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‘Seasonable’ temps in store for Lions-Patriots

11.22.14 at 10:44 pm ET
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Our pal Sarah Wroblewski of Fox25 says that if you’re headed to Foxboro for Lions-Patriots, it’s going to be a nice fall afternoon.

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Patriots sign DL Casey Walker to practice squad, release LB Ja’Gared Davis

11.22.14 at 6:14 pm ET
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After being released this week to make room for running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive lineman Casey Walker is back with the team, as he was signed to the practice squad on Saturday. To make room for Walker, the team has released linebacker Ja’Gared Davis.

Here is a portion of the release from the team:

Walker, 24, was signed by the Patriots from the Carolina practice squad on Sept. 27. He originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Carolina out of Oklahoma on April 30, 2013. The 6-foot-1, 340-pounder spent part of the 2013 season on the Carolina practice squad and went to training camp with Carolina this past summer. He was released on Aug. 30 and signed to the Carolina practice squad on Aug. 31. Walker played in five games with one start for the Patriots and accumulated 10 total tackles and one sack.

Davis, 24, began the 2014 season on the practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster on Oct. 4, 2014. He played in three games before being released on Oct. 22 and signed back to the practice squad. Davis did not record any statistics. The 6-foot, 238-pounder, spent the majority of his rookie season in 2013 on the Patriots’€™ practice squad, but did see action in one regular-season game and both postseason games after joining the 53-man roster. He was originally signed by Houston as a rookie free agent out of Southern Methodist on May 10, 2013, released by Houston on Aug. 27, 2013, and claimed off waivers and awarded to the Patriots on Aug. 28, 2013.

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10 things you have to know about Lions-Patriots

11.22.14 at 2:02 am ET
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Tom Brady will lead the Patriots against the Lions on Sunday. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Tom Brady will lead the Patriots against the Lions on Sunday. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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

Our three favorite matchups on the afternoon:

1. Ndamukong Suh against the interior of the Patriots offensive line: As our scout indicated earlier in the week, Suh is one of the toughest matchups in the league for an offensive line because he can be utilized in several spots up and down the defensive front, and is disruptive enough to work as a presence as a run stopper as well as getting after the passer. When he’s lined up as a defensive tackle, look for him to be a two-gap presence that guards Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell and center Bryan Stork have to deal with. The key when it comes to slowing Suh is to maintain proper technique and footwork, and also get some help in the form of a back who could do whatever he can in hopes of trying to slow him down. The Detroit defensive front is far from a one-trick pony, as Suh is joined by top-notch defenders like defensive end Ziggy Ansah and linebacker DeAndre Levy. (The Patriots will catch a small break, as defensive tackle Nick Fairley is out because of a knee issue.) But his high motor, aggressive approach and phenomenal skill set means Suh will be priority one for the New England offensive line on Sunday afternoon.

2. The Detroit pass defense against Shane Vereen: The Lions do an excellent job of getting after the quarterback and shutting down passing lanes, so look for New England to get the ball out as fast as possible (also expect some play action and reverses to try and counter the hyperaggressive Detroit defensive front). One player who could have good success either out of the backfield or split wide is Shane Vereen, who is just one of six running backs with at least 70 carries and 35 catches at this point in the season. Look for the Patriots to try and get the quick Vereen involved in the passing game against the Lions, a team that is ranked 20th in DVOA against running backs in the passing game this season per Football Outsiders, having yielded an average of 7.4 receptions and 54.6 receiving yards per game against opposing running backs. Looking back at some of the Detroit film, both Arizona and Miami had good success getting the ball to receivers as fast as possible, slowing the Lions pass rush and getting guys like Suh on their heels. Regardless of whether or not Vereen is used out of the backfield in one-back sets (and is asked to slow down one of the Detroit rushers before he goes into his route) or is part of four- and five-receiver sets the Patriots should lean on out of the gate, his presence in this one will be very big,

3. Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate against Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis: There are a few different schools of thought as to how the Patriots are going to defend what has become a pretty impressive receiving duo, but when in doubt, we’ll fall back on our report from this NFC scout that said that while the Patriots will mix and match their coverage in hopes of confusing quarterback Matthew Stafford, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Revis on Tate and Browner on Johnson. Tate has emerged as Detroit’s No. 1 threat in the receiving game with a team-high 68 catches (on 95 targets) for 950 yards and three touchdowns, and with the understanding that Revis usually draws the tougher assignment, that would certainly seem to make sense. That’s no disrespect to Johnson, who has struggled with ankle and elbow injuries over the last month-plus, but still has 34 catches on 64 targets for 520 yards and three touchdowns. It’s just that right now, Tate is your No. 1 concern in the passing game. Then, there’s the idea that the bigger Johnson (6-foot-5, 236 pounds) is a better matchup for the equally sizable Browner (6-foot-4, 221 pounds), particularly when it comes to jump ball situations in the red zone. Browner doesn’t have the best wheels, but his physical nature and veteran savvy could be a good matchup against Johnson, who is no longer the burner he once was.

4. Under the radar opponent who Patriots’ fans need to know: Fauria is a well-known name around Foxboro, but former New England tight end (and ace midday WEEI guy) Christian is usually the one folks are talking about. This weekend, it’s going to be Joe Fauria, Christian’s nephew and the talented young tight end for the Lions. A 6-foot-7, 259-pounder out of UCLA, Fauria had seven touchdowns last season, and remains a sneaky red-zone threat for Stafford in the Detroit passing game. Fauria has struggled with injury this season (he hurt his ankle chasing after a puppy and sat out six games) but is expected to be in the lineup Sunday against the Patriots. In addition, you can’t sleep on rookie Eric Ebron — while he’s had his own injury issues (hamstring), when he’s been healthy, he’s been a nice addition to the Detroit offense with 10 catches for 103 yards and one touchdown in six games. Coming off back-to-back games against the likes of Julius Thomas and Coby Fleener, it’s not an elite-level matchup, but it’s a positional grouping that can burn you if neglected.

