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Patriots at Chiefs: Monday Night Football live blog

09.29.14 at 7:43 pm ET
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Live Blog Patriots at Chiefs Monday Night Football Live Blog
 

Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson among Patriots’ inactives vs. Chiefs

09.29.14 at 7:18 pm ET
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The Patriots released their inactive players for Monday night’s game against the Chiefs in Kansas City. They are: wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, offensive linemen Jordan Devey and Josh Kline, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, defensive end Zach Moore and defensive lineman Casey Walker.

Rookie running back James White will be active for the first time this season.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Patriots reportedly set to shake up offensive line

09.29.14 at 2:42 pm ET
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Bryan Stork

Bryan Stork

The Patriots are expected to shake up the offensive line on Monday night, moving rookie Bryan Stork to the role of starting center, while installing another rookie — Cameron Fleming — at right guard and slotting the versatile Dan Connolly at the other guard position.

Meanwhile, Marcus Cannon and Jordan Devey, who have seen the bulk of the work at guard for the first three games, will apparently sit, at least for now. In addition, Ryan Wendell will move to a backup role. The moves come in the wake of some struggles up front over the course of the first three games of the season, a stretch where the team has had issues when it comes to pass protection.

Stork, who stepped in at center in the late stages of last week’€™s win over the Raiders, arrives at the NFL level with a peerless resume, having played some guard before moving to the pivot, where he eventually won the Rimington Award last year as college football’€™s best center. A captain and three-year starter at Florida State, he was a part of last season’€™s national championship team.

“€œHe’€™€™s really a football guy; loves football, works really hard at football,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Stork on Saturday. “He wants to be a football player and he’€™€™s dedicated himself to it; all those qualities that you love in any player but especially an offensive linemen. He’€™€™s got strength; he’€™€™s got a good frame for a center. He’€™€™s got good length and height. He played in a good program, he’€™€™s well coached, pretty good fundamental player. I thought he was as good as any center that we saw this year, the last couple years.”

Fleming played right tackle over the course of his career at Stanford — he said he got some work at right guard in college “as a joke” — but took some reps at right guard this week in practice. In his relatively brief NFL career, he has shown himself to be a steady and dependable blocker, mostly working as an extra tight end/tackle eligible in running situations.

As for Wendell, he could be in the mix now to serve as a backup at either guard or center going forward.

“He’€™€™s played both for us,”€ Belichick said of Wendell, who has fundamentally been the starting center in New England since 2012. ‘€œRyan’€™€™s a really smart player. He’€™€™s one of the smartest players that we have, that we’€™€™ve had. He really understands everything that we’€™€™re doing, including all the communication with the quarterback and so forth.”

The news was first reported by Shalise Manza-Young of the Boston Globe.

Read More: Bryan Stork, Cameron Fleming, Dan Connolly, Jordan Devey

Unlucky Seven: Who will end up sitting against the Chiefs?

09.29.14 at 12:20 pm ET
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Zach Moore

Zach Moore

The Patriots will announce their inactives 90 minutes before kickoff on Monday night, but based on what we’€™ve seen this week and the matchup on Monday, here’€™s our guess as to which seven players might be inactive:

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard — The third-year corner was downgraded Sunday night — expect Logan Ryan to get the bulk of the snaps in his place.

Running back James White — Unless there’s a major injury in the backfield, the rookie out of Wisconsin appears to be a ticketed for a redshirt year.

Safety Don Jones — Jones, who was signed earlier this month, was listed as probable on Saturday’s injury report, as he’s been nagged by a hamstring issue that kept him out of last Sunday’s game against the Raiders.

Wide receiver Brandon LaFell — The Patriots have a surplus of wide receivers — Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thomplins have each taken at least one health scratch over the course of the first two weeks. From this viewpoint, it’s no disrespect intended toward Lafell — he’s just the one who drew the short straw this week.

Defensive end Zach Moore — Now that second-year defensive end Michael Buchanan is back to full health, the rookie out of Concordia appears to be the odd man out, at least at this point.

Offensive lineman Dan Connolly — The veteran was limited over the course of the week with a knee issue, and with Bill Belichick talking up both Ryan Wendell and Bryan Stork on Saturday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Patriots sit Connolly for a week.

Defensive lineman Casey Walker — Walker, who was signed off the Panthers practice squad on Saturday following the announcement that Sealver Siliga was placed on short-term IR, will almost certainly take a seat for Monday’s game against the Chiefs as he literally just showed up.

