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Colts head coach Chuck Pagano: ‘If we’re not able to stop the run, we’re not going to have a chance’

01.15.15 at 5:24 pm ET
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Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns in the Nov. meeting between the two teams. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns in the Nov. 16 meeting between the two teams. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

New England has simply dominated the Colts in the running game of late.

In the team’s last three meetings the Patriots have ran for a total of 595 yards, including 257 yards in the last meeting on Nov. 16. If the Colts have any chance of upsetting the Patriots on Sunday, improving on their run defense will be imperative.

“€œThe numbers speak for themselves, and if we don’€™t get that fixed and they’€™re able to run the ball the way that they’€™ve run it the last couple meetings, then we’€™re going to have a long, hard day,” Chuck Pagano told reporters on Wednesday.

“But having said that, I think our guys are playing with a tremendous amount of confidence right now,” he added. “Talking about it is one thing, but we’€™ve got to go up there and we’€™ve got to do the job and stop the run.”

Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns in the earlier meeting. After being inactive for the Patriots’ first playoff game, it will be interesting to see if he is active on Sunday. The Patriots really weren’t interested in running against the Ravens, as they finished with just 14 yards on 13 carries, including the three kneel downs at the end.

Rookie center Bryan Stork left Saturday’s game with a knee injury and hasn’t practiced all week, so the Patriots could be mixing and matching on their offensive line.

For the Colts, they didn’t have Arthur Jones (Chandler’s brother) on the defensive line in the earlier game, so his presence will be a positive for Indianapolis when stopping the run. It’s worth noting the Colts have allowed 100+ rushing yards in five of their last six games.

“Having a healthy Art Jones, makes our defense that much better,” defensive end Cory Redding said on Wednesday to reporters. “€œHe commands double teams. He just loves football. When you have a guy in the trenches that loves eating up double teams, demands it, and if you block him one-on-one, he’€™s going to bull-rush to the quarterback or either run down the line and make tackles. It just makes our defensive line so much better. Having him, Art, in the lineup is huge for us.”

In Andrew Luck‘s career, the Patriots are 3-0 against him with the winning margin being an average of 26 points. Pagano and his team know in order to end that streak it will start with stopping the run.

“We’€™ve got to prepare the same way we prepared last week,” Pagano said. “We’€™ve got to do a better job because if we’€™re not able to stop the run, we’€™re not going to have a chance.”

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Arthur Jones, Chuck Pagano, Jonas Gray

Bryan Stork misses practice for 2nd straight day, no changes from Wednesday on Patriots injury report

01.15.15 at 4:45 pm ET
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Bryan Stork

Bryan Stork

Things are not pointing in the right direction for rookie center Bryan Stork and his availability for Sunday’s AFC title game against the Colts.

Stork missed practice for a second straight day after leaving last Saturday’s game against the Ravens with a knee injury. He has been the lone Patriots player not to practice this week. He also has not been spotted in the locker room during any of the media availability periods.

There were no changes to the report from Wednesday, so Brandon Browner (knee), Dont’a Hightower, (shoulder), Chris Jones (elbow) and Brandon LaFell (shoulder/toe) were all limited once again.

Tom Brady (ankle) was listed as a full participant.

For the Colts, after missing Wednesday’s session, cornerbacks Vontae Davis (knee) and Greg Toler (groin) were limited. Linebackers Erik Walden (knee) and D’Quell Jackson (rest) were full participants.

Here is the complete practice report:

Did not participate

C Bryan Stork (knee)

Limited participation

CB Brandon Browner (knee)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower (shoulder)
DT Chris Jones (elbow)
WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder/toe)

Full participation

QB Tom Brady (ankle)

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Patriots practice report,

Ray Lewis clarifies comments: ‘I have immense respect for Tom Brady and everything he has achieved in this league’

01.15.15 at 2:42 pm ET
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In what has turned into a Ray Lewis talking about Tom Brady sideshow leading up to the AFC championship game — after Brady took the high road on Thursday when asked of Lewis’ comments, Lewis seems to have done the same.

After going on radio on Wednesday saying the tuck rule game is “the only reason we know who Tom Brady is,” Lewis clarified what he meant on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

Lewis tweeted: To clarify my comments from this week: I was trying to express my frustration about the ruck rule itself… Rules like that should not be part of the game. They lead to controversial plays that impact the outcomes of games and that what everyone remembers, especially when you’re talking about playoff games. I have immense respect for Tom Brady and everything he has achieved in this league. He will go down as one of the all-time greats.

