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The Big Nickel: Don’t expect bulletin-board material from the Patriots, Tom Brady is a dork and Wednesday will be ‘snow problem’ for practice

01.11.11 at 3:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The five most important things you need to know about the Patriots on Tuesday:

1. Alge Crumpler knew what was coming.
He was just surprised it took the media until the fourth question into his press conference.

‘€œHere we go ‘€” I thought we would get a few days before some of the banter started, but it is what it is,’€ Crumpler said with a smile after he was asked about his ‘€œpersonal reaction’€ to what he’€™d heard coming out of New York.

‘€œLike I said the last time we played, that team takes after their coach. We take after ours,’€ he said. ‘€œIt all boils down to what you do on the field.’€

The first day of media availability with New England players was Tuesday morning, and Crumpler’€™s comments were echoed by his teammates. While New York has spent the last few days making bold statements about what’€™s going to happen, New England players made it clear on Tuesday morning they have no plans on getting into a war of words with Rex Ryan and the Jets.

‘€œIt’€™s just the philosophy of our team. We’€™re just … we’€™re here to work,’€ said safety Jarrad Page. ‘€œWhen it’€™s game time, that’€™s when you’€™ve got to come out. You can do your talking then. You either win or lose ‘€” that’€™s the most important thing. We’€™ll let people talk about that instead of what we’€™re talking about during the week.’€

‘€œThey’€™re just comments,’€ shrugged wide receiver Deion Branch. ‘€œCoach [Ryan] says and does what he does and we do what we do over here. Whatever he has to do to get his team motivated, I think that’€™s what he’€™s going to do.’€

Linebackers Jerod Mayo and Tracy White say New England’€™s philosophy of well done is better than well said comes directly from the head coach.

‘€œI also don’€™t think you have too many guys who talk trash on this team. They let their game do their talking,’€ White said. ‘€œI know coach preaches it to us every day, so we got used to not saying things, letting our game plan [speak] for ourselves instead of talking. You don’€™t need too many distractions.’€

Apparently, Patriots coach Bill Belichick issued a reminder to players about potential bulletin-board material this week. His advice?

‘€œJust to let him handle it,’€ Mayo said. ‘€œHe does a good job of doing it.’€

2. Tom Brady‘€™s study habits were called into question by Ryan over the last couple of weeks, who first suggested Peyton Manning studies more than he does, and then gently tweaked the Patriots quarterback on Monday after he was informed Brady was at ‘€œLombardi’€ on Broadway last Saturday night instead of watching the Colts-Jets game.

‘€œPeyton Manning would have been watching our game,’€ Ryan said with a smile.

(For what it’€™s worth, in his interview with WEEI’€™s Dennis & Callahan on Monday, Brady did say he caught the second half of the game. ‘€œI saw the second half of the game ‘€” I got home and watched the second half,’€ he said. ‘€œYou know what happens to me is I get very anxious watching those games. I was watching the second half and I was actually kind of pissed that I watched it because I didn’€™t go to sleep ‘€˜til 3 in the morning. You just get riled up as I watch them, and then I start rooting for a team to win, and that’€™s not really what I want to be doing. I figure I’€™ll get enough, I’€™ll see the game. I’€™ve seen that game [on tape]. You know, it’€™s just something I wanted to do with my wife.)

However, in the wake of Ryan’€™s comments on Monday, Brady’€™s teammates were more than happy to talk about the quarterbacks’€™ study habits.

‘€œHe said he was watching ‘€˜Lombardi.’€™ I believe him. He hasn’€™t steered me wrong,’€ said Crumpler. ‘€œI’€™m sure he’€™s watched every ounce of film going back to a lot of different games, as we all have.

