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Devin McCourty has put together impressive flag-free season

11.28.14 at 1:53 pm ET
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Devin McCourty has yet to be hit with a penalty this season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty has yet to be hit with a penalty this season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Among the several notable things worth mentioning about the season safety Devin McCourty is enjoying is the fact that he’s the only Patriots player on either side of the ball who has played at least 700 snaps who has yet to be flagged for a penalty.

McCourty has played 711 snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus, and has yet to be penalized. He’s only one of a handful of New England regulars who has yet to be penalized this season, a group that includes veteran defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (no flags in 584 snaps) and running back Shane Vereen (no penalties in 439 snaps).

“I don’t even know if it’s a good thing — I should probably have some,” he said with a sheepish smile this week. “But I don’t know. There are different things they ask me to do in this defense — sometimes, I’m in the middle of the field and I’m not in man-to-man coverage, and that probably takes away some of the chances. I think when you’re playing safety, and you’re just focused so much on the quarterback and playing the ball, that takes away some penalties.

“But I have no straight answer — I didn’t know that,” he added with a grin. “I didn’t come prepared to answer that question.”

Ina year where flags are up across the league, the idea that someone could play as much as McCourty and not have drawn a flag is impressive. However, to McCourty’s point, there are several safeties across the league who have played 700-plus snaps this season and have yet to be flagged — McCourty is part of a group that includes Seattle’s Earl Thomas, San Francisco’s Antoine Bethea, Cleveland’s Donte Whitner and Denver’s Rahim Moore.

In a year where the Patriots have occasionally struggled with penalties, McCourty acknowledged it’s a point of emphasis for the team as a while moving forward.

“I think that’s really the focus for us now as a unit — just making sure we have less penalties as a group,” he said. “That gives us a better chance to win football games.”

Read More: Antoine Bethea, Devin McCourty, Donte Whitner, Earl Thomas

Bill Belichick quotes legendary coach Bobby Knight when asked about winning on the road

11.28.14 at 1:29 pm ET
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Bill Belichick and the Patriots will have their hands full Sunday in Green Bay against the Packers. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick and the Patriots will have their hands full Sunday in Green Bay against the Packers. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — It is no secret the Packers are dominant at home this season.

They are a perfect 5-0 on the year and in their last four games they have have routed opponents 66-0 in the first quarter and an improbable 128-9 in the first half.

Coach Bill Belichick was asked what makes it so difficult to win on the road in the NFL, and Belichick responded with a quote from friend, and fellow legendary coach Bobby Knight.

“I think I’€™d go back to Coach [Bobby] Knight’€™s comment of, ‘€˜Winning favors the team that makes the fewest mistakes.’€™ I’€™d start with that,” said Belichick. “I’€™d rather play well and make fewer mistakes and play anywhere than not play well and make a lot of mistakes, put it wherever you want to put it — at home, neutral field. I’€™ll go with Coach Knight on that one.”

The differences between playing at home and on the road are pretty obvious, but playing at the historic Lambeau Field, they will be major factors come Sunday afternoon.

“All the obvious things — schedule, field conditions, crowd noise on offense and when you handle the ball — punt team, field goal team, all those things,” Belichick said. “Those crowd noise situations are just in reverse when you play at home –€“ field conditions and weather, schedule, routine — whatever. It’€™s always a little bit easier when you’€™re familiar with what the norm is. You’€™re into a routine, the home routine. Going on the road, it’€™s always a little bit different. Every team has the same number of home and away games in this league, so it all evens out.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bobby Knight, Green Bay Packers,

Patriots release TE Xavier Grimble and LS Charley Hughlett

11.28.14 at 1:18 pm ET
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The Patriots released tight end Xavier Grimble and long snapper Charley Hughlett from the practice squad Friday. Both players were signed to the practice squad on Wednesday. Here’s a portion of the release issued by the team on the moves:

