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Ryan Tannehill mostly mum on Tom Brady’s Deflategate drama, but acknowledges Pats’ QB has faced ‘tough situation’ 09.14.16 at 6:54 pm ET
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Ryan Tannehill steered clear of any Deflategate talk Wednesday. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Ryan Tannehill steered clear of any Deflategate talk Wednesday. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Ryan Tannehill isn’t about to give the Patriots any sort of bulletin-board material.

The Miami quarterback was asked Wednesday afternoon for his thoughts on what’s happened to Tom Brady over the last year-plus in regards to his off-field battles. Tannehill only acknowledged that Brady has been through a “tough situation,” but wouldn’t go any deeper.

“It’s a tough situation,” Tannehill said of what Brady has gone through since the 2014 AFC title game. “But, honestly, I’m just focused on what we’re doing here and trying to find a way to beat the Patriots.”

Tannehill’s response contrasts with the thoughts offered up by Arizona’s Carson Palmer, who was asked about Brady’s Deflategate drama in the days leading up to last week’s Patriots-Cardinals game. Palmer basically said that if you get busted, you suffer the consequences.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Carson Palmer, Deflategate, Ryan Tannehill,
Scouting Report: What you have to know about Patriots-Cardinals 09.10.16 at 1:43 pm ET
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Sunday will mark Jimmy Garoppolo's first start as a professional. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Sunday will mark Jimmy Garoppolo’s first start as a professional. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to Sunday’s regular-season opener for the Patriots and Cardinals in Arizona:

WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL

When it comes to the ground game, New England is coming off a woeful finish to 2015 that saw them finish with just 87.8 rushing yards per contest, 30th in the league. Injuries to LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis left the Patriots relying on Steven Jackson and James White down the stretch and into the playoffs; in hindsight, it was easy to see why the offense stalled the way it did in Denver. Lewis is still on the shelf (look for White to at least try and replicate Lewis’ impact), but the majority of work will fall to Blount. The 29-year-old, still a 6-foot-1, 245-pound bulldozer, is what he is at this stage of his career — a big back who should be trusted to carry the ball 15-22 times a game and hit that 4 yards per carry average fairly consistently. From this viewpoint, he’s still without peer when it comes to the four-minute offense. We’ve referenced this before, but it still bears repeating; per Football Outsiders, Blount rushed 87 times for 406 yards (4.7 yards per carry) when the score margin was greater than 15 points and 78 times for 297 yards (3.9 yards per carry) when the score was closer. If the Pats get into a similar situation on Sunday, it’s all Blount down the stretch.

On the other side of the ball, for a team that plays so much dime/sub, Arizona has help up relatively well against the run: The Cardinals were sixth against the run last year (91.3 rushing yards per game) and ninth when it came to yards per carry allowed (3.9). But good teams have found a way to exploit their occasionally suspect run defense. In the last 10 games of the 2015 season — including the playoffs — the Cardinals allowed 100 or more yards rushing five times, and in a sixth game they allowed 99 yards on the ground. In their last three games (one regular-season contest and two playoff games), Arizona allowed an average of 144 rushing yards per game, including 152 in the NFC title game against the Panthers. We’re not saying the Patriots have a shot at 150 on Sunday night. Just that Blount could get a surprisingly high number of carries on some power runs with fullback James Develin and a two-tight end set with Martellus Bennett and Clay Harbor or AJ Derby. That’s all.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL

And now, we step into the great unknown with Jimmy Garoppolo. Well, maybe not the great unknown, but with Garoppolo getting the start for these first four games, we’ll finally get a sense of where he is in his overall development. The kid had his positives and negatives over the summer, looking like he took a step back in Week Three after two good games to open the preseason. Regardless, based on what we’ve seen to this point, expect the Patriots to lean on short and intermediate routes with the likes of Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Bennett. While he could speed things up a bit, Garoppolo will likely try and play it conservatively with checkdowns to backs, tight ends and quick outs to receivers. The bottom line? Garoppolo needs to get the ball out quickly and efficiently for a few reasons, including the fact that the offensive line remains in a statement of flux and the Patriots can’t afford to let pressure be an issue.

