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Stevan Ridley on Rob Gronkowski absence: ‘It’s called team for a reason’

11.20.12 at 11:28 am ET
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FOXBORO — Stevan Ridley has been around just two seasons now in the NFL, but he knows one Bill Belichick mantra as well as anyone: Next man up.

Asked Tuesday how the Patriots offense will adjust without arguably its biggest weapon for Tom Brady, the running back said others have to, and will, step in and fill the big void.

“It’s called a team for a reason,” Ridley said when asked how the team will fare without Rob Gronkowski. “Gronk is a vital part but we have other teammates that have to step up and get the job done. That’s what we’re going to try and do the best we can as a unit. So, for us, we just have to keep playing football. We have a bunch of games left. We hope Gronk recovers quick and he’ll be back as soon as he can.”

Does Ridley expect a bigger role?

“Coach is going to call the plays, put in the personnel and we’re going to roll, man,” he said. “So, they’re going to make the adjustments, do the job and we’re going to go out there and play football.”

Whatever the role, Ridley knows this will be a challenging week, with the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Thanksgiving night.

“Just have to bounce back,” Ridley said. “We have a few quick days of practice and before you know it, we’ll be on a plane and be in New York so we just have to get to business.”

Ridley had just 28 yards on 13 carries Sunday, an off-day for the running back who was on pace for 1,400 yards before a sub-par performance against the Colts.

“Just keep playing hard, keep playing hard and keep working hard,” Ridley said. “Some games it’s going to be there, some games it’s not. We’re playing a professional sport here. So, for us, we just have to keep working. I think the run game will come around. It’s been fine all year. Those guys are working hard for me up front.”

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Read More: Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl, Rob Gronkowski

Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2012 season

11.20.12 at 11:06 am ET
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Through 10 games, the Patriots have been flagged for 59 penalties (25th in the league) for a total of 537 yards (17th in the league). Here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots this year, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
LB Jerod Mayo: five penalties (two defensive pass interference, unnecessary roughness, illegal contact, roughing the passer) 43 yards
TE Rob Gronkowski: four penalties (two offensive holding, false start, offensive pass interference), 35 yards
DL Vince Wilfork: four penalties (two encroachment, defensive offsides, facemask), 30 yards
Team: four penalties (illegal formation, illegal shift, illegal block above the waist, defensive holding), 25 yards
CB Devin McCourty: three penalties (defensive holding, two defensive pass interference), 51 yards
LB Brandon Spikes: three penalties (defensive holding, unnecessary roughness, roughing the passer), 35 yards
CB Kyle Arrington: two penalties (defensive pass interference, defensive holding), 45 yards
CB Alfonzo Dennard: two penalties (defensive holding, unnecessary roughness), 20 yards
CB Ras-I Dowling: two penalties (defensive pass interference, defensive holding), 19 yards
WR Julian Edelman: two penalties (false start, offensive pass interference), 15 yards
OL Donald Thomas: two penalties (false start, offensive holding), 15 yards
OT Nate Solder: two penalties (offensive holding, false start), 15 yards
ST Niko Koutouvides: two penalties (defensive holding, illegal block above the waist), 14 yards
TE Daniel Fells: two penalties (false start, offensive pass interference), 12 yards
OT Sebastian Vollmer: two penalties (illegal formation, false start), 10 yards
DE Chandler Jones: two penalties (encroachment, defensive offsides) 10 yards
S Pat Chung: one penalty (defensive pass interference), 40 yards
S Steve Gregory: one penalty (personal foul), 15 yards
WR Brandon Lloyd: one penalty (offensive pass interference), 10 yards
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: one penalty (defensive holding), 10 yards
C Ryan Wendell: one penalty (offensive holding), 10 yards
S Tavon Wilson: one penalty (offensive holding’€“punt return team), 10 yards
ST Nate Ebner: one penalty (offensive holding), 10 yards
QB Tom Brady: one penalty (intentional grounding), 10 yards
LS Danny Aiken: one penalty (false start) 5 yards
G Logan Mankins: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
TE Aaron Hernandez: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
ST Matthew Slater: one penalty (offsides on free kick), 5 yards
DL Jake Bequette: one penalty (encroachment), 5 yards
DL Jermaine Cunningham: one penalty (encroachment), 5 yards
DE Rob Ninkovich: one penalty (encroachment) 3 yards
RB Stevan Ridley: one penalty (false start), 5 yards

Most penalized by position:
Cornerback: Nine penalties for 130 yards
Linebacker: Nine penalties for 83 yards
Defensive line: Nine penalties for 53 yards
Offensive line: Eight penalties for 55 yards
Tight end: Seven penalties for 52 yards
Specialists (punter, kicker, long snapper, kick/punt units): Six penalties for 44 yards
Team: Four penalties for 25 yards
Wide receiver: Three penalties for 25 yards
Safety: Two penalties for 55 yards
Quarterback: One penalty for 10 yards
Running back: One penalty for 5 yards

