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Manning’s use of ‘Omaha’ confuses opposition, benefits city

01.14.14 at 10:47 am ET
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Patriots fans may want to prepare to hear the word “Omaha” in excess Sunday.

Like many other codes a quarterback barks during a game to get his offense to change up a play, the word does not have much meaning. According to ESPN, though, that did not stop Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning from shouting the city’€™s name 44 times, each before the ball was snapped, during Sunday’€™s playoff win over the Chargers.

That led to Omaha becoming a trending topic on Twitter during the game.

During his interview with Dennis & Callahan Monday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady discussed Manning’€™s “Omaha” call and explained how Manning uses it to indicate the snap count to his teammates and throw off the defense.

“He does a good job of changing [its meaning],” Brady said. “One time it means one thing, and the next time it means another. He got [the Chargers] offsides, I don’€™t know, five or six times [Sunday], which is the most I think I’ve ever seen. He was doing a great job with his cadence, really keeping the other team off-balance.

“That’€™s the part of what his strength is as a player. He’€™s able to really deceive the defense. Once you think you’€™re on to one thing, he’€™s on to the next. He tries to stay one step ahead of the defense. Our defense is going to be tested.”

Added Brady: “He probably got other cue words that he uses to let the team know what he really wants to do, his real intention. You just can’€™t really listen in too much; you’ve got to be able to react. But that’€™s part of what good offenses do. And that’€™s why they’ve been able to score a lot of points and keep the other team off-balance.”

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Read More: Doug Parrott, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Warren Buffett

Bill Belichick on Salk & Holley: Broncos ‘don’t make it easy’ for teams to disguise defense

01.14.14 at 9:26 am ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Salk & Holley on Monday to discuss Sunday’€™s AFC championship game against the Broncos. To hear the interview, go to the Salk & Holley audio on demand page.

Belichick said it is a challenge to disguise the Patriots defense when playing the Broncos.

“Denver makes it hard on you because they all of the time get into formations that force you to declare certain things,”€ Belichick said. “€œWhether you’€™re going to move a linebacker out or you’€™re going to put your corners on one side, whether they’€™re going to stay backside to a tight end, things like that to try to get some indicators of what they’€™re coverage is going to be.

“€œIf they were to line up in the same formations every time, it’€™d be all too easier to disguise because you know where they are and you have a little more control over it, but when they’€™re going fast and change their formations a lot and giving you looks … Disguising is certainly a big part of the game and is important, but it’€™s not as important as playing what you have called is.

“If you can’€™t play what you have, then it doesn’t matter if you disguise it or not, it’€™s probably not going to be very good, but that’€™s the issue, they don’€™t make it easy for you as much as you want to disguise, sometimes they put you in a bind.”

When asked if continuing to run the ball has led to one big run toward the end of the game, Belichick said, “If you’€™re running the ball you hope it’€™s true, if you’€™re defending it you hope it’€™s not true.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Jamie Collins, LaGarrette Blount,

Michael Hoomanawanui, James Develin and Matthew Mulligan hang out at ‘Monday Night RAW’ in Providence

01.14.14 at 6:30 am ET
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What do you do if you’re a Patriots player and you have some down time while prepping for the AFC title game? James Develin, Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan hit Providence for WWE’s “Monday Night RAW.” The trio got backstage and got this picture with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H — Mulligan has gained a small measure of notoriety for his relationship with former WWE champ Hulk Hogan.

Read More: James Develin, Matthew Mulligan, Michael Hoomanawanui,

Brandon Spikes reportedly doesn’t need knee surgery after all

01.13.14 at 9:49 pm ET
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Brandon Spikes apparently doesn’t need surgery after all.

According to a report from Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun and National Football Post, the Patriots linebacker received a second medical opinion Monday from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, and the doctor told Spikes that he doesn’t recommend surgery at this time for his posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

ElAttrache, the same doctor who performed the left knee reconstruction on Tom Brady in 2008, simply recommends rest and a normal treatment protocol.

