|01.13.14 at 9:14 pm ET|
“I can’t compare the two because Wes is… he’s something special. He can jive up the ball and then speed out and have you off balance. Edelman, he doesn’t do that,” Adams said. “He’s a one-speed guy. He doesn’t have the same ability or the quickness that Wes has in the slot. I guess that is the main difference between them. But I don’t know if they use him the same as they used Wes because they’re totally different players.”
“As I’ve been looking and seeing a little bit, it looked like Edelman. He had a couple of big games,” Adams said. “I think Amendola is second. But [RB Shane Vereen] seemed like he’s catching a lot of passes really coming out of the backfield’he’s up there in catching a lot of passes as well. We’ll have our hands full and this is going to be a battle. I’m prepared for it.”
As for the running game, LeGarrette Blount has emerged as the clear running threat for the Patriots. But, according to Adams, that won’t change the Broncos defensive scheme against New England this Sunday.
“No, because we knew he was a good runner from the beginning,” Adams said. “We’re coming out and we’re coming up to hit him. We’ve got to make sure we control the paths more because we knew he was a good runner then and he’s still a good runner now. Obviously, he’s emerged because he had a couple of big runs.
“But other than that, it doesn’t change our mentality because we knew he was a good runner. They’ve got a couple of good backs’[RB Stevan] Ridley and the other guy. They had some fumbling problems but other than that, they’re all good backs.”
|01.13.14 at 8:34 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Statistically, LeGarrette Blount is playing the best football of his career.
However, the 27-year-old running back, who has for 431 yards in his last three games (the final two games of the regular season and last week’s playoff win over the Colts), believes they are still areas where he and the rest of the Patriots can improve, saying that when it comes to execution, “we could play better.”
“We’ve watched the film [and] I’ve seen a couple holes that I could have hit, seen a couple cuts I could have made,” Blount said. “I’m just going to try to go out there and look at what they’re going to give me, and hopefully exploit some of their weaknesses.’
Blount, who rushed for 151 yards all last season with the Bucs, has powered the New England running game as of late. The 6-foot, 250-pounder ran for 166 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s win over Indy, his second straight 100-plus yard performance.
Blount said Monday there was a lot that went into that performance, including the work of the offensive line.
‘They’ve been playing amazing all year,” Blount said. “[Left guard] Logan [Mankins] is the only one that got to the Pro Bowl, and I feel like they all should have been there — the way guys have filled in for other guys when we’ve had injuries, I feel like they all should be there today. They’ve stepped up tremendously in this last half of the season.
‘They’ve been hot all season,” he added. “[They] just haven’t been getting the recognition.’
Blount will lead the New England ground game into this weekend’s AFC title game against the Broncos. In their regular season matchup, Blount was used sparingly — he played just two offensive snaps, according to the analytical website Pro Football Focus, and had just two carries for 13 yards. (Quarterback Tom Brady had 50 pass attempts in the overtime win.) It’s debatable what sort of role he’ll have this time around, as the Broncos are one of the best in the league when it comes to stopping the run — they were seventh in the league, allowing 101.6 yards per game on the ground.
‘We’ve got to get ready to go to Denver. Doesn’t matter who we play or where we play them, we’ve still got to prepare,” he said. ‘It’s a different team now than what we’ve seen earlier. We’ve got to go out and look at film, look at what they did against San Diego, and see who we’re going to be playing against.’
|01.13.14 at 6:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The odds are not overwhelming.
The 14-3 Broncos are favored by just 4 1/2 points heading into Sunday’s AFC championship against the 13-4 Patriots at Sports Authority Field in Denver. Take out the home field advantage and that’s less than a field goal separation according to the odds makers.
The Patriots under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have advanced to the Super Bowl twice by winning the AFC championship on the road, both times in Pittsburgh. Those experiences are stored deep in the memory banks of the brain trust.
But that won’t keep the Patriots from playing the underdog role to the hilt, at least in public. Brady already told Dennis and Callahan Monday morning that “no one” expects the Patriots to win. Danny Amendola reiterated that mantra Monday afternoon as the team began their preparations for the Broncos.
“I like to think that way,” Amendola said. “In our room, I can speak for our room, we play with a chip on our shoulder and we like to play that way, so just looking to have a good week of preparation so far and go about it that way.
“[We] go about it like every other week and just prepare as hard as we can and get ready to play.”
How different might the Broncos look from their Nov. 24 match-up at Gillette?
“We still have to break down a lot of film,” Amendola said. “They are a good team, obviously, playing this deep in the playoffs. We’re really excited to play them.
“They’ve had some moving parts since then [but] still a quality ball club so we got to prepare well.”
The biggest moving part is Monday’s announcement that cornerback Chris Harris is lost for the season with a torn ACL. But the Broncos should have veterans Champ Bailey and Quentin Jammer in their secondary. Bailey did not play in the Nov. 24 Patriots’ win.
“You know, Champ has been in the league for a very long time, playing at a very high level, Quentin Jammer too, so we have a task on our hands and we’ll definitely be preparing well for them this week,” Amendola said.
As for the 74,000 screaming fans at Mile High that will be cheering for the Broncos, Amendola said he’s ready to embrace that challenge.
“I’ve played there a couple of times,” Amendola said. “It’s a great stadium to play in and it will be a live atmosphere and it will be fun.
