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Nuggetpalooza’s Pats schedule preview: Detroit

08.25.10 at 10:44 am ET
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nuggetpalooza-small1The Patriots face Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, at 12:30 p.m.


What The Lions Did Well Last Season (not much):


* – Had Lots of Long Drives: Believe it or not, the Lions were quite proficient at putting together long drives of 10 or more plays, ranking 9th in the league with 29.  They put together 17 scoring drives of 80+ yards, which accounted for 37% of all their scoring drives, which was the 2nd highest percentage in the NFL (Indianapolis, 39%).


* – Rushed For Respectable Gains: 47.2% of Detroit’s rushes gained 4 or more yards in 2009, the 2nd highest percentage in the NFL:

48.8% – Buffalo Bills
47.2% – Detroit Lions
46.6% – Miami Dolphins

For some context, the NFL average was 42.5%.


* – Drew Lots Of Flags On Opponents: Detroit accepted 113 penalties against their opponents last season, 2nd most in the NFL  (SF, 114).

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Ojinnaka has to ‘bust his butt’ to protect Brady

08.24.10 at 10:39 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It didn’t take Patriots offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka long to understand job No. 1 with his new employer in his first two practices this week.

The 26-year-old guard will start off on the second unit and second on the depth chart behind Dan Connolly as Logan Mankins is reportedly ready to hold out and Nick Kaczur is out indefinitely with back surgery, according to the Boston Herald.

If Connolly or another starter along the O-Line becomes unavailable for whatever reason, it will be the 6-5, 312-pounder who steps into the fold to help protect the franchise quarterback.

“It’s an upgrade with Tom Brady, a future hall-of-famer,” Ojinnaka began. “I’m not saying Matt Ryan wasn’t good. He’s a great quarterback or is going to be a great quarterback. You definitely have to bust your butt to make sure he doesn’t get touched. It was the same in Atlanta.

“You still have to work hard, study and get in your play books and bust your butt every day.”

While he rarely got the chance to show off his talent under Falcons head coach Mike Smith, Bill Belichick will expect him to be up to speed right away. That, after all, is why the Patriots traded for him over the weekend.

“It’s fast-paced,” Ojinnaka said following Tuesday’s practice. “I know coach Bill Belichick is really hard on his players, but not in a bad way but just to push him. That’s what I’ve heard. I’m adjusting to it. It’s been fun so far.

“It’s just the pace of how things move down here are just a tick faster than Atlanta, and that’s a good thing.”

Ojinnaka was thrilled to get the news over the weekend that he would be moving north – and not just because his new team prevailed over his old, 28-10, at the Georgia Dome.

“It hit me by surprise but I’m happy to be here, thought,” he said. “A rich tradition franchise like the Patriots, who wouldn’t be?

“It’s looks like I have a pretty good chance but at the same time, right now I’m just focused on learning the offense and playing football.”

Due to a domestic issue involving his wife in May 2009, and the fallout associated with that, Ojinnaka will have to sit out Week 1 before formally beginning to help his new team on the field.

“I haven’t really thought about the suspension,” he said. “It is what it is. I got suspended and I’m just moving on from that now. I’m not even thinking about that. Right now, I’m just focusing on football and helping the Patriots win.

“This is a definitely a new page, a chapter of my life. This is definitely a chance to start over with a new team, a new home.”

Expect to see Ojinnaka on the field this Thursday night for the Patriots as they take on the Rams in preseason game No. 3 and he starts all over again.

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, nfl, Patriots

Weston clears waivers, will go on IR this season

08.24.10 at 5:51 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Tuesday afternoon that rookie defensive lineman Kade Weston had cleared waivers and would be placed on the Patriots’ injured reserve list for the 2010 season.

A seventh-round pick of the Patriots out of the University of Georgia, Weston has struggled to stay on the field since he was drafted this past spring — the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder had a problem reporting to Foxboro because of a work visa issue (he was born in Trinidad & Tobago), and when he did arrive, he opened camp on the physically unable to perform list.

Weston had 78 career tackles and four sacks in his collegiate career with the Bulldogs, with his finest season coming as a senior when he started nine games and finished with 28 tackles and two sacks.

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Maroney: I laugh at my critics

08.24.10 at 3:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Apparently Laurence Maroney agrees with the vote of confidence head coach Bill Belichick gave him earlier Tuesday.

The fifth-year running back believes he still as the ability to show the Patriots and the rest of the NFL why New England chose him in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of the University of Minnesota. And he wasn’t shy about it on Tuesday following practice in the Dana Farber Fieldhouse.

“I know I’m the stuff,” Maroney quipped. “I know how good I am.”

Asked if he still has a lot to prove to, Maroney admitted he hears the critics who say he needs to prove himself this season, starting by holding onto the ball.

“We’ve got a lot of critics out here, still. We have a lot of naysayers, a lot of doubters, ‘Well, this has to be Maroney’s best year or he’s got to come out here and show it.’ Yeah, I have a lot of critics out here, still, and I laugh at it and I just go out there and just work hard and go out there and prove to everybody why they took me first round.”

Earlier in the day, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said that Maroney has worked hard in the offseason and training camp and is ‘ready to go’ and prepared to put his four-fumble season from 2009 behind him.

