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Pressure Points: Which New England defenders have been the best job of getting after the quarterback through six games?

10.18.11 at 1:29 pm ET
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According to official NFL gamebooks, opposing quarterbacks have 235 dropbacks against the Patriots through six games this season, and have been hit by New England defenders a total of 27 times, to go along with ten sacks (23rd in the league). Here’€™s a breakdown of who has been getting to the quarterback for the Patriots through six games:

Quarterback hits:
Defensive end/linebacker Mark Anderson: Five
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: Four
Defensive end Andre Carter: Four
Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork: Three
Defensive lineman Myron Pryor: Three
Linebacker Rob Ninkovich: Three
Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth: Two
Defensive lineman Shaun Ellis: One
Defensive lineman Gerard Warren: One
Safety Pat Chung: One
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: One

Sacks:
Anderson: 3.5
Ninkovich: 1.5
Chung: One
Carter: 2.5
Wilfork: 0.5
Pryor: 0.5
Mike Wright: 0.5

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher

Faulk, Brace and Deaderick all return to the practice field

10.18.11 at 1:18 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Kevin Faulk completed one step of his journey back to football on Tuesday, when the veteran running back returned to the practice field with his teammates for the first time this season.

Three of the players who started the season on the physically unable to perform list — Faulk and defensive linemen Brandon Deaderick and Ron Brace — were all on the field at the start of practice Tuesday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Because they have started practicing, the Patriots now have up to three weeks to decide to put them on the active roster or injured reserve. Until then, they don’t count against the 53-man roster.

Faulk, who suffered a knee injury last September and was placed on season-ending injured reserve soon after that, said he got the word over the weekend that he would be allowed to start practicing on Tuesday with the rest of his teammates.

“Right now, my understanding is that I get to practice today. And that’s my mindset right now. I get to practice today, and tomorrow, we’ll see what happens,” said Faulk.

“My mindset, when we started I could have come back,” he said. “But that’s me. That’s just me being a competitor, me wanting to be out there with my teammates. I want to be out there with my team. Right now, I feel a lot better than I did back then. I think that’s just the process that you go through. (But) I’m just ready to go back out there. That’s all.”

As for Brace, he injured his elbow against Buffalo last December and had offseason surgery. Brace said today he is excited to finally get back on the field.

“I’m getting ready to get a little work in finally,” he told reporters. “I’m ready to get out there again and get some work in, finally.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick hinted on Tuesday that roster moves could be looming. There are two spots available on the 53-man roster as the Patriots waived safety Ross Ventrone and cornerback Sterling Moore yesterday.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Deaderick, Kevin Faulk, Ron Brace

Fantasy Football: Week 7 Waiver Wire

10.18.11 at 8:45 am ET
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Here are the big names on the week seven 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.

Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings

We liked what we saw in limited action. Ponder came in cold and looked the part. He made some solid reads and bought time with his feet. Minnesota is not a great place for a young QB, but he does have support on the ground in the form of Adrain Peterson. The offense looked completely different with Ponder versus Donovan McNabb at the helm. We think they will make the switch this week, but if they do go back to McNabb, it won’€™t last long. Ponder is a guy to grab in long term formats and large seasonal leagues. He is a pickup option only in very large formats.

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jaguars

Yes, Blaine Gabbert! His early number may not look great, but take them in proper context. He’€™s faced really tough defenses and he is a very young player with no typical rookie offseason. He also has meager weapons in comparison to Cam Newton and Andy Dalton. We’€™re pretty impressed with what we’€™ve seen so far. His schedule lightens up after this week.  He could be your bye week option for week 8, 9 or 11.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys

He is going to get his shot and if you own Felix Jones, you should already have him. DeMarco has eye-popping talent, so get him in all formats. He’€™s an aggressive runner who could post big numbers for the Cowboys and he’€™ll be active in the passing game too. Tashard Choice will also be a factor, but we expect Murray to separate himself and to get the bulk of the action.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

10.18.11 at 6:16 am ET
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Just one undefeated team remains after six weeks of football. As expected, the Packers (1) rolled all over the Rams and cruised to 6-0. The Ravens (2) and Patriots (3) also continued their winning ways and jump one spot each to round off the top 3. The Lions (7) suffered their first loss of the season to the upstart 49ers in a gritty and exciting game. The 49ers (6) are buying what Jim Harbaugh is selling and they’ve now rattled off four straight wins as they head into their bye week.

