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Tom Brady goes home sick, Ryan Mallett takes first-team reps: ‘It was a lot of fun’

01.15.14 at 2:31 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Following Patriots practice Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, backup quarterback Ryan Mallett acknowledged he took snaps with both the first team as well as the scout team stepping in for Tom Brady who was not present at the media portion of practice.

Multiple reports indicate that Brady was on site at Gillette Stadium early Wednesday morning but went home sick, as did long snapper Danny Aiken, who was also missing at the media portion of practice.

“€œIt was a lot of fun. I like getting to play in our offense,” Mallett said.

The 25-year-old said he was notified he’d be taking the first team snaps this morning by coach Bill Belichick, but wouldn’t elaborate any further, although he did acknowledge he spoke to Brady earlier in the day.

“This morning,” Mallett said, when asked about when he found out he’d be taking first-team reps. “You have to ask coach, I just do what I am told and do my job.”

The backup quarterback said his focus didn’t change as even when Brady is practicing, he is still mentally preparing like he is out there.

“Even when I am not taking snaps with the first team I am watching and playing the game in my head so I get my reps in case something happens and I’€™ll be going into the game,”€ said Mallett.

Mallett also simulated Peyton Manning on the other side of the ball for the Patriot defense.

“Peyton does a lot of different stuff and we do our best to emulate that and give our defense a good look,” he said. “A few Omaha’€™s.”

The exact reason for Brady’s absence at media portion of practice will be revealed in the injury report which will be released later in the afternoon.

Read More: Patriots, Ryan Mallett, Tom Brady,

Poll: Do you prefer Wes Welker, Danny Amendola or Julian Edelman?

01.15.14 at 1:35 pm ET
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The Patriots allowed Wes Welker to leave as a free agent last offseason, and he headed off to Denver to join Peyton Manning and become a part of the most prolific offense in NFL history. In 13 games — he missed the final three following his second concussion of the season — Welker had 73 receptions for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Danny Amendola arrived in New England and battled through injuries to help the Patriots overcome the loss of their top five pass-catchers from last season. Amendola played in 12 games and had 54 catches for 633 yards and two touchdowns.

Julian Edelman managed to avoid the injury bug and become the Patriots’ most reliable receiver in 2013. Playing all 16 games, Edelman had 105 catches for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns.

All three will be on the field for Sunday’s AFC championship game in Denver. If you had to choose, which one player would you want the most on your team for this game?

Which receiver would you want on your team the most?

  • Julian Edelman (67%, 395 Votes)
  • Wes Welker (26%, 155 Votes)
  • Danny Amendola (7%, 39 Votes)

Total Voters: 589

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Patriots playoff mash Wednesday

01.15.14 at 12:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The expanded media presence at Gillette Stadium signifies the hype surrounding this Sunday’s AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and the Broncos. Add in the fact that it’s Tom Brady and Peyton Manning‘s 15th career game against one another, Wes Welker playing against his former team and former Patriots cornerback Marquice Cole signing with Denver on Tuesday, the story lines are endless and the hype is real.

Here are a few quick links as of Wednesday at Noon:

Read More: AFC Championship, Broncos, Patriots,

Patriots practice Wednesday: Tom Brady, long snapper Danny Aiken not spotted, Aaron Dobson, Ryan Allen in uniform

01.15.14 at 11:25 am ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady and Danny Aiken were the only two players not spotted at Patriots practice Wednesday as the team hit the lower grass fields in sweats and shells in preparation for the Broncos Sunday in Denver.

Brady, of course, came on in the second half and replaced punter Ryan Allen as the holder for Stephen Gostkowski kicks after the punter injured his right shoulder on a botched Aiken snap in the second quarter. Wednesday’s absence leaves open the obvious possibility that Brady and Aiken were somewhere else on the complex working on long snapping.

But there is the possibility that Brady’s holding skills won’t even be needed Sunday as Allen was in uniform Wednesday on the practice field taking part in activities. Allen reportedly injured the AC joint in his right shoulder and had an MRI on Sunday afternoon.

A medical source tells WEEI.com that a normal recovery time for such an injury is two weeks but that a punter or kicker could play with the injury if it is not severe in nature. A position player would likely be out of game action for the rest of the playoffs.

The other significant development Wednesday was the return of rookie receiver Aaron Dobson who returned to practice for the first time since injuring his foot against the Bills in the season finale.

The Patriots will practice again on Thursday and Friday before leaving for Denver, which could happen Friday afternoon.

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Danny Aiken, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots

Report: Tony Corrente will work as referee for AFC title game between Patriots and Broncos

01.15.14 at 6:00 am ET
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Tony Corrente will serve as the referee for Sunday’s AFC title game between the Patriots and Broncos, according to Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira.

This will mark the third New England game of the season for Corrente, who also worked the Oct. 13 game against the Saints in Foxboro and the Dec. 15 contest against the Dolphins in Miami.

According to our pal Football Zebras, Corrente will be working his 13th postseason assignment and his fourth conference championship. (He also worked five wild card playoffs, 3 divisional playoffs, and Super Bowl XLI.)