Chances are good that a large part of that pressure will come from old friend Chandler Jones, who has already impressed his mates to the point where they believe a 20-sack season is in reach. (It’s worth noting that when it comes to sacks, Jones’ most productive month is September.) Jones will be looking to cut down on cover time for the Arizona coverage defenders, some of the best in the league. Cornerback Patrick Peterson, safety Tyrann Mathieu and hybrid Deone Bucannon are some of the best in the league at what they do. The biggest opportunity in the passing game for the Patriots might come when Garoppolo tries to target Brandon Williams, a converted college running back expected to start at cornerback opposite Peterson. The 23-year-old Williams has yet to take a regular-season snap in the NFL.

One more thing, as it relates to Garoppolo. We have really no way of measuring this, but it certainly looked like the Patriots ran more plays this summer (in training camp and preseason) designed to get him on the run; rollouts, bootlegs, whatever, where they have him use his legs and (maybe) try and minimize some sketchy offensive line play at the same time. They got him on the run and created some movable pocket situations. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was impressed with Garoppolo’s speed. It’s something to watch for Sunday.

WHEN THE CARDINALS RUN THE BALL

The 6-foot-1, 224-pound David Johnson might be the most multidimensional threat the Patriots face all season long. The 24-year-old out of Northern Iowa is coming off a rookie year where he rushed for 125 carries for 581 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns, and figures to move into the every-down role this year, supplanting veteran Chris Johnson. (The older Johnson led urge Cardinals in rushing last season with 196 carries for 814 yards and three touchdowns.) The Patriots were ninth against the run last year, having yielded an average of 98.8 rushing yards per game, and were 11th in yards per carry allowed at 4.0.

WHEN THE CARDINALS PASS THE BALL

Arizona will feature one of the deepest passing attacks the Patriots will face all season. The Cardinals were one of just two teams last season to have three players finish the year with 800 or more receiving yards (New Orleans was the other). According to Football Outsiders, for eight straight years Arizona has ranked either first or second in the league in the percentage of plays with four or more wide receivers. Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer likes to chuck it, whether it’s to Larry Fitzgerald (career-best 109 catches for 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns last year), John Brown (65 catches for 1,003 yards seven touchdowns last year) or Michael Floyd (52 catches for 849 yards and six touchdowns in 2015). And then, there’s Johnson (36 catches, 457 yards 4 TDs last year). As for the Patriots, if you have a combination of Malcolm Butler (with help) on Fitzgerald and Jamie Collins eyeing Johnson out of the backfield, that puts some added pressure on the likes of Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones and one of your safeties when it comes to coverage. If the preseason is any indication, the New England secondary is up to the challenge — the Patriots were tied for second in the league in interceptions in the preseason with seven.

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Read More: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Chris Johnson, David Johnson
Bill Belichick refuses to bash Carson Palmer: ‘I think he’s an outstanding person’ 09.08.16 at 10:53 am ET
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Carson Palmer had an interesting Deflategate take. (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

Carson Palmer had an interesting Deflategate take. (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — There was a certain defiance about Bill Belichick on Thursday as he was asked to respond to the comments Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer made about Tom Brady and getting “busted” in the Deflategate nonsense.

In case you missed it, Palmer was asked by the New England media on a conference call what he thought of Tom Brady and the whole controversy that ended in Brady’s four-game league-imposed suspension that begins, in effect, with Sunday night’s game in Arizona.

He suggested that rules are in place and if you get caught breaking rules, there are consequences. He didn’t mention Brady by name and said that he had done his best to block out the noise and hype from the story, saying he was “sick” of it.

For those who thought the Patriots head coach Bill Belichick might be offended, they were disappointed Thursday morning.

“I didn’t see it. But I have a lot of respect for Carson Palmer. We’ve known Carson through the years, had him out at the Pro Bowl. Really have a lot of respect for Carson and what he’s done in his career with three different organizations,” Belichick said.

“I think he’s an outstanding person, outstanding quarterback, great competitor and he’s had a tremendous career.”

On another matter, Belichick was asked what it meant to have Sean Payton support him and the Patriots throughout the years, most recently on Sunday morning when Payton retweeted a Patriots picture of the Brady banner hanging up on the light tower in the north end of Gillette Stadium.

