|01.08.14 at 4:38 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Logan Mankins was one of nine players limited at outdoor practice Wednesday at Gillette Stadium while Aaron Dobson was the only one not to participate, per the Patriots official injury report released Wednesday afternoon.
Mankins injured his ankle in the season finale against the Bills but returned to practice on Tuesday and was again on the field on Wednesday in the bitter cold. There was no injury report required by the NFL on Tuesday while Wednesday’s listing was the first one of the week.
In a bit of encouraging news, Aqib Talib (hip), Marcus Cannon (ankle), Rob Ninkovich (ankle) Josh Boyce (ankle) and Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) were not on the injury report at all after appearing on the last injury report before the game against the Bills.
Here is Wednesday’s complete report:
Did Not Practice
WR Aaron Dobson (foot)
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
S Devin McCourty (concussion)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder)
LB Dane Fletcher (groin)
S Steve Gregory (finger/knee)
OL Logan Mankins (ankle)
OT Will Svitek (ankle)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
RB Shane Vereen (groin)
|01.08.14 at 2:44 pm ET|
Former Patriots running back Heath Evans, now an NFL Network analyst, joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to preview Saturday’s Patriots-Colts playoff game and discuss other NFL news. To listen to the interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Evans cautioned the Patriots need to be wary of Andrew Luck‘s ability to run with the football, and he said the Colts have a chance to pull out a win if they can keep the game close entering the final period.
“I go back to the Carolina game for New England,” Evans said. “Cam Newton didn’t beat you guys with his arm. He beat you guys with three or four opportunistic runs. Well, Andrew Luck can dice you guys up with his arm if your coverages aren’t sound. Then he can pop off for those two or three opportunistic runs as well.
“We’ve seen the Patriots play great defense; we’ve seen them play average defense. Brandon Spikes, you’re missing a thumper. We know this Indianapolis team hasn’t been able to run the ball consistently this year in any way. But golly, you talk about Vince [Wilfork] and [Jerod] Mayo and now Spikes — all the different lumps this team has taken along the way. I’ve never second-guessed Bill [Belichick], but you kind of keep asking yourself, how long can Bill and Matt Patricia find these game plans to cover for these huge missing parts.
“So, Andrew Luck, if they’re in it in the fourth quarter, I’d be nervous, I’ll just say that.”
Added Evans: “I know Bill well enough to know [Coby] Fleener‘s not going to be open, there’s going to be a game plan for T.Y. Hilton. It’s going to be other guys that have to step up and make plays. And that’s just where Luck has shown that ability for these last two seasons, just to make things happen. Is he [Tom] Brady yet? No. Is he [Aaron] Rodgers yet? No. But doggone, this guy just finds a way to get it done.
“If they can get the ball rolling in the ground game, that’s going to take focus away from T.Y. Hilton where you might slip in one of those deep shots that break your back late in the game. I just think it’s ball-control offense on the Patriots’ side of things. Brady and his boys are going to have to be spot on. You can’t see the young mistakes from young players. I think this will be — as Bill’s probably been preaching all week — it will be a turnover-driven game. Who’s giving the ball up, who’s getting extra possessions and then who’s not?”
|01.08.14 at 2:07 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Josh McDaniels isn’t going anywhere.
According to a tweet from ESPN football reporter Adam Schefter Wednesday afternoon, the Patriots offensive coordinator, who reportedly interviewed with his hometown Browns on Saturday, has withdrawn his name from the search to replace Rob Chudzinski. McDaniels was a quarterback star for his father Thom McDaniels at Canton McKinley high school, just 45 miles south of Cleveland.
Chudzinski was fired by GM Mike Lombardi and team CEO Joe Banner after just one season, after producing a 4-12 record on the shores of Lake Erie.
McDaniels left after the 2008 season in New England to take over as head coach in Denver. But after a 6-0 start to his career in 2009, he won just five of his next 22 games over the next season and a half and was fired in the middle of the 2010 season after a 3-9 start.
