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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price preview Patriots-Broncos AFC championship

01.15.14 at 6:26 pm ET
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Read More: AFC Championship, Chris Price, Denver Broncos, Mike Petraglia

Patriots injury report Wednesday: Tom Brady, Danny Aiken miss with illness

01.15.14 at 4:24 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady went home sick before practice Wednesday and did not take part in the Patriots first on-field workout as they get ready for the Broncos Sunday in the AFC championship.

Coach Bill Belichick would not elaborate on Brady’s absence.

“We’€™ll talk about that when [injury report] comes out,” said Belichick, who doesn’t speak again until Friday morning. “We’€™re not going through it player by player. I’€™m not doing that. I know we’€™d love that, but I’€™m not doing that.”

Belichick did show a lighter side moments later when asked if he’s ever been surprised by anything Brady does.

“This morning,” Belichick quipped, referring apparently to his departure from the team’s complex to go home and get better.

Also missing due to illness was long snapper Danny Aiken.

Ryan Allen was back on the practice field after an MRI on his right shoulder on Sunday afternoon. Allen injured the shoulder Saturday night in the win over the Colts and did not punt in the second half. He was also replaced by Brady as the team’s holder on a pair of extra points for Stephen Gostkowski.

Devin McCourty, who had been dealing with a concussion from Dec. 22 in Baltimore, and Steve Gregory (finger) were both removed from the injury report completely.

Also new to the report this week was an ankle injury that limited linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

Here is Wednesday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
QB Tom Brady (shoulder/illness)
LS Danny Aiken (illness)

Limited Participation
P Ryan Allen (shoulder)
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder)
LB Dane Fletcher (groin)
LB Dont’a Hightower (ankle)
OL Logan Mankins (ankle)
OT Will Svitek (ankle)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
RB Shane Vereen (groin)

Read More: AFC Championship, Danny Aiken, Denver Broncos, Dont'a Hightower

Five reasons why AFC title game will be completely different than regular-season matchup between Patriots-Broncos

01.15.14 at 4:16 pm ET
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While there are certain fundamental elements you can take from the November win over the Broncos and apply them to Sunday’s AFC title game — the two superstar quarterbacks, for example — there are plenty of reasons why this game will be far different than the November overtime classic. Personnel changes abound on both sides, and different weather conditions (it could be almost 40 degrees warmer for this game as opposed to that chilly November night at Gillette Stadium) mean that when it comes to figuring out what’s going to happen Sunday, using November’s game as a guide could be a big mistake.

“€œI think we’€™re going to see a different team,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “I don’€™t know about different teams, but I think we’€™re going to see a different game.

“€œWe have some players that are playing in this game that didn’€™t play in that game and so do they. We’€™ll just have to see how it all plays out,’€ he added. “€œThere are some new faces out there as well. We’€™ll just have to see how all that unfolds. It’€™s just like any time you play a team twice: I think you look at what happened but you have to erase the board and start all over again.”

“There’€™s nothing that’€™s happened in the past that’€™s going to help us try to win this game on Sunday,” quarterback Tom Brady told WEEI on Monday. “This game is going to come down to who plays the best. We’€™ll be able to take some things from the game we played and study them and prepare for them. But we’€™ll have different things to do, they’€™ll have different things to do. Their team is different than from when they played us, and we’€™re pretty different from when we played them.”

With that in mind, here are five reasons why this game will be different:
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Dont'a Hightower, Julius Thomas, LeGarrette Blount

Tom Brady goes home sick, Ryan Mallett takes first-team reps: ‘It was a lot of fun’

01.15.14 at 2:31 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Following Patriots practice Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, backup quarterback Ryan Mallett acknowledged he took snaps with both the first team as well as the scout team stepping in for Tom Brady who was not present at the media portion of practice.

Multiple reports indicate that Brady was on site at Gillette Stadium early Wednesday morning but went home sick, as did long snapper Danny Aiken, who was also missing at the media portion of practice.

