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Martellus Bennett admits he isn’t 100 percent healthy, but he’s like the ‘Energizer Bunny’ and keeps going

12.08.16 at 1:47 pm ET
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Martellus Bennett is playing through both ankle and shoulder injuries. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Martellus Bennett is playing through both ankle and shoulder injuries. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Credit Martellus Bennett, as the tight end is typically very forth coming when speaking to the media, which occurred once again on Thursday.

Bennett has been on the Patriots injury report since Week 5 with an ankle injury and then a shoulder injury popped up a few weeks ago, but he still has yet to miss a game.

The tight end acknowledged he isn’t 100 percent healthy.

“Last week was probably my worst game as a Patriot,” Bennett said. “But, you know, you have a bad game here and there. This week, come back grinding and get ready.”

Perhaps Bennett could benefit from a week off with only four regular-season games remaining and the playoffs to come, but the tight end admitted he isn’t thinking about that.

“I never thought about that. I just keep going,” he said. “I’m like the Energizer Bunny. I just try to find a way. Sometimes it’s [expletive] when you’re out there playing with different injuries. You can’t do a lot of things that you want to do. You have [expletive] plays. You might have a string of bad plays in a row just because you’re dealing with different things.

“But, throughout the game you kind of find a way to get the job done. I think that’s the biggest point. It may not be pretty all the time, but try to figure some kind of way to get it done. Sometimes it’s adjusting as the game goes on.”

Bennett also may have hinted he’s playing through something more serious than just a low-ankle sprain.

“The thing about this sport is it’s always something,” he said. “You never go through a season without having some kind of nick or tear, but there’s a lot of guys playing with different things. But some guys are able to play through different injuries, and some of the same injuries, you see guys around the league — go on IR and things like that, but it just depends on the person and their pain tolerance.”

The 29-year-old said occasionally it helps missing practice like he did on Wednesday, but ultimately he wants to be on the practice field, which he was on Thursday.

“Sometimes. Sometimes it’s like, thank God. I needed that today,” Bennett said. “It varies each week — I’ll fight through whatever and I think that’s something that my teammates and coaches know about me that I’m going to try to give them everything I got no matter what.”

Bennett and the Patriots will host the Ravens on Monday Night Football.

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Despite Terrell Suggs not saying his name, Tom Brady continues to praise Ravens LB

12.08.16 at 1:30 pm ET
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Tom Brady praised Terrell Suggs on Thursday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady praised Terrell Suggs on Thursday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The one-sided feud between Tom Brady and Terrell Suggs has continued this week.

On Wednesday, Suggs spoke to reporters in Baltimore and once again wouldn’t say Brady’s name.

On Thursday, Brady was asked about Suggs’ play this season and Brady praised the linebacker who is in his 14th season in the league.

“I think it’s – every year he’s had pretty major injuries, and then he comes back and he looks like he didn’t miss a beat,” Brady said. “It’s his 14th year. He’s been a great player for as long as he’s been in the league, and I think he just does a lot of things very well. He’s got all the rush moves, he actually drops into coverage, he bats down balls, he butches the tight ends coming off the line of scrimmage, he’s really a playmaker for their team, and it’s not just sacking the quarterback like probably most defensive ends. I think he makes plays in a lot of ways. I’ve seen him intercept slip screens, jumping up and picking [Ben] Roethlisberger off, going the other way.

“I think he has great instincts. I mean, he definitely plays with his instincts, so if he feels like the ball is going to go inside, he rips inside to try to take it away even though that’s not really his assignment, and I think 99 percent of the time, the ball goes inside. I think he just has great instincts for what he’s doing and you can’t ever really count on the same thing from him. I think you have to kind of play him straight up and see what he’s going to do because I think he makes a lot of really good decisions out there and he makes a lot of plays.”

Suggs of course has been on the record bashing Brady multiple times over the years. He’s called Brady a cry-baby and then in the summer of 2015 said Deflategate tarnished what he’s accomplished in his career.

Brady is 5-1 against the Ravens during the regular season, but 2-2 in the postseason.

