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Tom Brady fondly recalls making Brian Urlacher his dance partner

10.22.14 at 3:11 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady has never been mistaken for Walter Payton, Barry Sanders or Johnny Manziel.

But on Nov. 26, 2006, Brady, then 29, put a move on likely future Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, that Brady proclaimed after a 17-13 win at Gillette Stadium he would tell his kids about. With Brady and Urlacher all alone in the middle of the field, and Urlacher sizing Brady up like a lion before devouring its meal, Brady juked inside and then cut outside for a key first down, leading to the go-ahead touchdown.

“Somehow that always gets brought up, too, when we play these guys,” Brady recalled again Wednesday. “There weren’€™t many of those in my career, so it’€™s pretty easy to count them all on one hand when something like that happens. We’€™ve had some great games against those guys, some very memorable games. They’€™ve got a real good defense, and I think they always have. It’€™s kind of been a mark of that team for a long time. A lot of guys at different positions ‘€“ [Lance] Briggs is still there, Jared Allen is a great player ‘€“ they’€™ve got quite a few of them. And some new faces, too ‘€“ the type of guys that we’€™ve really had to take time to get to learn. So, it’€™s going to be a big challenge for us, but we’€™re excited for it. Hopefully we can go out and try to get to 6-2.

Brady didn’t have kids at the time of the move but now his kids are growing fast. Has he bragged yet about the play to them?

“They’€™re probably still too young to know that at this point. To figure out what dad does yet is still kind of confusing for them. One day, you’€™re right. He’€™ll be in the Hall of Fame someday, so it’€™ll probably be the only time I’€™ve made a Hall of Famer miss.”

Read More: Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Tom Brady

Time check: Tom Brady getting more time to throw leading to Patriots success last 3 games

10.22.14 at 12:41 pm ET
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Tom Brady has seen an increased amount of time to throw the last three games, leading to better numbers. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady has seen an increased amount of time to throw the last three games, leading to better numbers. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Tom Brady has had his best three games of the season the last three weeks, and a major reason why is improved protection.

While sacks can occasionally be overrated, Brady has been sacked just four times in the last three games, compared to nine times over the first four games.

“They’€™re doing a great job. I’€™ve got confidence in all those guys,” Brady said following Thursday’s win over the Jets. “€œThey do a great job. I’€™ve got a lot of trust in all those guys.”

Despite using three different starting offensive lines the past three games, the quarterback has had an increasing amount of time in the pocket to throw each of the last three weeks. By our count, against Cincinnati he had an average of 2.16 seconds from snap to release, then 2.24 against Buffalo, and finally a season-high 2.58 seconds last Thursday against the Jets.

According to Pro Football Focus, last Thursday was the most time from snap-to-attempt Brady has had since Thanksgiving of 2012 in the “€œButt Fumble”€ game.

To this point, Brady has had his three statistically best games of the season the past three weeks — throwing for 292 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals, 361 yards and four touchdowns against the Bills and 261 yards and three touchdowns against the Jets.

The increased amount of time is coming following the blowout loss in Kansas City when Brady had an average of just 1.96 seconds to throw by our count, and had 17 of 24 plays (71 percent) where he took less than two seconds to release the ball. In comparison, against the Jets he had 12 of 37 plays (32 percent) where he took less than two seconds.

Keep in mind a lot of the release time numbers are based on scheme and game planning against certain opponents with quick wide receivers screens, etc. skewing the numbers a bit, but there is no question having more time to throw has led to Brady’s better performances of late.

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Read More: Danny Amendola, Tom Brady,

Bill Belichick can’t say enough good things about Matt Forte: ‘Maybe the best back in the league’

10.22.14 at 12:38 pm ET
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Bill Belichick speaks Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/

Bill Belichick speaks Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/

FOXBORO — When Bill Belichick sees Matt Forte on tape, he sees one of this favorites types of players in the NFL – someone who can make something (or even more) out of nothing.

Forte enters this week’s game in Foxboro as the most prolific running back since the start of the 2008 season, gaining even more yards from scrimmage than Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. Forte’s 10,469 yards from scrimmage are 173 more than Peterson and 181 more than Johnson.

