|09.26.10 at 1:21 pm ET|
The Patriots opened with the following personnel package:
OL: Matt Light, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Sebastian Vollmer
WR: Julian Edelman, Wes Welker, Brandon Tate
TE: Aaron Hernandez
RB: Danny Woodhead
QB: Tom Brady
|09.26.10 at 11:48 am ET|
No real surprises when it comes to Sunday’s inactives — defensive linemen Brandon Deaderick and Kyle Love, as well as linebacker Dane Fletcher, cornerback Terrence Wheatley, wide receiver Taylor Price, and offensive linemen Nick Kaczur, Steve Maneri and Quinn Ojinnaka.
The biggest question leading into the game was the status of inside linebacker Brandon Spikes (calf) and running back Fred Taylor (toe), both of whom were hobbled by injury over the course of the week, but it now appears both are ready to go. (The fact that Spikes is able to go likely impacted the decision to deactivate Fletcher.) Wide receiver Julian Edelman saw his first action of the season last week against the Jets, and appears to be closer to 100 percent.
In addition, wide receiver/running back Danny Woodhead, who was picked up last weekend, is active, and should provide some depth at a pair of offensive skills positions. And outside linebacker Shawn Crable, taken in the 2008 draft, could see the first regular-season action of his career, as he is on the roster for Sunday’s game. For what its worth, the Patriots are deep at outside linebacker, with a group that includes Crable, Jermaine Cunningham, Rob Ninkovich and Tully Banta-Cain.
|09.26.10 at 11:41 am ET|
FOXBORO — Cornerback Terrence Wheatley [foot], OL Quinn Ojinnaka and WR Taylor Price [ankle] lead the list of Patriots inactives.
Also inactive for the Patriots are DL Brandon Deaderick, LB Dane Fletcher, OL Nick Kaczur, DL Kyle Love and OL Steve Maneri.
The 1-1 Patriots will have rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes [calf] available after he passed a pre-game conditioning test. RB Danny Woodhead, picked up this week to replace Kevin Faulk, is active and could see some action filling Faulk’s role on third down.
LB Shawn Crable has been added to the 53-man roster and is active for today’s game, taking the roster spot of Faulk, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve earlier in the week.
The 0-2 Bills have designated Brian Brohm as their third quarterback. FS Cary Harris, LB Paul Posluszny, LB Antonio Coleman, T Jamon Meredith, T Ed Wang, DE Alex Carrington and DE John McCargo.
|09.26.10 at 11:38 am ET|
Some trade talk involving Sunday’s opponent …
According to a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Buffalo Bills have spoken to at least one team about a possible deal involving quarterback Trent Edwards.
Edwards started the first two games of the 2010 season — completing 29 of 42 passes for 241 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions — but was benched for Sunday’s game vs. the Patriots in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
|09.26.10 at 9:51 am ET|
FOXBORO — Another mild day is on tap at Gillette Stadium as the 1-1 Patriots battle the 0-2 Bills in a game that figures to bring a sense of urgency for both teams for very different reasons.
Temperatures are expected in the upper 60s with partly cloudy skies and brisk breeze for the 1 p.m. ET kickoff.
Fresh from his catch that vaulted him to a perfect ’100′ score in EA Sports last week against the Jets, Randy Moss is featured on the cover of Patriots GAMEDAY today, making his one-handed grab against Darrelle Revis, not pictured.
The Patriots are desperate to bounce back from their second-half meltdown against the Jets while the Bills have already changed their quarterback, going with Harvard product Ryan Fitzpatrick in place of Trent Edwards.
Fitzpatrick against the Pats secondary is a matchup that bears close monitoring. Darius Butler could be replaced by Kyle Arrington at right corner while rookie Devin McCourty starts at left corner. Edwards is a receiver that was known to check down and go to his safe outlets whereas Fitzpatrick figures to take more deep shots.
Whether or not Bret Lockett is available to the Patriots is another matter altogether. Various sources confirmed to the WEEI.com his arrest early Saturday in Providence.
Some notes to keep in mind:
- The Patriots have beaten the Bills 13 straight times dating back to the infamous Lawyer Milloy game of Sept. 7, 2003, when the Patriots cut the popular safety the week before the season opener. The Bills came out and smoked the Patriots, 31-0, at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Patriots would return the favor by the identical score in the season finale and cap off the season with the second of their three Super Bowl titles.
- The 13 straight wins against the Bills marks the longest streak against any team in Patriots history. They also have an 11-gamer against the Bills from Jan. 2, 1983 through Dec. 20, 1987.
