|11.26.14 at 2:09 pm ET|
Ed Hochuli will serve as the referee for Sunday’s Patriots-Packers game, according to FootballZebras.com.
Hochuli, known for his physique — as well as his occasional tendency to overexplain situations on the field — will be working his first New England game of the season. His last Patriots have was the regular-season finale last year against the Bills. Hochuli, who has worked an an NFL official since 1990, has served as the lead referee for two Super Bowls.
Here’s a look at who has worked as the lead official for each New England game this year, and the corresponding penalties for each game, not counting the flags that were offset or declined.
Sept. 7 at Miami: Walt Anderson — 9 penalties, 100 yards (Dolphins — 4 penalties, 26 yards)
Sept. 14 at Minnesota: Tony Corrente — 15 penalties, 163 yards (Vikings — 7 penalties, 58 yards)
Sept. 21 vs. Oakland: Pete Morelli — 6 penalties, 59 yards (Raiders — 6 penalties, 49 yards)
Sept. 29 at Kansas City: John Parry — 3 penalties, 30 yards (Chiefs — 4 penalties, 35 yards)
Oct. 5 vs. Cincinnati: Jerome Boger — 12 penalties, 114 yards (Bengals — 4 penalties, 37 yards)
Oct. 12 at Buffalo: Walt Coleman — 9 penalties, 60 yards (Bills — 8 penalties, 107 yards)
Oct. 16 vs. Jets: Bill Leavy — 9 penalties, 64 yards (Jets — 7 penalties, 70 yards)
Oct. 23 vs. Bears: Brad Allen — 7 penalties, 38 yards (Bears — 5 penalties, 41 yards)
Nov. 2 vs. Denver: Walt Anderson — 9 penalties, 71 yards (Broncos — 10 penalties, 72 yards)
Nov. 16 at Indy: Pete Morelli — 5 penalties, 53 yards (Colts — 4 penalties, 27 yards)
Nov. 23 vs. Lions: Tony Corrente — 11 penalties, 89 yards (Lions — 9 penalties, 54 yards)
Nov. 30 at Packers: Ed Hochuli
For more on Hochuli’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. And for more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|11.26.14 at 2:00 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In typical Matthew Slater fashion, even after signing a two-year contract extension with the Patriots through the end of the 2016 season, he would rather talk about the Patrots’ next opponent in the Packers, than himself.
“I’d love to be able to indulge in that, but we have to focus on playing the Packers this week,” Slater said.
The special teams specialist did give one comment on his contract, but that was as far as he would go.
“I don’t want to get into too much detail about it. I am so thankful for what the lord has done in my life and my career and develop me here as a player and as a man,” Slater said. “I am thankful for an opportunity to continue this development — I am thankful to the coaching staff and coach [Bill] Belichick and this organization for believing in me and appreciating a player like me, and guys like myself across this team. That being said, the focus here is on us preparing for Green Bay. That is all I am concerned with and I’d rather talk about that.”
Slater’s contract was set to expire at the end of the season. Even as strictly a special teamer, Slater has made a huge impact being a three-time Pro Bowl selection. He also serves as the team’s player representative.
“It means a lot. It definitely means a lot to me,” he said of being a member of the Patriots organization. “I really feel like God has blessed me with a tremendous opportunity and I take a lot of pride and am thankful for the opportunity I’ve had here to live out a childhood dream.”
Slater is looking forward to Sunday’s game in Green Bay against a tough Packers team and being able to play at the historic Lambeau Field.
“Excited about it,” he said. “A lot of history there and with Curley Lambeau and everything that this organization stands for. I don’t think the league would be where it is without a franchise like this so we’re excited about the challenge. All that being said, we’re going against one of the best teams in football. That is going to be a big challenge for us and we have to have a good week of preparation and have a good effort on Sunday.”
|11.26.14 at 1:44 pm ET|
“The guy is awesome,” added Revis. “We’re looking forward to it.”
New England will be looking to slow down a Green Bay offense that has been lights out over the last several weeks. The Packers are 5-0 at home, and in his five games at Lambeau this year, Rodgers is completing 67 percent of his passes, is averaging 284.8 passing yards per game and has 18 touchdowns and no picks, to go along with a passer rating of 138.1.
“They’re an impressive team,” Revis said of the Packers. “They’re tops in every category in the passing game.”
Rodgers leans heavily on the duo of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Nelson is eighth in the league in catches (68), fifth in targets (106) and receiving yards (1,066) and fourth in touchdown catches (nine). He’s only one of five receivers with at least 100 targets and 1,000 receiving yards, and has 18 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games. Cobb is a 5-foot-10, 192-pounder out of Kentucky who has 58 catches on 79 targets for 837 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns.
