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Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola officially ‘questionable’ for Sunday’s game against Falcons

09.27.13 at 4:22 pm ET
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Wide receiver Danny Amendola and tight end Rob Gronkowski are both listed as “questionable” for Sunday’s game against the Falcons in Atlanta. The Patriots made the official designation Friday despite an ESPN report that both Gronkowski and Amendola “are not expected to play” Sunday night at the Georgia Dome.

This marks the second consecutive week that Gronkowski has been listed as “questionable” (which means there’s a 50-50 chance the player will be able to go) an upgrade from the first two weeks where he was “doubtful.” (For what it’s worth, Gronkowski’s bags were packed in the locker room Friday as the team prepared to depart for Georgia.).

In the case of Amendola, the receiver — who suffered a groin injury in a Week 1 win over the Bills — was listed as “doubtful” last week. However, he appears to be moving easier in practice, and he said on Wednesday he hopes to be back to 100 percent “shortly.”

Special teams captain Matthew Slater was the only player official ruled out for Sunday — Slater suffered a wrist injury, and was out of last week’s game against Tampa Bay as well.

Here’s Friday’s full report:

Did Not Practice
ST Matthew Slater (wrist) OUT

Limited Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin) QUESTIONABLE
CB Kyle Arrington (knee) QUESTIONABLE
RB Brandon Bolden (knee) QUESTIONABLE
DB Nate Ebner (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) QUESTIONABLE
OL Will Svitek (knee) QUESTIONABLE
OL Sebastian Vollmer (foot) QUESTIONABLE
RB Leon Washington (thigh) QUESTIONABLE

Full Participation
LB Jerod Mayo (ankle) PROBABLE
TE Zach Sudfeld (hamstring) PROBABLE
DL Vince Wilfork (foot) PROBABLE

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Patriots release cornerback Marquice Cole

09.27.13 at 4:09 pm ET
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The Patriots released veteran cornerback Marquice Cole on Friday.

The 29-year-old Cole is a veteran of four NFL seasons with the Jets (2009-11) and Patriots (2012). The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder joined New England as a free agent on March 19, 2012 and was re-signed by the team on March 20. Cole was released by the Patriots on Sept. 1 and re-signed by the team one day later on Sept. 2.

He played in 14 games with one start last season and finished with 12 total tackles, one interception, three passes defensed and seven special teams tackles. Cole played in both postseason games and added four defensive tackles and four special teams tackles. He played in the first three games of the 2013 season on special teams.

The team did not announce a corresponding roster move.

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Aaron Hernandez girlfriend Shayana Jenkins charged with perjury in Odin Lloyd murder case

09.27.13 at 2:28 pm ET
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The fiancee of Aaron Hernandez has been indicted on a charge of perjury, District Attorney Sam Sutter announced over Twitter on Friday.

Shayana Jenkins was indicted on a perjury charge in connection to the investigation into the June 17 killing of Odin Lloyd in North Attleborough.

Hernandez is facing first-degree murder and weapons charges in the death of Lloyd, a semi-professional football player from Boston who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s girlfriend. As Hernandez was being charged in Bristol County District Court in late June, cameras spotted Hernandez mouthing “I love you” to Jenkins, who was in the courtroom observing the proceedings. Jenkins and Hernandez have a daughter, Avielle Janelle, who was born in Nov. 2012.

Sutter also announced the grand jury indicted Hernandez’ cousin Tanya Singleton on a charge of conspiracy to commit accessory after the fact connected to the investigation Lloyd’s death.

Singleton has already pleaded not guilty to contempt charges for allegedly refusing to testify before the grand jury that indicted Hernandez on murder charges.

Earlier in the day, Carlos Ortiz was charged with accessory after the fact in the murder case.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Carlos Ortiz, New England Patriots, Odin Lloyd

Report: Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola ‘not expected to play’ Sunday night vs. Falcons

09.27.13 at 2:11 pm ET
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FOXBORO — His equipment travel bag was packed Friday afternoon in front of his locker but according to a report from ESPN’s John Clayton, Rob Gronkowski is not expected to play Sunday night against the Falcons. Clayton also reports that it’s highly unlikely that Danny Amendola returns Sunday night.

Gronkowski was upgraded to “questionable” from “doubtful” last week before the game with the Buccaneers but has been listed by the Patriots as limited all week as he tries to get stronger and show the coaching staff he is fully healed from offseason forearm and back surgeries.

Gronkowski has not officially missed any practices since being taken off the PUP list on Aug. 31 but has yet to see action in a game, as he has been inactive for the first three weeks. Without the star tight end, the Patriots are dead last in the NFL in red zone efficiency, coming in at just over 30 percent.

Head coach Bill Belichick said on Wednesday that Gronkowski has shown signs of getting stronger with each passing week and practice but would not commit to any probability that Gronkowski would be ready to play Sunday night.

A questionable designation indicates a 50-50 chance a player could play while a doubtful categorization indicates the team believes there is only a 25 percent chance of activation for the game.

If a player does not travel with the team on the road, the team is required to downgrade the player to out, as was the case with Gronkowski on Sept. 7, the day before the season opener in Buffalo. The Patriots are scheduled to leave Saturday afternoon for Atlanta.

Amendola (groin) has also been limited this week in practice and his travel bag was packed in front of his locker. Amendola’s availability is also in question for Sunday night, though there are reports that he is recovering much faster than expected from the injury sustained in the first week in Buffalo.