- The Bills are 0-for-their-franchise at Gillette, losing all eight encounters, with their closest call coming last year in the Monday night season opener, falling 25-24 on a last-minute Tom Brady-to-Ben Watson hookup. The Patriots have won nine straight at home against Buffalo, dating back to a 16-13 overtime win in the 2000 season.
- The Patriots have 59 wins against the Bills lifetime, the most by the Pats against any NFL opponent. New England is 59-40-1 all-time against their old AFL rival.
- Brady is 15-1 against Buffalo. Additionally, he is 12-4 against the Jets and 10-6 against Miami and 2-0 against the Colts [in the AFC East]. All told, Brady is 39-11 against division opponents. Brady is trying to avoid losing consecutive games to AFC East teams for the second time in his career. The only time he has lost back-to-back games against division rivals came in 2006 when he dropped a Nov. 12 game to the Jets at Gillette, 17-14, and a 21-0 decision to the Dolphins in South Florida four weeks later.
|09.26.10 at 8:55 am ET|
As kickoff looms, here are 10 final thoughts on Patriots-Bills:
•The promotion of outside linebacker Shawn Crable to the 53-man roster is intriguing. There’s no telling what sort of impact Crable is going to have on the field — he could come out of the gate on Sunday and finish with three sacks, he could go down after one play from scrimmage. There’s just no telling with Crable. Whatever happens, his fortunes may be tied to those of Jermaine Cunningham. If Cunningham can go, Crable won’t play a whole lot. If Cunningham can’t go, Crable will likely see some playing time.
•In that same vein, the inclusion of Brandon Spikes on the injury report (he’s probable with a calf injury) could signal some personnel changes at both inside and outside linebacker on Sunday. Inside linebacker Dane Fletcher could be active for the first time as a professional.
•The closer we get to kickoff, I’m starting to believe that Sammy Morris is going to have more on his plate when it comes to the passing game. I was struck by the numbers that were provided to us by Pro Football Focus: Kevin Faulk caught 77.1 percent of the passes thrown his way in ‘09 and gained 8.1 yards per catch. Morris caught 71.4 percent, but gained 9.7 yards per reception. “In terms of replacing him, their best bet is probably plugging Morris in as a 3rd down back and relying on Fred Taylor and BenJarvus Green-Ellis to split the carries in the run game,” wrote Sam Monson in an e-mail to WEEI.com.
•Not sure that 5-foot-9 Danny Woodhead will be ready to go on Sunday, but as his nascent Patriots’ career continues, it’s clear that he’s not just a signing meant to stick it to the Jets in the days before last week’s game. The undersized Woodhead — who was working out with running backs this week — brings some depth to the running game, and could serve as an option in the (no pun intended) short passing game.
•There is more and more talk around the team that Kyle Arrington will replace Darius Butler at right cornerback against the Bills. Butler appears to be at the crossroads of his career — in the wake of a miserable performance against the Jets, these next few games are critical to his overall professional development.
•While the Patriots have been unable to get much of a rush from the outside, they’ve been successful at creating havoc up front. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork has overmatched his two opponents at center and done a nice job caving in the pocket, while Gerard Warren had the best defensive game of maybe anyone on the roster last week, coming away with a pair of sacks in the loss to the Jets. Buffalo is tied for third-most in the league with seven sacks allowed through three games.
•Speaking of things up front, it’s clear the Patriots have a renewed confidence in second-year defensive lineman Ron Brace. The Boston College product, who was inactive for seven games and a healthy scratch for an eighth, has started both games for the Patriots this season, and has five tackles in two games. Facing a talented group of running backs, the New England coaching staff will expect a lot of its defensive front on Sunday, a group that will include Brace.
•In much the same way the Patriots used to be bedeviled by their annual trip to South Beach, the 11-game win streak New England has on the Bills has to have some sort of psychological impact on the Bills and their fans. Last season, we saw these two teams play two of the closer games in recent memory — the two were decided by a total of eight points, with one game turning on a last-second comeback guided by Brady. If Buffalo does get down early, there could be at least one or two of the Bills’ veterans who look at each other and think, “Here we go again.”
•Strange to see Stephen Gostkowski struggle — he’s 1-for-4 on field goal attempts through the first two games, and while one miss was from 56 yards, he did miss on 47- and 37-yarders.
•Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick got a perfect score on the Wonderlic. Check out WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford try and replicate that performance here.
|09.25.10 at 8:24 pm ET|
The Patriots announced late Saturday night that they have have added linebacker Brandon Spikes to the injury report with a calf injury. His official status for the game is probable. The rookie linebacker, who has started the first two games of the 2010 season, has 12 tackles and one pass defensed.
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