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Report: Mankins will return to Pats for final six games

09.19.10 at 3:46 pm ET
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New England’s Pro Bowl offensive lineman Logan Mankins will return to the Patriots in time to play the final six games and get an “accrued NFL season,” according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. Mankins, a restricted free agent, has been looking for a new deal somewhere in the neighborhood of the contracts signed by Jets center Nick Mangold (seven years, $55 million) and Saints offensive lineman Jahri Evans (seven year, $56.7 million). According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Mankins and the Patriots were close to a deal recently, but things fell apart soon after when Mankins refused to apologize publicly to Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Read More: Jahri Evans, Logan Mankins, Nick Mangold, Robert Kraft

Analysis of inactives

09.19.10 at 3:25 pm ET
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No real surprises on the inactives, with the biggest news coming with the return of wide receiver Julian Edelman to the lineup. It looks like the second-year wide receiver ‘€” who had been limited with a foot injury throughout the late stages of the preseason and early stages of the regular season ‘€” will see his first action of the 2010 season. Edelman has a soft spot in his heart for North Jersey ‘€” he saw his action as a professional in the old place against the Jets last season, catching eight passes for 98 yards against New York.

As for the rest, both cornerback Terrence Wheatley and offensive lineman Nick Kazcur were missing from practice this week, so it’s not surprising that both have been scratched for today’s game. In addition, relatively new faces like running back Danny Woodhead and offensive lineman Steve Maneri probably don’t have enough practice reps to make the cut for today’s game. (That’s especially true for Woodhead, who was picked up Saturday)  And wide receiver Taylor Price, linebacker Dane Fletcher, defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick and offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka are personnel decisions, although the Patriots are a little thin along the line, and a versatile presence like Ojinnaka (who has played tackle and guard) could come in handy if someone does go down.

Read More: inactives, Patriots,

Edelman active for today’s game

09.19.10 at 3:07 pm ET
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The following Patriots are inactive for Sunday’s game: Taylor Price, Terrence Wheatley, Dane Fletcher, Steve Maneri, Quinn Ojinnaka, Brandon Deaderick, Nick Kaczur and Danny Woodhead.

We are on the scene in New Jersey

09.19.10 at 2:11 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD ‘€” Just arrived here in the press box at the New Meadowlands Stadium (Row 2, Section B, Seat 14) for today’s Patriots-Jets matchup. Rob Bradford, Kirk Minihane and myself will bring you all the action today in what will be a key AFC East contest.

First impressions? This place is really impressive. Four colossal video screens in the corners of the stadium dominate the action, all in a sea of gray seats. It’s big ‘€” bigger than the old stadium, and there seems to be more around the new stadium than the old place.

The guys who I talked to this week (Stephen Gostkowski and Zoltan Mesko among them) insist there’s nothing odd about the wind patterns and sight lines of the new venue. (Gostkowski said that when it comes to the on-field action, there’s not much different than the old place.) The press box is far less vertigo-inducing that the old stadium ‘€” we are in the corner, as opposed to the middle of the field. But things really seem nice.

More updates shortly…

Ten final pregame thoughts on Patriots-Jets

09.19.10 at 11:11 am ET
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As kickoff looms at 4:15 p.m., here are 10 final thoughts on Patriots-Jets:

‘€¢The Jets will almost certainly use Darrelle Revis on Wes Welker for at least a handful of snaps, but whoever is with Welker, expect the Jets to really try and get physical with him ‘€” jamming him off the line, shoving him around, maybe even a hit or two after the whistle if they think they can get away with it.

‘€¢The Patriots were really relaxed this week ‘€” frankly, they were as relaxed as I’€™ve seen them in a long time.

‘€¢The new Meadowlands is really big, but apparently, it plays very similar to the old place, according to the Patriots’€™ specialists who had a chance to work in the preseason finale against the Giants. Wind patterns and sight lines are apparently similar to the old place.

‘€¢Both teams have gotten above-average play from their special teams’€™ units throughout the preseason and in the season opener. With the two teams being so evenly matched in so many areas (Patriots’€™ offense vs. Jets’€™ defense is the marquee matchup here), this game feels like it could turn on a key moment in special teams.

‘€¢Don’€™t expect newly-signed running back Danny Woodhead to do much of anything today (in other words, he won’€™t get the Kevin O’€™Connell treatment and serve as a game day captain), but the move reminds us that the AFC East teams love to feed off each other at opportune moments. (O’€™Connell, Hank Poteat, Jason Webster, etc.) However, I was still a little surprised that it wasn’€™t Marques Murrell who was re-signed ‘€” he had a nameplate and a locker over much of the week in Foxboro, despite the fact he was technically not on the roster.

‘€¢Not sure how the Jets go about matching up defensively against the Patriots’€™ two rookie tight ends. I think they remain a big ‘€œX’€ factor in today’€™s game. In addition, look for Alge Crumpler to see a lot of time as a blocker as New England will look to get as much protection as possible against the blitz-happy Jets. (At the end of the day, look for how many quarterback hits New York gets on Brady ‘€” the more quarterback hits they put on Tom Brady, the better they’€™ll feel about their chances.)