Now that Lewis’ sideshow is over, we can focus on football and the game that actually matters — Sunday’s AFC championship between the Patriots and the Colts at Gillette Stadium, where Brady will be playing for his sixth Super Bowl appearance.

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

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Ray Lewis, Tom Brady,

Bryan Stork again only absentee from Patriots practice Thursday

01.15.15 at 1:26 pm ET
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The Patriots worked out Thursday in the drizzle of Gillette Stadium in advance of Sunday's AFC championship game against the Colts. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Patriots worked out Thursday in the drizzle of Gillette Stadium in advance of Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Colts. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — With steam rising from the field turf of Gillette Stadium, the Patriots practiced in the drizzle Thursday in sweats and shells. And for a second straight day, the only absentee was starting center Bryan Stork.

The rookie center left Saturday’s game with a knee injury and was not spotted at practice as the Patriots continue to work in advance of Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Colts at Gillette Stadium.

“I think Bryan has done a good job for us,”€ said coach Bill Belichick on Tuesday’s conference call. “€œWe finished the game without him last week and if he wasn’€™t available then we’€™d be in a similar situation this week. Whether it would be the same [personnel] or different, I don’€™t really want to get into that. He’€™s obviously done a good job for us, he’€™s grown along the way.”

Brandon Browner, who left Saturday’s game and didn’t return, was against present at Thursday’s practice. Browner was among four players limited at Wednesday’s practice.

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

Read More: 2015 playoffs, AFC Championship, Brandon Browner, Bryan Stork

Tom Brady refuses to get down and dirty with Ray Lewis over tuck rule

01.15.15 at 12:57 pm ET
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Tom Brady had many verbal battles with Ray Lewis in their time together. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady had many verbal battles with Ray Lewis in their time together. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Just four days before his record ninth appearance in the AFC championship, Tom Brady isn’t about to get distracted by anyone, not even old friend Ray Lewis. That’s why Brady would not fire back at the former Ravens linebacker and self-proclaimed “football historian” for saying Brady would be a nobody without the “tuck rule” helping him win his first career playoff game in Jan. 2002.

Brady, informed of the comments by Patriots spokesman Stacey James, took the high road Thursday at his press conference.

“Everyone has an opinion,” Brady said. “I think Ray is a great player. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I was fortunate enough to play against him.”

Brady has a bloodshot right eye, courtesy the eye gouge from Ravens defensive end Timmy Jernigan Saturday night. Did Lewis ever try the eye gouge maneuver?

“No maybe worse than that, maybe worse. He was a pretty tough player,” said Brady.

Lewis, appearing Monday on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio, was asked about the fourth-quarter reception by Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant against the Packers last Sunday that was overturned on appeal because he didn’t complete the process of the catch as he went to the ground.

“There are so many rules in this game that is a very simple game,” Lewis said. “My argument, If you want to make this game and keep this game pure so where integrity drives this game, leave all these man-made lawyer rules out of the game.

“The only reason we know who Tom Brady is, [it’s] because of the tuck rule. There’s no such thing as the tuck rule! If the ball is in your hand, and I knock it out of your hand — whether it’s going backwards, forwards, lateral, sideways, however it’s coming out – that’s a freaking fumble,” Lewis said. “But guess what we created? We created a freaking tuck rule!”

The tuck rule was eventually eliminated by NFL owners in 2013, but to this day, Lewis said Brady owes his fame to the fact it existed in 2001, when Charles Woodson‘s strip sack was overturned.

As for Jernigan, Brady said sarcastically, “it was a good move. You can’t even do that in pro wrestling.”

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Ray Lewis

NFL places Colts LB Josh McNary on Exempt/Commissioner Permission list following rape charge

01.15.15 at 11:26 am ET
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After being charged with rape on Wednesday, Colts backup linebacker Josh McNary will not play against the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC championship, as he was placed on the NFL’s Exempt/Commissioner Permission list.

To take the space on the Colts’ 53-man roster, they have signed wide receiver Griff Whalen to the active roster. Whalen has played in 19 career regular-season games (three starts) with the Colts and has caught 26 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy were on this list earlier in the season. Here is what being on the list means from the NFL Player Personnel Policy Manual:

EXEMPT LIST. The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances. The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player’s time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.

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

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Josh McNary,

Go on board the Gronkowski Family Party Bus

01.15.15 at 7:00 am ET
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The latest episode of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” provided viewers with a look at the Gronkowski family party bus, where Rob Gronkowski‘s dad and brothers take tailgating at Gillette to a whole new level.

Read More: Rob Gronkowski,
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