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NY Daily News’ Manish Mehta on D&C: Already poor 2014 Jets season ‘trending downward’

10.15.14 at 9:16 am ET
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New York Daily News Jets beat writer Manish Mehta joined Dennis & Callahan to discuss the state of disarray the Jets are in. To hear to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

After starting off the year with a promising win, New York has come crashing down and lost its last five games. From bad quarterback play from Geno Smith to poor secondary defense, the Jets have very little going right for them. Coach Rex Ryan has come under heavy criticism for the failures of his team.

Rex Ryan is a good coach,” Mehta said. “He’s not Bill Belichick — I don’t think anyone is going to say that. But he’s one of the best defensive coaches, for sure, in the league right now for the last 10 years. There’s only so much you can do when you don’t have much talent. And he doesn’t control who comes into the building via draft or free agency. That’s general manager John Idzik.”

Continued Mehta: “Idzik has never been a general manager before, he has never really had any personnel say of significance in his previous stops in Seattle, Arizona and Tampa Bay. … And now this guy is in charge of giving Rex players, and he hasn’t done a good job his first couple of years.”

Part of the reason the Jets have had trouble in the past few years, and especially this year, is the lack of talent at the skill positions. Without good quarterback play and a solid corps of wide receivers, New York’s offense has been lackluster.

“[Ryan has] never really had a star quarterback. He’s never really had a star player at an offensive skill position,” Mehta said. “If you look his five years, the best you can say is Thomas Jones in the backfield in 2009 and then Santonio Holmes for one season in 2010. … No dynamic players, certainly no dynamic players at the quarterback position. Now he’s really saddled with Geno Smith, who when you look at statistically, is probably the worst quarterback in the NFL right now.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Geno Smith, Manish Mehta, Rex Ryan

Patriots running backs prepared to fill void left in wake of Stevan Ridley’s season-ending injury

10.15.14 at 7:00 am ET
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FOXBORO — With Stevan Ridley reportedly lost for the year with a torn ACL and MCL, the Patriots have their work cut out for them to make up for his loss.

Of the Patriots’€™ 660 yards rushing this season, Ridley has accounted for 52 percent of them — 340 yards.

There is no question Shane Vereen will be a player who will likely step up with the loss of Ridley, but his style is more catching passes out of the backfield and only run on draw plays — not be a No. 1 back. Vereen hasn’€™t had a game this season with more than nine carries, but does have 18 catches for 114 yards.

New England will likely use all of their backs and ride the hot hand each week to make up for the loss of the fourth-year running back. Here is a look at the three other players and how they now view their roles:

Brandon Bolden

Bolden has the most experience of the three as he has 126 career rushing attempts for 570 yards with five touchdowns, now in his third season in the league. While Bolden said he hasn’€™t been notified of a No. 1 back role, he feels he could be one if given the opportunity.

“€œAnybody in the league thinks that, but no, as of now I am here to do whatever the team asks me to do,”€ said Bolden.

Bolden has played a significant role on special teams this season — securing his spot on the game roster each week — but now, because of his experience, he may soon be playing a significant role in the running game rather than on special teams.

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Read More: Brandon Bolden, James White, Jonas Gray, Stevan Ridley

Rob Gronkowski: A ‘positive’ to face Jets on short week because of ‘familiarity’

10.14.14 at 7:05 pm ET
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FOXBORO — There are many challenges playing on Thursday Night Football having only three days to prepare for the upcoming opponent.

But, the Patriots and Jets don’t have that issue this week as the two teams are plenty familiar with one another — having encountered eachother many times over the last few seasons.

“Definitely familiar with them. We play them twice a year,” Rob Gronkowski said. “They haven’€™t really switched it up much — the same coach is there — that is a positive about it, facing a familiar team. You have to keep on studying because they have something new every week.”

Playing in the Thursday game following a Sunday game creates a time-crunch and cramming a week long game plan into a few days, on top of that trying to get your body physically ready in a short period of time. Although it’s difficult, both teams have to go through it.

“Both teams have to deal with it,” Gronkowski said. “You have to get your treatment, hot and cold tubs, the weight room — get a good lift in –€“ and concentrate on the week and the Jets. It’€™s a quick turnaround, just get prepared and it’€™s fair both sides.”

As for the game — it won’t take much for the players to get fired up being between two division rivals.

“It’€™s the Jets. You know how the games are — it’€™s always a competitive games when we play the Jets,” said Gronkowski. “They are one of our rivals so it should be a good game.”

Read More: New Yor Jets, Rob Gronkowski,

Dont’a Hightower ‘hopeful’ he will be able to play Thursday vs. Jets

10.14.14 at 6:31 pm ET
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Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower

FOXBORO — After missing the last two games because of a knee injury, Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower stood at his locker already knowing the question would be coming.

Will he be ready to play Thursday night against the Jets?

“The next question is do I think am I going play Thursday? That is day-to-day,” Hightower said. “I am holding up, doing everything they’€™ve asked me to do, so hopefully I will be out there.”

Hightower has missed the last two games after having a strong start to the season — recording 20 tackles in the four games he’s played — as well as coming along in terms of pass coverage, something that was a bit suspect in past years.

In his third season, Hightower only missed two games in his career prior to this year, so standing on the sidelines has been tough — but he’s done what he can to help the defense.

“It definitely sucks,” he said “Definitely these last couple games coming up are definitely games we want to have and seeing those guys out there having fun and playing the way we have been playing and not being able to have a part of — the most I can do is help give those guys checks and alerts from the sideline and doing my part. Hopefully that was the last game of the season I’€™ll have to do that.’€

With fellow inside linebacker Jerod Mayo going down with a season-ending leg injury, the Patriots need Hightower back even more now. While no one person can replace Mayo — a captain — it will take a number players on the defensive side of the ball, including Hightower, who should become more of a leader for the group.

