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Brandon Bolden has ‘blinders’ on as he continues to keep his focus on field

10.04.12 at 12:49 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Brandon Bolden isn’t looking back, only forward.

The rookie running back, who finished with 16 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown last week against the Bills, isn’t resting on his accomplishments. He said before practice on Thursday that the focus has now moved on to the Broncos, saying that he has “blinders” on.

“[You don’t] worry about last week. Last week happened; now we’re getting ready for Denver. We have them coming here,” he said. “Just forget about it. It was a game. You see that: ‘Yeah, yay, yippee.’ Everybody was happy. But it happened, it’s in the past, and now, we’re moving on.”

An undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound running back said he isn’t sure how he’s going to fit into the game plan this weekend.

“I have no clue. Like I said, you never know,” Bolden said. “We might go in one game and do something different from what we expected and we have to change it. You don’t know. So I don’t know.

“Going into every week of practice, you go in and try and learn as much of the game plan as you can in case your number does get called, you have the opportunity to go execute everything.”

Four games into his professional career, Bolden said there haven’t been a whole lot of surprises.

“Really, I haven’t had much of a surprise, per se,” he said. “I had a great job working with our entire [team] this spring, when I first got here. Everybody kind of jump started me ahead of time and let me know what to look for — this and that. And then, getting in with the older guys, watching film and seeing how they take notes and everything and kind of preparing you for the entire season.

“My first four [games], things have been pretty much the pace they prepared me for, and things are still going according to plan.”

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Bill Belichick: Broncos are ’95 percent different’ with Peyton Manning

10.03.12 at 11:30 pm ET
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FOXBORO — One thing is for sure – these are not the Broncos of Tim Tebow.

Gone is the uncertainty and unpredictability of Tebow Time. It’s been replaced with the certain future hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning his predictable brilliance of managing of the game at the line of scrimmage. Just how different are the Broncos now?

“It’€™s, I’€™d say, 95 percent different,” Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “Some of the same players, some of the same matchups, but those players are doing different things. They’€™re not running the dive option, it’€™s just different types of plays.”

What the Broncos ARE running looks a lot like what Manning ran for 13 years in Indianapolis. And, as’s Chris Price explains, Belichick and his staff won’t just be watching Broncos film this week to get ready.

Over the years, how many hours of Peyton Manning footage has he seen?

“Quite a few. Back in the division it seems like,” Belichick said.

This is the 13th time Tom Brady has faced Manning. The Patriots and Brady have won eight of the 12 previous meetings. Belichick has faced him 14 times and is 9-5. What has Belichick grown to admire about him?

“Everything,” Belichick said. “I think he’€™s got no weaknesses in his game. He does everything well.”

Belichick said – despite his multiple neck procedures – Manning is playing at the level that he was when he was playing with the Colts.

“He’€™s playing at a high level, yeah,” Belichick said. “He looks pretty good to me. Everything is good. His mechanics are good, decision making is good, handles the team well, all the little things ‘€“ footwork and ball handling, throwing mechanics. He’€™s pretty good.”

And the offense Manning is running in Denver?

“It’€™s identical. It looks the same to me,” Belichick said.

Indeed tight end Jacob Tamme and wide receiver Brandon Stokley are on the Broncos roster, a couple of receivers that Manning frequently targeted in Indianapolis.

In four games, Tamme has 19 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown while Stokley has 13 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown.

“I think they’€™re both, they’€™ve been very productive and certainly Peyton looks for them in critical situations,” Belichick said. “Stokley gets open a lot in the slot and Tamme does a good job on everything, especially play-action passes going down the seam. I think he has a lot of confidence in both guys on conversions or scramble situations like that where they have to improvise and the play gets extended. Those guys do a good job, they have good chemistry.

