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Steve Gregory still ‘day-to-day’ as he continues to work back from hip injury

10.16.12 at 5:00 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots safety Steve Gregory, who has missed the last two weeks because of a hip injury, said Tuesday afternoon he’€™s still ‘€œday-to-day.’€

‘€œ[Just] doing what the trainers ask me to do and trying to get better. That’€™s pretty much it,’€ said the 29-year-old safety, in his first season with the Patriots. ‘€œYou never want to be hurt and not playing — as a competitor, you always want to be in there helping your team. The only think I can focus in on right now is getting healthy. That’€™s what I’€™ve been doing, just doing what the training staff asks me to do. I’€™m working every day to get better.’€

Asked if he was ‘€œhopeful’€ he could return this week, Gregory shrugged.

‘€œDon’€™t know. Like I said, I’€™m just going day-to-day, trying to get healthy. We’€™ll take it from there,’€ said the Syracuse product, who had 14 tackles and one interception this season. ‘€œI can’€™t wait to play. But like I said, it’€™s something you can’€™t rush back from because you’€™ll give yourself a setback. I want to make sure I’€™m 100 percent before I return.’€

While he’€™s been sidelined, Gregory said he’€™s been working with his fellow defensive backs.

‘€œI’€™m in there in meetings and stuff, talking to the guys. We’€™re constantly breaking down film and trying to get better. I’€™m always trying to help the guys out,’€ Gregory said. ‘€œWe just have to play better. We have to make more plays. Obviously, it’€™s a team game. We just have to play better all-around football.’€

The Patriots secondary struggled in Sunday’€™s loss to the Seahawks, as rookie quarterback Russell Wilson — who was at the controls of the second-worst passing offense in the league entering the game against New England — threw for 293 yards in a 24-23 upset of the Patriots.

At the end of the game, with no Gregory or Pat Chung in the game, Wilson went deep down the middle of the field on a long pass for wide receiver Sidney Rice, who had managed to slip behind New England rookie safeties Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner for what would turn out to the game-winning touchdown.

Gregory was asked about the play of the rookie safeties to this point in the season.

‘€œThey’€™ve been working hard. Those guys work hard every day, trying to get better, trying to understand the game more and more each time they’€™re in there,’€ he said. ‘€œObviously, early in your career, everything is a learning experience. And they’€™re getting plenty of learning experiences now. But they’€™re working really hard at trying to become better football players.’€

Gregory and the rest of the defensive backs are now on to the Jets, who will visit Foxboro Sunday for what has suddenly turned into a key divisional matchup.

‘€œIt’€™s going to be a big week — a division game, a conference game. It’€™s definitely a big game on our schedule, and we have to be ready to go,’€ Gregory said. ‘€œ[We] just [have] to get back to the grindstone. Correct the things that we’€™re not doing so well and try to get better from it. And go get a win. That’€™s the most important thing. At the end of the day, it’€™s wins and losses. We need to do things better to win football games, and that’€™s what we’€™re going to do.’€

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Bill Belichick: Tim Tebow brings value, versatility to Jets

10.16.12 at 1:18 pm ET
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On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick singled out Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow for not only his offensive versatility, but also his special teams value.

‘€œThey’€™ve pretty much used him at every spot,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œHe’€™s played more quarterback than anything else. He’€™s also played running back, he’€™s played what I would say is tight end, [and] he’€™s also played a little bit of receiver. They’€™ve put him in some different spots. When he’€™s the quarterback, he’€™s the quarterback: he can run, he can throw, he can run the option, he can run their regular offense or they can run Tebow-type plays there that Denver ran last year or that [offensive coordinator Tony] Sparano ran when he was at Miami. He gives them a lot of versatility on all those things.

‘€œHe doesn’€™t always line up at quarterback when he’€™s in there on offense, so you have to be ready to deal with him in other positions as well. He’€™s a good runner, strong runner, very strong, good thrower, mobile in the pocket, smart player, can do a lot of different things, has different option plays and things like that. You certainly have to be aware when he’€™s in there.’€

Then, there’€™s his work on special teams — he gives the Jets a different look on the punt team because he works as the punt protector, and his offensive skill set makes a fake punt an option at all times.

‘€œYou have to be alert for them to snap the ball to the personal protector,’€ said Belichick, who called Tebow ‘€œdangerous’€ in that role. ‘€œWhether he runs up the middle or goes in a sweep or however they do it, those are things you have to prepare for every week with your punt return unit.

‘€œAgain, the fact that it’€™s him and he’€™s a big strong guy that’€™s a good runner and can throw the ball, he can do a little bit more than a lot of guys that are back there. But at the same time, those are the kind of things you have to defend every week. So, whoever’€™s responsibility it is to cover the guy has to cover him. If they run it, we have to have our gaps controlled.’€

Belichick, who was connected to Tebow several times throughout the predraft process, said there’€™s question that the former Florida quarterback is a valuable part of the Jets.

