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Target Practice: Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

10.13.14 at 2:03 pm ET
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Brandon LaFell

Brandon LaFell

Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat ‘€“€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback — it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™s a look at the target breakdown after six regular-season games this year.

WR Julian Edelman: 40 catches on 56 targets (71 percent)
TE Rob Gronkowski: 26 catches on 46 targets (60 percent)
WR Brandon LaFell: 15 catches on 34 targets (44 percent)
RB Shane Vereen: 19 catches on 27 targets (70 percent)
TE Tim Wright: 10 catches on 11 targets (90 percent)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 catches on 11 targets (54 percent)
WR Danny Amendola: 4 catches on 8 targets (50 percent)
RB Stevan Ridley: 4 catches on 5 targets (80 percent)
FB James Develin: 4 catches on 4 targets (100 percent)
RB James White: 3 catches on 3 targets (100 percent)
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 catches on 4 targets (75 percent)
TE Michael Hoomananwanui: 2 catches on 2 targets (100 percent)
RB Brandon Bolden: 1 catch on 3 targets (33 percent)
WR Brian Tyms: 1 catch on 2 targets (50 percent)

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Bill Belichick: ‘There’s no one guy’ to replace Jerod Mayo

10.13.14 at 1:23 pm ET
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This summer, Bill Belichick paid Jerod Mayo one of the highest compliments ever bestowed on one of his players. The Patriots coach called him “one of the best leaders” he’s ever coached.

On Monday, he reaffirmed that belief when asked about the huge task of going about replacing what the captain and middle linebacker brings to the team.

“So, we’€™re just going to have to get contributions from other guys ‘€“ some at the linebacker position and some at other positions as well,” Belichick said. “We’€™ll see how it all comes together. We’€™ll keep our fingers crossed for him and see exactly what his situation is. We have to be ready to move on without him. So, we’€™ll have to look to, I’€™d say, multiple groups [and] multiple players to do some of the things that he did. There’€™s no one guy who is going to, on this team, do what Jerod did. We’€™re lucky to have him, let alone another guy that can do all that too. It will have to come from a combination of guys somehow.”

The Patriots are awaiting tests on the right knees of Mayo and Stevan Ridley to determine the severity of each injury and whether one, both or, best-case scenario, neither is lost for the season.

Mayo injured his right knee making a tackle with about six minutes remaining in the second quarter of Sunday’s 37-22 win over the Bills in Buffalo. Ridley was lost when he was tackled while trying to avoid a tackle on a run to the left side.

What makes the Mayo injury particularly frustrating for player and coaching staff is the likelihood Mayo could be gone for the second half of the season for a second straight year. Mayo tore his pectoral muscle against the Dolphins in Oct. 2013 and subsequently went on injured reserve.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots,

Patriots offensive line comes together following loss of Dan Connolly

10.13.14 at 12:04 pm ET
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ORCHARD PARK N.Y. — With the injuries to rookies Cameron Fleming (finger) and Bryan Stork (concussion) forcing the pair missing Sunday’s game against the Bills, the Patriots used their fourth different starting offensive line combination of the year and third different one in three games.

After Dan Connolly went down with a head injury and did not return in the second quarter, things needed to be shaken up again, but even when things seemed stacked against them — including a tremendous Buffalo front-four — the grouping answered the call, especially when it mattered most in the second half.