Most frequently called penalties:
False start: 10
Defensive holding: Seven
Defensive pass interference: Seven
Offensive holding: Seven
Encroachment: Six
Offensive pass interference: Four
Defensive offsides: Three
Unnecessary roughness: Three
Illegal block above the waist: Two
Illegal formation: Two
Intentional grounding: One
Personal foul: One
Illegal shift: One
Offsides on free kick: One
Roughing the passer: Two
Facemask: One
Illegal contact: One

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Fantasy Football: Week 12 waiver wire

11.20.12 at 10:33 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 12 waiver wire. Once again, we have a very active week in terms of shifting player values. Perhaps the biggest riser is QB Colin Kaepernick, who might have stolen the starting gig in San Francisco with two strong performances in the wake of Alex Smith‘€™s Week 10 concussion. There’€™s some shape-shifting going on in backfields around the league as well with material changes in Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Arizona, New Orleans and Green Bay.  There also are a few bust-out receivers led by New England’€™s Julian Edelman and San Diego’€™s Danario Alexander, who is on the wire for the third straight week. With the bye weeks past us, it is now time to solidify rosters and to collect players with high upside, which now trumps depth when it comes to making pickups. If you are in a deeper league, come on over to Rotobahn, where I will be adding players throughout the day as I work through more Week 11 game film.


Matt Schaub, Texans

A monster game like the one Schaub had in Week 11 always will get a lot of attention, but the bigger fact is that Schaub has been very good for the last month if you throw out the one stinker at Chicago. With Houston likely looking to scale back Arian Foster‘€™s carries, we think Schaub could be solid down the stretch. He should be owned in all leagues.

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers

It’€™s easy to see the 49ers making a switch at quarterback after what Kaepernick has done the last two weeks. He’€™s a great athlete with a very good arm. San Francisco traded up in the draft to get him. It might be time … and if you can get him, especially in long-term formats, I think it’€™s a good move. The 49ers look like a better team with him at the helm.

Jake Locker, Titans

He’€™s healthy now, and with Chris Johnson running all over the place, he will have some open targets downfield. If Locker plays well, he could be very good for fantasy owners over the final five weeks. He has some nice matchups left, especially this week’€™s game in Jacksonville.

Chad Henne, Jaguars

He’€™s a guy for large formats, obviously, but he looked good and should be the starter for  the time being. Add him if you have a hole or want some depth.

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Read More: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Danario Alexander, Julian Edelman

Aqib Talib: ‘I’ve never been a part of an organization’ like Patriots

11.20.12 at 10:32 am ET
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FOXBORO — It’s only been one game and a few weeks, but already Aqib Talib can feel the difference.

The cornerback, acquired from Tampa Bay in a deal on Nov. 1, said before practice on Tuesday that playing for the Patriots is just a different ballgame.

“It’s a different team,” Talib said. “You just feel it walking around here — the atmosphere. A winning organization. You can feel it in the air. I’ve never been a part of an organization like that. It’s good to feel it in the air, the confidence that’s in this building.”

The 26-year-old Talib made a big splash in his Patriots debut on Sunday against the Colts, where he returned an Andrew Luck interception 59 yards for a touchdown, his first pick with New England. While he was happy to get his first game with the Patriots behind him, the cornerback was critical of his performance.

“I watched it a couple of times — it could be a lot better,” Talib said. “It’s corrections. You always want to play good. After the game you correct it and then move on to the next game. Right now, we’re just moving on to the Jets.

“I’m just getting ready for the Jets, man. Getting ready for the game. As times goes along, you get involved in the rivalry, but right now, I’m just preparing for the game.”

One of the things that will help Talib is increased reps alongside the rest of the defensive backs.

“It definitely helps,” he said. “The more you play, the more you mesh as a secondary. The more time you get together, it definitely helps.”

Talib believes the quick turnaround this week will work his his advantage.

“I think it’ll be good. It’s a quick turnaround. Have to get up here early and get your body right,” he said. “Just getting on that tape, man. Getting a good feel for your opponent. Just about three or four days short or whatever. Just that’s the biggest challenge right there.

“We could be playing in front of nobody. When another team lines up across from you, you’ll be over that soreness.”

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 12: Patriots jump to No. 5

11.20.12 at 9:08 am ET
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It was a shaky week for many in the top 10. The Texans (1) and Falcons (2) survived scares against lower-caliber teams. The Patriots (5) lost Rob Gronkowski for 4-6 weeks, the Broncos (7) lost Willis McGahee, and the Ravens (6) won’t have Ed Reed in Week 12 due to an NFL suspension. Meanwhile, the Steelers (10) saw another one of their quarterbacks go down with a rib injury, and the offensive line of the Bears (8) looked like a turnstile against the Niners. Still, the elite 10 posted a 7-2 record in Week 11 and remain the cream of the crop in the NFL.

The Saints miraculously have become relevant again after dropping their first four games. They jump all the way to No. 12. In Philadelphia, the Eagles have hit an all-time low and drop to No. 27 as pressure to fire Andy Reid, the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL, increases.

The top 10 teams have been dominant for most of the year but are starting to show some vulnerability. As Thanksgiving approaches, could one or two of them relinquish their spot among the NFL’s elite? It certainly seems possible now that teams like the Bears and Steelers are staggering while the Saints and Seahawks (11) are rolling.

