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Matt Light on D&C: ‘I’m going into full fan mode right now’

01.17.13 at 10:50 am ET
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Former Patriots offensive tackle Matt Light checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to preview Sunday’s AFC championship game.

Light retired just eight months ago after spending his entire 10-year career with the Patriots and is in an unfamiliar position, now rooting as a fan.

“I’m going into full fan mode right now, something I’ve never been,” Light said. “Literally, throughout the regular season I think had the same mentality that a lot of those guys do. It was like, ‘OK, we’re in the grind. It’s week in, week out. There’s no daylight at the end of the tunnel. You’ve got your head down, you’re going to work each and every day and nothing’s good. It doesn’t matter if you win every single game and you blow them out by 30, you’re terrible, you’ve got to keep working.

“At this point you realize as a player that you’ve done something, you have an opportunity to do something really special. When it’s as close as it is right now, this is the reason you play the game 100 percent.”

This year’s Patriots offense has been extremely impressive, notably in terms of the more balanced style between the passing and running game. The 2007 team was known for it’s deep threats like Randy Moss and the record-shattering numbers registered by Tom Brady, but this year’s offense might be better.

“I think it’s definitely possible to be better than ’07 even though that was obviously an incredible year,” Light said. “I don’t know how you rate one year to another especially when you’re looking at the best. … What I think this year represents is this system that’s really evolved. It’s changed, it had obviously different coordinators. Whether it was Charlie [Weis], or Josh [McDaniels], previous Josh or this Josh, Billy O’Brien, this offense has really come full circle.

“It’s the guys in the system, namely the guy that does a pretty good job of throwing the ball around and commanding everybody in the huddle and all that good stuff. But so many talented players that make up part of it. And then they keep you off balance. They do not just do a few things well, they execute at a very high level and they can change the tempo. And all those things you guys talk about throughout the entire year, they do them all and they do them all pretty darn well.”

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Read More: Manti Te'o, Matt Light, Ray Lewis, Tom Brady

Read My Lips: Check out this twisted take on the NFL

01.17.13 at 12:14 am ET
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This has been floating around the Internet the last few days. It has absolutely no connection to this weekend’s AFC title game between the Patriots and the Ravens — it’s just very funny, and it (sort of) involves New England. Enjoy.

Brandon Lloyd: When it comes to playoffs, Tom Brady is all about work

01.16.13 at 9:51 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Brandon Lloyd has been around Tom Brady for a relatively short time — especially when it comes to the postseason — but the veteran wide receiver has come away impressed at the way the quarterback prepares for the postseason.

Lloyd, who finished his first full season with the Patriots with 74 catches for 911 yards and four touchdowns, said that when it comes to prep work, the quarterback treats each game the same.

‘€œIt’€™s the same preparation, the same commitment, the same commitment to developing relationships with the pass catchers, with the offensive line,’€ Lloyd said Wednesday afternoon. ‘€œWe still get our one-on-one time and routes and one-on-one time in film study. So he does that with all of the players and he spends a lot of time with us. You get that during the regular season and he is still doing that now. So it is the same.’€

When it comes to what has surprised Lloyd the most about Brady, he said it all comes back to the work.

‘€œI think how detailed his work ethic is,’€ Lloyd said. ‘€œWe all work hard and we all say that we do work hard. We like to think that the best players are the hardest workers and Tom proved that when I got here.’€

Like fellow veteran Aqib Talib, Lloyd is going through his first postseason experience. Even though he said there were ‘€œno nerves, no jitters’€ when it came to his first career playoff game, he said Wednesday he takes a page out of Brady’€™s book and uses the same ‘€œone-game-at-a-time’€ approach that got him through his first full season in New England.

‘€œThat’€™s how I have been approaching it,’€ said Lloyd, who had five catches for 32 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’€™s divisional playoff win over the Texans. ‘€œIt seems like ever since Thanksgiving there have been the biggest games of my career, and it’€™s not changing now in the playoffs. The approach that I’€™ve always taken in my career, regardless of the magnitude of the game, is to approach it like it is a regular game, and that’€™s been helpful for me.’€


Read More: 2013 playoffs, Brandon Lloyd, Tom Brady,

Patriots won’t answer Anquan Boldin’s guarantee of a victory

01.16.13 at 9:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Baltimore’s Anquan Boldin said Wednesday that the difference between last year’s AFC title game and this year’s contest was that the Ravens were going to win. When he was informed of Boldin’s boast later Wednesday afternoon, Patriots center Ryan Wendell simply shrugged.

