|12.06.14 at 4:35 pm ET|
The Patriots had an open spot on their 53-man roster after wide receiver Aaron Dobson was placed on injured reserve earlier this week, and they filled that spot Saturday by activating defensive lineman Sealver Siliga off the short-term injured reserve designated for return list, according to the NFL transaction wire.
The news was first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates.
Siliga injured his foot in Week 3’s win over the Raiders and was placed on the short-term injured reserve list. The defensive tackle began officially practicing last Friday, but was seen at a few walkthrough’s prior to that. He will provide some depth at the position behind Vince Wilfork, Chris Jones and Alan Branch when it comes to stopping the run.
With his activation today, it would seem like he will be active for Sunday’s game against the Chargers, as the team had 21 days from last Friday to activate him to the active 53-man roster.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
Source: the Patriots have activated DT Sealver Siliga from the short-term IR list to their 53-man roster.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 6, 2014
|12.06.14 at 2:43 pm ET|
Here’s what you have to know when it comes to Sunday night’s Patriots-Chargers game in San Diego:
WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL
The New England passing game will likely look to put stress on the Chargers weaknesses in a variety of areas. San Diego does not have an elite-level pass rusher, and is 29th in the league in sacks as a team with 18. (Corey Liuget is San Diego’s best pass rusher with 3.5 on the season.). Overall, the Chargers are not a very good defensive team. According to Football Outsiders, they’re 28th in overall DVOA, and they are particularly bad when it comes to defending the pass, where they rank 30th in the same defensive metric. It’s worth noting that they’ve done relatively well at shutting down the No. 1 and No. 2 receivers on the other team, thanks in large part to a good year from cornerback Brandon Flowers (3 picks, 10 passes defensed). They have struggled against No. 3 receivers (30th in DVOA), as well as tight ends (21st) and running backs (24th). That means some of those soft spots could ultimately be exploited by quarterback Tom Brady (65 percent completion rate, 28 TDs, 6 INTs, 3,243 passing yards) and the Patriots, particularly when it comes to tight end Rob Gronkowski (65 catches, 910 yards, nine TDs) and running back Shane Vereen (44 catches, 379 yards, three TDs).
When New England runs the ball, all bets are off as to who is going to get the bulk of the carries, but it seems to be a fairly safe bet that LeGarrette Blount will see some action. Blount has become the closest thing the Patriots have to a feature back, as he has had 22 carries for 136 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in his two games since he returned to New England. Jonas Gray peeked out of the doghouse last week against the Packers, and as a result, could see some action against San Diego. The Chargers run defense is average (17th in DVOA), as six of the last seven teams have rushed for at least 100 yards against them and they yield an average of 110.2 rushing yards per game, 14th in the NFL. (The Chiefs rushed for 154 yards against the Chargers in a Week 7 win for Kansas City.) Linebacker Jarrett Johnson is considered one of the best run defenders on the Chargers’ roster.
WHEN THE CHARGERS HAVE THE BALL
Look for San Diego to try and spread the ball around in the passing game in hopes of testing the Patriots’ depth at cornerback. The Chargers are one of four teams that have four guys with at least 500 receiving yards or more — wide receiver Keenan Allen (72 catches, 762 yards, 4 TDs), tight end Antonio Gates (47 catches, 574 yards, a team-high 9 TDs), wide receiver Eddie Royal (43 catches, 532 yards, 6 TDs) and Malcom Floyd (39 catches, 689 yards, 4 TDs) lead the way. While the tandem of Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis will likely be working together to try and slow down the Allen/Floyd combo, the question remains about the Patriots depth at corner beyond that. New England would dearly love a healthy Kyle Arrington to work against Royal out of the slot, and some sort of Jamie Collins/Pat Chung pairing against Gates. (Per Football Outsiders, the Patriots are 31st in DVOA against opposing tight ends, which could mean another big day for Gates, regardless of who is working against him.)
San Diego is middle of the pack at best when it comes to running the ball (the Chargers average 3.4 yards per carry, 30th in the league), but Ryan Mathews, who has been dogged by injury over the course of the season, remains a threat to pick up some quality yards on the ground if he’s fully healthy. (Mathews had 38 yards on 13 carries last week against the Ravens.) Rivers isn’t a threat to run the football, and could be exposed slightly behind what is a banged-up offensive line. (The Chargers had to go to their fifth center of the season Sunday against the Ravens.) Because of those issues up front, the Chargers might be susceptible against some A-gap blitzes from the Patriots, an area where linebacker Dont’a Hightower has had good success as of late. In that same vein, it’s worth mentioning that Rivers has been sacked 23 times this season, at least once a game every week since the opener.
|12.06.14 at 12:10 pm ET|
SAN DIEGO — Philip Rivers has a well-earned reputation for trash talking on the field.
He also has a reputation for getting angry and upset with his own team and himself when things don’t go well.
