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Rex Ryan: Jim Leonhard injury ‘a huge blow’

12.03.10 at 3:58 pm ET
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – It was a somber Rex Ryan who walked to the podium on Friday for his press conference following Jets practice.

It didn’t take long to figure out why.

“We got some terrible news,” Ryan said to open his press conference. “Jim Leonhard won’t play this week. He has a shin injury that is severe. He’ll be out this week. It’s a huge blow to us.”

The Jets starting safety – described by both Kyle Wilson and LaDainian Tomlinson on Friday as “the heart and soul of the defense” – collided with Patrick Turner during a drill toward the end of Friday’s practice and was carted off the field.  Ryan did not know the extent of the injury but ruled the veteran as out for the Monday night contest between the two 9-2 clubs.

“I feel terrible for Jim but not sorry for ourselves,” said Ryan. “He’s a huge part of what we do … but guys will have to step up. We’ll be ready.”

Ryan indicated that Eric Smith will take over at safety. Leonhard also returns punts for the Jets, a role that will likely fall to Jerricho Cotchery, according to special teams coach Mike Westhoff.

Read More: Jim Leonhard, New York Jets, Rex Ryan,

Dan Connolly: Logan Mankins ‘had my back’

12.03.10 at 3:49 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Not that he needed it the way he’s been playing this season but Patriots do-it-all offensive lineman Dan Connolly said Friday he got a nice pick-me-up from left guard Logan Mankins when he returned to the team in early November.

Mankins had very kind words of support for Connolly when he came back to work, impressed with the way the 6-foot-4 Connolly, 28, stepped in for him while Mankins worked out his feelings about Patriots management.

“It felt good,” Connolly said on Friday. “Me and Logan are good friends and I knew he had my back the whole time and he supported me. I talked to him after a few games and he’d tell me I played well and did a good job.”

How appropriate since having someone’s back along the offensive line is not just important but crucial to an effective, cohesive unit.

Whatever the hard feelings were with Mankins and the Patriots’ front office, those certainly didn’t carry over to the more important environment of the locker room when Mankins return prior to the Nov. 7 game in Cleveland.

Connolly came out of Southeast Missouri State as an undrafted free agent in 2005 and played two years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. After sitting out 2007, the Patriots signed him before the 2008 season when he played in just one game. Then in 2009, he played in 14, starting four. This year, he has started 10 of the 11 games for the Patriots and has become a stud along the line, playing guard on both sides of center.

“When I came here, I didn’t know to what extend it would be but I knew it would have to be,” he said. “I knew I would have to play multiple positions in order to make this team and do what I have been asked to do.”

Now, it’s right guard Stephen Neal that Connolly will be asked to fill in for the rest of the season as Neal was placed on season-ending (and possible career-ending) injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

Connolly certainly is familiar enough with the right guard position as he has started at that position since Neal was injured in the Cleveland game.

“I’ve been starting first seven games for Logan and then the last three for Steve,” Connolly said. “I’ve been preparing to start games the whole season so nothing’s really going to change for me, just keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

Tom Brady has been sacked only 15 times this season, and just three times in the last five games. And one reason Brady hasn’t thrown an interception since Oct. 17 against Baltimore is because he’s had – for the most part – plenty of time to read and react in the pocket.

So, given the fact that Brady is coming off a ‘perfect’ quarterback rating of 158.3 and seems to be in a remarkable comfort zone of late, Connolly doing what he’s been doing for the rest of the season would be just fine by the Patriots.

Read More: Dan Connolly, Logan Mankins, New England Patriots, nfl

Santonio Holmes on James Harrison fine: ‘I think it’s [expletive]‘

12.03.10 at 3:34 pm ET
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Santonio Holmes was asked Friday by WEEI.com about comments made by his former teammate Hines Ward on Wednesday. Ward called the NFL “hypocritical” and said the league “doesn’t care” about the players. Holmes quickly agreed with Ward’s thoughts and also came to the defense of another former teammate, James Harrison, who was fined $25,000 for a hit on Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday.

“They don’t [care], they don’t,” said Holmes, who played with the Steelers from 2006-09. “I think it’s [expletive]. I don’t care, you tackle a guy, you hit a guy? That’s the [expletive] object of the game. That hit that he [Harrison] made on that quarterback? That was a [expletive] clean hit that he shouldn’t get fined for.”

Harrison has been fined four times now for a total of $125,000 this season, but it is the latest fine that raised the ire of Ward and now Holmes, who can’t comprehend how Harrison’s hit on Fitzpatrick could draw the same fine as Andre Johnson’s for punching Cortland Finnegan twice in the fourth quarter of Houston’s Week 12 game vs. Tennessee.

