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Pats practice: Tom Brady on hand, Jarrad Page and Myron Pryor not

11.12.10 at 12:08 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Safety Jarrad Page and defensive lineman Myron Pryor were the only players not present for the open portion of Patriots practice on Friday outside Gillette Stadium.

Page has been nursing a calf injury since the Chargers game on Oct. 24 while Pryor is treating a back injury. Tom Brady was present and accounted for and was doing his standard work with back-up Brian Hoyer and practice squad QB Jonathan Crompton.

The team practiced in sweats and shells on the grass fields outside Gillette Stadium in preparation for the grass surface they’ll be playing on Sunday night at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Read More: Jarrad Page, Myron Pryor, New England Patriots, nfl

Adam Schefter on D&C: ‘Toughest part of the schedule’ coming up for Pats

11.12.10 at 11:30 am ET
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ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Friday and discussed why Sunday’s loss to the Browns was particularly untimely. “You look at the schedule coming up, to me it’s the toughest part of the schedule,” began Schefter. “I know there’s no easy game in the league and it’s always a tough and challenging league, that’s true. But you go into Pittsburgh. You come home and at that point in time you’re preparing to play Indianapolis. Again, a tough part of the schedule.

“And you can argue, where is it easy? And it never really is,” continued Schefter. “But it just seems like it jumps out at you now playing Pittsburgh and Indy in back-to-back weeks before going to Detroit on Thanksgiving day, before coming home to play the Jets, [and then] at Chicago. It just seems like ‘Woah.’ ”

Schefter then explained how the loss at Cleveland makes the schedule appear even more daunting. “I guess it’s accentuated a little bit more coming off a loss at Cleveland because whenever you lose a game in the league the sky is falling and everything is terrible,” Schefter said. “When you win, and if they had won on Sunday in Cleveland, and you get a chance to win and they do. And they usually play pretty well against the Colts. And you wouldn’t be looking at those games in quite the light that you do now. But coming off a loss, a bad loss, in Cleveland you say, ‘Woah, woah woah, look at the schedule coming up now.’ ”

Following are more highlights from the interview, including more thoughts on Sunday’s contest with Pittsburgh, whether Randy Moss might have returned to New England, and Brad Childress‘ job security. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Does it give the Patriots an opening in your mind that the Steelers are so beat up on the offensive line, that maybe they aren’t going to be the same team that even beat Cincinnati?

Well, listen, I don’t know that the Patriots need an opening, the Patriots are a good team. And Pittsburgh is a good team. They have to go in there and play the way that they do. They have to play more the way they have in some of the other games this season and a lot less like they did in Cleveland. Typically in this league, good teams that come off bad games usually can respond with some good performances. And it won’t surprise me if New England comes out and plays a very good game.

The problem is Pittsburgh hasn’t played great lately. They nearly gave away a game on Monday night to Cincinnati. And Pittsburgh to me might just be the best team in the NFL right now. And you’re going to play there on a Sunday night, tough environment. This is about as tough a matchup as the Patriots can have at this point in the season.

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Read More: adam schefter, brad childress, Randy Moss, Shayne Graham

Bill Belichick plays wait-and-see on Tom Brady

11.12.10 at 11:23 am ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots coach Bill Belichick played the wait-and-see game with Tom Brady when asked about the quarterback’s status for this Sunday night’s game in Pittsburgh. Brady missed Wednesday’s practice with a foot injury before returning to only limited participation on Thursday.

“We’ll do the same thing we always do,” Belichick said. “We’ll practice, go through the week, list his participation in practice based on what it is and list his status for the game just like we do with everybody else’s, based on what we think it is after we get through the whole week, after we get through Friday practice. That’s really it.”

