|11.20.14 at 6:00 am ET|
As is the case leading up to most games, Bill Belichick has always been one to praise the opposition so that the Patriots are never looking past their opponent for that coming week. But when Belichick talks about Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, he isn’t kidding, Suh is the real deal.
The second overall pick in the 2010 draft certainly has made his presence felt in the NFL — winning the AP NFL Rookie of the Year, as well as being a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time, first-team All-Pro.
“He’s pretty dominant,” said Belichick. “He can do it all, and his effort, the plays he makes from behind in chase, like on screen plays and hustling downfield, backside plays, in addition to all his point of attack and pass rushes and disruptive plays. The guy gets double teamed, [but] he’s still productive. He’s really good.
“They move him around and make it a little bit difficult to know exactly where he’s going to be. You have a pretty good idea, but they do enough other things with their front to give him opportunities to make plays and he takes advantage of them. He’s really good. That’s a very good front they have. He’s the marquee guy, but they have a lot of good players on that front. They roll them all through, they all play, they rotate frequently and they’re fresh and they’re active — very disruptive.”
So far this season Suh has 28 tackles and 4.5 sacks, with all of his sacks coming in Lions wins.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been protected much better of late, as he’s been sacked just three times in the last four games with the offensive line getting more familiar with one another by the day. This week will present a huge test as led by Suh, the Lions have 26 sacks this season — 10th in the league.
|11.19.14 at 5:31 pm ET|
Christmas is more than a month away, but Lions head coach Jim Caldwell is already talking about gifts.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been on a tear the past six games with 40 catches for 587 yards and six touchdowns. Over that span Gronkowski has been able to showcase his pass catching abilities, as well being able to run after the catch — no bigger example than his 26-yard touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over the Colts.
“He’s obviously a great talent, just an incredible run, particularly when you look at the one he had against Indianapolis,” Caldwell said on a conference call Wednesday. “He can catch the ball, and not only is he a fine pass catcher, but he can also run with it after he gets it. Very, very unusual gifts that he has.”
Gronkowski isn’t the only player Caldwell and the Lions are worried about, as he also spoke on quarterback Tom Brady.
“Obviously, he’s been doing some great things like he always does,” he said. “They are a very surgical sort of a procedure, where he’s throwing the ball accurately, getting it to all of his playmakers and putting points on the board.”
Sunday’s game will feature the Patriots offense, which is averaging 45.3 points in its last three games, against a Lions defense who comes in allowing an NFL-low 15.6 points per game. Caldwell, in his first season with Detroit, knows it will be a challenge.
|11.19.14 at 5:24 pm ET|
While it’s possible Revis won’t spend the entire game playing “Megatron” straight up, he will still likely have to know where he is most of the time.
Having missed several games in the middle of the season with an injured ankle, Johnson has been limited to 34 catches for 520 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson needs just two more touchdowns to reach 75 for his career, joining Barry Sanders as the only players in Lions history to reach that milestone. It could happen Sunday.
“He’s Megatron,” Revis beamed on Wednesday. “That’s what makes him different. He’s a man amongst boys out there. You see it all the time. He’s 6-6, 230 pounds and he runs a 4.3 [40-yard sprint]. That’s pretty freakish. It’s like the ultimate receiver you want. If you can create him on the video game, that’s basically what he is.
“A lot of respect for him. I feel our defense has a lot of respect for him. He’s a lot of respect around the league as well.”
Revis has played against Johnson twice before, and his teams are 2-0 against the Lions. In those games Johnson has eight catches for 128 yards, although Revis did leave the second game against him when he was with the Buccaneers. Would he welcome the chance of going up against him again mano-a-mano on Sunday?
“Bro, it’s competition,” Revis said with a big smile. “Like I said, we don’t back down from whoever the receiving corps are, the guys are, it’s competition. I’m sure it’s the same if you ask Calvin. We’re looking forward to it as much as him and their offense. It’s competition. Competition is fun. We just have to keep on competing and working hard at what we do and what we do best.”
Johnson, who technically is listed at 6-foot-5, will be like facing Rob Gronkowski but only with a lot more speed.
|11.19.14 at 4:47 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Some new injuries have appeared on the injury report for the Patriots in advance of Sunday’s meeting with the Lions at Gillette Stadium. This comes following Wednesday’s practice, which was held indoors inside the Dana-Farber Fieldhouse and was a walkthrough.
Julian Edelman (thigh) popped up on the injury report for the first time this season, and was limited in the practice. Edelman landed awkwardly on his side during the first quarter of last Sunday’s game, and has taken a beating all season long, so it really seemed like a matter of time before his name appeared. The injury did not seem to phase Edelman as he missed just a few plays.
Offensive lineman Cameron Fleming (finger/ankle) missed the practice in its entirety. Fleming injured his ankle late in Sunday’s game and did not return, while he suffered the finger injury Week 4 in Kansas City — the injury has been on the injury report since that game. Last Sunday was Fleming’s first action since Week 4.
