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Patriots release RB Leon Washington, promote CB Justin Green from practice squad

11.23.13 at 4:47 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots apparently don’t want to be caught short in the secondary against Peyton Manning.

In an effort to increase their depth in light of injuries to Aqib Talib, Steve Gregory and Alfonzo Dennard, the Patriots promotion Justin Green from the practice squad on Saturday. To make room, the team released veteran kick returner Leon Washington.

Saturday’s move was first reported by Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com.

Washington has been dealing with an ankle injury and has played in just two games this season. This is the second time Washington has been released. On Sept. 1, 2013 Patriots waived the 31-year-old veteran during final roster cuts before re-signing him six days later.

Green’€™s promotion to the 53-man roster is a likely indication that Dennard, who reportedly had a scope on his meniscus last week, will not be available. With Talib dealing with a hip injury, Kyle Arrington nursing a sore groin for much of the season and Gregory possibly coming back from a broken right thumb, Green will likely be activated.

Green is an undrafted rookie out of Illinois and was signed by the Patriots on July 21. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder began his college career at Illinois as a running back before moving to the secondary for his final three seasons. He made 29 starts over his final three seasons, registering 76 total tackles, 13 passes defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Green was released by the Patriots on Aug. 31 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 1

Washington is in his eighth NFL season after spending time with the New York Jets (2006-09) and the Seattle Seahawks (2010-12). The 5-foot-8, 203 pounder originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round (117th pick overall) draft choice by the Jets out of Florida State in 2006. He was traded by the Jets to the Seahawks on April 24, 2010, for a 2010 fifth-round draft choice. Washington was released by Seattle on March 12, 2013.

Washington shares the NFL record with Josh Cribbs with eight career kickoff returns for touchdowns. He also tied an NFL record when he returned two kicks for a touchdown in a game against San Diego in 2010. Washington earned Pro Bowl honors in 2008 and 2012 and All-Pro honors in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

Washington has played in 105 NFL games with 14 starts and has registered 474 rushing attempts for 2,214 yards and 16 touchdowns, 146 receptions for 1,127 yards and two touchdowns. He has also returned 168 punts for 1,668 yards and 245 kickoffs for 6,334 yards and eight touchdowns. Washington has played in two games for the Patriots and had one carry for one yard and returned one kick for 19 yards.

Read More: Denver Broncos, Josh Cribbs, Justin Green, Leon Washington

Patriots asking fans to arrive early on cold night at Gillette

11.23.13 at 1:41 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots are warning their fans to be ready for the cold — and the added time it takes for them to safely pass through security at Gillette Stadium for Sunday’s much-anticipated showdown with Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Temperatures are expected to be in the low 20s and drop into the teens throughout the game, which kicks off at 8:30 p.m. With winds kicking up around 20 MPH, wind chills could fall into the the low teens by the end of the night.

In order to avoid lines, Jim Nolan, senior VP of stadium operations, is asking the 68,000 fans to get to the stadium early.

“We have had good response to the league’s new ‘clear bag’ policy,” Nolan said. “But with fans bundling up and bringing extra layers Sunday night, there will be more to check.”

Blankets and extra layers of clothing are allowed to be carried into the stadium. We ask that such items be loosely draped over an arm, and not folded or rolled up, for ease of screening.

Starting this year, the NFL implemented new security screening measures, including the NFL’€™s clear bag policy. The message all season has been made CLEAR, the only bags allowed in NFL venues must be CLEAR and no larger than 12’€x6’€x12’€ (with the exception of a small clutch, no larger than 7’€ x 4’€ x 2’€).

In addition, all arriving guests are screened by metal detectors, a process that is considerably slowed when patrons forget to take cell phones, keys or loose change out of their pockets prior to the screening. In an effort to expedite the process, especially when our guests are arriving bundled for cold weather, we are reminding all fans to remove ALL METALLIC ITEMS from their pockets in advance of the security screening process. Metallic items can either be held in their hands or placed in a plastic bag for ease of inspection. Parking attendants will have complimentary one gallon freezer bags available for all guests upon entry into the parking lots.

