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Brandon Spikes admits inconsistent playing time ‘a little frustrating’

10.12.13 at 10:40 am ET
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FOXBORO — Brandon Spikes is still the most fearsome run-stopper on the Patriots defense. And with Vince Wilfork out of the lineup the rest of the season, he will likely be called upon to help even more.

But his playing time has been limited this season in some games as the Patriots rely more on a hybrid sub-package to stop the pass.

In those games, like against the Falcons, Spikes rarely sees the field as Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower get the majority of linebacker reps. Spikes played in just six of 76 snaps, his lowest as a healthy player in the last two seasons.

On Friday, Spikes admitted that getting accustomed to those rotations and watching from the sidelines is not always easy.

“I always want to be on the field, help the team out,” Spikes said. “Run around out there with the guys. We put so much in throughout the week, and you get one opportunity to come out on Sundays and get it done. Sometimes, it is a little frustrating, but like I said — whenever my number is called, I just have to go in and play at a high level and get the job done and that’s what I try to do every Sunday.

“I don’t look at it like that. I just come out and have a good time on Sundays. I don’t really pay attention to stuff I can’t control. It is what it is. I just feel fortunate to be able to play this game. I just want to make the best of it. There’s a small margin in the time you get to play, and why not just go have fun? That’s all I just base it on — going to have fun. Being happy and playing the game I love.”

Will he love it in New England next season after his current deal expires? WEEI.com’s Chris Price examines that question.

Last week, he returned to his more accustomed role, playing in 58 of 70 defense snaps against the run-heavy Bengals. His role could be diminished this weekend against the Saints.

But in obvious run situations, Spikes still figures to get on the field to help fill the void of Vince Wilfork.

“Losing Vince is a big loss and all, but me personally, I feel like the next guy up has to come in and step up,” Spikes said. “I feel like I have to raise my level with him being gone. When my number is called I just come in and get the job done.

“There’s always room for improvement, week in and week out. I want to get better each and every week, and like I said, I just want to be accountable to my teammates. We’ve got a lot of young guys out there, so it’s not just about me. I have to make sure the young guys are lined up and making sure they know the play.

“I’m always comfortable when I get on the field.”

Spikes believes he can still be part of a defense that leads the Patriots to wins while the offense still struggles to find its groove.

“My opinion is that defense wins games, wins championships,” Spikes said. “Stuff like that. Offense scores points, and it’s our job to try and stop it. Any game, you’ve got to have defense. So I think we should just come out and try to take pride and try to be great every Sunday. We can. We’ve got the checkers to do it. We’ve just got to figure out the right moves.

Read More: Brandon Spikes, New England Patriots, nfl,

Tommy Kelly, Leon Washington ruled out for Saints game

10.11.13 at 3:59 pm ET
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Defensive lineman Tommy Kelly and running back Leon Washington were ruled out by the Patriots Friday for Sunday’s game against the Saints. Kelly appeared to injure his knee in the second half of last Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, while Washington has been plagued by injuries for a sizable portion of the season — an ankle issue kept him out of practice all week.

As for the rest of the list, tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back Stevan Ridley were among the seven players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Gronkowski hasn’t played this season because of forearm and back issues, while Ridley sat out last week’s game with a knee issue that left him limited over the course of the week.

Here’s the complete list:

Did Not Practice
DL Tommy Kelly (knee) OUT
RB Leon Washington (ankle) OUT

Limited Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin) QUESTIONABLE
RB Brandon Bolden (knee) QUESTIONABLE
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) QUESTIONABLE
RB Stevan Ridley (knee) QUESTIONABLE
ST Matthew Slater (wrist) QUESTIONABLE
OL Ryan Wendell (concussion) QUESTIONABLE
DB Tavon Wilson (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE

Full Participation
WR Aaron Dobson (neck) PROBABLE
LB Dont’€™a Hightower (knee) QUESTIONABLE
LB Jerod Mayo (ankle) PROBABLE
DL Rob Ninkovich (groin) PROBABLE

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Peter King on M&M: If Rob Gronkowski remains out for Patriots, ‘I don’t know that they can make the playoffs’

10.11.13 at 1:48 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Patriots and the Rob Gronkowski situation as well as other NFL news, incuding the controversy over the Redskins nickname.