Here’€™€™s a look at each lead official assigned to work Patriots games to this point in the 2013 season:

Sept. 9 vs. Buffalo: Walt Anderson
Sept. 12 vs. NY Jets: Carl Cheffers
Sept. 22 vs. Tampa Bay: Jeff Triplette
Sept. 29 vs. Atlanta: Walt Coleman
Oct. 6 vs. Cincinnati: Gene Steratore
Oct. 13 vs. New Orleans: Tony Corrente
Oct. 20 vs. NY Jets: Jerome Boger
Oct. 27 vs. Miami: Walt Anderson
Nov. 3 vs. Pittsburgh: Walt Coleman
Nov. 18 vs. Carolina: Clete Blakeman
Nov. 24 vs. Denver: Gene Steratore
Dec. 1 vs. Houston: Pete Morelli
Dec. 8 vs. Cleveland: Jerome Boger
Dec. 15 vs. Miami: Tony Corrente
Dec. 22 vs. Ravens: Ron Winter
Dec. 29 vs. Bills: Ed Hochuli
Jan. 11 vs. Colts: Pete Morelli

For more on Corrente’s work as a referee, check out his page at Pro Football Reference. For more information on this week’€™€™s assignments, click through to the always reliable Football Zebras.

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Matt Patricia knows his D can’t run from past: ‘We obviously have to play better than we did the first time’

01.14.14 at 9:23 pm ET
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Matt Patricia knows the ugly numbers from Nov. 24. Thirty-seven carries, 224 yards for Knowshon Moreno. Forty-eight carries for 280 yards and a 5.8 yards per carry for the Broncos as a team.

It was the single game that symbolized New England’s inability to stop the run all season. They finished last in the AFC in run defense, allowing 134 yards per game. Only Atlanta and Chicago allowed more this season.

The Broncos knew they could exploit the Patriots, who were without Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Jerod Mayo. On Sunday, the Patriots will be without another starter, run-stopping linebacker Brandon Spikes. That’s four key cogs out of the mix in the Patriots run defense.

The Patriots didn’t want Peyton Manning beating them so the Broncos nearly used the running game to do the job. Doesn’t it figure the Broncos might use the same strategy Sunday in Denver? And if that unfolds, what would have to change?

“We obviously have to play better than we did the first time around against these guys,” Patricia said. “I don’€™t know if we want to challenge Denver to anything. I think we are trying to stop them the best we can in both the pass and the run. Certainly they did a great job against us in the run game and blocked us very well. It is certainly something we need to go out and perform better in than we did last time.

“We want to get back to using our techniques and being strong up front and try to control the line of scrimmage, which is really the goal in the game of football every week. That battle in the trenches is a huge one and something that they obviously had success with last time we played them, Like I said, [in] the run game and they have done a great job here since our game and recently moving through the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs of really having a good run game with all the backs.

“Like I said earlier with Moreno and Ball both being very productive carrying the ball. That is certainly a huge challenge for us and something we need to improve on from the last game. On top of it the record setting passing game that they have behind it. We have a huge challenge in front of us.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Denver Broncos, Knowshon Moreno, matt patricia, New England Patriots

Jim Nantz on Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning: ‘This is as big as it gets’

01.14.14 at 7:19 pm ET
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CBS analysts Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason and play-by-play man Jim Nantz held a conference call Tuesday to discuss the Patriots-Broncos AFC title game. Here are a few highlights from that conference call

(On the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry)
Nantz: I think it transcends the NFL. This is something everyone wants to see. This is tantamount to Ali-€‘Frazier one more time. This is Palmer-Nicklaus. This is Bird-€‘Magic. I’m not trying to create some sort of synthetic drama here, but this is what it is. This is as big as it gets. We’re going to savor it because you don’t know how many more times we’ll get it again. You say Brady-Manning, I defy anyone to say there is anything that has been bigger in this league.

Simms: The word legacy, all these things who they are, I have fun with them and I hear it. Somebody said their legacies, both of them, are at stake in this game at this time. I don’t care what either one of them does in this game. It will never change what I think of them. If one of them goes out and has the worst game of his career and is the sole reason why they lose, it will not bring them down one single bit in my eyes. They’ve done so much for the league, and their teams, and themselves, there is nothing that can diminish it.

Esiason: Each one of these players this year really defines who they are. Peyton lifted and took a young group of receivers to a completely different level, and very few players are capable of doing that. And Tom Brady took a team basically that was more built around the run, broke through for 4,200 yards, and got them back all the way here to the AFC Championship game. I think really what speaks to the greatness of both of these quarterbacks, they both have, along with Bill Belichick, and I’m sure John Fox says this as well, a Ph.D. in high-€‘level thought processes that give them the opportunity to make these championship games each year.

(On what makes Brady and Manning the best of their generation)
Simms: We have two quarterbacks that are tough guys. Tom Brady, his attitude, staying on the field, the way he conducts himself with his football team mirrors his head coach. Peyton Manning, just to play the style of football he plays. Man, I get tired watching him and all the work. You’ve got to remember he does that every day in practice.

Esiason: The fact really is three words: longevity, consistency and success. Both of these guys have kind of been going in parallel lives to one another and now find themselves in the AFC Championship game. For Tom Brady it’s his eighth game with Bill Belichick. Nothing says greatness better or more than winning, especially at the highest level. Great moments require great people to do great things, and both of these players have accomplished that. I think I speak for Phil and every other quarterback that’s ever played the position, maybe with the exception of Joe Montana, that what you’re watching here are two guys that will go down as two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

(On what makes Bill Belichick so successful)
Simms: The thing that makes Bill so successful is that, in my eyes, it is truthfulness to his players. He tells them the truth. And it is raw, and it hurts. You’ve got to get used to that. But once you get used to it, it clarifies everything for you. You don’t have to walk around in your job and go, ‘€˜Oh, I wonder what Coach thinks of me or how am I doing?’€™ They let you know constantly. It is a rough way to play.

Read More: boomer esiason, Jim Nantz, Peyton Manning, Phil Simms

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