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Report: Clete Blakeman will work as referee for Patriots-Seahawks 10.11.12 at 11:02 pm ET
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Clete Blakeman is scheduled to work as the referee in Sunday’s Patriots-Seahawks game in Seattle, according to the site FootballZebras.com.

This will be the third game Blakeman has worked this season — he was part of the crew that handled the Vikings-Lions game two weeks ago, and Browns-Giants last week. While this will be his first game with New England this season, Blakeman has worked two Patriots’ games the last two-plus seasons: he led the crew of officials as the referee in the Cleveland-New England game on Nov. 10, 2010, a surprise 34-14 win for the Browns, and was the referee in Foxboro on Nov. 21, 2011 for a 34-3 Patriots’ win over the Chiefs.

For a complete breakdown of Blakeman’s work as an official, check out his page at Pro Football Reference.

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Logan Mankins on his health: ‘Just working to get better and taking it day-by-day’ 10.11.12 at 2:09 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Logan Mankins is in uncharted waters.

The veteran offensive lineman, who can rarely hold his distaste for sitting out of a game — remember, this is a guy who played most of last season with a torn ACL — has been limited in practice recently because of calf and hip problems. As a result, he missed a Sept. 30 game against the Bills, and didn’t finish last week’s win over the Broncos.

Before practice on Thursday, he offered a assessment of where he was at physically.

“Just working to get better — taking it day-by-day. Spending a lot of time in the training room,” said Mankins, who was at practice with the team Thursday. “It’s never fun. But it’s just one of those things you have to get through.”

If he’s healthy, the left guard welcomes the challenge of facing a big Seattle defense that is one of the best in the league against the run.

“It’s a really good defense — you can’t say enough about them. They give up [67] yards a game rushing, and under I think it’s under 300 yards a game total,” said Mankins of the Seattle defense, which is third in the league against the run and first overall, allowing 258.6 yards per game. “[It’s] a tough place to play — I’ve been there before and it’s super loud. They have a good defense. It’ll be tough.

“They have good players,” he added. “They have big guys inside that are hard to run on. Then, they get you in third-and-long and they have a lot of good pass rushers. I think their D-line is what leads their defense, from what I can see. And they’re pretty good.”

It’s never easy playing at CenturyLink Field, considered by many to be one of the loudest places in the league.

“I’ve been in some loud ones — it’s one of the loudest,” Mankins said of the noise in Seattle. “Last time I was there (2008), their team wasn’t that good. They were out of the playoffs already and the place was still rocking. They have good support out there.”

Mankins said the best way to fight through the noise is to keep your focus.

“A lot of it is mental toughness — just being able to focus through that,” he said. “It takes a lot of communication — you can’t just look over at someone. You have to scream it at the guy next to you so he can hear you. Just making sure that everyone is on the same page.”

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Vince Wilfork: Sometimes, Marshawn Lynch doesn’t even need blockers 10.11.12 at 1:54 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Asked Thursday about the talents of Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork scoffed.

“The guy can go anywhere — sometimes, he doesn’t even need a block,” Wilfork said before practice. “He breaks a lot, a lot of tackles. A lot of tackles. He’s been running hard ever since we were facing him at Buffalo. He’s just a tough, tough back. He’s strong. A physical runner. He’s quick. Shifty. He’s well put together.”

Lynch is the latest impressive back to go up against the New England run defense this season. The Patriots have managed to do a good job holding many elite backs in check, including Chris Johnson (11 rushes, 4 yards), C.J. Spiller (8 carries, 33 yards), Fred Jackson (13 carries, 29 yards) and Willis McGahee (14 carries, 51 yards). In all, New England has yielded an average of 82.2 yards per game, eighth-best in the league.

But Wilfork believes the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Lynch — who has 508 carries on 113 rushing attempts this season — doesn’t get the respect he deserves. The 26-year-old Lynch has rushed for at least 100 yards in eight of his last 14 games, and last season, he set a career-high with 13 total touchdowns.