‘€œYeah, absolutely. There’€™s no question about it,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œWe saw him play last year. He quarterbacked that team to the playoffs in Denver and in addition to some of the quarterbacking things, he’€™s done a lot of other things for the Jets. Yeah, of course he’€™s a valuable guy. There’€™s no doubt about that.’€

Here are a few other highlights from Belichick’€™s Tuesday Q&A with the media:
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Read More: Bill Belichick, Tim Tebow,

Target Practice: Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

10.16.12 at 12:08 pm ET
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Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains an imperfect stat ‘€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback ‘€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™s a look at the target breakdown for the New England passing game through the first five weeks of the 2012 regular season:

WR Wes Welker: 48 catches on 66 targets
WR Brandon Lloyd: 34 catches on 57 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 29 catches on 42 targets
TE Aaron Hernandez: 12 catches on 17 targets
RB Danny Woodhead: 10 catches on 11 targets
WR Julian Edelman: 10 catches on 15 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: Six catches on 10 targets
WR Deion Branch: Four catches on nine targets
RB Brandon Bolden: Two catches on two targets
TE Daniel Fells: Two catches on six targets
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: One catch on one target
RB Shane Vereen: One catch on two targets
TE Kellen Winslow: One catch on two targets
TOTALS: 160 catches on 240 targets

By position
Wide receiver: 96 catches on 147 targets
Tight end: 45 catches on 68 targets
Running back: 19 catches on 25 targets

By way of comparison, here’€™s a look at how the targets broke down through six weeks last season.

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Pressure points: Which Pats defenders have done best job getting after QB in 2012?

10.16.12 at 11:42 am ET
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Through six weeks, the Patriots have 23 quarterback hits and 10 sacks as a team. Based on gamebooks, here’€™s a quick look at some pass-rush numbers for the Patriots to this point in the 2012 season:

Quarterback hits
DE Chandler Jones: Eight
DE Jermaine Cunningham: Three
DE Rob Ninkovich: Three
LB Brandon Spikes: Three
DL Vince Wilfork: Two
DE Trevor Scott: One
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: One
LB Jerod Mayo: One
DL Brandon Deaderick: One

Sacks
Jones: Five (21 yards)
Ninkovich: Two (Six yards)
Cunningham: One (seven yards)
Hightower: One (zero yards)
Mayo: One (seven yards)

By way of comparison, through six games last year the Patriots had 27 hits and 10 sacks.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 7: Patriots fall to No. 8

10.16.12 at 9:59 am ET
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The cliche “any given Sunday” has never seemed more true in the NFL. The one constant has been the undefeated Falcons, who reign supreme in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings for the fourth straight week. Other than the Falcons, the elite teams we’re used to seeing steamroll through the league do not exist anymore. The Patriots (8) and Packers (6) both have three losses; the Saints (17) have four. Meanwhile, surprising teams including the Seahawks (9), Cardinals (12) and Vikings (15) have four wins. There is parity throughout the league and that has made this season even more exciting and unpredictable than years past.

The once prestigious AFC East has turned into a division of mediocrity. All four teams are 3-3. The Patriots are the only AFC East team in the top 10 at No. 8. The Jets stand still at No. 20 while the Dolphins (21) and Bills (24) both jump up a few spots after victories. It’s amazing how quickly things have changed. The NFC West now has three of its four teams in the top 12.

Looking at the AFC, the entire conference is 3-3 or worse aside from the Texans and Ravens. Four teams represent the AFC in the top 10. That could change after Week 7 when the top two teams in the conference clash.

1. (1) Falcons (6-0) ‘€” They call him “Matty Ice” for a reason. Since his rookie season in 2008, Matt Ryan has 13 fourth-quarter comebacks and 19 game-winning drives. If we’ve learned anything from past dominant teams in the league, we know that it’s all about coming away with a victory rather than the way it looks.

2. (8) Giants (4-2) ‘€” Eli Manning and the Giants offense were able to move the ball with ease against one of the best defenses in the league. The defending Super Bowl champs showed the other 31 teams that they’re a serious threat to repeat.

3. (2) Texans (5-1) ‘€” The Texans failed their first real test of the season, and they failed miserably. The loss of Brian Cushing on defense proved to be a major blow on Sunday night when the Packers embarrassed the Texans D with six touchdowns. They’ll have another tough test Sunday against the Ravens.

4. (4) Ravens (5-1) ‘€”The Ravens have just been decimated with injuries — especially on defense. Ray Lewis is the latest Ravens player to drop. His leadership and guidance on the field can’t be replaced and certainly will have a major impact on the beleaguered Ravens D. Cornerback Lardarius Webb also is out for the year.

5. (3) 49ers (4-2) ‘€” Alex Smith has enjoyed recent success because of the way he protected the ball and didn’t turn it over. He had a total of five interceptions last season. In 2012, Smith already has four. Three of them came last Sunday against the Giants. It was the first time the Niners QB threw more than one interception in a game since Oct. 10, 2010.

6. (7) Packers (3-3) ‘€” The Packers offense erupted Sunday night and finally showed what everyone thought it was capable of. Aaron Rodgers felt vindicated after throwing six touchdown passes and quieting all of his doubters. Unfortunately for the Packers, the win came at a price. The team already was without key contributors Greg Jennings and B.J. Raji. Starting linebackers Nick Perry and D.J. Smith have been added to the team’s long injury list.

