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The Big Nickel: Don’t expect bulletin-board material from the Patriots, Tom Brady is a dork and Wednesday will be ‘snow problem’ for practice 01.11.11 at 3:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The five most important things you need to know about the Patriots on Tuesday:

1. Alge Crumpler knew what was coming.
He was just surprised it took the media until the fourth question into his press conference.

‘€œHere we go ‘€” I thought we would get a few days before some of the banter started, but it is what it is,’€ Crumpler said with a smile after he was asked about his ‘€œpersonal reaction’€ to what he’€™d heard coming out of New York.

‘€œLike I said the last time we played, that team takes after their coach. We take after ours,’€ he said. ‘€œIt all boils down to what you do on the field.’€

The first day of media availability with New England players was Tuesday morning, and Crumpler’€™s comments were echoed by his teammates. While New York has spent the last few days making bold statements about what’€™s going to happen, New England players made it clear on Tuesday morning they have no plans on getting into a war of words with Rex Ryan and the Jets.

‘€œIt’€™s just the philosophy of our team. We’€™re just … we’€™re here to work,’€ said safety Jarrad Page. ‘€œWhen it’€™s game time, that’€™s when you’€™ve got to come out. You can do your talking then. You either win or lose ‘€” that’€™s the most important thing. We’€™ll let people talk about that instead of what we’€™re talking about during the week.’€

‘€œThey’€™re just comments,’€ shrugged wide receiver Deion Branch. ‘€œCoach [Ryan] says and does what he does and we do what we do over here. Whatever he has to do to get his team motivated, I think that’€™s what he’€™s going to do.’€

Linebackers Jerod Mayo and Tracy White say New England’€™s philosophy of well done is better than well said comes directly from the head coach.

‘€œI also don’€™t think you have too many guys who talk trash on this team. They let their game do their talking,’€ White said. ‘€œI know coach preaches it to us every day, so we got used to not saying things, letting our game plan [speak] for ourselves instead of talking. You don’€™t need too many distractions.’€

Apparently, Patriots coach Bill Belichick issued a reminder to players about potential bulletin-board material this week. His advice?

‘€œJust to let him handle it,’€ Mayo said. ‘€œHe does a good job of doing it.’€

2. Tom Brady‘€™s study habits were called into question by Ryan over the last couple of weeks, who first suggested Peyton Manning studies more than he does, and then gently tweaked the Patriots quarterback on Monday after he was informed Brady was at ‘€œLombardi’€ on Broadway last Saturday night instead of watching the Colts-Jets game.

‘€œPeyton Manning would have been watching our game,’€ Ryan said with a smile.

(For what it’€™s worth, in his interview with WEEI’€™s Dennis & Callahan on Monday, Brady did say he caught the second half of the game. ‘€œI saw the second half of the game ‘€” I got home and watched the second half,’€ he said. ‘€œYou know what happens to me is I get very anxious watching those games. I was watching the second half and I was actually kind of pissed that I watched it because I didn’€™t go to sleep ‘€˜til 3 in the morning. You just get riled up as I watch them, and then I start rooting for a team to win, and that’€™s not really what I want to be doing. I figure I’€™ll get enough, I’€™ll see the game. I’€™ve seen that game [on tape]. You know, it’€™s just something I wanted to do with my wife.)

However, in the wake of Ryan’€™s comments on Monday, Brady’€™s teammates were more than happy to talk about the quarterbacks’€™ study habits.

‘€œHe said he was watching ‘€˜Lombardi.’€™ I believe him. He hasn’€™t steered me wrong,’€ said Crumpler. ‘€œI’€™m sure he’€™s watched every ounce of film going back to a lot of different games, as we all have.

‘€œI think Tom does a great job, not only in his personal preparation, but in his delivery to what he wants to get across to, not only the coaches, but to us as players,’€ added Crumpler. ‘€œHe has a real good, keen sense of what’€™s going on throughout the ball game and he gets his point across, whether it’€™s quietly or animated or whatever way you want to do it, he’€™s going to get his point across. And that really translates to us as players in terms of trying to be perfect in our execution on the field.’€

‘€œTom studies a lot,’€ added Branch. ‘€œWe get the bulk of it in the meeting rooms with just the players when we sit down to go over the things that he’€™s been looking at. It carries over to the practice field as well. Tom is a dork when it comes to that, so I’€™m going to leave that alone, but Tom is a dork in that meeting room.’€
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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Adalius Thomas, Alge Crumpler, antonio cromartie
Report: Jerod Mayo hit with fine for nailing the Bills 12.30.10 at 3:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo has been informed by the NFL he will be fined for at least one of the several huge hits he laid on the Bills during Sunday’s 34-3 rout of Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium, according to the Boston Herald.

Mayo told the paper that the league told him he’€™s been fined for at least one hit in game but wasn’€™t sure which one was deemed too violent or unnecessary.

Players typically received the formal notice of a fine and the amount on the following Friday after the game in question and Mayo had not received his as of Thursday morning. The Patriots leading tackler laid out Steve Johnson over the middle when he crashed into the receiver’s facemask with his own. Receiver David Nelson was also the victim of a Mayo hit, with some help on the play by safety Jarrad Page.

Read More: Buffalo Bills, David Nelson, Jarrad Page, Jerod Mayo
Pats prepping for the ‘ridiculous’ Devin Hester and the fastest offense in the NFL 12.09.10 at 9:55 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Watch the above video and one minute, 15 seconds in, you’ll hear the famous words of Bears broadcaster Jeff Joniak – now immortalized on the NFL Films promo on the NFL Network – as he describes the first of two touchdown returns by Devin Hester against the Denver Broncos in Week 12 of 2007 season.

