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The Big Nickel: Deion Brach talks about Darrelle Revis, Tedy Bruschi on the Jets and Terrell Suggs takes another shot at Tom Brady

12.01.10 at 4:00 pm ET
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The five most important things you need to know about the Patriots today:

1. There was no availability with the Patriots today, but wide receiver Deion Branch spent some quality time with the New York media on a conference call, and was asked if he thought New York cornerback Darrelle Revis looked like he was back to form after suffering a hamstring injury.

‘€œHe looks great on film to me,’€ Branch said. ‘€œI can’€™t say how he feels, but I think, looking at him on film and everything, he looks good. He’€™s moving pretty good.  The guy is a problem. He’€™s a good player and the coaches know what they have in him. I think the times that he did take the field, 60 to 70 percent, the coach knew that and they took those chances. I think from I’€™m seeing on film, he looks good.’€

It remains to be seen how the Jets will go about defending Branch ‘€” there’€™s a school of thought that Revis will match up with Wes Welker, which would leave Antonio Cromartie occupied with either Branch or tight end Aaron Hernandez.

2. The Tedy Bruschi conference call was written about earlier today, but the former Patriots linebacker and current ESPN analyst also weighed in on a couple of other topics in his chat with reporters, including his thoughts on the Jets. Bruschi, who called Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez a ‘€œfront-runner’€ earlier this season ‘€” he has since retreated from those comments, saying he was wrong ‘€” believes that the Sanchez/Rex Ryan Jets are a legitimate, long-time threat to the Patriots when it comes to AFC East supremacy.

‘€œIn the past, we won so many division championships and a lot of those times we weren’€™t looking at teams in division as threats down the line. There were times division was over and I remember getting hats and t-shirts that said ‘€˜AFC East champions’€™ (with weeks to go in the regular season), but now it’€™s you win the AFC East and you’€™re going to be a contender,’€ he said. ‘€œNow it looks like Jets are the serious contenders. It’€™s opposite, the way these teams handle things, but i think the Jets have solidified themselves as legitimate threats. This year is the first year it’€™s in doubt whether the Patriots will win the division.’€

3. Outside of his Wednesday chats with the media and his Monday morning sitdown with Dennis & Callahan, Tom Brady Q&A’€™s are few and far between. But the quarterback took some time to talk with Rich Eisen of the NFL Network for his series of podcasts (check out the link here). In it, Brady touched on a few topics having to do with this week’€™s showdown with the Jets, most notably the fact that the Patriots look like an awful different team than the one that played ‘€” and lost to ‘€” New York back in Week 2.

‘€œWe’€™re [different], but they are, too. We both like to think we’€™ve improved. And really, the identity of your team starts to take shape around now,’€ said Brady, who was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the 16th time in his career on Wednesday. ‘€œAll the guys you’€™ve brought in over the course of the offseason, they’€™ve had a chance to be coached and a lot of the depth of each team is showing through. You see the teams that are mentally tough and work hard and are committed to doing what their coaches ask. That shows up this time of year. We’€™ve always played better in the second half of the season, and I think both us and the Jets are very confident this week.’€

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, antonio cromartie, Darrelle Revis, Deion Branch

Tedy talks about ‘Bruschi Night’ and why it means more against the Jets

12.01.10 at 12:24 pm ET
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It’€™ll be ‘€œTedy Bruschi Night’€ Monday at Gillette, and the former Patriots linebacker is pretty jacked up about the honor. Bruschi, who had a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, will be honored in a halftime ceremony, and he anticipates an evening ‘€œfilled with a lot of different kinds of emotions.’€

‘€œI’€™m very excited about it. I’€™m not sure what emotions I’€™m going to experience,’€ Bruschi said. ‘€œIt’€™s a whole new setting for me in going out and having my family out there with me, and not being in helmets and shoulder pads. So it’€™s going to be different.

‘€œI’€™m very appreciative of the night, of Mr. Kraft setting this up for me,’€ he added. ‘€œI’€™m very proud to say this is the only organization I know. It’€™s the only organization I ever played for. That was my goal going in, coming out of college, and going into the league. I only wanted to play for one team, because I guess that’€™s just the type of guy I am. I look forward to the opportunity of thanking the fans somewhat in person for all the support they gave me my entire career. It’€™s going to be a night that’€™s going to be filled with a lot of different kinds of emotions and also, we’€™ll see how I feel depending on what the score is at halftime.’€

Bruschi said it means something to have this happen at halftime of a game against the Jets,

‘€œWe’€™ve had a handful of rivalries there over the past decade or so: the Steelers, the Colts, [but] especially the Jets,’€ he said. ‘€œDuring Jet week, I really felt the rivalry coming in through the coaching staff, from Al Groh to Bill Belichick ‘€” I always felt coaches coaching with more urgency, a more aggressive demeanor, [stressing] what it meant to get a job done, execute special assignments. Coaches feel this one and the lead comes from them. There’€™s a lot of history back and forth [with coaches and players working/playing for both sides], and with that comes more of a wanting to beat the team. But the coaches really took the lead when I was there.’€

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2nd perfect game earns Tom Brady AFC Offensive POTW honor

12.01.10 at 10:44 am ET
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FOXBORO – Tom Brady has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Week by the National Football League for his “perfect” performance in the Patriots’ 45-24 win over the Lions on Thanksgiving Day. It is the 16th time in Brady’s career that he has received the AFC Offensive Player of the Week honor.