“Yeah, it means a lot. I have a good friendship with Sean,” Belichick said. “We go back quite a ways. We’ve had a great working relationship, great professional relationship and a good personal relationship. Always appreciate his support. He’s had ours. We’ve had his. Can’t say that about everybody. He’s certainly been a good friend and a good supporter.”

Read More: Arizona Cardinals, Bill Belichick, Carson Palmer, New England Patriots
Ex-Patriots DE Chandler Jones has already impressed new teammates, coaches in Arizona at 9:46 am ET
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Chandler Jones will get a crack at his old team on Sunday night. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Chandler Jones will get a crack at his old team on Sunday night. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Get ready for the Chandler Jones Bowl.

The Patriots will get a chance to meet their old teammate Sunday in Sunday’s season opener against the Cardinals, as Jones will line up at defensive end for Arizona.

The 26-year-old, who had 36 sacks in four years with New England, has already made a serious impression on his new coaches and teammates.

“A true professional,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said of Jones on Wednesday. “He comes to work every day. He’s a coach-pleaser. He’s extremely talented, obviously. But I’ve been very impressed with the way he’s fit in with our group and our culture right away.

“He sets an edge presence for us. Playing outside linebacker, defensive end, he’s obviously very versatile where you can put him,” Arians added. “He’s adapted well to playing outside linebacker for us and also in our nickel and dime packages being an edge rusher. It’s something that we were looking for. He has the length and the skill set to rush the passer.”

His defensive teammates are already on record as saying he has a shot at 20 sacks this season. On the other side of the ball, they are equally as enthusiastic about Jones and what he brings.

“Love him. I love him,” said quarterback Carson Palmer. “Just watching some Patriots defense from last year, he was just such a dominant player in the run game and the pass game, and I think that’s the first thing that jumps out. I thought he was just a pass-rusher just seeing his numbers statistically. But he wreaks havoc in the run game. He’s so long, and has such a good bull rush, and is so powerful but still has that speed and quickness and really good with his hands, he’s been absolutely a pleasant surprise just watching him work because he’s more than I expected.

“I was expecting a third-down specialist maybe or really just a pass-rusher. But he’s so disruptive in the run game, and he played a bunch inside last year so he was against guards and centers and held his own so been very, very surprised and happy with him.”

Read More: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, chandler jones,
Carson Palmer on Tom Brady, Deflategate: Get busted, suffer the consequences 09.07.16 at 5:38 pm ET
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Carson Palmer had an interesting Deflategate take. (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

Carson Palmer had an interesting Deflategate take. (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has been in the NFL for 14 seasons, so he’s seen it all.

On a conference call Wednesday afternoon with the New England media, he was asked how he felt about the NFL’s treatment of Tom Brady regarding Deflategate, as Brady will miss the game part of his four-game suspension.

Palmer gave more than one would think.

“I tried not to follow it, just because it was everywhere for so long,” Palmer said to reporters. “But I go back, and you follow what the rule book says, and you go about your business and your work, and if they tell you not to do it, and you get busted, and what happens happens, then you suffer the consequences. I’m sure you guys (in New England) look at it a lot differently, but I know a lot of players around the league, just looking at it, I don’t know if you can feel too strongly one way or the other.”

He was asked a follow up question, directly asked if he believed Brady and the Patriots were guilty?

“I don’t know, to be honest,” Palmer said. “I felt like there was — supposedly the balls went somewhere where they weren’t supposed to go there. There was humidity, not enough humidity or altitude, whatever it was. I don’t know. I didn’t follow the story. As soon as it came on, I just turned it off because I was so sick of hearing about it. Whatever the league comes down upon, whatever ruling they make is what they make. You don’t have much of a decision after that. You can fight it for a little bit, but after a while, you’ve just got to abide by what they say.”

While it’s hard to figure out exactly what Palmer was saying, it doesn’t appear he gained any new fans in New England.

Read More: Carson Palmer, Deflategate, Tom Brady,
Bruce Arians sees some Tony Romo in Jimmy Garoppolo, expects 2 TE sets ’70 percent of the time’ at 1:37 pm ET
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Aug 28, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians during a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is getting ready to face Jimmy Garoppolo and the Patriots. (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

To Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, Jimmy Garoppolo has a lot more in common with Tony Romo than just the Eastern Illinois connection.