Here is a drive-by-drive breakdown of what the Patriots offensive line looked like (left tackle to right tackle):

Drive 1: Nate Solder, Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, Josh Kline, Sebastian Vollmer (Punt)

Drive 2: Solder, Connolly, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Missed field goal)

Drive 3: Solder, Connolly, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Touchdown)

Drive 4: Solder, Connolly, Wendell, Kline, Marcus Cannon (Punt)

Drive 5: Solder, Jordan Devey, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Punt)

Drive 6: Cannon, Devey, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Field goal)

Drive 7: Solder, Devey, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Punt)

Drive 8: Solder, Devey, Wendell, Kline, Vollmer (Field goal)

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Read More: Dan Connolly, Jordan Devey, Josh Kline, Nate Solder

Chandler Jones on MFB: ‘It’s our job just to step up and play better’ with Jerod Mayo injured

10.13.14 at 12:03 pm ET
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Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones and wide receiver Julian Edelman checked in with Middays with MFB on Monday for their weekly interviews, one day after a 37-22 victory over the Bills. To hear the interviews, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

While the Patriots played well Sunday, there were some key injuries, most notably to linebacker Jerod Mayo, who was carted off the field and appears to have suffered a serious leg injury.

“I haven’t spoken to Jerod. My prayers are with him, I’m going to definitely pray for him. I have best wishes for him, but I haven’t spoken to him,” Jones said. “It’s our job just to step up and play better. Like I said, my prayers are out for him and his family. Hopefully he’ll be OK.”

Next up for the Patriots is a Thursday night game against the Jets. Jones said he doesn’t mind the quick turnaround.

“I enjoy playing football in general,” Jones said. “Listen, I don’t care what day it is. I could play football every day.”

Added Jones: “I’m 24 years old, I’m single, I don’t have any kids, I can be up watching film all night. So I live for it, I love it, I enjoy it.”

Edelman, who at 28 has a few more years in the league, said, “There are no positives when you’re playing this early” — at least not until after the game.

“I guess the only positive is that you might have a day off the next day going into the weekend,” Edelman said. “Maybe you can grab a Saturday brunch.”

The Jets head into the game at 1-5. Neither starting quarterback Geno Smith not backup Michael Vick have done much of anything this season, but Jones respects both of them.

“Just prepare for anything,” Jones said. “With the Jets, they do have two quarterbacks who are very effective. With a quarterback like Michael Vick, he can definitely use his legs to hurt you, and he has a strong arm. It’s something that you just have to know and keep in the back of your mind, especially with a team that he could be part of the game as well.”

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Brian Tyms on Tom Brady: ‘He’s not what everybody thinks he is’

10.13.14 at 10:14 am ET
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Brian Tyms has heard the comments and innuendo that Tom Brady is a tough guy to impress. He’s heard the chatter that it’s very hard for rookie receivers or receivers new to the Patriots’ offense to get in sync with the quarterback.

He’s says that’s just not fair, nor true. Tyms, who made a spectacular diving catch for a touchdown Sunday, says Brady could not have been more welcoming to him as he was trying to assimilate the system in camp and get back up to speed after his four-game suspension.

“Just being around him gives you confidence,” Tyms said. “He’€™s not what everybody thinks he is; he is a really good guy. He’€™s down to earth. He will work with you. He treats everyone the same. It’€™s not just a select few people. Just that in itself gives me a lot of confidence. Whether I get one play or 10, I could care less. I just go out there and give full effort.”’s Chris Price detailed Tyms’ battle for a roster spot with the Patriots in training camp. Part of the growth for the 25-year-old free agent out of Florida A&M is learning not to be in awe around Brady. Now in his third NFL season, with his fourth NFL team, Tyms says he’s comfortable.

“You have to get used to it,” Tyms said. “You can’€™t sit there in awe the whole time when there are 100,000 fans out there screaming. After a while I just got accustomed to it. He’€™s great so you have to match that intensity. I don’€™t know about everyone else, but I feel like I have to make the play because he’€™s done so much. Everyone on this team has done so much and I just came here so I feel like I owe that to them.”

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Read More: Brian Tyms, Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, nfl

Tim Hasselbeck on D&C: ‘You can’t count on’ Danny Amendola

10.13.14 at 9:45 am ET
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ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the Patriots’€™ win Sunday over the Bills. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Tom Brady had a strong second-half performance, starting with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Brian Tyms. Two late touchdowns to Brandon LaFell closed out the win and a strong performance over the Bills.

