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Brandon LaFell: ‘Definitely nice to see’ Danny Amendola at Patriots practice

11.27.15 at 4:24 pm ET
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Danny Amendola practiced the last two days on a limited basis, but is officially listed as questionable for the game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Danny Amendola practiced the last two days on a limited basis, but is officially listed as questionable for the game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — One of the biggest questions going into Sunday night’s Patriots-Broncos game is will Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola play?

Amendola was a spectator at Wednesday’s practice session and was limited both Thursday and Friday with a knee injury. Officially, he is listed as questionable for the game.

Fellow wide receiver Brandon LaFell spoke after practice Friday of how nice it was to get Amendola back on the practice field, as it was unclear just how severe his knee injury was after he left Monday’s win over the Bills.

“Definitely nice to see Danny out there,” LaFell said with a smile. “He’s one of the guys that produces for us a lot, including starting last year with the playoff run we had. All through this season ‘DA’ has been making plays week in and week out so it was definitely was nice to see him back out there today.”

“He makes everybody’s job easier,” LaFell added.

While it is good to see Amendola back on the practice field, this doesn’t guarantee he plays, as he was seen sporting a knee brace on Wednesday and still is only four days removed from suffering a reported knee sprain against the Bills.

If Amendola is forced to miss the game — and even if he plays — LaFell is a player who will need to step up.

As it stands now the Patriots have LaFell, Amendola, Chris Harper and Keshawn Martin (who has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury) as the receivers with a chance to play Sunday. Aaron Dobson was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Thursday with an ankle injury and Julian Edelman is likely out until at least the postseason with a broken bone in his foot.

“Every week I feel like I have to step up,” LaFell said. “This week is no different from the last couple of weeks and everyone around here, we feel like we have to step up every week because we’ve been taking a hit on offense the last few weeks so everyone has to step up.”

The Patriots currently are 10-0 and approaching the most important time of the season, as Bill Belichick always says he likes to have his team playing its best football going into December. Even though it’s just LaFell’s second year in New England, he’s got the message loud and clear.

“We lost a few guys the last couple of weeks, but everyone knows we have to step our game up and every week these games mean even more,” he said. “It’s crunch time. Everyone always says the seasons starts after November around here and it gets started this weekend. Everyone has to step their game up and everyone has to play good.”

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Jamie Collins officially doubtful, Danny Amendola questionable vs. Broncos

11.27.15 at 4:16 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots certainly are not at full strength from a health perspective entering the biggest game of the season Sunday night in Denver against the Broncos.

After practicing for the first time in three weeks Friday, linebacker Jamie Collins is officially listed as doubtful for the game, meaning there is a 25 percent chance he plays. He was limited in practice on Friday.

Danny Amendola is officially listed as questionable, as the receiver suffered a knee injury against the Bills. He was limited Thursday and Friday after not practicing Wednesday. It appears he will be a game-time decision Sunday.

Besides Amendola, wide receiver Keshawn Martin and tight end Michael Williams are questionable.

Meanwhile, Alan Branch, Marcus Cannon, Tre’ Jackson and Chandler Jones are all probable. Shaq Mason (knee) has been removed from the injury report.

New England will catch a break as Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware will miss the game with a back injury. Peyton Manning has also officially been ruled out for the second straight game.

Here is the complete Patriots injury report:

CB Justin Coleman (hand), did not participate
WR Julian Edelman (foot), did not participate

LB Jamie Collins (illness), limited

WR Keshawn Martin (hamstring), limited
WR Danny Amendola (knee), limited
TE Michael Williams (knee), limited

DE Chandler Jones (abdomen), limited
OL Marcus Cannon (toe), limited
DL Alan Branch (elbow), limited
OL Tre’€™€™ Jackson (knee), limited

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Read More: Danny Amendola, Jamie Collins,

Why Bill Belichick, Patriots defenders need to be ready for zone look of Brock Osweiler

11.27.15 at 1:02 pm ET
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Behind zone blocking from offensive line, Brock Osweiler could be on the run by design Sunday. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Behind zone blocking from offensive line, Brock Osweiler could be on the run by design Sunday. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — No team made zone blocking more of a sensation than the Denver Broncos in the 1990s.

It was then that the Broncos finally discovered the trick to get John Elway over the hump and win a Super Bowl.

