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Julian Edelman has nothing but respect for Browns: They are ‘a good team’

12.06.13 at 6:25 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It’s been the common theme this week at Gillette Stadium. Sure, the Cleveland Browns are 4-8 but they are a “good” 4-8 with a defense that ranks fifth overall in the NFL in yards allowed.

The Browns have no playoff potential but only the hope of playing the role of spoiler for teams with much bigger aspirations. Well, the 9-3 Patriots are fully aware of this, including receiver/returner Julian Edelman. He doesn’t look at the record but rather the talent on the roster, a roster that includes former first-round draft pick and shutdown cornerback Joe Haden. The cornerback was selected seventh overall in the 2010 draft out of Florida.

Haden has four interceptions this season, including two in one game against Andy Dalton and the Bengals on Nov. 17.

“Joe Haden has all the tangibles,” Edelman said Friday. “He’s fast, he can jump, he gets in and out of breaks well. He was drafted high for a reason. Joe Haden is a really good football player. If you don’t use your techniques, he’ll exploit you. We’re going to have to get ready for those kind of match-ups.”

But that game on Nov. 17 in Cincinnati is a classic example of what’s gone horribly wrong for the Browns this season. They jumped out 13-0 and could’ve easily been ahead, 21-0. They held Cincinnati to 1-for-14 on third down and out-gained them, 330-224. But they were intercepted three times and had two punts blocked and lost, 41-20.

“The Browns are a good team,” Edelman said. “They’ve been in a lot of close games that just haven’t gone their way, much like last week. Their defense has been playing real well. They have some cornerbacks that are really athletic, that are playing their scheme very well. They have a D-line that can stuff the run. It’s just sometimes things aren’t going your way when it’s close. And that’s kind of what they’ve been in and they’re a very tough team. If we don’t execute the way we have to, they can come in here and beat us up.

“Situations like third down, red area and ball security and all that kind of stuff are all very huge when it comes to tough opponents like this, stout defenses and defenses that live and die on that. We have to go out and prepare for those situations and execute them to the fullest of our abilities on Sunday.”

If the Patriots do that, they’re likely to come out on top and win, which could give them the AFC East if the Dolphins lose at Pittsburgh. The Patriots clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Baltimore loss or tie.

“If that happens, that happens,” Edelman said. “All we can do is control what we have to do and that’s go out and playing against the Cleveland Browns and worry about doing what we have to do to beat them. Everything else will come if it does, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. If we can control going out focusing on them, that’s what we can control.”

Read More: Cleveland Browns, Joe Haden, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Alfonzo Dennard pleads no contest to DUI, gets $500 fine, license suspended 60 days

12.06.13 at 5:06 pm ET
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Alfonzo Dennard can finally get back to football.

The Patriots cornerback Friday pleaded no contest to refusal to submit to a chemical test to a DUI stop in July in Lincoln, Nebraska. In return, prosecutors dismissed the first-offense DUI charge, a misdemeanor.

As a result, Lancaster County Judge James Foster fined the former Nebraska Cornhuskers star $500, revoked his driver’s license for 60 days and gave him probation concurrent with the three-year probation he’s serving for assaulting a Lincoln, Neb. police officer in April 2012.

According to the police report, the 24-year-old Dennard was driving on Normal Boulevard in a 2011 Honda Accord just before 2 a.m. July 11 when a police sergeant pulled him over near 52nd Street because he was straddling lanes. The sergeant arrested Dennard on suspicion of DUI, refusing a chemical test and straddling lanes. The stop came exactly three months after the NFL defensive back got probation for punching a police officer in April 2012 in downtown Lincoln.

Police said Dennard was taken to detox in July but not jailed. Authorities allege he blew too softly during an alcohol breath test to register, despite a sergeant telling him twice to blow hard into the machine.

The plea deal ends a two-day stay in the town where he played college football. On Thursday, Dennard was given an additional 30 days in jail, an added year of probation and 100 hours of community service for violating terms of his probation from his April 2012 run-in with authorities.

In April, Dennard was sentenced to two years of probation for assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest days before he was drafted by the Patriots. On Thursday, Judge Stephanie Stacy extended his probation by a year and added 30 days to a 30-day jail term he is to serve starting March 1. She also doubled the 100 hours of community service she ordered him to complete.

Dennard’s attorney, Alan Stoler, said the dismissal of the DUI charge was common in plea negotiations, as were the penalties for that charge and the refusal. Dennard refused comment on the two-day stay after proceedings ended Friday.

