|10.18.13 at 12:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Will Rob Gronkowski finally return Sunday to game action?
Well, in addition to his agent Drew Rosenhaus coming out and declaring that he’s been medically cleared, another hint might be found in a promotional video he shot recently for Body Armor “Super Drink” in which his training and rehab regimen is detailed. Gronkowski deferred any comment about his status for Sunday to the team’s media relations department, which then announced the tight end had met his media obligation for the week.
In the video, released on Twitter with the hashtag #BackToSuper, Gronkowski explains his side.
“Obviously, I went through a lot of hectic, emotional, stressful events with injuries but it’s something you have to deal with. It’s a contact sport, every single play. I’m just looking at my future now,” he begins.
“When you’re hurt, you just really don’t feel part of the team. You go in every day and see everyone. I just see the guys working every day out at practice, and that motivates me, too, to get back out there. Seeing my teammates grinding every day and I’m not out there grinding with them.
“It’s just not the arm. It’s the back, too. You have to rehab both. It’s a process of weeks. It’s every single day for about eight weeks for the rest of my life, I’ll be doing physical therapy.
“You might think we just show up and play on Sundays. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that goes on in order to get back on the field. It’s literally rehab, rehab, practice, running, conditioning, strengthening all the muscles, strengthening the core muscles. It’s not just my back muscles, my arm muscles, it’s my whole body.
“I feel so much better than I have in the past few weeks. And compared to last week right now at this time, I feel great. And last week compared to the week before that, I feel great. And that’s the only thing you can ask for is progression every single week.
“I had it taken away in college, I had it taken away from me at the end of last year and I had it taken away at the beginning of the year, the game of football. It’s going to be a great feeling to run back out there through that tunnel and get back out there with them.”
Gronk was asked about the video and the training drink it promotes, “Drink it,” he said.
|10.18.13 at 11:50 am ET|
WEEI.com’s Chris Price previews the Week 7 matchup between the Patriots and Jets, the second meeting of the season between the two teams.
|10.18.13 at 11:46 am ET|
FOXBORO — The NFL has often been accused of going out of its way to protect Tom Brady by defensive players who just can’t get to the quarterback in time.
But it’s not often that you see a rookie complaining about it.
But rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson apparently wants to make a name for himself on and off the field. In a back-and-forth interview with Steve Serby of the New York Post, Richardson explained why he is so intent on hitting the Patriots quarterback this Sunday.
He recalled a moment with a referee in the first encounter on Sept. 12 when referee Carl Cheffers told him to ease up on Brady.
‘I remember a play, a referee made it his business to tell me I was too close to hitting him,’ Richardson told Serby. ‘It gets crazy out there. I got close to him, shoved him a little bit, the referee said, ‘I could’ve threw the flag on you for that.’ ‘
Richardson’s response: ‘He didn’t even fall.’
Then, according to Richardson, Cheffers replied, ‘It doesn’t matter.’
‘Can’t touch Tom Brady unless he’s got the ball in his hand,’ Richardson said.
How will he deal with this stark reality on Sunday at MetLife Stadium?
‘Not caring,’ Richardson told the Post. ‘Simple as that. Can’t care sometimes, man. If it’s a play where you can make a sack, you’re not going to slow down. You just got to play through it.’
‘I’m ready for this game,’ he said. ‘Ready. I’m ready for this game. Sunday can’t come fast enough. Just because it’s the Patriots,’ Richardson said. ‘I’m ready to go get another shot at these guys, it’s Tom Brady. As a defensive lineman, you look to play certain people, and he happens to be one of ‘em.’
Richardson did pay respect to the resume Brady has compiled over 13 years.
|10.18.13 at 10:56 am ET|
FOXBORO — Less than 24 hours after reports that it was “highly unlikely” Aqib Talib would play on Sunday against the Jets with a hip flexor strain, the star cornerback was back on the upper grass practice fields on Friday morning. Talib missed practice Wednesday and Thursday before surprisingly showing up on Friday.
He began stretching exercises and jogging with the team before breaking off midway through and jogging very lightly on his own. Talib, who was injured in the second half of Sunday’s win over the Saints, was moving very slowly and deliberately.
Pro Football Talk reported Thursday night that Talib would likely miss his first game of the season on Sunday against the Jets with the injury.
Kelly (knee) and Washington (ankle) have missed every practice since being injured in the game against the Bengals on Oct. 6. Amendola, who suffered a concussion in the second half Sunday, did not practice this week.
For the second straight practice, Brandon Bolden was spotted on a stationary bike while the rest of the team was jogging before practice.
|10.18.13 at 10:37 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 7 starts and sits. I’ll be back later today with Jim Hackett for the Fantasy Football Podcast. Check it out in our audio on demand section. For those of you looking for further lineup clarity, feel free to head over to Rotobahn, where we do full weekly positional rankings and update them every Saturday. And, don’t forget to join me here at WEEI on Sunday mornings for our weekly chat for all of your lineup questions.
Jay Cutler, Bears at Redskins
Cutler is becoming a weekly play, and his offense is supporting him well. The pass protection is the key, but so is the play of his receivers. With Alshon Jeffery stepping up and with the excellent play of new tight end Martellus Bennett, the Bears offense has more than just Brandon Marshall. Cutler should do well this weekend in Washington.