‘€œI think Tom does a great job, not only in his personal preparation, but in his delivery to what he wants to get across to, not only the coaches, but to us as players,’€ added Crumpler. ‘€œHe has a real good, keen sense of what’€™s going on throughout the ball game and he gets his point across, whether it’€™s quietly or animated or whatever way you want to do it, he’€™s going to get his point across. And that really translates to us as players in terms of trying to be perfect in our execution on the field.’€

‘€œTom studies a lot,’€ added Branch. ‘€œWe get the bulk of it in the meeting rooms with just the players when we sit down to go over the things that he’€™s been looking at. It carries over to the practice field as well. Tom is a dork when it comes to that, so I’€™m going to leave that alone, but Tom is a dork in that meeting room.’€
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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Adalius Thomas, Alge Crumpler, antonio cromartie

Pats practice: Danny Woodhead cleared for contact, Myron Pryor and Jermaine Cunningham miss

01.11.11 at 1:50 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Defensive lineman Myron Pryor and linebacker Jermaine Cunningham were the only players missing from the start of Patriots practice as the team began on-field preparations for the Jets this Sunday in the AFC Divisional playoff at Gillette Stadium.

Pryor has been nursing a back injury while Cunningham is dealing with a calf problem. But the good news for the Patriots was the clearance of Danny Woodhead (concussion) and Dan Koppen to full contact practice. Aaron Hernandez, who missed the last two games with a hip injury, was on hand as well and cleared for contact.

Read More: Jermaine Cunningham, Myron Pryor, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Deion Branch is just laughing at the Jets

01.11.11 at 1:23 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Somewhere Bill Belichick was probably standing and applauding as Deion Branch, Alge Crumpler and Jerod Mayo took to the podium at the Gillette Stadium workroom on Tuesday. The reason – none of them dared pour kerosene, gasoline or anything remotely flammable on the media firestorm coming out of New York.

The Patriots reported for practice on Tuesday on the lower practice field, and beforehand the trio of players did their best to diffuse any war of words with their opponent on Sunday – the New York Jets.

Branch was one of those taking the high road, saying he doesn’t think his quarterback, Tom Brady, is all that concerned about what Rex Ryan thinks of his preparation and the comment that Peyton Manning “would have been watching” the Jets beat the Colts on Saturday night instead of taking in the Broadway show, “Lombardi.”

“I don’t think Tom is worried about him complimenting him,” Branch said. “We’re just focused on what goes on over here. He just does what he does to get his team motivated and get going. You know they’re different. I just heard what Coach Belichick said [to the team]. All of it is funny. I think the biggest thing we both have to play a game at 4:15. I think the thing is Coach Belichick isn’t playing Coach Ryan. The New England Patriots are playing the New York Jets Sunday at 4:15. I think all of the stuff that is said up until that point won’t make a difference.”

Another one of Brady’s targets, tight end Alge Crumpler, said he was only surprised that the rhetoric from New York had already begun six days before the big game.

“Here we go,” Crumpler said. “I thought we’d get a few days before some of the banter started but it is what it is. Like I said the last time we played, their team takes after their coach and we takes after ours. It all boils down to what you do on the field. I don’t care. I think [Ryan] was focused on Peyton Manning and the Colts. They did their job so I don’t really care.”

The defense has the job of containing Mark Sanchez, Braylon Edwards and the Jets on Sunday.

Edwards piped up on Monday, promising that last month’s 45-3 whipping by the Patriots won’t be repeated. ‘€œI remember what happened, but at the end of the day we know we’€™re better than them.”

Mayo’s reply Tuesday?

“I really don’t pay attention to that stuff, to be honest with you,” Mayo said. “I just give you that Belichick answer.”

Somewhere, Belichick nods his head and smiles.

Read More: AFC Playoffs, Bill Belichick, Braylon Edwards, Deion Branch

The Big Nickel: Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan, the return of Brandon Spikes and the Jets running game

01.10.11 at 5:21 pm ET
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The five most important things you need to now about the Patriots and Jets on Monday:

1. Jets coach Rex Ryan said Monday he was ‘€œoutcoached’€ by Bill Belichick in December’€™s clash between the Patriots and New York, and he said that would change for Sunday’€™s divisional playoff at Gillette Stadium.

‘€œI was outcoached in that game. I said it then, and I’€™m saying it now,’€ Ryan said of the game that ended as a 45-3 win for New England. ‘€œI recognize the fact that this is a Hall of Fame coach, and he’€™ll go down in history as maybe the greatest football coach in the history of this game. Or he’€™s going to be close to it. And he was at that level that week, and I was not.

