|11.21.14 at 12:12 am ET|
1. In stark contrast to the nasty words that were coming out of the Pittsburgh locker room in the wake of what happened with LeGarrette Blount over the last week, on Thursday, the vibe around the Patriots was all good when it came to the newest Patriot. Special teams captain Matthew Slater called him a “great teammate,” while fullback James Develin said it was “good” to have him back. Meanwhile, Jonas Gray — who likely will see his role shrink some with the addition of Blount — said he had no problem with the move, adding that the veteran is is a “great guy to learn from.” As for what sort of role awaits him, it’s likely he’ll split duties with Gray as the primary between-the-tackles back, as well as serve as some sort of insurance policy if the stage gets too big for the youngster, or if he puts the ball on the ground at some point. It’s also possible he sees time as a part-time kick returner — with the occasional exception of Danny Amendola, no one has really done much to distinguish themselves in the position. With his background last year, it certainly makes sense for the Patriots to give him a shot back there.
2. Few teams have seen the type of turnover at the running back position as New England. With the injury to Ridley, if form holds, the Patriots will have their sixth different back lead the team in rushing in 2014 over the last decade — only four other teams (Saints, Browns, Broncos and Cardinals) have had more. Corey Dillon (2004-2006), Laurence Maroney (2007, 2009), Sammy Morris (2008), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (2010-2011) and Stevan Ridley (2012-2013). And now, with Ridley on the shelf the rest of the year, this season it figures to be either Vereen, Gray or Blount. That could change again next year, as Brandon Bolden, Ridley and Shane Vereen are all in the final year of their contracts, while Blount, Gray and rookie James White are all under contract for 2015. (In addition, Tyler Gaffney, who was claimed by the Patriots this summer but is spending the year on injured reserve because of a knee issue, is still a possibility to be a part of the mix next season.) Regardless, even with all the changes, things could still change between now and the start of next season.
3. As forward thinking as the Patriots offense — and the passing game in particular — has been the last few years, there’s something impressively retro about what New England might be able to do this season. If we operate with the idea that a “running back by committee” includes a team with four backs with at least 40 carries, it appears that for the second straight season, the Patriots will attempt to be the first team to win a Super Bowl using the “running back by committee” approach since the 1987 Redskins, who won Super Bowl. Right now, the Patriots three different backs reach with at least 69 carries (Ridley with 94, Vereen with 70 and Gray with 69). While some of those numbers are borne out of necessarily since Ridley went down, if Blount is able to click down the stretch for New England — and it’s entirely possible he can hit the 40-carry mark, given his experience in the system — he would be a fourth. If the Patriots could take the title, it would represent the greatest cross-section of work for running backs for any Super Bowl champion since that Washington team emerged with a win in Super Bowl XXII. (Of course, that Redskins team could be discounted on a penalty, as that was a strike year and one of the backs was a scab who rushed 80 times in three strike games but never played another down. If you disqualify them on a technicality, them the last true RBBC team to win a Super Bowl in a non-strike year was the 1981 Niners, a team that had five different backs finish with 40 carries or more: Ricky Patton, Earl Cooper, Johnny Davis, Walt Easley and Paul Hofer.)
|11.20.14 at 8:56 pm ET|
Tom Brady weighed in with his thoughts on the return of LeGarrette Blount to the Patriots Thursday with another tremendous Facebook post.
|11.20.14 at 8:46 pm ET|
The former Patriots wide receiver is in town to do some TV work for Fox in advance of Sunday’s Patriots-Lions game. Between his work, Moss sat down with Patriots.com reporter Jackie Brittain for an interview for Patriots.com.
Moss talked about a variety of topics, including how he became a member of the Patriots. Moss was traded to the Patriots from the Raiders before Day 2 of the 2007 NFL draft for a fourth-round pick in that draft.
“I’ve said this story time and time again, but I just want people to understand that I am very grateful,” Moss told Brittain. “When I came from Oakland, I was in a dark place. I was in a dark place because I was there for two years, I got traded from the Vikings and things weren’t going well in California. I was away from home, my career wasn’t going the way I wanted it to go.
“I remember I was in Houston, Texas, doing the draft and I got a call from Bill Belichick and I thought it was one of my friends playing. I was like, ‘Who is this?’ and he was like, ‘This is Bill Belichick.’ I was like, ‘Man, get real, who is this?’ Coach told me that if I am up here by 10 o’clock next morning, blah, blah, blah, then the trade would go through. Man, I started scrambling.
