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Darrelle Revis: Aaron Rodgers ‘our biggest test yet’

11.26.14 at 1:44 pm ET
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Darrelle Revis and the Patriots have won seven straight heading into this weekend. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis and the Patriots have won seven straight heading into this weekend. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Darrelle Revis wasn’t about to mince words when it came to Aaron Rodgers.

“We believe that Aaron Rodgers is our biggest test yet,” Revis said of the Green Bay quarterback, who will square off against the Patriots Sunday at Lambeau Field.

“The guy is awesome,” added Revis. “We’re looking forward to it.”

New England will be looking to slow down a Green Bay offense that has been lights out over the last several weeks. The Packers are 5-0 at home, and in his five games at Lambeau this year, Rodgers is completing 67 percent of his passes, is averaging 284.8 passing yards per game and has 18 touchdowns and no picks, to go along with a passer rating of 138.1.

“They’re an impressive team,” Revis said of the Packers. “They’re tops in every category in the passing game.”

Rodgers leans heavily on the duo of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Nelson is eighth in the league in catches (68), fifth in targets (106) and receiving yards (1,066) and fourth in touchdown catches (nine). He’€™s only one of five receivers with at least 100 targets and 1,000 receiving yards, and has 18 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games. Cobb is a 5-foot-10, 192-pounder out of Kentucky who has 58 catches on 79 targets for 837 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns.

“They always get open — that shows you they understand the game,” Revis said of the Nelson/Cobb combo. “They’re very experienced. They have a lot of chemistry with Rodgers.”

The Patriots have cruised through the first four games of a six-game stretch that many believe would come to define their season, with four straight wins against four straight divisional leaders in Chicago, Denver, Indy and Detroit. But defeating the Packers in Green Bay represents a sizable challenge — the Packers are unbeaten at home, have averaged 44 points per game and have won their games at home by an average of 27 points per game. That includes two games where they’ve put up more than 50 points.

“That’s a part of the NFL, the challenge,” Revis said. “It doesn’t matter what team you play. All 32 teams are good and you have to bring your ‘A’ game every Sunday. You have to play elite ball to win. Our schedule has been pretty tough but at the same time, it’s the schedule. You get challenged, and you have to stand up to the challenge.”

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Patriots sign TE Xavier Gimble, LS Charley Hughlett to practice squad

11.26.14 at 1:29 pm ET
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Danny Aiken

Danny Aiken

FOXBORO — The Patriots made two significant additions to their practice squad the day before Thanksgiving.

The team signed tight end Xavier Grimble and long snapper Charley Hughlett to the unit. It’s the second appearance on the practice squad this season for Hughlett, who was signed to the New England practice squad on Sept. 1 and released two days later.

Hughlett provides depth behind current long snapper Danny Aiken, who had one bad snap Sunday and was punished by a cheap shot to the back of the head from Detroit’s C.J. Mosley on a late field goal attempt.

To make room for Grimble and Hughlett, the Patriots released linebacker Deontae Skinner and defensive back Daxton Swanson from the practice squad.

Grimble, 22, was originally signed by the New York Giants as a rookie free agent out of USC on May 15, 2014. The 6-foot-4, 261-pounder, was released by the Giants on Aug. 26 and signed to the San Francisco practice squad on Sept. 15. He was released from the 49ers practice squad on Nov. 18. In three seasons as USC, Grimble played in 38 games with 22 starts and caught 69 passes for 731 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Hughlett, 23, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Dallas Cowboys out of Central Florida on April 30, 2012. The 6-foot-4, 251-pounder was released by Dallas on Aug. 27, 2012. He was re-signed by Dallas on Jan. 7, 2013 and released for a second time on May 29, 2013. He was signed by New England on March 19, 2014. After being released by New England in May, Hughlett was signed by Jacksonville on June 19, 2014, before being released on Aug. 25, 2014. Following his release from the New England practice squad, Hughlett spent one week on the Cleveland practice squad.
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Read More: Charley Hughlett, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Xavier Grimble

Chandler Jones (hip) spotted at Patriots walkthrough

11.26.14 at 1:24 pm ET
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Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

FOXBORO — Chandler Jones was spotted at the Patriots walkthrough held Wednesday inside the Dana Farber Fieldhouse at Gillette Stadium. With snow falling outside, the team moved its practice indoors in advance of Sunday’s game in Green Bay.

The media was given limited access to the walkthrough and the players were not wearing jerseys so it was difficult to take a full attendance. A practice report will be released later this afternoon.

Long-snapper Charley Hughlett, who was added to the practice squad this morning, was present and was doing work before the session began.

It’s important to note regarding Jones, keep in mind it was a walkthrough and Sealver Siliga (foot) was present at last Wednesday’s walkthrough, but hasn’t yet come off of short-term injured reserve designated for return. Nevertheless, it’s a positive sign considering it was the first time he has been spotted since suffering the hip injury Week 7 against the Jets.

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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price explain how Pats can keep up with Aaron Rodgers, Packers

11.26.14 at 1:10 pm ET
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FOXBORO —’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price detail how the Patriots prepare for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Tom Brady

Mr. Consistency: TE Tim Wright setting new standard for reliability in Patriots passing game

11.26.14 at 10:26 am ET
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Tim Wright has caught 23 passes on 26 targets this season, the best target rate on the team. (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Tim Wright has caught 23 passes on 26 targets this season, the best target rate on the team of anyone targeted at least 20 times. (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Tim Wright is in some rarefied air.

