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Patriots-Packers Live from Gillette

12.19.10 at 6:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For the fifth time in their last six games, the Patriots will be playing football after sundown as they battle the 8-5 Green Bay Packers under the lights at Gillette.

Three days ago, there was concern that the contest might be played in the midst of a classic Nor’Easter, with winds kicking up off the Atlantic, blowing cold winds and a snow storm toward Foxboro. But the storm stayed mainly in the Atlantic and Foxboro and those commuting to the game have been spared.

Instead, temperatures will hover around the freezing mark at kick-off, with light snow accumulating, possibly over an inch. Winds will be just about non-existent and very mild, out of the north at 7 MPH. It could be a lot worse for Dec. 19.

What’s at stake: With the Jets winning, 22-17, in Pittsburgh, the Patriots wrap up the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs with wins in two of their final three games. The Jets win in the Steel City means the Patriots won’t be able to clinch the AFC East tonight for the eighth time in 10 seasons.

Matt Flynn will need every bit of a break he can muster as he is filling in for Aaron Rodgers, who was ruled out of tonight after his second concussion of the season last Sunday in Detroit. Flynn – in his third year out of LSU – was 15-of-26 for 177 yards in filling in for Rodgers last week.

Some other nuggets to consider:

- Tom Brady looks to extend his NFL record for consecutive wins in home starts to 27 after setting the new standard in his last Gillette appearance, a 45-3 rout of the Jets on Monday night, Dec. 6.

- There’s been a lot of talk in the last month about Brady’s astronomical quarterback rating. If you put any stock into the highly-debated statistic, consider this: Brady has the fifth-best quarterback rating of all-time at 94. 9, exactly the same as Peyton Manning entering this weekend and trailing only Tony Romo (95.5), Steve Young (96.8), Philip Rivers (97.2) and Rodgers (97.6). Of those quarterbacks ahead of Brady, only Young has a Super Bowl title to his name. Manning had a rating of 105.6 today against Jacksonville in a 34-24 win over the Jaguars.

- Cornerback Chevis Jackson probably spoke a little bit more with Bill Belichick this week since he played with Flynn when the two were at LSU. Both are in their fourth NFL seasons. Jackson was released by the Patriots on Saturday, as they signed running back Tony Carter to the 53-man roster.

- The Patriots have won 16 straight at Gillette Stadium against NFC opponents and are 16-1 all-time. Their only loss was to Brett Favre and the Pack in their first game against an NFC team in the new stadium on Oct. 13, 2002.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Green Bay Packers, LSU, Matt Flynn

Ten Final Thoughts on Patriots-Packers

12.19.10 at 2:56 pm ET
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With kickoff looming, here are 10 final thoughts on Patriots-Packers:

1. Not saying he’s going to play his usual amount of snaps ‘€” which, before his rib injury last week, was almost 100 percent of the time ‘€” but I’d be shocked if rookie cornerback Devin McCourty was inactive. You don’t talk to the media unless they’re pretty sure you’re going to play, and McCourty was awful chatty with reporters in the locker room on Friday.

2. In the same vein, I’d be surprised if Gerard Warren is unable to go. He has been dogged by a knee injury, but held court in the locker room on multiple occasions this week, and was back at practice on Friday. In just his first season with the Patriots, Warren has done a great job incorporating himself into the mix. Vince Wilfork was effusive in his praise of “Big Money” this week. “He’€™s a helluva player, a helluva person,” Wilfork said. “But it’€™s easy when you can have a veteran, a 10-year vet come in and adjust to a new system and catch on. And he’€™s done that. Everything we’€™ve asked of him, he’€™s done it. He’€™s taught people, the rookies. Even me. We sat down and watch film all the time. It’€™s very special when you sit back and hear him talk about the game itself. He’€™s very, very smart, so I’€™m happy to have him on this side with me, and he makes my job a little easier at times and probably vice-versa.’€

3. When it comes to Tom Brady, the big number to watch for Sunday is 40 ‘€” Brady has now gone 268 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. The record is 308, set by Bernie Kosar a mark he set between the 1990 and 1991 seasons.

4. Something tells me that cornerback Chevis Jackson ‘€” who was released on Saturday ‘€” will rejoin the Patriots roster sooner rather than later. Just feels like it was one of those one-week roster moves.

5. All that talk of a Sunday night Nor’easter appears to be over and done ‘€” a check of reveals that while there’s some expected precipitation in the area Sunday night, it’s not going to be the nasty storm that was projected earlier in the week. Temps should be in the 30′s, with a 30 percent chance of snow. Not ideal, but not the weather event that was originally expected.
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Patriots sign cornerback Tony Carter to active roster

12.18.10 at 4:38 pm ET
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The Patriots have signed cornerback Tony Carter to the active roster from their practice squad, the team announced. The move comes at a time when rookie cornerback Devin McCourty has been dealing with injured ribs.

Carter was signed to the Patriots’ practice squad in Sept., one week after he was cut by the Broncos. Signed by Denver as an undrafted free agent out of Florida State in 2009, he spent most of last year with the Broncos before joining the active roster for the final three games of the season. He appeared in two games and started one.