“When I came up here and became a Patriot I was very thankful, I was very grateful. Mrs. Myra Kraft played a role in it. When she passed away I had to pay my respects to the home, to the family, and when I go see Mr. Kraft he doesn’t call me Randy Moss, he calls me Randy Moss Kraft. They welcomed me into the family and like I said, still to this day it’s just love and anytime you come here you feel the love from the Kraft family.”
|11.20.14 at 6:02 pm ET|
Running back LeGarrette Blount took to Twitter Thursday afternoon to express his feelings about returning to the Patriots. (The veteran, who spent the 2013 season in New England, was released earlier in the week by the Steelers. He was signed by the Patriots on Thursday.)
— LeGarrette Blount (@LG_Blount) November 20, 2014
|11.20.14 at 5:50 pm ET|
When it comes to playing at Gillette Stadium, Detroit defensive back Glover Quin said it’s tough for road teams to get thrown by the occasionally rural environment of Southeastern Massachusetts.
“Foxboro’s a weird place,” Quin told the Detroit Free-Press this week. “You go up there and you’re in a hotel and then you got to drive through like back woods to get there and then all of a sudden a stadium appears like it seems like in people’s backyard and it’s like, just a weird place out there. And they love it. They play great there. I’ve never won there. I’ve played there three or four times, I’ve never won there. It’s tough to win there.
“I just know you’re going through like the back woods, and you’re just like, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to?’ And then all of a sudden it’s like you see like a little trailer park or something like that, and then all of a sudden you see the stadium, you’re like ‘Whoa, right in the backyard?'” Quin added. “It’s weird out there. It’s weird out there, I can’t even lie.”
Quin said a big reason why the Patriots have done so well at home is because of a smart fan base that knows when to make noise and when it be quiet.
“That the crowd is so silent on offense and Tom Brady is able to really control the offense as opposed to having to signal a lot,” Quin said. “Look at a TV copy of a home game from New England and just listen, you can hear everything that he’s saying.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|11.20.14 at 4:57 pm ET|
The league announced Thursday that Sunday’s game between the Bills and Jets won’t be played in Buffalo this weekend because of the massive snowstorm that has blanketed parts of upstate New York.
According to the NFL, the league is in the process of finding a suitable alternate venue for the game.
“Due to public safety concerns in light of the ongoing weather emergency in Western New York, Sunday’s Jets-Bills game will not be played in Buffalo,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora said in a statement. “We are in the process of rescheduling and relocating the game as part of Week 12. We will provide additional information as soon as possible.
“We have been in contact with the public authorities and we realize the importance of all available public safety resources being available for the community at this difficult time. We are also in discussions with the team and the Red Cross on ways the NFL can support the community through this weather disaster.”
Detroit and Washington reportedly loom as possible replacement sites.
|11.20.14 at 4:42 pm ET|
The Patriots practiced outside in the cold on the grass fields behind Gillette Stadium on Thursday in advance of Sunday’s game with the Lions. Chandler Jones (hip), Dominique Easley (knee) and Cameron Fleming (finger/ankle) all missed the session.
Jones hasn’t practiced since suffering the hip injury in Week 7, while Fleming didn’t practice Wednesday after leaving late in last Sunday’s game against the Colts with an ankle injury. It was Fleming’s first action since suffering a finger injury Week 4 against Kansas City, which he is still said to be dealing with. Easley missed the practice after being limited on Wednesday. It is worth noting that Wednesday’s practice was a walkthrough and Thursday’s was held in full pads.
Offensive lineman Ryan Wendell (knee) was removed from the injury report.
On a side note, Sealver Siliga was spotted at Wednesday’s walkthrough, but his 21-day window of coming off short-term injured reserve has not started yet.
For the Lions, running back Joique Bell was limited in practice after not practicing at all on Wednesday. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive lineman Nick Fairley once again did not practice.
Here is the complete Patriots practice report:
Did not practice
DL Dominique Easley (knee)
OL Cameron Fleming (finger/ankle)
DE Chandler Jones (hip)
OL Marcus Cannon (hip)
S Nate Ebner (finger)
WR Julian Edelman (thigh)
QB Tom Brady (ankle)
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