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Perfect attendance at Patriots practice again

01.10.13 at 12:07 pm ET
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For the second consecutive day, the Patriots had perfect attendance at practice Thursday afternoon as the team continued preparing for its divisional playoff contest, set for Sunday at 4:30 p.m. against the Texans in Foxboro. The session was held in sweats and shells on the lower practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. For more Patriots news, check out

Report: Junior Seau had brain disease

01.10.13 at 7:52 am ET
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Gina Seau, the ex-wife of former NFL star Junior Seau, told ABC News that her former husband’s brain has tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to memory loss, depression and dementia. Junior Seau committed suicide last May, shooting himself in the chest at his home in Oceanside, Cailf. Within hours of his death, the Seau family had received calls from researchers hoping to use Seau’s brain for study.

The Seau family ultimately selected the National Institutes of Health, and five independent brain specialists consulted by the NIH all came to the conclusion that Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease associated with head trauma. Over 4,000 former NFL players are currently suing the league in federal court, claiming the league refuse to acknowledge the link between brain damage and football, even after CTE was found in retired players. The Seau family has not decided if it would join in the lawsuits.

“I think it’s important for everyone to know that Junior did indeed suffer from CTE,” Gina Seau told ABC News. “It’s important that we take steps to help these players. We certainly don’t want to see anything like this happen again to any of our athletes.”

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Ninkovich, Scott among 20 limited Pats

01.09.13 at 6:08 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Pass rushers Rob Ninkovich and Trevor Scott were among 20 Patriots listed as “limited” Wednesday as the Patriots continued their on-field preparations for the Texans this Sunday in an AFC divisional showdown at Gillette Stadium. Ninkovich injured his left hip late in the first half of New England’s 28-0 win over the Dolphins in the season finale but practiced during the bye week and was on the field again Wednesday. Kyle Love (knee), Nate Solder (abdomen) and Sebastian Vollmer (back, knee) were removed from the report.

Defensive end Justin Francis was not listed on the report on Wednesday after missing Tuesday. He reportedly was under the weather on Tuesday but fine a day later.

Here is Wednesday’s complete report:

Limited Participation

TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip)

DB Marquice Cole (finger)

LB Mike Rivera (ankle)

CB Aqib Talib (hip)

CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee)

OL Nick McDonald (shoulder)

LB Tracy White (elbow)

DE Chandler Jones (ankle)

G Logan Mankins (ankle/calf)

G Dan Connolly (back)

S Patrick Chung (shoulder)

TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle)

LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring/shoulder)

DB Nate Ebner (hamstring)

WR Brandon Lloyd (knee)

LB Brandon Spikes (knee/ankle)

LB Rob Ninkovich (hip)

WR Wes Welker (ankle)

LB Jerod Mayo (elbow)

DE Trevor Scott (knee)

For more, visit the Patriots page at

Gary Kubiak isn’t using a newspaper column as motivation

01.09.13 at 5:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Texans head coach Gary Kubiak isn’t about to fall into the trap of using a newspaper column as bulletin board material to fire up his team – at least not publicly anyway.

The Texans head coach was asked Wednesday during a conference call with the New England media what he thought of Arian Foster using Dan Shaughnessy’s column in the Boston Globe as motivation for his team this Sunday in the AFC divisional showdown at Gillette Stadium.

“I guess I really don’€™t know what you’€™re talking about so it’€™s hard for me to comment,” Kubiak responded. “I don’€™t know what you’€™re talking about.”

Reminded that Foster changed his avatar on Twitter to a few paragraphs from a column that says that this will be a rollover game for the Patriots.

“I don’€™t get into that kind of stuff,” he added. “We’€™re just getting ready to go play football.”

Kubiak admitted Wednesday that getting ready to play football this time means not assuming things will get better just because his team was horrible on Dec. 10.