On Wednesday, Arians, who has worked with the likes of Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, explained what he sees as similarities with the Cowboys QB.

“The skillset. I think they both were similar sizes, arm strength, very accurate. Both moved around good,” Arians said. “Jimmy’s an excellent athlete. A very accurate passer. Having been in the system, in that system especially, for the number of years he’s been there, he’s watched Josh (McDaniels) come up with game plans and understands what they’re trying to do. But he’s a very good athlete. You have to defend his legs as much as his arm.”

In the spring of 2013, Arians had just spent his first season with Carson Palmer, who guided the Cards to a 10-6 mark. The Cardinals were looking to develop depth at quarterback and the coach did get a chance to talk to Garoppolo before the 2014 draft.

“Just the evaluation process,” Arians said. “[We] didn’t really get into it personally with him. But, he reminded me a lot of Tony Romo coming out.”

Now, Arians must prep for something else: Garoppolo throwing to a pair of tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett.

“Well they’re just like us. We’re a two tight end team,” Arians said. “The reason you do it is because you can’t get the best defensive call for a personnel group because you’re in that same personnel group all the time. You’re in down and distance calls until you substitute. So, it gives you much more versatility when those guys can be wide receivers, they can be fullbacks, they can be tight ends, and move them around. You have to defend so many different formations and things without substitution.”

How much does he anticipate seeing the two tight end set from the Patriots after Gronk rested the entire preseason again?

“I would imagine about 70 percent of the time,” Arians said. “They do a very good job with up tempo stuff without substitutions in the past. You have to be ready for a lot of things. They’re extremely well coached.

“You just have to go back. I don’t think they’re going to change a whole lot what they do offensively. I’m sure they’ll use Jimmy’s athleticism some more than Tom’s (Brady). But they throw back to Tom on a touchdown and you’ve got to be ready for everything. It’s different, but you’ve seen those guys play and I don’t think they’ll do that much differently.”

Read More: Arizona Cardinals, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Eastern Illinois
The remarkable parallels between Carson Palmer and Jim Plunkett, and why he has respect of Bill Belichick at 9:07 am ET
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Aug 28, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) attempts a pass during the first half against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. The Texans won 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Carson Palmer is always willing to stand in the pocket and deliver a pass. (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Calais Campbell and Patrick Peterson all have reputations as fearless football players.

But the toughest man on the field Sunday night might actually be Arizona’s quarterback.

When you watch Carson Palmer Sunday night, remember Jim Plunkett. This is a Cardinals quarterback whose career mirrors that of the former Patriots No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford in 1971. Thirty-two years later, it was Palmer who was the No. 1 overall pick of the Bengals out of USC. Plunkett went onto the 49ers before eventually finding success (2 Super Bowl titles) with the Raiders. Palmer moved onto the Raiders before landing in Arizona. He is still looking for his first ring.

There are those who think Palmer’s time might actually come this year with a Cardinals roster on both sides of the ball that is stacked. The Cardinals are all in on Palmer this year, as they signed him to a one-year deal on Aug. 5 that will pay him $24.35 million, including $21 million guaranteed.

Like Plunkett, Palmer, now a spry 36 years of age, has taken his fair share of abuse over the years. He has been sacked 278 times in his 12-year career in the NFL. In his 15-year career, Plunkett was sacked an astounding 380 times and lived to tell about it.

“Carson is definitely willing to stand in there and deliver the ball under pressure and wait until the last second to get rid of it,” Bill Belichick said of the 6-foot-5, 235-pound quarterback. “I mean he is a big, strong guy now. He’s big for a quarterback and has a good frame so I’m not saying any quarterback wants to get hit a lot, but there are some guys that can absorb more of those than others. [He is] not as big as [Ben] Roethlisberger but he’s a big quarterback.

“We had him out in the Pro Bowl for a year and it was good to get to know him out there. He’s sharp. He knows when he needs to get rid of the ball and I think he also knows when he might need to hold it just a little bit longer to give the receivers a chance to get into an open space or make a play, and he’s strong and tough and able to take those hits.”

Belichick has always respected Carson Palmer, comparing his accurate, strong arm when he came out of college to that of John Elway.

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Read More: Arizona Cardinals, Bill Belichick, Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals
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