As for the ESPN report from Chris Mortensen on Saturday that the linebacker was placed on season-ending injured reserve for being late to a team meeting on Jan. 3, the Friday morning of winter storm Hercules, Spikes’ agent, Gary Uberstine, made it clear that the linebacker wanted to keep playing.

“The team’€™s decision to place Brandon on injured reserve was not a mutual decision, nor need it be. Brandon had every intention to keep playing throughout the playoffs, despite the pain he was experiencing throughout the season,” said Uberstine, CEO of Premier Sports & Entertainment, in a statement.

“We never had a single conversation with the Patriots in which they threatened to release him if he didn’€™t accept the Injured Reserve designation. Spikes has been a great teammate, and nobody can question the passion with which he plays the game, or how important he has been to the Patriots’ success. Although he is disappointed that he won’€™t be able to line up alongside his teammates this weekend against the Broncos, he won’€™t let these rumors serve as a distraction and has no intention of making any further comment whatsoever concerning any of these issues.”

 

Mike Petraglia contributed to this report.

Read More: Brandon Spikes, New England Patriots,

Broncos safety Mike Adams doesn’t think Julian Edelman is in same class as Wes Welker: ‘He doesn’t have same ability’

01.13.14 at 9:14 pm ET
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The Broncos may be without starting corner Chris Harris – out with an ACL tear – but safety Mike Adams has already delivered a blow.

Asked Monday to compare the way the Patriots use Julian Edelman with what he sees from Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, Adams made it clear that he thinks Welker is a tougher cover than Edelman.

“I can’€™t compare the two because Wes is… he’€™s something special. He can jive up the ball and then speed out and have you off balance. Edelman, he doesn’€™t do that,” Adams said. “He’€™s a one-speed guy. He doesn’€™t have the same ability or the quickness that Wes has in the slot. I guess that is the main difference between them. But I don’€™t know if they use him the same as they used Wes because they’€™re totally different players.”

Adams did give Edelman credit for at least being the best receiver on the Patriots roster, edging out Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen.

“As I’€™ve been looking and seeing a little bit, it looked like Edelman. He had a couple of big games,” Adams said. “I think Amendola is second. But [RB Shane Vereen] seemed like he’€™s catching a lot of passes really coming out of the backfield’€”he’€™s up there in catching a lot of passes as well. We’€™ll have our hands full and this is going to be a battle. I’€™m prepared for it.”

As for the running game, LeGarrette Blount has emerged as the clear running threat for the Patriots. But, according to Adams, that won’t change the Broncos defensive scheme against New England this Sunday.

“No, because we knew he was a good runner from the beginning,” Adams said. “We’€™re coming out and we’€™re coming up to hit him. We’€™ve got to make sure we control the paths more because we knew he was a good runner then and he’€™s still a good runner now. Obviously, he’€™s emerged because he had a couple of big runs.

“But other than that, it doesn’€™t change our mentality because we knew he was a good runner. They’€™ve got a couple of good backs’€”[RB Stevan] Ridley and the other guy. They had some fumbling problems but other than that, they’€™re all good backs.”

Read More: Denver Broncos, Julian Edelman, Mike Adams, New England Patriots

LeGarrette Blount: ‘We could play better’

01.13.14 at 8:34 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Statistically, LeGarrette Blount is playing the best football of his career.

However, the 27-year-old running back, who has for 431 yards in his last three games (the final two games of the regular season and last week’s playoff win over the Colts), believes they are still areas where he and the rest of the Patriots can improve, saying that when it comes to execution, “we could play better.”

“We’€™ve watched the film [and] I’€™ve seen a couple holes that I could have hit, seen a couple cuts I could have made,” Blount said. “I’€™m just going to try to go out there and look at what they’€™re going to give me, and hopefully exploit some of their weaknesses.’€

Blount, who rushed for 151 yards all last season with the Bucs, has powered the New England running game as of late. The 6-foot, 250-pounder ran for 166 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s win over Indy, his second straight 100-plus yard performance.