In 1998, it all came together when Terrell Davis came on board and ran behind the most effective offensive line in football. The Broncos beat the Packers and Falcons in back-to-back Super Bowls and Elway finally had his championships.

Fast forward nearly two decades and the Broncos, with Elway now serving as the president of football operations, have gone back back to a popular formula. Hired to replace John Fox this year, head coach Gary Kubiak, who left the Ravens after one season as offensive coordinator, has installed the zone-blocking scheme, the same scheme that was in place when he was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Mike Shanahan in those Super Bowl wins.

“That’€™s all it is. That’€™s it. It’€™s the same zone blocking we saw in Denver when Coach Kubiak was there with Coach [Mike] Shanahan. It’€™s the same zone blocking we saw in Houston when Coach Kubiak was there,” Bill Belichick said. “It’€™s the same zone blocking we saw in Baltimore last year. It’€™s the same zone blocking this year. Fundamentally it’€™s all the same. Now it could be a different personnel group. It could be a different look. It could be same variation with the formationing and tight end on, tight end off, two tight ends, no tight ends, etc., but it all comes back to the same [thing]. You’€™ve got to be able to stop the outside zone play against these guys or it’€™s going to be a long, long day.”

In his 11 previous seasons with the Broncos, the Broncos under Kubiak amassed over 66,000 total yards and 465 touchdowns, the most in the NFL during that span.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos, Gary Kubiak

Fantasy Football: Week 12 starts, sits

11.27.15 at 12:45 pm ET
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I’m taking some deep shots today in hopes of helping those in need, so you’ll want to be careful with how you use these recommendations. As I said last week, it’s a good idea to cross-reference these ideas against my full lineup rankings that are up at Rotobahn and will be fully updated Saturday afternoon.

As always, I will be here Sunday at 11 a.m. for our weekly chat. Bring your lineup questions and I’ll do my best to help. And don’t forget to tune in to the Fantasy Football Hour this Sunday at 8 a.m. when Jim Hackett and I will discuss trending Week 12 topics and crucial game day information.



Brian Hoyer, Texans vs. Saints

The matchup is syrupy sweet, and he has enough healthy weapons to take advantage of it. DeAndre Hopkins has taken his game to another level, and the Saints simply do not play there. Cecil Shorts is healthy, and so is deep threat Nate Washington. The table is set here, so use Hoyer if you are looking to stream a quarterback in Week 12.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins at Jets

The Jets are banged up on defense and the injuries are to their crucial players, like Darrelle Revis and Sheldon Richardson. I’d be all-in on Tannehill, but he may be without his security blanket, Jarvis Landry. Still, if this was a chess match, the Jets are down a queen and a bishop while Tannehill loses a knight. He has a good chance to post QB1-type numbers.

Josh McCown, Browns vs. Ravens

Baltimore has been hit by an injury tsunami, and you have to wonder what that team has in the tank right now. Matt Schaub inspires no one at this stage of his career. The Browns should be able to do some things throwing the ball, and at the end of the day McCown should have serviceable numbers, and he has the potential for a plus performance if things break right. He’s a guy you can probably get, too.

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Read More: Brian Hoyer, Josh McCown, Ryan Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater

Jamie Collins present at Patriots practice for first time in 3 weeks

11.27.15 at 12:30 pm ET
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Jamie Collins

Jamie Collins

FOXBORO — Jamie Collins is back.

The Patriots linebacker was back on the practice field for the first time in nearly three weeks on Friday. He has missed the last three games after being added to the injury report with an illness the day before the Redskins game on Nov. 8. His status is still up in the air for Sunday, as it was his first practice in 19 days, but obviously seeing him on the practice field was a good sign.

Also absent from practice were cornerback Justin Coleman, linebacker Eric Martin and wide receiver Julian Edelman. It’s unlikely Coleman plays, as he missed last weeks game with a hand injury as well and didn’t practice all week. Edelman obviously won’t be playing given his foot injury and with Martin it could be a case of promoting someone from the practice squad and he is the odd man out.

Danny Amendola was present for the second straight day, which is a good sign for his availability on Sunday, although he will likely be a gametime decision with a sprained knee.

The injury report will come out later Friday afternoon.

