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Stephen Neal on D&H: ‘It’s a rough sport’

10.22.10 at 10:32 am ET
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Stephen Neal

Stephen Neal

Patriots offensive lineman Stephen Neal made his weekly Patriots Friday appearance on Dale & Holley to talk about the team’s game against the Chargers on Sunday in San Diego. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

The Chargers have been a different team in San Diego as compared to when they play on the road.

“It’s kind of strange how you have the home team, and they get out there, and they get after it, fast-starting team,” Neal said. “And then you get the road team, and they just haven’t played as well on the road. Unfortunately, we’ve got to play them at [their] home this week. You’ve just to execute against them and hopefully do all the right stuff, and hopefully you’ll come out and get in front of them and play from ahead and do pretty well.”

Neal said he has not yet watched the league’s instructional video on avoiding hits to the head. As an offensive lineman, he’s less likely to be involved in such plays. “I’m not exactly sure how that rule is,” he said. “I’ve never tried to hit someone in their helmet, because you hit someone in their helmet, you’re probably going to get a concussion, too. I just try to go and make the block as best you can.”

Neal indicated that he empathizes with players who are trying to be physical but are being penalized for their overaggressiveness. “It’s a rough sport,” he said. “I guess [league officials] are trying to do whatever they can for the safety of the players. I can understand that.”

Read More: Stephen Neal,

Nuggetpalooza’s Patriots-Chargers preview!

10.22.10 at 9:12 am ET
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nuggetpalooza-small5Great win last week by the Pats. HUGE disaster potential this week in San Diego. New England is going to need its defense to continue the improvement it showed last Sunday, and the offense has to put points on the board. This San Diego team is scary.  Especially if Antonio Gates is able to play.

Here’s a bunch of stuff to help you break these two teams down:

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* – New England has scored five miscellaneous touchdowns in 2010 (two kickoff returns, two interception returns, return of a blocked field goal). That’s tied with Arizona for the most in the league. San Diego has ALLOWED six miscellaneous touchdowns (two kickoff returns, two fumble returns, a punt return, return of a blocked punt), easily the most in the league.

Out of 37 miscellaneous touchdowns in the league this season, the Patriots or Chargers have been involved in 11 of them (30 percent).

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* – San Diego has lost nine fumbles this season already, the most in the NFL. However, New England’s defense has forced fumbles on just 0.8 percent of opponent offensive touches, the lowest percentage in the league. They have recovered just one fumble by an opponent all season (tied for last).

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* – Moss fallout? New England’s wide receivers averaged just 3.44 yards after the catch last weekend against Baltimore, their lowest average in the last 18 games and just the second time since at least 2003 that they’ve averaged less than 3.50 YAC despite 15 or more catches.

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* – Over the last two games, the Patriots are 4-for-4 on passes to their tight end caught behind the line of scrimmage. So what, you ask? Well, they had attempted only one such pass in their last 25 previous games. More evidence of an offense evolving beyond Randy Moss?

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* – The Chargers are throwing deeper passes to their wideouts than any team in the NFL this season. Their average reception has come 13.7 yards downfield. That’s on pace to be the highest mark since at least 2003. New England’s wide receivers have made their catches an average of 5.3 yards downfield, the shortest passes in the league and on pace to be the first sub-6.00 mark in the NFL since at least 2003.

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* – The Patriots have rolled up 18 or more first downs in 21 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the league. And look who is second:

21 – Patriots
16 – Chargers
6 – Colts

The 21-game streak is three games shy of the longest in the league since 1991, set by the Saints last season.

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Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers, Randy Moss, Tom Brady

Jerod Mayo on D&C: Brandon Meriweather hit ‘changed game’ vs. Ravens

10.22.10 at 7:28 am ET
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Jerod Mayo

Jerod Mayo

Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show early Friday morning for his weekly appearance and spent much of the conversation discussing the head-hits controversy. Mayo said the team watched the league’s video on how to avoid such hits.