Desperate teams like the Jets, Eagles (19), and Falcons (13) all managed to squeeze out wins and stay alive in the playoff race. The Jets stay put at No. 11 but could jump higher next week if they can beat the 4-1 Chargers (4).

There’s been a lot of commotion at the quarterback position across the NFL. The Broncos (26) are set to go with Tebow, the Redskins (20) have yet to name a starter for Week 7, the Seahawks (24) are uncertain if Tarvaris Jackson will be available, and the Raiders (12) suffered a big blow losing Jason Campbell.

At the bottom, misery loves company. The three remaining winless teams, the Rams (30), Dolphins (31), and Colts (32) are getting comfortable in their spots. All three teams are reaching new levels of terribleness.

What to watch for in Week 7:

The Falcons travel to Detroit to face the Lions in a game that could have playoff implications down the road.

In the hunt to win the AFC South, with the Manning-less Colts a non-factor, the Texans and Titans will square off in a huge divisional game.

Byes: Bills, Bengals, Patriots, Giants, Eagles, 49ers

1. (1) Packers (6-0) ‘€” Packers players should be prepared to fend off whispers of a possible perfect season because they’ll get louder and louder each week. The defending Super Bowl champs are over-matching their opponents and 7-0 looks inevitable with the Vikings next. With the way Aaron Rodgers is playing, undefeated certainly seems like a very real possibility.

2. (3) Ravens (5-1) ‘€” Baltimore has outscored its opponents by 77 points. The Ravens defense has been good all year and once again showed how tough and physical they can be against any offensive weapon the opposing team might throw at them. Arian Foster was shut down by a run defense that has been superb this season. On the other hand, Ray Rice has been lethal in the run and pass game.

3. (4) Patriots (5-1) ‘€” The improvement from the Patriots defense over the past couple of weeks has to be encouraging for Bill Belichick heading into the bye week. The pass rush is progressing and they’re getting off the field on third-down. This defense came up huge against the Cowboys and finally picked up the offense. Tom Brady and crew turned the ball over four times but the Pats D held Dallas to just six points on those turnovers. It’s a perfect time for a bye week for the Pats. Jerod Mayo, Albert Haynesworth and others can heal up and the defense can work on its problems before the team enters a tough stretch of games.

4. (2) Saints (4-2) ‘€” Tough day all around for the Saints. Not only did they lose to a divisional opponent, head coach Sean Payton tore his MCL after colliding with tight end Jimmy Graham. The injury will probably prevent the fiery Payton from coaching on the sidelines for a good period of time. All in all, the Saints should be able to overcome the tough defeat- thanks to the schedule. Two of the three winless teams in the NFL (Colts and the Rams) are next.

5. (6) Chargers (4-1) ‘€” The first-place Chargers sat back this past weekend and watched their biggest competition in the division lose its starting quarterback. The AFC West is theirs to lose. The Chargers now have to prove they can beat the good teams in the NFL. They’ll start by playing the Jets in New York this Sunday.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Jim Harbaugh, NFL Power Rankings, Rex Ryan

Belichick: Play of Haynesworth against the Cowboys was ‘encouraging’

10.17.11 at 6:18 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the performance of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth Sunday against the Cowboys was ‘€œencouraging’€ given the fact that he’€™s missed playing time because of a back problem he suffered earlier in the season.

Haynesworth was on the sideline for Weeks Three and Four with a back problem. He returned to action last week against the Jets and according to Pro Football Focus, he played 21 snaps in the victory over New York. And on Sunday, he was on the field for 27 snaps in the win over the Cowboys, mostly working in third-down defensive packages.

‘€œI think missed time is a little bit of a hurdle for anybody,’€ Belichick said of Haynesworth, who had a quarterback hit in the win over Dallas. ‘€œI think Albert has been — the more he’€™s practiced, the more regularly he’€™s practiced and played, the better he’€™s been. I thought he had several good plays yesterday. It was encouraging.’€

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio echoed Belichick.

