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Tom Brady tells Facebook he’s fired up for his return to Lambeau

11.30.14 at 12:07 am ET
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Tom Brady is excited for his first game at Lambeau since 2006. At least, that’s what he posted on Facebook Saturday afternoon.

Video: Rob Gronkowski talks about facing his football mortality

11.30.14 at 12:00 am ET
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ESPN’s Lindsay Czarniak sits down with Rob Gronkowski and talks about the roller coaster of a recovery he’s been through.

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10 things you have to know about Patriots-Packers

11.29.14 at 5:11 pm ET
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Sunday will mark Tom Brady's fourth career start against the Packers. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Sunday will mark Tom Brady‘s fourth career start against the Packers. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s contest between the Patriots and Packers:

Our three favorite matchups on the afternoon:

1. Running backs LeGarrette Blount and Jonas Gray against the Packers run defense: When the Packers have been pushed in close games, they’ve struggled to stop the run. Green Bay has held opponents to less than 100 yards rushing only twice in the last 18 games, dating back to last year. (In all, three teams ran for at least 150 yards against Green Bay this season, including the Saints, who had 193 rushing yards in an Oct. 26 win over the Packers in New Orleans.) This is a contest that certainly set up to be a winnable matchup for the New England ground game, which has been bolstered by the addition of Blount. As long as the Patriots aren’t forced to become one-dimensional early — more on that shortly — it could be a very big day for Blount and/or Gray.

2. Cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner against wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb: After last week’s win over the Lions, Browner offered up a small bit of insight into the philosophy of the New England secondary when it comes to facing a passing attack with two talented receivers. He said that when it comes to choosing how the Patriots deploy both him and Revis, he said that he usually gets the bigger guy, while Revis is assigned the smaller, shiftier receiver. Looking back over the last few weeks, this has rung true. That’s not to suggest that the Patriots are going to follow the same game plan this week, but based on the success they’ve had over the last few weeks, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Browner working against the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Nelson (with help over the top from veteran safety Devin McCourty) and Revis against the 5-foot-10, 192-pound Cobb. Expect slot corner Kyle Arrington and safety Pat Chung to play a sizable role as well when it comes to mixing and matching in zone coverage. But if the Patriots’ defensive backs can slow down the Nelson/Cobb combo, it’ll go a long way toward a New England win on Sunday. (For what it’s worth — the last time Aaron Rodgers faced a team with cornerback Darrelle Revis in the secondary, he completed his lowest percentage of passes of any start in his career. Meanwhile, the Nelson/Cobb combo has 38 catches for 763 yards and eight touchdowns in their last four games at Lambeau Field.)

3. Linebacker Clay Matthews against the Patriots offense:
It seems a little open-ended to pit Matthews against the whole New England offense, but the Packers have shuffled him around this season a lot, bumping one of their best pass rushers from outside linebacker to inside in hopes of improving the Green Bay run defense. Regardless of whether or not he’s rushing or dropping from inside or outside, the 6-foot-3, 255-pounder needs to be accounted for on every down — he’s a defensive difference-maker who can make plays all over the field.

4. Under the radar opponent who Patriots’ fans need to know:
It feels weird to call Julius Peppers an under-the-radar type of presence, but the big pass rusher is still getting it done, even at the age of 34. After the Packers moved Clay Matthews inside, Peppers has become Green Bay’s most consistent pass rushing presence who is playing solely on the edge. In his first season with the Packers, the 6-foot-6, 283-pound Peppers is the only guy in the league with at least five sacks and two interceptions (both of which have been returned for touchdowns.) He’s not the big-time presence off the edge he used to be, but he’s still good enough to make it a long day for New England’s offensive line.

5. By the numbers (tie) — 165:35.
The amount of time in game action that Tom Brady has gone without being sacked. The last time Brady was sacked was with 35 seconds left in the first quarter of the win over the Broncos. Since then, he’s gone three quarters against Denver, four quarters against Indy and four quarters against Detroit without being sacked. In all, he’s been sacked 14 times through the first 11 games. (In something even more impressive, 10 of those sacks have come in the last 10 games.) That represents a sizable decrease when stacked against last season — through the first 11 games of the 2013 season, Brady was sacked 31 times.

67: In his five games at Lambeau this year, Rodgers is completing 67 percent of his passes, is averaging 284.8 passing yards per game and has 18 touchdowns and no picks, to go along with a passer rating of 138.1.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Green Bay Packers, Jordy Nelson, Tom Brady

Patriots sign linebacker Darius Fleming to active 53-man roster from practice squad

11.29.14 at 4:48 pm ET
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The Patriots had an open spot on their 53-man roster after releasing special teamer Don Jones on Friday, so on Saturday the team signed linebacker Darius Fleming from the practice squad. The team now has three open spots on its practice squad.

Fleming was inactive for Week 1 against the Dolphins and then released on Sept. 13 before being re-signed Sept. 16 to the practice squad. He’s been on the practice squad ever since.

The linebacker was drafted by San Francisco in the fifth-round of the 2012 draft before missing the entire season with a torn ACL. He also missed 2013, as he suffered the same injury in training camp before being released. The Patriots signed him last May, so if Fleming plays Sunday it will be his NFL debut.

