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Patriots-Lions Live Blog

08.27.11 at 7:00 pm ET
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Patriots-Lions Live Blog

Albert Haynesworth reportedly won’t play against Lions, but it looks like James Sanders will give it a go

08.27.11 at 5:08 pm ET
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Patriots defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth is not expected to play in Saturday’s preseason game against the Lions in Detroit, according to Tom Curran of Comcast Sports Net. Haynesworth has not played in New England’s first two preseason games, and returned to practice on a regular basis this week for the first time since the start of the month. He was acquired via a trade with Washington on July 28.

One player who hasn’t seen much action over the course of the preseason who is expected to play against the Lions is veteran safety James Sanders. Sanders, who has been slowed by a hamstring injury over the course of camp but has returned to practice on a regular basis this week, Tweeted on Friday: Excited about the opportunity to play tomorrow!

“I’m just looking forward to it just an opportunity to be out there on the field with the guys, get an opportunity to go out there and just play a game,” Sanders said on Thursday. “I haven’t had the opportunity to play in a game this preseason yet, and I’m excited, so I’m ready to go.”

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, James Sanders,

Setting the scene: Patriots-Lions

08.27.11 at 4:29 pm ET
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The Patriots look to continue their preseason dominance tonight at Ford Field in Detroit (8 p.m. ET, WBZ-TV) but the task could be a lot more difficult than the first two conquests. The 2-0 Patriots travel to Motown to battle a 2-0 Lions team that some believe could challenge the Packers this year for supremacy atop the NFC North.

It was the Brian HoyerRyan Mallett show in a 47-12 laugher over the Jaguars on Aug. 11 at Gillette. That was also the game rookie Stevan Ridley had three touchdowns, including two on the ground. One week later, they destroyed another Florida team, beating up the Buccaneers in the heat and humidity of Tampa, 31-14.

Tom Brady had a good start to the preseason with two touchdowns and a 111.4 rating. Chad Ochocinco had his first TD in a Patriots uniform, an eight-yard grab but caught just two balls for 14 yards.

Will Brady – as has been the case in the past – play into the third quarter in what is usually the “dress rehearsal” game for the regular season? “Coach just tells us to be prepared to play the whole game, all 60 minutes,” Brady said this week when asked about playing time in the third preseason game.

Will Brady – who will be looking across the line at Ndamukong Sug – look to target Ochocinco more than the four times he looked his way in Week 2?

And will we finally see Albert Haynesworth in game action in a Patriots uniform after battling conditioning and legal issues in the first three weeks of camp?’s Patriots beat writer Chris Price breaks down 10 things to keep an eye on tonight.

Tonight in Detroit, they have a young, strong quarterback in Matthew Stafford, who had helped lead the Lions to preseason wins over the Bengals and Browns. Stafford was 6-of-7 with a pair of touchdowns in a 34-3 rout of the Bengals in the opener on Aug. 12. He followed that up by going 6-of-10 with 85 yards and a TD in a 30-28 win over Browns on the road a week later. He has yet to throw a pick this preseason.

They have a solid core of skill players around him in receivers Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson and running back Jahvid Best.

But maybe most of all, they have the potential of a devastating defensive line led by Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams.

Add to that mix a third-year head coach in Jim Schwartz who has everyone believing in Detroit that this team, the NFL’s only winless team in history in 2008, could be on its way to the playoffs three years later.

Speaking of defensive lines, everyone in New England wants to know if they will see the Patriots debut of Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis and rookie running back Shane Vereen. Then there’s James Sanders.

Sanders – like Vereen – has been battling a sore hamstring that the team has played cautiously, wanting both to be close to full strength before putting them on the field in a game. Tonight might be the time for both to test their respective healing powers.

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Corey Williams, detroit lions, James Sanders

Jerod Mayo, Patrick Chung talk preseason on M&M

08.26.11 at 1:03 pm ET
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Linebacker Jerod Mayo and defensive back Patrick Chung joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon as part of WEEI’s Patriots Friday. To hear the interviews, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Patriots play the Lions Saturday night in Detroit in the third preseason game. As for how much he and the other starters will be playing, Chung said: “I’ve got one more word for you: Confidential.”

Mayo said Patriots starters approach the preseason thinking they’€™ll get extended playing time.

‘€œCoach [Bill] Belichick always tells us to be ready to play the whole game, starting from the first preseason game to the last preseason game,’€ Mayo said. ‘€œThat’€™s the mentality that we’€™ve always had, and that’€™s the mentality that we’€™ll continue to have.’€

High preseason minutes may be because the Patriots do not see preseason games as merely a way to scheme against regular-season opponents, according to Mayo.

‘€œWe’€™re more just about getting the Patriots better,’€ he said.

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Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots

Heath Evans on D&C: Bill Belichick ‘the funniest guy I’ve ever been around’

08.26.11 at 10:16 am ET
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Former Patriots fullback Heath Evans, who this week announced his retirement from the NFL and a new job with the NFL Network, spoke with Dennis & Callahan Friday morning. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Evans said the move from the field to television has been a welcome change.