“The difference between this year’€™s AFC championship and last year’€™s AFC championship is that they’re different teams,” he said. “We’€™ve got new players and some of the same players that were in that game; they’€™ve got new players and some of the same players as well.

“Nothing matters that happened in the regular season. Nothing matters that happened last week. We’€™re two good teams that are going to squaring off in this game. All that really matters is who goes out and performs.”

That was the tone that Wendell’s teammates took when informed of Boldin’s statements. The Patriots were able to stay on message and not rise to the bait, which is pretty much business as usual around Gillette Stadium.

“I guess it is just the way we do things — we’ll see on Sunday what happens,” said right tackle Sebastian Vollmer said. “I don’€™t think we take too much into consideration from what happened last year. It was a different team for both of us. I think both teams deserve to be in that game on Sunday and we will see what happens.

“We think it is going to be a tough game and we respect Baltimore, so we know how tough it is going to be. We still have to bring our best and just go from there, I guess.”

Earlier in the week, Baltimore linebacker Brendon Ayanbedejo took a shot at the Patriots on Twitter, ripping the Patriots’€™ no-huddle offense and lobbing insults referring to ‘€œSpygate’€ and the 18-1 season of 2007. He later apologized.

Read More: 2013 playoffs, Anquan Boldin, Brendon Ayanbedejo, ryan wendell

Aaron Hernandez knows he’ll have to pick up where Rob Gronkowski left off

01.16.13 at 9:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Aaron Hernandez will have more on his plate going forward.

Without Rob Gronkowski in the lineup for the rest of the postseason, Hernandez will draw more targets. But he said Wednesday that when you’€™re talking big picture, it’€™s going to take a total team effort to try and pick up the slack for his fallen teammate — like they did when Gronkowski missed a sizable portion of regular-season games down the stretch.

‘€œYou can’€™t replace him, but we all have to step up,’€™ he said Wednesday afternoon. ‘€œIt’€™s a huge loss and everyone knows that, but we still have games to win. Everyone has to step it up and we have to do as much as we can do individually to fill his void.’€

Hernandez, who struggled with injuries of his own over the course of the 2012 season (he missed the Patriots-Ravens matchup during the regular season because of an ankle injury), has been able to rebound nicely from his time on the shelf — the Florida product had 24 catches over the final four games of the regular season, including a season-high 10 receptions in a Dec. 16 loss to the Niners in Foxboro. He ended the season with 51 catches on 84 targets for 483 yards and five touchdowns.

However, he knows that with Gronkowski on the sidelines, he’€™ll draw more attention from the Ravens than ever before.

‘€œIt makes it a little bit more difficult, but we have a great quarterback that is going to get us in the right play,’€ he said. ‘€œWhen you have a quarterback and great offensive coordinators, they put us in the right situation to make plays, and it’€™s our job to make a play.’€

Hernandez will have an opportunity in Sunday’€™s divisional playoff game to go up against a linebacker in Ray Lewis who has carved out a rep as one of the finest in the history of the game. Although he’€™s not what he once was, Hernandez knows that you still have to be mindful of what he can bring to the field.

‘€œHe’s a great player and known for being one of the best linebackers to play the game. And yes, you are aware of him when he is on the field,’€ Hernandez said. ‘€œBut like I said, we just have to play our game and do what we have to do. We have to focus on our play and not really the other defensive players. He is a hitter and a great player. He reads offenses and catches calls. You have to know where he is on the field.’€

In the end, Hernandez said that if the Patriots want to advance to their second Super Bowl in as many years, it’€™s going to come down to execution.

‘€œThey have a good defense and we’€™ve played against a lot of good defenses,’€ he said. ‘€œWe just have to play our game and keep doing what we do.’€

Read More: 2013 playoffs, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski,

Aqib Talib looks to stymie Joe Flacco, Ravens’ quick-strike passing attack

01.16.13 at 8:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Few teams go deep more than the Ravens.

Behind quarterback Joe Flacco, Baltimore was one of the best teams in the league this season when it came to completed passes of 20 yards or more (60, good for fifth in the league). Wide receiver Anquan Boldin was ninth in the league with 17 receptions of 20 yards or more, while fellow receiver Torrey Smith had 15 receptions of 20 yards or more. (Flacco was also third in the league when it came to pass plays of 40 or more yards with 12.)

