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Merril Hoge on D&C: Antonio Cromartie ‘fundamentally struggles as a player’

01.13.11 at 8:17 am ET
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ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Patriots-Jets playoff matchup. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Discussing the trash talk emanating from Jets camp and whether it will serve as motivation for the Patriots, Hoge said: “I do believe it matters. ‘€¦ From a personal experience, and having that being done on the other side of the field, you bet. You bet your backside it motivated me, even to a higher level. And it does make a difference, and it does factor in the game, without a question.”

Hoge implied Antonio Cromartie might want to spend more time focusing on improving his own game rather than worrying about opposing players. “The thing about Cromartie is, as athletically gifted as he is, he fundamentally struggles as a player. You watch him,” Hoge said. “I think one of the keys in this game is they’ve got to play a lot of press man coverage. They’ve got to line up against these guys and press the wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. You’ve got to use your hands. You watch Cromartie. Every time he does that, his hands are on his side, he drops them down at the snap, his feet go flat. And that’s why he gets beat so much. That’s why people attack him. Yeah, he’s a gifted athlete, but he’s not a great cover guy because he’s not fundamentally sound. He doesn’t have great habits, and people attack him. And the Patriots are going to attack him.”

Hoge said he expects that Jets will do a better job of getting Darrelle Revis more involved in the defensive scheme. In the Patriots’ 45-3 rout last month, Revis was a non-factor, sometimes line up against a tight end as the Patriots appeared to confuse New York. “I think he becomes a chess player in the box,” Hoge said. “I think most of the time he will be in the slot area on somebody, whether it’s [Wes] Welker ‘€” they jumped on him a lot, they put him on Welker a lot. But I think he becomes a movable chess piece.

“Let’s say that exact same scenario plays out where they’re on the field, the down and distance, and they line up in a five-wide look, with two tight ends on the field and one back, and they put two wide receivers to the left. You check out of that if you’re the Jets. You’re like: We’re not going to play this coverage. We’re going to go to something else. Then we’ll get Revis on the other side against a wide receiver. We’ll take a linebacker and move him out there if we’ve got to. But I think they counter better from that perspective to help him. They have to. If they don’t, they’re going to get hammered again.”

Turning his attention to Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, Hoge said: “He’s inconsistent, and that’s never a good sign. I think he’s better than what people give him credit for, but he’s inconsistent.”

Read More: antonio cromartie, Darrelle Revis, Mark Sanchez, Merril Hoge

Terrell Owens says the Patriots are going to beat the Jets

01.12.11 at 5:19 pm ET
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We’ll just let the video speak for itself:

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The Big Nickel: Rex Ryan backs Antonio Cromartie, the Patriots go indoors and no one needs a Jetsons car

01.12.11 at 4:35 pm ET
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The five most important things you need to know about the Patriots on Wednesday:

1. When it comes to Antonio Cromartie, there’€™s no doubt where Jets coach Rex Ryan stands.

‘€œFirst off, in this country, you’€™re allowed to have opinions and all that kind of stuff,’€ Ryan said in a Wednesday morning conference call with the New England media. ‘€œObviously, as an organization, we respect Tom Brady; there’€™s no question about it. But, is there dislike between us and Brady and Brady against the Jets and all that? Of course there is.

‘€œBut, am I going to punish Cromartie for saying something or whatever? No. I don’€™t want that. We respect New England, but we don’€™t fear them. A comment like that is just the fact that they’€™re the enemy like we look at them this week.’€

As for Brady ‘€” who was called an ‘€œass—-‘€ by Cromartie ‘€” the quarterback shrugged off the slight, saying he’€™s been ‘€œcalled worse.’€

‘€œI’€™m sure there’€™s a long list of people who feel that way,’€ said the Patriots quarterback. ‘€œWe’€™re spending our time getting ready to play. I don’€™t think we’€™re spending our time figuring out what we can do to combat what people say about us. Not everybody has great things to say about our team or organization or certain players, and that’€™s the way it’€™s always been. We’€™re just going to do our talking on the field. I think that’€™s what we’€™ve always chosen to do.’€

Cromartie’€™s comments were the latest in a long line of statements coming from the Jets about this week’€™s game. Ryan says that while the talk out of New York is getting a lot of ink, the Patriots do their share of trash-talking.

‘€œTrust me, they’€™re saying a lot worse about me and others here. It just maybe wasn’€™t printed,’€ Ryan said.

2. The Patriots did not practice on the Gillette Stadium field
‘€” it couldn’€™t be cleared off in time ‘€” so they went under the bubble. (This after a Tuesday where Alge Crumpler joked that they would likely be outside on Wednesday, whatever the weather. ‘€œOur bubble is just for naming rights ‘€” it’€™s not for us to practice in,’€ he said with a smile.)