‘€œThe only thing I miss is the guys,’€ Evans said. ‘€œI don’€™t miss being sore. I don’€™t miss being yelled and cussed at. I don’€™t miss having to be up every morning at 5.’€

While in the last two years in New Orleans his career seemed headed toward the broadcasting booth, Evans said he didn’€™t think that way when he was with the Patriots.

‘€œI played for Bill Belichick for four years,’€ Evans said. ‘€œDo you think it was an easy job giving good interviews and good speeches?’€

Evans called Belichick ‘€œthe funniest guy I’€™ve ever been around in my life,’€ adding that Belichick probably enjoyed Wes Welker‘€™s foot comments prior the Patriots’€™ playoff game against the Jets last season.

‘€œInside, Bill Belichick thought that was hilarious,’€ Evans said, adding: ‘€œBut Bill also knows the ground that he runs his teams on, and there is no going back on what he says, and there is no going against what he says.’€

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Read More: albery haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Heath Evans, Robert Kraft

Devin McCourty on D&C: ‘I prepare just like it’s a regular game’

08.26.11 at 8:33 am ET
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Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning as the Patriots prepare for Saturday night’s preseason game against the Lions in Detroit. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“They’re explosive,” McCourty said of the Lions. “When you watch their offense, they have a bunch of guys that are making plays.”

Pressed about if he knows how much he’ll be playing Saturday, McCourty insisted that Bill Belichick does not share that information with his troops. “You never really know how much you’re going to play,” McCourty said, adding: “However long coach Belichick tells me to be out there, I’ll be out there.”

The second-year player also said he doesn’t have any mental letdowns in the preseason.

“I prepare just like it’s a regular game,” he said. “Once you go out there, there’s really no different feeling. You still have the fans in the crowd. You still have all the players preparing. It’s not like you wear a different jersey in the preseason. You come out there and the only thing that is different is it doesn’t count, but it has the same feeling as [regular-season] game time.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty,

Fantasy Football 2011: The rookie waiting game

08.25.11 at 10:48 pm ET
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Every year we see a few rookies who look so good we want to draft them based on potential or upside alone. We see the explosiveness and the big-play ability and we assume the coaches will see it too. The 2011 season is no different.

We have a long list of rookies and other young players whom we think should get a chance right away. We understand the delays for the most part; running backs need to learn protections and receivers need to refine their routes. Quarterbacks need to digest a new offense and adjust to the speed of the NFL game. Still, sometimes we end up scratching our heads when teams bring game-ready players along slowly. Having a realistic approach to drafting these players will help you to avoid the pitfall of reaching too soon. Nobody wants to get stuck waiting for a player they had ticketed for a major role.

For the record, there are two game-ready rookies we are buying into from the get-go. They are RB Mark Ingram of the Saints and WR Julio Jones of the Falcons. We expect to see immediate returns as these players have established roles on teams that are well-equipped to take advantage of their skills. Jones has a solid guy to work with in Matt Ryan, and Ingram is a great fit for the Saints and should be their starter (or at least their co-starter) with Pierre Thomas.  These players landed in nearly perfect situations. Now for the less lucky.  Here’€™s where the waiting game comes in.

Roy Helu, RB, Redskins

We’€™ve already gushed enough about the Redskins’€™ rookie, and as much as we want to scream ‘€œdraft him!’€, we can’€™t ignore the actions of the Redskins management and coaches. They added a veteran and he’€™s atop the depth chart. Making matters worse, the Redskins are not a very good team, which might limit the opportunities for the running backs. We think Helu is still worth a mid-round selection in redraft leagues just for his upside.  Immediate returns are not guaranteed.

AJ Green, WR, Bengals

This is an obvious one, but we think Green will be pretty good as soon as his rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton, gets his sea legs. That could take a few weeks, but we see Green as being a nice asset in the second half of the season or sooner. His upside is big enough to consider taking him as your 3rd receiver, but if you do, be prepared and build some depth behind him.

Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders

Moore could yield instant gratification, but this is the Raiders. He may not start right away while they continue to wait for Darrius Heyward-Bey. From what we have seen of this player, he is going to be very good once he gets his chance. If he’€™s not starting, you can still take him late in larger leagues. In smaller leagues, he is a player to keep tabs on. He has a lot of upside.

Greg Little, WR, Cleveland

Try to ignore Cleveland’€™s recent history with young receivers.  We like this kid for a number of reasons, but there is a lot working against him in the short term. He did not play organized ball in 2010. That he was still selected so high speaks volumes as to his talents, but that time away from the game combined with the lockout, will slow his development. Once he is settled, he is going to be a standout talent in comparison to his teammates. Getting the ball from Colt McCoy‘€™s hands and into Little’€™s hands will be this offense’€™s biggest priority. We see a very solid potential as the season progresses, but an up and down September is to be expected. Read the rest of this entry »

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