“They always get open — that shows you they understand the game,” Revis said of the Nelson/Cobb combo. “They’re very experienced. They have a lot of chemistry with Rodgers.”
The Patriots have cruised through the first four games of a six-game stretch that many believe would come to define their season, with four straight wins against four straight divisional leaders in Chicago, Denver, Indy and Detroit. But defeating the Packers in Green Bay represents a sizable challenge — the Packers are unbeaten at home, have averaged 44 points per game and have won their games at home by an average of 27 points per game. That includes two games where they’ve put up more than 50 points.
“That’s a part of the NFL, the challenge,” Revis said. “It doesn’t matter what team you play. All 32 teams are good and you have to bring your ‘A’ game every Sunday. You have to play elite ball to win. Our schedule has been pretty tough but at the same time, it’s the schedule. You get challenged, and you have to stand up to the challenge.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|11.26.14 at 1:29 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots made two significant additions to their practice squad the day before Thanksgiving.
The team signed tight end Xavier Grimble and long snapper Charley Hughlett to the unit. It’s the second appearance on the practice squad this season for Hughlett, who was signed to the New England practice squad on Sept. 1 and released two days later.
Hughlett provides depth behind current long snapper Danny Aiken, who had one bad snap Sunday and was punished by a cheap shot to the back of the head from Detroit’s C.J. Mosley on a late field goal attempt.
To make room for Grimble and Hughlett, the Patriots released linebacker Deontae Skinner and defensive back Daxton Swanson from the practice squad.
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.
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|11.26.14 at 1:24 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Chandler Jones was spotted at the Patriots walkthrough held Wednesday inside the Dana Farber Fieldhouse at Gillette Stadium. With snow falling outside, the team moved its practice indoors in advance of Sunday’s game in Green Bay.
The media was given limited access to the walkthrough and the players were not wearing jerseys so it was difficult to take a full attendance. A practice report will be released later this afternoon.
Long-snapper Charley Hughlett, who was added to the practice squad this morning, was present and was doing work before the session began.
It’s important to note regarding Jones, keep in mind it was a walkthrough and Sealver Siliga (foot) was present at last Wednesday’s walkthrough, but hasn’t yet come off of short-term injured reserve designated for return. Nevertheless, it’s a positive sign considering it was the first time he has been spotted since suffering the hip injury Week 7 against the Jets.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|11.26.14 at 1:10 pm ET|
|11.26.14 at 10:26 am ET|
FOXBORO — Tim Wright is in some rarefied air.
In his first season with the Patriots, the tight end has proven himself to be an eminently reliable part of the passing game — he has 23 catches on 26 targets. Even with the understanding that one of the targets was a throwaway by quarterback Tom Brady (an uncatchable ball), that’s an 88 percent catch rate, the best on the New England roster when it comes to players who have been targeted by Brady at least 20 times.
If he continues at his current rate, he’ll set a new standard for the Patriots. Since 2006, no member of the Patriots who has been targeted at least 20 times has a reception rate of better than 80 percent.
Of course, none of this is particularly new for Wright — last season with the Buccaneers, he proved equally sure-handed, as he caught 71 percent of the passes (54 receptions on 76 targets) that were thrown his way. But his target numbers this year — combined with his six receiving touchdowns (second on the team to fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski), have made him one of the surprise success stories when you’re talking about the 2014 Patriots offense.
Part of Wright’s success is rooted in the fact that most teams are solely focused on stopping Gronkowski, and have usually dedicated at least two defenders per play in hopes of trying to slow down the big fella. But it’s another thing altogether to take advantage of the opportunities when they’re presented to you, and Wright has done just that.
“Every time we throw to him it’s a touchdown — we’ll try to find him more down there,” Brady said after Wright’s two-touchdown performance against the Lions. “He does a great job in the coverage and finds the open spots.”
While the touchdown ratio is impressive — more than one-quarter of his catches have resulted in touchdowns — his work as a reliable target has really distinguished him from the rest of the field. Since 2006 — when targets were first tallied, on five different occasions, a New England pass catcher who was targeted at least 20 times caught 77 percent of the passes that were thrown in his direction. The latest high-level connection came in 2010 when running back Danny Woodhead caught 34 of the 44 passes that were thrown his way.
Prior to that, veteran running back Kevin Faulk did it three times: Faulk caught 58 of the 75 passes thrown his way in 2008, while both wide receiver Wes Welker (112-of-145) and Faulk (47-of-61) hit the 77 percent mark in 2007. And Faulk caught 43 of the 56 passes thrown his way in 2006 to reach the same plateau. (While Welker was targeted more than any other receiver between 2007 and 2012 and was consistently over 70 percent between 2007 and 2011, he never topped the 77 percent mark.)
According to Wright, the key to being a good target is simple.
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