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Stevan Ridley again missing at Patriots practice

10.03.13 at 10:56 am ET
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FOXBORO — Stevan Ridley, Matthew Slater and Vince Wilfork were again the only players missing at Patriots practice Thursday morning, a session that was held in full pads on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium.

There was a new player in attendance as the team signed free agent wide receiver Austin Collie. The Patriots listed four of their six wide receivers as limited on Thursday.

The absence of Slater and Wilfork was no surprise as Wilfork underwent Achilles surgery on Tuesday and is likely lost for the season, while Slater suffered a wrist injury in the season opener in Buffalo and is expected out another week. Ridley’s knee injury is of concern as the team’s running back depth is tested.

In addition, Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski were again present for the start of the workout.

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Report: Patriots sign wide receiver Austin Collie

10.03.13 at 10:55 am ET
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The Patriots have signed Austin Collie, according to ESPN.

The 27-year-old Collie, a 6-foot, 204-pound wide receiver, has played four seasons in the NFL with the Colts. His best year came as a rookie in 2009 when he had 60 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns. Over the course of his career, he’s accumulated 163 catches for 1,845 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Brigham Young product has a lengthy injury history — his 2012 season with the Colts ended in Week 3 when he ruptured his right patellar tendon. He’s also struggled with concussions.

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BenJarvus Green-Ellis on his former team: I wouldn’t ‘want to go back and change anything’

10.02.13 at 9:57 pm ET
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BenJarvus Green-Ellis made a living running hard for the Patriots for four seasons between 2008-11. He also made a small fortune when the Cincinnati Bengals, in need a of running back heading into 2012, signed him to a three-year deal worth $9 million.

Green-Ellis earned a reputation as one of the most reliable short yardage backs in the game, averaging 4.1 yards per carry, not fumbling once and scoring 29 touchdowns in his four seasons. The Bengals thought they had a red zone force when Green-Ellis punched it into the end zone 13 times in 2010 and 11 more in 2011.

Green-Ellis hasn’t been quite the same player with the Bengals. He had just six touchdowns in 2012, his first season in Cincinnati. Most alarmingly, he actually fumbled for the first three times in his NFL career, losing two of them. He did set career highs in carries (278) and yards (1,094). This season, the “Law Firm’s” production is way down, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry, more than 1.4 yards below his career average.

While not saying he made a mistake signing in Cincinnati, Green-Ellis could not help but rave about the “Patriot Way” he learned while he was in New England and what it meant to him. How did the “Patriot Way” Green-Ellis learned in New England help him in Cincinnati?

“I could never go back and change anything that happened in the past, and nor would I want to go back and change anything, but the things that I learned in New England not only helped me on the football field but also in life,” Green-Ellis said Wednesday in a conference call from Cincinnati. “How you approach your business and how you go about being a professional at whatever you’€™re doing, not just a professional football player but just a professional in life, doing things the right way. The Patriot way has helped me tremendously throughout my career, not only throughout my career but coming into the league as a young man and also growing into a full-fledged adult now and having a family of my own. It’€™s things like that that I think the Patriot way helped me tremendously.

Is there a difference between the Patriot way and what he’s experienced in Cincinnati with the Bengals?

“No, it’€™s the same thing here,” Green-Ellis said. “Guys are working extremely hard and going about their business the right way, and I’€™m here also mentoring some younger guys that have just come into the league and just teaching them some of the things that I know as well. But we’€™re all about business as well over here; it’€™s been same thing since I left New England. It’€™s strictly business every time we step into the building, and we’€™re just trying to win games.”

Adding to the drama this season in the Bengals backfield is the emergence of Giovani Bernard, a 2013 version of former Pro Bowl back James Brooks, a smallish, tough-as-nails back who helped lead the Stripes to Super Bowl XXXIII.

How will it turn out Sunday? Stay tuned.