This season, the 28-year-old Forte has been passed by the sensational season being enjoyed by Dallas’ DeMarco Murray and the upstart Le’Veon Bell. But still, his 884 all-purpose yards ranks him third in the NFL. But Forte is doing much more than running the ball.

No one in the NFL has caught more passes this season than Forte, as his 52 receptions are two more than Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. That’s a lot for Belichick and his coaches to prep for. In Weeks 1 and 6, he gained 75 yards rushing and 75 yards receiving. The last time a Bears player accomplished that feat twice in a season was the great Walter Payton in 1983.

“Very challenging. He’€™s a threat every time he steps on to the field in a number of different ways: passing game, running game. Any time he gets the ball in his hands he’€™s a good solid player,” Belichick said. “He’€™s tough, great vision, great balance. He definitely has the ability to turn nothing into something in a hurry and he can turn something into a lot in a hurry too. Hard guy to tackle, does a good job of creating space for himself and finding openings, getting to places where there are fewer defenders and then taking advantage of it.

“They can run the ball. They’€™ve got a great runner and one of the best backs in the league, maybe the best back in the league. He’€™s certainly been an impressive guy to watch, both in the passing game and in the running game. [He] breaks tackles, has good quickness, good balance, good vision, excellent hands, smart and aware in the passing game. He doesn’€™t just catch the ball well but he knows how to get open.

“But even when he’€™s boxed in or guys get a shot of him, he still makes yards. He’€™s a terrific player; couldn’€™t say enough good things about him. He’€™s very good. He gets tough yards, gets yards in space. Catches short passes, runs downfield routes. He’€™s a very, very complete player.”

Belichick is not classifying Forte specifically as a receiver or running back.

“He’€™s leading the league in catches so in that respect they get the ball to him a lot,” Belichick added. “I think you have to treat him as what he is, let’€™s put it that way. There are times when if you didn’€™t have any numbers on the jerseys, if you just watched the play, you’€™d say, ‘€˜This looks like a receiver.’€™ But I’€™d say most plays he’€™s a back ‘€“ a good back, but [he] doesn’€™t do some of the things that a receiver would do scheme-wise. I’€™m not saying he couldn’€™t do them, he probably can. But they use him as a back as opposed to using him as a receiver.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Chicago Bears, Matt Forte, New England Patriots

Darrelle Revis returns, Chandler Jones only player missing from Patriots practice

10.22.14 at 12:05 pm ET
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FOXBORO — After missing Tuesday’s practice, cornerback Darrelle Revis returned Wednesday as the Patriots held practice in a heavy mist in full pads on the grass fields behind Gillette Stadium in preparation for Sunday’s game with the Bears.

Chandler Jones missed his second straight day of practice as it’s been reported he is dealing with a hip injury, which could sideline him for about a month.

Linebacker Akeem Ayers, who was officially traded to the Patriots from the Titans earlier in the day, was present and wore No. 52.

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Read More: Akeem Ayers, chandler jones, Darrelle Revis,

How will Bill Belichick use Akeem Ayers: ‘We’ll see’

10.22.14 at 10:55 am ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick is understandably cautious when talking about throwing linebacker Akeem Ayers immediately into the mix of his 3-4 base defense, a defense that has lost Jerod Mayo (patellar tendon) for the season and Chandler Jones (hip) for a month.

There are several factors that create that approach.

First, Ayers, a pass-rushing specialist, had trouble getting on the field for the Titans, as he was inactive for five of Tennessee’s first seven games this season.

There’s also the matter of going from Ken Whisenhunt‘s 4-3 scheme to Belichick’s 3-4 base. Belichick wouldn’t speculate on why Whisenhunt wouldn’t play the linebacker on a defense in the lower third of NFL rankings.

“You’d have to talk to them about that,” Belichick said. “You’ve got the injury reports so you can look at all the injury reports this year.”

The injuries Belichick references has to do with the not-so-small matter of the 25-year-old linebacker’s knees. He had patellar tendon surgery on both knees in the space of two months this past winter.

