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Halftime notes: Patriots hold 21-10 lead on Jets

10.20.13 at 2:30 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD — After two quarters at MetLife Stadium. the Patriots hold a 21-10 lead on the Jets. Tom Brady is 11-for-18 for 102 yards, while Rob Gronkowski has four catches for 54 yards in his return. On the other side of the ball, Geno Smith is 10-for-18 for 159 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

Here are a few quick notes:

‘€¢The Jets got things started early with a 25-yard connection from Smith to Jeff Cumberland, kickstarting an opening drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Jeremy Kerley that made it 7-0 with 9:43 left in the first quarter. New York was 3-for-3 on third downs on its first drive, and on the touchdown pass, it was a well-executed play where cornerback Kyle Arrington played the inside, and Kerley went out.

‘€¢On defense, the Patriots are shuffling up their defensive fronts, trying to disguise some of their deficiencies. They’ve had Chris Jones, Marcus Forston and Joe Vellano up front in a 3-4 with Chandler Jones standing up, and Chris Jones and Vellano as the defensive tackles in a more traditional four-man front that had Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich at their traditional defensive end spots.

‘€¢ For New England, the defensive highlight of the first half came late in the first quarter when Patriots rookie cornerback Logan Ryan jumped in front of a Smith pass and took it back 79 yards for the touchdown to make it 14-7 New England. Despite the pick — which marked the 34th straight game the Patriots have forced a takeaway, and the eighth interception of the season — it’s clear the New England secondary is having some issues without Aqib Talib in the lineup. The Jets were able to convert on their first six third-down chances, thanks in large part to impressive pass plays between Smith and his receivers. It’s clear Smith is a better quarterback than what he showed in the Week 2 matchup between the Patriots and Jets in Foxboro.

‘€¢ It’s also clear the offense missed Gronkowski — the big tight end, with a big black wrap on his left arm, accounted for 42 of the 80 yards on the first drive of the game, including a big catch in Jets territory that set up the Patriots first touchdown of the game, a 1-yard plunge for Brandon Bolden that tied the game at seven late in the first quarter. While it’s clear his snaps are being monitored in his first game back (not unlike how the Patriots utilized Danny Amendola in his first game back against the Bengals a couple of weeks ago), his impact is undeniable. He’s consistently drawn double coverage, and his left arm has held up well to this point in the game.

‘€¢ Give Julian Edelman credit for the third touchdown of the day — even though he didn’t catch a pass on the drive, he had a sweet 38-yard punt return that set the Patriots up in excellent position. And thanks to a key third-down penalty against the Jets, New England was able to punch it in on a 17-yard run for Stevan Ridley, his third touchdown of the season. That made it 21-10 late in the second quarter.

‘€¢ There were no major injuries in the first half.

Inactive analysis: Rob Gronkowski good to go against Jets

10.20.13 at 11:38 am ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD — Here are the seven inactives for the Patriots for Sunday’s game about the Jets — a group that doesn’t include tight end Rob Gronkowski for the first time all season — and what their status means for the team:

Defensive lineman Tommy Kelly: The veteran suffered a knee injury in the second half of the loss to the Bengals, and hasn’t been back at practice since. He was one of three who were ruled out on Friday. As they did last week, expect rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones to get the bulk of the reps in place of Kelly and Vince Wilfork. It will be interesting to see if the Jets try and test the youngsters up front.

Running back/returner Leon Washington: Also ruled out on Friday, the veteran has struggled with ankle and thigh issues to this point in the season, and has played in just two of the six games to this point in the season. Brandon Bolden — who has been struggling with a knee issue — will likely see the bulk of the work as the third-down and kick returning option if he’s healthy.

Wide receiver Danny Amendola: Amendola suffered a groin injury in the opener against the Bills, and returned to the lineup earlier this month against the Bengals. However, he took a hellacious shot in the second half of the win over the Saints, and was held out of practice this week with a concussion.

Cornerback Aqib Talib: The veteran went down with a hip injury in the second half of the win over New Orleans, and while he returned to the practice field on Friday, wasn’t deemed healthy enough to go against the Jets. (He was ruled out Saturday night.) Expect much of the burden at the cornerback spot to fall to Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan and Marquice Cole. There’s also the possibility that Devin McCourty moves over from safety to get some reps at corner — he did it on a part-time basis last week after Talib went down against the Saints.

Defensive back Tavon Wilson: The safety has been struggling with a hamstring issue the last few weeks, and was limited in practice all week. Like Talib, he was downgraded Saturday.

Offensive lineman Chris Barker: A healthy scratch, the offensive lineman has played one game this season.

Wide receiver Josh Boyce: The rookie out of TCU was a healthy scratch last week against the Saints, as veteran Austin Collie was able to pick up a handful of snaps in his place.

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Fantasy Football Live Chat: Which players to sit, start in Week 7, 11 a.m.