The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that a source indicated Brady was nursing a sprained foot but the injury wouldn’t keep him from playing Sunday night. Belichick began the presser by joking about Brady’s “throwing foot”, a reference to Brady’s right shoulder, which has been listed on the Patriots injury report for several years.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, nfl, Pittsburgh Steelers

Stephen Neal on D&H: Logan Mankins ‘built differently from most people’

11.12.10 at 10:56 am ET
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After missing last week’s appearance due to an extended practice session, Patriots offensive lineman Stephen Neal returned for his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday morning as part of WEEI’s Patriots Friday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Neal said he didn’t want to harp on last Sunday’s loss to the Browns. “Each week’s a challenge,” he said. “Since that challenge is over, you keep looking back there, you’re not going to be ready for the next challenge,, which is this week in Pittsburgh, and that’s a very good challenge. So, whatever happened last week, last week’s over. It’s time to move on.”

Looking at Sunday night’s showdown with the Steelers, Neal expects a memorable evening. “It’s going to be a war on Sunday night, man,” he said. “I tell you, it’s going to be a great place to be on Sunday night. It’s going to be some good football being played, some tough football. It should be exciting for the fans.”

Neal was complimentary of the Pittsburgh defense. “They really tighten everything down and play great technique,” he said. “It’s a very solid style of defense. You’ve just got to go out there and stand up to them, and hopefully, we’ll be up to the challenge.”

Added Neal: “You have two teams that don’t want to give [any ground]. It’s going to be pretty physical out there. It’s going to be a war.”

Fellow offensive lineman Logan Mankins jumped right back into a starting role despite only practicing for days after ending his holdout. Neal said it speaks to what kind of player he is, noting that he can’t remember Mankins ever missing any practices, let alone games. “He’s a very unusual person,” Neal said. “He’s a tough, hard-working guy. He’s built differently from most people. He’s a cowboy, you know. He’s a very special person, and it’s a pleasure to have him back on the team.”

Read More: Logan Mankins, Stephen Neal,

Nuggetpalooza’s Patriots Preview: At Pittsburgh

11.12.10 at 9:16 am ET
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Sunday night in Pittsburgh could really begin provide some insights into what these Patriots are capable of doing this season. Are they just good?  Or are they a bonafide contender for the Super Bowl? Can’t wait to find out. This one should be a real corker.

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* – Only four teams in the NFL have allowed two or more touchdowns in every game this season: Denver, Houston, Jacksonville, and the New England Patriots.

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* – The Steelers lead the league in fewest points allowed (15.4 per game) but 51 percent of those points have come in the fourth quarter or later, easily the highest percentage in the league:

51% – Steelers
44% – Browns
40% – Ravens (does not include Thursday night)

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* – I’ll have lots more on the passing games of these two teams later on, but here’s a good one: When the Patriots throw to their wide receivers MORE than 10 yards downfield, they’ve completed just 30 percent of those throws, the lowest percentage in the league:

30.2% – Patriots
31.3% – Lions
33.3% – Chiefs

Having said that, when New England DOES complete those passes, their average yards at the point of the catch (20.1) is fifth highest in the league.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re wrong: Tom Brady’s completion percentage on those throws (to wide receivers more than 10 yards downfield) has IMPROVED since the Randy Moss trade:

With Moss: 4-for-21 (19%)
Without Moss: 9-for-22 (41%)

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* – Pittsburgh leads the league in average starting field position (33.4 yard line) while the Patriots have faded to 18th (average start at the 29.5).

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* – The Patriots have allowed 350 or more yards in their last six games, the second longest current streak in the NFL (Houston, 8). It’s just the second time since at least 1990 that the Patriots have had such a streak of six or more games (they had an eight game streak in 2005).

Note this: The Steelers have allowed LESS than 350 yards in their last 10 straight games, the longest such streak in the league.

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* – Six more drops last Sunday for Patriots’ receivers. They’ve now dropped 12 percent of catchable balls this year, the worst mark in the league.

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* – Slump? Pittsburgh’s defense allowed four touchdowns in their first four games and has allowed seven touchdowns in their last four (and five in their last two).