With the latest report that Gronkowski still is having concerns about his surgically repaired right forearm, there is speculation that the tight end’s return to game action might be delayed some more. King said this could prove to be the Patriots’ undoing.

“Rob Gronkowski only has X number of snaps left in his body the rest of his career,” King said. “Obviously, everybody does. But I think he has a limited number of snaps in his body. He came into the league an injury question, and he has continued to be an injury question. Even though he’s played an awful lot, you’re always wondering is he going to break his forearm, is he going to have some neck problem or back problem, whatever?”

Added King: “At some point, he’s got to start playing or else we aren’t even going to be talking about eking into the playoffs, even as a fifth or sixth seed. I’m not positive about that, because you look at their schedule and it’s certainly possible. But I don’t know, if they have a gimpy [Danny] Amendola, and Gronkowski doesn’t play this year, I don’t know that they can make the playoffs. Even though, as I said, they have a manageable schedule.”

King said Belichick has to consider the risk of playing Gronkowski, especially with the Patriots coming off a loss and struggling to keep up with the top teams in the AFC.

“The only thing that’s going to matter to Bill Belichick, the only thing that matters to these fans is, what’s going to happen now?” King said. “To me, without Rob Gronkowski this week, unless they force two or three turnovers of the Saints, I don’t like their chances at all.

“To me, I think they’re facing a team that, like Denver — they’re kind of Denver Jr. right now. They’re not scoring at the pace Denver scores, but they’ve proven, outside, inside, wherever, that they can play defense now. So you’re going to have to get into a bit of a scoring contest with Drew Brees. And with what appeared to me to be last week Danny Amendola not at 100 percent, and obviously [Tom] Brady still getting comfortable with his guys, without Gronkowski I think it’s going to be a very tough game for them to win.”

King said he suspects Brady is frustrated with the organization’s inability to provide him with the receivers needed to be more competitive.

“Just reading the tea leaves and knowing Tom, last year — last whatever it was, February or March — he did — even though a lot of people subjected this to much derision — he did the Patriots a huge favor. He redid his contract to give them massive cap relief over the next couple of years, and clearly thought that they were going to have better weapons than they have now,” King said. “I haven’t gone back and looked, but I have to believe that over the first five weeks of the season, that as a crew this has to be the worst weaponry Brady has had since he’s become the starting quarterback of the team.

“It may turn out to be not that way. Kenbrell Thompkins might turn out to be a really good weapon; he looked like he was going to be that way in camp. But obviously, Brady thought that there was going to be more help, the cavalry was going to arrive. It hasn’t.

“I would only assume — and it’s an assumption, it’s no knowledge — I would only assume that he’s got to be very frustrated not only with the process of Gronkowski’s health but with the fact that he gave them this massive salary cap relief and he’s playing with a group of guys that clearly don’t compare to most of the teams he’s going to play against this year.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Peter King, redskins, Rob Gronkowski

Bill Belichick on Patriots medical staff: ‘We have confidence in all of them’

10.11.13 at 12:01 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick gave a literal vote of confidence to team medical director Dr. Tom Gill in wake of Thursday night’s WEEI.com report that there was “serious concern” over his treatment and procedures on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Belichick was asked if, in light of the report, he had any concern with work of the team’s medical director?

“I think I’ve already talked about that,” Belichick said. “As it relates to our medical people, we have confidence in all of them and they do a good job.”

The situation Belichick was referring to was his defense of Dr. Gill early in training camp in July when the NFLPA reportedly pressured the Patriots to relieve Gill of duties in wake of the Jonathan Fanene case.

‘€œI feel like we have a lot of players who worked really hard that are obviously in really good condition, that worked hard in this last month to really be ready to go for training camp,’€ Belichick said, describing the overall physical condition of his team entering camp. ‘€œWe had a number of guys that were working through various injury situations in the spring but Dr. Gill and [trainer] Jim Whalen and their respective staffs have done an excellent job bringing those guys around. Looks like those players have made a lot of progress. They won’€™t all be out there but they’€™re getting close, and that’€™s encouraging as well.’€

New England released Fanene in August 2012 for ‘€œfailure to disclose physical condition’€ and tried to recover what it could of the player’s $3.85 million signing bonus. Belichick and Gill both testified against Fanene during a hearing.