After missing two days of practice, Dennard’s status for Sunday’s game against the Browns is uncertain at best. He is officially listed as questionable on the injury report with a knee issue.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, New England Patriots, nfl,

Marcus Cannon, Aaron Dobson out for Sunday’s game against Browns

12.06.13 at 4:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots have listed offensive lineman Marcus Cannon and wide receiver Aaron Dobson as out for Sunday’s game against the Browns. Dobson (foot) and Cannon (ankle) are both working through injuries they suffered in the recent win over the Broncos.

Running back Brandon Bolden was not at practice Friday due to a non-injury matter but he is listed officially as “probable” and is expected to play. Another player, Alfonzo Dennard, also missed practice due to a non-injury matter, as he finished up tending to his legal issues in Lincoln, Neb. Dennard is officially “questionable” due to lingering knee issues.

Meanwhile, 10 players have been listed as questionable, including cornerbacks Aqib Talib (hip) and Kyle Arrington (groin) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm/hamstring).

Here’s Friday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
WR Aaron Dobson (foot) OUT
RT Marcus Cannon (ankle) OUT
CB Alfonzo Dennard (Not injury related/knee) QUESTIONABLE
RB Brandon Bolden (Not injury related) PROBABLE

Limited Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin) QUESTIONABLE
CB Marquice Cole (shin) QUESTIONABLE
S Steve Gregory (finger) QUESTIONABLE
TE Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm/hamstring) QUESTIONABLE
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) QUESTIONABLE
LB Brandon Spikes (knee) QUESTIONABLE
OT Will Svitek (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
CB Aqib Talib (hip) QUESTIONABLE
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) QUESTIONABLE

Full Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin) PROBABLE
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder) PROBABLE
WR Matthew Slater (wrist) PROBABLE
RB Shane Vereen (wrist) PROBABLE

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Jason Campbell ‘looks sharp’ and gets the start Sunday vs. Patriots

12.06.13 at 1:55 pm ET
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After a week of guessing, the Patriots finally know the quarterback that will be facing them on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski announced Friday afternoon that veteran quarterback Jason Campbell has been cleared from his concussion suffered on Nov. 24 against Pittsburgh and is expected to start Sunday. Campbell practiced for the second straight day Friday and showed no ill effects from the concussion.

Campbell’s record this season is 1-3, with his only victory coming against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Campbell has completed 87-of-153 passes this season for 933 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.

Of course, most Patriots fans will remember Campbell as the quarterback of the Washington Redskins in 2007 when the Patriots obliterated Joe Gibbs and Washington, 52-7, at Gillette Stadium. He was 21-of-37 for 197 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

Campbell practiced for a second straight day and impressed those in attendance, including his coach. “He looks sharp and hasn’t missed a beat,” Chudzinski said.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden will not be Campbell’s back-up. He has not yet been cleared to practice and will be inactive for the game, Chudzinski said. He was the only Browns player not at practice Friday.

Caleb Hanie, who was signed this week as a free agent, or Alex “Trickshot” Tanney, signed last week off Dallas’ practice squad, will get the nod as back-up but Chudzinski says that won’t be announced until Sunday.

Read More: Alex Tanney, Brandon Weeden, Caleb Hanie, Cleveland Browns

Peter King on M&M: Matt Schaub to blame for collapse of Texans that cost Gary Kubiak his job

12.06.13 at 1:01 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly Friday appearance on Mut & Merloni, minutes after the story broke that the Texans had fired coach Gary Kubiak.

“I think the Texans were seriously considering firing Kubiak after the first Jacksonville loss, but the problem was the schedule that was coming up — they’ve got the Patriots and then the Jaguars in a short week,” King said, adding: “I’ve felt strongly he was going to get fired for the last two weeks. Obviously he had an opportunity to save himself, but clearly he couldn’t save himself. And that’s what today is all about. You can’t lose to the Jaguars twice in 11 days and lose 11 games in a row and keep your job. It’s ridiculous. I don’t care what injuries they had. The fact is, this is a team that vastly underachieved this year.”

Added King: “The ownership felt like it’s time, we’ve given this guy more than enough time. And they have.”

King placed the majority of the blame for Houston’s collapse on quarterback Matt Schaub.

“You saw in Houston this year how much one single player can influence your franchise. And that one single player — throwing pick-sixes three weeks in a row — was Matt Schaub,” King said. “Matt Schaub imploded. And as nice a guy he is and as much as he’s done for that franchise, he is the guy that got this team on their death spiral.”

