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Peter King on M&M: Colts QB Andrew Luck ‘not been averse to making some huge mistakes’

01.10.14 at 1:31 pm ET
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Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about the NFL playoffs and other league news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Andrew Luck is drawing high praise as he leads the Colts into Foxboro for a divisional-round game Saturday night.

“I think most people look at him right now and think that he’s on his way to having a top-10, 20 quarterback career,” King said. “There’s a couple of reasons. He’s so precocious about the game, he knows so much about the game. His dad raised him in the game, because obviously his dad was a pro quarterback. I think he also learned the other side of the game also. He learned the team side, he learned you’re nothing without your teammates, and the media part of it doesn’t matter. ‘€¦ It’s just not in his pedigree right now to set himself apart from the crowd. So I think more than anything, Andrew Luck gets it.”

However, King said he isn’t convinced Luck will add to his growing legend Saturday.

“When you look back at his career, why I’m skeptical he’ll play one of his great games is, first of all, he’s gotten hit quite a bit this season, so I think the Patriots are probably going to be able to pressure him,” King said. “And secondly, I think if you take away T.Y. Hilton you’ll be able to do some good things against their passing game.

“He’s not been averse to making some huge mistakes. Look at the first half last week, where he was vastly outplayed by Alex Smith, then early in the third quarter. So, to me, I kind of look at him right now and just say I think he can be great any week. But I also think he’s going to still make mistakes ’cause he’s still learning the game.”

King said that this matchup could turn into a battle of the ground games.

“Everybody has sort of said, ‘If Andrew Luck can’t do it then they’re in huge trouble.’ But just look at Donald Brown — to me, anyway — in the last few weeks. He hasn’t run it a lot, but he’s run it very productively — high yards per rush; he’s averaged over five [5.3] for the year,” King said. “If I’m [offensive coordinator] Pep Hamilton and the Colts, I’m saying, look, I want Donald Brown and Trent Richardson to have very prominent roles in this game plan. In part because we’d like to keep it away from Tom Brady. And also in part because this team this year, the Patriots are vulnerable against the run. They’ve shown it week after week. They’re surrendering 4 1/2 a carry.

“And you understand because of the marquee value of quarterbacks, they’re making it out as an Andrew Luck-Tom Brady game. And it well could be. But I think it could also be a Donald Brown-Shane Vereen game as well. Or LaGarrette Blount.”

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Donald Brown, Drew Brees, Josh McDaniels

Poll: Who wins Saturday’s Patriots-Colts game?

01.10.14 at 11:54 am ET
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The Patriots open the playoffs Saturday night, looking to make another Super Bowl run. The Colts come into the game on the heels of last weekend’s dramatic comeback victory over the Chiefs, as Andrew Luck rallied Indianapolis from an 18-point second-half deficit for a 45-44 victory.

Can the injury-plagued Patriots hold off the streaking Colts, who have won four games in a row? Let us know what you think.

Who will win Saturday's Patriots-Colts game?

  • Patriots in a close game in regulation (62%, 679 Votes)
  • Patriots in a rout (22%, 243 Votes)
  • Colts in a close game in regulation (11%, 116 Votes)
  • Colts in a rout (3%, 30 Votes)
  • Patriots in overtime (2%, 19 Votes)
  • Colts in overtime (1%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,096

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Colts OC Pep Hamilton references ‘Spygate’ when asked about Patriots

01.09.14 at 11:14 pm ET
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Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton took a thinly-veiled dig at the Patriots on Thursday in advance of Saturday’s New England-Indy playoff game.

Hamilton, who served as an assistant under Herm Edwards when Edwards was head coach of the Jets from 2003 to 2005, was asked about what it was like facing the Patriots back then. With a smile, he made what some perceived to be a reference to the videotaping scandal that dogged New England in 2007 and led to a $500,000 fine for head coach Bill Belichick.

“I do know for a fact that it was always a 60-minute chess match,” he said with a grin. “It was ever-changing looks and disguises — and they always tend to find ways to figure out some of your signals.”

Hamilton then proceeded to go out of his way to praise Belichick, calling him one of the “greatest coaches in the history of the National Football League.”

‘€œIt’€™s truly an honor to have an opportunity to field a team and compete against the likes of Coach Belichick,’€ he added.

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Rob Gronkowski undergoes ACL surgery that Dr. James Andrews says ‘went very well’

01.09.14 at 10:24 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski took his first step Thursday toward a return to the playing field in 2014 with reconstructive surgery on his right ACL.

The procedure was performed by renown orthopedic surgery Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. On site with Gronkowski were his father Gordy Gronkowski and Gronkowski’s super agent Drew Rosenhaus, who tweeted after the procedure that Andrews said the surgery “went very well.”

Gronkowski tore his ACL and injured his MCL on Dec. 8 in a win over the Browns when T.J. Ward went low and took out his knees on a 21-yard seam route.

Gronkowski is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the 2014 regular season.

Later in the evening, after Gronkowski was in recovery, the tight end tweeted his thanks to all the well-wishes from fans.

Read More: Cleveland Browns, Gordy Gronkowski, Gronk, james andrews

Stephen Gostkowski is still waiting for that special Adam Vinatieri playoff ‘moment’

01.09.14 at 6:30 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It’s no secret that kickers live in their own little world and usually only show themselves when the pressure is on.

Stephen Gostkowski gave a little insight to his world and what he might be thinking should Saturday night’s playoff game against the Colts come down to his right foot.

“I just go into a game trying to make a kick,” Gostkowski said. “The times that I’€™ve gotten into situations where it’€™s in the fourth quarter, it’€™s a kick that you know if you don’€™t make it, you’€™re not going to necessarily get another opportunity, I try to just treat it like any other kick. I’€™ve made kicks, I’€™ve missed kicks and I’€™m still here. I just try to take each kick one kick at a time.