“You talk about backs being an elite back, I don’t think he gets enough credit,” Wilfork said. “He’s probably one of the tougher backs in the league to defend — he can go anywhere. Like I said, sometimes, he doesn’t even need blocks. He can go out there and take on the defense himself. He’s a real good back.

“It’s going to be very very tough when it comes down to stopping the run. All year, we’ve faced some good runners, but this guy is probably, he’s at the top so we have our work cut out. It’ll be a good challenge for us up front. But you know what? We welcome the challenge. I feel good about the things we’re doing — I’m pretty sure they feel good about running the football. It’s going to be one of those games where it’s going to come down to can we stop Marshawn Lynch and this running attack.”

Wilfork, one of the centerpieces of a defense that is 22nd in the league (373.8 yards per game allowed), said the Seattle offense goes beyond the work of Lynch. He praised rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, saying the Patriots have to “bottle up” the 23-year-old rookie who can make plays with the feet as well as his arm.

“He makes a lot of plays,” Wilfork said. “He’s very athletic as a quarterback. Like I said, he can hurt you if you don’t bottle him up with 11 guys on defense or pursue him well or rush lanes, he’ll make you pay. So we have to do a real good job this week. We have these backs to deal with and then we have this quarterback, and when he does get the ball out to his wide receivers, they make plays for him.

“This is a well-coached group. They’re going to fight for 60 minutes. They’re going to always be in games. They play clutch football. It’s going to be tough for us — it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

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Pete Carroll on building a big defense, Bill Belichick and Russell Wilson 10.10.12 at 7:26 pm ET
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FOXBORO — When it comes to the Seahawks, size matters.

Seattle has a big team, particularly in the secondary where they feature cornerbacks Richard Sherman (6-foot-2½) and Brandon Browner (6-foot-3½) and safeties Kam Chancellor (6-foot-3) and Earl Thomas (5-foot-10). According to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, he didn’t necessarily start out trying to build a big defense.

“Throughout my coaching days, defensively I’€™ve always wanted to have really fast guys. If I had my way, I’€™d have really fast big guys,” he said on a conference call with the New England media on Wednesday. “We’€™ve just been able to accumulate some guys — we actually hit it early on with guys that were in the program up front with Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane, having some real big kids up there ‘€“ not comparable to how big the Patriots are, those guys are enormous.

“We added to it with K.J. Wright, who is a big kid playing linebacker and then we started to just peck away with the secondary. The two corners are as tall as you can get and Kam Chancellor is an enormous safety at 6-3, 237 pounds or something. When you add all that together, you have a lot of long guys with big reaches and a lot of speed; everybody can run. It gives us a chance to have a group’€¦we’€™re always looking for this, but you don’€™t always get it so we’€™re fortunate. I think John Schneider has done a great job getting the kinds of guys that we like to coach and we’€™re just growing. We’€™re so young and so new, we’€™re just getting started.”

We already had a few highlights of Carroll’s call here and here, but here’s some more from Carroll’s Q&A with the media from Wednesday afternoon:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Pete Carroll: Only team that matches Patriots’ tempo is Oregon 10.10.12 at 4:37 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has only seen one other football team come close to the sort of tempo the Patriots have approached the last couple of weeks.

‘€œThe Oregon Ducks. They’€™re the ones that play similar to this,’€ Carroll said on a Wednesday afternoon conference call with New England media members. ‘€œI’€™m sure there are some other college teams that have done it, but there’s nobody in the league that’€™s close at this time.

‘€œBut there will be. They will affect other people, I’€™m sure, because they’€™ve had so much success already. It’€™s their willingness to go this fast as consistently as they have demonstrated that separates them from other teams.”

Carroll said the best way to combat that sort of tempo is to be just as fast yourself.

