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Bob Kravitz on D&C: Peyton Manning ‘doesn’t have any weapons’

11.18.10 at 9:12 am ET
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Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to discuss Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Colts. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Kravitz said Colts fans are resigned to the fact that their injury-depleted team, despite being 6-3 and leading the AFC South, faces a difficult challenge in Foxboro.

“I think there’s a feeling, especially around here, that this team is just trying to hold on for dear life until guys come back and are healthy,” Kravitz said. “I think people around here are sort of ready to take their lumps against New England and just hope they can hang on long enough to get some guys back and make a run at the playoffs.”

Kravitz said it wouldn’t be fair to assign blame to Peyton Manning for any offensive struggles, as the veteran quarterback can’t do it all by himself. “I think he’s been as good as he’s ever been for the most part,” Kravitz said. “He just doesn’t have anything around him. This offensive line is just not good. They made some changes in the offseason, and none of the people they brought in even made it out of training camp. [Joseph] Addai‘s been hurt. You figure it out, you lost [Austin] Collie, you lost [Anthony] Gonzalez, you lost Dallas Clark. Pierre Garcon may as well be hurt, because he’s been useless. So, he just doesn’t have any weapons at this point.

“When he did have a full complement of weapons early in the season, he was very, very good. The last couple of games he’s been ordinary. And I think we’re finding out as good as he is, when you take away all his toys, he’s just not a great quarterback.”

Kravitz said it won’t be a surprise to see the Patriots employ the strategy of controlling the ball to keep Manning off the field. Said Kravitz: “The story with the Colts is the story since the beginning of time, it seems: If you can run the ball on them, you win. The three teams that have beaten them ‘€” Jacksonville, Houston and Philly ‘€” all ran the ball very effectively, kept Peyton on the sideline and won their games. So, I think the formula is the same as it’s always been.”

Read More: Bob Kravitz, Peyton Manning,

Week 11 fantasy football starts

11.18.10 at 8:33 am ET
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As Week 11 approaches and the race for the fantasy playoffs heat up, many owners may find themselves trapped in the middle of the pack, feeling oddly similar to this lady. But, as all your friends laugh at you, defy the odds. Get out of this ditch. Plug a fresh face into your lineup that can propel your team out of this hole and onto the road to fantasy fortune. And, for God’s sake,  don’t give up and cry out, “I’m going to have a seizure!” Your pathetic excuse will only cause more torture.

Below are some slightly obscure names that I expect to tear it up, based off of matchup analysis. Sure, anyone could tell you that Drew Brees will light up the 28th-ranked Seahawks pass defense, or that Frank Gore will run wild against a Tampa Bay rush defense that allows the second most yards per game (143.8). But I’m here to reveal the less obvious players, ones that are likely available in your league either via waivers or a cheap trade, that I think can put up equal or more points than the big names.

Without further ado, here are some players I think can help you avoid the same fate as our friend in the ditch.

QUARTERBACKS

Note: There are many viable options this week, as plenty of juicy matchups await many unheralded quarterbacks. While time and space only allow analysis for two, consider any of the options listed as a strong play. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of them finish in the top 10 this week in fantasy points.

Mark Sanchez (Jets) vs. Texans

It’s almost become too easy. Stream start whichever quarterback faces Houston’s atrocious secondary, gain 20-plus fantasy points, rinse, repeat. Last week against the Jags was really just the epitome of this unit, as the Texans vaulted my predictions of David Garrard and Mike Thomas from mildly useful to elite starts in the game’s final seconds. If you haven’t seen the Texans’ defensive stats, check out last week’s column, as the Jaguars only validated and added to those shockingly bad numbers.

Next up to bat is Mark Sanchez. The Sanchize has posted back-to-back 20-point-plus efforts, and that trend should continue this week. Though his decision-making remains questionable, Sanchez’s rocket arm and loaded cast of deep threats are a perfect fit against a Texans secondary that has surrendered the most plays of 40-plus yards (11). Expect at least one deep touchdown, another one or two short scores, and bundles of yardage for the sophomore signal-caller. Yes, even this guy can roast a defense as bad as this.

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Read More: Fantasy Football, Mark Sanchez, Rumor Mill, Vince Young

After missing practice, Tom Brady says ‘I’m doing well’

11.17.10 at 8:34 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Despite the fact that he missed practice Wednesday because of injury, quarterback Tom Brady expressed confidence that he’€™ll be good to go for this Sunday’€™s game against the Colts at Gillette Stadium.

After he missed his second consecutive Wednesday practice with what was described on the injury report as ‘€œright shoulder/foot,’€ Brady spoke to reporters on a national conference call. He was asked, ‘€œYou were not seen in the media portion of practice today. Can you talk about how you’€™ve been doing lately and how you’€™re feeling?’€

‘€œI’€™m doing well. I’€™m doing well,’€ Brady responded. ‘€œI’€™m looking forward to the game this weekend.’€

Brady missed practice last Wednesday and was limited in the days leading up to the Sunday night game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh because of the same injury. In that contest, he showed no ill effects of the reported foot sprain, lighting up the Steelers by going 30-for-43 for 350 yards, three touchdowns and no sacks or interceptions.

