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What does LB Jonathan Casillas bring to Patriots?

10.28.14 at 4:51 pm ET
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Linebacker Jonathan Casillas was acquired by the Patriots at the deadline on Tuesday. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Linebacker Jonathan Casillas was acquired by the Patriots at the deadline on Tuesday. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Jonathan Casillas, who was acquired Tuesday in a trade deadline move by the Patriots from Tampa Bay, projects as an undersized linebacker who could have several roles in the New England system.

The 6-foot-1, 227-pounder — who finished last year on injured reserve with a knee issue — presents himself as a prospect who has gained a small measure of success working as a cover linebacker, as well as a special teamer. (His biggest turn in the spotlight in his five-plus years in the NFL came when he recovered the surprise onside kick as a member of the Saints to start the second half of Super Bowl XLIV.)

His best season likely came with the Saints in 2011 when he finished with 43 tackles, three sacks and two passes defensed in 13 games (five starts). In his five-plus years in the NFL, he has played in 55 games (20 starts), and has 138 tackles, three sacks and five passes defended.

(In a development that is not at all surprising, Casillas has a history with Bill Belichick’s friend Greg Schiano. The former Bucs and Rutgers coach — who is serving in some sort of undefined role with the Patriots this season — has known Casillas since the linebacker was in high school, and tried to recruit him to Rutgers. Casillas instead went to Wisconsin.)

With the Patriots, his playing history tells us that he will likely work as a special teamer, as well as someone who could contribute on passing downs (perhaps at the expense of another linebacker or defensive lineman) as a linebacker who might be capable of running with tight ends or running backs on occasion.

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Report: Patriots, Bucs finalizing deal to bring LB Jonathan Casillas to New England

10.28.14 at 4:02 pm ET
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The Patriots and Buccaneers are reportedly finalizing a deal that will send linebacker Jonathan Casillas to New England, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

Casillas is a 6-foot-1, 227-pounder out of Wisconsin who is in his sixth season in the league. He’s played for Tampa Bay and New Orleans, and had his best year with the Saints in 2011 when he finished with 43 tackles, three sacks and two passes defensed in 13 games (five starts).

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Bill Belichick: Peyton Manning has no weaknesses

10.28.14 at 3:47 pm ET
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Peyton Manning and Bill Belichick have knocked heads on several occasions. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Peyton Manning and Bill Belichick have knocked heads on several occasions. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

As far as Bill Belichick is concerned, when it comes to Peyton Mannng, it’s pretty simple.

“I don’t think there are any weaknesses in his game,” Belichick said on a conference call with the media Tuesday afternoon.

The 38-year-old Manning, who has thrown 41 touchdown passes in his career against the Patriots, will get a chance for a few more Sunday when he leads the Broncos into Gillette Stadium for another clash with the Patriots.

“I think it doesn’t really matter who is out there with him,” added Belichick, who — when teamed with Tom Brady — is 10-5 as a head coach against Manning. “Whoever it is, he finds a way to utilize them. He’s had different players at different positions and different combinations and guys have been out and other guys have been in and all that. But no matter who it is out there, he does a good job of finding ways to utilize the skills of the particular group that is out there relative to their defensive matchup.

“It seems like he causes every defense a problem every week for the last 15 years or however long it’s been. You have to know who the other people are out there. Everybody has to do their job to defend them. You can’t just stop one guy or one thing. But he does a great job of utilizing his players, his resources relative to what the defense is giving him and what looks best — a combination of his personnel versus where the defense is soft. He’s good because he does everything good.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady,

Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2014 season

10.28.14 at 2:43 pm ET
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Through eight games, the Patriots have been flagged for 70 penalties (second-most in the league) for a total of 628 yards (most in the NFL). To this point in the season, here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots, not including penalties that were declined or offset:
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Patriots to honor 3-time Super Bowl champions during Sunday’s game

10.28.14 at 2:09 pm ET
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During the Patriots’ three Super Bowl titles in four years during the mid-2000’s, 22 players were on the team for all three. 18 of those 22 players will be honored Sunday during halftime of the Patriots’ matchup with the Broncos, as it is the 10th anniversary season of the accomplishment.

