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A trip down memory lane with Aqib Talib

10.27.14 at 6:16 pm ET
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Aqib Talib always made for good copy. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Aqib Talib always made for good copy. (Elsa/Getty Images)

In his year-plus with the Patriots, cornerback Aqib Talib gained a reputation in the locker room with reporters as a terrific quote. In the wake of his discussion about the Patriots on Monday, in no particular order, here are our four favorite exchanges Talib had with the media over the course of the 2013 season:

1) “My bad, man. I had to say hi to Gisele.” — Apologizing to WEEI’s Mut & Merloni on Aug. 14 for being late to an on-air appearance

2) “It’s fun. It’s the NFL. You watch Tom Brady throw bombs, [and I think,] ‘He’s on my team. Hey man, that’s fun!'” — Speaking with reporters Aug. 7

3) “I don’t watch NFL Network or read the newspaper during the season. I’m a basketball fan. My TV pretty much stays on NBA TV. I don’t really read what nobody says.” — Responding to Stevie Johnson’s claim the Patriots didn’t have anybody who could stop him, on Sept. 5

4) “It’s never personal man. It’s never personal. I’m sure, if I see Steve, it’ll be, ‘Hey, what’s up? How you doing?’ It’s never personal. Him and the other guy from St. Louis? That was personal. I mean, he didn’t say he was going to punch me in my face after the game. He just told me to go get in the tub. Kind of thoughtful.” — On his confrontation with Steve Smith during the loss to Carolina on Nov. 20

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Aqib Talib: You always get your money’s worth with Tom Brady-Peyton Manning matchup

10.27.14 at 5:55 pm ET
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Aqib Talib was with the Patriots for almost two years before signing with Denver. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Aqib Talib was with the Patriots for almost two years before signing with Denver. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Aqib Talib is returning to Foxboro.

The former Patriots corner, who signed with the Broncos as a free agent in the offseason, will be making his first trip back to New England since joining the Broncos.  The eminently quotable Talib was at his best when he met the Denver media on Monday to discuss his return.

Talib, who played a year-plus with the Patriots — he was acquired from Tampa Bay in a trade deadline deal in 2012 — isn’t sure of the sort of reception he’ll get when he takes the field, but he’s pretty sure he’ll be amped come Sunday afternoon.


“I don’t know. We’ve got to put an amp meter on me or something,” he told reporters Monday. “I don’t really judge my ‘ampness’ for the game.

“But yeah, I get pretty excited for every game, though. So if I’m a little more juiced for this game, I guess you all will be the judge of that.”

Talib said Monday he enjoyed his time in New England, which included two trips to the AFC title game.

“Just the repetitions — the experiences,” he said when asked what made him a better player and better person in New England. “[When you] get older, you grow. I had a great coach, Bill Belichick — great coach. Playing against [QB] Tom [Brady], you learn stuff. Just getting older.

“It’s a real good atmosphere,” he added when asked about playing in Foxboro. “They play real well at home. It’s definitely hard to play there. They’ve got a great crowd. They’re going to be loud. They know when to be loud; they know when to get quiet. So it’s going to be a great atmosphere. It’s going to be a challenge.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady,

Tim Wright on red zone plays: ‘The margin of error is critical’

10.27.14 at 4:46 pm ET
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Tim Wright

Tim Wright

FOXBORO — Tim Wright has three touchdowns this season — two of them coming on play-action plays from the 1-yard line, but they don’€™t come as easy as one might think.

“The margin of error is critical,”€ Wright said. “Like I said, if it’€™s one second off, the whole play can shift just like that. You see guys fighting for one yard, you know — one yard you think at the 50-yard line is pretty simple, but down in that red zone and goal line area it gets critical.”

Wright had a 1-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter of Sunday’€™s win over the Bears and also had one against Buffalo earlier in the season — also on play-action.

He says sometimes he can tell just lining up looking at the defense it is going to be a successful play.