Here’€™s a look at the inactives over the first three weeks of the season:

Week 1
DE Michael Buchanan
WR Aaron Dobson
LB Darius Fleming
DT Chris Jones
G Josh Kline
C Bryan Stork
RB James White

Week 2
DE Michael Buchanan
LB Jamie Collins
CB Alfonzo Dennard
DE Zach Moore
WR Kenbrell Thompkins
C Ryan Wendell
RB James White

Week 3
WR Aaron Dobson
CB Alfonzo Dennard
OL Ryan Wendell
OL Josh Kline
DE Zach Moore
RB James White
S Don Jones

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon LaFell, Casey Walker, Dan Connolly

Tim Hasselbeck on D&C: Dave DeGuglielmo ‘just as qualified as anybody to be coaching technique along the offensive line’

09.29.14 at 9:38 am ET
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ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the Patriots’ Monday night game against the Chiefs. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Despite a 2-1 record, the Patriots have been struggling on offense, thanks in part to an inexperienced offensive line. It could be a difficult matchup for the Patriots line against the Chiefs defense in a loud Arrowhead Stadium. Hasselbeck also noted that the defense will need to step up in a big way to stop Kansas City.

“I think even when you look on the other side of the football, you have to be concerned about Jamaal Charles coming back, I think he was close to playing a week ago and didn’t,” Hasselbeck said. “Nile Davis, really I think they found something in him. He’€™s an excellent runner. What he did a week ago was very impressive. And Alex Smith, who everyone loves to beat up and say, ‘He can’€™t do this,’ he’€™s tremendous in terms of ball distribution and using his legs to make plays.”

Regarding the offensive line, Hasselbeck noted it usually takes time for a unit to be truly successful, especially after a poor start.

“Generally speaking, you don’€™t go from having guys go from just getting whupped up front to next thing you know them taking care of business so much so that the quarterback never gets touched,” Hasselbeck said. “Especially with some of the matchups that you have along that offensive line, with the pass rushers that Kansas City has.

“With that being said, I think each and every game guys match up differently with different players. Could you make an argument that [Nate] Solder or [Sebastian] Vollmer match up better against Tamba Hali than they do on the road against Cameron Wake? I think you actually could because Wake’€™s more of speed rusher, and both of those guys would rather fight you a little bit.”

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Patriots downgrade CB Alfonzo Dennard to out for Monday’s game

09.28.14 at 9:11 pm ET
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Alfonzo Dennard

Alfonzo Dennard

The Patriots announced Sunday that cornerback Alfonzo Dennard has been downgraded to out for Monday’s game against the Chiefs.

Dennard, who has been struggling with shoulder issues, will be sidelined for the third consecutive game. The 5-foot-10, 204-pound Dennard is in his third season with the Patriots. The 25-year-old has five picks over the course of his career, including three as a rookie in 2012.

With Dennard sidelined, expect a greater workload to fall on the shoulders of second-year corner Logan Ryan, who has seen the bulk of the playing time in Dennard’s place over the last three weeks. It will be interesting to see what happens at the corner spot next week for New England, as veteran Brandon Browner is set to come off his four-game ban following Monday’s game against the Chiefs.

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

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Browner, Logan Ryan,

What we learned Sunday: J.J. Watt is a beast, Steve Smith is awesome and Adam Vinatieri is ageless

09.28.14 at 8:55 pm ET
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With the Patriots set to play Monday night, here’s a quick look at what we learned around the league Sunday, mostly from a New England perspective.

1. J.J. Watt could be an MVP.

Remarkably, the last defensive player to win MVP was Lawrence Taylor in 1986, but if he continues on his current path, Houston’s J.J. Watt could certainly make a case to be the next defensive player to take home the honor. The defensive lineman had six quarterback hurries and a pass defense before picking off an EJ Manuel pass and rumbling 80 yards for the pick-six to help lift the Texans past the Bills.

Through the first three games, the Patriots offense has five touchdowns. Watt has two of his own this year, and is just the second player since the merger with a receive touchdown and interception in the same season. (Ex-Pats linebacker and current Houston assistant Mike Vrabel was the first to turn the trick back in 2005.)

2. EJ Manuel is apparently suffering from a crisis of confidence. The second-year Buffalo quarterback was apparently pretty shaken in the wake of Sunday’s loss to the Texans. Manuel ended the day 21-for-44 for 225 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Texans as the Bills lost their second straight to fall to 2-2 on the young season. To be fair, things were a little shaky around Manuel, given the fact that his offensive line was struggling, there were a couple of key drops and the fire-breathing monster known as Watt was on the other side of the ball. Coach Doug Marrone said after the game there were no plans to hand the reins to backup Kyle Orton, but the idea of jumpstarting the offense with a switch at quarterback has to be entering the minds of the Buffalo coaching staff.

