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Peter King on D&H: Devin McCourty tips game in Patriots’ favor

12.03.10 at 2:12 pm ET
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Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday afternoon and previewed the Patriots-Jets matchup. King said he only recently decided that the Patriots can win the game, based on one player’s performance in last week’s win over the Lions.

“I think the Patriots will [win],” King said. “If you would have asked me two weeks ago, or even especially before the Detroit game, there’s a good chance I would have said the Jets. But something happened in that Detroit game to convince me that the Patriots are OK. And that is the play of Devin McCourty. I just think that he now gives Santonio Holmes a real tough day on that side of the field.

“Hey, look, I have no idea what [Bill] Belichick will do. Nobody does. But I think it’s logical to suggest that on more than half of the obvious passing plays in this game that Devin McCourty’s going to be on Santonio Holmes. If that is the case, then what I would say is based on the way that I saw Devin McCourty play Calvin Johnson, based on jousting with Calvin Johnson and winning the one interception we saw ‘€” to me, I look at him now as way beyond a rookie corner. So, I think he’s going to make a very big difference in the game.”

Touching on other news around the NFL, King was asked his opinion of the NFL fining but not suspending Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan for their fight Sunday. “Both those guys should have gotten one-game suspensions,” King said. “The NFL is not doing anything to deter Richard Seymour [who hit Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger] or Cortland Finnegan or Andre Johnson from fighting.”

Read More: Devin McCourty, Peter King, Santonio Holmes,

Pats practice Friday: Mike Wright, Jonathan Wilhite, Myron Pryor still out

12.03.10 at 1:24 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For second straight day, CB Jonathan Wilhite, and defensive linemen Myron Pryor and Mike Wright were the only three missing from Patriots practice as the team worked out in sweats and shells on the main stadium field.

Wilhite has missed the last two games with a hip injury. Pryor suffered a back injury against Cleveland and has been inactive for the three games since Nov. 7. Wright missed the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit after injuring his neck and suffering a concussion against Indianapolis on Nov. 21.

The team practiced in chilly, blustery conditions on the field turf, with many of the players bundled up. The forecast for Monday night’s game between the Patriots and Jets calls for mainly clear skies and temperatures in the upper 30s with a steady breeze.

Read More: Jonathan Wilhite, Mike Wright, Myron Pryor, New England Patriots

Patriots sign Eric Moore, cut Pierre Woods

12.03.10 at 12:37 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Friday they have signed defensive end/outside linebacker Eric Moore and released outside linebacker Pierre Woods.

Here’s part of the announcement that was issued by the team on the move:

Moore, 6-4, 268 pounds, is a veteran of four NFL seasons with the New York Giants (2005), New Orleans Saints (2006) and St. Louis Rams (2006-08). He spent the last seven games of the 2009 season on the Carolina practice squad and went to training camp with the Panthers in 2010 but was waived on Sept. 4.

Moore originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by the New York Giants out of Florida State in 2005. After playing in eight games as a rookie in 2005, Moore was released by the Giants following training camp in 2006. He was then signed to the New Orleans’€™ practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster and playing in four games for the Saints. After being waived from the Saints, he finished the 2006 season with the St. Louis Rams, seeing action in three games. Moore spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons with the Rams before being released on Sept.9, 2009.

Woods, 6-5, 255 pounds, was re-signed by the Patriots on Nov. 17 and played in two games, finishing with one tackle, one sack and two special teams tackles. Woods went to training camp with New England this past summer but was released on Sept. 4. He is a veteran of five NFL seasons with New England after originally joining the team as a rookie free agent out of Michigan in 2006.

Read More: Eric Moore, Pierre Woods,

Jerod Mayo on D&H: ‘We’re confident in the game plan’

12.03.10 at 12:22 pm ET
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Linebacker Jerod Mayo joined the Dale & Holley show Friday morning (listen to the interview at the Dale & Holley audio on demand page), and he said he believes the extra time off from playing on Thanksgiving will help his team in Monday night’s contest against the Jets. “Having those extra days off to prepare for a great team, we’re getting more comfortable in the game plan, we’re confident in the game plan,” Mayo said. “I think we’ll play fast on Monday night.”