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Colts have nine players miss Wednesday practice, including Joseph Addai and Reggie Wayne

11.17.10 at 4:48 pm ET
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The Colts, who have been hit hard by injury all season, had nine players miss practice Wednesday because of injury, a group that includes running backs Joseph Addai and Mike Hart, as well as wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Here’s the complete injury report:

Did Not Practice
RB Joseph Addai (neck)
LB Gary Bracket (toe)
TE Brody Eldridge (rib)
DT Dwight Freeney (rested)
RB Mike Hart (ankle)
DB Bob Sanders (biceps)
LB Clint Session (elbow)
DB Justin Tryon (foot)
WR Reggie Wayne (knee)

Limited Participation
WR Austin Collie (concussion)
WR Blair White (shoulder)

Read More: Colts, injury report,

Tom Brady does not practice for Patriots on Wednesday

11.17.10 at 4:22 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” For the second consecutive Wednesday, quarterback Tom Brady has been listed on the Patriots injury report as having missed practice. As was the case last Wednesday, Brady was listed with a right shoulder and foot injury. In addition, safety Jarrad Page did not practice because of a calf injury and defensive lineman Myron Pryor was out with a back problem. Here’s the complete injury report for the Patriots:

Did Not Practice
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder/foot)
S Jarrad Page (calf)
DT Myron Pryor (back)

Limited Participation in Practice
G Stephen Neal (shoulder)
RB Fred Taylor (toe)
CB Jonathan Wilhite (hip)

Read More: injury report, Patriots, Tom Brady,

The Big Nickel: Tom Brady doesn’t practice, Pierre Woods returns and James Sanders is honored

11.17.10 at 2:51 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The five most important things to know from the Patriots on Wednesday:

1. Tom Brady did not practice. The Patriots quarterback was not present for the beginning of practice ‘€” at least, for the first 10 or so minutes of the session the media is allowed to watch.

Brady, who was limited in practice last week because of a foot sprain, didn’€™t show any ill effects from the injury in Sunday’€™s game, and on Wednesday, he stood while taking questions at his locker for just under 10 minutes. Given the ease with which he was maneuvering around the locker room after the game on Sunday and earlier on Wednesday, it might simply be a case of a veteran getting a day off, but we should know more when the injury report is released at 4 p.m. (Other players who were missing were safety Jarrad Page, who has been dogged by a calf injury, and defensive lineman Myron Pryor, who has been dealing with a back problem.)

In other practice-related news, the following players were wearing black on Wednesday, signifying the fact that they were named Practice Players of the Week: quarterback Brian Hoyer, wide receiver Julian Edelman, safety Ross Ventrone, center/guard Ryan Wendell, tight end Aaron Hernandez and tight end Carson Butler.

2. Brady recalls how it all started against the Colts. Brady now has 105 career wins as a starter, and was the fastest to 100 wins of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era. However, he got his first win as a starter Sept. 30, 2001, against Indianapolis at Foxboro Stadium. It was a game he talked a little bit about on Wednesday morning.

‘€œI was pretty nervous. That was a great day. They came in undefeated,’€ said Brady, who finished 13-for-23 for 168 yards in the 30-10 win. ‘€œIt was a windy, cold, blustery day in Foxborough and we played a great game. That’€™s kind of what you need to do against these guys. Our defense really set the tone that day and we scored quite a few points that day.

‘€œI remember meeting Peyton before the game. I was surprised he knew me, as a matter of fact. He said, ‘€˜Hi Tom, I’€™m Peyton,’€™ as he was out there warming up, which I thought was pretty cool.’€
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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Bill Belichick, Brandon Meriweather

Tom Brady: ‘Not going to be 7-3 game’

11.17.10 at 2:49 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It’s no wonder Tom Brady isn’t intimidated in big games. After all, when you’re at your locker and there’s 50 reporters and cameras combined swallowing you up, it’s hard to feel pressure when you’re on a wide open football field. Brady handled the media smoothly as usual on Wednesday but said he still fears Indianapolis edge rusher Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. He also gave insight to his first meeting with Peyton Manning when the Colts QB was already an NFL star. And he gave a prediction of sorts on what type of game he’s expecting this Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Thanks to the hard work of Patriots P.R., here were his responses.

Q: Did you learn a little bit about this offense and how productive it can be if you really come together like you did against the Steelers?

TB: I don’€™t think it was perfect out there.

Q: But you scored a lot of points.

TB: Yeah, we had an interception returned for a touchdown. We had some short fields on the onside kicks. There are certainly things that I think we need to do better ‘€“ that we’€™re going to need to do better this week. We had plenty of missed opportunities in that game. We certainly made more plays than we’€™ve been making, but at the same time, [while] our level of consistency continues to improve, I think it’€™s got to continue to improve.

Q: You’€™ve always said that the Colts defense does things differently than any other defense with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Does it start with them?

TB: It sure does. It sure does. I’€™ve had a lot of sleepless nights with those two guys on the other side of the ball. They’€™re tremendous players. They’€™re as good of pass rushers as you’€™ll face in the league. And they have two guys on opposite sides of the ball; it’€™s not like you can really help on one guy and not help on the other. So, it really limits what you do as an offense because you have to worry so much about making sure they don’€™t run around the corner and kill you every play. We’€™ve really got our work cut out for us this week on that.

Q: With the history with this team, are you happy that you and Peyton Manning have been able to face off as many times as you have and that the two teams have been able to play as much as they have?

TB: He’€™s a great competitor. I love watching him. I mean, he’s been a great quarterback for a long time so I think whenever I’€™m watching film of other opponents that we’€™re playing, I’€™m always looking for Colts games because I want to see how he’€™s playing. We’€™ve had plenty of those games this year. It’€™s been a great rivalry for a lot of reasons. We’€™ve played so many meaningful games against them and I would say this one is pretty meaningful, too. It’€™s going to be a great test for us. They’€™re good in all phases. You can’€™t afford to make a lot of mistakes against this team because they really capitalize and if you give them a short field, you turn it over, and then next thing you know it’€™s seven points. And then you turn it over and now it’€™s 14 points. I’€™ve watched plenty of Colts games where the game is over at halftime, so we’€™re going to have to really be conscious of that [and] protect the ball. When we get into the red area, get the ball in the end zone, try to go out and make a bunch of plays. Read the rest of this entry »

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