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Tom Brady says Bengals will ‘be as tough a game as we’ve had all year’

10.02.13 at 5:32 pm ET
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FOXBORO — His team might be 4-0 and the opponent might be an underachieving 2-2 so far on the young season but Tom Brady anticipates as difficult of a test as he has faced all season when he takes the field at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati this Sunday.

Brady might be getting Danny Amendola back in the lineup this week, with a chance of Rob Gronkowski joining him. Those are two weapons that could only help in his effort to beat back one of the more fearsome defenses in the NFL, starting with Geno Atkins, Domata Peko and the Bengals defensive line. The Bengals only have nine sacks in four games but that doesn’t mean they don’t pressure the quarterback and wear down an offensive line.

“Yeah, they can rush the quarterback. They have guys at all four spots that can rush and then when they bring the backups in, those guys rush,” Brady said Wednesday. “It’€™s really unique in that pretty much whoever is in there can get an edge on a guy, can get to the quarterback, force the ball out quickly. Then with [Terence] Newman, Pacman [Adam Jones], Leon [Hall], Reggie Nelson, they have first down draft picks everywhere.

“[Rey] Maualuga and [Vontaze] Burfict and [James] Harrison, they’€™re loaded. That’€™s why they have one of the best defenses in the league. There’€™s really no easy yards out there. They’€™ve been in some tight games this year; they pulled them out, especially the ones at home. They’€™re 2-0 at home. They play well, they’€™re good. I know the guys on defense really respect that offense and what they’€™re able to do. They’€™re explosive. We have to do our part as an offense to try to keep their offense off the field as well as going and scoring points.”

To Brady, winning the first four games is good momentum but it’s just a quarter of the season.

“4-0 is obviously off to a good start,” Brady said. “Hopefully we can continue that. Really, what’€™s happened we’€™re trying to learn from, we’€™re trying to get better this week. This is a very good team that we’€™re playing. They were in the playoffs last year, not much has changed. Lot of strengths, going on the road, they play well at home. This is going to be as tough a game as we’€™ve had all year, we’€™ll see where we match up.”

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Danny Amendola: Every day is getting better

10.02.13 at 5:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Danny Amendola continued to express optimism that he’s going to be ready sooner rather than later.

The receiver, who hasn’t played since a Week 1 win over the Bills because of a groin injury, said after practice on Wednesday that “every day is getting better” when it comes to his health.

“So far so good this week. I feel good,” he said. “I felt good today. I’€™ll know more tomorrow and we’€™ll go from there.

“Every day is getting better,” he added. “[I’m] working hard and just trying to get back out there as quickly as possible.’€

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Stevan Ridley (knee) absent while 15 limited at Patriots practice

10.02.13 at 4:57 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Danny Amendola (groin), Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) and linebacker Jerod Mayo (ankle) were among 15 players limited at practice on Wednesday while Stevan Ridley (knee), Matthew Slater (wrist) and Vince Wilfork (Achilles) were the three missing player as the Patriots returned to practice in preparation for the Bengals this Sunday in Cincinnati. Wilfork is expected to go on season-ending injured reserve shortly after his surgery on Tuesday to repair the Achilles tendon tear on Sunday night in Atlanta.

The Bengals had three key players missing from practice as defensive end Michael Johnson (concussion) and cornerbacks Leon Hall (hamstring) and Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring) were all absent.

Here is Wednesday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
RB Stevan Ridley (knee)
ST Matthew Slater (wrist)
NT Vince Wilfork (Achilles)

Limited Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
DB Kyle Arrington (groin)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
CB Marquice Cole (hamsting)
WR Aaron Dobson (neck)
DB Nate Ebner (ankle)
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm)
LB Dont’a Hightower (knee)
LB Jerod Mayo (ankle)
TE Zach Sudfeld (hamstring)
OL Will Svitek (knee)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (shoulder)
OL Sebastian Vollmer (foot)
RB Leon Washington (thigh)
DB Tavon Wilson (hamstring)

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LeGarrette Blount has been great late for Patriots running game

10.02.13 at 2:35 pm ET
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FOXBORO — When he was with the Patriots from 2004 through 2006, running back Corey Dillon earned the nickname “Clock Killin” Corey Dillon because of his ability to pile up tough yardage late. With New England holding a second-half lead, Dillon could be depended on to consistently keep the chains moving and the clock going.