“€œCollectively, these 22 players will always share a special bond,” said Robert Kraft in a press release. “While individual Super Bowl teams will certainly be celebrated in the future, these 22 players represent the greatest era in franchise history and one of the greatest accomplishments in NFL history. It is always fun to participate in reunions with former players. The stories they share from their playing days are always entertaining and it is always fun to see the ovations the players get from our fans. I look forward to seeing them and sharing those experiences with them.”

The 18 players who will be honored at halftime are: Joe Andruzzi, Tom Ashworth, Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi, Matt Chatham, Je’€™Rod Cherry, Kevin Faulk, Ted Johnson, Ty Law, Matt Light, Willie McGinest, Stephen Neal, Patrick Pass, David Patten, Lonie Paxton, Roman Phifer and Richard Seymour.

Tom Brady and Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri are still playing, while Larry Izzo (New York Giants), Mike Vrabel (Houston Texans) and Adrian Klemm (UCLA) are currently on active coaching staffs and will not be able to attend.

Read More: Robert Kraft, Super Bowl, Troy Brown, Ty Law

Pressure Points: Which Patriots defenders have done best job getting after QB?

10.28.14 at 12:55 pm ET
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Every week over the course of the 2014 season, we’€™ll provide a look at the Patriots pass rush numbers. Like all stats, the numbers have to be placed on context of game-situations and personnel. And while sacks can be overrated, when evaluated as part of a bigger picture that includes quarterback hits and quarterback pressures (the latter courtesy of Pro Football Focus), it should provide a good picture as to which defenders are consistently able to get after the quarterback. Currently, the Patriots are tied for ninth in the league in sacks with 21. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™s a look at the pass-rush numbers for the Patriots after eight games for the 2014 regular season:

Sacks (via gamebooks)
DE Chandler Jones: 4.5 (28 yards)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 4 (29 yards)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 3.5 (25.5 yards)
DL Chris Jones: 1.5 (12 yards)
LB Deontae Skinner: 1 (10 yards)
LB Akeem Ayers: 1 (9 yards)
LB Jerod Mayo: 1 (9 yards)
DL Casey Walker: 1 (5 yards)
DL Joe Vellano: 1 (4 yards)
DB Kyle Arrington: 1 (0 yards)
DE Zach Moore: 0.5 (2.5 yards)
DL Dominique Easley: 0.5 (2 yards)
DL Vince Wilfork: 0.5 (2 yards)

Quarterback Hits (via gamebooks)
DE Chandler Jones: 8
DE Rob Ninkovich: 8
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 5
DL Chris Jones: 3
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
LB Jamie Collins: 2
DL Joe Vellano: 1
LB Akeem Ayers: 1
CB Brandon Browner: 1
LB Deontae Skinner: 1
DB Patrick Chung: 1
DL Casey Walker: 1
DL Vince Wilfork: 1

Quarterback Hurries (via PFF)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 18
DE Chandler Jones: 15
DL Vince Wilfork: 7
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 6
LB Jerod Mayo: 5
DL Chris Jones: 5
DL Dominique Easley: 4
LB Jamie Collins: 4
DL Casey Walker: 3
DE Zach Moore: 3
DL Sealver Siliga: 2
DL Joe Vellano: 2
CB Alfonzo Dennard: 1
LB Akeem Ayers: 1
S Patrick Chung: 1
CB Logan Ryan: 1

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Target Practice: Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

10.28.14 at 12:41 pm ET
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Tim Wright

Tim Wright

Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat –€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback –€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™s a look at the target breakdown after eight regular-season games this year.

WR Julian Edelman: 45 catches on 69 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 40 catches on 65 targets
WR Brandon LaFell: 30 catches on 50 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 27 catches on 40 targets
TE Tim Wright: 17 catches on 18 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 7 catches on 13 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 catches on 11 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 4 catches on 5 targets
FB James Develin: 4 catches on 4 targets
RB James White: 3 catches on 3 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 catches on 4 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 2 catches on 4 targets
TE Michael Hoomananwanui: 2 catches on 2 targets
WR Brian Tyms: 1 catch on 2 targets

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