“I’€™d say the formations and all are the same. At Indianapolis, Dallas Clark was a lot of times in the slot. With Denver, they’€™ve played a lot more two, three receivers with [Brandon] Stokley in the slot. So, the tight end plays the tight end, the tight end doesn’€™t play the slot, if you will.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Stokley, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts

It’ll be Gronkowski against Gronkowski on Sunday when Patriots meet Broncos

10.03.12 at 9:17 pm ET
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Last season, we had the Harbowl, a battle of coaching brothers in San Francisco and Baltimore. While the Gronkbowl might not have the same sort of national juice, it’ll still be intriguing when brothers Rob and Chris Gronkowski take part in the Patriots-Broncos game at Gillette Stadium.

Chris, a Denver fullback, is in his third season the league, and has bounced from the Cowboys to the Colts before joining the Broncos before the start of the 2012 season. In his professional career, he has five rushes for 17 yards.

Even though his brother Rob has managed to put up some eye-popping numbers through his first two-plus seasons in the NFL, Chris said Wednesday that doesn’t diminish the level of trash talk between the two, on or off the field.

‘€œIt’€™s all trash talk,” the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Chris said Wednesday. “We’€™re both on offense so we can’€™t really go against each other so we just have to talk trash instead.’€

There are five Gronkowski brothers, including tight end Dan, who played briefly with New England last season. Who would do a better job of providing a scouting report than one of his brothers?

‘€œThey’€™ve seen the film. They played him last year. They should have a good idea,” Chris said when asked if he gave his teammates any tips on stopping his brother. “I don’€™t have to go against him, so I don’€™t really know.

‘€œWe played together, but never actually went against each other,” Chris added, laughing. “That was a long time ago, too. Back in the day, I would kill him back then. He was tiny back then.’€

When he’s not facing his brothers’ team, Chris remains his biggest fan.

‘€œI try to catch his games. Both my brothers, whenever I can,” he said. “If they’€™re playing Monday night and we’€™re playing Sunday, I watch all their games. I watched their playoff games last year, so I’€™m pretty familiar with the team.’€

Chris said he hasn’t heard from his parents as to who they’ll be rooting for.

‘€œI keep asking them who they’€™re cheering for and they won’€™t tell me,” he said. “So we’€™re going to have to see on game day what jersey they are wearing.’€

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Brandon Lloyd: Champ Bailey taught me importance of ‘finishing the play’

10.03.12 at 5:40 pm ET
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FOXBORO — When Brandon Lloyd played for the Broncos from 2009 through the trading deadline of 2011, he went up against perennial Pro Bowl corner Champ Bailey every day in practice.

What did he learn?

‘€œThey were good battles,’€ Lloyd said. ‘€œI learned a lot from him, just from a technique standpoint, catching and finishing the play because Champ is one of the only cornerbacks I’€™ve gone against that that play is never over. He can catch the ball, and if you’€™re not bringing it in or if you’€™re not protecting it, then he will find a way to get it out.’€

Lloyd is now going to be facing Bailey, with 50 career interceptions, for real on Sunday. But that doesn’t mean Bailey will be on Lloyd all day since he could be lined up against a receiver or tight end at the snap.

‘€œChamp is a very talented kid when it comes to his film study and how he plays out there,’€ Lloyd said. ‘€œI’€™m sure that the coaching staff is going to do a good job of mixing up the routes and combinations that we’€™re doing out there.’€

Read More: Brandon Lloyd, Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots

Devin McCourty: One ‘great game’ doesn’t mean Peyton Manning can’t ‘attack you’

10.03.12 at 4:58 pm ET
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FOXBORO — After the replacement officials, no one faced more criticism after New England’s 31-30 loss in Baltimore on Sept. 23 than Devin McCourty.

He dropped a pair of potential interceptions and was beaten on the final pass that set up the game-winning field goal.

But on Sunday he redeemed himself with his first two interceptions of 2012.

“As a defensive back, it always feels good to come down with interceptions, that’s what we work hard [at] and that’s really the biggest reward of playing defensive back,” McCourty said. “That’s big, and defensively, turnovers always help.”

Was it just a matter of confidence? Well, yes and no. McCourty said he felt more confident but that confidence is built during a week of good practice – not necessarily during the game.

“For us, it’s each week we want to try to get better,” McCourty added. “We work hard in practice to go out there and perform well on Sunday,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “I think my confidence will start today with going out and having a good practice and just keep building throughout the week.”