“Everybody talks trash but I like it,” Chung said. “It keeps the game competitive and he’s a tough guy. He’s a competitor and I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. He works hard and talks a good game. I like it.
“He’s a competitor. He’s very passionate about what he does. He makes good plays, he’s fired up. He has bad plays, he’s pissed off. So, that’s what you want in a quarterback and we’ve got to go out and stop this guy.”
Rivers has been doing more of the positive trash-talking of late, leading the Chargers on a three-game winning streak that has them just a game behind Denver in the tight AFC West. He has five touchdowns and two picks in the streak and led the Chargers on a last-minute touchdown drive last week at Baltimore.
“He’s good and he’s tough, he’s tough,” Chung said of the quarterback that has often been characterized as an offensive player with a defensive mindset. “He can make some plays and has some guys he can get the ball to so we’ve got to hold up our end on that.”
While Rivers is very mobile inside the pocket, Chung, who has played primarily in run support this season, knows Rivers can extend plays with his legs and take off.
“I would put him in that category,” Chung said. “He can be in the pocket, he can drop back and make some good throws, or he can extend, throw on the run. He has guys that are trained to get the ball. We’ve got to contain him.
“They have a lot of good running backs. When you can run the ball, you can also pass it. We’ve got to play a complimentary defense just to try and take away everything. They’re going to make their plays. They’re a good team.”
Chung, like most of the Patriots, has enjoyed the week in San Diego but says it’s all business leading up to the final hours before Sunday night.
“[It’s been] good weather, but we’re here to play a game,” Chung said. “It’s kind of a business trip. We’ve experienced some nice weather out here and the nice San Diego city but the game’s coming close so we’ve got to get ready to go.”
|12.06.14 at 11:30 am ET|
SAN DIEGO — Danny Amendola loves the West Coast.
He made that much clear when asked Friday about what it’s been like practicing for a week in San Diego, in advance for Sunday’s game against Chargers.
“It kind of feels like a bowl game,” Amendola said. “We’re all in tight quarters, kind of a like a camp experience. It’s fun. Great weather. Good people. Everybody is treating us well. It’s enabled us to get a lot of good work in, too.
“It’s been good. Getting a lot of good work in. Had to work early in the rain, but it’s sunny now. Everybody is happy. Everybody is getting good work in and it’s been fun.”
The bonding experience between teammates has also been a theme this week here in San Diego. Amendola says that while players have been in close quarters for a week, there have been no new major revelations.
“It feels like we’re on a road trip or an away stand but the guys eat right next to other all day, every single day for the past four or five days so it’s a bonding experience. It’s a lot of fun.
“It’s Week 14. We know everything about everybody now so it’s all good.”
As Amendola said, it’s Week 14 and the Patriots are entering the final quarter of the regular season. This is the time when mental reps become a major factor in keeping the body ready for games.
“Huge. It’s a grueling season,” Amendola said. “To play each part of the season, you have play a little differently, especially at the end of the season. We’ve been preparing for weeks on end for a long time now. The mental preparation is huge. We do a good job of taking care of our bodies, too. That helps in that regard.
“We go all day, every day. We meet and have walkthroughs in meetings. The focus has been where it’s been the whole year. We’re really excited to get out there and play.”
Amendola and the Patriots’ receiving corps need to be ready for eight-year veteran free safety Eric Weddle.
“He’s been a great player for a long time. He plays the game really hard. He’s very instinctive. He has a knack for the ball. He’s a great player,” Amendola said. “They do a lot of great things. They play fast. They fly to the ball. They create turnovers. We’ve got to a do a good job of protecting the ball and making plays.”
Of course, Amendola’s biggest impact has been in the return game, which featured a 81-yard kickoff return against the Lions on Nov. 23.
“It’s fun. It’s an opportunity to exchange a lot field position, to make an explosive play. Anything can happen on any punt or kickoff. So, we do a good job of getting our guys in the right position trying to make plays.”
|12.06.14 at 10:30 am ET|
Even though he stands just 5-foot-8, it was hard not to miss Danny Woodhead as a member of the Patriots, as the shifty running back made a name for himself in New England and became a fan favorite over his three seasons with the team.
After not being re-signed following the 2012 season, Woodhead latched on with San Diego. This season wasn’t kind to him as he suffered a broken fibula in Week 3 and is out for the season, so he won’t be playing against his former team Sunday night. Woodhead did take some time to reflect on his three years in New England and what life is like with the Chargers.
“It’s been a great experience,” Woodhead said via phone on Friday. “We love it out here, my family and I. It’s been a great time for the last two years now. Like any other job I’ve had — New York, New England — I’m just trying to take advantage of what I got and that is the opportunities I’ve got. That’s what I am trying to do.”