Hasselbeck said he wasn’t all that surprised by Brady’€™s second half.

Said Hasselbeck: “[Brady is] too good at so many different things that all of those skills are not leaving him at once. Whether it’€™s some of the physical traits in terms of how he throws the football, his accuracy, his arm strength, that type of stuff. Whether it’€™s the knowledge that he’€™s able to get out of the pre-snap, whether it’€™s his ability process things quickly post-snap, all of the things he does well aren’t going to leave him all at once.

“Players of his caliber don’€™t just fall off a cliff, other guys do. Jake Delhomme, not the same type of player. Matt Schaub, not the same type of player. It happens to other guys, but when you’€™re as good as he is — or take Peyton Manning. When you’€™re as good as Peyton Manning is, when the arm strength leaves you, it’€™s OK. There are other aspects of your game that are so good that you can make up for it by anticipating better. In terms of did I think he was going to throw for over 350 yards against what had been a previously good defense, I can’€™t say I thought that would happen.”

While Brady had one of the best games of his season, receiver Danny Amendola was nowhere to be found. The wideout had no catches on a day in which 10 different Patriots collected at least one reception.

“You can’€™t count on him because you don’€™t know if he’€™s going to be available,” Hasselbeck said of Amendola. “One of the things you do is on Tuesday is you start putting your plan together for the opponents that you’€™re about to face. And you break it down — first and second down. And the next day you work on your third-down passes, your work on short yardage and goal line, you work on your red zone stuff and you put a plan in place. … You do that, and you start to scheme things. You watch film, you find out where weaknesses are and how you’€™re going to attack it and who you’€™re going to attack it with. If I’€™m Josh McDaniels, the last guy I’€™m designing stuff for is Danny Amendola. I just don’€™t know if he’€™s going to be available to me, I really don’€™t.”

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Read More: Danny Amendola, Tim Hasselbeck, Tom Brady,

Tom Brady on D&C: ‘We’re going to go out there and play our best for’ injured teammates Jerod Mayo, Stevan Ridley

10.13.14 at 8:04 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Monday, one day after Sunday’s impressive 37-22 victory over the Bills. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Brady completed 27-of-37 passes for 361 yards and four touchdown passes as he improved to 23-2 against Buffalo.

“I think all the guys, we made a ton of plays out there. It was really fun to be out there,” Brady said. “We’ve been making some improvements, and hopefully we continue to do so. I said after the game, it’s still early in the year, it’s great to go on the road against a team that is a good team, it’s always a battle against those guys.

“I know we’ve had a good record against them over the years, but they always play us tough. They had a great front, and the crowd was really jacked and into it. We went out there in the second half and did really a great job as a team, just taking the crowd out of the game and then going out and executing at a high level. That’s what it takes, that’s what it was all about.”

The Patriots had two bad losses early this season and now have put together two straight good wins, and Brady said it’s important not to overreact to either.

“Coach always says hopefully the losses act as motivation,” Brady said. “The only thing I would say, when you lose you’re probably way more hypercritical to your deficiencies than when you win. Having a tough loss like we did, we had a couple of tough losses this year, really understanding the things that we needed to do better hopefully can really serve a purpose for us.

“Like every week, whatever happened against Buffalo, it means nothing for what’s going to happen on Thursday night against the Jets. We’ve got to refill the tank and then go out there and try to play as best as we possibly can, because this team’s going to be ready to go. I know they’re having a tough year, but they always play us tough, they’ve got a great defensive front, it’s a division battle. We’ve got to put everything we can into. and that’s what you’ve got to do every week.

“You just can’t think this last game’s going to carry over to the next game, ’cause it doesn’t. Not sure if you guys understand that, but coach always nails that point home, and the veteran leaders really talk about that. So, that’s what we’ve got to do.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brian Tyms, Christian Fauria, Jerod Mayo
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