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Pats practice Friday: The heat is on

10.01.10 at 12:46 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Talk about feeling the heat.

Perhaps in an effort to prepare for the heat and humidity of South Florida on Monday night, the Patriots practiced inside a sweltering Dana Farber Fieldhouse on Friday with only three players missing practice. The team also worked out indoors because of the high winds and imminent heavy rain in the forecast for Friday.

“We’ll be inside today getting ready for the nice weather in Florida,” Belichick said, referring to the heat.

Running back Fred Taylor (toe) was again missing from the open portion of practice as were CB Terrence Wheatley (foot) and OL Nick Kaczur (back).

The team will practice again on Saturday in Foxboro before leaving for South Florida on Sunday for Monday night’s showdown with the Dolphins.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots,

Stephen Neal on D&H: Need a 60-minute effort

10.01.10 at 11:42 am ET
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Stephen Neal

Stephen Neal

Patriots offensive lineman Stephen Neal checked in for his weekly appearance with the Dale & Holley show Friday morning. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Looking back at a solid ground effort in Sunday’s win over the Bills, Neal said, “It felt good. The coaches call the plays and we try to execute them. We had a lot of people who had great performances.”

Neal discussed the propensity of some players to carry on a conversation during a game. He said he’s not one to do much trash-talking. “The only people I talk to to are my offensive linemates, because we’re trying to get the calls right and get everything precise,” he said. “So, I’m not over there yapping at the defense. If they’re even yapping at me, I don’t even hear them, because I’m listening to [Dan] Koppen, Sebastian [Vollmer], to [Tom] Brady. Whatever they call, we’re trying to relay it out to everyoone and get on the same page.”

Added Neal: “You can say whatever you want to me, it’s not going to ruffle my feathers too much.”

Neal said there are times when players will do something to get him angry, usually by taking a cheap shot, but he is careful about his response. “If someone gets me really upset on one play, when I get my shot in three or four plays, legally, I’m going to take it,” he said. “Like I said, we’re all professionals. You never go out there and try to hurt someone or anything. If someone wrongs you, it’s definitely better not to fight back right then. Wait for the right moment. When it’s legal, and you can’t hurt the team, then it’s better to do it then.”

Looking at the challenge the Patriots face Sunday in Miami, Neal expects they’ll have their hands full with the likes of Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby. “He’s a very fast guy, he’s playing very hard,” Neal said. “He brings a lot of energy. He’s a quick guy. He’s  smart football player. Like I said, he’s got those guys fired up.”

One problem for the Patriots of late has been their second-half production. Said Neal: “Sometimes we come out and we have a good first half and then don’t do a good job in the second half. So, whatever those things might be, we’ve just got to do a better job, and play for 60 minutes, not just 30 or 15 or 45 or 50. For all 60. Just go out there and play as a team, and whatever we’ve got to do, we’ve got to do to clinch these games.”

Asked for his thoughts on playing Monday night as compared to Sunday afternoon, Neal said: “I’d rather play Sunday at 1. Waiting around all day, especially on the road, is never a good thing. I enjoy being with the family as much as possible.”

Read More: Karlos Dansby, Stephen Neal,

Adam Schefter on D&C: Pass rushers ‘difficult to find’

10.01.10 at 10:39 am ET
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Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning for his weekly visit. With the Jets’ acquisition of former Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce, the hosts wondered if there was any defensive help, particularly pass rushers, available on the market for the needy Patriots. Schefter said the outlook is grim.

“Pass rushers are difficult to find,” he said. “If there were a pass rusher out there, teams would be in pursuit of him. Pass rushers are very difficult to come by, and New England and other teams spent their entire offseason looking for pass rushers and struggled to find them.

“I think that this is a case, if you’re the New England Patriots, you have to make due with what you have right now,” Schefter added, before shining some positive light with an eye to the future. “Know that in the upcoming draft, you’re going to have four picks in the top two rounds and a chance to land some pass rushers.”

For more of Schefter’s thoughts on ways the Patriots could potentially improve their defense in-season, as well as his thoughts on Pryce, Donovan McNabb‘s return to Philadelphia, Ben Roethlisberger‘s status with the Steelers and more, see the highlights below or visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On Aaron Schobel, a pass rusher who used to terrorize the Patriots:

I know Aaron Schobel retired, and the Texans had him in for a workout on Monday. But I’m told he looked terrible, just terrible, out of shape and just not ready to play. Aaron Schobel is somebody that can rush the passer, but it doesn’t sound like his mind or his body are there right now to go play, and I don’t know if he’d want to necessarily to leave the Texas area to go play in New England at this point in time.

Are there other defensive players we are missing, whether it’s a pass rusher or not, as the Patriots could use a lot of defensive help?

Here’s what you have to factor in also. We’re going into the fourth week of the season. In another two weeks, the trade deadline is October 19th, some teams may lose, and a team like hypothetically Carolina could be 0-5. They may be willing to trade somebody who rushes the passer for a decent draft pick at that point in time. Look at teams at the bottom, see if there’s anybody you want. Then, see if they’d be willing to part with them at that point in time.