For more Patriots news, visit

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Read More: Danny Amendola, Jamie Collins,

Broncos CB Aqib Talib looking forward to facing former team Sunday night

11.27.15 at 11:40 am ET
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Aqib Talib will face his former team in the Patriots Sunday night. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Aqib Talib will face his former team in the Patriots Sunday night. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Cornerback Aqib Talib spent one and a half seasons in New England from 2012-13, but New England didn’t re-sign him and he signed with the Broncos. The Patriots went in a different direction and signed Darrelle Revis.

Talib has already faced his former team once, last year at Gillette Stadium when the Patriots rolled to a 43-21 win. He’s looking forward to the matchup Sunday night in Denver.

“It will be fun — Sunday Night Football, undefeated team coming in. It will be a lot of fun,” Talib said this week. “It’s great playing against Tom [Brady], though. He’s a great competitor.”

The Broncos play mostly man-to-man in the secondary and with all the Patriots injuries to their receivers, it’s unclear exactly who Talib will be matched up against, but it could be Brandon LaFell.

Talib was asked if his teammates have asked him questions about how the Patriots do things and approach certain situations. He acknowledged he has, but doesn’t know how much that actually matters come game time.

“Yeah, here and there on some things — how did we used to prepare or just general questions,” he said. “I’m sure there are a lot of people that get asked those. They usually don’t work. They’re going to switch up what they do. They favor the weak-type teams. What they did two years ago when I was there, it really doesn’t matter. It’s a totally different team there.”

The Denver cornerback is naturally emotional and giddy, so there will be no need to get more pumped for Sunday’s game, even though it is against his former team.

“No. It’s a football game,” Talib said. “I get pumped up for every football game. I’m able to live my dreams, play in the NFL, practice with Peyton Manning, play against Tom Brady — that’s enough pumped up for me right there. I don’t need any extra. I’m good.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib,

Mike Florio on D&C: Patriots ‘not going to call’ Terrell Owens

11.27.15 at 8:45 am ET
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Mike Florio

Mike Florio

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance on Friday morning with Dennis, Callahan & Minihane guest hosts Butch Stearns and Chris Villani to preview Sunday’s Patriots-Broncos game and discuss other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Patriots put their perfect record on the line Sunday night, with a lineup that is depleted due to some key injuries, looking to keep some distance between one of the challengers for the AFC’s top seed.

“It’s a big game,” Florio said. “And this Broncos team, we saw what they did to the Packers on a Sunday night when Green Bay was undefeated. It was one of the best games of the year for Peyton Manning. It’s easy to have a good game when your defense is suffocating — they held Aaron Rodgers to 77 yards passing, which is just incredible. Now they’re still missing DeMarcus Ware, but the rest of the defense largely [is] healthy. And Brock Osweiler [is] running that offense the way Gary Kubiak envisioned it. And Osweiler looked great against the Bears. The way the Bears played last night against the Packers I think makes that Broncos performance in Chicago in hindsight look even a little better.

“And even though Gary Kubiak has struggled against the Patriots during the time that he was the Texas head coach, Kubiak was the Ravens offensive coordinator in January when Baltimore twice had a 14-point lead in Foxboro [in the AFC playoffs]. And I think that no one would credibly argue that the Broncos team that Kubiak’s with now isn’t better than the Ravens team that played the Patriots. I think the only position where there would be a question is quarterback, with Osweiler vs. [Joe] Flacco. But Osweiler looked the part last week. If they keep him calm and keep him focused and make it as simple on him as they can — because you know Bill Belichick‘s going to do everything that he can to confuse Brock Osweiler — the Broncos can win this one.”

Should the Patriots improve to 11-0 Sunday night, Florio said the last two weeks could be the most likely opportunities for New England to lose.

“Those last two games, at the Jets, at the Dolphins, you’re talking about extra incentive for your division rivals — who may be in lost seasons at the time — to just try to put a feather in their cap before the end of the year,” Florio said. “The Jets have really faded, but they gave the Patriots everything they could handle when they came to Foxboro. And the Dolphins, Mercury Morris will probably go in there and have them all cranked up, because that’s the Dolphins’ chance to try to derail another shot at a completely perfect season — not just regular season but postseason as well.”

With the Patriots receiving corps hard hit by injuries of late, 41-year-old Terrell Owens has said he would be interested in a tryout. Florio said that’s highly unlikely.

“They’ve never called him before,” Florio said. “Now how old is he, 50? They’ve never called him before. They’re not going to call him now.”

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Read More: Brock Osweiler, Gary Kubiak, Mike Florio, Terrell Owens
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