“You’€™re making a huge mistake if you start saying, ‘€˜If we would have done this, if we would have done that, we would have been fine.’€™ We weren’€™t fine, we got our tails kicked. They were very, very explosive,” Kubiak said. “When you look at what they’€™ve done to some teams in their building this year, they’€™re sitting there, they got us down 28-7 in the third, they had Denver down 31-7 late in the third, they had Indy down, golly I think it was 49-17, you know what I mean. They’€™ve really gotten after some teams. Games can get away from you there if you miss opportunities or make mistakes. We’€™re going to have to come in there and play a 60-minute football game. We’€™re going to have to step to the plate and make some plays.

“My approach, when you play Bill [Belichick], his football team is such a great organization and well coached team, I don’€™t think you ever know exactly what you’€™re going to get. They’€™re a veteran football team that is able to get a lot done from week to week and game plan wise. You could get a lot of things obviously that you’€™re not going to practice or haven’€™t seen on film so I think it’€™s about what we do and being good at what we do and staying focused on that and getting your players prepared from that standpoint. I don’€™t think you look at one film and say, ‘€˜OK, this is what we’€™re going to do.’€™ I think you have to do what you think you do best and go out there and perform.”

Here is the remainder of the conference call with Kubiak from Wednesday: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Globe, Dan Shaughnessy, Gary Kubiak, houston texans

Patriots Positional Playoff Preview: Special teams

01.09.13 at 3:11 pm ET
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With the postseason underway, we’€™ve got the Patriots Positional Playoff Preview, a week-long, position-by-position look at the Patriots and how they look heading into the postseason. We’€™ve broken things down on both sides of the ball. Now, it’€™s a chance to take a look at special teams:

Depth chart (stats based on coaches film review): Kicker Stephen Gostkowski (29-for-35 on field goals, 66-for-66 on extra points, 52 touchbacks on 112 kickoffs), punter Zoltan Mesko (60 punts, 43.1 average, 28 inside the 20), punt returner Wes Welker (25 returns, 243 yards, 9.7 average), kick returner Devin McCourty (27 returns, 654 yards, 24.2 average, 1 TD), long snapper Danny Aiken, special teamers Matthew Slater (20 special teams tackles), Nate Ebner (17 special teams tackles), linebacker Mike Rivera (12 special teams tackles).

Overview: It’€™s been an up-and-down year for the Patriots special teamers. After a long draught, New England got a punt return (from Julian Edelman against the Colts) and kick return (by McCourty against the Jets). There’€™s also the continued excellence of Slater, who is a tremendously disruptive force for opposing teams to have to deal with on a weekly basis. (Seriously, invest the $70 in NFL Game Rewind and watch the coaches’€™ film of his work. No surprise he was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl.)

There were also some struggles, particularly early in the season by Gostkowski, who missed what would have been a likely game-winner against the Cards, and missed a pair against the Bills. He seemed to right the ship late in the season — he’€™s made eight of his last nine field goals over the last five weeks of the regular season, including three from 40-plus yards.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see how the Patriots use their returners in the postseason. Since Edelman went down with a season-ending injury, they have utilized a handful of different players, but have appeared to settle on Welker as a punt returner and McCourty as a kick returner.

Best Moment: Three immediately stick out: the fumble which was returned for a touchdown by Edelman in the Thanksgiving Night massacre of the Jets, Edelman’€™s 68-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Colts, and McCourty’€™s 104-yard kick return for a touchdown in the home with over the Jets.

Worst Moment: Gostkowski’€™s 42-yard field-goal attempt late in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals ended up being the difference in a shocking September loss to Arizona. In the same game, Mesko had a blocked punt, which the Cardinals quickly turned into a touchdown.

By the numbers: Gostkowski’€™s 153 points is a career-high.

Money quote: ‘€œIt’€™s been a blast; I’€™ve had a lot of fun with these guys this year. It’€™s a group that takes a lot of pride in what we do and we have a lot of fun doing it. I think there’€™s a good combination of veteran guys with experience and young guys that are willing and eager and understand this is how they’€™re going to make their bones in this league and they’€™ve embraced their role. Overall, it’€™s been one of the most fun seasons I’€™ve had as a part of this team. Hopefully we can keep it going.’€ — Slater on working with this year’€™s special teamers.