“We have seen it,” he said. “We didn’t really learn anything new. We knew not to launch, not to lead with your head, things like that.”

However, Mayo did admit it can be difficult to avoid contact with the head. “It’s kind of hard hitting a moving target when you’re running full speed and he’s running full speed,” he said. “You’ve kind of got to aim a little lower now.”

Mayo predicted a player somewhere will draw the ire of the league office this weekend. “I think so,” he said. “I think it will take a little time to adjust to the new rules. I think we’ll get a suspension this week somewhere.”

Asked if he considered walking away from the NFL like Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Mayo said: “No thought at all. It’s a great job. You just have to change the way you play a little bit.”

Talking about teammate Brandon Meriweather‘s hit on Ravens tight end Todd Heap last Sunday, Mayo said the hit did have an affect on the game. “I wouldn’t say it gave us a spark, but at the same time, it kind of kept them out of the middle of the field, and that’s what we needed,” he said, adding: “That hit kind of changed the game a little bit. Yeah, I would say that.”

Looking at Sunday’s opponent, Mayo said the Patriots expect to get the Chargers team that has been a force at its home stadium, as opposed to the one that has struggled on the road. “That Chargers team is like night and day. That home team is great,” he said, adding: “It’s a tough trip. It’s a six-hour flight. That’s why we’re leaving a day early.

Asked to describe his game’s strong points, Mayo said: “Being able to diagnose plays and sift through traffic and make some tackles, to be honest with you. Some people can’t really diagnose the plays fast enough, and they’ll be a step behind.”

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, Jerod Mayo,

Chargers Injury Report for Thursday: Gates doesn’t practice

10.21.10 at 7:22 pm ET
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Chargers Practice Report for Thursday
Did Not Participate

WR Buster Davis (ribs)
LB Larry English (foot)
WR Malcolm Floyd (hamstring)
TE Antonio Gates (toe)
K Nate Kaeding (groin)
WR Legedu Naanee (hamstring)

Full Participation
RB Ryan Mathews (ankle)

Read More: Chargers, injury report,

Pats Injury Report: Taylor, Page are DNPs

10.21.10 at 7:18 pm ET
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Patriots Injury Report for Thursday
Did Not Participate

RB Fred Taylor (toe)
S Jarrad Page (calf)

Limited Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
WR Julian Edelman (head)

Full Participation
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
S James Sanders (hamstring)

Read More: injury report, Patriots,

Pats practice: Edelman back from concussion

10.21.10 at 1:39 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Wide receiver and return specialist Julian Edelman returned to practice on Thursday as the Patriots worked out in full pads on the upper practice fields in preparation for the San Diego Chargers this weekend in Southern California. Edelman missed Wednesday after suffering a concussion on Sunday.

Running back Fred Taylor (toe) and safety Jarrad Page (calf) were the only two players missing from the open portion of Patriots practice.

Taylor has missed the last two games since injuring a toe during the game against Buffalo on Sept. 26 at Gillette Stadium.

Read More: Fred Taylor, Jarrad Page, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Chung to NFL: ‘We’ll follow the rules’

10.21.10 at 12:59 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It’s not that he’s trying to sound disrespectful but Patrick Chung wants everyone to know that the Patriots already know how to tackle the right way.

The Patriots safety, who teams with Brandon Meriweather in various defensive packages, said the new rules and penalties for head shots won’t change the way he plays the game since Chung believes they are already being coached the proper and legal way to deliver a hit.

“We can’t play any different,” Chung said before Thursday’s practice. “We’re going to play football, follow the rules and we’re going to play football.”

The NFL, which fined Meriweather $50,000 this week for his hit on Baltimore’s Todd Heap, has distributed videos to each team about what will be allowed and what will be subject to a new set of penalties designed to decrease the number of helmet-to-helmet hits around the league.

Chung added that the team hadn’t seen the videos from the league yet but added that he’s looking forward to watching them and they “should be in soon.”

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, New England Patriots, nfl, Patrick Chung
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