Finally, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon (hip) was limited. It was the first time he’s appeared on the injury report this season. Cannon saw limited action Sunday as a substitute offensive lineman.
Chandler Jones (hip) once again did not practice and Matthew Slater (shoulder) was removed from the injury report. Defensive lineman Sealver Siliga returned to practice for the first time since being placed on injured reserve designated for return after injuring his foot in Week 3. The Patriots have 21 days to decide whether or not to add him to the active roster or shut him down.
For the Lions, wide receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), defensive lineman Nick Fairley (knee) and running back Joique Bell (ankle) did not practice.
Here is the full Patriots practice report:
|11.19.14 at 4:34 pm ET|
|11.19.14 at 2:59 pm ET|
One of Brady’s most productive throws during his six-game winning streak is the back shoulder pass to wide receiver Brandon LaFell. He completed two of them on Sunday night alone, part of LaFell’s three catches on four targets for 62 yards. One of them came on a key third-down conversion to keep a touchdown drive alive.
Brady was asked about the level of trust it takes to let go of the ball before a receiver is turned around on back-shoulder throws.
“We’ve been working pretty hard at it for a while, Brandon and I,” Brady said. “I think it’s a big trust thing. You’ve got to trust that when the ball is in the air that they’re not going to make the play on it. And when you’re in those one-on-one situations, as a quarterback, you can only really control it until it leaves your hand. Even though the outcome may not be good, sometimes you may make the right decision. But as a quarterback, when you’re decisive and you trust that someone is going to make a positive play, it’s much easier to just let it rip. He’s really allowed me to do that. He’s been such a fun player and a fun teammate to have. He’s my locker mate, so we’ve got a great relationship. It’s been a lot of fun.”
It’s the kind of relationship Brady will see up close and personal next week when the Patriots travel to Green Bay.
“It’s all those things that amount to a good passing game. When you see certain quarterbacks play with certain receivers, like I see Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson ‘ they are probably the best at it,” Brady said. “It’s the timing of when to throw, how hard to throw. It’s when to look. If you look too early, if you slow down as a receiver, it’s a low percentage play. If you throw it too hard or too high, it’s a low percentage throw.
“It’s just a big trust throw, and both people really have to be on the same page. We’ll just keep working at it. Those are big plays. You have to throw to the perimeter of the field. And it’s 25 yards down the field and [when] you make plays like that where you can gain a quarter of the field in one throw, it’s a big momentum play. That probably got me most excited. But we need more of those. Hopefully we can make a few of those this week.”
When the Patriots signed the 6-foot-3 LaFell in March as a free agent, Brady was pumped up because he was getting a big receiver that could go up and fight for the ball on that play.
“That’s the advantage of having a big player like that, too, where you’re physically bigger than the opposing player that you’re going against, and you can use your body and your size to protect the ball,” Brady said. “I think that’s one of Brandon’s great strengths. For those to come up, it’s not a big surprise. He’s a big guy. When guys get tangled up with Brandon, they usually get the brunt of it.
“The closer you are to him, sometimes I don’t think that’s the best thing because he’s such a big presence, and he’s got really long arms and he’s got big hands to be able to make those types of plays. Those are good plays for us to make. Like I said, we’re going to need to keep making them, and as the season keeps going on and the games get bigger, we need to have those plays in our back pocket and know that we have confidence that we can go out there and hit them.”
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|11.19.14 at 1:44 pm ET|
In the first half, Brady went a pedestrian 10-for-19 passing for 84 yards with two interceptions, including one with less than two minutes remaining — arguably one of the worst throws he’s made in his 15 seasons, as the throw hung in the air for a lifetime before Colts safety Mike Adams picked it off.
The Colts scored a touchdown a few plays later and the Patriots got the ball back with 55 seconds remaining, but Bill Belichick didn’t mess around and kneeled out the clock sending the Patriots to the locker room with just a 14-10 lead — perhaps sending a message to Brady and the offense.
“I always need to do a better job,” said Brady. “Obviously we were there at halftime, I didn’t play as well as I am capable of. I have to do a lot better job. It always starts with me and that is where my focus is. Hopefully I can put together four quarters of good stuff this week.”
The second half was a completely different story as the offense scored touchdowns on four of its five possessions and the only one they didn’t score was the last possession of the game when they were running out the clock late in the fourth quarter. While the ground game was exceptional (Jonas Gray’s 201 yards rushing, four touchdowns), but Brady was a major reason as well. He was 9-for-11 passing for 173 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. (One of the incompletions was a Julian Edelman drop over the middle.)
So, what changed in the second half? Brady had more time to throw.
The quarterback looked much more comfortable in the pocket in the second half, as he was given more time to throw. By our calculations, in the second half Brady averaged 2.61 seconds from snap to release, compared to 2.20 second in the first half — almost half a second difference.
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