7. (6) Bears (4-1) ‘€” The Bears will immediately be tested coming off their bye week when they take on NFC North rival Detroit. Right now, the division is the Bears to lose. They should take advantage of the early lead they’ve built because the Packers aren’t going to lay down.

8. (5) Patriots (3-3) ‘€”The Patriots’ inability to close out games has become alarming. Bill Belichick‘s team already has matched its loss total from 2011. It’s evident the secondary still is among the worst in the league. The Patriots should still win the division, but fans will be looking to see improvement as the season continues.

9. (16) Seahawks (4-2) ‘€” Pete Carroll‘s Seahawks have developed a never-give-up identity that has propelled them to a 4-2 record. Three of those four wins have come against the Packers, Patriots and Cowboys. Backed by a hard-hitting secondary, the Seahawks have proven they can play with some of the best teams in the league.

10. (11) Broncos (3-3) ‘€” It doesn’t get much sweeter heading into a bye week. The Broncos need to build on the momentum they’ve established and use it to their advantage the second half of the season. They all believe Peyton Manning is capable of leading them on a Super Bowl run, and they should. The veteran has been tremendous since his return.

11. (9) Steelers (2-3) ‘€” The Steelers have been outscored 40-16 in the fourth quarter in their three losses this season. Those losses have all come against teams under .500. The lack of depth on the offensive line is alarming. The latest injury on the line came to center Maurkice Pouncey, who likely will be out against the Bengals in Week 7.
12. (10) Cardinals (4-2) ‘€” The one constant in Arizona is the quarterback carousel that continues to go round and round. One of the main reasons is that quarterback protection is a major weakness on this team. Kevin Kolb‘s injured ribs might keep him out of next week’s game against the Vikings.

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Read More: Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, NFL Power Rankings, Philip Rivers

Fantasy Football: Week 7 waiver wire

10.16.12 at 9:06 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 7 waiver wire. I know a lot of you are facing tough choices this week and we have significant bye losses with the Falcons, Dolphins, Broncos, Chiefs, Eagles and Chargers all taking the week off. It’€™s rough to be in a must-win situation while being compromised with bye issues. We’€™re here to help. And, if you don’€™t see the player or players you have questions about listed here, please feel free to join us at Rotobahn later today where we will get even more comprehensive with our full free agent rankings.

QUARTERBACKS

Christian Ponder, Vikings

He’€™s still out there and we like him a lot. He’€™s got the smarts and some serious weaponry. You’€™ve all heard of Adrian Peterson, and WR Percy Harvin is perhaps the league MVP right now. This is all good for Ponder and he’€™s got a developing red zone monster in TE Kyle Rudolph. This guy can be your starter in a big league if you are hurting and he makes a very solid QB2 in all leagues.

Brandon Weeden, Browns

Our guy is coming around nicely and it might be time to snatch him up in medium-sized leagues. He was already viable in large formats. The thing we like most is that Weeden is doing it with different guys every week and he did it without the support of Trent Richardson for much of last week. The former minor league baseball player is a gamer and his 5.03 career ERA is no longer a problem. Weeden is a solid backup option for fantasy GMs.

Jake Locker, Titans

He’€™ll sit out another week and some people may end up cutting him, especially in smaller leagues. Locker, with Kenny Britt getting near full health, has a lot of upside down the stretch and we’€™d pick him up in most formats if he is available.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

We are impressed with Tannehill for sure. Who knows what he is capable of if they get him some real offensive talent to work with. For now, we like him as a QB2 in all 12-team leagues and even in some smaller leagues if you have the bench space.

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Read More: Brandon Weeden, Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, Ryan Tannehill

Matt Patricia: Lack of execution led to downfall of defense against Seattle

10.15.12 at 4:45 pm ET
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When it came to Sunday’€™s game-winning touchdown pass from Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to wide receiver Sidney Rice, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia blamed a lack of execution across the board that led to the defensive breakdown.

‘€œI think the particular play that you’€™re talking about, obviously we’€™ve got to execute better and coach better the call that we were in,’€ Patricia said on a conference call with the media on Monday afternoon. ‘€œ[The] defense is called to try to stop any particular play that they can throw at us or run at us, and we’€™ve just got to go out and execute and perform it at a higher level.

‘€œI can’€™t really say that an extra defender or an extra player here or there would have helped us, but we’€™ve got to obviously do a better job overall from coaching and playing to just handling the situation and the play better.’€

The Patriots have up a bunch of big plays Sunday: Seattle had six pass plays of 20 yards or more and four pass plays of 40-plus yards. There were three completions, including the 46-yard touchdown pass to Rice, as well as a 40-yard pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter on safety Patrick Chung.

Asked about the big plays being the result of technique or mental issues, Patricia said it was a little bit of both.

‘€œI think you’€™re probably going to look at both when you go back and take a look at it,’€ he said. ‘€œ’€˜What could we have done from an awareness standpoint that was better?’€™ and ‘€˜What could we have done from a technique standpoint that was better?’€™ So you need to improve on both because it just wasn’€™t good enough.’€

Here are a few more highlights from Patricia’€™s Q&A with the media:
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