“No consistency, not at all” said Holmes. “I can’t deal with it, I don’t know. I’m not getting myself involved in that [expletive] to where I hurt myself and lose 25K. I hate that the players that have to do it, that have to lose money for stupid [expletive].”

Read More: Hines Ward, James Harrison, New York Jets, Santonio Holmes

Jets lose safety Jim Leonhard to ‘severe’ leg injury

12.03.10 at 2:46 pm ET
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The Jets secondary will have to rely more on the talents of their two shut-down corners after coach Rex Ryan announced Friday that starting safety Jim Leonhard had to be carted off the practice field in Florham Park, NJ with a “severe” leg injury.

Ryan said Leonhard likely suffered a break of the leg and will be out against the Patriots. Leonhard leads the Jets secondary with 65 tackles and served as the signal-caller for the secondary, including cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.

Back in Week 2, Leonhard, who also served as a punt returner, had a pair of tackles and helped the secondary shutdown Tom Brady and hold the Patriots scoreless in the second half of New York’s 28-14 win.

WEEI.com’s Kirk Minihane is on site covering the Jets in Florham Park and will have more on how this injury could impact Monday night’s game.

Read More: antonio cromartie, Darrelle Revis, Jim Leonhard, New England Patriots

Peter King on D&H: Devin McCourty tips game in Patriots’ favor

12.03.10 at 2:12 pm ET
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Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday afternoon and previewed the Patriots-Jets matchup. King said he only recently decided that the Patriots can win the game, based on one player’s performance in last week’s win over the Lions.

“I think the Patriots will [win],” King said. “If you would have asked me two weeks ago, or even especially before the Detroit game, there’s a good chance I would have said the Jets. But something happened in that Detroit game to convince me that the Patriots are OK. And that is the play of Devin McCourty. I just think that he now gives Santonio Holmes a real tough day on that side of the field.

“Hey, look, I have no idea what [Bill] Belichick will do. Nobody does. But I think it’s logical to suggest that on more than half of the obvious passing plays in this game that Devin McCourty’s going to be on Santonio Holmes. If that is the case, then what I would say is based on the way that I saw Devin McCourty play Calvin Johnson, based on jousting with Calvin Johnson and winning the one interception we saw ‘€” to me, I look at him now as way beyond a rookie corner. So, I think he’s going to make a very big difference in the game.”

Touching on other news around the NFL, King was asked his opinion of the NFL fining but not suspending Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan for their fight Sunday. “Both those guys should have gotten one-game suspensions,” King said. “The NFL is not doing anything to deter Richard Seymour [who hit Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger] or Cortland Finnegan or Andre Johnson from fighting.”

Read More: Devin McCourty, Peter King, Santonio Holmes,

Pats practice Friday: Mike Wright, Jonathan Wilhite, Myron Pryor still out

12.03.10 at 1:24 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For second straight day, CB Jonathan Wilhite, and defensive linemen Myron Pryor and Mike Wright were the only three missing from Patriots practice as the team worked out in sweats and shells on the main stadium field.

Wilhite has missed the last two games with a hip injury. Pryor suffered a back injury against Cleveland and has been inactive for the three games since Nov. 7. Wright missed the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit after injuring his neck and suffering a concussion against Indianapolis on Nov. 21.

The team practiced in chilly, blustery conditions on the field turf, with many of the players bundled up. The forecast for Monday night’s game between the Patriots and Jets calls for mainly clear skies and temperatures in the upper 30s with a steady breeze.

Read More: Jonathan Wilhite, Mike Wright, Myron Pryor, New England Patriots

Patriots sign Eric Moore, cut Pierre Woods

12.03.10 at 12:37 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Friday they have signed defensive end/outside linebacker Eric Moore and released outside linebacker Pierre Woods.

Here’s part of the announcement that was issued by the team on the move:

Moore, 6-4, 268 pounds, is a veteran of four NFL seasons with the New York Giants (2005), New Orleans Saints (2006) and St. Louis Rams (2006-08). He spent the last seven games of the 2009 season on the Carolina practice squad and went to training camp with the Panthers in 2010 but was waived on Sept. 4.

Moore originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by the New York Giants out of Florida State in 2005. After playing in eight games as a rookie in 2005, Moore was released by the Giants following training camp in 2006. He was then signed to the New Orleans’€™ practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster and playing in four games for the Saints. After being waived from the Saints, he finished the 2006 season with the St. Louis Rams, seeing action in three games. Moore spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons with the Rams before being released on Sept.9, 2009.

Woods, 6-5, 255 pounds, was re-signed by the Patriots on Nov. 17 and played in two games, finishing with one tackle, one sack and two special teams tackles. Woods went to training camp with New England this past summer but was released on Sept. 4. He is a veteran of five NFL seasons with New England after originally joining the team as a rookie free agent out of Michigan in 2006.

Read More: Eric Moore, Pierre Woods,
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