Woodhead, 29, broke out as a player with the Patriots. After barely playing from 2008-10 with the Jets, he was released on Sept. 14, 2010. Just four days later, the Patriots signed him — one day before the two teams played in Week 2. He finished the year playing in 14 games and had 97 carries for 547 yards and five touchdowns, while adding another receiving.
In 2011 and 2012 he continued to be the dependable shake-up back in the Patriots backfield, with the ability to catch the ball as well. He had just one touchdown in 2011, but seven in 2012, including four on the ground. Woodhead was not re-signed following the 2012 season as the team had a crowded running back group.
The running back did admit it was tough to leave the organization he was with for three seasons, one which gave him the opportunity to break out as an NFL player.
“Definitely. I mean, when you’ve been at a spot for — I mean I was there for three years, it was my longest stop,” said Woodhead. “It’s obviously going to be an adjustment, but since day one I’ve been out here I’ve been welcomed in my this organization and I feel very, very blessed to be here. I love the organization, the coaches, the players. It’s been a great fit for my family and I.”
“I was given an opportunity to do what I do and that is to play football,” he added. “Obviously I met a lot of great people and played for great coaches, played with great teammates. There’s a lot of things you can take from it. I had three great years there and I am very thankful for it. I am onto a new part of my career and I am obviously loving where I’m at right now.”
|12.05.14 at 7:20 pm ET|
SAN DIEGO — He loves to golf at Pebble Beach after the season. He appreciates the heavy Navy and Marine contingent in San Diego. But a week in the fun and sometimes sun of San Diego has not made Bill Belichick hanker for the more moderate climate of Southern California, especially not at this time of year.
“I’m an East Coast guy, so I’m good on the East Coast,” Belichick chimed when asked if he had any regrets about not going to college in Southern California as opposed to his matriculation through Wesleyan University.
Belichick again made it clear through his no-nonsense answers Friday morning before the team’s last practice at the University of San Diego that it’s been all business this week. No times for digging his toes in the sand, or surfing or paddle boarding.
“That would be a sight for bad eyes right there,” he quipped.
Belichick is much more concerned with a Chargers team that has shown the ability to score like last week, despite averaging eight points less a game. (31.5 for New England, 23.4 for San Diego).
If Dont’a Hightower (questionable with a shoulder injury) can’t go, is Jonathan Casillas (obtained from Tampa Bay in a mid-October trade) ready to step up and take more snaps at linebacker?
“Well, with all of our players it could really depend on a lot of things,” Belichick said. “A team like San Diego uses a lot of different personnel groups. We have different matchups. It would all depend on which one it applies to.
“[Casillas] is an experienced player. He’s been in a couple different systems. He’s a smart guy. He’s done fine.
Belichick noted Friday that Casillas and Darius Fleming don’t necessarily play the same role on the linebacker depth chart. Belichick presumably would be ready to use Rob Ninkovich as long snapper again, as he did last Sunday in Green Bay if Danny Aiken (in a non-contact jersey Friday) were unavailable again with a concussion.
“We’ll wrap it up here today and do some kind of walkthrough tomorrow and be ready to go on Sunday,” Belichick said. ” \It’s been a good week out here. [We have] a lot to get ready for with the Chargers. They have a lot of weapons; they do a lot of things well. [They’re] playing really good football, been in a lot of close games and won them. We’re going to have to be ready to play 60 minutes on Sunday.”
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|12.05.14 at 5:36 pm ET|
SAN DIEGO — For a third straight day here at the University of San Diego, there were no changes to the Patriots’ practice report.
Linebacker Chris White (ankle) missed practice once again and is listed as doubtful. White, a core special teams player, missed last Sunday’s game against the Packers after landing on the injury report in the middle of last week.
Long snapper Danny Aiken was in a non-contact red jersey on Friday and is officially one of 10 Patriots listed as questionable. If he can’t go for a second straight game, Rob Ninkovich, as was the case last week in Green Bay, will take over long snapping responsibilities.
Chandler Jones (hip) and linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) remained limited and are also questionable.
For the Chargers, tackle D.J. Flucker returned to practice Friday after passing concussion protocols on Thursday. He suffered the concussion on Wednesday in practice and missed on Thursday. Quarterback Philip Rivers was also added with a chest injury, but was a full participant in practice and is officially listed probable for Sunday night.
Here is Friday’s complete practice report from San Diego:
Did not participate
WR Aaron Dobson (hamstring) — Placed on injured reserve
LB Chris White (ankle) DOUBTFUL
LS Danny Aiken (concussion) QUESTIONABLE
CB Kyle Arrington (hip) QUESTIONABLE
G Dan Connolly (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
DE Dominique Easley (knee) QUESTIONABLE
WR Julian Edelman (thigh) QUESTIONABLE
T Cameron Fleming (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
DE Chandler Jones (hip) QUESTIONABLE
WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
RB Shane Vereen (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
QB Tom Brady (ankle) PROBABLE
T Marcus Cannon (hip) PROBABLE
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