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Pats practice: Tom Brady is back

11.11.10 at 1:25 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady returned to practice on Thursday as the team continued its preparations for the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night at Heinz Field.

Brady missed Wednesday’s practice and was listed on the injury report. In addition to his typical shoulder issue, Brady was listed as having a foot injury, which the Boston Globe later reported was sprain but not serious enough to keep him from Sunday’s game.

The only players not spotted at Thursday’s practice were safety Jarrad Page (calf) and defensive lineman Myron Pryor (back). For the second straight day, the team worked out in full pads on the upper fields behind Gillette Stadium.

Read More: Jarrad Page, Myron Pryor, New England Patriots, nfl

Matt Light on DeMaurice Smith: Preparing for ‘battle’

11.11.10 at 12:52 pm ET
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FOXBORO — NFL players are accustomed to battles on the field but the one they’re planning for off of it might be their toughest yet.

NFL Players Association boss DeMaurice Smith traveled to Foxboro Thursday to meet with Patriots player rep Matt Light and the team, listening to their concerns as the NFLPA continues to take steps to decertify the union in preparation for the possibility of a lockout by owners next season.

“I think it will be good,” Light said before Thursday’s practice for the Steelers Sunday night. “Anytime you have the leadership here and in place, they’re here to deliver a message and to let the guys know what they’re thinking and what we’re all thinking and what we need to plan for and what we need to do.

“That’s their job is to inform guys of the upcoming battle and what to expect. I think a lot of the guys have been waiting for this for a while.”

Smith was originally scheduled to meet with the Patriots in late September before being called to the funeral of Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley.

So far, 26 teams have voted to decertify, a routine step in the process to prepare the union for collective bargaining, which is ongoing between the NFL and the NFLPA.

But there is another pressing concern players want to address with their union leader – player safety and the need to include player input on a panel that hands out sometimes harsh fines for violent hits each week. To this point, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has had that voice and has incurred the criticism of players around the league for handing out fines for hits without first gathering input from former and current players.

“I think fairness is a concern,” Light said. “You have to make sure these things are fair, they’re measurable, that you can judge them and it’s not just one person’s opinion. You have to be able to measure these things up against something else. I think that’s the biggest concern and at the end of the day, players’ safety is another huge concern.

“It’s a fine line and I’m sure they’ll find a system that will work the best but one of the biggest problems and the problem I’ve always had with the system is they actually take the money out [of paycheck] before you actually have a chance appeal or go through an appeal process. That’s something we’ll have to address and something that should be tightened up.”

Safety Brandon Meriweather was fined $50,000 for his hit on Todd Heap in a win against the Ravens on Oct. 17 while Myron Pryor and Gary Guyton were docked $7,500 each for separate hits on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. “I think it will be good,” Light said. “Anytime you have the leadership here and in place, they’re here to deliver a message and to let the guys know what they’re thinking and what we’re all thinking and what we need to plan for and what we need to do.”

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, Gary Guyton, Kenny McKinley, Matt Light

Shayne Graham has his golden chance with Pats

11.10.10 at 8:14 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Once upon a time – in a land far, far away – Michael Shayne Graham was simply known as “Money” Graham.

That was when he was nailing 28-of-32 field goals and all 47 extra points and his team – the Cincinnati Bengals – was capturing the 2005 AFC North with an 11-5 record. And on top of it all, he earned a Pro Bowl spot on the AFC squad in Hawaii.

It comes hardly as a shock that the then-Chad Johnson gave him that nickname when he drilled a 37-yard field goal on a chilly and windy December day at Paul Brown Stadium on the game’s final play to help the Bengals inch closer to a division title.

Chilly, windy and division titles all ring true in Foxboro, which is part of the reason the Patriots felt very much at ease signing him this week to fill the shoes of Stephen Gostkowski, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday with a thigh injury.

“It’s definitely big shoes to fill but I feel that I’m going to be able to play my best and hopefully the team won’t skip a beat and hopefully the team won’t miss a beat,” said Graham, whose face and red hair will remind locals of a certain forward who used to play for the Celtics named Brian Scalabrine.

Graham has had his harrowing moments that can scar a player for a career. Arguably, his most forgettable moment wasn’t even his fault. It was a snowy Christmas Eve the next season in Denver when -with 46 seconds remaining in regulation – long snapper Brad St. Louis sailed the PAT through holder Kyle Larson‘s hands after the Bengals had seemingly tied the game on a dramatic touchdown, only to have the game and the playoffs slip through their hands. Graham had nailed 158 straight PATs before that aborted chance.

Then last year – as the Bengals won the AFC North again – he missed two very makable field goals of 28 and 35 yards in a 24-14 playoff loss to the Jets. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Graham had “demons” he was dealing with and felt it best to let him go as a free agent.

