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Patriots rule out Aqib Talib, Tavon Wilson

10.19.13 at 8:21 pm ET
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The Patriots made it official Saturday night, announcing that Aqib Talib has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Jets with a hip injury.

The team also announced that safety Tavon Wilson has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Receiver Danny Amendola (concussion), defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (knee) and running back Leon Washington (ankle) were ruled out on Friday. That means the Patriots will need to scratch only two more players on Sunday morning.

Talib, after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday, returned Friday but was only able to partially take part in stretching exercises.

Talib suffered what is believed to be a hip flexor strain in the second half last Sunday in a win over the Saints. He attempted to return after the initial injury but could not stay for the rest of the game, coming out of the game for good when he slammed his helmet to the turf in frustration.

Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington are the likely starters in the defensive backfield with Devin McCourty remaining at safety with Steve Gregory, depending on matchups.

Meanwhile, there was no announcement on Rob Gronkowski, leading to more anticipation and expectation that will indeed make his 2013 debut on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The tight end made the trip with the team on Saturday for the first time in four road games this season, according to a report by the Boston Herald.

Gronkowski has been inactive for the first six games as he recovered from offseason back and forearm surgeries. When he does return, it will mark the first action for any Patriots receiver from 2012 that finished in the team’s top five in receptions.

On Friday, Gronkowski’s agent Drew Rosenhaus announced in a statement to the media that Gronkowski has been medically cleared to play by all doctors involved in the situation. Hours later, a promotional video starring Gronkowski was released detailing his work on the rehab road back to playing.

Report: Rob Gronkowski travels to New York, Aqib Talib stays home, out for Sunday

10.19.13 at 2:53 pm ET
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It appears Rob Gronkowski will indeed make his 2013 debut on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The tight end made the trip with the team on Saturday for the first time in four road games this season, according to a report by the Boston Herald.

Gronkowski has been inactive for the first six games as he recovered from offseason back and forearm surgeries. When he does return, it will mark the first action for any Patriots receiver from 2012 that finished in the team’s top five in receptions.

On Friday, Gronkowski’s agent Drew Rosenhaus announced in a statement to the media that Gronkowski has been medically cleared to play by all doctors involved in the situation. Hours later, a promotional video starring Gronkowski was released detailing his work on the rehab road back to playing.

The news is not as promising for Aqib Talib. The Herald, according to the same source, says the cornerback stayed home with his hip flexor strain and will be ruled out later on Saturday night when the team revises its injury report for Sunday. Talib, after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday, returned Friday but was only able to partially take part in stretching exercises.

Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington are the likely starters in the defensive backfield with Devin McCourty remaining at safety with Steve Gregory, depending on matchups. Receiver Danny Amendola (concussion), defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (knee) and running back Leon Washington (ankle) were ruled out on Friday.

Read More: Aqib Talib, New England Patriots, New York Jets, nfl

10 things you have to know about Patriots-Jets

10.19.13 at 12:12 pm ET
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Here’€™s everything you need to know about Sunday’€™s Patriots-Jets game.

Our three favorite matchups on the afternoon:

1. Running back Stevan Ridley against the Jets run defense —
The Patriots are 4-0 when they rush for 100 yards or more as a team, and Ridley has re-emerged as the lead back in New England. Ridley ran for a season-high 96 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Saints defense, and will look to build on that going forward. It certainly won’€™t be easy, as the New York run defense is one of the best in the league — it allows 75.7 rushing yards per game, second-best in the NFL, and is led by an imposing front that includes defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (6-foot-4, 315 pounds), nose tackle Damon ‘€œSnacks’€ Harrison (6-foot-4, 350 pounds) and rookie Sheldon Richardson (6-foot-2, 294 pounds). One of the reasons the Jets have done so well against the run is because they are an excellent first-down defense: Through the first six games, New York is best in the league when it comes to first-down defense, allowing an average of 3.41 yards per play on first down. Their successes on first down creates a domino effect for the rest of the defense. A run of three yards or less on first down creates second-and-long situations, and that certainly isn’€™t a running play. With the defense aware that they’€™ve likely made you a one-dimensional team, they’€™re free to unleash blitz packages ‘€” a Rex Ryan favorite. Expect the Patriots to try and spread them out a bit early by trying to pass the ball, and then look for chances to run when New York goes to nickel and dime packages in hopes of slowing down the New England passing game.

2. Defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich against Jets offensive line and quarterback Geno Smith —
 These pass-rushing defensive ends have to dial back their initial instincts and worry about containment, smarts and gap discipline instead of pursuit. Smith has shown an ability to make plays with his feet when the pocket breaks down, and it’€™s absolutely key that the defensive ends keep Smith in the pocket and prevent him from taking off when a play breaks down. Over the first six games, he has 22 carries for 114 yards, with much of that yardage coming when he takes off and runs after a play breaks down. In their first meeting, Jones and Ninkovich were able to do a good job keeping Smith bottled up in the pocket — he ended up with three carries for 17 yards. The policy of containment worked, as he got a little jittery in the pocket, and that led to mistakes. He was sacked four times and threw three picks. Those errors started with Ninkovich and Jones keeping him contained in the pocket.