Mayo explained how the team may have rested physically during the extended break but stayed mentally sharp. “Coach [Bill Belichick] gave us a couple of days off as far as the physical stretches on the body,” he said. “At the same time, we had to come in and watch film, watch a lot of film, and break down a lot of games. All that time that we weren’t on the practice field, we were definitely in the film room watching film.”

Mayo leads the NFL in tackles and looks much quicker on the field than a year ago. Though he wouldn’t outwardly blame his knee injury, Mayo did mention the brace was a bit of a hindrance. “I had a pretty bad injury or whatever, but the thing about it is it’s always better not having on a metal knee brace,” he said. “Any time you don’t have a knee brace, and you have two balanced legs, you’re always going to feel better and play better. I do feel better this year, and hopefully it continues.”

The Jets also had a long break, and consequently Mayo expects to see a different opponent Monday night than the one Patriots encountered earlier in the season. “You just have to assume they’re going to change a lot of things,” Mayo said. “They had the same amount of time off that we had, so I’m sure those guys have been working hard and preparing as well. We just have to go out and execute our game plan, and hopefully it’s the best one.”

Mayo, who said the young defense has improved greatly since the beginning of the season due to the players’ hard work, understands the implications of Monday night’s game, in addition to the national spotlight his team will be under. “This is a huge game for us,” he said. “It’s a Monday night game against a division rival. This game is huge. Both teams need it. This could be the difference between a wild card and a first-round bye. It’s a huge game and that’s how we’re approaching it.”

Read More: Jerod Mayo,

Fred Taylor on D&H: ‘I’m ready to play’ vs. Jets

12.03.10 at 12:09 pm ET
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Running back Fred Taylor joined the Dale & Holley show Friday morning and pronounced himself ready to go on Monday night vs. the Jets, although he said the final decision is up to the Patriots coaching staff. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“I’m ready to play,” Taylor said. “I’m going through practice preparing the best that I can. I’m ready to play. [The coaches] just said, ‘We’ll decide later.’ It’s a process. Things have to occur, and things have to be right. And I’m not trying to give you a politically correct answer, I’m just trying to do what’s best for the team, in that I don’t want to tip our hand to what’s going on in terms of personnel moves. That might be the best answer. But I’m ready to play.”

Taylor, out since Week 3 with turf toe, was dressed for the Patriots’ Thanksgiving Day win over the Lions but did not play. “I wanted some action on that day,” he admitted. “But it was more so an emergency-type deal, to get out there and go back through the rituals, get back in the routine, being out there with the team, going through pregame, and just be ready if anything had happened.”

Taylor continues to say highly complimentary things about fellow running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. “He has what it takes,” Taylor said. “He has the tools physically. It doesn’t take great size to be a back. I think his frame is perfect. He’s 5-10 1/2, 5-11, 220 pounds deceptively. His speed is awesome. He has skill, he has moves. He wants to go downhill, north and south. He doesn’t want to spend any time laterally.

“If you have those qualities as a back, you’re halfway there. the next thing is just making plays when it’s time. And he’s been doing that. Going forward, I’m expecting a whole lot of good things from Benny, because he’s only going to get better.”

Taylor’s son Kelvin is a standout running back at Glades Day High School in Belle Glades, Fla. The sophomore rushed for a Florida playoff record 437 yards and five touchdowns in a win last Friday night. “He deserves it,” Taylor said. “He really works hard and he pays attention. He’s a good kid.”

Read More: BenJarvus Green Ellis, Fred Taylor,

Adam Schefter on D&C: Pats-Jets ‘may be highest-rated sporting event in cable TV history’

12.03.10 at 9:43 am ET
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ESPN’s Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about Monday’s showdown between the Patriots and Jets. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“There’s a good reason that everybody is fired up about this game,” he said. “It’s going to be tremendous. ‘€¦ This may be the highest-rated sporting event in cable TV history.”