Read More: 2013 playoffs, positional playoff preview,

Bill Belichick: ‘Don’t win a war digging a foxhole’

01.09.13 at 2:45 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Echoing what his Pro Bowl quarterback said an hour earlier, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he doesn’t expect his team to get conservative with the playoffs beginning for his team on Sunday against the Texans. If anything, Belichick insisted, the Patriots will become more aggressive.

“You don’t win a war by digging a foxhole and sitting in it,” Belichick said. “You’ve got to go out there and attack, you’ve got to make the plays that you need to make to win. It’s a one game season.” With the playoffs upon them, the Patriots understand that their season will be on the brink every time they take the field. It’s win or go home. There is no more banking on next week to sort through mistakes.

“We all understand that. Every player, every coach, everybody that participates in the game. We all understand exactly what it is.”

The other thing Belichick made perfectly clear is that he is not expecting a repeat of the 42-14 walkover against the Texans on Dec. 10 at Gillette Stadium.

“I think it’s about creating a game plan that you feel can be successful against a team you’re playing. The way certain plays matched up in the first game, first of all I don’t even know if we’re going to run the same plays or they’re going to run the same plays so that it could even possibly match up in this game. But even if it did, the chances for it to matched up, the number of plays we run and the number of defenses they have, for it to be the exact same, is infinitesimal. It’s not going to happen.

“I don’t think that’s really important. It’s about being prepared to deal with whatever it is we have to deal with on Sunday and going out there and executing it well. It’s not trying to replicate a match-up. You can’t do it.”

For more, visit the Patriots team page at

Tom Brady is all about managing ‘risk-reward’ in the playoffs

01.09.13 at 2:25 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady is pretty sure of one thing – it won’t be as easy as it was on Dec. 10 against the Texans.

That night he was 21-of-35 for 296 yards, four touchdowns and a 125.4 quarterback rating in the 42-14 destruction of the Texans.

One of the main points Brady was trying to make Wednesday is that great teams find a way to win even when their quarterback is off.

The game he brought up Wednesday was not last year in the AFC championship – when the defense overcame a rough performance – but further back. The Patriots were trailing the Chargers in the 2006 divisional playoff in San Diego, 21-13, when Brady threw his third interception of the day to Marlon McCree midway through the fourth quarter. But Troy Brown saved the day when he stripped the ball loose, allowing the Patriots to tie the game on a TD and two-point conversion. They would win, 24-21, advancing to the AFC championship in Indianapolis.

Brady was asked Wednesday about the finality of that fact that any one play at any time can end the season.

“I don’€™t think you can play so conservative that you’re not able to go out and make plays. I think part of that is the mental toughness,” Brady said. “If you make a play ‘€“ like we won in ‘€™06 we beat the Chargers ‘€“ I threw three picks in that game. Look, you’€™ve got to overcome mistakes. If you make them, you’€™ve still got to do everything you’€™ve got to do to win and give yourself a chance to move on.

“I think the important part is if you do make a mistake, you’€˜ve got to hope you don’€™t make another one. Because if they capitalize on it, you’re going to have to dig yourself out of that hole and make a lot of good plays. The more mistakes you make, the harder it is to win. You can make mistakes and still win, but they’€™ve got to make mistakes, too.

The most important thing to Brady in the playoffs?

“It’€™s always about risk-reward in football,” Brady said. “I think there are calculated risks and judgment that you make as a player on every single play, whether that’€™s my position or whether you’€™re a defensive tackle. Should I try to go for it or should I not? I think that’€™s what you train yourself to do over the course of a long season. That comes through experience. That comes through playing a lot of games. Certainly when you play better players, you don’€™t have as long to make that decision. The better players you face, the less margin you have to be able to make those split second decisions.”

Brady could set history this weekend by becoming the winningest quarterback in NFL playoff history. He also knows it won’t be easy. With a win, Brady will improve to 17-6 all-time in the playoffs, passing the 16 wins of idol Joe Montana.

“It’s very hard to win that final game of the year,” said Brady, who won his first 10 playoff games but is 6-6 in his last 12. “We’ve had a chance a lost a few; it’s hard to win this game. The best teams bring out the best in the players, they bring out the best in the teams.”
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