In his first season with the Patriots, the tight end has proven himself to be an eminently reliable part of the passing game — he has 23 catches on 26 targets. Even with the understanding that one of the targets was a throwaway by quarterback Tom Brady (an uncatchable ball), that’€™s an 88 percent catch rate, the best on the New England roster when it comes to players who have been targeted by Brady at least 20 times.

If he continues at his current rate, he’ll set a new standard for the Patriots. Since 2006, no member of the Patriots who has been targeted at least 20 times has a reception rate of better than 80 percent.

Of course, none of this is particularly new for Wright — last season with the Buccaneers, he proved equally sure-handed, as he caught 71 percent of the passes (54 receptions on 76 targets) that were thrown his way. But his target numbers this year — combined with his six receiving touchdowns (second on the team to fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski), have made him one of the surprise success stories when you’re talking about the 2014 Patriots offense.

Part of Wright’s success is rooted in the fact that most teams are solely focused on stopping Gronkowski, and have usually dedicated at least two defenders per play in hopes of trying to slow down the big fella. But it’s another thing altogether to take advantage of the opportunities when they’re presented to you, and Wright has done just that.

“Every time we throw to him it’s a touchdown — we’ll try to find him more down there,” Brady said after Wright’s two-touchdown performance against the Lions. “He does a great job in the coverage and finds the open spots.”

While the touchdown ratio is impressive — more than one-quarter of his catches have resulted in touchdowns — his work as a reliable target has really distinguished him from the rest of the field. Since 2006 — when targets were first tallied, on five different occasions, a New England pass catcher who was targeted at least 20 times caught 77 percent of the passes that were thrown in his direction. The latest high-level connection came in 2010 when running back Danny Woodhead caught 34 of the 44 passes that were thrown his way.

Prior to that, veteran running back Kevin Faulk did it three times: Faulk caught 58 of the 75 passes thrown his way in 2008, while both wide receiver Wes Welker (112-of-145) and Faulk (47-of-61) hit the 77 percent mark in 2007. And Faulk caught 43 of the 56 passes thrown his way in 2006 to reach the same plateau. (While Welker was targeted more than any other receiver between 2007 and 2012 and was consistently over 70 percent between 2007 and 2011, he never topped the 77 percent mark.)

According to Wright, the key to being a good target is simple.

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Read More: Danny Woodhead, Kevin Faulk, Rob Gronkowski, Tim Wright

Bill Belichick shakes his head and wonders how to stop the ‘great’ Aaron Rodgers

11.26.14 at 10:00 am ET
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FOXBORO — Usually when Bill Belichick speaks glowingly about the opposing team or a star quarterback like Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, he gives the usual calculated response about their amazing abilities.

But on Wednesday, in describing Aaron Rodgers, Belichick offered up the normal compliments and then just shook his head at the end.

Rodgers has thrown for 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions in a season where Green Bay isn’t just beating teams at Lambeau Field, they’re destroying them. What is it that Rodgers does so well?

“Everything, he’€™s a great player,” Belichick said. “He does a tremendous job, really at everything. He’€™s got no weak points; makes every throw. [He] handles the team very well at the line: checks and adjustments, he certainly sees the defense well. [He] uses all his weapons, makes great throws from the short ones [to] intermediate, down the field, sidelines, back shoulders, deep routes and then he has a great ability to extend plays, either sliding in the pocket or at times scrambling outside the pocket.

“They’€™ve made a lot of plays this year on things like that where he either buys extra time or just flat-out gets away from the rush and lets the receivers uncover. He’€™s a hard guy to tackle, hard guy to get and a very good thrower, very accurate thrower and has great vision. He’€™s really good.”

Rodgers has been on the roster twice before when the Patriots played the Packers but has yet to play a down against them. In 2006, he was behind Brett Favre, when the Patriots went into Lambeau and won, 35-0. In 2010, at Gillette, Matt Flynn earned a name for himself by nearly beating the Patriots in primetime, filling in for Rodgers who was nursing a concussion.

“I mean, it is what it is,” Belichick said. “Whatever hasn’€™t happened hasn’€™t happened. I’€™m not really worried about it.”

In facing quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford the last two weeks, the Patriots are somewhat prepared for a mobile quarterback. But then Belichick cautioned, “not like him. Yeah, not like him.”

What makes him different?

“It’€™s just, he’€™s great,” Belichick added. “He’€™s quick, he’€™s big, he throws the ball very accurately, has great vision down the field. He finds guys that there’€™s not a lot of space, but he finds them and he hits them. He’€™s really good. I’€™m not taking anything away from anybody else, but this guy is a really good player.”

Asked to compare his quarterback with Mr. Rodgers, Belichick did crack a smile.

“They both wear 12,” the coach said.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Bill Belichick, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots

Patriots re-sign LS Charley Hughlett to practice squad

11.26.14 at 9:36 am ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots have re-signed long snapper Charley Hughlett to the Patriots practice squad, according to his agent.

Hughlett was with New England this spring and summer before being cut loose at the end of training camp. The 6-foot-4, 251-pounder has been with the Cowboys and Jaguars. As a collegian, he handled all long snapping duties for four seasons at Central Florida.

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