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Reports: Pats sign former Texans RB Cierre Wood, former Ravens WR LaQuan Williams

11.05.13 at 12:34 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots have added depth to their corps of running backs by signing free agent Cierre Wood, according to a report from NESN.com.

The running back was spotted at full pads practice on Tuesday morning on the upper practice fields outside Gillette Stadium, one day after working out with the team, according to ESPNBoston.com. Wood was cut by the Texans for violating team rules two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun and Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com, the Patriots also signed former Ravens wide receiver LaQuan Williams. Williams was on the field Tuesday, wearing No. 16.

The team also worked out Justin Francis and Jake Ballard, both of whom were cut at the end of the summer.

Francis was waived/injured, then signed an injury settlement to become a free agent. He suffered an ankle injury during the preseason. Ballard signed with the Cardinals after his workout with the Patriots. The tight end struggled with rehab from ACL surgery during the summer with the Patriots.

He was active for 10 games and had three sacks. The Patriots also brought wide receiver Greg Orton and linebacker Marcus Dowtin for workouts. Orton has most recently spent time with the Broncos. He went undrafted out of Purdue in 2009. Dowtin went undrafted out of North Alabama in 2012. He was previously with the Bills.

Read More: Cierre Wood, Greg Orton, Jake Ballard, Justin Francis

Bill Belichick has same bye message for everybody: ‘You’re not going to win anything with 7 wins’

11.05.13 at 12:20 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has often been called a professor in the approach he takes in teaching the intricate details of planning and preparing for each football game.

So, it came as no surprise on Tuesday when he drew an academic analogy when talking about his message to his players before the bye.

“It gives us a chance to clear our mind a little bit,” Belichick said. “We don’t have a game plan, a scouting report and a whole bunch of adjustments to deal with this week. It’s like studying for a test every week. It’s hard mentally. It’s hard physically. So, it’s nice to have a few days where you’re not preparing for a final exam. I think really that’s the situation we’re in. There’s another one coming but at least it’s good to have a couple of days where you don’t have to bear down with that same intensity every single day and get a chance to relax a little bit, get a little bit more rest, get away from football a little bit and then come back to it with more energy and a real purpose for the next seven regular season games. That’s what we need to do.”

Is the message any different for rookies going through their first NFL season?

“I’d say it’s pretty much the same message for everybody; I don’t think they’re in any different category than anybody else. Pretty much what I said [was] we’ve played nine games but seven wins, that’s not enough in this league. You’re not going to win anything with seven wins. You’re going to need more than that.

“We’ve got a lot of football left. There’s a lot of things we can improve in. I think that goes for every position, each player and we’ll try to focus on that. What things can we do better in the last seven games that we didn’t do quite as well in the first nine games. And if we do that collectively, if each player can make a little bit of incremental improvement in his game, and we do it across the board with all 53 players as well as the coaching staff, that’ll raise our game up collectively. That’s really the objective.”

Then, of course, there’s the obvious benefit of rest for a 7-2 team that has lost its fair share of players to various injuries.

“We’ve played 13 games plus weeks of training camp, plus practices against Philadelphia and Tampa,” Belichick said. “We’ve played a lot of football, a lot of consecutive football. There’s nobody in that locker room that’s been playing that’s 100 percent, I’m sure of that.”

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

Tom Brady Confidence Index, Week 9: Examining the Gronkowski Effect

11.05.13 at 10:51 am ET
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This preseason, we debuted the Tom Brady Confidence Index, a by-the-numbers look at the comfort level the quarterback had with the rest of the skill-position players when it came to the passing game. Because of the reaction we got, we decided to make it a semi-regular feature and expand it to include overall offensive touches (receptions and carries, with more weight to carries in clutch situations) and how comfortable the quarterback might appear to be with some of his teammates when it came to trusting them in certain situations.

As always, we rate each of the skill-position players and their relationship/comfort level with Brady on a scale of 0 (Taylor Price) to 100 (Wes Welker) on their body of work to this point in the season.

(Disclaimer: While most aspects of this blog deal in mathematical specifics as it relates to football, this entry is more of a tongue-in-cheek approach to Brady and how he relates to the rest of the New England offense. Bottom line? Don’€™t take the rating system too seriously.)

TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI: 97 (last week: 93)

Season stats: 19 catches, 32 targets, 284 yards, 1 touchdown

For the first time in a year — probably since the Rams game in London where he had eight catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns last October — this was Gronkowski at his best and most confident. He was able to overwhelm opposing defenders, work confidently as a blocker and display the usual chemistry with the quarterback. He also demanded attention, so much so that it opened things up for his teammates. In the end, he finished with nine catches (on 10 targets) for 143 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Shane Vereen will change the look of the offense when he returns — the dynamic running back has the ability to put pressure on opposing defenses from a variety of spots on the field — but Gronkowski remains without peer when it comes to providing a security blanket for the quarterback.

RUNNING BACK STEVAN RIDLEY: 87 (last week: 85)

Season stats: 118 carries, 514 yards, 4.4 YPC, six touchdowns, nine negative runs, one negative reception, two fumbles lost; nine catches on 10 targets for 60 yards

Ridley apparently has returned to the role of feature back, as he finished with a season-high 26 carries, 115 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was even able to bounce back from a turnover, losing the ball when it was ripped from his hands in the first half by Troy Polamalu. (After the game, Bill Belichick acknowledged that there’€™s a big difference between putting the ball on the ground and having it taken away by someone like Polamalu.) Ridley ended up with one of the best performances of his career, good enough to see him hit the high 80s on our scale for the first time all season.

WIDE RECEIVER JULIAN EDELMAN: 77 (last week: 82)

Season stats: 49 catches, 74 targets, 473 yards, two touchdowns; two carries, 11 yards

Edelman has cooled slightly off the red-hot pace he was on earlier this season (he was tied for the league in catches after the first three weeks of the season, and had one of the best opening months of any receiver under Brady), but with the return of Gronkowski and Danny Amendola to full strength — as well as the continued emergence of Aaron Dobson — it isn’€™t that much of a surprise. He will continue to see plenty of reps throughout the second half of the season, as his rapport with Brady, knowledge of the offense and overall toughness make him integral. But expect his numbers to stall a bit in the second half when compared to the stats he was able to post over the first month-plus of the season.

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Read More: Tom Brady Confidence Index,

Report: Steve Gregory suffers broken thumb

11.05.13 at 10:45 am ET
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FOXBORO — Steve Gregory suffered a broken thumb in the second half of Sunday’s win over the Steelers, according to multiple media reports.

The starting strong safety came off the field in the third quarter holding his hand and was escorted down the stairs where the initial exam was conducted. Tests on Monday morning confirmed the break.

Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports that the timing of this week’s bye could help Gregory avoid missing any playing time. Gregory is expected to be fitted with a cast and then a determination will be made as to whether he can play with the protection.

In Gregory’s absence, rookie Duron Harmon is expected to see more playing time while Devin McCourty is expected to take on more responsibility as he did on Sunday when he played safety and various hybrid “Money” safety/linebacker and “Star” defensive back roles.

Read More: Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, New England Patriots, Steve Gregory

WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 10: Patriots leap to No. 6 heading into bye week

11.05.13 at 10:02 am ET
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A bizarre week in the NFL has concluded, and it’s time to digest exactly we saw. The Broncos and Texans witnessed their coaches have serious health issues. Meanwhile, the Dolphins are making national headlines for the wrong reasons. The spotlight will be on all three of these teams to see how they react to some very unfortunate circumstances.

The Seahawks‘ control of the top spot remains intact after a dramatic comeback victory over the winless Buccaneers. In fact, the entire top five stays the same. The Chiefs are undefeated but still stuck at No. 5 as they’ve benefited from an extremely easy schedule the first half of the season.

The Patriots, Bears and Jets all creep higher after impressive wins in Week 9. The Ravens (19) and Falcons (23) are two playoff teams from 2012 that continue to slide.

Who knows what’s in store for football fans in Week 10?

1. (1) Seahawks (8-1) — They’re the best in the league right now because they find a way to win week after week. Super Bowl-caliber teams win the close games, and the Seahawks do just that.

2. (2) Broncos (7-1) — We saw the Colts use the illness of their coach to inspire them last season. It will be interesting to see how John Fox‘s absence following heart surgery affects this talented Broncos team.

3. (3) Colts (6-2) —  You can never count out Andrew Luck and the Colts. The second-year QB continues to play like a poised veteran. Luck now has 10 game-winning drives in his young career.

 4. (4) 49ers (6-2) — Mario Manningham, Eric Wright and Aldon Smith all are set to return as the Niners come out of their bye week locked in a dogfight with the Seahawks in the NFC West.

5. (5) Chiefs (9-0) — The Chiefs still have a lot to prove. Two of their next three games are against the Broncos. Their opponents in their first nine games have a combined 27-49 record.

6. (9) Patriots (7-2) — Many questions surround the Patriots as they limp into their bye week. They have lost many key players on defense. Will they be able to overcome with their leaders missing?