So, what can Ayers do for the Patriots?

“We’ll see,” Belichick said Wednesday morning. “Start working with him today. He’s played linebacker, defensive end in sub situations. We’ll start working with him.”

Can the versatility bring a new element to the Patriots defense?

“I don’t know,” Belichick said. “We’ll see. I’d say he has some versatility but we’ll see. I’d say just the combination of us getting to him and him getting to know our – learning our scheme, learning our system and us evaluating him on the run and trying to figure out how he can best help us.”

Belichick and the Patriots had a chance to scout Ayers when he came out of UCLA for the 2011 draft as one of the fastest linebackers (between 4.7-4.76) in college.

“We did [scout and talk to] him coming out of UCLA,” Belichick said. “We spent time with a lot of players. That was a long time ago. I don’t think that’s really that relevant.”

Read More: Akeem Ayers, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, tennessee titans

DL Chris Jones named AFC Special Teams Player of Week

10.22.14 at 10:15 am ET
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Patriots defensive lineman Chris Jones has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, the league announced Wednesday.

Jones blocked a Nick Folk field-goal attempt at the end of regulation to help preserve New England’s 27-25 win over the Jets last Thursday. The 6-foot-1, 309-pounder is in his second season with the Patriots, and has 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks on the year.

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Tom Waddle on D&C: Bears QB Jay Cutler’s inconsistencies, struggles ‘just maddening’

10.22.14 at 9:39 am ET
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Tom Waddle

Tom Waddle

Former Bears receiver and current ESPN radio host Tom Waddle joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the Patriots’ upcoming game against Chicago. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

During Sunday’€™s game against the Dolphins, there were problems for the Bears both on and off the field. The team was booed off the field by the home crowd, and after the game ended, wide receiver Brandon Marshall reportedly had a beef with some teammates, mainly quarterback Jay Cutler. This discontent in the locker room has many asking if there will be an effect on the team this week.

“It’€™s more likely it would galvanize than fracture,” Waddle said. “But my guess is it won’€™t have any effect on it at all. Here in Chicago and nationally it’€™s just crazy. The report was that Brandon Marshall called out Jay Cutler. I understand what happened, Brandon went to the locker room, he’€™s an emotional guy, the locker room is an emotional place win, lose or draw. He started yelling about different things. … I don’€™t think it’€™ll play a factor at all at Foxboro this week.”

As good as Cutler has been at quarterback, at times he has looked inconsistent. The hosts wondered if there is a way to determine which Cutler we’€™ll see before the game starts.

Said Waddle: “You see brilliance, then you see that ‘€˜boom goes the dynamite’€™ mistake as we like to call it in Chicago where you’€™re just like, ‘Oh my God, I can’€™t believe that just happened.’ It’€™s been a very disappointing year here because there were such high expectations. And those expectations on offense haven’€™t been met.”

Continued Waddle: “I think it’€™s on his decision-making, it has absolute nothing to do with his work ethic. Jay’€™s the first guy in the building, last guy to leave. Jay cares deeply about the game, despite what many may believe. … There are moments in a game you can almost feel it coming. You see the ball sail a little bit high and it ends up in the arms of a defender. And like I said, earlier in the game, you’€™ll see him make a throw only two or three guys can make. It’€™s just maddening at times because his ceiling is so high and he has so much ability.”

Marshall is a top receiver in the league, but this year his numbers are down across the board in just about every category. This is why many believe he was so angry last Sunday.

“Brandon is an elite player,” Waddle said. “Brandon’€™s an emotional guy. I’€™m sure part of his outburst in the locker room on Sunday was about him not participating enough or not getting the opportunity to do enough. That’€™s just the nature of the beast, so to speak, when you are talking about very talented wide receivers. I think there is some frustration there, but again, this offense scored 27 points [per game] the last year. Alshon Jeffery had 1,400 yards receiving. Brandon Marshall had 1,200 yards receiving. … You have to make adjustments, and the Bears haven’€™t made those adjustments.”

Read More: Brandon Marshall, Jay Cutler, Tom Waddle,
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