Blount said Monday there was a lot that went into that performance, including the work of the offensive line.

‘€œThey’ve been playing amazing all year,” Blount said. “[Left guard] Logan [Mankins] is the only one that got to the Pro Bowl, and I feel like they all should have been there — the way guys have filled in for other guys when we’€™ve had injuries, I feel like they all should be there today. They’€™ve stepped up tremendously in this last half of the season.

‘€œThey’€™ve been hot all season,” he added. “[They] just haven’€™t been getting the recognition.’€

Blount will lead the New England ground game into this weekend’s AFC title game against the Broncos. In their regular season matchup, Blount was used sparingly — he played just two offensive snaps, according to the analytical website Pro Football Focus, and had just two carries for 13 yards. (Quarterback Tom Brady had 50 pass attempts in the overtime win.) It’s debatable what sort of role he’ll have this time around, as the Broncos are one of the best in the league when it comes to stopping the run — they were seventh in the league, allowing 101.6 yards per game on the ground.

‘€œWe’€™ve got to get ready to go to Denver. Doesn’€™t matter who we play or where we play them, we’€™ve still got to prepare,” he said. ‘€œIt’€™s a different team now than what we’€™ve seen earlier. We’€™ve got to go out and look at film, look at what they did against San Diego, and see who we’€™re going to be playing against.’€

Read More: LeGarrette Blount,

Danny Amendola is hoping a ‘chip on our shoulder’ will help him and Patriots overcome Mile High odds

01.13.14 at 6:53 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The odds are not overwhelming.

The 14-3 Broncos are favored by just 4 1/2 points heading into Sunday’s AFC championship against the 13-4 Patriots at Sports Authority Field in Denver. Take out the home field advantage and that’s less than a field goal separation according to the odds makers.

The Patriots under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have advanced to the Super Bowl twice by winning the AFC championship on the road, both times in Pittsburgh. Those experiences are stored deep in the memory banks of the brain trust.

But that won’t keep the Patriots from playing the underdog role to the hilt, at least in public. Brady already told Dennis and Callahan Monday morning that “no one” expects the Patriots to win. Danny Amendola reiterated that mantra Monday afternoon as the team began their preparations for the Broncos.

“€œI like to think that way,” Amendola said. “In our room, I can speak for our room, we play with a chip on our shoulder and we like to play that way, so just looking to have a good week of preparation so far and go about it that way.

“[We] go about it like every other week and just prepare as hard as we can and get ready to play.”

How different might the Broncos look from their Nov. 24 match-up at Gillette?

“We still have to break down a lot of film,” Amendola said. “They are a good team, obviously, playing this deep in the playoffs. We’€™re really excited to play them.

“They’€™ve had some moving parts since then [but] still a quality ball club so we got to prepare well.”

The biggest moving part is Monday’s announcement that cornerback Chris Harris is lost for the season with a torn ACL. But the Broncos should have veterans Champ Bailey and Quentin Jammer in their secondary. Bailey did not play in the Nov. 24 Patriots’ win.

“€œYou know, Champ has been in the league for a very long time, playing at a very high level, Quentin Jammer too, so we have a task on our hands and we’€™ll definitely be preparing well for them this week,” Amendola said.

As for the 74,000 screaming fans at Mile High that will be cheering for the Broncos, Amendola said he’s ready to embrace that challenge.

“I’€™ve played there a couple of times,” Amendola said. “It’€™s a great stadium to play in and it will be a live atmosphere and it will be fun.

“€œYou win you go on, you lose you go home. That’€™s the name of the playoffs, so we’€™re definitely going to do our part and prepare hard this week.’€

The key, says Amendola, is not to get overwhelmed with any aspect of Sunday’s game.

“It’€™s a big game,” he said. “At the end of the day it’€™s football and you’€™ve got a job to do when you’€™re playing so that’€™s what we focus on. It’€™s just our mentality. We don’€™t think any differently, like I said, playing with that chip on our shoulders. That’€™s how we are.”

Read More: Danny Amendola, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, nfl

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