3. Tight end Rob Gronkowski against overwhelming expectations —
Gronkowski has been cleared to play this week by his doctors, but it might be expecting too much to see him immediately step in and be the All-Pro tight end he was prior to his injury. If he plays Sunday, it will be his first game action since Jan. 13, a span of more than nine months, and just his third game since last Nov. 18 when he suffered his forearm injury against the Colts. Regardless of how well he’€™s looked in practice since early September, it takes time to build up the stamina needed to go four quarters of game action. (Remember, his team has played four preseason games and six regular season games to this point, a ‘€œluxury’€ that Gronkowski hasn’€™t had.) It wouldn’€™t be a surprise to see Gronkowski rotated back into the lineup gradually on Sunday, as the team takes its cue from how he feels mentally and physically as the game goes on. Think of how the Patriots utilized Danny Amendola two weeks ago against the Bengals — the receiver, who was seeing his first action since suffering a Week 1 injury against the Bills, played 39 of a possible 63 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. It wouldn’€™t be a surprise to see Gronkowski on something of a snap count Sunday against the Jets.

4. Under-the-radar opponent Patriots fans need to know ‘€“
 With the Jets receiving corps a bit of a mess, tight end Jeff Cumberland has emerged as a go-to guy for quarterback Geno Smith over the last few games with 11 catches (on 13 targets) for 198 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Cumberland isn’€™t an obvious mention when you talk about the elite-level tight ends across the league, but he has put up respectable numbers over the last few weeks, as he has taken advantage of the fact that tight end Kellen Winslow is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’€™s policy on performance enhancers. He had four catches for 59 yards last week against the Steelers, and with the New England secondary and linebacking corps in a state of flux because of the injuries to Aqib Talib and Jerod Mayo, he could present a complicated matchup for the Patriots pass defense.

5. By the numbers:
Since the divisions were realigned in 2002, New England is 8-3 when it’s faced New York the second time in the same season — the Jets got the better of the Patriots in the second game of the matchup in 2002, 2006 and 2008. But over the last four-plus years, it’€™s been all New England the second time around. The last four seasons, the average score of the second game between the Patriots and Jets is 41-13 New England.

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Bill Belichick gives insight to how Patriots might replace Aqib Talib

10.19.13 at 11:06 am ET
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FOXBORO — While Aqub Talib returned to the practice field Friday morning, he was officially listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report and is not expected to play Sunday when the Patriots play the Jets at MetLife Stadium.

How will the Patriots replace him if he indeed misses the game?

Last week, Devin McCourty moved over to corner on some nickel packages and helped “shield” Jimmy Graham in coverage, with rookie safety Duron Harmon filling in. On some other snaps, with the Patriots employing only four defensive backs, McCourty stayed at safety while rookie corner Logan Ryan was worked into coverage.

So, in a situation like last week, what goes into the decision to move McCourty down to cornerback and move someone into Devin’€™s spot at safety or moving someone else in at cornerback?

“Really, that’€™s something we handle during the week,” Belichick said Friday. “I don’€™t think you want to get into the game and start, ‘€˜Well, what are we going to do now?’€™ You go through that during the week and you talk to each player about their responsibilities, what have for the game, who’€™s backing up who, who’€™s in what personnel grouping and so forth and you practice it that way. There are plays in practice, where the right corner is out, the left corner is out, the left safety is out, the right safety is out, the middle linebacker is out. We take those guys out and somebody else either moves or we substitute for them or whatever we do. The problem usually comes in on any team if you lose two people at one position then that’€™s where the wheel starts spinning pretty fast usually.

“So if you lose two of anything ‘€“two quarterbacks, two running backs, two tackles, two linebackers, two corners, two of anything ‘€“ nobody really ahs much depth to be able to handle that or it would be rare. Maybe you could handle it in one or two positions but you wouldn’€™t be able to handle it across the board, you’€™d have to move quickly. So in practice the one position move is, that’€™s I won’€™t say it’€™s easy, but I think that’€™s something that you go through as normal procedure. It’€™s that second move that you have to be prepared for but it’€™s hard to have enough depth, like I said, at every position to back every position up with two people. I mean, you’€™ve got to be able to do it, but that’€™s a little more of a scramble.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan

Rob Gronowski listed as questionable and Aqib Talib doubtful for Jets

10.18.13 at 4:20 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski‘s agent Drew Rosenhaus indicated Friday morning that the tight end had been cleared by his doctors to return, but on their practice report Friday afternoon, the Patriots listed the tight end — who has been slowed this year after multiple back and shoulder surgeries in the offseason — as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jets.

In addition, the Patriots saw cornerback Aqib Talib on the field Friday for the first time all week, but he was still listed as doubtful with a hip injury. And the Patriots ruled three players out for Sunday: wide receiver Danny Amendola (concussion/groin), defensive lineman Tommy Kelly (knee) and running back/returner Leon Washington (ankle).