Grimble, 22, was originally signed by the New York Giants as a rookie free agent out of USC on May 15, 2014. The 6-foot-4, 261-pounder, was released by the Giants on Aug. 26 and signed to the San Francisco practice squad on Sept. 15. He was released from the 49ers practice squad on Nov. 18. In three seasons as USC, Grimble played in 38 games with 22 starts and caught 69 passes for 731 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Hughlett, 23, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Dallas Cowboys out of Central Florida on April 30, 2012. The 6-foot-4, 251-pounder was released by Dallas on Aug. 27, 2012. He was re-signed by Dallas on Jan. 7, 2013 and released for a second time on May 29, 2013. He was signed by New England on March 19, 2014. After being released by New England in May, Hughlett was signed by Jacksonville on June 19, 2014, before being released on Aug. 25, 2014. Following his release from the New England practice squad, Hughlett spent one week on the Cleveland practice squad.

Read More: Charley Hughlett, Xavier Grimble,

Sealver Siliga’s 21-day clock started, Chandler Jones present for 3rd straight day at Patriots practice

11.28.14 at 1:10 pm ET
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Sealver Siliga

Sealver Siliga

FOXBORO — The Patriots held practice outside in the cold on the grass fields behind Gillette Stadium Friday in advance of Sunday’s game in Green Bay against the Packers. Practice was in full pads.

The only player missing at the session was linebacker Chris White, who was added to the injury report on Thursday with an ankle injury, and was limited. Defensive end Chandler Jones (hip) practiced for a third straight day.

Defensive lineman Sealver Siliga was present at the start of practice, and with it being a full-padded practice and not a walkthrough, his 21-day window to be activated to the active roster has started. He was on short-term injured reserve designated for return after suffering a foot injury Week 3 against the Raiders.

The Patriots have one open roster spot on the 53-man roster with Don Jones’ release earlier in the day. That spot could go to Siliga, but this was the first full-padded practice he’s been spotted at since suffering the injury. The team has two spots open on its practice squad and one on the active roster.

Long-snapper Danny Aiken (concussion) was present and Charley Hughlett was released from the practice squad earlier in the day, so it seems likely Aiken will be ready to go on Sunday.

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

Read More: chandler jones, Sealver Siliga,

Bill Belichick says Chandler Jones (hip) taking things ‘day-by-day-by-day-by-day’

11.28.14 at 10:52 am ET
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Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

FOXBORO — Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones didn’t practice at all since his Week 7 hip injury against the Jets, until this week when Jones has practiced both Wednesday and Thursday, on a limited basis.

Coach Bill Belichick didn’t give any insight on his recovery process or a timetable for a return, just that it’s a day-by-day thing.

“We just take it day-by-day-by-day-by-day,” Belichick said. “I know you guys don’€™t want to hear that, but that’€™s what it is. I’€™m not going to sit here and make something up. Each day we go out there and the player does what he can do and we evaluate it.”

Added Belichick: “There’€™s no leapfrog where you jump like four or five steps in the process. Each day, what the medical department says, he goes out there and does a little bit more than he did the day before and feels good and there’€™s no setbacks then we bump it up to the next level. If he doesn’€™t, then we stay the same or maybe back it down for a day and try again. … That’€™s just normal rehab for every player. I mean, the rehab is different but the process is really the same.”

In seven games this season Jones has 4.5 sacks. There have been varying reports on the just how long Jones will be out. When he was first injured, the Boston Globe reported he would be out about a month, but the Boston Herald later added there was concern he would miss the entire rest of the season.

While it’s highly unlikely Jones plays this week, or even next week in San Diego, him practicing is a very encouraging sign for him to make a return at some point this regular-season.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Bill Belichick, chandler jones,

Bill Belichick: ‘Possibility’ special teamer Don Jones returns to Patriots’ practice squad

11.28.14 at 10:38 am ET
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Special teams player Don Jones was offocially released by the Patriots on Friday. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Special teams player Don Jones was officially released by the Patriots on Friday. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — In a surprising move, the Patriots released core special teams player Don Jones officially on Friday. They did not make a corresponding move.