With Fleming’s signing, it isn’t a good sign for linebacker Chris White who was listed as questionable with an ankle injury. White was the lone player to miss Friday’s practice.

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Brandon Browner says Patriots will ‘have our hands full’ with Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson

11.29.14 at 10:00 am ET
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Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 2,957 yards, completed 67 percent of his passes, and has 30 touchdown passes and just three picks this season. (Casey Hayward/Getty Images)

Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 2,957 yards, completed 67 percent of his passes, and has 30 touchdown passes and just three picks this season. (Casey Hayward/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Over the past several weeks, the Patriots secondary has contained the opposition’s passing attack, playing a major part in the Patriots’ seven-game win streak.

This week in Green Bay may be their toughest test yet, as they will need to stop Aaron Rodgers and the red-hot Green Bay offense. Rodgers’ favorite target is wide out Jordy Nelson, and Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner knows the Patriots will need to be ready for the challenge.

“They got off to a fast start. We’ll have our hands full with them two,” Browner said of Rodgers and Nelson. “I think we’re ready for it.”

Through the first 11 games, Nelson has 68 catches for 1,066 yards and nine touchdowns. Nelson is seventh in the NFL in yards receiving and tied for fourth in touchdown receptions. Rodgers has an impressive 30 touchdowns to just three interceptions on the year, while not throwing an interception at home.

Browner says the pair is sometimes at its best when plays break down and Rodgers gets out of the pocket.

“Rodgers is good at extending plays and once he extends plays Jordy Nelson has a tendency to take off towards the end zone, which will make for an explosive play or a touchdown,” said Browner.

This will be the second time Browner has faced Rodgers in the NFL — once in the preseason and once in the regular season. In 2012, the Seahawks beat the Packers in Seattle, 14-12, a game where Browner finished with three tackles and a pass deflected.

“I don’t want to talk negative about the guy, but like I said he’s very exceptional and I think he’s one of the best across the league, if not the best,” he said of Rodgers.

After Browner and Devin McCourty over the top shut down Calvin Johnson, and Darrelle Revis shut down Golden Tate last week against the Lions, it will be interesting to see what the team has in store for the Packers offense.

The likely scenario seems Revis would get Randall Cobb, and Browner along with McCourty would get Nelson. If that is the case, Browner knows a major part of Nelson’s game is the back-shoulder catch. He’s prepared to do what he can to disrupt it.

“Tight coverage,” he said. “Playing your man against his eyes. Little things like of that nature, when he throws his hands up try and get your head around as fast as possible.”

Read More: aaron rodgers, Brandon Browner, Jordy Nelson,

Former Patriots special teamer Don Jones claimed by the Dolphins

11.28.14 at 5:39 pm ET
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It didn’t take long for Don Jones to find a new home.

After the Patriots released Jones on Friday morning, he was claimed by the Dolphins off waivers this afternoon, according to the NFL transaction wire. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates.

Jones played in nine of the 11 games so far this season and recorded seven special teams tackles. Coach Bill Belichick said there was a “possibility” he could return to the Patriots practice squad, but that cannot happen now that he was claimed by Miami.

“That would be a possibility and there are other players that are in consideration based on our team and what other players are available,” Belichick said Friday. “We’€™ve made a couple of practice squad transactions, we’€™ve made them over the course of the year, so again we’€™ll try and manage it the best that we can. I would say there is a lot of things that go into that ‘€” part of it is what we have, part of it is guys who are available, part of it is what players are available. It’€™s all part of it. It will probably going to be constantly in some type of transition throughout the course of the year like it usually is.”

Jones returns to the Dolphins, the team that drafted him in 2013. The Patriots claimed Jones prior to Week 1 this season, the same week they were taking on the Dolphins.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Don Jones, Miami Dolphins,

Chandler Jones (hip) among 8 questionable vs. Packers

11.28.14 at 4:15 pm ET
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Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

FOXBORO — After being listed as out on the Friday injury report for the last four weeks, Chandler Jones is officially listed as questionable with a hip injury for Sunday’s game against the Packers. Jones practiced all three days this week, although on a limited basis. He hasn’t played since Week 7.

Jones is one of eight Patriots players listed as questionable for the game. Long-snapper Danny Aiken (concussion) is one of them, although it is a good sign that Charley Hughlett was released from the practice squad on Friday. Brandon LaFell (shoulder), Dominique Easley (knee) and Shane Vereen (ankle) are all questionable, as well.

Linebacker Chris White was the lone Patriot to miss practice Friday and he is questionable with an ankle injury. Nate Ebner (finger) was removed from the injury report.

Tom Brady (ankle) and Julian Edelman (thigh) are both probable.

Here is the complete injury report:


LS Danny Aiken (concussion), limited participation
OL Dan Connolly (ankle), limited participation
DL Dominique Easley (knee), limited participation
OL Cameron Fleming (ankle/finger), limited participation
DE Chandler Jones (hip), limited participation
WE Brandon LaFell (shoulder), limited participation
RB Shane Vereen (ankle), limited participation
LB Chris White (ankle), did not participate


QB Tom Brady (ankle), full participation
OL Marcus Cannon (hip), limited participation
WR Julian Edelman (thigh), full participation

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