For additional information on the NFL’€™s clear bag policy, please go to NFL.com/allclear. For more information on Patriots and Gillette Stadium ticket and stadium policies, please visit patriots.com/tickets/information.

Read More: clear bag policy, Denver Broncos, Gillette Stadium, Jim Nolan

Ten things you have to know about Broncos-Patriots

11.23.13 at 1:40 pm ET
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Here’€™s everything you need to know about Sunday’€™s Patriots-Broncos game:

Our three favorite matchups on the evening:

1. Quarterback Tom Brady against the Denver secondary: The Broncos secondary bears the bulk of responsibility for Denver’€™s woeful pass defense. The Broncos are allowing an average of 279.1 passing yards per game, 28th in the league. Three different quarterbacks have thrown for more than 300 yards against the Broncos this season, including Tony Romo‘€™s 506 yards in an October loss to the Broncos. (Those numbers are partially skewed because of injuries, and also a reflection of the fact that teams are throwing against them in an attempt to play catch-up.) Don’€™t expect the Patriots to take too many deep shots downfield — New England is likely more interested in playing a ball control offense to try and keep Manning off the field for as long as possible. In addition, at least from a statistical perspective it makes more sense to go for short and underneath stuff against Denver — the Broncos have yielded 46 pass plays of 20 or more yards with 46, the highest total in the league. At the same time, they’€™ve only allowed four pass plays of 40 yards or more, tied for fourth in the league with a handful of teams, including the Patriots. With Von Miller rounding back into form for Denver and the Broncos struggles when it comes to short and intermediate routes, it wouldn’€™t be a surprise to see Brady and the Patriots place a priority on getting the ball out as fast as possible with three-step drops, quick outs and maybe a screen here or there to negate the Denver pass rush.

2. The Patriots secondary against Denver quarterback Peyton Manning: It’€™s truly all-hands on deck for the New England secondary, which is suffering from bumps and bruises of varying severity at this time of the season. With the most prolific passing game in the league coming to town, it’€™s the worst possible time to be suffering from injuries. There’€™s some question as to just how healthy Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington and Steve Gregory really are, but just about all of them were at practice this week, and (to my knowledge) three of them spoke with the media, which usually means positive things when it comes to their availability for the game.

3. Cornerback Aqib Talib against wide receiver Demaryius Thomas: It’€™s debatable just how healthy Talib is — he said he’€™s OK this week, but it was interesting that he wasn’€™t able to finish the game against the Panthers because of his hip. Providing he’€™s ready to roll, he should see a lot of Thomas, who is a more suitable matchup for him — Talib is at his best when he’€™s going against taller, faster guys, and the 6-foot-3, 229-pound Thomas certainly falls into that camp. Talib nailed it this week when he called Thomas a complete receiver who can find the end zone a number of ways — the Georgia Tech product has big-play capability (his 15.2 yards per catch is best on the team), but is also has terrific catch-and-run capabilities (his 509 yards after the catch is best in the league). ‘€œHe finds the end zone all kinds of ways — screens, deep balls, slants,’€ Talib said of Thomas, who has 60 catches on 93 targets for 914 yards and nine touchdowns. ‘€œAnyway you can name, he will have found the end zone that kind of way.’€

4. Under the radar opponent who Patriots’€™ fans need to know: There’€™s a question as to whether or not he’€™s going to be able to play — he’€™s been bothered by a knee injury — but if he’€™s good to go, ‘€œOrange’€ Julius Thomas is the pick. After catching one pass in his two years with the Broncos prior to 2013, the Portland State product has suddenly become one of Manning’€™s go-to guys with 45 catches on 62 targets for 590 yards and 10 touchdowns this year. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Thomas doesn’€™t have the star power of Welker, Decker or Demaryius Thomas, but he’€™s a steady, consistent blocker and dependable pass catcher who has developed into a key part of the Denver offense.