5. By the numbers (tie) — 3: Only three teams in the last 20 regular-season games have topped 100 rushing yards in a game against the Lions. Detroit has allowed one team to reach the 100-yard mark on the ground this season, as the Jets finished with 132 rushing yards in a 24-17 loss to Detroit on Sept. 28.

3: The Patriots have scored at least 40 points in three straight games — tied for the longest streak in franchise history. Just three teams in NFL history have scored 40-plus points in four consecutive contests: 1960 Chargers, 2000 Rams and 2004 Colts.

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LeGarrette Blount aiming to please Bill Belichick because ‘Bill is a straight-forward shooter’

11.21.14 at 6:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — LeGarrette Blount is indeed getting his No. 29 back. The question now is whether he will regain the good graces of Bill Belichick after the Patriots took him off the trash heap of the waiver wire this week and gave him a two-year contract, and a second chance with a team that has a chance to go to the Super Bowl.

“Bill is a straight-forward shooter, he’s a 100 percent honest person,” Blount told reporters Friday. “I truly believe that if I do what I have to do, then I’ll make myself a role on this team. Whatever I have to do, I’m going to do it to be productive.”

The 6-foot, 247-pound Blount will team with 230-pound Jonas Gray in the Patriots’ backfield, giving the team some depth if they choose to stick with a power game as the weather turns colder.

Blount didn’t want to talk about why he landed in New England because he clearly didn’t feel the same about Mike Tomlin and the Steelers, who didn’t give him a single carry in Monday’s 27-24 win over the Titans. He left before the end of the game, prompting several Steelers to say good riddance to a disgruntled teammate.

Blount said Friday that he was surprised by his release but not scared because he believes his 27-year-old body still has plenty of football left to give.

“It wasn’t scary at all. I feel like I’m talented enough to land on any team,” Blount said. “[But] I wasn’t expecting it, You know, I don’t really want to talk about it. But just the fact it opened up another opportunity for me to get back here ended up being a good thing for me.

“I’m going to stay ready. I’m in good shape. Whenever they call me to carry the ball, I’m going to go out there and do whatever I can do to make them comfortable with their decision to bring me back.”

Blount, who signed a two-year deal with the Patriots Thursday, turned down a Patriots’ offer believed to be significantly less than the two-years, $3.85 million offered by the Steelers in late March. Blount said Friday he had no regrets with signing with Pittsburgh.

“At the time I was comfortable with my decision,” Blount said.

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Chandler Jones (hip), Cameron Fleming (ankle) ruled out for Sunday vs. Lions

11.21.14 at 5:26 pm ET
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Cameron Fleming

Cameron Fleming

FOXBORO — Chandler Jones will miss his fourth straight game with a hip injury while Cameron Fleming’s ankle injury suffered Sunday night against the Colts will keep him out of this weekend’s game against the Lions.

The two players were the only ones ruled out Friday after being two of the four players who missed practice. The team worked out in the cold for a second straight day in preparation for the game at Gillette Stadium. Also missing Friday was Dominique Easley. He missed practice for a second straight game with a knee issue but is officially questionable for Sunday.

Jonas Gray appeared on the report but only because he missed practice after showing up late at Gillette Stadium on Friday morning. He was sent home but was expected to return later in the day to apologize for oversleeping.

Fleming is also listed with a finger issue. But the finger, which is said to be still an issue, is likely not what’s keeping him from playing Sunday. Fleming was spotted with a big walking boot on his foot as he made his way through the locker room on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Jones hasn’t practiced since suffering the hip injury in Week 7. Both Fleming and Jones missed the entire week.

For the Lions, defensive lineman Nick Fairley once again did not practice and was ruled out with a knee injury. Offensive lineman Nick Warford was also officially ruled out, also suffering from a knee injury. Reggie Bush (ankle) is officially questionable after being limited all week in practice.

Here is Friday’s complete Patriots practice report:

Did not practice

OL Cameron Fleming (finger/ankle) OUT
DE Chandler Jones (hip) OUT
DL Dominique Easley (knee) QUESTIONABLE
RB Jonas Gray (not injury related)

Limited participation

OL Marcus Cannon (hip) QUESTIONABLE
S Nate Ebner (finger) QUESTIONABLE
WR Julian Edelman (thigh) PROBABLE

Full participation

QB Tom Brady (ankle) PROBABLE

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Rob Gronkowski fined $8,268 for block on Sergio Brown

11.21.14 at 4:09 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski received a 15-yard, unnecessary roughness penalty for his block of Colts safety Sergio Brown out of bounds after Jonas Gray’s fourth touchdown Sunday night.

That wasn’t his only penalty coming from the play.

Gronkowski was fined $8,268 by the NFL on Friday for unnecessary roughness after the whistle.

“He was just yappin’ at me the whole time,” Gronkowski told NBCSN after the Patriots beat the Colts, 42-20. “So I took him and threw him out of the club.”

Gronkowski and the Patriots will host the Lions Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

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Video: ‘4th & Goal’ breaks down Lions and Patriots

11.21.14 at 3:29 pm ET
By   |   Comments’s Chris Price previews the Week 12 matchup between the Patriots and Lions. Find out the keys to the game as well as Chris’ prediction.

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