‘€¢It’€™s going to be a big week for Kevin Faulk. The running back is one of the most dependable receivers at Brady’€™s disposal, and remains without peer when it comes to blitz pickup, two of the most abilities things a skill position player can have coming in against the Jets.
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Reports: Pats to sign ex-Jet Danny Woodhead

09.18.10 at 7:59 pm ET
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According to various reports, the Patriots will sign ex New York Jet Danny Woodhead and add him to their 53-man roster in time for Sunday’s game with the Jets. The Pats had a roster spot available after trading Laurence Maroney to the Broncos earlier in the week. The Herald’s Ian Rapoport first reported the signing.

Woodhead was cut this week by the Jets who re-signed wide receiver David Clowney. The undersized Woodhead was featured on the show “Hard Knocks,” and beat out a number of players on the Jets roster bubble. He’s a running back who has also played wide receiver and on special teams coverage units. He had one special-teams tackle against the Ravens in Week 1.

An undrafted free agent out of Division-II Chadron State in Nebraska, Woodhead was a two-time winner of the Harlon Hill Trophy given to the best football player in D-II. He ran for almost 8,000 yards in college and left school as college football’s all-time rushing leader across all divisions.

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Nuggetpalooza’s Around the NFL: Week 2

09.18.10 at 9:47 am ET
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All aboard for the Week Two edition of Nuggetpalooza’s “Around the NFL”:

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* – Only two teams scored a touchdown on their first possession of the 2010 season: The New England Patriots and the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.

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* – The Chicago Bears scored a touchdown on a pass completed behind the line of scrimmage last Sunday against Detroit. It was the first touchdown on that type of pass completion in the Bears last 117 games. Their last one came during Week 13 of the 2002 season.

There were 358 such TD passes thrown by other teams in between those scores by the Bears.

The Bears themselves completed 450 passes caught behind the line of scrimmage in between touchdowns.

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* – After throwing only one red zone interception last season, the Carolina Panthers threw 3 last Sunday against the New York Giants, the only 3 such picks in the league last week. The Giants did not have a single red zone pick last year. The Panthers became the 2nd team since 1991 to throw 3 red zone interceptions in a game, joining the 1996 Jaguars.

It was the 4th time that the Panthers have thrown multiple red zone INT’s in a game, tied with six other teams for the most in the league since 1991 (although the Panthers have only been around since ’95).

Four teams (New England, Washington, Oakland, New York Jets) have never thrown multiple red zone picks in a game since ’91.

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* – The Arizona Cardinals have thrown just 1 third quarter interception since the start of 2008 (341 attempts). They have 18 touchdown passes in the third quarter in that same span (although none in the last 10).

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* – The Baltimore Ravens allowed just 60 net passing yards last week, the fewest since they allowed 55 to the Washington Redskins back on October 10, 2004.

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* – Since Week 6 last year (12 games), opposing passers have completed just 30% (39 out of 130) of passes which traveled 10 or more yards in the air against the New York Jets (the lowest percentage in the league in that span). Those 130 attempts included 7 interceptions and no touchdowns.

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* – Last season, the Dallas Cowboys were the worst team in the NFL at capitalizing on long drives of 10 plays or more, scoring on just 42% of those possessions. Last week against Washington, they had three such drives and failed to score on any of them. The rest of the NFL scored on 66% of those opportunities.

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* – The Carolina Panthers went 0-10 passing on 2nd downs last Sunday against the Giants, the worst 2nd down performance since they began tracking the stat in 1991:

0 for 10 – Carolina Panthers; 9/12/10; vs NY Giants
0 for 8 – Kansas City Chiefs; 10/25/92; vs Pittsburgh
0 for 7 – By three different teams

Carolina completed 65.5% of their 2nd down passes in 2009 (11th), while the Giants allowed 68.4% of those passes to be completed (28th).

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* – The Jacksonville Jaguars were the only team in the NFL that did not have a “three and out” possession last weekend (versus Denver).

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* – The San Diego Chargers forced the Chiefs into 9 punts last Monday night. It was just the 2nd time since 2001 that a Chargers’ opponent has punted 9+ times but San Diego has lost the game.

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* – After leading the NFL in average starting field position in 2009 (32.5 yard line), the Minnesota Vikings ranked 31st last week, averaging a 21.6 yard line start. Only the Redskins starting position (21.1) was worse.

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* – The Oakland Raiders have not reached double figures in passing first downs in any of their last 13 games, averaging just 6.6 during that stretch. Compare that to Indianapolis, who has averaged 15.9 such first downs during that same span… 9 more per game!

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* – The Arizona Cardinals fumbled a league high 7 times last Sunday, losing 4 of them. The 7 fumbles tied their team record (since ’91), which was set just last December. Basically, they’ve put it on the ground 7 times TWICE in their last 5 games.

It was the first time that the Rams have ever had an opponent fumble as many as 7 times in a game.

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* – The New York Jets have thrown exactly one 4th quarter TD pass in their last 26 games.

