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Analysis: What does the trade for Isaac Sopoaga mean for Patriots?

10.29.13 at 4:24 pm ET
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The acquisition of defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga fills a glaring void in the middle of New England’s run defense that had been a problem since Vince Wilfork went down last month with an Achilles injury.

A 6-foot-2, 330-pound run stuffer in the Wilfork mold, the 32-year-old Sopoaga projects to be the man in the middle for the Patriots when it comes to stopping the run. The Hawaii product, who is in his 10th season in the league, is a big body whose speciality is clogging up the middle and occupying double teams. The 32-year-old, who has played with the 49ers (2004-2012) and Eagles (2013), has played some defensive tackle and nose tackle in his career. He has 226 career tackles and seven career sacks. (He’s also played a little fullback, lining up in the backfield for a couple of plays last year for the Niners.)

Considered a 3-4 nose tackle, Sopoaga figures to take some of the workload off youngsters Chris Jones and Joe Vellano, who had stepped up and played well in the wake of the injuries to Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, but now figure to work more in rotational situations (particularly Jones, who has shown a real nice ability to get after the passer). It wouldn’t be a surprise to see New England run more 3-4, at least until Kelly returns on a regular basis, with Sopoaga occupying the nose and Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones at the defensive end spots.

The Patriots were extremely stout against the run over the first month-plus of the season — through the first four games, New England was 13th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game, yielding an average of 105 yards per game on the ground. But over the last four weeks, they’ve given up 646 total rush yards to the Bengals, Saints, Jets and Dolphins — an average of 156.5 yards per game. Going into this weekend’s game against the Steelers, the Patriots are allowing 130.8 rushing yards per game, 31st in the league.

Financially, the Patriots aren’t taking a big hit, at least for 2013. Sopoaga signed 3-year deal with Eagles this year which called for him to make base salaries of $1 million in 2013, $3.75 million in 2014 and $3.5 million in 2015. (Those numbers could be adjusted down the road depending on how he takes to the New England system this year.) And the prospect of getting him for a draft pick smells of a relatively no-risk situation for the Patriots.

It marks the second consecutive year the Patriots pulled off a deadline deal — last year, New England acquired Aqib Talib at the deadline, and the cornerback has done a lot to transform the way the Patriots have played defense over the last year. If Sopoaga can come in and have even half the sort of impact defensively that Talib has shown over the last 12 months, New England will be very happy.

Read More: Aqib Talib, chandler jones, Chris Jones, Isaac Sopoaga

Patriots acquire defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga for draft pick

10.29.13 at 3:57 pm ET
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For the second consecutive year, the Patriots have swung a trade deadline deal, this time acquiring defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga from the Eagles.

Sopoaga is a 6-foot-2, 330-pounder out of Hawaii in his 10th season in the league. The 32-year-old, who has played with the 49ers (2004-2012) and Eagles (2013), has 226 career tackles and seven career sacks. Considered a 3-4 nose tackle, Sopoaga will relieve some of the burden that has fallen on youngsters Joe Vellano and Chris Jones, who had to play serious minutes after Vince Wilfork went down with a season-ending Achilles injury last month against the Falcons.

In all, the Eagles sent Sopoaga and a sixth-round pick to Patriots in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick.

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

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Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2013 season

10.29.13 at 2:23 pm ET
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Through eight weeks, the Patriots have been flagged for 38 penalties (26th in the league) for a total of 377 yards (21st in the league). Here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
Team: three penalties (illegal shift, offensive holding, personal foul), 30 yards
CB Kyle Arrington: three penalties (defensive pass interference, defensive holding, running into the kicker), 30 yards
WR Julian Edelman: three penaltes (illegal shift, offensive holding, false start), 20 yards
OL Marcus Cannon: three penalties (three false starts), 11 yards
DT Chris White: two penalties (offensive holding, unsportsmanlike conduct), 25 yards
OL Logan Mankins: two penalties (two offensive holding), 20 yards
DL Chandler Jones: two penalties (roughing the passer, neutral zone infraction), 20 yards
S Duron Harmon: two penalties (offensive holding and illegal block above the waist’€“special teams), 18 yards
OL Nate Solder: two penalties (false start, offensive holding), 15 yards
OL Dan Connolly: two penalties (two false starts), 10 yards
CB Aqib Talib: one penalty (defensive pass interference), 38 yards
S Steve Gregory: one penalty (defensive pass interference), 30 yards
CB Alfonzo Dennard: one penalty (unnecessary roughness), 15 yards
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: one penalty (facemask), 15 yards
LB Jerod Mayo: one penalty (unnecessary roughness), 15 yards
WR Aaron Dobson: one penalty (offensive pass interference) 10 yards
OL Ryan Wendell: one penalty (offensive holding), 10 yards
S Nate Ebner: one penalty (illegal block above the waist–special teams), 10 yards
LB Jamie Collins: one penalty (illegal block above the waist’€“special teams), 10 yards
LB Chris White: one penalty (illegal use of hands), 5 yards
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
CB Marquice Cole: one penalty (12 men on the field), 5 yards
QB Tom Brady: one penalty (delay of game), 5 yards
S Kanorris Davis: one penalty (illegal formation), 5 yards