Jones has played in nine of the 11 games so far this season and has seven special teams tackles on the year. Bill Belichick agreed Jones has made contributions, but in typical Belichick fashion he said the move was, “what was best for the football team.”

“We did what we felt like was best for the football team,” said Belichick. “I don’t disagree with anything you said, I think he has that production, but in the end we are going to do what is best for the team.”

Belichick confirmed if Jones does clear waivers he has practice squad eligibility and there is a chance he could return to New England, but there are other factors that come into play as well.

“He’s practice squad eligible, he is one of the exceptions,” he said. “That would be a possibility and there are other players that are in consideration based on our team and what other players are available. We’ve made a couple of practice squad transactions, we’ve made them over the course of the year, so again we’ll try and manage it the best that we can. I would say there is a lot of things that go into that — part of it is what we have, part of it is guys who are available, part of it is what players are available. It’s all part of it. It will probably going to be constantly in some type of transition throughout the course of the year like it usually is.”

With an open spot on the 53-man roster, a position to keep an eye on long-snapper. Danny Aiken suffered a concussion in last Sunday’s game against the Lions and the team added long-snapper Charley Hughlett to the practice squad on Wednesday. If Aiken cannot go Sunday, it is very likely Hughlett would be added to the roster, with Jones now creating an open spot. They do not have a backup long-snapper on the active roster as Rob Ninkovich would serve as the emergency long-snapper if needed.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Don Jones,

Fantasy Football: Week 13 starts, sits

11.28.14 at 10:14 am ET
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WEEI_FantasyFootball_2014_hdr

Welcome to the Week 13 starts and sits! I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving, and I really hope that none of you started Tony Romo. It’s money time for a lot of us, and I have some suggestions below as I always do. Full Week 13 lineup rankings have been posted at Rotobahn. So, if you want my take on players not listed here, check them out.

Don’t forget to tune in Sunday morning for another episode of the Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host Jim Hackett. If you have last-minute lineup concerns, you should check out my Sunday chat. It takes place right here at WEEI.com and it runs from 11 a.m. to noon every Sunday.

If you want to keep track of all my fantasy football content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter. I send out links to all fresh content.

QUARTERBACK

Start

Eli Manning, Giants at Jaguars

This is not a hard call. The Giants may be out of it, but they still are trying to get their new offense perfected, and the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. has breathed some life into things. I expect starting-caliber numbers from Manning in Week 13.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins at Jets

I still have some trust issues with Tannehill, but he has a lot going for him in this game. The Jets defense may not be awful, but you clearly throw to beat them. That will help Tannehill, as will his improved cast of receivers, led by rookie Jarvis Landry, who has given him the go-to option he’s lacked since taking over the job back in 2012. The Jets also will be susceptible to deep threat Mike Wallace, as they have issues on the back end. I see fantasy success for Tannehill on Monday night.

Zach Mettenberger, Titans at Texans

He’s not an option to consider for most of you. Having said that, if you need help in a deep format, Mettenberger has proven worthy of consideration. He’s an interesting case in that his college skill talent was better than his NFL skill talent. The rookie played at LSU and his outside weapons were Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. He also had Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue in his backfield. Not bad, right? The plus in this is that Mettenberger has a natural inclination to trust his receivers, and that’s probably rooted in playing with Beckham and Landry — who both make ridiculous catches with stunning regularity. The point of my long-winded explanation is that Mettenberger has a weapon in Justin Hunter, and the key to unlocking him is trust, because he’s a receiver who is never really covered due to his size advantage and leaping ability. This is a quarterback-receiver relationship that could go either way over the long haul, but if things click, they could click in a major way. This is a connection to watch over the rest of 2014, and Mettenberger is a player to consider in 14-team leagues.

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Read More: Brian Hoyer, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Zach Mettenberger
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