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NFL fines Marcus Cannon $15,750 for leg whip of Charles Johnson

11.22.13 at 4:51 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The leg-whip that injured star defensive end Charles Johnson has – as expected – hit Marcus Cannon in the wallet.

The NFL announced Friday they have hit the Patriots starting right tackle with a fine of $15,750 for his play on Johnson in the second half of Monday’s game against Carolina.

The Cannon move came on the second snap of the third quarter as he was trying to compensate for getting beat by Johnson on a running play. The play, shown repeatedly on ESPN during the game, resulted in Johnson being carted off the field, only to return later in the second half. Johnson suffered a sprained MCL in the knee and will miss this weekend’s game against the Dolphins.

Cannon apologized to Johnson in person after the game.

Tom Brady, who dropped an F-bomb tirade on referee Clete Blakeman that was picked up by ESPN microphones, was not fined for confronting the official after Blakeman picked up the flag in the end zone which ended the game. Ryan Mallett was also seen confronting Blakeman for his call.

Read More: Carolina Panthers, Charles Johnson, Clete Blakeman, Marcus Cannon

Patriots Friday injury report: Michael Hoomanawanui out, Steve Gregory, Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib all questionable

11.22.13 at 4:25 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” For the third day in a row, the Patriots had the same series of players on the injury report, as tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was absent. Hoomanawanui was the only player ruled out for Sunday night after suffering a knee injury on Monday night.

Four defensive backs were limited and all four – Aqib Talib (hip), Alfonzo Dennard (knee), Kyle Arrington (groin) and safety Steve Gregory (finger) – are listed as questionable, indicating a 50-50 chance of playing.

The Dennard news comes as a mild surprise since it was reported by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that he would miss Sunday’s game after a minor procedure last weekend on his knee.

Here is Friday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) OUT

Limited Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin) PROBABLE
CB Kyle Arrington (groin) QUESTIONABLE
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee) QUESTIONABLE
S Steve Gregory (finger) QUESTIONABLE
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm/hamstring) PROBABLE
LB Brandon Spikes (knee) PROBABLE
CB Aqib Talib (hip) QUESTIONABLE
RB Leon Washington (ankle) QUESTIONABLE

Full Participation
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder) PROBABLE
WR Matthew Slater (wrist) PROBABLE
RB Shane Vereen (wrist) PROBABLE

For more on the Patriots and Broncos, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Aqib Talib, Denver Broncos, Michael Hoomanawanui, New England Patriots

Wes Welker ‘probable’ for return to New England Sunday night

11.22.13 at 3:49 pm ET
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Wes Welker is on track to make his return to Foxboro Sunday night.

There had been serious doubt at the beginning of the week as to whether Welker would be able to play Sunday night against the Patriots when he suffered a head/neck injury while catching a pass in the fourth quarter last Sunday night against Kansas City.

Welker missed practice on Wednesday but returned Thursday and was again at practice on Friday. After attending practice Friday, Welker was officially listed as probable on the final injury report of the week.

Broncos interim coach Jack Del Rio said that Welker has passed all the concussion baseline tests from independent neurologists necessary for him to be listed as probable.

Meanwhile, tight end Julius Thomas was listed as questionable after a second straight limited practice with a knee injury. Even if Thomas is able to play, Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme figure to see more playing time at tight end in multiple packages.

Cornerback Champ Bailey is also questionable with a foot injury but is expected to play.

Read More: Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos, Jack Del Rio, Julius Thomas

Video: ‘4th & Goal’ previews Patriots-Broncos

11.22.13 at 3:15 pm ET
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WEEI’€™s Chris Price previews this week’s matchup between the Patriots and Broncos. Find out the keys to the game for New England, as well as Chris’€™ prediction for a final score.

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