The Patriots made room for Carter by waiving Chevis Jackson, who signed a two-year deal with New England last week after being waived by the Jaguars. The 25-year-old Jackson did not appear in a game for the Pats, though he has played in 60 career games.

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Read More: Chevis Jackson, Devin McCourty, Tony Carter,

Packers rule Aaron Rodgers out for Sunday

12.18.10 at 12:35 pm ET
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The Packers have ruled out quarterback Aaron Rodgers for Sunday night’s game against the Patriots. Rodgers, who had been listed as “doubtful” all week because of a concussion he suffered in last Sunday’s loss to the Lions, will step aside as Green Bay goes with backup Matt Flynn. Sunday will mark the first career start for Flynn, who entered the game last week for the Packers after Rodgers’ injury. Flynn, an LSU product, has completed 25-of-46 pass attempts for 246 yards and 2 interceptions in 27 career games, all as a backup.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Matt Flynn,

Danny Woodhead tries to sell some Danny Woodhead jerseys at Modell’s

12.17.10 at 9:47 pm ET
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This is exactly what the title suggests ‘€” Patriots running back Danny Woodhead goes undercover at Modell’s to try and get some people to buy Danny Woodhead gear (either T-shirts or game jerseys) with some interesting results:

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Six Patriots questionable for Sunday’s game against Packers

12.17.10 at 4:18 pm ET
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Six Patriots ‘€” defensive lineman Ron Brace, tight end Aaron Hernandez, cornerback Devin McCourty, nose tackle Myron Pryor, defensive lineman Gerard Warren and defensive lineman Mike Wright ‘€” are all questionable for Sunday’s game against the Packers. Here’s the complete report:

Did Not Participate
DL Ron Brace (concussion) questionable
TE Aaron Hernandez (flu) questionable
DL Myron Pryor (back) questionable
DL Mike Wright (concussion) questionable

Limited Participation
CB Devin McCourty (rib) questionable
DL Gerard Warren (knee) questionable
WR Deion Branch (knee) probable
CB Darius Butler (thigh) probable
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder/foot) probable

Full Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (elbow) probable

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Stephen Neal wrestling with another football decision

12.17.10 at 3:21 pm ET
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FOXBORO — A man most noted for his 1999 NCAA wrestling title over MMA and WWE superstar Brock Lesnar, Patriots right guard Stephen Neal is still debating his future in the NFL after having another surgery on his right shoulder two weeks ago.

In the last three years, Neal has had chronic problems with the shoulder, to the point where last year he openly wondered if he would return to the game he loved so much. But his rehab last winter went so well that he signed a two-year extension with the Patriots on March 5.

This year, he started eight games, the last coming in Cleveland on Nov. 7. But the shoulder problems again cropped up and he was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Dec. 2. He had surgery soon thereafter.

“It was bothering me for a little bit and it never came back around like I’d like it to,” Neal said on Friday in front of his locker. “I don’t think I’d be able to help the team that much until I got it cleaned up.

“I think I’ve had so many issues on my one shoulder. It just wasn’t working too good.”

Is he again wondering about his future in the NFL at 34?

“Definitely do that later,” Neal said. “You want to go through rehab and expect to come and keep doing stuff because if you go through rehab without hopes of returning, you’re not going to do a good job rehabbing. Just evaluate things later.”

Neal’s last game was the first game back for Logan Mankins, who along with Dan Connolly and Dan Koppen have manned the interior of the offensive line very well.

“It’s great,” Neal said. “Logan’s come back and Connolly’s done a great job on the left and the right. [Ryan] Wendell has popped in there, done a great job. It’s good to see just everyone, offense, defense, clicking right now.

“Pretty much all I’m focusing on is rehabbing, rehabbing and not being a distraction to these guys. Let them do their thing, I’ll come and do my rehab and get in and out of here. It’s frustrating but it’s part of the sport. You sign up for the good things but the bad things happen, too. You can’t get too upset about it.”

Neal’s unique story is a familiar one to Patriots fans. A native of San Diego, he did not play football in college. Instead he was one of the top wrestlers in the nation at Cal State-Bakersfield, where he posted a 151-10 record.

He placed fourth in NCAA Division I as a freshman and second as a sophomore before winning titles his junior and senior year. His final title in 1999 came via a win over Lesnar, the future NCAA wrestling champion, WWE Champion and UFC heavyweight champion.

In 1999, Neal won the Dan Hodge Award – known as the Heisman Trophy of wrestling – following a year in which he won the U.S. Freestyle Championship, the Pan-American Games title and the World Championship. at 286 pounds.

In 1999 he also won the FILA outstanding wrestler award, an honor given to the best wrestler in the world. His 1999 season led up to the 2000 Summer Olympics trials where Kerry McCoy edged him for the trip to Sydney. After the trials, Neal retired from amateur wrestling.

Now, Neal is trying to determine whether he has a similar fate awaiting him in the off-season.

Read More: Brock Lesnar, Dan Hodge, Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins
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