“There could be a kick that I make in the first quarter and we could end up winning by three. So me just sitting there and worrying about a kick at the end of the game I feel like would do a disservice to the other kicks. Each game is different and each mentality is different. I remember my first couple years, you’€™re just waiting and waiting and waiting for that moment. But you have no control over it. All you can do I prepare yourself to be ready for that moment. We’€™ve had a lot of them this year and hopefully we can take the same approach and have the same success we’€™ve had if we get into that situation.

TV crews love to show kickers on the sidelines late in close games. What is thinking when the camera is on him and does he visualize the mental aspect of every kick while getting ready?

“Yeah, you do little things like I’€™ll watch a five minute cut-up of some big kicks that I’€™ve made to a song that I like,” he said. “Just like little visual things and then when I’€™m on the sideline I’€™ll sing that song and then in my head I see the ball going through the uprights.

“Sometimes there are days you don’€™t feel good or things haven’€™t been going well and you might have in your mind, ‘€˜Don’€™t miss this kick.’€™ But then when it’€™s going good, you go out there, ‘€˜I’€™m going to make it.’€™ It’€™s just that difference between confidence and cockiness, just going out there to make the kick instead of to not miss. Mentally to me that’€™s a big difference. I always just try to visualize myself doing well and not getting overexcited or too hyped up in the moment.

“Most of those guys are banging heads. I’€™m trying to like listen to Enya before the game to calm myself down. All I do is just try to ‘€“ the worst thing you can do in situations where, for me personally, where the situation gets bigger is get too excited. You have to try to slow your heart rate down, turn that nervousness and tightness into focus and if you just try to do that and do what you do on every other kick then most of the time you’€™ll be successful. That’€™s just the approach that I take.”

Gostkowski, who later clarified that he does not listen to nor sing Enya songs on the sideline – is yet to have that definitive moment that Adam Vinatieri enjoyed three times in the 2001 playoffs, including the game-winner in Super Bowl XXXVI. Vinatieri also won Super Bowl XXXVIII with a last-second field goal.

He will, of course, be going against Vinatieri on Saturday night in a matter of speaking as the Colts come calling to Gillette Stadium.

“Most kickers and punters and snappers are pretty cordial with each other throughout the year,” Gostkowski said Thursday when asked about his predecessor. “You kind of pull for each other when you’€™re not playing [against] each other kind of thing. Most guys have respect for each other because some guy who is knocking heads every play is not going to have as much respect for what we do as other guys that go through what we do on a day-to-day basis.

“You always have a fond respect for a guy that there’€™s only 31 other in the league. He’€™s the best of the best. As far as does it matter that he’€™s playing? It doesn’€™t matter. Unless he’€™s trying to come block the kick or he’€™s going to be back there returning it, it’€™s just another game.”

Does Gostkowski see himself lasting till he’s 41, like Vinatieri?

“I don’€™t know, man. I’€™m just trying to make it to the next game,” Gostkowski said. “Whatever I do is bonus. I had no idea I would even be in the NFL, let alone play eight years. A short-term goal is 10 [years]. This is all bonus. Here we focus on a day-to-day kind of thing. If I were to get the chance to do that, that would be great.

“The guys that have been good, like Gary Anderson, Morten Andersen, a lot of guys that kicked well into their later careers, John Carney. You hear stories about, I remember Junior Seau told me John Carney was the most in-shape guy he’€™s ever been around. I was like, ‘€˜No, get out of here.’€™ This is Junior Seau, one of the best linebackers of all-time, he said he’€™s a good buddy. You hear stories about Adam working out and being in shape,” Gostkowski said. “As long as he’€™s out there producing, there’€™s no reason. Age is just a number. If he feels good and it looks like he’€™s doing good then more power to him.”

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Read More: 2014 playoffs, Adam Vinatieri, Enya, Indianapolis Colts

No changes in Patriots injury report as WR Aaron Dobson (foot) remains only player sidelined

01.09.14 at 3:52 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots Thursday practice report was the same as it was the day before, with rookie receiver Aaron Dobson the only player absent from the session. Meanwhile, offensive lineman Logan Mankins, safety Devin McCourty, running back Shane Vereen and cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard were all among the limited.

Here is Thursday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
WR Aaron Dobson (foot)

Limited Participation
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)

Full Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)

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Sporting News writer Vinnie Iyer joins M&M to explain ranking Tom Brady last among playoff QBs

01.09.14 at 1:53 pm ET
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Sporting News NFL writer Vinnie Iyer, in an interview with WEEI’s Mut & Merloni show to discuss his breakdown of the eight playoff quarterbacks that ranked Patriots signal-caller Tom Brady in last place, suggested that he meant no disrespect to the three-time Super Bowl winner. Instead, he characterized Brady’s last-place ranking as a reflection of the outstanding caliber of quarterbacks who are still in the playoffs.

“I don’t think you’ve seen kind of the confluence of this type of talent ever at this stage. … One vs. eight, there’s not that much difference in my mind,” said Iyer. “I think a good comparison [to Brady] here is [Chargers quarterback] Philip Rivers. When you look all time and most seasons, Brady is better than Philip Rivers. But Philip Rivers has had an exceptional season this year. A lot of people rated him just behind [Peyton] Manning in terms of the season he’s having in that offense. When you look at the weapons around, I think that plays into it a little bit. I think the Patriots as a playoff team that can go all the way will probably have to lean a little more on the run in order to do so. I just looked at the big picture of this right now and not in the past and what the accomplishments are because of course Brady’s going to be the top guy in terms of that. But it’s just shocking to me at how much talent is out there and how confident these young guys are that they can play with the vets at this point.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: sporting news, Tom Brady, vinnie iyer,
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