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Patriots know Ben Roethlisberger is still a load

10.25.11 at 1:52 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Ben Roethlisberger has earned a reputation in the NFL for many things.

He’s a riverboat gambler when it comes to quarterbacking, taking chances others at his position wouldn’t even consider. He’s known as a winner, having won two Super Bowl rings and made another last February in a loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. He’s gotten into trouble off the field with a motorcycle and his alleged antics at a Georgia nightclub.

But when he’s on the field, the product of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio is known as the single-toughest quarterback in the NFL to bring down to the ground.

‘€œEven if you hit him, you’€™re not going to take him down,” Patriots nose tackle Albert Haynesworth said Tuesday, five days before he and the Pats take on the big challenge at Heinz Field. “He’€™s a guy that can break a lot of tackles and get away from the rush. Even if you’€™re hitting him and he’€™s going down, he can still throw the ball. With him, you definitely emphasize finishing a rush or finishing a tackle because he can still get away.”

Roethlisberger can still get away because he’s still 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds and can still push defenders away. What the Patriots need to do – as shown in the picture here – is gang tackle him and finish their tackles when he has the ball, keeping him from keeping the big play alive.

‘€œHe’€™s got more experience, you know, with time, but he’€™s still a really good quarterback. A great quarterback. The guy has won a lot of Super Bowls, and played a lot of football,” Haynesworth added.

What Bill Belichick no doubt has reminded his team of – beyond his size – is Roethlisberger’s willingness to hold the ball a bit too long. The Patriots sacked him five times last year in the 39-26 Patriots win at Heinz Field. So, as much as there’s the potential for Roethlisberger to keep a play alive, there’s also the chance he holds onto the ball too long. He has been sacked 20 already in seven games this season fumbling five times, losing four.

When linebacker Rob Ninkovich watches Roethlisberger, like he did this past Sunday on TV against the Cardinals, he sees another linebacker who happens to play quarterback.

“He’s a big guy,” Ninkovich said. “He’s big and can move. Anybody who is 260 pounds and can move is hard to get on the ground. He’s going to be a challenge for us to contain him and keep him in the pocket.”

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Ben Roethlisberger, New England Patriots, nfl

Patriots bring back Malcolm Williams on the practice squad

10.25.11 at 1:06 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Defensive back Malcolm Williams has been re-signed to the Patriots practice squad, the team announced Tuesday. To make room, the team released DB Josh Victorian from the same unit. This is Williams’ second stint with the Pats, after being released before the team’s final preseason game.

Williams, who played at Texas Christian University, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft with the 219th selection overall.

Williams, 5-feet-11, 200 pounds, originally signed with Oklahoma but ended up at Trinity Community College before going to Texas Christian University for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He contributed at safety and special teams at Texas Christian. He was released by the Pats on Aug. 29.

Read More: Josh Victorian, Malcolm Williams, New England Patriots, nfl

Albert Haynesworth: ‘I just have to keep working and knocking that rust off’

10.25.11 at 12:52 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Albert Haynesworth spent his bye week watching football.

‘€œI don’€™t know … what else are you going to watch on TV?’€ the Patriots defensive tackle said on Tuesday morning at Gillette Stadium. ‘€œI’€™m not a soap opera guy or watching Broadway or anything like that. On Sunday, that’€™s what you’€™re going to watch. Football. Monday night, that’€™s what you’€™re going to watch. Football.’€

And Haynesworth spent some time watching the Steelers, who picked up their fifth win in six games Sunday with a 32-20 win over Arizona.

‘€œThey’€™re a good team. They’€™re kind of like where they were a year ago, and even better,’€ Haynesworth said of Pittsburgh, who will host the Patriots Sunday at Heinz Field. ‘€œThey’€™re not any slouch or anything like that. They have a three-game winning streak so far, and they’€™re a strong team. They’€™re definitely going to be in the postseason this year.

