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Pierre Woods back with Patriots

11.17.10 at 12:04 pm ET
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The Patriots on Wednesday announced the signing of linebacker Pierre Woods, who had been released by the team on Sept. 4. A 6-foot-5, 255-pounder, Woods joined the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Michigan in 2006 and played four seasons with New England before his release. In 52 games, he has 48 tackles on defense and 62 on special teams.

The roster spot became available when Shawn Crable was released Tuesday.

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James Sanders named AFC Defensive Player of Week

11.17.10 at 11:00 am ET
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Safety James Sanders was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday for his performance in Sunday night’s 39-26 win over the Steelers. Sanders’ highlight was his fourth-quarter interception that he returned 32 yards for a touchdown.

Sanders is the first Patriots player to win a Player of the Week award this season, and it’s the first time in his career that Sanders has been so honored.

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The Big Nickel: Looking back at Tom Brady’s big night, wondering who could replace Dallas Clark and … Kirsten Dunst?

11.16.10 at 7:44 pm ET
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The five most things you need to know about the Patriots on Tuesday:

1. With an extra day to take a closer look at Tom Brady‘€™s performance against the Steelers, the guys over at Football Outsiders suggest that given the fact that it came against the Pittsburgh defense, it could be one of the finest single-game performance of his career.

FO’€™s Bill Barnwell writes that Brady’€™s line against the Steelers ‘€” 31-for-43 for 350 yards and three touchdowns ‘€” certainly deserves a spot in the pantheon of Brady’€™s best games. As part of an in-depth look at Brady’s night, Barnwell notes the quarterback was ‘€œdevastating when the Patriots threw downfield against the Steelers,’€ writing ‘€œon passes thrown 15 yards past the line of scrimmage or more, Brady was 5-of-7 for 132 yards and two scores. Before Sunday, the Steelers had 53 such passes thrown against them and allowed just 28 completions.’€

As for Brady, he said Tuesday that Sunday’€™s game came down to some great plays by his pass catchers, singling out tight end Rob Gronkowski on his first touchdown reception, as well as the work of Brandon Tate, Alge Crumpler, Wes Welker and Deion Branch in the passing game and BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the running game.

‘€œWe say that all the time, you know, you’€™ve got to go out and make plays. And certainly you go out there not to lose and not to turn it over, that’€™s important,’€ Brady told WEEI. ‘€œBut, ultimately it’€™s got to come down to guys making plays, and we were making plays the other night.’€

2. Peyton Manning has been without his most reliable option since last month, when the Colts placed tight end Dallas Clark on season-ending injured reserve with a wrist problem. (Indianapolis has put 12 players on season-ending IR this year.) The two, who former one of the most prolific quarterback/tight end combos in NFL history ‘€” they have paired for 44 touchdown passes, one behind all-time leaders and former Patriots’€™ Drew Bledsoe and Ben Coates ‘€” have tormented the Patriots over the years.

But on Sunday, the Patriots will see an all new offense, including Jacob Tamme, a 25-year-old who has stepped in at tight end in place of Clark this season and has 24 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns. (Tamme was reportedly a little dinged up in Sunday’s win over the Bengals.)

According to Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the Colts haven’€™t made many changes to their offense since Clark went down. While they still lean heavily on wide receiver Reggie Wayne, Belichick said they still run the same offense they have in the past, a grouping that includes new faces like Tamme and a handful of other relatively anonymous pass catchers.

‘€œ[Jacob] Tamme’€™s done a good job for them there. They’€™ve really played four different tight ends, primarily three, after Clark, so, they use a lot of different people, different combinations,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œIt comes down to team offense. They’€™re effective moving the ball regardless of who the tight end is or who anybody is. [If] you take something away from them, they find somewhere else to go.

‘€œClark did a great job for them, but Tamme’€™s stepped in and done a good job. They’€™ve gotten production from their other receivers, from [Austin] Collie, [Pierre] Garcon and I know other guys they’€™ve used in there, as well. Blair White‘€™s done a good job for them. They’€™re definitely able to use their other tight ends: [Brody] Eldridge and [Gijon] Robinson. They’€™re able to still continue to make the defense defend everything, take the play and go to the weak spots that the defense gives them.’€
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Read More: Ben Coates, Bill Barnwell, Bill Belichick, Dallas Clark

Patriots release linebacker Shawn Crable

11.16.10 at 6:07 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Tuesday evening they have released linebacker Shawn Crable. The Michigan product, a third-round pick of New England back in 2008, played in six games in 2010 and registered four total tackles, a half a sack and one special teams tackle. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Crable was inactive for the first eight games of the 2008 season before finishing the year on injured reserve. He spent the entire 2009 season on injured reserve, and was released by the Patriots on July 28 and signed to the practice squad on September 6. He was signed from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Sept. 25.

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Tom Brady on D&C: ‘Nothing personal out there’

11.16.10 at 1:05 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined Dennis & Callahan for his weekly interview and talked about the emotions he displays on the field, the win over the Steelers and prepping for the Colts.