‘€œThis week, this is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan. There’€™s no question. It’€™s personal. This is about him against myself, and that’€™s what it’€™s going to come down to,’€ he added. ‘€œI’€™m just trying to be the best on Sunday. And I plan on being the best coach on Sunday. That’€™s what it is. I recognize that my level has to come up, and he’€™s going to get my best shot. He’€™s going to get everything I have on Sunday. And if he slips at all, we’€™re going to beat him.’€

During most of his 20-minute Q&A with the media on Monday morning, Ryan said time and again the blame for that loss is on his shoulders. He said Belichick got the better of him, and suggested the game plan might have been too complicated.

‘€œIt really came down to coaching more than playing, and it was obvious,’€ he added. ‘€œThey were that much better ‘€” Belichick was that much better ‘€” than I was that last game.’€

For his part, Belichick had some fun with the suggestion that Sunday’€™s game will come down to a Belchick/Ryan matchup.

‘€œI might have a little quickness on him,’€ Belichick said on a Monday afternoon conference call. ‘€œHe’€™s probably got a little more strength and power on me. So, I don’€™t think you’€™ll see either one of us out there making any blocks or tackles or runs or throws or catches. At least you won’€™t see me doing it. It’€™s probably a good thing for our team.

‘€œI just try to coach my team,’€ Belichick added. ‘€œI don’€™t worry about what everyone else does. Other coaches do a good job, Rex does a great job. I just try to coach my team.’€

2. One guy who the Patriots will be welcoming back on a full-time basis this week is rookie inside linebacker Brandon Spikes. The Florida product, who spent four games on the sidelines because of a violation of the league’€™s substance abuse policy, will be good to go this week as playoff prep begins in earnest.

Before he was suspended, Spikes had worked his way into a regular position opposite Pro Bowler Jerod Mayo, starting eight games and finishing with 71 tackles (including four games where he had 10-plus tackles). However, it certainly doesn’€™t sound like he’€™s going to jump right back into the starting lineup ‘€” on Monday afternoon, Belichick was asked how Spikes has looked since he returned to the team.

‘€œIt looked like he hadn’€™t practiced in four weeks with the team, so he’€™s got a ways to go,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œWe’€™ll see. Hopefully he’€™ll be better this week than he was last week. He should be with the extra days of practice and just getting back into it, but we’€™ll see how it goes.’€

‘€œI think Brandon is a guy that is out there right now getting himself back in the groove of everything we’€™re doing here and what we are trying to get done,’€ said Patriots linebackers coach Matt Patricia. ‘€œI think anyone that misses any type of work for four weeks, comes back to it with a little bit of a degree of having to get adjusted, so I think that’€™s all to be expected.’€

It’€™s worth mentioning that Spikes enjoyed perhaps the most complete game of his career the last time the Patriots met the Jets. On Dec. 6 against New York, he had seven tackles, one red zone interception of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and one pass defensed.
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Read More: Brandon Spikes, Gerard Warren, playoffs,

Brandon Meriweather on D&H: Braylon Edwards ‘would not Dougie on me’

01.10.11 at 1:50 pm ET
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WEEI’s Patriots Monday continued on the Dale & Holley show Monday afternoon with an appearance from defensive back Brandon Meriweather live from Gillette Stadium. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Meriweather was asked if he thought the Patriots’ game plan for the Jets would change much from the team’s previous meeting, a 45-3 New England victory. “I don’t know,” he said. “Bill and the coaching staff do a great job of getting us prepared. Would it be a lot different? I don’t know.

“Do I think [the Jets’] game plan will be a lot different? I think theirs will be a lot different. I think we’ve got to get ready to stop everything, not just the run game. I think they’re going to do a lot of different things.”

Asked if he hated the Jets, Meriweather replied: “I love to play against the Jets. As in hate them as a team? I don’t care. I love to play against them. Because that’s one game everybody’s going to be up for. The fans are going to be here at 12 o’clock ‘€” five, six hours before the game. It’s going to be fun. From Wednesday on to Sunday that game’s going to be fun. It’s going to get pubbed up a lot. It’s going to be a fun game. And that why I love to play against them.”