‘€œThey’€™re a very physical team,’€ he added. ‘€œThey don’€™t dance around. They’€™re not finesse whatsoever. Everybody runs hard. They don’€™t mind hitting … they like to hit. So it’€™s a very physical team. More physical than we’€™ve faced this year.’€

After a back injury sidelined him earlier this season, the 30-year-old defensive tackle has played the last two games — he was on the field for 21 snaps against the Jets and 27 against the Cowboys, according to Pro Football Focus. Patriots coach Bill Belichick told WEEI on Monday there’€™s no issue with Haynesworth’€™s conditioning.
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Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Ben Roethlisberger, Bill Belichick, Brandon Deaderick

Fantasy Football: Week 8 Waiver Wire

10.25.11 at 8:14 am ET
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Here are the big names on the week eight waiver wire. As usual, we’€™ll be adding players all day at Rotobahn.com, and we’€™ll have more options for those of you who play in deeper leagues. We also have forums for those of you with specific questions, so please feel free to check us out and to submit a question. We will get back to you within 24 hours and usually the same day.

Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos

He compacted all of his productivity into a few drives at the end of the game, but once the chips were down and they opened up the offense a bit, Tebow made plays–which is what he does. If you’€™ve been following us, you know we love this kid. He plays the game the right way and wants to put himself on the line in pressure situations. Of course, the reason we pimp him at Rotobahn is due to his fantasy potential, which is immense. There is no way this guy should be available anywhere.

Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings

He’€™s got some legit quarterbacking skills.  He’€™s a medium talent, but he has that feel for the position that the really good ones have.  If they can keep him healthy, they have a long term option in Minnesota.  For you, he is a decent matchup option that you can mix and match with.  He is a solid QB2 in deep leagues and a fantasy upgrade over Donovan McNabb.

Carson Palmer, QB, Raiders

He has this week off and that’€™s a good thing. He needs some work. While we have not been big fans of Palmer’€™s game since his elbow injury (rehab but no corrective surgery) a few years back, he is a material upgrade over Jason Campbell and a massive upgrade over Kyle Boller. To you, Palmer can be a decent fantasy option in large leagues as a QB2. The Raider’€™s mad speed makes any decent passer an intriguing option.

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WEEI Week 8 NFL Power Rankings: Patriots move up to second spot

10.25.11 at 6:12 am ET
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Once again, the Packers claim the top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The undefeated Packers have enjoyed their reign at No. 1 in the rankings since August and will go into the month of November a perfect 7-0. The Lions (8) were undefeated through five weeks but have since lost two straight and drop again. The biggest surprise of the week came on Monday night when the Ravens were upset by the one-win Jaguars. The loss drops the Ravens three spots and puts them in a two-way tie with Steelers in the AFC North. Meanwhile, the 49ers (4) climb two spots and join the Patriots (2), Saints (3), and Ravens (5) in the top five.

Some of the teams ranked high at the beginning of the season but have since fell are fighting to get back to where they were. The Steelers (6), Falcons (7), Jets (9),  and Bears (12) are inching their way back up the chart after dropping earlier in the season. The Chargers (14) plummet almost ten spots after an epic collapse at the hands of the Jets. The Chargers have yet to beat a team over .500.

All three of the winless teams in the NFL were in action on Sunday but only one actually had a shot of winning. The Dolphins (31) surrendered a late lead to the Broncos (25) as Tim Tebow led his team to a magical comeback victory while the hapless Dolphins saw their hopes of getting in the win column go up in smoke.

Games that will have the biggest impact on next week’s Power Rankings:

The Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers.

The Cowboys face off against the Eagles in a key divisional match-up.

Byes: Jets, Raiders, Falcons, Bucs, Bears, Packers

1. (1) Packers (7-0) ‘€” Aaron Rodgers will enter the bye week as the best quarterback in the NFL right now. The Super Bowl MVP leads in almost every statistical category a quarterback can be measured in. The array of weapons on the Packers offense is the main reason the defending champs are undefeated and show no sign of slowing down.

2. (3) Patriots (5-1) ‘€” There aren’t many better than Tom Brady and Bill Belichick coming off a bye week. The last time the Patriots lost following the bye was in 2002. That said, the Steelers passing game with Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace will be a tremendous challenge for the Patriots pass defense. The return of Jerod Mayo, a healthy Albert Haynesworth and the continued solid play from Brandon Spikes should help the Patriots improve on defense the rest of the way.