The unit went through the same thing last year when Mayo also went down for the season in Week 6 with a torn pectoral muscle. Going through the same thing last year should help them moving forward this season.

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Read More: Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo,

Rex Ryan: ‘We’re desperate, to say the least’

10.14.14 at 5:53 pm ET
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Rex Ryan has been walking off the field a loser in five straight games. (Getty Images)

Rex Ryan has been walking off the field a loser in five straight games. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The season-opening win over the Raiders must seem like a lifetime ago to Rex Ryan. The Jets beat Oakland, 19-14, and were tied with Buffalo and Miami atop the AFC East, a game ahead of the 0-1 Patriots.

Since then, the bottom has once again fallen out on Rex Ryan. The quarterback situation is a disaster, with neither Geno Smith nor Michael Vick leading any type of consistent offense. The already porous secondary suffered another blow Monday with the loss of Dee Milliner to injury.

Oh right, they’ve lost five straight and stand 1-5 in the division.

And now, in a short week, they travel to Foxboro to take on a Patriots team that has rediscovered its chemistry and execution on the field. Despite losing Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley for the season, and facing the possibility of playing without Dan Connolly and Bryan Stork, the Patriots are prohibitive favorites this Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

How badly do Ryan and the Jets need to win a football game?

“About as bad is it gets, like you’€™re a 1-5 team,” Ryan answered Tuesday. “We’€™re desperate, to say the least.

Could a win over rival Bill Belichick and the Patriots Thursday night in the national spotlight salvage his season and, in turn, his job?

“No, I don’€™t look at that,” Ryan said. “It’€™s never been about me. You talk about job security late in the year, I’€™ve never flinched one time about it. All I do is the best job I can, and I’€™m confident in my abilities, and I’€™m confident in the guys that I coach with, the people that are here. So again, I don’€™t think twice about it.

“I just know we are going to do everything in our power to get a win. Obviously, it’€™s a lot easier said than done, especially traveling up to New England. We know we’€™re going to get their best shot, and they know that we’€™re going to give them our best shot.”

As desperate as things might be for Ryan, he still has his charm and sense of humor. Ryan was asked about the struggles of the Patriots offensive line and if he’s given any consideration of blitzing on every down.

“Oh yeah, that definitely,” Ryan began before catching himself. “You sound like my mom now. Everybody thought, ‘€˜Oh my gosh, Buddy Ryan, what kind of blitzer he’€™d be,’€™ but my mom would be worse. The league is probably happy that she wasn’€™t a coordinator. Yeah, I don’€™t know if that’€™s the most sound thing.”

Told that his mom would want him taking his vitamins and getting good nights of sleep, Ryan turned into competitor.

“Hey, I’€™m showing up, I can promise you that,” Ryan said.

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Read More: New England Patriots, New York Jets, Rex Ryan, Thursday night football

Brandon Browner ‘ready to play Thursday’: Ankle ‘feeling better and good to go’

10.14.14 at 4:41 pm ET
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Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner

FOXBORO — After missing the first six games of the season — four because of suspension and then the last two because of an ankle injury — cornerback Brandon Browner is talking like a player who will be back Thursday night against the Jets.

“I’€™m ready to go. I’€™m getting ready to play Thursday,” Browner said.

Browner’s ankle injury popped up in Week 5 — the first week he was eligible to return — and he’s been listed as questionable each of the last two games. The former Seattle cornerback said his ankle is “feeling better and good to go.” He said it’s been tough watching from afar each of the last six weeks.

“I’€™m itching, he said. “It’€™s like anyone else who has been held out or hurt, I’€™m itching to get out there. I’€™m taking it a day at a time trying to get better as best I can.”

With the new league rules and being suspended for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, Bronwer was able to be around the team while he was suspended, but just wasn’t able to practice. Asked if he was able to stay in game shape, he said he cannot answer until he plays in a game.

“That’€™s hard for me to answer because I haven’€™t played yet,” said Browner. “I’€™ll have a better answer for you after the game.”

Having not played in a game that has meant something since last season, one could try and do too much too fast, but Browner doesn’t feel that will be an issue because of the current Patriots secondary.

“You’€™re not going to try and do too much, just play the defense,” he said. “Let the chips fall where they may and I think we have a good enough team that if we just play the defense things will play as we want them to.”

If he does play Thursday, it would come against the Jets — a divisional opponent — something Browner is looking forward to.

“I’€™m excited to get back out there. I’€™m fortunate to be able to play against a divisional opponent so I’€™m looking forward to competing against those guys,” said Browner.

Read More: Brandon Browner,

Tom Brady remains limited because of ankle

10.14.14 at 4:07 pm ET
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The Patriots did not have any changes to their practice report from Monday to Tuesday, as offensive linemen Dan Connolly (concussion), Cameron Fleming (finger) and Bryan Stork (concussion) were all sidelined, as was defensive back Nate Ebner (finger). Meanwhile, quarterback Tom Brady was among the limited because of his ankle.

The Patriots will host the Jets Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

Did not practice
OL Dan Connolly (concussion)
S Nate Ebner (finger)
OL Cameron Fleming (finger)
OL Bryan Stork (concussion)

Limited participation
QB Tom Brady (ankle)
CB Brandon Browner (ankle)
LB Jamie Collins (thigh)
DL Dominique Easley (shoulder/knee)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower (knee)
DE Chandler Jones (shoulder)
S Devin McCourty (rib)
WR Matthew Slater (shoulder)

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

Read More: Tom Brady,
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