|01.12.17 at 11:51 am ET|
FOXBORO — For the second straight day, LeGarrette Blount was missing from Patriots practice.
The running back missed Wednesday’s session with an illness and was likely the reason for his absence on Thursday.
Missing two practices in the same week is not a good sign, but there’s a chance his absence could be more precautionary than anything to keep him away from his teammates.
Even if he isn’t 100 percent, he likely would still play Saturday against the Texans. There is a bug going around the locker room and has been for several weeks.
Practice squad receiver Devin Lucien also missed the session.
It’s worth noting receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who was limited on Wednesday, was riding a bike during the media access period. He would likely be the fifth receiver if active on Saturday.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|01.12.17 at 11:06 am ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick is someone who never leaves anything to chance.
That’s why he’s reminding every player on his active roster and practice squad to be ready in the event they’re called upon in the playoffs.
Last year, with Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount unavailable in the playoffs, the team turned to James White as not only a running back but their primary target in the passing game in the AFC championship.
In 2014, it was Michael Hoomanawanui playing a key role as an “ineligible receiver” against the Ravens.
In 2011, Julian Edelman played defensive back when the Patriots were short-handed in the secondary.
In other words, it’s all hands on deck in a win-or-go home scenario Saturday night.
“Absolutely. Every player that’s on our roster, including the practice squad players,” Belichick said Thursday in his final press conference before Saturday’s divisional game. And we’ve had guys on injured reserve like Jacoby [Brissett] who wasn’t on the roster but could come back to the roster, and did, absolutely, those guys are all important and their role and their development is critical.
“They’ve been told that plenty of times and we spent a lot of time with those players.”
The practice reps are that much more important this week to make sure if anyone gets called on, they’re ready to go.
“You don’t know when. You never know which guy or when it’s going to be,” Belichick added. “We can go back and look at lots of examples of players who have impacted our team that were in that role. Absolutely, we’ve talked about that ad nausea. I’m sure they’re sick of hearing about it but it’s the truth.”
Speaking of Edelman, Belichick spent some time at the start Thursday talking about the growth of Julian Edelman, a seventh-round pick in 2009 who has known nothing but playoffs in his career with the Patriots. In his first season, after catching 37 passes but just one touchdown in his rookie year, Edelman caught six passes for 44 yards and two touchdowns in his playoff debut, a 33-14 loss to the Ravens in Jan. 2010.
“It’s definitely evolved,” Belichick said of Edelman, who caught just 11 passes total in his next two seasons. “You know, he had a productive rookie year and then his second and third years, he caught less passes in those years than he did his first year. Yeah, it’s been a process.”
Michael Floyd, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Martellus Bennett are all players making their Patriots playoff debut Saturday night.
|01.12.17 at 10:49 am ET|
Tom Brady will star in another commercial.
This time it’s for Intel that will air on Super Bowl Sunday that shows off a virtual reality-like spin through his morning routine.
If you’re asking us, it’s not his best work. See for yourself.
|01.12.17 at 6:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — Playoff football is back at Gillette Stadium and the Patriots are looking forward to playing in front of their fans.
The Patriots will host the Texans Saturday night in the divisional round at Gillette Stadium. It is the eighth straight year the team has hosted a playoff game.
For Dont’a Hightower, it’s his fifth year with the team so he knows what type of atmosphere to expect.
“I’m sure it’ll be wild. We have the best fans in the league,” Hightower said. “It’s usually cold so I’m sure they’ll be looking forward to that. But all around, playoff time and home field advantage, it helps as far as just the overall emotion and excitement that it brings. Those third downs and those backed up situations where we have the offense on the ropes back there – those really help.
“Sometimes, believe it or not, a lot of guys get pretty crazy to want to make a play and get up and do the little sack dance or whatever. So always being at home always helps.”
Matthew Slater also has plenty of playoff experience at Gillette Stadium. He urged the fans to be loud.
“I think this is the time of year that our fans love,” he said. “They understand the role they play in the game, the role they play in home field advantage, and we’re excited for them to be at their best. We’re expecting their best on Saturday, and we’re in it together.”