Nick Foles, Eagles vs. Cowboys
He may or may not have the starting gig for the remainder of the season, but he is a very strong play at home vs. Dallas. The Cowboys are giving up consistent fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Yes, I know. The idea of playing Eli Manning right now is unsettling. I get it. The thing is, he should do very well at home vs. a Vikings team that has been a get-well matchup for passers all year, including Cam Newton in Week 6. Manning may not be a QB1 in 12-team leagues this week, but he’s a solid option if you are looking for answers. He’s going to have a lot of open receivers.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins vs. Bills
He’s a playable option in 12-team leagues if you are looking for an option. The Bills should be a bit better vs. the pass this week as they are finally getting healthy on the back end, but Miami throws the ball getting off the team bus, so you’ll have volume on your side. Make Miami’s refusal to run the ball work for you.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Ravens
If you are in need this week, Big Ben makes a serviceable option, even in a tough matchup. Roethlisberger’s teammates have taken their games up a notch and the Steelers have welcomed back both tight end Heath Miller and starting tailback Le’Veon Bell. That has helped out a lot.
Geno Smith, Jets vs. Patriots
Smith has shown to have some moxie and some fantasy upside when the matchup is right. That being said, I don’t think the matchup is good enough to bet on this weekend. The Patriots have injury issues on defense, but it’s going to set up more opportunities on the ground than through the air.
Alex Smith, Chiefs vs. Texans
Smith is a system guy and he’s doing a nice job, but he is unlikely to post the kind of fantasy numbers that will help your team, especially against a stingy pass defense like the Texans.
|10.18.13 at 9:40 am ET|
FOXBORO — It appears Rob Gronkowski has finally been cleared to return to action.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that they have been told by his agent Drew Rosenhaus that Gronkowski – and his surgically repaired left forearm – has been cleared by Dr. James Andrews.
‘Rob has now been cleared by all his doctors to play Sunday in the Jets game,’ Rosenhaus told multiple reporters Friday morning via text message.
Told of the pronouncement by Rosenhaus, Bill Belichick said Friday that the team will announce the injury report after practice as they always do.
This comes less than 24 hours after Rosenhaus told WQAM radio in Miami that the Patriots tight end still had not been cleared to play.
Andrews was recently was added to the team of doctors involved in the evaluation of his healing and was leading the medical team, which included Patriots medical director Tom Gill.
Gronkowski has been practicing with the team since being taken off the PUP list on Aug. 31.
|10.17.13 at 6:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Less than 24 hours after he tossed his helmet aside disgustedly on the sideline after an injury forced him from last Sunday’s game against the Saints, Aqib Talib strolled through the Patriots locker room on Monday afternoon. Asked by a reporter if he was available to speak, he said he would catch up with the media later in the week.
That was the last we’ve seen Talib, and it could be another week or so until anyone outside the New England locker room sees him again. The cornerback, who has been so dominant over the course of the first six games of the season, suffered a hip injury in the second half of Sunday’s win over the Saints. He didn’t return to play down the stretch, and hasn’t been seen at practice on Wednesday or Thursday. His absence at practice — and in the locker room — these last two days is a pretty good sign that he won’t be able to go Sunday when the Patriots meet the Jets Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
Initial reports indicate that he’ll be out for at least a week, but even for a limited time, the loss of Talib would be a difficult one to bear for a New England defense that will be without linebacker Jerod Mayo and lineman Vince Wilfork for the duration of the season. The Patriots have played very good team defense through the first six games of the season — New England has allowed 16.2 points per game, good for fourth in the league, and its in the top half of the league in pass defense and average defensive yards allowed — and a sizable reason for their success is Talib. The corner has picked off four passes through the first six games, and won almost all of the one-on-one battles he’s had with the opposing teams’ best pass catcher. Whether it’s been Julio Jones, Jimmy Graham or Vincent Jackson, Talib has worked (with some safety help) to render them ineffective.
Going forward, the Patriots do have some flexibility at the cornerback position, as Devin McCourty made his bones at the spot for the first two-plus years of his career before making the move to safety. He could move back to corner, and New England could pair strong safety Steve Gregory with one of the young safeties like Tavon Wilson (who has been dogged by a hamstring as of late), Nate Ebner (more of a special teamer) or rookie Duron Harmon.
New England could also keep McCourty at safety while shuffling their existing group of corners. Alfonzo Dennard could make a move up the depth chart from No. 2 corner to lead corner, while Kyle Arrington — who has performed so well as the slot corner over the last year — could kick out to the outside. That would also likely mean a promotion for rookie Logan Ryan, who played well in the slot when given the chance over the course of the preseason, as well as some snaps for veteran Marquice Cole.
(For what it’s worth, after Talib left the game Sunday against the Saints, as long as Graham was on the field, McCourty appeared to be working as a corner, while the Patriots went with Harmon at safety. Once Graham left because of a foot injury, it looked like McCourty went back to safety, Harmon went to the sidelines and Ryan came in as the third cornerback.)
The move could also signal a move from more of a man-based system to more zone coverage. To this point in the year, Talib’s strengths have been utilized mostly in man coverage, but without an elite corner, the Patriots could try and paper any coverage deficiencies that might arise with a switch to more zone schemes.
Ultimately, as Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when Wilfork went down — and later, hinted when Mayo was placed on season-ending injured reserve — you cannot simply hope to replace either Wilfork or Mayo with just one player. Instead, it would on a collection of players to replace that level of production. The same is true when it comes to Talib. The Patriots have always stressed team defense; now, with Wilfork and Mayo out for the season and Talib likely sidelined for (at least) one week, that belief in team before of individual takes on a whole new importance for a defensive unit that will have to operate without some of its most valuable players for the foreseeable future.
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