ESPN Boston and the NFL Network cited multiple sources in reporting that the grievance against Gill, filed in the summer, was a legal counter-punch, coming from the original grievance filed by the Patriots against Fanene. On Sept. 22, ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss reported a settlement had been reached after the NFLPA dropped its grievance.

In preparing for Fanene’€™s hearing, two sources told ESPNBoston.com that the NFLPA discovered information it believes may show Gill wasn’€™t acting in the best interest of Fanene. The information, according to ESPNBoston sources, was an email correspondence with Patriots executives.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jonathan Fanene, New England Patriots, nfl

Patriots practice Friday: Tommy Kelly, Leon Washington missing third straight day

10.11.13 at 11:39 am ET
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FOXBORO — Tommy Kelly and Leon Washington missed their third straight practice on Friday while linebacker Jamie Collins returned as the Patriots worked out in sweats and shells on the upper grass fields outside Gillette Stadium.

Kelly left Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter holding his right knee and limped off the field. Washington suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Devin McCourty in the kick return game. With both missing their third straight practice, it’s unlikely either player will suit up for Sunday’s game against the Saints.

On Wednesday, in an effort to add depth along the defensive line, which is already without Vince Wilfork for the rest of the season, the team signed former Panthers defensive tackle Andre Neblett. Neblett has been at practice all three days and could make his debut on Sunday.

As for Rob Gronkowski, Adam Schefter reports that Dr. James Andrews has not signed off on allowing the tight end to return. Gronkowski was on the practice field again on Friday but practice was closed to the media immediately following stretching.

Read More: Gronk, Leon Washington, New England Patriots, new orleans saints

Video: ‘4th and Goal’ previews Patriots-Saints

10.11.13 at 9:30 am ET
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WEEI.com’s Chris Price previews the Week 6 matchup between the Patriots and Saints. Find out the keys to the game as well as Chris’ prediction on the final score.

Fantasy Football: Week 6 starts, sits

10.11.13 at 9:08 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 6 starts and sits. I’€™ve tried to vary the level of options to give people in all league sizes something to chew on. If you are looking for more comprehensive rankings, go to Rotobahn.com, where we rank them all every week and update the rankings every weekend. Jim Hackett and I will be doing our weekly podcast later Friday and we’€™ll cover these starts and sits in depth. Check it out. You can find it in our audio on demand area. I’€™ll also be back Sunday, as usual, to answer all of your lineup questions in our Sunday morning chat sponsored by our friends at Mohegan Sun.

QUARTERBACKS

STARTS

Andy Dalton, Bengals at Bills

There are better options out there, obviously, but Dalton should do well this week against a Bills squad that is beat up on the back end. He’€™s got weapons all around him and a solid ground game to work off of.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers at Jets

The Steelers are looking better than they did a few weeks back and they get a Jets team that may be down a few cornerbacks. This bodes well for Big Ben and his receivers. He’€™s a good play in most formats.

Alex Smith, Chiefs vs. Raiders

If you are looking for help this week, Smith can step in for you. A big game may not be in the cards, but a solid effort seems to be something you can count on from Smith and Andy Reid‘€™s offense.

Joe Flacco, Ravens vs. Packers

There will be plenty of points in this game, and Flacco will need to attack the Pack downfield. Ray Rice‘€™s major contributions likely will be in the passing game, and that helps Flacco. He’€™s a decent play if you are in need.

SITS

Matt Schaub, Texans vs. Rams

He’€™s risky, as he could have a short leash this week in a home game in front of potentially hostile fans. He’€™s playable if you are stuck with him, but this is definitely a week to consider other options. Schaub may not get a chance to finish if he starts poorly.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals at 49ers

It’€™s a bad matchup, and Palmer has really been struggling lately. He may post some garbage-time numbers, but the 49ers usually are pretty good at playing hard for 60 minutes. I’€™d avoid Palmer this week. This offense has a lot of upside, but this is not the week to roll the dice with it.

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Read More: Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer
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