‘€œI think the more Albert has practiced and been able to work on some of the techniques and some of the things that we’€™re doing in practice, then that starts to carry over into the game,’€ Caserio said of Haynesworth, who was obtained from the Redskins for a fifth-round draft choice in 2013. ‘€œIt’€™s a good start. [We] still have a long way to go here, but certainly it’€™s encouraging with some of the things that he has done.’€

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio,

Following the flags: Breaking down the Patriots penalties through six games

10.17.11 at 5:45 pm ET
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In their first six games of the season, the Patriots have been flagged for 39 penalties and 353 yards. Here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against New England, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
OL Nate Solder: four penalties (three holding and illegal use of hands), 40 yards
TE Rob Gronkowski: three penalties (holding, false start, facemask), 29 yards
Team: three penalties (12 men on the field, offensive holding, illegal substitution), 20 yards
S Sergio Brown: two penalties (both defensive pass interference), 51 yards
OL Matt Light: two penalties (both holding), 20 yards
LB Dane Fletcher: two penalties (offensive holding, illegal block above the waist), 17 yards
OL Logan Mankins: two penalties (offensive holding and false start), 15 yards
OL Brian Waters: two penalties (holding, offensive holding), 15 yards
TE Dan Gronkowski: two penalties (both false starts), 10 yards
CB Leigh Bodden: two penalties (both defensive holding), 10 yards
WR Wes Welker: two penalties (illegal motion, false start), 10 yards
WR Chad Ochocinco: two penalties (illegal formation, false start), 9 yards
S Pat Chung: one penalty (unncessary roughness), 15 yards
DL Andre Carter: one penalty (roughing the passer), 15 yards
LB Rob Ninkovich: one penalty (roughing the passer), 15 yards
DL Kyle Love: one penalty (roughing the passer), 15 yards
OL Dan Connolly: one penalty (offensive holding), 10 yards
S James Ihedigbo: one penalty (illegal block above the waist), 10 yards
CB Devin McCourty: one penalty (illegal block above the waist), 10 yards
TE Aaron Hernandez: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
WR Deion Branch: two penalties (both false starts), 10 yards
DL Vince Wilfork: one penalty (unsportsmanlike conduct), 2 yards

Most penalized by position:
Offensive line: 11 penalties for 100 yards
Safety: four penalties for 76 yards
Tight end: six penalties for 44 yards
Defensive line: three penalties for 32 yards
Linebacker: three penalties for 32 yards
Wide receiver: six penalties for 29 yards
Cornerback: three penalties for 20 yards
Team: three penalties for 20 yards

Most frequently called penalties on the Patriots:
Offensive holding: 12
False start: nine
Roughing the passer: three
Illegal block above the waist: three
Defensive holding: two
Defensive pass interference: two
Facemask: one
Illegal substitution: one
Illegal formation: one
Illegal use of hands: one
Unsportsmanlike conduct: one
Unecessary roughness: one
Illegal motion: one
Twelve men in the huddle: one

Read More: Patriots, penalties,

Bill Belichick kind of defends Chad Ochocinco on Big Show

10.17.11 at 5:28 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick fielded multiple questions regarding Chad Ochocinco in his weekly appearance with Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley on The Big Show Monday. The Pats sent two picks to the Bengals in the offseason in exchange for the receiver, but have gotten little statistical production from the veteran. Through six games, Ochocinco is fifth on the team with nine receptions and 136 receiving yards. He has yet to score a touchdown this season.

“What we’re expecting to do is to win. It’s to go out there and move the ball and score points. I feel like we’re doing a pretty good job of that, so if we can produce offensively as a team, and everybody’s doing their job, which involves a lot of different things, then that’s good. If we’re not, then we’re going to try to do it better. We’re going to try to do it better anyway. ‘€¦ It’s how we function as a team.

“If guys are doing their job, they’re going to play more, they’re going to get more opportunities, they’re going to be on the field. If they’re not, then somebody else will probably be doing it instead of them.”

Ochocinco was on the field for only seven offensive snaps Sunday and did not have a catch.

“Some of that is game-plan related,” Belichick said. “It’s not the number of snaps, it’s the amount of production with the opportunities. Obviously, players that only get so many opportunities are going to have few opportunities to have the production of other players. The important thing is when they do get those opportunities, that they make the most of them in whatever their job, whatever their assignment is on that particular play. That’s really how I look at it.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chad Ochocinco,
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