“€œIt was a lot of fun. I like getting to play in our offense,” Mallett said.

The 25-year-old said he was notified he’d be taking the first team snaps this morning by coach Bill Belichick, but wouldn’t elaborate any further, although he did acknowledge he spoke to Brady earlier in the day.

“This morning,” Mallett said, when asked about when he found out he’d be taking first-team reps. “You have to ask coach, I just do what I am told and do my job.”

The backup quarterback said his focus didn’t change as even when Brady is practicing, he is still mentally preparing like he is out there.

“Even when I am not taking snaps with the first team I am watching and playing the game in my head so I get my reps in case something happens and I’€™ll be going into the game,”€ said Mallett.

Mallett also simulated Peyton Manning on the other side of the ball for the Patriot defense.

“Peyton does a lot of different stuff and we do our best to emulate that and give our defense a good look,” he said. “A few Omaha’€™s.”

The exact reason for Brady’s absence at media portion of practice will be revealed in the injury report which will be released later in the afternoon.

Read More: Patriots, Ryan Mallett, Tom Brady,

Poll: Do you prefer Wes Welker, Danny Amendola or Julian Edelman?

01.15.14 at 1:35 pm ET
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The Patriots allowed Wes Welker to leave as a free agent last offseason, and he headed off to Denver to join Peyton Manning and become a part of the most prolific offense in NFL history. In 13 games — he missed the final three following his second concussion of the season — Welker had 73 receptions for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Danny Amendola arrived in New England and battled through injuries to help the Patriots overcome the loss of their top five pass-catchers from last season. Amendola played in 12 games and had 54 catches for 633 yards and two touchdowns.

Julian Edelman managed to avoid the injury bug and become the Patriots’ most reliable receiver in 2013. Playing all 16 games, Edelman had 105 catches for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns.

All three will be on the field for Sunday’s AFC championship game in Denver. If you had to choose, which one player would you want the most on your team for this game?

Which receiver would you want on your team the most?

  • Julian Edelman (67%, 395 Votes)
  • Wes Welker (26%, 155 Votes)
  • Danny Amendola (7%, 39 Votes)

Total Voters: 589

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Patriots playoff mash Wednesday

01.15.14 at 12:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The expanded media presence at Gillette Stadium signifies the hype surrounding this Sunday’s AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and the Broncos. Add in the fact that it’s Tom Brady and Peyton Manning‘s 15th career game against one another, Wes Welker playing against his former team and former Patriots cornerback Marquice Cole signing with Denver on Tuesday, the story lines are endless and the hype is real.

Here are a few quick links as of Wednesday at Noon:

Read More: AFC Championship, Broncos, Patriots,

Patriots practice Wednesday: Tom Brady, long snapper Danny Aiken not spotted, Aaron Dobson, Ryan Allen in uniform

01.15.14 at 11:25 am ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady and Danny Aiken were the only two players not spotted at Patriots practice Wednesday as the team hit the lower grass fields in sweats and shells in preparation for the Broncos Sunday in Denver.

Brady, of course, came on in the second half and replaced punter Ryan Allen as the holder for Stephen Gostkowski kicks after the punter injured his right shoulder on a botched Aiken snap in the second quarter. Wednesday’s absence leaves open the obvious possibility that Brady and Aiken were somewhere else on the complex working on long snapping.

But there is the possibility that Brady’s holding skills won’t even be needed Sunday as Allen was in uniform Wednesday on the practice field taking part in activities. Allen reportedly injured the AC joint in his right shoulder and had an MRI on Sunday afternoon.

A medical source tells WEEI.com that a normal recovery time for such an injury is two weeks but that a punter or kicker could play with the injury if it is not severe in nature. A position player would likely be out of game action for the rest of the playoffs.

The other significant development Wednesday was the return of rookie receiver Aaron Dobson who returned to practice for the first time since injuring his foot against the Bills in the season finale.

The Patriots will practice again on Thursday and Friday before leaving for Denver, which could happen Friday afternoon.

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Danny Aiken, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots

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