‘€œYou have to play really fast — you have to play really fast,’€ Carroll said. ‘€œWe’€™ll see if we can get lined up and execute like we’€™re capable. They’€™re hoping we don’€™t. You can see that teams they just rushed against — Buffalo and Denver — they’€™re not going to give up 200 yards rushing in the next couple of games. They had to deal with New England’€™s tempo and a style that they were not able to play like they normally play.

‘€œThere is nobody that has tried to play like [the Patriots] play,’€ he added. ‘€œThey’€™ve taken on a different approach and philosophy that I think singles them out, in their commitment to their tempo. It’€™s cool to watch.’€

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Pete Carroll: ‘It was a really big deal being’ in New England, but I’ve moved on 10.10.12 at 4:23 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Pete Carroll will go against his old team this weekend when the Patriots visit Seattle. It’ll be the first time Carroll — who coached New England from 1997 through 1999 before moving on to a stint at USC — will face his old team as a head coach, and he said Wednesday that while he relishes an opportunity to go “against people that I like and that I know” like Bill Belichick and Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, it will still be a “regular game” for him.

“It’s a regular game for me that I look forward to because of coach Belichick and [Tom] Brady and the relationship with Robert. I’ve always liked playing against people that I like and that I know — it always adds something a little bit special to it,” he said on a Wednesday afternoon conference call with New England reporters. “The fact that I was there — I know that’s what you’re asking — it’s not a big factor. That was a long time ago for me. But I’m aware of it. I know what you’re asking. I don’t think it’s a big deal. But I’m so excited about the opportunity to play such a good team, that’s drawing all my focus.”

Carroll certainly had an interesting tenure as coach in New England, and said Wednesday that one of his favorite memories was getting a chance to represent Patriots’ fans.

“I loved living there and representing those fans — I thought they were awesome,” said Carroll, who took over as coach in Seattle in 2010. “They were so intense and loved the team so much — in all the sports, not just football. Whether it was basketball, hockey, baseball … this is a great fan base, and I loved being connected with them. And I appreciated it more the tougher they got on us, because I knew how much they loved it and how much they cared about it.

“It was a really big deal being there. I regret not being able to get it done the way we wanted to. We did some really good things and we were close, but I learned so much coming out of that experience that it changed me. I’ve had a lot of good stuff since then, and I’m grateful for that, but I wish I would have been able to … I’m never going to give up on a situation — I’d have loved to been able to fix it and finish it, but we didn’t get to.”

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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players 10.09.12 at 4:59 pm 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. Five weeks into the regular season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2012:

RB Stevan Ridley: 107 (102 rushes, 5 catches). 11 negative runs.
RB Danny Woodhead: 41 (36 rushes, 5 catches). 2 negative runs.
RB Brandon Bolden: 39 (37 rushes, 2 catches). 7 negative runs.
WR Wes Welker: 38 (0 rushes, 38 catches). 1 negative reception.
WR Brandon Lloyd: 28 (0 rushes, 28 catches).
TE Rob Gronkowski: 23 (0 rushes, 23 catches).
WR Julian Edelman: 12 (2 rushes, 10 catches). 1 negative reception, 1 negative run.
QB Tom Brady: 10 (10 rushes, 0 catches.) 12 sacks and 5 kneel downs.
TE Aaron Hernandez: 7 (1 rush, 6 catches).
WR Deion Branch: 3 (0 rushes, 3 catches)
RB Shane Vereen: 3 (2 rush, 1 catch)
TE Kellen Winslow: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
TE Daniel Fells: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
TOTAL: 314 touches (190 rushes, 124 catches): 23 negative plays, plus 12 sacks.

By position
Running back: 190 touches (177 rushes, 13 catches). 20 negative runs.
Tight end: 33 touches (1 rush, 32 catches).
Wide receiver: 81 touches (2 rushes, 79 catches). 2 negative receptions, 1 negative run.
Quarterback: 10 touches (10 rushes, 0 catches)

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