Click here to listen to Mut, Merloni, and Zarbano discuss this edition of the power rankings.

1. (1) Texans (9-1) ‘€” The final sign we needed to determine if the Texans truly are a great team came Sunday. They overcame a late deficit and won. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson also showed the league that the offense can do more than just run the ball with Arian Foster. The play of the secondary does have to raise an eyebrow. Chad Henne looked like a Pro Bowler against them. The Jaguars have one of the worst — if not the worst — offenses in the league and were able to complete three pass plays of 60 or more yards.

2. (2) Falcons (9-1) ‘€” Say what you will about the Falcons, but more times than not they come out on top. This is a resilient football team that’s overcome many deficits. One cause for concern is the lack of production from Michael Turner. This offense has been great in the past due to the team’s ability to run and pass the ball effectively. This has been the first time in Turner’s Falcons career that he’s averaged less than four yards per carry.

3. (3) 49ers (7-2-1) ‘€” Quarterback controversy in San Fran? Jim Harbaugh wasn’t willing to say who his starting QB will be if Alex Smith is cleared to play. Smith is 20-6-1 in games he’s started since 2011. The decision to not publicly back Smith could hurt the Niners. You don’t want your starter lacking confidence and looking over his shoulder. Has Colin Kaepernick proven enough that he can replace Smith?

4. (4) Packers (7-3) ‘€” No Clay Matthews, no problem. It’s usually the Packers offense that gets the glory in Green Bay, but after Sunday’s win the defense deserves some credit. Four forced turnovers, five sacks and seven QB hits against Matthew Stafford and the Lions.

5. (6) Patriots (7-3) ‘€” No Gronk will hurt, but the tight end position is one of great depth on the Patriots and they should be able to make do until he returns. The Patriots are a ridiculous plus-20 in giveaway/takeaway margin with 27 forced turnovers and just seven giveaways.

6. (7) Ravens (8-2) ‘€” The suspension of Ed Reed is a major blow to an already weak secondary. Cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith are already out with injuries. The Ravens desperately want to lock up a first-round bye in the playoffs. With New England and Denver breathing down their neck, they can’t afford to lose any ground.

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Read More: Andy Reid, Ed Reed, NFL Power Rankings, Rob Gronkowski

Pressure Points: Which New England defenders have done best job getting after QB in 2012?

11.20.12 at 12:43 am ET
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Through 10 games, the Patriots have 40 quarterback hits and 21 sacks as a team. Based on gamebooks, here’€™s a quick look at some pass-rush numbers for the Patriots to this point in the 2012 season:

Quarterback hits
DE Rob Ninkovich: 10
DE Chandler Jones: Nine
DE Jermaine Cunningham: Six
LB Brandon Spikes: Four
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: Four
DL Vince Wilfork: Two
DE Trevor Scott: One
LB Jerod Mayo: One
DL Brandon Deaderick: One
DL Kyle Love: One
DL Justin Francis: One

Ninkovich: 7 (36 yards)
Jones: 6 (33 yards)
Cunningham: 2.5 (21 yards)
Hightower: 2 (10 yards)
Love: 1.5 (4 yards)
Mayo: 1 (7 yards)
Wilfork: 1 (10 yards)

Through the first 10 games last season, the Patriots had 58 quarterback hits and 23 sacks.

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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

11.20.12 at 12:27 am ET
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Every week over the course of the regular season, we’€™ll present a list of the Patriots’€™ ‘€œoffensive touches,’€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Ten games into the regular season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2012:

RB Stevan Ridley:
191 (185 rushes, 6 catches). 23 negative runs.
RB Danny Woodhead: 73 (50 rushes, 23 catches). 2 negative runs, 1 negative reception.
WR Wes Welker: 73 (0 rushes, 73 catches). 2 negative receptions.
TE Rob Gronkowski: 53 (0 rushes, 53 catches).
WR Brandon Lloyd: 46 (0 rushes, 46 catches).
RB Brandon Bolden: 45 (43 rushes, 2 catches). 7 negative runs.
RB Shane Vereen: 38 (33 rushes, 5 catches). 3 negative runs.
WR Julian Edelman: 21 (3 rushes, 18 catches). 1 negative reception, 1 negative run.
TE Aaron Hernandez: 18 (1 rush, 17 catches). 1 negative reception.
QB Tom Brady: 12 (12 rushes, 0 catches.) 15 sacks and 6 kneel downs.
WR Deion Branch: 9 (0 rushes, 9 catches).
QB Ryan Mallett: 3 (3 rushes, all kneel downs).
TE Daniel Fells: 2 (0 rushes, 2 catches).
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 2 (0 rushes, 2 catches).
TE Kellen Winslow: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch).
TOTAL: 587 touches (330 rushes, 257 catches): 41 negative plays, plus 15 sacks and nine kneel downs.

By position
Running back: 347 touches (311 rushes, 36 catches). 35 negative runs, 1 negative reception.
Wide receiver: 149 touches (3 rushes, 146 catches). 3 negative receptions, 1 negative run.
Tight end: 76 touches (1 rush, 75 catches). 1 negative reception.
Quarterback: 15 touches (15 rushes, 0 catches).

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