LeGarrette Blount doesn’t have the same mellifluous nickname (although some have suggested “Blount Force Trauma”), but when it comes to the New England offense, he seems to have inherited Dillon’s old job. Through four games, Blount’s best work has come late — 123 of his 155 rushing yards this season have come in the second half. That includes a 47-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s win over the Falcons.

The 6-foot, 250-pound Blount said Wednesday that he doesn’t necessarily relish the role of closer — in a perfect world, he’d run the ball all four quarters — but when it comes to the greater good, he’s willing to do whatever it takes.

“I want to go in there and carry it as much as possible, whether it’s in the first or second half,” said Blount after practice on Wednesday. “But whatever they need me to do, I’ll do it, no matter if it’s in the third quarter or fourth quarter. If they need me to close the game, I’m going to do that. If they need me to start the game, I’ll do that.

“[But] I don’t have a problem with what I’m doing now. It is what it is. However many times they tell me to carry the ball or however many times they want me to carry it, I’ll carry it.”

“I think he’€™s a good player and he’€™s played well,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “He’€™s played well for us, again, going all the way back to the preseason — he has good run skills, he has good vision, he’€™s a big, strong guy, he’€™s got good speed, catches the ball well. He’€™s been a dependable player for us.”

Belichick referenced Blount’s work against Atlanta as being particularly impressive, but it wasn’t his touchdown run that drew the attention of the coach. Instead, it was a fourth-quarter rushing attempt that came up just shy of a first down.

“I thought the run that he had on the 3rd and 1 in Atlanta was about as good a run as we’€™ve had all year,” Belichick said. “I don’€™t know about the spot on that one. He did everything he could to get that first down. It was a very close play. Nobody will every talk about that one, but I think that’€™s as good a run as we’€™ve had. I don’€™t know if it gained any yards, but it was a good run.”

Of course, the touchdown run was impressive as well. He was able to make his way past the first line of defense — he said the offensive line was able to clear a “massive hole” for him — on his way to the second level. Then, it was just a matter of getting past a safety.

“It was a huge hole. It was a massive hole. It would have been crazy if I missed it,” he said when asked how the play developed. “After I got past that, there was nothing but a safety, and he took a bad angle and I took advantage of it and got to the end zone.”

On the TV replay, NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth noted that it was unfair that a back the size of Blount could run that fast. On Wednesday, he was asked if sometimes people underrate his speed.

“I don’t know about underrated. But at the same time, it’s obvious I’m not a 4.3, 4.4 guy,” he said. “I mean, the speed I do have, I use it to get the job done and ‘€¦ I don’t know if people underrate it or not. If they do, that’s a good thing. That’s another thing I can take advantage of.

“It’s a part of being physical ‘€¦ Bill tells us that a lot. We have to be physical. We have to be a hard-nosed, tough team, and running the football is a big part of that. That’s just kind of how he teaches us to run the football and that’s how we’re going to play.”

In addition to his work as part of New England’s running back by committee, Blount, who was acquired in a deal with the Bucs last spring for running back/kick returner Jeff Demps, has enjoyed his brief foray into special teams. He doesn’t have the typical frame of a kick returner, but through four games, he’s averaged 21 yards per kick return, good for 23rd in the league. He wouldn’t give himself a grade for what he’s accomplished on special teams to this point, but did make one specific note regarding his performance through four games.

“I don’t know. I don’t go look at the numbers or whatever. All I know is that I haven’t taken one to the house,” said Blount with a smile. “I enjoy it. I enjoy being on the field at any time, especially when there’s a chance to get the football in my hands. Of course, I love kick returning. I like doing it all.”

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