Asked if he’s ready to play more on Thursday night against the Rams in preseason game No. 3, Maroney smiled and laughed, “I hope you ask Belichick if you have a request, like a request to see me a lot more. You put that in the papers a lot more, I’m pretty sure he can’t let the fans down.”

Read More: Laurence Maroney, Minnesota Golden Gophers, New England Patriots, nfl

Tuesday Practice Notes

08.24.10 at 2:48 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Just finished up another soggy practice down here at Gillette. The Patriots were inside the practice bubble for the second straight day for a practice that ran for roughly two hours. Practice was in shirts and shells. Here are a few quick notes:

•The following players were in sweats: wide receiver Matthew Slater, linebacker Eric Alexander, tight end Aaron Hernandez, linebacker/defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and wide receiver Darnell Jenkins. The following players were absent: wide receiver Julian Edelman, defensive back Bret Lockett, offensive linemen Nick Kaczur and Logan Mankins and defensive back Josh Barrett.

•Running back Laurence Maroney, offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka and defensive back Ross Ventrone all drew sizable media crowds after the workout.

•It wasn’t what you would necessarily call a high-intensity practice session. Lots of families were in attendance, including the Wilfork and Morris families. There seemed to be a real emphasis on scout team work, as both sides continued prep work for Thursday’s preseason game against the Rams.

•Ojinnaka lined up at both guard and tackle throughout the session, but spent most of his time with the backups.

•Lots of woofing between the offense and the defense today. The offense reacted with a shout when the defense jumped before a snap, and inside linebacker Gary Guyton had to run a lap. Late in the practice, it was clear there was something wrong with the defense, and they were forced to run a pair of laps together as a unit. (It’s worth mentioning that assistant coach Pepper Johnson and Eric Alexander were the only two guys who ran outside the lines around the entire field.) After the second lap, the entire defense was called together and received a talking-to from assistant Matt Patricia.

•Without Hernandez on the field, it was another day for Rob Gronkowski to shine. The rookie out of Arizona made several nice catches from both Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer. Tight end Rob Myers — who spent last season on the practice squad — also made a couple of nice catches.

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Bill Belichick Q&A, 8/24

08.24.10 at 2:45 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the full transcript of today’s Q&A between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and the media:

BB: We’re kind of finishing up our preparations here for St. Louis today and then we’ll have a walkthrough tomorrow. We had a couple roster moves. I think everybody has those. So we’re just trying to push ahead here and take advantage of this week’s opportunity against the Rams. They provide some – again, kind of like Atlanta – different looks [and] things we don’t really do. They have a little different style of play, so that will be good for us in all three phases of the game. I think our team will benefit from playing a different type of team than what we are or what we saw more from New Orleans. So that’s where we’re at.

Q: What challenges does Sam Bradford present and did you do any work on him in preparation for the draft?
BB: No, we didn’t think he would be in there when we picked. He had a good junior year [and] a tough senior year with the injury and all, but [he’s] a very talented player. Like all rookies, I’m sure he’s learning a lot, like we all do our first year in the league. [He’s] a talented guy, [they have] a really good running back, a couple of interesting tight ends, good returners, good receivers, so I’m sure we’ll see a lot of people in there like we’ll have ourselves.
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Belichick likes what he sees from No. 39

08.24.10 at 12:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO — If Laurence Maroney were a manager in major league baseball, maybe he would be worried today.

After all, a vote of confidence is often thought as a precursor to the axe coming down on your job in MLB. But of course, this is the NFL, and based on what Bill Belichick said Tuesday morning, it sounds like Maroney is in pretty safe in terms of job security midway through the preseason.

Belichick, asked if the running back in his fifth year out of Minnesota, had tackled his fumbling issues from last season, indicated that he was pleased with what Maroney has shown so far in camp.

“Every guy has always got something he can work on and do better,” Belichick said. “I think Laurence has worked hard and has been out there every day and taken his reps and I think he’s ready to go.

“He’s been out there every day. I think he’s worked hard, is in good condition. I think he’s improved daily because he’s been out there and been able to get the work.”

[Click here to listen to Bill Belichick talk about how Maroney has worked hard to improve holding onto the ball.]

After fumbling just once in his rookie season, Maroney didn’t fumble a carry in 2007 and 2008. But last season, Maroney fumbled four times, losing all four. Maroney is in a battle with Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor and BenJarvus Green-Ellis for playing time as a lead tailback.

All four could see significant playing time Thursday night as the 2-0 Patriots host St. Louis in the third preseason game at Gillette Stadium.

Other tidbits from Tuesday’s session with Belichick:

  • Belichick addressed the addition of offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka: “Quinn’s got some versalility, he’s played tackle, played guard, started a number of games in this league. He’s played both sides of the [offensive] line. He gives us some flexibility and we felt he could fit into our system.”
  • As for Ojinnaka’s pending one-game NFL-imposed suspension for a domestic issue in May 2009, Belichick said they did they’re background checks as they do with every player. “We do it on every player. Everything is part of [the evaluation].”
  • On facing a Steve Spagnola-coached Rams team this Thursday, the same coach who, as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants in 2007, designed a scheme to upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. “I think [defense] is similar to what we’ve seen from Philadelphia and the Giants, so it’s just another version of that, like the West Coast offense, going from one team to another. Different players, different individuals with a similar scheme. Same stuff, different people doing it.”
Read More: Patriots, Quinn Ojinnaka, Sammy Morris, St. Louis Rams
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