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Read More: adam schefter, Ben Roethlisberger, donovan mcnabb, Trevor Pryce

Jerod Mayo on D&C: Pats need to stop run

10.01.10 at 7:57 am ET
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Jerod Mayo

Jerod Mayo

Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning as the team prepares for Monday night’s game against the Dolphins in Miami.

Mayo said the key for the Patriots is to improve their run-stopping defense.

“A lot of teams have been trying to get us out of our base defense, base 3-4 defense, trying to get us in sub packages, like nickel and dime and things like that, and run the ball,” he said. “So, I think if we can go out there and stay in base and stop the run in sub, I think we’ll be fine.”

Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Does Monday Night Football screw up the schedule, screw up the preparation, make it more difficult to get prepared?

I don’t think it really screws it up. It gives us a little extra time to prepare for the opponent, and that’s what we use it as.

We were just talking about your sack numbers. You only have 2 1/2 sacks in your two-plus-year career. Are you just not blitzing, or is that your fault?

Yeah, If you watch the film, I don’t really blitz that much. I do a lot of covering. Rarely do I go. Rarely do I go.

Would you like to go more often? Do you think you could be a more effective pass rusher if they called your number, sent you on the blitz more often?

I’m not sure. At the end of the day, anything the coaches ask me to do, I’m going to do. I’m going to give you that textbook answer.

But you’re quick enough, right?

Yeah, I feel like I’m pretty fast, pretty quick.

What should we look for when we start watching this game to say whether if it’s going well or not well for Miami offensively?

First and foremost, how we’re stopping the run. A lot of teams have been trying to get us out of our base defense, base 3-4 defense, trying to get us in sub packages, like nickel and dime and things like that, and run the ball. So, I think if we can go out there and stay in base and stop the run in sub, I think we’ll be fine.

The success on third down for the Patriots defense has been less than stellar this year. Any analysis as to why that’s the case?

On third down, I don’t know, we haven’t been able to get off the field. Sometimes it’s penalties, sometimes it’s been lack of awareness of where the sticks are. We have to change that, We have to change that trend, hopefully Monday.

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Read More: Jermaine Cunningham, Jerod Mayo, Tully Banta-Cain,

McCourty welcomes challenge of facing Marshall

09.30.10 at 5:09 pm ET
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palmer_flying_gal_640

Devin McCourty sends Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer flying in the season-opener. McCourty's physical tone has certainly made an impact. (AP)

FOXBORO — In his brief time with the Patriots, rookie Devin McCourty has set a physical tone. It’s something that’s been fairly unique — in recent years, undersized Patriots cornerbacks have either shied away from contact or been shoved around themselves by opposing wide receivers.

But the 5-foot-10, 193-pound McCourty will have none of that. We saw him get a little physical with Atlanta receiver Roddy White in the preseason, and he did the same on more than one occasion with Buffalo’s Lee Evans last weekend against the Bills. (For good measure, he also delivered a big hit on Bills’ running back Marshawn Lynch.)

And if he finds himself matched up against Miami wide receiver Brandon Marshall on Monday night, look for him to take the same approach against the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder out of Central Florida.

“He’s a guy that makes plays. Even last year when I’m just watching as a fan, you notice Brandon Marshall on the field,” McCourty said of Marshall, a two-time Pro Bowler who had eight catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns last season when the Patriots faced the Broncos in Denver.

“He’s physical. He’s a bigger guy,” added McCourty. “He’s bigger than most defensive backs, and he uses his physical abilities.”

In his first season with the Dolphins, Marshall has caught 22 passes (tied for third in the league) for 290 yards (fifth-best in the NFL) and a touchdown. In addition, he’s averaging 96.7 receiving yards per game.

“He’s a tough matchup guy. He’s big. He’s like a tight end. He’s huge for a receiver,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “That’s a tough matchup. He can go up and get the ball. He’s a strong runner with the ball in his hands and good after the catch. He’s got good speed, good quickness, [and] good receiving skills. He’s a tough guy to match up against.”

On the other side of the ball, McCourty has started all three games as a rookie, and has 14 tackles.

“I just embrace [the challenge],” said McCourty. “I’m just going out there and play and I’m not really declaring that I’m going to line up on him at corner. Whoever lines up on [Marshall’s] side, they have to treat it the same way and challenge him.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Marshall, Devin McCourty, Lee Evans

Dolphins Injury Report for Thursday

09.30.10 at 4:09 pm ET
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Miami Injury Report for Thursday
Did Not Practice

G John Jerry (illness)
DE Jared Odrick (ankle)

Limited Participation
LB Channing Crowder (groin)

Full Participation
T Jake Long (knee)

Read More: dolphins, injury report,

Taylor did not practice with Pats on Thursday

09.30.10 at 4:05 pm ET
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Patriots Injury Report for Wednesday
Did Not Practice

OL Nick Kaczur (back)
RB Fred Taylor (toe)
CB Terrence Wheatley (foot)

Full Participation
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)

Read More: injury report, Patriots,
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