Brady finished 21-of-27 for 341 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a perfect passer rating of 158.3, the second time in his career that he has finished a game with the highest possible passer rating. He also had a perfect rating on Oct. 21, 2007 at Miami. He is the third player in NFL history to have more than one game with a perfect rating (minimum of 20 attempts), joining Peyton Manning (3) and Kurt Warner (3).

Brady threw two touchdown passes to both Wes Welker and Deion Branch, including a season-long 79-yard touchdown pass to Branch in the third quarter. Brady increased his 2010 touchdown total to 23, a mark that is tied with Eli Manning and Drew Brees for first in the NFL.

Brady is the second New England player to be honored with a Player of the Week Award in 2010. Safety James Sanders was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week following the Patriots 39-26 victory over Pittsburgh in Week 10.

Read More: AFC Offensive Player of the Week, Kurt Warner, New England Patriots, nfl

Will Jets give Pats DBs stiffest test yet?

11.30.10 at 6:10 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Resiliency is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days in sports. It’s the catch-all phrase to describe players and teams that overcome some sort of adversity to come out on top.

It applies to teams that deal with hurdles in the middle of the season, only to have key players make key plays at key moments on the way to a successful season.

Now, the 9-2 New York Jets invade Gillette Stadium, having survived a remarkable stretch of games in which they walked the tightrope, only to find a way not to fall off from building to building.

“It’s the same as every other week,” Patriots corner back Kyle Arrington said. “There’s a lot on the line right now, of course. We all know that. First place in the AFC. It’s a big week, don’t take me wrong. But we have to take it just like any other game.”

It applies to individuals who endure hardship, only to find a way to come out on top and prove their true worth to their team.

For the New York Jets – and in particular – their passing game, both of the above apply. The New York Jets were shutout by the Green Bay Packers, 9-0, at home back in a frightening display of anemic offense on Halloween. Quarterback Mark Sanchez was 16-of-38 for 256 yards and two interceptions.

The numbers don’t show the Jets as a fearsome passing attack as Mark Sanchez is in the lower-half of quarterback rating in the NFL (22nd at 81.9) and the Jets rank 13th in total passing yards. But ask Arrington, Devin McCourty and the rest of the Patriots secondary and they’ll tell you this receiving corps of Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller will test them as much or more than they’ve been tested all season.

[Click here to read how Devin McCourty has already become one of the best CBs in the NFL and Pats history.]

Following their Halloween disaster, they were in the midst of suffering another humiliation – down 20-10 to the Lions in Detroit before turning on the – pardon the horrifically bad pun – Jets. Sanchez turned from goal to hero when he led the team back, throwing for 336 and running for a fourth-quarter touchdown that brought his team within three, 20-17. The Jets won, 23-20, in overtime.

“He’€™s a big play maker,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Holmes. “[He'€™s] fast, quick, good routes, runs well after the catch, complements Braylon well because Braylon’€™s a big, physical, downfield receiver and Holmes is fast, quick [and] has very good route running ability. He can get down the field, but he can also run short-intermediate routes, run after the catch [and] do all those things. They’€™re both big threats, big-play guys.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Patriots given surprise gift on Wednesday

11.30.10 at 5:34 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Call it a reward. Call it an extra day to game plan. Or just call it an extra day for players to put their feet up and get more rest because their coach believes they’ll need it Monday night against the Jets.

Whatever the reason, after practicing on the upper grass fields on Tuesday, coach Bill Belichick surprised the team by giving his players Wednesday off, with practice Thursday through Saturday with the normal day-before walk-through on Sunday.

The Patriots were also given Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday off following their 45-24 win in Detroit on Thanksgiving, making this week feel more like the week after a bye. That’s five days off in a six-day span. That’s unusual – even in a bye week.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich said of the bye-week feel. “You kind of get a few days to get off your feet and relax so it was a good weekend. This is going to be an intense week of practice because this is going to be a big game for us. I’m expecting to have a good week of preparation so it will follow over into Monday.”

Jets coach Rex Ryan likewise is making sure his team is well-rested – giving his players Tuesday and Wednesday off before returning to the practice field on Thursday, just like the Patriots.

