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Video: ‘4th & Goal’ breaks down divisional playoff matchup between Patriots and Colts

01.09.14 at 11:30 am ET
By   |   Comments’s Chris Price previews the divisional playoff matchup between the Patriots and Colts, set for Saturday at Gillette Stadium. Find out the keys to the game as well as Chris’ prediction.

Aaron Dobson only one missing from start of Patriots practice on Thursday morning

01.09.14 at 10:53 am ET
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FOXBORO — Aaron Dobson was the only player missing from the start of Patriots practice on Thursday, and it’s looking more and more like the rookie receiver won’t be available for Saturday’s divisional playoff contest against the Colts at Gillette Stadium.

Dobson was the only player who was absent from Wednesday’s practice, and was seen in the locker room later that afternoon with a walking boot on his left foot. He missed three games after initially injuring the foot against the Broncos on Nov. 24. He returned on Dec. 22 against Baltimore before re-injuring the foot the following week in the regular-season finale against the Bills.

The Marshall product has 37 catches for 519 yards and four touchdowns in his first season with New England.

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Steve Gregory might be a future coach, but right now he’s focused on Andrew Luck

01.09.14 at 9:45 am ET
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FOXBORO — From the moment Steve Gregory joined the Patriots in March 2012, there was a sense among the Patriots that they had an extra coach in the secondary.

Now, with the playoffs on the horizon, the Patriots are leaning on Gregory, not just on the field but in the classroom as they look for ways to cover the explosive Colts passing game and hopefully confuse Andrew Luck.

“I think with Steve a lot of it is, even in the film room, when we’€™re in meetings we’€™ll have something in the defense and we’€™re watching and Steve will say, ‘€˜Why don’€™t we do this?’€™ We’€™ll all sit there and look at him and be like, ‘€˜You’€™re right, that probably would be better.’€™ I think that’€™s what makes him so good,” Devin McCourty said after practice on Wednesday.

“When we’€™re preparing for games, he’€™s not only able to watch film and see things coming but he’€™s able to go to the coaches and say, ‘€˜Why don’€™t we tweak this defense this way because it better fits what they do?’€™ I think it’€™s good, our coaches listen to everyone. Steve always has something each week we play that he sees and things we can do. That’€™s why we call him a future head coach.”

The 31-year-old Gregory, along with McCourty, are two of the key pieces in the secondary because – as safeties – they are the ones calling signals and lining up players in the right spot before the snap. And much of that preparation and recognition comes from studying film.

‘€œYeah, definitely. Just with anticipation and things like that, recognition of formations, where guys are, route combinations, things like that, understanding the schemes and stuff that we’€™re running, where help is, that all ties in to being able to play fast and play at a high level,” Gregory said.

‘€œI think it’€™s a little bit of everything. It’€™s a little bit of film work, it’€™s a little bit of studying, understanding really what the scheme is within your defense, what your job is, what other guys’€™ jobs are, and then kind of just having some instincts of football, just kind of understanding the game itself, and those things can go a long way.’€

As for his coaching career, Gregory is hoping that well off in the future and he hasn’t given any serious thought yet to what McCourty suggested.

‘€œNot really. I’€™m a player right now, so I’€™m hoping on playing for a little bit longer,” Gregory said.

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Read More: 2014 playoffs, Andrew Luck, Devin McCourty, Indianapolis Colts

Poll: How should Patriots utilize Aqib Talib Saturday against Indy?

01.09.14 at 7:00 am ET
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How should the Patriots utilize Aqib Talib on Saturday against the Colts?

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Patriots Wednesday injury report: Aaron Dobson (foot) DNP, Logan Mankins (ankle) limited

01.08.14 at 4:38 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Logan Mankins was one of nine players limited at outdoor practice Wednesday at Gillette Stadium while Aaron Dobson was the only one not to participate, per the Patriots official injury report released Wednesday afternoon.

Mankins injured his ankle in the season finale against the Bills but returned to practice on Tuesday and was again on the field on Wednesday in the bitter cold. There was no injury report required by the NFL on Tuesday while Wednesday’s listing was the first one of the week.