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Martellus Bennett, Matthew Slater return to Patriots practice

12.08.16 at 1:17 pm ET
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This is a 2016 photo of Martellus Bennett of the New England Patriots NFL football team. This image reflects the New England Patriots active roster as of Wednesday, May 25, 2016 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)

Martellus Bennett

FOXBORO — The Patriots held their second practice of the week Thursday in advance of Monday’s game against the Ravens.

The team got two players back who missed Wednesday’s session in Martellus Bennett and Matthew Slater, but still were without Jordan Richards and Danny Amendola.

Richards suffered a knee injury against the Jets and missed last week’s game with the 49ers, while Amendola suffered an ankle injury against the Rams. He reportedly is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.

It’s worth noting D.J. Foster again worked with the receivers, while Glenn Gronkowski, who is on the practice squad wore No. 88, likely to imitate one of the Ravens’ tight ends.

The first injury report of the week will come out later in the afternoon.

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Tom Brady not holding any animosity towards Ravens for helping start Deflategate: ‘All these games are kind of the same’

12.08.16 at 11:45 am ET
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Tom Brady said he doesn't have any animosity towards the Ravens. (

Tom Brady said he doesn’t have any animosity towards the Ravens. (

FOXBORO — As Tom Brady has done many times over the years, he wouldn’t take the bait.

The Ravens were one of the teams that helped start Deflategate, as reportedly some Ravens assistant coaches helped tip off the Colts prior to the AFC title game that the Patriots were allegedly using under-deflated footballs.

Deflategate of course began following that game.

On Wednesday, Brady was asked if he holds any animosity towards the Ravens given what took place a few years ago?

“For me personally? I think all these games are kind of the same,” Brady said. “Look at the opponent and look at what they do. The only thing that matters is what we do this week in practice and in the game. I think you just try and put everything aside and whether it was that, the playoff game a couple years ago, whether it was the regular season game a couple of years ago or championship games, none of those really matter.

“It’s really going to be about what this team does this week and like I said, Coach [Bill Belichick] has tried to put a lot of urgency on that and we understand that. We know we’re facing a team that is 7-5 and at the top of their division. They have a lot of confidence in what they do and so do so it’s going to be a good, tough matchup.”

Brady is 5-1 against the Ravens in the regular season, while 2-2 in the postseason.

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Why Patriots’ fans need to root for Kansas City Thursday night

12.08.16 at 10:26 am ET
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One of the best Thursday night games of the year will take place this week, as the Raiders (10-2) and Chiefs (9-3) meet in an AFC West showdown that will have implications for the Patriots (10-2).

Oakland is sitting at 10-2 with the top seed in the AFC playoff chase. If the Raiders win out the rest of the way, they’d take the top seed, and would set them up nicely for the last three games of the year, with the road to the Super Bowl potentially running through Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.

Meanwhile, Kansas City is 9-3, and already have a win over the Raiders. That means that a Chiefs’ win tonight would allow them to take over first place in the AFC West, the second seed in the conference race, and open the door for the Patriots to regain the top spot in the AFC.

The bottom line? While both teams are still jousting with the Patriots for playoff positioning, if you’re a New England fan, the more immediate priority is knocking the Raiders out of the No. 1 seed. If Kansas City beats Oakland, New England would take over the top seed, regardless of how they fare in their Monday night matchup with the Ravens

Steve Smith in no mood to talk about how he was courted by Patriots when he was free agent in 2014

12.08.16 at 7:00 am ET
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Steve Smith Sr. will lead the Ravens into Foxboro Monday night. (Larry French/Getty Images)

Steve Smith Sr. will lead the Ravens into Foxboro Monday night. (Larry French/Getty Images)

Steve Smith, Sr. was on the Patriots’ radar screen when he became a free agent following the 2013 season, but that doesn’t mean he wants to talk about it.

“That was a long time ago. A lot has transpired,” the veteran receiver said Wednesday of his contact with the Patriots before he signed with the Ravens that spring.

“I’m here, so that has nothing to do with this game coming up, does it?”

OK then.