Schefter predicts a Patriots victory Monday, mainly due to the recent success of the New England offense. “I trust Tom Brady in this spot more than I trust Mark Sanchez,” he said. “I just believe that somehow, some way, despite the fact that Brady has struggled against Rex Ryan defenses, that he’ll find a way to get it done. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, and it may just be that I’m wrong. But Brady has been spot on this year. Spot on. As good as anybody in the league. You have to figure at home, where he’s done OK, he’s going to do OK again on Monday night.”

Schefter noted that this game may come down to one of the team’s kickers ‘€” Shayne Graham, who replaced the injured Stephen Gostkowski last month, or embattled Jets kicker Nick Folk. Said Schefter: “It’s interesting where the Jets have a kicker on the ropes; the Patriots have a new kicker that they don’t know they can count on. In a game that could be as closely contested as this one, there are two big question marks at the kicker position.”

Read More: adam schefter, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady

Ron Jaworski on D&C: ‘Nothing ruffles’ Tom Brady

12.03.10 at 7:33 am ET
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ESPN NFL analyst and former quarterback Ron Jaworski checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and talked about Monday’s showdown between the Patriots and Jets. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Jaworski said the Patriots defense should be OK Monday, as the Jets are a more conservative, run-oriented offense. However, New England’s defensive issues are an obvious concern in the long run.

“When you watch this defense giving up close to 400 yards, it’s not typical of a New England Patriots defense,” Jaworski said. “As I say, this is a defense continuing to be tinkered with by Bill [Belichick] and his entire defense staff. I’m looking at tape this week and I see just all kinds of rotations. It is somewhat amazing what I see as far as personnel packages and who is on the field. I don’t think they have found themselves yet. So, I think yes, it will be a problem as you move into the playoffs, where you’re going to see some juggernaut offenses. I know they make turnovers at opportune times, they make plays at opportune times. But I don’t think in this league you can give up 400 yards on the average in games and be a playoff and Super Bowl contender.”

On the other side of the ball, Jaworski said he could see the Patriots offense developing as far back as the draft, when New England selected a couple of tight ends in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski who now are contributing. “Bill knows what he’s doing,” Jaworski said. “I would say he’s always got a vision of where his team is going to be down the road. And you could see the evolution of this football team, what was going on. They had fast, speedy tight ends, as well as guys that could block. So, you could see where this team was going.

“I thought that the acquisition of Deion Branch was really a stroke of brilliance, to bring him back,” Jaworski continued. “This is now a possession style of offense. Yeah, you’re going to get some plays down the field with [Brandon] Tate, and he’ll stretch the field. But Tom [Brady] is so good at spreading the field sideline to sideline. Sometimes we think of the spacing of offenses, and people think of the vertical game all the time. But where the Patriots are so good is sideline to sideline and finding the voids between people rather than over the top of people.”

Jaworski spent some time handing out compliments to Brady, especially for his mental toughness. “What I notice about Tom is nothing ruffles him,” Jaworski said. “There’s been a lot of player changes on that offense this year, and nothing seems to bother him. He’s like Father Time and just keeps moving along very smoothly.” Jaworski added that he rates Drew Brees as the third-best quarterback in the NFL, behind Brady and Peyton Manning.

Jaworski said he’s happy that Jon Gruden will remain with the network after rumors that the University of Miami was pursuing him for its coaching vacancy. However, Jaworski said he expects Gruden will eventually return to the sideline. “I think somewhere down the road, Jon will get involved in coaching, because he’s that good,” Jaworski said. “Working with Jon for three or four days every week now for the last couple of years, I realize now what an amazing talent he is as a coach, and way beyond that, what a motivator he is, what a hard-worker he is, how he prepares. … Jon is a teacher, and he loves that part of the game.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski, Tom Brady
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