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Brandon LaFell, Alan Branch not spotted at start of Patriots practice Wednesday

12.31.14 at 11:02 am ET
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Brandon LaFell

Brandon LaFell

FOXBORO — Wide receiver Brandon LaFell and defensive tackle Alan Branch were not spotted at the start of Patriots practice on Wednesday, which was held on the game field at Gillette Stadium. It appeared the team was splitting up to take part in a blue and white scrimmage.

LaFell was also not spotted at the start of practice yesterday. This comes after he left Sunday’s game with a foot injury — he did return for the final series of the game, though. Branch, hasn’t been on the injury report this season and was spotted at practice on Tuesday.

The team will hold another practice on Thursday, before the team has Friday-Monday off, before getting set for their divisional round playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 10 at Gillette Stadium at 4:35 p.m.

With it being the bye week, the team is not required to put out an injury report.

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Bill Belichick: ‘I don’t really have any control’ over the future of Josh McDaniels in New England

12.31.14 at 10:43 am ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots have seen this before. And so has Bill Belichick.

The Patriots earn a first-round bye and their offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels draws interest from other NFL teams looking to fill a head coaching vacancy.

On Monday, the Falcons, 49ers, Bears and Jets all said goodbye to their head coach. In San Francisco’s case, it was Jim Harbaugh leaving for Michigan. In the other three, it was a case of the team thinking they needed to go in a different direction.

On Tuesday, it was reported that McDaniels agreed to sit down with the Falcons and Niners in New England during the bye week and listen to what the representatives from Atlanta and San Francisco had to offer.

On Wednesday, Belichick was asked what it’s like to have McDaniels wanted again as hot coaching commodity.

“I don’t really have any control over it. We’ll see what happens. We’ve seen this before, multiple times, multiple coaches. We’ll go through the process,” Belichick said.

As far back as 2004, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel interviewed with the Browns for their head coaching job. That same postseason, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis interviewed with Notre Dame. Both left after the Patriots beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots

Report: Josh McDaniels agrees to head coaching interviews with Falcons, 49ers in New England

12.30.14 at 9:26 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Josh McDaniels insisted on Monday that he is “very happy” in New England and would be happy staying with the Patriots.

But since then, he’s apparently liked what he’s heard from two teams with head coaching vacancies. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Patriots offensive coordinator has agreed to interview with the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers this week in New England, while the Patriots continue their bye week preparations for the divisional playoff game on Jan. 10.

The Falcons fired Mike Smith on Monday after he finished with a 6-10 record and was blown out in the season finale at home on Sunday by the Carolina Panthers with the NFC South title on the line. Jim Harbaugh left the 49ers on Monday to take the head coaching job at his alma mater, the University of Michigan.

McDaniels hasn’t held a head coaching job since 2010, when he was fired in Denver midseason after a 3-9 start. McDaniels started his coaching career 6-0 but lost 17 of his next 22 games.

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots

Dont’a Hightower admits he’s injured but vows to ‘play through it’ for playoffs

12.30.14 at 9:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Dont’a Hightower has filled the void admirably for the Patriots the last two seasons when Jerod Mayo went down with season-ending injuries.

But now, it’s Hightower who is battling through his own injury issues, as he acknowledged Tuesday in speaking with reporters. Hightower has worn a shoulder brace for the last several weeks. Hightower sat out against the Chargers with a shoulder injury on Dec. 7 and missed last week as he rested the shoulder.

Now, Hightower has some extra time to rest that shoulder to get it ready for Jan. 10 in the AFC divisional round at Gillette Stadium.

“€œIt’€™s just football, next man up,” said Hightower, who also missed the games against the Bengals and Bills with a knee injury. “Guys are going to be injured. Sometimes there are going to be times where guys are going to have to make plays who might not have made plays throughout the year or maybe even the year before. We’€™re just playing football. That’€™s all there is to it. You can say injuries, you can say harder teams or whatever, but we’€™ve all played football before.

“It’s football, man. Everybody gets injured. I’m injured, but it’s football. I’m gonna play through it. It is what it is.”

The benefit of getting extra rest and healing far outweighs the downside of any potential game rust.

“I’m one of the first ones to agree about that,” said Hightower. “It’s good that we got a slower pace, making sure we’re understanding things, letting some guys get healed up. We’re definitely taking advantage of it all the way around.

“€œWhen you’€™ve been playing football this long, whether you take three weeks off or a month off, it’€™s still football at the end of the day. It’€™s going to be about executing, and that’€™s definitely what we’€™re taking advantage of now just getting back to square one and doing things that we weren’€™t able to do during the season.”
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Read More: Dont'a Hightower, New England Patriots, Patrick Graham,

Mike Petraglia, Chris Price talk Woody Johnson, Josh McDaniels, Tom Brady and Patriots at the playoff bye

12.30.14 at 7:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO —’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price talk Patriots bye week issues, including Bill Belichick on Woody Johnson, Josh McDaniels and the Atlanta Falcons head coaching vacancy, Tom Brady‘s $24 million contract restructuring and what the Patriots need to accomplish during the playoff bye week.

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Chris Price, Josh McDaniels, Mike Petraglia

LeGarrette Blount confident about Patriots’ chances: ‘Nobody can stop us but us’

12.30.14 at 5:54 pm ET
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FOXBORO — First it was Tom Brady after the game Sunday against the Bills. Now, his feature running back is expressing confidence that the Patriots can hit their offensive stride during the most important time of the year: the playoffs.

Reminded that the Patriots have struggled offensively in the last three games, including a nail-biting win over the Jets and the loss to the Bills, LeGarrette Blount said Tuesday that the Patriots offense will be fine, if they don’t self-destruct.

“Nobody can stop us but us. And the focus is on us this week to correct all the things that haven’t been going so well for us,” Blount said.

What will it take for the Patriots to make the most of the bye week and carry it over to Jan. 10?

“We’ve got to be really, really strict and [coaches are] going to be really strict with attention to detail this week,” Blount said. “We don’t have a game this week so we have to focus on us and what can we do to get better and what are the things we can do to do better than we did Sunday. And there’s nothing for us to do this week [except] to focus and prepare for whoever we’ve got to play.

“We’€™re just going to come to work every day. We know it’€™s a one-game elimination. We’€™re just going to come out here and do whatever we can do to make ourselves better so that we won’€™t be in that situation.”

Blount says that while it is a bye week and there will be lots of self-scouting, he is looking at this as a regular week.

“We’ve been preparing just like we have another game this week,” Blount said. “We’€™re not getting any days off. We go out there and practice as hard as we can every day.”

One thing Blount admitted Tuesday was that he had to “re-learn” the Patriots offensive system, after being removed from it for nearly a year before being re-acquired off waivers in November from Pittsburgh.

“I had to work. I had to learn a lot of stuff again because I was with a new team,” Blount said. “I had to learn a lot of stuff again, but I was excited to be a part of it.”

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Read More: LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers,

Brandon LaFell not spotted at start of Patriots practice Tuesday

12.30.14 at 12:52 pm ET
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Brandon LaFell

Brandon LaFell

According to multiple reports, the lone Patriots player not spotted at the start of Patriots practice Tuesday was wide receiver Brandon LaFell. The wide out appeared to injure his foot in the regular-season finale against the Bills, but returned to the game for the final series.

After leaving the game just before halftime with a knee injury, Nate Solder was present. Also present were all the players who missing Sunday’s game including Julian Edelman, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, among others.

The Patriots’ first playoff game is a week from Saturday, so it is too early to really have any idea of LaFell’s status for the game.

With it being a bye week, the Patriots are not required to put out an injury report.

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