The 37-year-old Smith, who continues to defy the aging process, is in his 16th year in the league, and he’s still getting it done. In 10 games with the Ravens this season, he has 54 catches on 76 targets for 589 yards and three touchdowns. One of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets, the outspoken Smith will be one to watch when the two teams step on the field Monday night in Foxboro.

“What a tremendous competitor. This guy is tough. He plays extremely quick,” said New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. “You wouldn’t really think that he has been in the league as long as he has, but he outcompetes his opponents every play. He’s just got a drive about him that is definitely … I would say a little bit of an old school mentality that just he’s not going to be out-worked. He’s not going to be out-hustled. He’s not going to be out-competed by anybody else on the field. He’s a tough guy.”

Smith also loves to talk some trash. He had some fun at the expense of former New England cornerback Aqib Talib back in 2013, telling Talib to “Ice up, son,” after Smth’s Panthers’ upended the Patriots in Carolina. And on Wednesday — while wearing a Yoda onesie — he took some shots at the Dolphins, who complained about the state of the field in Baltimore in the wake of their 38-6 loss to the Ravens.

“Since Miami got their ass whooped, of course they’re going to complain about it, but it looked pretty good for us,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been to Miami. They shouldn’t be barking when they just started putting grass on half of the field when they had the dirt and the baseball [surface]. Beggars can’t be [choosers].”

When it comes to Smith’s woofing, you always need to keep your guard up, said New England safety Devin McCourty.

“Each week you’ve got guys that talk, and obviously, he’s elite at it, definitely,” McCourty said Smith. “You’ve watched him do it for years. But I think it starts with going out there and playing well. If we do those things, then we don’t have to worry about anything that’s being said out there and just have to focus on what we’re doing.”

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Devin McCourty ready for daredevil Joe Flacco, Steve Smith and Ravens ‘West Coast’ offense

12.07.16 at 8:27 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The last time Devin McCourty went up against Joe Flacco and the Ravens, the end result was great. But the journey to a 35-31 win in the AFC divisional round was like pulling teeth.

Even with an interception in the game, it wasn’t an experience that McCourty tries to recall all that often, partially because Flacco and the Ravens were able to score at will on the Patriots secondary, a secondary that also featured Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.

Flacco threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers and Baltimore had leads of 14-0 and 28-14.

“We won. That’s it. I mean it was a tough game,” McCourty recalled Wednesday. “We were down 14 twice but just kept playing. [We were] able to make some plays offensively and defensively that really decided that game, but a little bit different teams on both sides personnel-wise, so we’ll see if that even has any bearing on this one.”

That was the game McCourty picked off Flacco, the first playoff interception of Flacco’s career. In that game, Steve Smith caught the first of four touchdown passes from Flacco. What has made 37-year-old Steve Smith so good for so long?

“I don’t know him personally but I would probably guess his work ethic,” McCourty said. “To still play at a high level I think one thing is obviously he’s very competitive. He goes out there and competes his butt off every game for 60 minutes. To keep getting older and keep getting better you have to probably have a tremendous work ethic and he obviously has that and he [has been] a tough matchup for years in this league.”

Smith is also one of the biggest trash talkers in modern NFL history.

“I don’t even think I need to say anything. I mean guys are competitive,” McCourty said Wednesday. “You’ve just got to go out there and play. You know, each week you’ve got guys that talk and obviously he’s elite at it, definitely. You’ve watched him do it for years. But I think it starts with going out there and playing well.”

The Ravens have gone through several offensive coordinators in the last several seasons. In 2012, on their way to Super Bowl XLVII, they fired Cam Cameron and replaced him with Jim Caldwell. In 2014, Gary Kubiak replaced Caldwell. This year, they fired Marc Trestman after a loss to the Redskins and promoted Marty Mornhinweg.

“If we do those things then we don’t have to worry about anything that’s being said out there and just have to focus on what we’re doing,” McCourty added. “I think just from a total team standpoint and aspect, we understand how important that is to do what’s best for the team out there on the field and we’ve talked about that numerous times as players, and coaches tell us. So I don’t think that will be an issue for us.”

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