“When you see a look lining up, you can lick your chops a little bit — maybe the percentage will go up if everybody executes their job,”€ Wright said. “But then sometimes [the defense does] a good job as well and they give you a look that you may haven’€™t seen and they defend you well so that’€™s what comes along with it.”

For the season the Patriots are 17th in the NFL in red zone touchdown efficiency, scoring touchdowns 54.8 percent of the time. Denver, the Patriots’€™ next opponent is the best in the league, scoring a touchdown on 82.6 percent of its red zone trips.

The Patriots tight end notes things get more difficult in the red zone with tighter windows to throw, but helps having a quarterback like Tom Brady throwing the ball.

“Things happen fast in the red zone,”€ said Wright. “I think the coaches have called great plays and you know, on a particular play there are particular details you have to do because it’€™s the red zone, especially inside the five because everyone is crossing. Tom [Brady] does a great job of delivering the ball when it needs to be there and we just capitalized on it.”

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Jonas Gray: Tom Brady ‘knows how big of a rivalry’ it is with Peyton Manning

10.27.14 at 4:12 pm ET
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Jonas Gray

Jonas Gray

FOXBORO — Jonas Gray has been watching the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry for a long time, but this coming Sunday the Patriots running back will be apart of it, and admits it’€™s pretty exciting.

“€œIt’€™s pretty cool,”€ he said. “I was watching some of it on the NFL Network, I know they are hyping it up. It’€™s a cool thing. Brady, he does a good job of not downplaying it either, he knows how big of a rivalry it is between them two. I’€™m just happy to be apart of it.”

The Patriots are fresh off a 51-23 blowout win over the Bears Sunday — their fourth straight win and now right in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.

Aside from Brady’€™s five-touchdown, 354-yard performance, Gray was effective on the ground, rushing for 86 yards on 17 carries — getting the bulk of the carries with No. 1 back Stevan Ridley out for the season and Shane Vereen catching passes out of the backfield on most of his plays.

“It was huge. The guys did a good job of blocking up front and like I said yesterday, those holes were big enough so anyone could run through them,” said Gray. “I used my vision, used my legs and went down hill.”

Gray and the rest of the team have already moved past Sunday’€™s win and are completely focused on the Broncos.

“€œYou have to keep going back everyday, going to work, not thinking about last game — taking it week-by-week, day-by-day, focusing on the next opponent and doing everything you can with your preparation,”€ said Gray.

With the Patriots having their bye week after Sunday’€™s game, they can let it everything out on Sunday knowing they will have the next week off to refresh their bodies for the second half of the season. This will only benefit them as the Broncos come in 6-1 and outscoring their opponents 149-75 the last four games, winning all four.

“Ultimate focus this week is on the task at hand, which is beating Denver,” said Gray. “Getting our preparation, understanding our opponent as best we can and coming out prepared and at our best.”

Read More: Jonas Gray, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady,

Tedy Bruschi on D&H: ‘Don’t think [a Vincent Jackson trade] is the right move at all’ for Patriots

10.27.14 at 4:11 pm ET
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ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, in his weekly interview with WEEI’s Dale & Holley show, offered his view on New England’s blowout victory over the Bears, the challenge that lies ahead in game-planning for Peyton Manning and the Broncos and the embarrassing season-ending injury for Bears linebacker Lamarr Houston, among other topics.

Bruschi noted that the Patriots offense appears to be in a tremendous rhythm, with the performance of the offensive line in combination with the return to full Gronkitude by Rob Gronkowski combining with the emergence of wide receiver Brandon LaFell to give Tom Brady a tremendous number of weapons. That being the case, Bruschi suggested that pursuing Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson in a trade would be an ill-advised course.

“I think you look down the road and consider if it would help. I think you consider it for a moment because that’s what a good general manager would do. But in terms of this situation right here with the New England Patriots, I don’t think it’s the right move at all, especially with the development of Brandon LaFell,” said Bruschi. “You see the development. You see the progression. Ever since that first drive of the Cincinnati Bengals game is when I think this offense truly woke up and said, OK, let’s go. From that point, they started rolling and rolling.