Reminded that Jets receiver Braylon Edwards did the Dougie dance after making a touchdown catch on Pats defensive back Darius Butler early in the season, Meriweather said: “Listen, listen, I’m not going to go into that, but he would not Dougie on me.”

Meriweather explained that talking trash is a key part of his game. “I talk to everybody,” he said. “I talk to everybody. I’ll go and talk to the linemen on to the running backs to the receivers. I’m even going to talk to [Mark] Sanchez. I talk to everybody. I even talk to their DBs. I’m going to talk to everybody. That’s just me.”

Meriweather said the chatting helps inspire him to play his best. “Yeah, it gets me going,” he said. “It gets me going. When you talk, you have to back up what you’re talking about. So, anybody who talks a lot of junk usually is either going to play real good or you’re going to play real bad and you’re going to be quiet. When you talking, you’ve got to back it up, so I think that brings out the best in a lot of people.”

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, Braylon Edwards, Darius Butler, Mark Sanchez

Bill Belichick talks about going head to head with Rex Ryan

01.10.11 at 12:24 pm ET
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On a Monday afternoon conference call, Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed Rex Ryan‘€™s point that this week was about ‘€œRex Ryan vs. Bill Belichick,’€ and not so much Patriots vs. Jets.

‘€œI think he probably … I might have a little quickness on him, he’€™s probably got a little strength and power on me,’€ Belichick said when asked about Ryan, his tongue firmly in his cheek. ‘€œI don’€™t think either one of us is making any blocks or tackles or runs or throws or catches. At least, you won’€™t see me doing that. That’€™s probably a good thing for our team.

‘€œI just try to coach my team,’€ Belichick added later. ‘€œI don’€™t worry about what everyone else does. Other coaches do a good job, Rex does a great job. I just try to coach my team.’€

Earlier on Monday, Ryan talked about how he was outcoached in December’€™s 45-3 win for the Patriots, and what he had to do differently this time around.

‘€œI recognize this week, this is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan. There’€™s no question. It’€™s personal. This is about him against myself, and that’€™s what it’€™s going to come down to,’€ Ryan said. ‘€œThis is going to be about me raising my level against Bill Belichick. Like I said, I recognize he’€™s the best and all that, but I’€™m just trying to be the best on Sunday. And I plan on being the best coach on Sunday. That’€™s what it is. I recognize that my level has to come up, and he’€™s going to get my best shot. He’€™s going to get everything I have on Sunday. And if he slips at all, we’€™re going to beat him.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, playoffs, Rex Ryan,

Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C

01.10.11 at 12:14 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning after spending the weekend in New York, watching the Broadway play “Lombardi” on Saturday night.

Brady addressed Jets coach Rex Ryan‘s comments that Peyton Manning is the best-prepared quarterback in the NFL and Brady gets more help from Bill Belichick than he lets on. He also talked about what the Patriots have to do to beat the Jets in Sunday’s playoff matchup.

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Was Rex right? Peyton Manning studies film like a bookworm, and you go see the “Lombardi” play on Saturday night with the Jets on TV. Where is your commitment to winning football games, Brady?

Oh, man. I think everybody’s obviously entitled to their opinion. And maybe he’s right. He’s a good coach. I’ll just keep getting ready like we’ve done all year, and hopefully we’ll go out and play well on Sunday night. It’s going to be an exciting week for us. I think everyone is already in the game-week mode, getting ready, getting prepared. It’s going to be a hell of a game, it’s going to be a tough game. I’m excited to play the Jets again.

When you hear Rex say that, does it anger you, amuse you or motivate you?

I don’t think any of the above. I don’t think anything that people really say has bothered me good, bad or indifferent over the years. Everybody has their opinion of people and things and places. All I know is that I feel really confident with our team and the way our team prepares each week. I’m sure we’ll be prepared going into this game on Sunday.

The only thing that I really care about is us being ready to play each week. What someone may say about it ‘€” I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and his ability to get his team ready. He does what he needs to do and I think we’re going to what we need to do.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Peyton Manning, playoffs, Rex Ryan
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