In his third NFL season, McCourty knows there can be endless talk about a cornerback’s confidence going into a particular game. He explained Wednesday why all the “confidence” talk can be overrated – especially with an experienced quarterback like Peyton Manning coming to town.

“Because a lot of things we go into the game [with] are determined in practice,” McCourty said. “When we have a good week in practice, when we have a good week studying film, you go into those games confident. Just because you have a great game one week, it doesn’t mean you’re going to go into that next game feeling like no one can attack you. There’s different offenses, you see different guys each week. That week in practice always determines a lot.”

Read More: Denver Broncos, Devin McCourty, New England Patriots, nfl

Patriots officially bring back Bobby Carpenter and Alex Silvestro

10.03.12 at 12:51 pm ET
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FOXBORO — With uncertainty surrounding the health and availability of rookie starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower and his injured hamstring, the Patriots have officially re-signed linebacker Bobby Carpenter and signed tight end Alex Silvestro to the practice squad.

In addition, the Patriots released DL Terrell McClain. McClain was signed by the Patriots on Sept. 26, and played in a reserve role last Sunday at Buffalo. The team also released OL Thomas Austin from the practice squad.

Carpenter, 29, is a veteran of six NFL seasons with Dallas (2006-09), Miami (2010) and Detroit (2010-11). He joined the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent from Detroit on April 5, 2012 and was released on Sept. 1 following training camp. The 6-2, 250-pounder was originally drafted in the first round (18th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft by Dallas out of Ohio State.

He has played in 89 NFL games with 10 starts and has accumulated 165 total tackles, one interception that he returned for a touchdown, 3.5 sacks, five passes defensed and one fumble recovery. Last season, Carpenter played in 16 games with three starts for the Lions and recorded 29 total tackles and his first career interception at Dallas on Oct. 2 and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown.

McClain, 24, is in his second NFL season. The 6-foot-2, 291-pounder joined the NFL as a third-round draft pick (65th overall) of the Carolina Panthers out of South Florida in 2011. Last season with the Panthers, McClain started in 12 games and finished the season with 19 total tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery. He was released by Carolina on Sept. 2, 2012.

Austin, 25, was signed by the Patriots to the practice squad on Sept. 1. He was originally signed by Minnesota as a rookie free agent on April 24, 2010 out of Clemson. The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder was waived by Minnesota on Sept. 4, 2010 and joined the New England practice squad on Sept. 29, 2010. He was released by the Patriots prior to the start of the regular season last year and claimed off waivers by Houston, where he played in three games. Austin was released by Houston on Aug. 26, 2012.

Read More: Alex Silvestro, Bobby Carpenter, Dont'a Hightower, New England Patriots

Thoughts on Patriots, penalties, Bobby Carpenter

10.03.12 at 12:25 am ET
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We broke down the Patriots and their penalty situation after four games, and a few things stuck out: First, the fact that they followed a 10-penalty game with a one-penalty contest. (Have to imagine that part of that is due to the return of the regular refs.)

Second, while they are about the same when it comes to total penalties assessed, they are almost 100 yards off last year’s pace (268 yards last year, 173 this year) when it comes to total penalty yards lost.

And third, three offensive players have taken every snap this year for the Patriots — quarterback Tom Brady, center Ryan Wendell and left tackle Nate Solder — and none of the three have picked up a single penalty all season. It’s amazing to consider that two offensive linemen, particularly a left tackle like Solder, have played so much and managed to avoid committing a penalty.

‘€¢ With the news from Tom Curran of CSN that Dont’a Hightower might have a problematic hamstring, it’s no surprise that the Patriots are likely to bring back Bobby Carpenter to play linebacker. Carpenter, who was cut on Sept. 1, looked like he was going to make the team for a couple of reasons out of camp, not the least of which was the fact that he was very good when it came to playing the pass. On Sunday against the Bills, Brandon Spikes played very well against the run, but there was more than one time where he looked overwhelmed in pass coverage. While Tracy White flashed positively at times working against Buffalo on Sunday, Carpenter would take the bulk of the snaps in passing downs going forward.

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