Here’€™s the complete list:

Did Not Practice
DL Tommy Kelly (knee) OUT
RB Leon Washington (ankle) OUT
WR Danny Amendola (concussion/groin) OUT

Limited Participation
CB Aqib Talib (hip) DOUBTFUL
RB Brandon Bolden (knee) QUESTIONABLE
OL Marcus Cannon (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
OL Dan Connolly (concussion) QUESTIONABLE
WR Julian Edelman (thigh) QUESTIONABLE
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) QUESTIONABLE
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) QUESTIONABLE
ST Matthew Slater (wrist) QUESTIONABLE
DB Tavon Wilson (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE

Full Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin) PROBABLE
DB Devin McCourty (shoulder) PROBABLE
DE Rob Ninkovich (groin) PROBABLE
OL Nate Solder (back) PROBABLE

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Rob Gronkowski,

Patriots name Rob Ninkovich and Devin McCourty to fill void at captain

10.18.13 at 3:52 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Friday that with the move of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo to season-ending injured reserve, defensive end Rob Ninkovich and defensive back Devin McCourty have been named to replace them as captains.

Ninkovich is in his fifth season with the Patriots, and has grown into one of the most respected players in the locker room. Earlier in the week, he spoke about the need for more players to step forward in the wake of the injuries to Wilfork and Mayo.

“It’s unfortunate. Those types of things happen in the NFL,” Ninkovich said. “We have to go play without him now, so everyone has to step up and do the best they can. For me, whatever it is — help the younger guys out. Anybody who has to step into that role and produce. You just have to move on.

“I think that any time there’s a guy like Mayo or Vince that goes down, everyone on the defense has to step up and just go out there and be a good leader by example,” he added, “Just do your job and do the right things on the field. Again, that’s something that just comes with being here five years now. I have to go out there and do my job — what’s asked of me — and do it to the best of my abilities. I think everyone else has that mentality of ‘Hey, we have to go out there and work together as a team and play good solid defense.'”

As for McCourty, he has previously served as a captain, and has come into his own as a leader since arriving in Foxboro in 2010.

“You know for me, I think of it as Mayo and Vince are still our captains, and just stepping in and filling a title or a role, but just to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” McCourty said earlier in the week. “Keep being a leader on the defense. To me, those two will be the captains — they were voted captains earlier this season. My job now is when guys get hurt and they can’t be around, guys have to step up. I’ve been appointed one of those guys to step up, but it’s no different — guys on defense have to step up. Guys like Steve Gregory, who has played a lot of football here already. [Brandon] Spikes, a guy who is a fourth year player as well. We all have to step up and kind of be group captains now. You can’t replace two guys who have already been voted captains.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Devin McCourty, Rob Ninkovich,

Peter King on M&M: ‘More confident right now’ in Patriots offense’s ability to win a game

10.18.13 at 2:10 pm ET
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Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about news from Foxboro and around the NFL.

The Patriots are coming off a dramatic 30-27 victory over the Saints that ended with Tom Brady throwing a touchdown pass with five seconds remaining, a comeback that King called “just a tremendously fun moment in time.”

King exchanged e-mails with Brady after the game and said Brady was excited to talk about the win and expressed enjoyment about the play of the new receivers.

“The one takeaway I have from that exchange is that while a lot of us on the outside probably think that he’s upset about the caliber of player who he’s playing with on offense, the skill players, how they haven’t really built up the depth at the skill positions befitting a guy like Brady, I think in a lot of ways I get a sense that he views it as tremendously fun to be able to beat a great team like New Orleans with three of the four guys on the field in the last minute of that game who he didn’t even know six months ago,” King said. “Sure, he knew [Julian Edelman]. But Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Austin Collie — that’s three of the four receivers he had on the field on the biggest drive of the season so far for the Patriots. I find that really compelling.”

Touching on the Rob Gronkowski situation, King said he had no special insight, but he’s led to believe that Gronkowski has been advised to be careful about rushing back so that he doesn’t cost himself big money in the long run.

“I think they’ve done a really good job of keeping that in-house,” King said. “But there’s just something about this story that it just leads me to believe that Rob Gronkowski and those around him do not want him to take the field with all of the money he has due in upcoming years. They don’t want him to turn into damaged goods so that he blows all this money that he’s going make starting next year. So, I think that has a lot to do with this.”

Added King: “I do think that if a guy is out practicing, and practicing at a very, very high level, which he has been doing for a month, and then not playing in the games — most often when that happens, when a guy is practicing at a very high level, he goes and plays in the games. Everybody has some form of injury, they’re hurt in some way. And again, I don’t know the whole story with him. I don’t. But the fact is, if you practice as well as he’s been practicing for a month and then don’t play, you’re obviously going to have a lot of eyebrows raised about why you’re not playing.”

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Read More: Hakeem Nicks, Peter King, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady

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