3. Maybe the Dolphins weren’t as dysfunctional as we thought. The week of back-and-forth between Miami coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill ended Sunday in London, where the Dolphins absolutely crushed the Raiders, 38-14, at Wembley Stadium. Tannehill, who engaged in a weird public exchange with his coach after Philbin refused to name him the starter in the media, was an impressive 23-for-31 for 278 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Meanwhile, the Raiders, who looked good last week when they came to Foxboro and put a scare in the Patriots, were a mess. Their issues were compounded by the fact that rookie quarterback Derek Carr left the game in the third quarter, and told the media after the game that he has a high ankle sprain and sprained MCL. Yikes.

4. The Jets are in trouble. New York struggled at home against the Lions, and it was another bad outing for quarterback Geno Smith, who was 17-for-33 for 209 yards, one touchdown and one pick in a 24-17 loss to Detroit. After the game, Rex Ryan said he was standing by Smith. “I’m confident in Geno. If Geno’s healthy, then Geno Smith will start,” Ryan told reporters after the game. “I’m not gonna replace him. I feel good about Geno, and again, I think he’s gonna get it turned. He’s a tough, resilient young man, and I think we’re gonna win.” Meanwhile, it doesn’t sound like Jets fans are going to stand by Geno.

Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson told reporters after the game that fans who were booing Smith should “shut up.” Yikes.

5. Not everyone needs a punter.

Sunday’s game between the Packers and Bears was either the second or third game in NFL history without a punt. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns in the 38-17 win over Chicago. The Packers, who had been suffering from offensive inconsistency over the course of the first three games of the year, scored on their first six possessions and finished with 358 total yards on the way to their fifth consecutive victory at Soldier Field. It was a bit of a redemption for Rodgers, who told Green Bay fans to “R-E-L-A-X” this week when they started worrying about the Packers‘ 1-2 start.

6. No one knows what to make of the Steelers.

There are weeks where the Steelers look ready to crush all those who come before them. Then, there are occasions like Sunday, where they melt down in the fourth quarter and end up losing a game to a Tampa Bay team ‘€¦ that lost to the Falcons by six touchdowns a week ago. Mike Glennon hit Vincent Jackson with the game-winner with six seconds left on the way to a shocking 27-24 win over host Pittsburgh. The Steelers, who were poised to move to 3-1 with the win, fell back to .500 with the surprising last-second loss. (Pittsburgh committed a whopping 13 penalties for 125 yards.)

7. Steve Smith is never not awesome.

As promised, the gritty receiver one-upped his old team. The former Panther lit up Carolina for seven catches — including an awesome reception on a tipped ball he ended up taking for a touchdown — for 139 yards and a pair of scores on the way to a 38-10 win over the Panthers. There wasn’t “blood and guts” like he promised, but Smith, who played 13 seasons in Carolina before he was cut in the offseason, clearly enjoyed making his old team eat a little crow after the contest. “I’m 35 years old and I ran by those guys like they were schoolyard kids,” the veteran said after the game. Meanwhile, while we were all upset about the state of the Panthers’ offense, it’s worth noting that Carolina has yielded 75 points in two games.

I want to know what this kid is thinking.

8. Adam Vinatieri is some sort of superhuman.

It’s remarkable to think that the former Patriots kicker is now in his ninth season in Indy, and while the 41-year-old isn’t the kicker he once was, he’s still money when it comes to working extra points and field goals. Through four games, he’s 8-for-8 on field goal attempts and 16-for-16 on extra-point attempts, including a pair of field goals and five extra points Sunday in the 41-17 win over the Titans.

Oh, and this happened 18 years ago.

9. Chip Kelly can feel Bill Belichick‘s pain.

Philly went West on Sunday and nearly knocked off the Niners, despite the fact that the Eagles continue to have serious offensive line issues. Pro Bowl left guard Evan Mathis went down in Week 1, and with starting right tackle Lane Johnson already serving a four-game suspension, things got even worse when starting center Jason Kelce went down last week with a sports hernia. Despite those woes, Philly nearly pulled off the upset, despite the fact that the Eagles’ offense didn’t pass midfield until the fourth quarter and it had just two more first downs (five) than turnovers (three) late in the third quarter. Things should get better next week when Johnson is eligible to return from his ban, but the fact that Kelce and Mathis won’t be back until the second half of the season should provide some interesting phone conversation between BFF’s Kelly and Belichick when it comes to commiserating about their woes.

10. The Patriots are in first place.

The Bills’ loss to the Texans in Houston allowed the 2-1 Patriots to sneak into first place in the AFC East.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Adam Vinatieri, Bill Belichick, Chip Kelly
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