Most penalized by position
Cornerback: 88 yards
Offensive line: 66 yards
Defensive line: 45 yards
Linebacker: 45 yards
Safety: 43 yards
Team: 30 yards
Wide receiver: 30 yards
Tight end: 5 yards
Quarterback: 5 yards

Most frequently called penalties
False start: Eight
Offensive holding: Eight
Defensive pass interference: Three
Illegal block above the waist: Three
Unnecessary roughness: Two
Illegal shift: Two
Roughing the passer: One
Neutral zone infraction: One
Twelve men on the field: One
Illegal formation: One
Facemask: One
Defensive holding: One
Delay of game: One
Offensive Pass Interference: One
Unsportsmanlike conduct: One
Personal foul: One
Running into the kicker: One
Illegal use of hands: One

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Pressure Points: Which New England defenders have done best job getting after QB this season?

10.29.13 at 11:51 am ET
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Every week over the course of the 2013 season, we’€™ll provide a look at the Patriots pass rush numbers. While sacks can be overrated, when evaluated as part of a bigger picture that includes quarterback hits and quarterback pressures (the latter courtesy of Pro Football Focus), it should provide a good picture as to which defenders are consistently able to get after the quarterback. Through eight games, the Patriots have 24 sacks (tied for 8th), 48 quarterback hits and 83 quarterback hurries. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™s a quick look at some pass-rush numbers for the Patriots to this point in the 2013 season:

Quarterback sacks
DL Chandler Jones: 6.5 (45.5 yards)
DL Chris Jones: 4.5 (32 yards)
DL Tommy Kelly: 2.5 (14.5 yards)
CB Logan Ryan: 2 (18 yards)
DE Michael Buchanan: 2 (15 yards)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 2 (11 yards)
LB Jerod Mayo: 1.5 (5 yards)
DL Joe Vellano: 1 (13 yards)
LB Dont’a Hightower: 1 (9 yards)
LB Dane Fletcher: 1 (7 yards)

Quarterback hits (per NFL game books)
DE Chandler Jones: 13
DE Rob Ninkovich: 9
DL Tommy Kelly: 6
DE Michael Buchanan: 5
DL Chris Jones: 5
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 3
DL Joe Vellano: 2
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
DL Vince Wilfork: 1
DE Jake Bequette: 1
CB Logan Ryan: 1
LB: Dane Fletcher: 1
S Steve Gregory: 1

Quarterback hurries (per PFF)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 26
DE Chandler Jones: 17
DL Joe Vellano: 8
DL Tommy Kelly: 6
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 6
DL Vince Wilfork: 3
DL Chris Jones: 3
LB Jamie Collins: 3
DE Michael Buchanan: 3
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
LB Brandon Spikes: 2
CB Devin McCourty: 2
DE Jake Bequette: 1
CB Marquice Cole: 1

Read More: pressure points,

Adam Schefter on D&C: ‘New England is a team to watch’ at Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline

10.29.13 at 10:36 am ET
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ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to discuss the NFL trade deadline, as well as Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather‘s comments towards Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

NFL teams have until 4 p.m. Tuesday to make a trade. Players such as Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, Titans receiver Kenny Britt and Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez have been rumored to be on the trading block.

“The first thing I would tell you is don’t get your hopes too high, because at this time of the year, this is one area where baseball has it on football, where there just isn’t a lot of action,” Schefter said. “I’ve been going back and forth with a couple of people this morning, and they’ve said to me, ‘Nothing newer on this front.’ Again, it’s 8:30 in the morning, and a lot can change by 4 o’clock Eastern, which is the time of the deadline, but football never produces a lot of trades.

“And keep in mind this year already, we have seen former first-round picks such as Trent RichardsonBryant McKinnieLevi BrownEugene Monroe already traded. Again, not household names, not highly productive players in most cases, but still a lot of trades up until this point, and so we may get a trade or two throughout the course of the day. It’s possible, but there’s nothing right now that you say, ‘Boy, this is one that we really have to chart.’ ”

The Patriots are no strangers to the trade deadline, as they acquired cornerback Aqib Talib from the Buccaneers on Nov. 1, 2012. The acquisition of Talib has so far turned out to be a spectacular move, as he has emerged as one of the top secondary players in the league this season.

With injuries to the Patriots defensive line and a group of rookies making up most of the receiving corps, many have wondered if the Pats will once again be buyers Tuesday.

“I think they’ve made some inquiries, but I don’t think anything has materialized … but they’ve done what every team should be doing,” Schefter said. “They’ve made a couple of calls to see who might and might not be available, and nothing has worked out so far. I think New England is a team to watch today. I’m not going to tell you they’re going to get anything done.