In a bit of encouraging news, Aqib Talib (hip), Marcus Cannon (ankle), Rob Ninkovich (ankle) Josh Boyce (ankle) and Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) were not on the injury report at all after appearing on the last injury report before the game against the Bills.

Devin McCourty is still listed as limited with a concussion. Brandon Spikes (knee) was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Monday.

Here is Wednesday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
WR Aaron Dobson (foot)

Limited Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
S Devin McCourty (concussion)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder)
LB Dane Fletcher (groin)
S Steve Gregory (finger/knee)
OL Logan Mankins (ankle)
OT Will Svitek (ankle)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
RB Shane Vereen (groin)

Full Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Indianapolis Colts, Logan Mankins, New England Patriots

Heath Evans on Mut & Merloni: If Patriots are in close game vs. Colts in fourth quarter, ‘I’d be nervous’

01.08.14 at 2:44 pm ET
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Former Patriots running back Heath Evans, now an NFL Network analyst, joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to preview Saturday’s Patriots-Colts playoff game and discuss other NFL news. To listen to the interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Evans cautioned the Patriots need to be wary of Andrew Luck‘s ability to run with the football, and he said the Colts have a chance to pull out a win if they can keep the game close entering the final period.

“I go back to the Carolina game for New England,” Evans said. “Cam Newton didn’t beat you guys with his arm. He beat you guys with three or four opportunistic runs. Well, Andrew Luck can dice you guys up with his arm if your coverages aren’t sound. Then he can pop off for those two or three opportunistic runs as well.

“We’ve seen the Patriots play great defense; we’ve seen them play average defense. Brandon Spikes, you’re missing a thumper. We know this Indianapolis team hasn’t been able to run the ball consistently this year in any way. But golly, you talk about Vince [Wilfork] and [Jerod] Mayo and now Spikes — all the different lumps this team has taken along the way. I’ve never second-guessed Bill [Belichick], but you kind of keep asking yourself, how long can Bill and Matt Patricia find these game plans to cover for these huge missing parts.

“So, Andrew Luck, if they’re in it in the fourth quarter, I’d be nervous, I’ll just say that.”

Added Evans: “I know Bill well enough to know [Coby] Fleener‘s not going to be open, there’s going to be a game plan for T.Y. Hilton. It’s going to be other guys that have to step up and make plays. And that’s just where Luck has shown that ability for these last two seasons, just to make things happen. Is he [Tom] Brady yet? No. Is he [Aaron] Rodgers yet? No. But doggone, this guy just finds a way to get it done.

“If they can get the ball rolling in the ground game, that’s going to take focus away from T.Y. Hilton where you might slip in one of those deep shots that break your back late in the game. I just think it’s ball-control offense on the Patriots’ side of things. Brady and his boys are going to have to be spot on. You can’t see the young mistakes from young players. I think this will be — as Bill’s probably been preaching all week — it will be a turnover-driven game. Who’s giving the ball up, who’s getting extra possessions and then who’s not?”

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Bill Belichick, Deion Branch, Heath Evans

Josh McDaniels reportedly withdraws his name from Cleveland Browns head coaching search

01.08.14 at 2:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Josh McDaniels isn’t going anywhere.

According to a tweet from ESPN football reporter Adam Schefter Wednesday afternoon, the Patriots offensive coordinator, who reportedly interviewed with his hometown Browns on Saturday, has withdrawn his name from the search to replace Rob Chudzinski. McDaniels was a quarterback star for his father Thom McDaniels at Canton McKinley high school, just 45 miles south of Cleveland.

Chudzinski was fired by GM Mike Lombardi and team CEO Joe Banner after just one season, after producing a 4-12 record on the shores of Lake Erie.

McDaniels left after the 2008 season in New England to take over as head coach in Denver. But after a 6-0 start to his career in 2009, he won just five of his next 22 games over the next season and a half and was fired in the middle of the 2010 season after a 3-9 start.

McDaniels took over as the offensive coordinator in St. Louis for Steve Spagnuolo in 2011 and left that job to return to New England in time for the Patriots’ playoff run to Super Bowl XLVI.

Read More: Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots



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