|Tom Brady explains why Aaron Rodgers is ‘obviously one of the best players ever to play’ quarterback||11.26.14 at 4:14 pm ET|
Earlier in the season, both were struggling to get their high-powered offenses in gear. Both were warding off speculation that this may not be the year for them after many years that the top of the quarterback roll call.
After a 19-7 loss to the Lions in Detroit, the Packers were in a similar situation to the Patriots when they were rolled by the Chiefs, 41-14, in Kansas City. Rodgers famously told the local ESPN Radio affiliate in Wisconsin, “Five letters here, just for everybody out there in Packer land, R-E-L-A-X. Relax. We’re going to be OK.”
The Packers won their next four games, put up 50 points in back-to-back wins over Bears and Eagles and are considered the hottest team in the NFC. As for the Patriots, they of course haven’t lost since.
Both teams have red-hot quarterbacks. Rodgers has 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions this season. Brady has thrown 20 touchdowns while getting intercepted just twice in that span. And on Wednesday, Brady admitted that he’s followed Rodgers’ career very closely.
“I’ve known Aaron for a long time,” Brady said. “We always enjoy seeing each other, and that’s what both of us love to do is talk football. I’m always trying to learn from him.”
What are those conversations like? What do the two No. 12s talk about?
“Football. There’s a lot to talk about,” Brady said. “I don’t know if there are so many specifics other than I’m probably trying to get into his brain a little bit and he’s trying to get into mine. I think there are a lot of things that they do offensively that are really good. Read the rest of this entry »
|Patriots sign TE Xavier Gimble, LS Charley Hughlett to practice squad||11.26.14 at 1:29 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots made two significant additions to their practice squad the day before Thanksgiving.
The team signed tight end Xavier Grimble and long snapper Charley Hughlett to the unit. It’s the second appearance on the practice squad this season for Hughlett, who was signed to the New England practice squad on Sept. 1 and released two days later.
Hughlett provides depth behind current long snapper Danny Aiken, who had one bad snap Sunday and was punished by a cheap shot to the back of the head from Detroit’s C.J. Mosley on a late field goal attempt.
To make room for Grimble and Hughlett, the Patriots released linebacker Deontae Skinner and defensive back Daxton Swanson from the practice squad.
Grimble, 22, was originally signed by the New York Giants as a rookie free agent out of USC on May 15, 2014. The 6-foot-4, 261-pounder, was released by the Giants on Aug. 26 and signed to the San Francisco practice squad on Sept. 15. He was released from the 49ers practice squad on Nov. 18. In three seasons as USC, Grimble played in 38 games with 22 starts and caught 69 passes for 731 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Hughlett, 23, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Dallas Cowboys out of Central Florida on April 30, 2012. The 6-foot-4, 251-pounder was released by Dallas on Aug. 27, 2012. He was re-signed by Dallas on Jan. 7, 2013 and released for a second time on May 29, 2013. He was signed by New England on March 19, 2014. After being released by New England in May, Hughlett was signed by Jacksonville on June 19, 2014, before being released on Aug. 25, 2014. Following his release from the New England practice squad, Hughlett spent one week on the Cleveland practice squad.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price explain how Pats can keep up with Aaron Rodgers, Packers||11.26.14 at 1:10 pm ET|
|Bill Belichick shakes his head and wonders how to stop the ‘great’ Aaron Rodgers||11.26.14 at 10:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — Usually when Bill Belichick speaks glowingly about the opposing team or a star quarterback like Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, he gives the usual calculated response about their amazing abilities.
But on Wednesday, in describing Aaron Rodgers, Belichick offered up the normal compliments and then just shook his head at the end.
Rodgers has thrown for 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions in a season where Green Bay isn’t just beating teams at Lambeau Field, they’re destroying them. What is it that Rodgers does so well?
“Everything, he’s a great player,” Belichick said. “He does a tremendous job, really at everything. He’s got no weak points; makes every throw. [He] handles the team very well at the line: checks and adjustments, he certainly sees the defense well. [He] uses all his weapons, makes great throws from the short ones [to] intermediate, down the field, sidelines, back shoulders, deep routes and then he has a great ability to extend plays, either sliding in the pocket or at times scrambling outside the pocket.
“They’ve made a lot of plays this year on things like that where he either buys extra time or just flat-out gets away from the rush and lets the receivers uncover. He’s a hard guy to tackle, hard guy to get and a very good thrower, very accurate thrower and has great vision. He’s really good.”
Rodgers has been on the roster twice before when the Patriots played the Packers but has yet to play a down against them. In 2006, he was behind Brett Favre, when the Patriots went into Lambeau and won, 35-0. In 2010, at Gillette, Matt Flynn earned a name for himself by nearly beating the Patriots in primetime, filling in for Rodgers who was nursing a concussion.