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* – The New York Giants kicked off 7 times last Sunday and none of those kicks reached the end zone. Last year, they ranked 23rd as 28.6% of their kicks carried into the end zone.

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* – Last season, the Dallas Cowboys had 6 pass completions that lost yardage. They had 4 such completions last Sunday night. Washington‘s defense tackled just 6 receivers behind the line last year as well.

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* – The Detroit Lions have suffered at least one quarterback sack in each of their last 19 games, the longest current streak in the league:

19 – Detroit Lions
16 – Seattle Seahawks
15 – Dallas Cowboys

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* – The Chicago Bears rang up 362 net passing yards on Sunday, their most since October 14, 2007 (42 games ago) and their 2nd most since 1999.

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* – The Denver Broncos had 5 pass plays gain 25+ yards last week against Jacksonville but lost the game. They’re just the 5th team since the start of the 2008 season to lose despite 5+ big pass plays. The others are Tampa Bay (twice), Kansas City, and San Diego.

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* – The Pittsburgh Steelers have sacked the opposing quarterback at least once in each of their last 26 games, the longest current streak in the NFL:

26 – Pittsburgh Steelers
20 – Philadelphia Eagles
20 – Washington Redskins

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* – The Chicago Bears averaged 16.2 yards per pass completion last Sunday versus Detroit. It was the highest average by a Bears offense with 20+ completions since the days of Jim McMahon and the “Shufflin’ Crew” (9/19/85).

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* – The Houston Texans ran for 218 yards in the 2nd half on Sunday against the Colts, the 7th highest 2nd half rushing total since they started tracking the stat in 1991. The highest is a whopping 311 yards by the Vikings in 2007 against San Diego).

It was the most 2nd half rushing yards ever by the Texans and also the most such yards ever against the Colts.

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* – The Detroit Lions rushed for 21 yards on 20 carries last Sunday against the Bears. That 1.05 average per carry is the 8th lowest in a single game in the NFL since 1991 (minimum 20 carries). The Bears defense can take credit for three of those eight:

1.05 – Last Sunday vs Detroit
0.69 – 2008 vs Tennessee
0.85 – 2003 vs Detroit

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* – The Baltimore Ravens had at least one rush of 10+ yards in 71 consecutive games, but that streak was snapped last Monday night against the Jets. So now here are the longest current streaks:

55 – New York Giants
32 – Miami Dolphins
30 – Minnesota Vikings

What about the longest streak with at least TWO runs of 10+ yards? It’s the Arizona Cardinals (13) and the Kansas City Chiefs (10).

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* – The Cleveland Browns defense has allowed at least one rush of 10 or more yards in 70 consecutive games, the longest in the NFL:

70 – Cleveland Browns
46 – Houston Texans
41 – Buffalo Bills

The Bills have allowed multiple runs of 10+ yards in their last 21 games, the longest such streak in the league.

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* – The Oakland Raiders led the NFL in gross punting average (51.1) and net average (43.9) last season and are off to a good start in 2010. Their gross (54.8) and net (49.5) were both NFL highs last weekend.

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* – The Carolina Panthers blocked the 8th punt in team history last weekend against the Giants. Their last came back in 2004. It was the 13th time that the Giants have had a punt blocked since 1991.

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* – Don’t expect much punt block action in games involving the Cleveland Browns. They haven’t had a punt blocked since they returned to the NFL  in 1999, a span of 962 punts, the only NFL team without one in that span. What’s more, the Browns, Packers, and Seahawks are the only teams that have not blocked a punt since the start of the 2004 season. It’s interesting that all three of those teams blocked one during the 2003 season.

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* – The New England Patriots were one of only eight teams that did not fumble last week. This after they led the NFL in fumble avoidance in 2009 by fumbling on just 1.03% of their offensive touches.

The Pats had 7 different games in 2009 in which they had zero fumbles, more than any other team. Green Bay, Indianapolis, and San Diego each had 6 such games.

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* – The Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans each had 3 rushing touchdowns last week. How often does that happen? Well, 20 of the 32 teams have had 3+ rushing TD in a game since the start of last season.

The Washington Redskins have not had such a game in their last 50 straight, the longest current streak in the league:

50 – Washington Redskins
46 – Tampa Bay Bucs
45 – Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh holds the longest streak without ALLOWING 3+ rushing touchdowns in a game, having not allowed that many since 2003:

106 – Pittsburgh Steelers
57 – Arizona Cardinals
56 – Baltimore Ravens

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* – The Cincinnati Bengals had 3 different pass plays gain 25 or more yards last week against New England. It was the first time that they’ve had that many in a game since the final week of the 2007 season.

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* – The Pittsburgh Steelers allowed Atlanta just 2.04 average yards after the catch last week, the 4th lowest in any game since 2000 (min. 250 pass yards allowed):

1.88 – Indianapolis vs New England (9/9/04)
1.93 – New England vs Indianapolis (11/7/05)
1.95 – Baltimore vs Pittsburgh (9/7/03)
2.04 – Pittsburgh vs Atlanta (9/12/10)

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Enjoy your NFL weekend and feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment or shoot me an email at gmarbry@weei.com!

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