3. (4) Saints (5-2) ‘€” It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, any time an offense can put up 60+ points in a game, it’s impressive.  Brees completed 31 of 35 passes and threw five touchdowns. This offense is so dynamic, don’t be surprised to see a repeat performance  this Sunday when the Saints face another winless opponent, the Rams. The Colts are ranked dead last in the NFL in points allowed per game, right in front of them at No. 31 are the 0-5 Rams. The Saints owe a major “Thank you” to the NFL schedule makers.

4. (6) 49ers (5-1) ‘€” It was business as usual in the NFC West. The Rams, Seahawks, and Cardinals all lost as the 49ers enjoyed their bye week and saw their lead increase in the division. Barring any major setbacks and injuries, the 49ers are practically a lock to win the West. They’ve played great under Jim Harbaugh and the competition is extremely poor within the division.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, joe flacco, NFL Power Rankings, Tim Tebow

Bye-Week Breakdown: Special teams

10.24.11 at 6:14 pm ET
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With the Patriots off this week, we’€™ve got our Bye-Week Breakdown, a position-by-position look at the Patriots at the six-week mark. We’€™ve already examined every one of the rest of the positions so far, and so we finish up with the special teamers.

Depth chart: Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Zoltan Mesko, kick returner/punt returner Julian Edelman (Stevan Ridley and Matthew Slater have also seen time as returners), long snapper Danny Aiken.

Overview: Not bad, not great. Just consistent and dependable. After spending most of last season on the shelf with a quad injury, Gostkowski is 21-for-21 on extra-point attempts, 10-for-11 on field-goal attempts — only missing a 48-yarder in the opener against Miami — and is tied for 15th in the league with 15 touchbacks on kickoffs entering Monday’€™s games. As for Mesko, even after dealing with a knee injury, he’€™s 14th in the league with a 39.7 net average. Meanwhile, Edelman is also stepped into the full-time role of kick and punt returner, and has brought the same consistent presence (ninth in the league in punt returns and 17th in the league in kick returns). As a team, the Patriots are also middle of the pack when it comes to punt and kick coverage.

Best moment: In a win over Oakland, Gostkowski hit a 44-yarder, was 3-for-3 on XPAs and put four of his six kickoffs into the end zone, while Mesko averaged 49 yards a punt on his three attempts and the Patriots limited the occasionally dangerous Oakland return team to a starting field position of its own 22-yard line.
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Read More: Bill Belichick, bye week breakdown, Danny Aiken, Joe McKnight

Both Belichick and O’Brien say dealing with Troy Polamalu no easy task

10.24.11 at 2:40 pm ET
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At the start of the season, some believed that the Pittsburgh defense was too old to still be considered among the league’€™s elite units — after a season-opening 35-7 loss to the Ravens, analyst Warren Sapp said the Steelers’€™ defense was ‘€œover. … it’€™s that simple.’€

However, the reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated: Since that loss, Pittsburgh has won five of six, and the defense has rebounded to it familiar spot at or near the top of every major defensive category, including total yards (seventh in the league with 1,953), passing yards (fifth in the league with 1,203) and total points allowed (sixth in the league with 122 through seven games).

‘€œI have no idea where anyone would get that impression,’€ Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’€™Brien said if the Pittsburgh defense was too old or past its’€™ prime. ‘€œI really believe this is a tough defense, a smart defense, a really well coached defense.’€

On conference calls with the media on Monday afternoon, both O’€™Brien and Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised the work of veteran safety Troy Polamalu.

‘€œI’€™ll put it to you this way: you’€™ve got to know where this guy is on every single play,’€ O’€™Brien said of the returning Defensive Player of the Year. ‘€œHe’€™s a very instinctive player. He’€™s a guy that can really disrupt the game if you don’€™t have knowledge of where he is on every play. I think he’€™s playing very fast and again, very well with his instincts and his overall experience playing in that system. He’€™s one of many defenders on that defense that is going to be tough to go against. He’€™s at the head of the class.’€

‘€œHe’€™s one of the top defensive players in the league,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œHe’€™s a dynamic player that can affect any player that you run ‘€“ run or pass, inside, outside, short, deep. He’€™s a tremendous football player, great competitor. He’€™s made a ton of plays this year, made them last year; he makes a lot of them. I thought he played well last year, I thought he was really productive last year.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Troy Polamalu, Warren Sapp
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