“I just don’t think you want to put in another element into it that you may have to spoon-feed things to. You can’t give him the entire plate right now because he couldn’t handle it right now. He probably couldn’t digest the entire plan right now. So you spoon-feed him a little. But when you do that to one player, it has a trickle-down effect to others along the line,” added Bruschi. “Jobs are going to be different for other people down the road. Say Vincent Jackson comes in and you say you can only play this position. It messes up this offense. You’ve got to know how to play every single receiver’s spot along the front so they can have that flexibility that they want. You wouldn’t have that off the bat with him. Would you have some growing pains along the line to develop that? I think you would. I think you roll with what you’ve got right now.”

To listen to the complete interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page. Here are other highlights of Bruschi’s interview:

On whether Sunday against the Bears was as well as Bruschi had seen Brady play: “No, I don’t think that’s the best I’ve seen him play just because of the quality of competition he was going up against yesterday. There were some young defensive linemen who really didn’t know what they were doing for the Bears. The linebackers, oh my gosh, they looked lost at times. I’m still waiting for them to read play-action. They still can’t find it. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: lamar houston, Peyton Manning, Rob Gronkowski, Rob Ninkovich

Tim Wright on MFB: Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson ‘a great person, great player’

10.27.14 at 1:35 pm ET
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Tim Wright

Tim Wright

Patriots tight end Tim Wright checked in with Middays with MFB on Monday, after catching seven passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 51-23 victory over the Bears. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Patriots acquired Wright from the Buccaneers right before the start of the season. Now there is speculation that New England might inquire about another Bucs player: wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

“He’s a great player, I learned a lot while I was under him,” Wright said, adding: “Just details and route-running, things that the defensive backs look for. Different body controls — him being a bigger wideout, it was easy for me to see what he was talking about, and easy for me to go out there and try to implement those things that he was teaching me. … He’s a great person, great player, and I looked up to him while I was there.”

The Patriots were able to spread the ball around and have a lot of success against Chicago. Fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski also had a big day, with nine catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns.

“Our [position] coach Brian Daboll, he does a great job of instilling the mentality in the tight end room to go out there and just be the spark of the offense. Regardless of how things are going, when our number is called we’ve got to answer the bell. We just went in there, we really didn’t know we’re going to get this many catches [for] this guy, this many catches [for] that guy. But our offensive coordinator [Josh McDaniels], he definitely explained throughout the week and he displayed it to us that it’s going to be spacing and it’s going to be winning your man-to-man battle that’s going to definitely contribute to the win and contribute to our success on Sunday, and that’s what we did.”

Asked about the toughest part of adjusting to the Patriots offense, Wright said, “I would say just playing at a fast tempo mentally, going through the checks and all the nuances that Tom Brady goes through at the line, the checks and stuff like that. You’ve got to be on top of the game, you’ve got to be alert, just be locked in, just be focused.”

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Bill Belichick: Trades ‘not that common this time of year’

10.27.14 at 1:29 pm ET
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The NFL trade deadline is set for Tuesday at 4 p.m., and there’s already been some speculation about the Patriots pulling off at least one move beforehand. New England has never been shy about making trade deadline moves, including a last-minute pickup of cornerback Aqib Talib in 2012.

But according to Bill Belichick, when it comes to making deals, there’s usually a greater chance of something happening over the summer than right at the deadline.

“I think this is a lot different than at the end of preseason when you’€™re coming into the 53-man cut time,” Belichick said on a conference call with the media Monday morning. “You’€™re focused on your opening game, but you’€™re also focused on your roster, and [so] is every other team. There’€™s a lot of player movement at that time, as there is, I’€™d say through the first few weeks of the season on every team.

“If something comes along and it’€™s something that we think would be worth considering, then we’€™d talk about it,” he added. “But I wouldn’€™t say that there’€™s real heavy back and forth communication throughout the league on big trades. I’€™d be surprised if that took place on any team. It’€™s just not that common this time of year. Could it happen? Yeah, there could be a couple trades. But it’€™s a lot different than what it is at the end of training camp.”

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