football weekend!

Jerod Mayo on D&C: Bill Belichick devoted to defense

09.24.10 at 8:16 am ET
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Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning and talked about Sunday’s game vs. the Bills, as the Patriots try to rebound from last Sunday’s collapse vs. the Jets. “We’re trying to get that bad taste out of our mouths, and we’re ready to go,” Mayo said.

To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Mayo said the Bills present some interesting challenges. “First and foremost, we really don’t know what to expect from the quarterback position,” he said. “They’re coming in with a new guy [Harvard product Ryan Fitzpatrick], and he can make a lot of throws. That’s one of the things that scares me. At the same time, they have a three-headed monster at running back.”

Asked if human nature would cause the Patriots to be less motivated to play the Bills as compared to one of the team’s more intense rivals, Mayo said: “Coach [Bill] Belichick doesn’t let human nature take over. We approach every week the same. He does a good job of letting us know the importance of each game.”

The Patriots never officially named offensive and defensive coordinators this season. Asked who the team’s defensive coordinator is, Mayo said: “Bill Belichick.” Asked if Belichick sometimes has to desert the defense to attend to duties as head coach, Mayo indicated that’s not the case. “He’s always with us,” Mayo said. “He’s the defensive coach. He’s there. He does everything that [former defensive coordinator Dean] Pees used to do.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jerod Mayo,
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