“You win you go on, you lose you go home. That’s the name of the playoffs, so we’re definitely going to do our part and prepare hard this week.’
The key, says Amendola, is not to get overwhelmed with any aspect of Sunday’s game.
“It’s a big game,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s football and you’ve got a job to do when you’re playing so that’s what we focus on. It’s just our mentality. We don’t think any differently, like I said, playing with that chip on our shoulders. That’s how we are.”
|01.13.14 at 1:08 pm ET|
According to multiple reports out of Denver, an MRI on the knee of starting cornerback Chris Harris revealed a torn ACL that will sideline him for the rest of the postseason, including Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Patriots.
Harris left Sunday’s win over the Chargers in the third quarter with that the team described as knee and ankle injuries. After Harris departed, San Diego mounted a comeback with 17 fourth-quarter points.
Harris, who joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2011 out of Kansas, played more defensive snaps than any other Bronco this season and led the team with three interceptions. He becomes a restricted free agent after the season.
The injury comes three weeks after Denver another key starter to a torn ACL in linebacker Von Miller.
|01.13.14 at 12:48 pm ET|
Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich and defensive back Devin McCourty checked in with Mut & Merloni on WEEI’s Patriots Monday to discuss Saturday’s win over the Colts and the upcoming AFC championship game against the Broncos. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“This week is going to be huge, this being the third straight AFC championship game we’ve been in,” McCourty said. “Last year was the worst feeling, to lose that game. I think it’s going to be key for all of the guys just to make sure as a team we understand this is a very important game. I know everyone knows that it’s a chance to go to the Super Bowl and all that. But not everyone is going to understand being on the other side of that, that we had to sit on last year. So, we’re going to prepare hard this week and be ready to go. I think it all starts with practice this week, and making sure we’re prepared, especially going against their offense, the top offense in the league this year, broke many records for NFL history. So, we’re going to have to really be ready.”
In Saturday’s game, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck completed 20-of-41 passes for 331 yards and two touchdowns, but he had four interceptions. The Patriots also shut down his scrambling, limiting him to one carry for five yards, while sacking him twice.
“Going into the week that was one of our biggest areas of concern, was just him being able to extend a play with his legs — coverage does their job and then he pulls it down for a first down,” Ninkovich said. “When you go against a guy like that — any scrambling quarterback — you have to dial it down as far as your pressure and your rush.”
Rookie linebacker Jamie Collins had a stellar game, including a sack, an interception and solid coverage on Colts tight end Coby Fleener while playing every defensive down.
“Throughout the whole season you see glimpses of him with good athletic ability, coverage, stop the run,” Ninkovich said. “I’m happy that he was able to go out there and just make plays and help the team win. That’s what it’s all about.”
Added McCourty of Collins: “He’s a confident guy. I was so happy because we’ve been able to see that athleticism all year. Now we’re getting towards the end of the season and you get to see him put it all together and come out and have a game like he had Saturday night, I think it’s great. I think he’s going to continue to stay on that page because he’s working hard, he’s understanding the defense a lot more. He knows what he can do on that field, and he’s going out there and doing it.”
|01.13.14 at 10:46 am ET|
The Patriots punched their ticket to Denver for the AFC championship game on Sunday, but fans in the New England area may not have the same opportunity.
At 10 a.m. Mountain Standard Time Monday, the Broncos will release a limited amount of tickets through Ticketmaster. Those seats, however, are only available to individuals with a billing address in the Rocky Mountain region, according to the Broncos website. The tickets will range in price from $90-$600.
Due to Denver’s stipulation, only individuals with a billing address in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, South Dakota and Western Kansas will have the chance to purchase tickets when they are first released.
While fans from outside of that region can attempt to purchase tickets Tuesday when the Broncos ticket office opens, the team cannot guarantee that any seats will remain.
Patriots fans are not alone in their inability to purchase tickets online or by phone for Sunday’s game. The Seahawks also have limited which fans can purchase tickets to the NFC championship, stating on their website that fans with billing addresses in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii as well as the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta in Canada are eligible.
|01.13.14 at 10:39 am ET|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss his Super Bowl predictions and the legacy of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Schefter said that while he thought Seattle had the advantage in the NFC, the AFC was a bigger challenge to predict.
“In the AFC, boy, I think both those teams are flawed,” Schefter said. “For as good as they are, for as much as they’ve accomplished and as impressive as they’ve been, what they’ve done is really incredible in their own ways, especially New England.
“You look at the lineup … it is hardly its most talented unit, but the one thing about this Patriots team that the organization believes, they believe that these guys are tough, they believe these guys play hard and they believe these guys are the essence of a team and so that gives them a chance, but they’re missing so many key players in so many key spots, and Denver is, too.”
When asked about the legacy of Sunday’s matchup between Brady and Manning, Schefter said it was a “great way to start the championship weekend.”
“It’s just one of those, I don’t mean to sound Pollyannaish, but it’s just one of those games you should sit back and enjoy, period,” Schefter said. “It’s a rare thing. It’s a great thing.”
Added Schefter: “It’s not like they’re not going to play again, and if they play again next year, assuming that Peyton does play next year and Tom does play next year, there’ll be a lot of hype surrounding that game again, and we’ll be talking about legacies again.
“This very well could be the last time they meet in the postseason. There are certainly no assurances they’ll be in the postseason beyond this year, certainly no assurances they’ll meet in another conference championship game.”
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