“I’ve only got to play in two playoff games in my career, and one of those games was probably one of the worst games of my life but I don’t think it had anything to do with what kind of game it was,” Graham said. “It was just one of those days for me. I can’t wait to have that chance but at this point I’m looking forward to Pittsburgh, just getting my first game out there and getting my first field goal of the season and getting the confidence of my teammates and building my own confidence is what I’m looking forward to.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brian Scalabrine, Chad Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots

Report: Sprained foot for Brady

11.10.10 at 6:07 pm ET
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According to a report in the Boston Globe, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a sprained foot but is not expected to miss Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh.

Brady missed practice for the first time this season on Wednesday, and is listed on the Patriots participation/injury report with a foot injury, along with the right shoulder injury that has been on each report this season.

Steelers injury report Wednesday: Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith

11.10.10 at 4:40 pm ET
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The Patriots aren’t the only team that had to deal with a back-up kicker in practice on Wednesday as Steelers’ kicker Jeff Reed missed the workout with an illness. DE Brett Keisel (hamstring) and TE Heath Miller (knee) also missed practice on Wednesday.

Steelers Injury Report for Wednesday:
Did Not Participate

DE Brett Keisel (hamstring)
TE Heath Miller (knee)
G Chris Kemoeatu (knee/ankle)
K Jeff Reed (illness)
DE Aaron Smith (triceps)

Full Participation
S Will Allen (concussion)
RB Mewelde Moore (concussion)
RB Isaac Redman (concussion)

Read More: injury report, New England Patriots, nfl, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pats injury report Wednesday: Tom Brady foot injury

11.10.10 at 4:21 pm ET
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FOXBORO — A injury to Tom Brady‘s foot kept the quarterback out of practice on Wednesday, the first day of on-field preparations for the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night at Heinz Field. Meanwhile, running back Fred Taylor returned and was limited in practice on Wednesday after missing the last five games.

Patriots Injury Report for Wednesday:
Injured Reserve

K Stephen Gostkowski (thigh) OUT

Did Not Participate
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder/foot)
S Jarrad Page (calf)
S James Sanders (not injury related)
DL Myron Pryor (back)

Limited Participation
DL Mike Wright (groin)
S Patrick Chung (knee)
RB Fred Taylor (toe)
RG Stephen Neal (shoulder)

Read More: Fred Taylor, New England Patriots, Patrick Chung, Pittsburgh Steelers

Bill Belichick on Steelers: ‘Good’ as always

11.10.10 at 3:34 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has seen this act before. And like an actor that knows his part, Belichick knows how to play the Steelers. How is this year any different? What about the kicking game now that Stephen Gostkowski is now lost for the season on the injured reserve? And what has made the Steelers so good for so long? This and more from the Patriots head coach Wednesday. Thanks to the superb work of Patriots P.R., here are his answers.

BB: The Steelers look about like they always do: good. I’€™ve been real impressed watching them on tape. [They'€™re] a real physical football team offensively, defensively [and] in the kicking game. They’€™re strong. They’€™re tough. They do a real good job. They’€™ve got an explosive offense. [Mike] Wallace has certainly added a lot to them in terms of the deep ball [and] his ability to stretch the field, along with all their other outstanding players: [Rashard] Mendenhall and [Mewelde] Moore and the receiver, tight end group, Heath Miller, [Hines] Ward and [Antwaan] Rande El and all that. [They have] a lot of familiar names on defense. [They'€™re] a tough, physical football team. We know what kind of game we’€™re in for on Sunday night. Hopefully we’€™ll have a good week here at practice and be ready to go Sunday. These guys are good. They’€™re good at home; tough at Heinz Field. So it will be a big challenge for us. I’€™m looking for to it, but we understand what’€™s ahead of us there. They’€™re a good football team.

Q: Can you comment on today’€™s moves in the kicking team?

BB: They’€™re pretty self-explanatory. We placed [Stephen Gostkowski] on injured reserve, signed Shayne [Graham] and brought in Matt [Katula] for Jake [Ingram]. We just decided to make a change there, so we’€™ll go with that.

Q: How much has Shayne’€™s history in the AFC North, playing at Heinz Field, had a role in this?

BB: I think just his performance in the league is definitely a positive for him. He’€™s had a good career ‘€“ an outstanding career. I thought he performed well this year when he’€™s had an opportunity. Scott [O'€™Brien] had him, so he’€™s got a background with him. I think all those things were favorable for him. But he’€™s a good kicker. He’€™s had a real good career.

Q: How long does it normally take for a kicker, snapper and holder to come together?

BB: Well we’€™ve got a few days, so it doesn’€™t really matter. We’€™ll do the best we can in the time that we have. I know those guys have gotten started on it already. We know there’€™s a lot of work to do, so we’€™ll get at it. But, you know, they’€™ve all played in the league. They’€™re all hardworking guys and I’€™m sure they’€™ll do what they can in the next few days to get it the best that it can be. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, nfl, Pittsburgh Steelers
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