That means it’€™s likely going to be a busy week for Aqib Talib. The top New England cornerback knows that the Ravens are going to take their shots downfield on the Patriots, particularly in the wake of Baltimore’€™s divisional playoff win over the Broncos where they went deep frequently — according to Elias Sports Bureau, Flacco completed four passes of 20 yards or more against Denver. In all, Flacco was 4-for-7 on throws of 20 yards or more vs. the Broncos, with each of his three touchdown passes going at least 30 yards (59, 32, and 70 yards).

‘€œIt’€™s a big job this week to try and prevent that deep ball. They’€™re on the same page right now with Flacco. We have a lot of work to do this week,’€ said Talib. ‘€œThey definitely take more shots than teams I have played against. Every game, they’€™re going to take their shots down the field.’€

In the September matchup between the two teams, the Ravens were able to hit the Patriots for eight pass plays of 20 yards or more. However, that was before the Patriots acquired Talib. Since then, the Patriots’€™ defense has managed to clamp down defensively in almost every major category — prior to Talib’€™s first game in New England, the Patriots had allowed an average of 285 passing yards per game and 382 total yards per game, as well as an average of 22.3 points per game.

In the final seven regular-season games, New England went 6-1, and Talib, who has played in six of those games, has done his part to bring those numbers down: The Patriots ended the regular season allowing an average of 271 passing yards per game (an average decrease of 14 yards per game) and 373 total yards per game (an improvement of nine yards per game). In addition, the points per game dropped to 20.7.

And when it comes to working on the deep ball, in the nine games New England played without Talib, it gave up 49 passes of 20 or more yards, 15 of 30 or more. In the seven games since, the Patriots have give up only 25 passes of 20 or more yards, and only seven of 30-plus.

Not all of that is because of Talib, but it’€™s not completely coincidental either.

‘€œObviously, it’€™s great to get another veteran player on the back end, someone that has some excellent experience in the NFL and can really fit in the younger group and kind of really just blend into the guys that we have and fit the pieces,’€ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said.

‘€œ(Talib) has done a real good job, really coming in and adapting to our system, learning the defense as we run it and the different coverages that we play and overall just been an excellent teammate really, kind of a guy that the other guys fit in with and get along with and obviously then compete and play hard with.’€

‘€œHe’€™s a good football player, good teammate [and] he’€™s very well respected because of his professionalism,’€™ said Patriots coach Bill Belichick when asked about Talib on Wednesday. ‘€œHe studies hard and prepares well. He’€™s tough. He competes well, both in practice and on Sundays. Smart kid. I like him; the team likes him. He’€™s a good guy to be around, and he works hard and competes well. I think those are his most impressive qualities.’€

‘€œWhen you’€™re little and you are thinking about being in the NFL, you think about being in this situation,’€ Talib said when asked about what it’€™s like to experience his most recent run of success with the Patriots. ‘€œIt’€™s ideal for me. This is real football; you come here and you know you are going to play real football.’€

Playoff football is all new to Talib — the former Buc made his first postseason appearance against the Texans last Sunday, and said Wednesday he can’€™t wait to see what the rest of the playoffs are going to be like.

‘€œIt is the next big game — all of them are big now,’€ he said. ‘€œThe more you play, the bigger they get. It is the next big game.’€

Read More: 2013 playoffs, Aqib Talib, joe flacco,

Danny Woodhead, Chandler Jones limited, Alfonzo Dennard (personal) DNP for Pats Wednesday

01.16.13 at 5:59 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski (forearm) and Alfonozo Dennard (not injury related) were the only two missing Patriots today as the team practiced in sweats and shells in the steady rain inside Gillette Stadium. Gronkowski was missing his first practice since re-injuring his left arm and having a second surgery on Monday. Trevor Scott, Danny Woodhead, Chandler Jones, Marquice Cole and Nick McDonald were all limited.

The Patriots listed 20 players as officially “limited” last week before revising their list after practice on Friday. The Ravens listed 21 players on their injury report, including four as limited. Among those limited was running back Bernard Pierce (knee) while CB Asa Jackson (thigh) did not participate. The remaining 16 players were listed as full participation.

Here is Wednesday’s complete report:

Did not participate:

TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip)

CB Alfonzo Dennard (not injury related)

Limited Participation

DE Chandler Jones (ankle)

DB Marquice Cole(finger)

RB Danny Woodhead (thumb)

OL Nick McDonald (shoulder)

DE Trevor Scott (knee)

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at WEEI 93.7FM will broadcast the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Ravens on Sunday, January 20 at 6:30 p.m.

Read More: AFC Championship, Alfonzo Dennard, Baltimore Ravens, Gronk
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