Added Slater: “Just get loud. They know what to do. They’re seasoned, experienced fans, so they know what to do.”
If the Patriots win, they would host the AFC title game a week from Sunday.
|01.11.17 at 7:03 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After playing with him for 11 years in New England, Saturday night will be the second time Tom Brady has gone against Vince Wilfork on the other side of the ball.
(Brady missed the Week 3 game earlier this season between the Patriots and Texans.)
Despite being 35 years old, Wilfork is still playing at a high level and Brady acknowledged he’d prefer if Wilfork was on his own team.
“I’ve looked over center for many years and seen him. He’s just in a different jersey. But he’s still just a force,” Brady said on a conference call with the Houston media. “I mean both in the run game and the pass game. He still gets pressure in the pocket. Vince [Wilfork] has been one of the best players in the league since he got in the league. He’s been a great addition for that team. I hate playing against him. I’d much rather have him on our team, but that’s not the way it works out, or worked out last year. But it’s still great to see him playing and playing well”
The Texans are 0-4 in their history at Gillette Stadium being outscored 150-49 and have allowed 40 or more points in three of the four meetings. The only time they didn’t allow 40 points was this past season when the Patriots won 27-0 in Week 3.
Brady doesn’t know why teams like the Texans always have an issue at Gillette Stadium.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I’ve never really paid much attention to that. I think for us Coach [Bill Belichick] always says ‘It’s how we play; it’s not who we play or where we play.’ I think for us playing well at home, I think it does help offensively, just the communication because you can make some last second adjustments to run stuff, protection, you can change routes or change concepts with very little time left on the play-clock, which is I guess challenging to do when you’re on the road. We try to build some things in on the road that make it a little bit easier to communicate, but it’s certainly easier to communicate at home.”
|01.11.17 at 6:44 pm ET|
FOXBORO — From the outside, it looked like the Patriots defense turned a corner in Week 11 after falling to the Seahawks, 31-24 and playing their second game following the trade of Jamie Collins.
Don’t say that to defensive captain Dont’a Hightower because he believes the defense has been playing the same all year and there wasn’t a “turning point.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about [with] the click thing, man,” Hightower said. “We were playing good all year so I don’t know what turning point you mean. We’ve done well, we’ve stopped the other team from scoring. In the second half of the season we were able to cause more turnovers. All in all we’ve just molded together as a defense. It just took a little bit longer to gel. So we’re moving forward and we’re working well with great chemistry.
“We’ve excelled as far as understanding the game plan. I think that’s what has really helped us because we have a lot of smart guys over there and the more we’re able to get in the meetings and digest it and get on the field, we’re able to communicate and play a lot faster.”
The Patriots defense finished the year allowing a league-low 15.6 points per game. The biggest difference down the stretch was being able to force turnovers.
In the first 10 games of the year the defense forced just nine turnovers, but in the last six it forced 14.
“Just the style we were playing – different calls,” Hightower said of what changed. “We were just able to cause more turnovers. I don’t really know how to explain it. Just more or less the play calls. We just talk more on it during practice. They had more drills on it, so this really turned out and worked well for us.”
The defense will take on Houston’s 29th ranked offense Saturday night in the divisional round.
|01.11.17 at 4:28 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It appears LeGarrette Blount’s absence at practice is not a big issue.
Blount missed practice on Wednesday due to an illness. He was the only player to miss practice — the second of the week.
Malcolm Mitchell was limited with a knee injury after missing the regular-season finale against the Dolphins.
The team had four players practicing in full, including Tom Brady (thigh) and Danny Amendola (ankle).
Amendola practicing in full is a good sign as he hasn’t played in a game since Dec. 4. It’s also worth noting Dont’a Hightower and Martellus Bennett were removed. Bennett had been on it since Week 5.
Here is the full practice report.
DID NOT PRACTICE
RB LeGarrette Blount (illness)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
QB Tom Brady (thigh)
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
CB Cyrus Jones (knee)
WR Matthew Slater (foot)
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