McDaniels took over as the offensive coordinator in St. Louis for Steve Spagnuolo in 2011 and left that job to return to New England in time for the Patriots’ playoff run to Super Bowl XLVI.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 8, 2014
|01.08.14 at 1:14 pm ET|
Vince Wilfork‘s season-ending Achilles injury will be featured in Wednesday night’s episode of 60 Minutes Sports on Showtime. In a preview clip, Patriots owner Robert Kraft reveals that when he went up to Wilfork after the injury, Wilfork told him, “I’m sorry, bossman. I’m sorry to let you down.”
“It was all about my team and the organization, like, ‘Man, I really let them down,'” Wilfork says in the clip.
The full preview is below. The episode airs Wednesday night at 10 p.m.
|01.08.14 at 12:31 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There isn’t a single aspect of an upcoming football game that Bill Belichick allows to get by him.
This includes the officiating crew assigned for a game. In the regular season, a team can prepare for the tendencies of a particular referee and officiating crew.
In the postseason, the NFL doesn’t assign the same game crews used for the regular season. Instead, they mix and match, ideally trying to reward those officials who have proven to be the most consistent and deserving of postseason work.
How does that change, if at all, Belichick’s process leading up to the game?
“I think there’s always a certain amount of gamesmanship, if you will, in that aspect of it. I certainly understand your comment about the tendencies of certain crews that they call a lot of this or they call a lot of that or whatever. On the other hand, from game to game, and we’ve certainly gone into games saying that, ‘Well, this is a crew that throws a lot of flags’ and then they don’t throw any. Or, ‘This is a crew that kind of lets the players play and doesn’t throw many flags,’ and then [you] get 10 penalties in the first half.
“Each game has its own dynamics and I think you have to, at some point in the game, as a team and individually, figure out what type of game this is and how much latitude there is in whatever aspect you’re playing, whatever position that you’re playing. You have to figure that out. I don’t think that’s any different in this game than any other game. It could be one of those games that’s tightly called and there’s 25 penalties in it. It could be one of those games where there are half a dozen penalties called. I don’t know. Look, the calls that they have to make ‘ false starts and too many men on the field and delay of game and all that ‘ anybody could make those calls. It’s not about [the] officiating crew calling penalties ‘ those are penalties that are obvious violations by the teams. Then there are judgment calls that fall into a different category. Those are the ones you have to figure out.”
|01.08.14 at 11:38 am ET|
The Colts signed Branch on Monday and the natural question was raised: Could Branch, who played several stints in New England, provide valuable Patriots-based information that helps in game planning?
“I think that’s way overrated,’ Belichick said. “A lot of time the information in those situations is misinformation, because things have changed from whenever that person [played for the opposing team]. I’m not saying that in any particular circumstance, I’m just saying in general, a lot of times a player who has been with another team tells you, ‘This is what they do, this is their call, this is this, this is that,’ and then it turns out that’s really not what it is.
“So, honestly, we have enough trouble doing all the things we do and getting them right and getting everybody to do them well. I’m sure they have the same thing with the amount of volume that you have in your different systems, and the amount of volume that you face on the other side of the ball. To be able to not only know everything you’re doing but also be able to figure out everything they’re doing, it’s pretty overrated.”
In baseball, they change the signs. In Foxboro, will Belichick do the same?
“We’ll do whatever we think is best,” Belichick said.
|01.08.14 at 11:07 am ET|
FOXBORO — Aaron Dobson was again the only player missing from Patriots practice on a frigid Wednesday morning on the main Gillette Stadium field.
Dobson re-injured his left foot in the regular season finale against Buffalo and left in the first half. Dobson missed three games after injuring the foot against the Broncos on Nov. 24. He returned on Dec. 22 against Baltimore before re-injuring the foot the next week.
The Patriots practiced in sweats and shells Wednesday as they continue preparations for the Colts Saturday night in an AFC divisional playoff.
Despite a forecast calling for temperatures in the mid-to-upper 40s for kickoff, with a chance of rain, the Patriots decided to practice out in the bitter cold as wind chills remain close to zero. Tom Brady admitted Tuesday he was feeling a little bit under the weather and was dealing with a cold. Brady was out in the cold on Wednesday getting ready to practice. Brady assured everyone on Tuesday that he would be fine and will be ready come Saturday night.
The team practiced indoors on Tuesday before moving outdoors on Wednesday. The Patriots will practice again on Thursday before holding a walk-through on Friday.
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