And according to reports, the only player who was missing from the session (which was held in sweats and shells) was defensive lineman Myron Pryor, who has had back issues for most of the second half of the season. That’€™s an improvement over Tuesday’€™s attendance, where Pryor and Jermaine Cunningham (calf) were the only two players not in attendance. Click here for the full injury report.
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Read More: Alge Crumpler, antonio cromartie, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Bill Belichick

Sanchez shoulder ‘better’ heading into Sunday

01.12.11 at 4:24 pm ET
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J — Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez met with the media on Wednesday and suggested that his injured right shoulder will not play any factor in the playoff battle vs. the Patriots on Sunday.

“Honestly it feels the best it’s felt in three or four weeks,” Sanchez said. “I [fully practiced] today for the first time in a while, which is huge. We know it’s getting better and that’s the important thing. Week by week it is getting better so I’ll be ready to go.”

Sanchez injured his shoulder in his team’s Week 14 win over the Steelers. He was sent for what coach Rex Ryan called a “precautionary” MRI exam the next day. There was no structural damage found, but Sanchez has been bothered by the injury in the weeks since, including in the playoff win over the Colts last Saturday, where Sanchez struggled, particularly in the first half.

“I think I was just not throwing the ball very well,” Sanchez said. “Some days you’re off or you’ve got to find a way to make it work. And I think we did that just getting completions underneath, being smart taking our shots when we got them and giving our guys a chance, and that was the most important thing. It [the final pass of the game] wasn’t the best throw in the world to Braylon [Edwards] and I’m not afraid to admit that, and he made a really good catch. However it has to happen, we won the game and we’re in the divisional round and that’s the most important thing.”

Read More: Jets, Mark Sanchez, Patriots, playoffs

Dustin Pedroia says Antonio Cromartie should wait until he’s even with Tom Brady before talking

01.12.11 at 4:20 pm ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia joined The Big Show for his weekly “Laser Show” segment on Wednesday. A master in the art of trash talk, Pedroia said that Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who called Tom Brady an “ass—” among other things, hasn’t won enough to warrant such talk. Brady has won three Super Bowls, while the Florida State product is still looking for his first ring.

“It’s 3-0,” Pedroia said. “So let’s stop talking about ‘F you’ and stuff until we get even.”

“Everyone plays in their sport long enough that if you’re going to talk and do your thing, it’s going to come around at some point and get you, and you’ve got to be able to handle it.”

Pedroia added that given the Jets’ trash-talking and touchdown celebrations vs. the Patriots, Brady has the right to show emotion when he beats the Jets, the very thing Cromartie took issue with. The Sox’ second baseman said that logic applies to every sport.

“If a guy strikes you out and fist-pumps at you, or drills you and starts talking, if you take him deep, you’ve got to get your pimp on,” Pedroia said.

To listen to the complete interview, click here.

Read More: antonio cromartie, Dustin Pedroia, Tom Brady,

Damien Woody ruled out by Jets for Sunday’s game

01.12.11 at 4:13 pm ET
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The Jets ruled offensive lineman Damien Woody out for Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Patriots with an achilles injury. Here’s the rest of their injury report for Wednesday:

T Damien Woody (achilles)

Did Not Participate in Practice
G Brandon Moore (back)
WR Brad Smith (groin)

Limited Participation in Practice
WR Santonio Holmes (quadricep)
S James Ihedigbo (knee, ankle)
CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring)

Full Participating in Practice
CB Antonio Cromartie (groin)
TE Ben Hartsock (back)
C Nick Mangold (shoulder)
DT Sione Pouha (back)
RB Tony Richardson (finger)
QB Mark Sanchez (right shoulder)
LB Bryan Thomas (ankle)

Read More: injury report, Jets, playoffs,

Myron Pryor only one missing from Patriots practice

01.12.11 at 4:06 pm ET
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The Patriots had just one player miss practice on Wednesday ‘€” defensive lineman Myron Pryor ‘€” while six players were limited, including Aaron Hernandez, Deion Branch and Sebastian Vollmer. Check out the full report below:

Did Not Participate
DE Myron Pryor (back)

Limited Participation in Practice
LB Tully Banta-Cain (groin)
WR Deion Branch (knee)
DE Jermaine Cunningham (calf)
TE Aaron Hernandez (hip)
DE Eric Moore (hamstring)
T Sebastian Vollmer (shin)

Full Participation in Practice
CB Kyle Arrington (elbow)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder, foot)

Read More: injury report, Patriots, playoffs,
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