10.20.13 at 6:40 am ET
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Join WEEI.com/Rotobahn fantasy football expert Pete Davidson in a live chat, starting at 11 a.m. Sunday. Davidson will answer all your question regarding which players to start and sit for Week 7 of the NFL season.

 

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Patriots rule out Aqib Talib, Tavon Wilson

10.19.13 at 8:21 pm ET
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The Patriots made it official Saturday night, announcing that Aqib Talib has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Jets with a hip injury.

The team also announced that safety Tavon Wilson has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Receiver Danny Amendola (concussion), defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (knee) and running back Leon Washington (ankle) were ruled out on Friday. That means the Patriots will need to scratch only two more players on Sunday morning.

Talib, after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday, returned Friday but was only able to partially take part in stretching exercises.

Talib suffered what is believed to be a hip flexor strain in the second half last Sunday in a win over the Saints. He attempted to return after the initial injury but could not stay for the rest of the game, coming out of the game for good when he slammed his helmet to the turf in frustration.

Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington are the likely starters in the defensive backfield with Devin McCourty remaining at safety with Steve Gregory, depending on matchups.

Meanwhile, there was no announcement on Rob Gronkowski, leading to more anticipation and expectation that will indeed make his 2013 debut on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The tight end made the trip with the team on Saturday for the first time in four road games this season, according to a report by the Boston Herald.

Gronkowski has been inactive for the first six games as he recovered from offseason back and forearm surgeries. When he does return, it will mark the first action for any Patriots receiver from 2012 that finished in the team’s top five in receptions.

On Friday, Gronkowski’s agent Drew Rosenhaus announced in a statement to the media that Gronkowski has been medically cleared to play by all doctors involved in the situation. Hours later, a promotional video starring Gronkowski was released detailing his work on the rehab road back to playing.

Report: Rob Gronkowski travels to New York, Aqib Talib stays home, out for Sunday

10.19.13 at 2:53 pm ET
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It appears Rob Gronkowski will indeed make his 2013 debut on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The tight end made the trip with the team on Saturday for the first time in four road games this season, according to a report by the Boston Herald.

Gronkowski has been inactive for the first six games as he recovered from offseason back and forearm surgeries. When he does return, it will mark the first action for any Patriots receiver from 2012 that finished in the team’s top five in receptions.

On Friday, Gronkowski’s agent Drew Rosenhaus announced in a statement to the media that Gronkowski has been medically cleared to play by all doctors involved in the situation. Hours later, a promotional video starring Gronkowski was released detailing his work on the rehab road back to playing.

The news is not as promising for Aqib Talib. The Herald, according to the same source, says the cornerback stayed home with his hip flexor strain and will be ruled out later on Saturday night when the team revises its injury report for Sunday. Talib, after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday, returned Friday but was only able to partially take part in stretching exercises.

Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington are the likely starters in the defensive backfield with Devin McCourty remaining at safety with Steve Gregory, depending on matchups. Receiver Danny Amendola (concussion), defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (knee) and running back Leon Washington (ankle) were ruled out on Friday.

Read More: Aqib Talib, New England Patriots, New York Jets, nfl

10 things you have to know about Patriots-Jets

10.19.13 at 12:12 pm ET
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Here’€™s everything you need to know about Sunday’€™s Patriots-Jets game.

Our three favorite matchups on the afternoon:

1. Running back Stevan Ridley against the Jets run defense —
The Patriots are 4-0 when they rush for 100 yards or more as a team, and Ridley has re-emerged as the lead back in New England. Ridley ran for a season-high 96 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Saints defense, and will look to build on that going forward. It certainly won’€™t be easy, as the New York run defense is one of the best in the league — it allows 75.7 rushing yards per game, second-best in the NFL, and is led by an imposing front that includes defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (6-foot-4, 315 pounds), nose tackle Damon ‘€œSnacks’€ Harrison (6-foot-4, 350 pounds) and rookie Sheldon Richardson (6-foot-2, 294 pounds). One of the reasons the Jets have done so well against the run is because they are an excellent first-down defense: Through the first six games, New York is best in the league when it comes to first-down defense, allowing an average of 3.41 yards per play on first down. Their successes on first down creates a domino effect for the rest of the defense. A run of three yards or less on first down creates second-and-long situations, and that certainly isn’€™t a running play. With the defense aware that they’€™ve likely made you a one-dimensional team, they’€™re free to unleash blitz packages ‘€” a Rex Ryan favorite. Expect the Patriots to try and spread them out a bit early by trying to pass the ball, and then look for chances to run when New York goes to nickel and dime packages in hopes of slowing down the New England passing game.

2. Defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich against Jets offensive line and quarterback Geno Smith —
 These pass-rushing defensive ends have to dial back their initial instincts and worry about containment, smarts and gap discipline instead of pursuit. Smith has shown an ability to make plays with his feet when the pocket breaks down, and it’€™s absolutely key that the defensive ends keep Smith in the pocket and prevent him from taking off when a play breaks down. Over the first six games, he has 22 carries for 114 yards, with much of that yardage coming when he takes off and runs after a play breaks down. In their first meeting, Jones and Ninkovich were able to do a good job keeping Smith bottled up in the pocket — he ended up with three carries for 17 yards. The policy of containment worked, as he got a little jittery in the pocket, and that led to mistakes. He was sacked four times and threw three picks. Those errors started with Ninkovich and Jones keeping him contained in the pocket.

3. Tight end Rob Gronkowski against overwhelming expectations —
Gronkowski has been cleared to play this week by his doctors, but it might be expecting too much to see him immediately step in and be the All-Pro tight end he was prior to his injury. If he plays Sunday, it will be his first game action since Jan. 13, a span of more than nine months, and just his third game since last Nov. 18 when he suffered his forearm injury against the Colts. Regardless of how well he’€™s looked in practice since early September, it takes time to build up the stamina needed to go four quarters of game action. (Remember, his team has played four preseason games and six regular season games to this point, a ‘€œluxury’€ that Gronkowski hasn’€™t had.) It wouldn’€™t be a surprise to see Gronkowski rotated back into the lineup gradually on Sunday, as the team takes its cue from how he feels mentally and physically as the game goes on. Think of how the Patriots utilized Danny Amendola two weeks ago against the Bengals — the receiver, who was seeing his first action since suffering a Week 1 injury against the Bills, played 39 of a possible 63 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. It wouldn’€™t be a surprise to see Gronkowski on something of a snap count Sunday against the Jets.

4. Under-the-radar opponent Patriots fans need to know ‘€“
 With the Jets receiving corps a bit of a mess, tight end Jeff Cumberland has emerged as a go-to guy for quarterback Geno Smith over the last few games with 11 catches (on 13 targets) for 198 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Cumberland isn’€™t an obvious mention when you talk about the elite-level tight ends across the league, but he has put up respectable numbers over the last few weeks, as he has taken advantage of the fact that tight end Kellen Winslow is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’€™s policy on performance enhancers. He had four catches for 59 yards last week against the Steelers, and with the New England secondary and linebacking corps in a state of flux because of the injuries to Aqib Talib and Jerod Mayo, he could present a complicated matchup for the Patriots pass defense.

5. By the numbers:
Since the divisions were realigned in 2002, New England is 8-3 when it’s faced New York the second time in the same season — the Jets got the better of the Patriots in the second game of the matchup in 2002, 2006 and 2008. But over the last four-plus years, it’€™s been all New England the second time around. The last four seasons, the average score of the second game between the Patriots and Jets is 41-13 New England.

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Bill Belichick gives insight to how Patriots might replace Aqib Talib

10.19.13 at 11:06 am ET
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FOXBORO — While Aqub Talib returned to the practice field Friday morning, he was officially listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report and is not expected to play Sunday when the Patriots play the Jets at MetLife Stadium.

How will the Patriots replace him if he indeed misses the game?

Last week, Devin McCourty moved over to corner on some nickel packages and helped “shield” Jimmy Graham in coverage, with rookie safety Duron Harmon filling in. On some other snaps, with the Patriots employing only four defensive backs, McCourty stayed at safety while rookie corner Logan Ryan was worked into coverage.

So, in a situation like last week, what goes into the decision to move McCourty down to cornerback and move someone into Devin’€™s spot at safety or moving someone else in at cornerback?

“Really, that’€™s something we handle during the week,” Belichick said Friday. “I don’€™t think you want to get into the game and start, ‘€˜Well, what are we going to do now?’€™ You go through that during the week and you talk to each player about their responsibilities, what have for the game, who’€™s backing up who, who’€™s in what personnel grouping and so forth and you practice it that way. There are plays in practice, where the right corner is out, the left corner is out, the left safety is out, the right safety is out, the middle linebacker is out. We take those guys out and somebody else either moves or we substitute for them or whatever we do. The problem usually comes in on any team if you lose two people at one position then that’€™s where the wheel starts spinning pretty fast usually.

“So if you lose two of anything ‘€“two quarterbacks, two running backs, two tackles, two linebackers, two corners, two of anything ‘€“ nobody really ahs much depth to be able to handle that or it would be rare. Maybe you could handle it in one or two positions but you wouldn’€™t be able to handle it across the board, you’€™d have to move quickly. So in practice the one position move is, that’€™s I won’€™t say it’€™s easy, but I think that’€™s something that you go through as normal procedure. It’€™s that second move that you have to be prepared for but it’€™s hard to have enough depth, like I said, at every position to back every position up with two people. I mean, you’€™ve got to be able to do it, but that’€™s a little more of a scramble.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan
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