“I mean, it is what it is,” Belichick said. “Whatever hasn’t happened hasn’t happened. I’m not really worried about it.”
In facing quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford the last two weeks, the Patriots are somewhat prepared for a mobile quarterback. But then Belichick cautioned, “not like him. Yeah, not like him.”
What makes him different?
“It’s just, he’s great,” Belichick added. “He’s quick, he’s big, he throws the ball very accurately, has great vision down the field. He finds guys that there’s not a lot of space, but he finds them and he hits them. He’s really good. I’m not taking anything away from anybody else, but this guy is a really good player.”
Asked to compare his quarterback with Mr. Rodgers, Belichick did crack a smile.
“They both wear 12,” the coach said.
|Report: MRI reveals pectoral muscle tear, ending the season for Ryan Mallett||11.24.14 at 1:48 pm ET|
Ryan Mallett‘s first chance as an NFL starting quarterback lasted just two weeks.
An MRI performed Monday on the Houston Texans quarterback revealed a torn right pectoral muscle that he played through in Sunday’s 22-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The news was first reported by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.
The former back-up to Tom Brady, who is a free agent after this season, suffered the injury in his first career start Nov. 6 against the Cleveland Browns. He practiced fully all week but was on the injury report with a chest injury throughout the week leading up to Sunday’s game against the Bengals.
In his first start Nov. 16 in Cleveland, Mallett completed 20 of 30 passes and threw two touchdowns and one interception. He had the 10th-best rating of any Texans starting quarterback since 2001. On Sunday against the Bengals, Mallett completed only 21 of 45 passes and looked off target all afternoon.
Mallett won the job from Ryan Fitzpatrick just before their bye week in early November as head coach Bill O’Brien turned to the quarterback he coached in New England in 2011 and 2012. The Patriots traded Mallett to the Texans on Aug. 31 after spending the first three years of his career in New England. Mallett threw only four passes in those three years.
The Texans acquired him for a conditional draft pick. The pick is a sixth-rounder if Mallett plays 40 percent of the team’s snaps this season and a seventh-rounder if he plays less.
‘ Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 24, 2014
What a terrible blow for Mallett. Started first game and played well against Browns then played hurt and lost for season.
‘ John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) November 24, 2014
Torn pec for Mallett ends his season, but good chance of return. It’s not a “chest” injury as much as a “shoulder” injury, anatomically.
‘ Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) November 24, 2014
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down how Patriots crushed Lions||11.23.14 at 7:26 pm ET|
The win improved the Patriots to 9-2 on the season, guaranteeing their 14th straight winning season, the fifth such longest streak in NFL history. The Patriots are also just the third team since the 1970 merger to record 14 straight winning seasons, two shy of the Cowboys (1970-86) and the 49ers (1983-98).
It was also New England’s 15th straight win at home, 12 shy of the NFL record of 27 set by the Miami Dolphins from 1971-74.
|Tim Wright was ready for his ‘opportunity’ when Lions doubled Rob Gronkowski||11.23.14 at 7:15 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Pick your poison. The Lions chose to double Rob Gronkowski often on Sunday in the red zone. That part worked but the Patriots killed the Lions with a heavy dose of Tim Wright, who caught a pair of touchdowns, including one where Tom Brady had no choice to but to throw it to him.
Wright caught a 4-yard TD pass over the middle in the first quarter as the Patriots took the lead for good. In the second quarter, Wright caught a pass in the end zone when there wasn’t a Lion within 10 yards of him.
Wright admitted after the Patriots’ 34-9 win Sunday that he was grateful for the attention Gronk drew, leaving him in single coverage or no coverage at all.
“We both work hard and try to play off of each other,” Wright said. “However the dice may fall, however the defense plays it, who doubles who, the other guy just has to be ready for the opportunity. That’s what we pride ourselves on.”
Wright caught three more passes in the second half but none for touchdowns and finished with just 36 yards receiving. But it was the red zone where Wright made it matter most.
“The Lions have a great defense all around,” Wright said. “We knew going into that game that whatever that role is, we had to stick to it and that’s what we had to utilize for that game. We did a great job. The [offensive] line held up great. Tom delivered. He does what he does all the time, and just the receivers getting open and doing their job.”
This was particularly important going in since the Lions fearsome front seven figured to rush the quarterback at all costs.
“We knew timing was critical going into it and the offensive line did a great job all week of sticking together and creating a scheme to defeat their d-line, defeat the pass rush. Give Tom time to deliver the ball, that’s what he did, and the receivers on the perimeter ran great routes and we got it done.”
Wright caught his fifth and sixth touchdowns of the season, a new career best, making that trade of Logan Mankins look better and better as the season goes on.
“It’s definitely rewarding,” Wright said. “Like I said, every phase of the ball is important to this game that we play. As long as everyone works hard during the week, it will pay off on Sunday.”