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Jonathan Martin, NFL Power Rankings, Rex Ryan

Pressure Points: Which New England defenders have done best job getting after QB this season?

11.05.13 at 10:00 am ET
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Every week over the course of the 2013 season, we’€™ll provide a look at the Patriots pass rush numbers. 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. Through nine games, the Patriots have 29 sacks (tied for 3rd), 55 quarterback hits and 103 quarterback hurries. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™s a quick look at some pass-rush numbers for the Patriots to this point in the 2013 season:

Quarterback sacks
DL Chandler Jones: 8.5 (50.5 yards)
DL Chris Jones: 5 (32 yards)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 3 (17 yards)
DL Tommy Kelly: 2.5 (14.5 yards)
LB Dane Fletcher: 2 (19 yards)
CB Logan Ryan: 2 (18 yards)
DE Michael Buchanan: 2 (15 yards)
LB Jerod Mayo: 1.5 (5 yards)
DL Joe Vellano: 1 (13 yards)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 1 (9 yards)
DE Andre Carter: 1 (6 yards)

Quarterback hits (per NFL game books)
DE Chandler Jones: 16
DE Rob Ninkovich: 9
DL Tommy Kelly: 6
DE Michael Buchanan: 5
DL Chris Jones: 5
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 3
DE Andre Carter: 3
LB: Dane Fletcher: 2
DL Joe Vellano: 2
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
DL Vince Wilfork: 1
DE Jake Bequette: 1
CB Logan Ryan: 1
S Steve Gregory: 1

Quarterback hurries (per PFF)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 27
DE Chandler Jones: 21
DL Joe Vellano: 10
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 9
DL Tommy Kelly: 6
DE Andre Carter: 5
LB Brandon Spikes: 4
DL Chris Jones: 4
LB Jamie Collins: 4
DE Michael Buchanan: 4
DL Vince Wilfork: 3
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
CB Devin McCourty: 2
DE Jake Bequette: 1
CB Marquice Cole: 1

By way of comparison, here’s a look at the pass rush numbers through nine games last season.

Read More: pressure points,

Fantasy Football: Week 10 waiver wire

11.05.13 at 9:34 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 10 waiver wire. A few things happened after I began writing this on Monday afternoon. The big one was Aaron Rodgers getting injured in the Monday night game. Talk about serious fantasy fallout. Rodgers’€™ injury, if it’€™s serious, and it might be, will have a detrimental effect on all of the Green Bay receivers. It could affect the backs, too, though there was no sign of that in Monday night’€™s game as both Eddie Lacy and James Starks were outstanding.

So, with Rodgers potentially out for a period of time and with four other signal callers out on the Week 10 bye, I’€™ve added a few more quarterbacks to the list this morning and I will continue to add more over at Rotobahn.com as I put together the expanded waiver wire for those of you who play in large leagues. Head on over if you need more options.

QUARTERBACKS

Jay Cutler, Bears

He’€™s reportedly ahead of schedule with his groin injury and he’€™s a very good fantasy play when healthy because of all the weapons in the Chicago offense and because of the new offensive coaching staff led by Marc Trestman. Cutler has been dropped in a lot of leagues, so go get him if you can.

Nick Foles, Eagles

The rest of his schedule is not particularly scary, so he is certainly worth adding in most leagues if you need help at quarterback. Chip Kelly‘€™s offense certainly has some big-game potential because of the pace the Eagles play at when things get going good. It leads to more possessions and points. Traveling to Green Bay is a good test for Foles this weekend, but things get sweet again in Week 11 when the Eagles face Washington at home. You can still get Foles in about three out of four leagues and he can help you if you are in need. I’€™m talking to you, Aaron Rodgers owners.

Case Keenum, Texans 

As I said last week, we liked what we saw in Keenum’€™s first outing, and he really carried it over to his second start in Week 9 against the Colts. Keenum can throw the ball, and he is certainly a viable option in plus matchups — and he has a few of them remaining on his schedule. Not a bad guy to pick up in deep formats or if you are hurting at QB for some reason. The good news with Keenum is that you can still get him in 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

E.J. Manuel, Bills

He has a good chance to return this week, and when you look at the success that Jeff Tuel was able to have in Sunday’€™s game, you have to be encouraged about Manuel’€™s chances. The Bills are getting healthier all around on offense with both Marquise Goodwin and C.J. Spiller making big plays in Week 9. Manuel can help you in deep formats.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Case Keenum, E.J. Manuel, Jay Cutler

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