To hear the whole interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Asked about his interactions with teammates, Brady said, “My emotions go up and down and so do theirs. They say the same things back to me and I just, I want them to know, and they do know that, that it’€™s all in the best interest of us trying to accomplish our goal each week. And it’€™s not, there’€™s nothing personal out there towards anybody. There’€™s plenty of times were they want to scream at me but, you know, I don’€™t think you’€™re going to have a good football team if everyone’€™s in a happy mood all the time. I think there are guys that are very edgy and we have plenty of those guys on our team, especially our coach.”

Asked about his foot injury, Brady said, “You get the adrenaline going, it helps a lot. There’s a lot of people dealing with stuff. The entire team is nicked up.”

More from the conversation after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dennis & Callahan, Tom Brady,

WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 11

11.16.10 at 6:34 am ET
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Fresh off a dominating win in Pittsburgh, Tom Brady and the Patriots soar back to the No. 1 slot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The 2010 NFL season has been a strange one to say the least. There has yet to be a team to emerge as one of the league’s elite. However, a few teams have shown signs of greatness. The New York Jets (No. 2) fall into that category. The J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets irked out another victory in overtime and are on the doorstep of being called “the best”.

Two NFC teams jump into the top five. Michael Vick’s former team (Falcons No. 3) and his current team (Eagles No. 4)  represent the NFC well at the top. Matt Ryan and the Falcons won again at home against a strong Ravens squad. Meanwhile, the Eagles dominated their game against the Redskins in which they opened up the first quarter with 28 points (the best start for a road team, ever).

Finally, the No. 32 spot is occupied by a new owner. After a Bills victory, the Carolina Panthers now have the unpleasant title of “Worst team in the league”.

1. (5) 7-2 Every NFL team has a bad game. It’s how they respond the following week that shows how good they really are. The Pats once again bounced back from a loss, learned from their mistakes, and put a W in the column. Under the leadership of Bill Belichick, the Patriots are now 23-2 following a loss since 2003. The win in Pittsburgh is by-far their most impressive this year. They played physical, mistake-free football and made a statement across the league.

2. (3) 7-2 The Jets have overcome their poor play and mistakes the past two weeks on the road and have come out victorious both times. This team finds ways to win and that’s a trait of a great football team. They still have areas to improve in but you have to give Rex Ryan’s club credit for pulling through. The progression of Mark Sanchez from his rookie year to this year has to make other AFC teams concerned.

3. (6) 7-2 The Falcons showed a lot of grit coming back from a 13-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Great teams are able to overcome those types of deficits against worthy opponents. The Falcons proved that they should be in the conversation of “best team in football right now.”

4. (9) 6-3 Wow. Just an unbelievable performance Monday night from the Eagles offense. This Mike Vick led offense is a scoring machine and a nightmare to defend. The Eagles showed Monday they can put up an abundant amount of points in a short period of time. Vick has established that he can now pass the ball just as well as he can run it.

5. (1) 6-3 Last week’s No. 1 team played well and was on the brink of victory on the road in Atlanta. In a year when no team has emerged as elite, the Ravens still should be considered one of the best in the league.   Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: NFL Power Rankings,

Bill Belichick on the Big Show: The challenges of a short week

11.15.10 at 6:49 pm ET
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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, in his weekly appearance on The Big Show, discussed his team’s victory on Sunday night over the Steelers as well as the challenge of having a short week to prepare for the Colts. He acknowledged that, in an effort to leave behind the Steelers game and start preparing for Indianapolis, it was a “short night,” but that such a challenge would “feel a lot worse if you had fewer points [against Pittsburgh].”

Belichick explained that when preparing for a short week — whether coming off of a Sunday night or Monday night game, or, as will be the case after facing the Colts on Sunday and getting ready for a Thanksgiving Thursday game against the Lions — the Patriots try to do as much advance game-planning as possible over the summer.

“One of the things we try to do is in the offseason, when we know we have a short week, we really try to make sure that we put a little bit of extra time into those teams in the offseason,” said Belichick. “We start the process with the team, that we can have everything that we can get already from last year in the offseason, thoughts in talking to other coaches and so forth that you can get done ahead of time as much as you can. You know you are crammed for time on a short week. Next week in Detroit will be a real good example of that.

“When you look at your schedule at the beginning of the season, you have as much information as you can and you have three of four of those [short weeks]. And you try to make sure to do that work, so that when you get to those games you have as much information as you can. You still have a lot to do.”

The Colts already present a formidable challenge for a number of reasons, both because of the frequency with which the Patriots play them (“one of our three non-division division games,” chuckled Belichick) and because of the ability of Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning to read and adapt to defenses. Even though the Colts have suffered a number of injuries to key members of their offense, Belichick suggested that their offense remained both familiar and successful because of Manning.

“It starts with Peyton. He does a great job of running the offense,” said Belichick. “I think when you watch a play, you’€™re going to look at them and recognize them as the Colts.”

To listen to the entire interview, click here. For complete team coverage,

Read More: Big Show, Bill Belichick, Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning
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