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* – Through their first five games, the Patriots had six kickoff returns of 30 yards or more. But over their last three contests, they haven’t had any. In fact, they’ve returned 14 kickoffs in their last three games and only three times have they gone for even 20 yards.

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Week 10 fantasy football starts

11.12.10 at 8:24 am ET
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Every week, we try to highlight some less obvious names who will tear it up for fantasy football owners. Here’s what to look for this week.

QUARTERBACKS

David Garrard (Jaguars) vs. Texans

One of the most consistent fantasy options this year has been the Houston pass defense. This unit has been absolutely horrendous week in and week out, and any quarterback, heck, even a paraplegic old woman, is a viable selection against this secondary. Entering Week 10, the defense had surrendered 24, 27, 27, 24, 31, 31, 30 and 29 points in its first seven games, with the vast majority of those points coming through the air. Houston’s young corners and overeager safeties have been torched for a league-worst average of 300 yards, 2.5 TDs, and 25.1 fantasy points per week.

Stepping up to the plate? Arguably the hottest QB in the league: David Garrard. Sure, he’€™s been wildly inconsistent this year, posting single digits in three out of seven starts. Yet, when he’€™s good, Garrard is REAL good, and in October, he was on fire. In his three full starts in the month of October (Garrard suffered a concussion against Tennessee and missed the following week), the dual threat passed for a 9:2 touchdown/interception ratio, added two scores on the ground, and never went below a 122.5 passer rating. In fact, his season rating of 98.8 is higher than Peyton Manning‘€™s (96.3).

Most recently, Garrard led all quarterbacks in Week 8 scoring with 30 fantasy points due to five total touchdowns against the Cowboys (the Jags had a bye in Week 9). Given the matchup, Garrard could find himself atop that throne again this week. The math is simple enough for a first grader to understand: Hot QB + Worst Pass Defense = Monster Numbers.

Shaun Hill (Lions) at Bills

No matter who’€™s been under center, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has made the Detroit passing attack potent nearly all season long. In five out of the six starts, only one quarterback was under center for all four quarters, that player has posted over 20 fantasy points. Surprisingly, the majority of those belong to journeyman Shaun Hill because of Matthew Stafford‘€™s shoulder. This is largely due to the team’€™s clear confidence in Hill, as the Lions have yet to scale back his pass attempts per contest, which stands at 43.5 (right on par with Stafford).

With Stafford’€™s season in question, Hill should be one of the top waiver adds of this week. Given the impressive weapons that surround him, the 30-year-old Maryland product should be a stable option the remainder of the season. Up first? The woeful Bills. At first glance, the matchup doesn’€™t appear favorable. Buffalo has kept five out of eight opposing quarterbacks under 200 yards, and the Bills rank sixth in the league against the pass, averaging only 193.4 yards a game.

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Read More: David Garrard, Fantasy Football, Rumor Mill, Shaun Hill

Jerod Mayo on D&C: ‘We never will accept losing around here’

11.12.10 at 7:13 am ET
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Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show early Friday morning. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Mayo talked about last Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Browns. “First and foremost, it was just energy,” he said. “We came out a little flat.”

Mayo said Bill Belichick has not been a pleasant person this week, his usual persona after a loss. “We never will accept losing around here,” Mayo said. “Ever since I was drafted to New England, it’s been that way. It’s a bad feeling when you come around here after a loss.”

However, Mayo said there is a silver lining to the loss, as the team has studied film of the game and been able to identify and work on correcting its problems, especially with technique. “It’s worth losing if you can learn a lot, and I think we did,” he said.

Looking ahead to this Sunday’s game, Mayo knows the Patriots will be in for a challenge against the Steelers but won’t let the loss in Cleveland affect their confidence. “Before last week, we were taking some steps in the right direction, especially with our run defense and things like that,” he said. “Pittsburgh’s a run-first team. So, I think if we get back to the basics and stop the run, we’ll have a good chance of winning the game. Pittsburgh has struggled a little bit in close games. I think if we keep it close, then we’ll have a good chance.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jerod Mayo,
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