“Again, deals are difficult to get done at the trade deadline, but I think the Patriots would be interested in a defensive tackle if they could, I think if there was a wide receiver out there that made some sense … but they’ve made moves more that haven’t exactly worked out. I think they’re going to be careful.”

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Read More: adam schefter, Brandon Meriweather, nfl, Patriots

Fantasy Football: Week 9 waiver wire

10.29.13 at 10:18 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 9 waiver wire. I know a lot of you are too busy enjoying the Red Sox to go digging in the fantasy weeds, so it’€™s probably a good thing (for you) that I’€™m a Mets fan. In the words of Tommy Callahan, ‘€œI got spare time.’€

We had more injuries in Week 8, and that makes this upcoming week a challenge in terms of putting a team on the field, especially in deeper formats. I’€™ll do my best to give you ideas and options for all league types and sizes. For those of you playing in large formats, feel free to head over to Rotobahn.com, where I’€™ll be adding more targets throughout the day as I continue to work through last week’€™s game tape.

QUARTERBACKS

Andy Dalton, Bengals 

He’€™s already taken in 76 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but that leaves enough possibility to mention him. Dalton is on a serious hot streak over the last three games and is a solid QB1 in all leagues based on his production so far. The skill talent around him is simply outstanding. Add him if you can.

Alex Smith, Chiefs

He’€™s still available in 41 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and you can’€™t argue with his consistent production. Smith is coming off of his best fantasy week so far in Week 8, and he gets the Bills in Week 9. Add him if you need short- or long-term help at the position, but be wary of his Week 10 bye.

Jake Locker, Titans 

He’€™s past the bye and he’€™s healthy. Throw in the fact that the Titans have already played the worst part of their schedule and you have a player to own in 12-team formats. He’€™s also largely available, with a 17 percent ownership rate in Yahoo! leagues.

Terrelle Pryor, Raiders 

He got it done in a tough matchup last week. Granted, he got a lot of his points on a single play. Pryor has some solid matchup value in all formats with the Eagles and Giants on the schedule the next two weeks. He is available in 64 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Josh McCown, Bears 

He’€™ll be the man until Jay Cutler comes back. McCown can help you in deeper formats as a Cutler replacement or as bye week help. I thought he looked pretty good in relief against Washington in Week 7 — making some good throws and clean reads. The matchups the next two weeks are at Green Bay and home vs. Detroit. That’€™s not too bad, and you can get McCown in all but 4 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Geno Smith, Jets 

Geno was a ‘€œsit’€ in my Week 8 starts and sits column at WEEI, but he’€™s a reasonable play this week, at home vs. the Saints. The Jets will need to throw if they are going to compete, and hosting New Orleans is a far easier task than playing the Bengals on the road. Smith can help you in large formats if you’€™re in a jam, and you can still get him in 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Case Keenum, Texans 

Keenum will draw the start this week at home vs. the Colts.  He’€™s a player to add in large formats for sure, because he has a chance to take this gig for the rest of the season if he plays as well as he did in Week 7 at Kansas City. He’€™s available in 97 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

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Read More: Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Case Keenum, Geno Smith

As trade deadline looms, looking back at Patriots’ in-season deals under Bill Belichick

10.29.13 at 8:05 am ET
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With the NFL trade deadline set for Tuesday afternoon, here’s a look at the in-season deals swung by the Patriots since Bill Belichick took over as coach in 2000.

2006: The day after a season-opening win over the Bills in Buffalo, the Patriots put an end to a protracted contract flap with wide receiver Deion Branch when they sent Branch to the Seahawks in exchange for a first-round selection in the 2007 draft.

2009: The Patriots made a couple of interesting moves that summer, including the trade of Richard Seymour to the Raiders for a first-round draft pick in the 2011 draft and a move that saw tight end David Thomas shipped to the Saints for a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft. But the only in-season deal the Patriots made was a trade with the Ravens that saw them acquire linebacker Prescott Burgess in exchange for a conditional draft pick.

2010: The biggest year for in-season deals, at least from a volume perspective. On Sept. 14, the Patriots sent running back Laurence Maroney and a sixth-round pick to the Broncos for a fourth-round pick in 2011. Less than a month later, New England swung a pair of seismic trades: First, the Patriots dealt wide receiver Randy Moss and a seventh-round pick to the Vikings for a third-rounder in 2011 on Oct. 6. Then, six days later, New England re-acquired Branch in exchange for 2011 fourth-round pick (99th overall).

2012: Another impact in-season deal came that year on Nov. 1, when the Patriots acquired cornerback Aqib Talib and a 2013 seventh-round pick from Tampa Bay in exchange for a 2013 fourth-round draft choice (126th overall).

Read More: Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, Deion Branch, Laurence Maroney

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