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl

Tommy Kelly isn’t buying Falcons play-action game: ‘I’m going to put all my eggs in [pass rushing] basket’

09.27.13 at 1:50 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It’s not often that you get the kind of bold prediction on strategy that Patriots defensive tackle Tommy Kelly provided Friday when asked about the Falcons running game and how much their play-action could be a factor in keeping the Patriots pass rush honest against Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White.

“Their play-action to me, it’s alright,” Kelly began. “You know they want to throw the ball. Me personally, I’m playing pass. I’m defending the run on the way to the quarterback, personally, because these guys want to throw the ball, they want to make big plays, they want to get the ball into Julio and Roddy White’s hands. I’m going to put all my eggs in that basket thinking they’re going to throw the ball.”

With quality running backs Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rogers, why does Kelly feel so strongly?

“That’s their offense,” Kelly answered. “They want to run the ball but I mean, you have a top-5 quarterback, two big-time receivers, hall of fame tight end, they’re going to throw the ball. So, you don’t want them to run the ball. You don’t want ever for their offense to feel like they can do anything they want against you. You want to stop the run and get them in long yardage situations and get Matt Ryan off the spot.”

The stats bear out what Kelly is saying. Through three games, the Falcons are passing the ball almost exactly twice as much as they are running it. They have 119 passing plays while just 60 runs heading into Sunday’s showdown with the Patriots. Interestingly enough, the reverse is also true, as their opponents are passing at an even higher rate, with 125 passes to just 62 rushes.

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Jacquizz Rogers, Julio Jones, New England Patriots

Bill Belichick on Marcus Cannon: ‘He’s come a long way’

09.27.13 at 11:58 am ET
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FOXBORO — After returning to practice Friday morning with heavy white tape on his left foot, Sebastian Vollmer may or may not start at right tackle for the Patriots Sunday night in Atlanta.

If his foot injury keeps him out of the game, the Patriots, as they did in the second half last Sunday, will turn to Marcus Cannon and feel confident that the third year player out of Texas Christian will be able to handle the work load.

That wasn’t always the case.

On Friday, Bill Belichick said Cannon has not only overcome a non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis before the 2011 NFL draft, Cannon has learned how to become a versatile offensive lineman – a requirement of most lineman who don’t have a regular starting role.

“Pass and run blocking, guard and tackle, left tackle, both guards, right tackle. I mean, he really played right tackle only his first year and a lot of that his second year,” Belichick said. “Last year [substituted] for Sebastian a little bit more; his rookie year at the end of the season, right tackle. He’€™s also worked for us some at left tackle: when [Nate Solder] went to tight end very early in the season, some of those packages. He’€™s done a lot of different things for us. I don’€™t think he could have done those his first year. He’€™s come a long way since then.

“His rookie year he missed over half the year and just kind of started in the middle of the year. Last year, he had a much better start to the season and it carried over. This year, he’€™s improved on his versatility. He’€™s played inside as well as tackle and also some other goal-line situations, things like that, he’€™s done some of that; getting involved in the kickoff return and the wedge and those types of things. I think his game has expanded from a versatility standpoint and also just from experience.”

Cannon kept it low-key in talking about his new opportunity.

“I’m nowhere where I need to be yet,” Cannon said with a great deal of humility. “I’m improving every day, trying to get better every day, work harder every day to do what’s necessary to please the team and help us win. Every day there is improvement but there’s still a lot of improvement to go, have to take it every day step by step and work harder to improve more.”

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Read More: Andy Dalton, Bill Belichick, Cincinnati Bengals, Marcus Cannon

Peter King on M&M: Falcons’ Matt Ryan still needs to prove himself in postseason

09.27.13 at 11:56 am ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Patriots and NFL news.

The Patriots are preparing for a Sunday night showdown with the Falcons, who are led by Matt Ryan. King said the former Boston College star needs to prove himself in the playoffs before he’s considered among the elite.

“I really like him,” King said. “I like him a lot. I think he’s on his way to being a long-term premier quarterback in the NFL. But I think we all know that if a guy doesn’t play great in the postseason, he’ll never be considered one of the all-time greats. And Matt Ryan hasn’t played great in the postseason.

“He did have a good postseason last year, obviously. He played well against the Seahawks, outdueling Russell Wilson — even though you could argue that Russell Wilson played a better game that day. And he played OK against the 49ers — and probably would like to have a couple of decisions on the last drive back. Because if he made a couple of decisions differently, they’d have been playing in the Super Bowl. ‘€¦ I think he’s a top-10 quarterback. Let’s see how he does in the playoffs the next three or four years.”

Broncos linebacker Von Miller was banned six games to start this season. According to multiple reports, four of the games were for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy and two were for conspiring with a sample collector to cheat his test. King said the NFL kept the second part of the punishment relatively light because “this was going to be a long, hard fight with the union.”

“I know the NFL has heard rumors that other players have attempted to do the same thing, perhaps in Miami, perhaps in other places,” King said. “It will be interesting to see what if anything the investigation that the NFL — I’m not saying it’s a formal investigation, but the NFL is looking into the specimen-collecting process right now. But just know that the NFLPA is very much going to fight for Von Miller and probably would have stretched this out for a long time — the hearing for a long time, as long as they could. And who knows when Von Miller ultimately would have been suspended.”

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Read More: Aldon Smith, Matt Ryan, Peter King, Von Miller
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