Local, New York and national media have already shown up to cover the two 9-2 teams getting ready to square off at Gillette Stadium on Monday night. Just another sign that this is not your normal week in Foxboro.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, New York Jets, nfl

The Big Nickel: Bill Belichick plays it cool, Tom Brady isn’t at practice and defending Dustin Keller

11.30.10 at 3:47 pm ET
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The five most important things to know about the Patriots today:

1. Bill Belichick is playing it cool. Not like there was much of a surprise, but the Patriots’ coach  wasn’€™t going to respond to Rex Ryan‘€™s ‘€œkick his ass’€ comments with anything more than a simple shrug.

‘€œSure, that’€™s understandable,’€ Belichick said Tuesday. ‘€œHey, there’€™s no love lost out there between those two teams. We both want to win. That’€™s what we’€™re here for ‘€” the Jets and the Patriots, both teams are walking out on the field to come out victorious. Is that a big news story? Is that something we didn’€™t know? The Jets want to win the game, the Patriots want to win?

‘€œI’€™m not really worried about anybody else. I’€™m just trying to get this team ready to play,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œI’€™m not surprised that they expect to win and they’€™re confident they’€™re going to win. So are we. It might be a headline story for you guys ‘€” both teams expect to win.’€

2. Tom Brady not at practice. The quarterback was one of six players who were not present at the start of Patriots practice on Tuesday, a group that included cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, offensive lineman Stephen Neal, defensive lineman Myron Pryor, defensive lineman Ron Brace and defensive lineman Mike Wright.

At this stage ‘€” and given what has transpired over the last few weeks ‘€” it’€™s not a surprise to see Brady sit things out on Tuesday, especially given the fact that there’€™s an extra day of prep work looming for the Monday Night showdown with the Jets. Bottom line is there’€™s not much to see here when it comes to Brady’€™s absence, especially when you consider the level of football he’€™s displayed through the last month or so ‘€” despite missing time with a foot injury, in his last three games, Brady has completed 70-of-95 passes (74 percent) for 877 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions.

One of the things that is worth keeping an eye on is the fact that Brace, Wright and Pryor were all out. Wright and Pryor have been hobbled by injury over the last week or two ‘€” Wright with a neck/concussion and Pryor with a back ‘€” but if Brace is out for a lengthy stretch, it could leave the defensive line a little thin going forward.

3. Jets tight end Dustin Keller has made a good living against the Patriots ‘€” his 22 catches and 281 yards in five career games against New England are career highs for him. In September’s win over New England, he was targeted a team-high nine times and caught seven passes for a team-high 115 yards and a touchdown. So what makes him so hard to defend?

‘€œThey definitely move him around. They use a lot of different formations, even within the same personnel groups, and they use a lot of different personnel groups. But, they definitely move him around,’€ Belichick said on Tuesday. ‘€œKeller’€™s a good receiver. He’€™s quick. He’€™s got good speed down the field. He can definitely threaten the vertical element of the defense. [He'€™s] good after the catch, got good hands, good red-area receiver. He does a good job for them.’€

The Patriots are without safety Brandon McGowan, who became their designated tight end stopper last season, taking on a variety of word class tight ends like Tony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark. On Monday, New England will likely use a variety of coverages against Keller, much of which will involve inside linebacker Gary Guyton. Linebackers coach Matt Patricia said the matchup of a tight end against a linebacker presents some unique challenges for a defense.

‘€œThe hard thing for an inside linebacker is that anytime you’€™re in a situation where the run game can be at you and be on you very fast and very quick, and where you have a situation with a very dangerous receiver who can get down the field and get open … I think that’€™s the hardest situation for an inside linebacker,’€ Patricia said. ‘€œYou are in the direct line of the run game, but also critically and crucially involved in the passing game. So, I think that’€™s why those guys are really hard working players for us and they have to do a lot of work and study and improve every week because they’€™re in that situation where both the run and pass game can affect them very quickly.’€
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Read More: Bill Belichick, Dallas Clark, Danny Woodhead, Dustin Keller

Tom Brady among those missing at practice for Patriots

11.30.10 at 1:24 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The following players were missing from the start of Patriots practice Tuesday afternoon: quarterback Tom Brady, cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, offensive lineman Stephen Neal, defensive lineman Myron Pryor, defensive lineman Ron Brace and defensive lineman Mike Wright.

While most of the other players have been dogged by various injuries over the previous week or so, Brace’s absence is his first in some time. No Brace, as well as Pryor and Wright, leaves the New England defensive line a little thin at practice Tuesday afternoon.

The practice session, which is being held in full pads, is on the upper practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. New England is preparing for a Monday night showdown with the Jets.

Read More: injury report, Patriots,
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