The Texans are loaded with talent, making this an appealing job, especially with them in line for a very high draft pick.

“If you have J.J. Watt coming back, you’ve got Brian Cushing coming back from injury ‘€¦ you’ve got the basis of a very good defense,” King said. “And you’ve got Andre Johnson. It looks like they’ll probably lose Ben Tate, whose a good running back, but they’ve got plenty — plenty — of talent on that team to contend in 2014. If you add [Louisville quarterback Teddy] Bridgewater to that team, they’re going to be very, very good.”

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Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, Gary Kubiak

Fantasy Football: Week 15 starts, sits

12.06.13 at 12:35 pm ET
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Welcome to the Week 14 starts and sits! It’€™s playoff time and I’€™ve done my best to distill the talent pool for you. If your key player is not covered here, check out our full lineup rankings over at Rotobahn or participate in our Sunday morning chat, where I will answer all of your remaining lineup questions. Best of luck to all this week!

QUARTERBACKS

STARTS

Josh McCown, Bears vs. Cowboys

He’€™s far better than most folks, including us, ever expected. He will get at least one more start, and that start comes at home vs. a struggling Dallas defense that has been giving up plenty of fantasy points. I know it’€™s tough starting a journeyman in the playoffs, but if you are jammed with an injury to a guy like Aaron Rodgers, McCown may be the bridge to Rodgers and an appearance in the semifinals next week. Do not be afraid to play McCown.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Dolphins

It’€™s not a great week for quarterbacks, but Big Ben should give you some solid production in a home matchup against a beatable opponent. The big game is a possibility, but it’€™s the solid floor that I find most appealing. He’€™s a good option in any league.

Philip Rivers, Chargers at Giants

Rivers is a safe option this week. You beat the Giants by throwing the ball, so expect a few scores and solid yardage and perhaps a big game if New York can score enough points to push the San Diego offense for four quarters. Rivers has had some mediocre games but no killers. He should come in somewhere between 16-30 points this week in standard scoring.

Alex Smith, Chiefs at Redskins

He’€™s been better for fantasy than I ever thought he’€™d be. It’€™s pretty amazing when you consider how poor Kansas City’€™s downfield passing game is. Smith makes plays every week with his feet and his arm, and his receivers get yards after the catch, especially Jamaal Charles. Smith can start for you this week if you need him, and he’€™ll most likely fare well against a soft Redskins defense.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks at 49ers

Curse the schedule-maker! Is there anything worse than having your QB1 playing at San Francisco during wild card week?  Here’€™s the skinny on Wilson: You can play him, but you should also consider other options. Based on what we saw last week when St. Louis played San Francisco, he has a chance, because Kellen Clemens missed a lot of throws — throws that Wilson will not miss. So Wilson can be played, just be realistic with your expectations. If he gets you 20 points in standard leagues, you did well.

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Read More: Alex Smith, C.J. Spiller, Josh McCown, Kellen Clemens

Patriots practice Friday: Brandon Bolden joins Aaron Dobson, Alfonzo Dennard on list of absentees

12.06.13 at 11:06 am ET
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FOXBORO — Running back Brandon Bolden was not on hand as the Patriots began their sweats and shells practice Friday in the light rain on the lower practice fields outside Gillette Stadium.

Bolden was not on this week’s injury report and has been a full participant on Wednesday and Thursday after nursing a knee injury earlier in the season.

Three other players were absent Friday, including Alfonzo Dennard, who left the team to deal with a court appearance in Nebraska. Dennard is having another court appearance Friday afternoon in Nebraska to answer to a charge of DUI in July. On Thursday, Dennard was given an additional 30 days in jail, 100 hours of community service and another year of probation for violating terms of his initial probation.

Two other Patriots were absent Friday due to injury as rookie receiver Aaron Dobson continues to nurse a foot injury that forced him to miss Sunday’s game in Houston. Dobson played just 36 of 87 snaps against the Broncos on Nov. 24 before showing up on the injury report last week. The team re-signed Austin Collie Thursday morning for wide receiver depth.

Marcus Cannon injured his ankle against the Broncos in the first half against the Broncos and was replaced by Will Svitek for the remainder of the game. Cannon was not active last Sunday against Houston, marking the first game he has missed this season.

Both Cannon and Dobson have missed practice all week and are expected to be ruled out for Sunday’s game against Cleveland. For the third straight day, the team worked out in sweats and shells on the lower practice fields in preparation for the Browns this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Bolden, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots

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