That was the season after the Bears rode the ridiculous speed of Hester and their overwhelming defense to a Super Bowl XLI appearance against the Indianapolis Colts. That was the Super Bowl that began with Hester returning the opening kick-off for a touchdown. Hester hasn’t had a kick-off return for a TD since only because the Bears now use him primarily in their passing game and as a punt returner. He has taken two of those to the house this season.

In Week 6 against Seattle, Hester returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown – his second TD on a punt return this season and 13th kick return TD in his career, tying Brian Mitchell for most in NFL history. Mitchell needed 223 games. Hester is playing in his 73rd NFL game this Sunday. Those don’t even include his legendary 108-yard return against the Giants at the Meadowlands in 2006 and the 92-yarder opening Super Bowl XLI.

These 2010 Bears, winners of five straight and owners of a 9-3 mark, are even more dangerous. They certainly have more speed than ever. Just ask the Patriots and their defensive backs.

Corners Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington and safeties Jarrad Page, Patrick Chung and James Sanders will have their hands full – and their feet running – trying to keep up with Johnny Knox and Matt Forte. Knox and Forte have joined Hester as weapons for their new strong-armed quarterback Jay Cutler.

“Of course, Knox and Hester are home run hitters,” Pats coach Bill Belichick said. “Those guys can strike from anywhere in a hurry. They’€™ve got a lot of things that are a problem.”

Don’t forget Danieal Manning, who took over kick return duties when Hester became a wide receiver.

“Obviously they’€™ve got a strong return game with Hester and Manning,” Belichick said. “Those guys can score from anywhere; [they’€™re] extremely dangerous ‘€“ really a problem in the return game.”

“They’re extremely fast, explosive big-play guys so we have to contain those guys,” Sanders said.

Belichick has been relying more and more on his big-play secondary, going with nickel, ‘Big Nickel’ and dime (6 DB sets) to produce big turnover numbers over a four-game winning streak. He’ll certainly be relying on them this week and safety Jarrad Page knows it.

“With Knox and Hester, they’re two of the fastest guys in the league and then Forte has shown his speed with plays over 60 yards, over 50 yards, he’s got a few of them,” Page said. “We definitely see that on film and took notice of it.”

But it’s not just the receivers. Cutler – banished to Chicago by Josh McDaniels before the 2009 season – has shown his mobility time and time again. Sometimes, he’s paid a price as Ndamukong Suh drilled him from behind last week and took a $15,000 fine for a hit to the back of the head as Cutler was scrambling.

“He’s a very athletic guy,” Sanders added. “There’s times on film where he’s running away from DBs so we’re going to have to keep him in the pocket and limit his scramble plays. And when he does get out of the pocket, we’re going to have to cover these receivers because they do a good job of uncovering and getting open down the field.”

While Hester garners all the attention in highlight videos, Belichick couldn’t help but show Forte’s 89-yard run after a simple screen pass against the Lions last weekend. It was the third play of at least 60 yards this season for the all-everything running back.

“A guy catches a ball, he takes a five-yard play and turns it into 30 or 40 [yards], and that’€™s tough for a defense,” Belichick said. “When you’€™re playing defense, you want to try and keep things in front of you, keep things contained and those guys that can take those kinds of plays and break out of them and break into big plays are tough.

“Forte is a great example. In the Lions game, there’€™s a minute to go in the half, they’€™re on their own 10-yard line, threw a screen pass. I’€™m sure they weren’€™t expecting to score. I’€™m sure they were just expecting to get a first down and it was 90 yards for a touchdown. Those are the kinds of plays that break a defense in half when you can’€™t tackle. Hester, Knox, they’€™re very dangerous with the ball in their hand. Cutler, that guy outruns most defensive backs. You see backs get the angle on him, [but] they can’€™t get him; he’€™s too fast.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brian Mitchell, Chicago Bears, Danieal Manning
The Big Nickel: Logan Mankins and Shayne Graham talk, plus James Sanders on the art of the takeaway at 2:00 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The five most important things you need to know about the Patriots on Thursday:

1. Logan Mankins held court with the media for an extended session on Thursday morning, his first real chat during the week with reporters since he returned in early November from a contract dispute. The left guard, who has started all five games since he’€™s been back, said he feels ‘€œfine,’€ and said he felt back to normal as soon he stepped on the field to face the Browns, his first game back.

‘€œI felt fine that game. I felt good,’€ Mankins said, sporting his trademark Fu-Manchu. ‘€œHey ‘€” it’€™s not my first year here. I knew the offense before I got here. I just had to get the physical stuff down.

‘€œI’€™m happy with the way it’€™s been going. And this is going to be a big challenge for us this week, Chicago. They have a really good defense. We really admire the way their defense plays, how hard they play. The kind of players that they have.’€

Mankins drew a lot of praise from Chicago coach Lovie Smith, who said Thursday on his conference call that Mankins was ‘€œone of the best linemen in the game.’€

‘€œThey continued to win without him, but adding another special player, a special lineman to the mix, has to help your team quite a bit,’€ said Smith, who shares the same agent with Mankins, Frank Bauer. ‘€Just look at the video on him.  He’€™s as tough as there is.  He comes to work every day.  He and I have the same agent, so I know a little bit about him.  Everything is all good, so you want a guy like that on your team.’€

Mankins ‘€” who said he planned to go sleeveless on Sunday, even with the temperatures expected to dip below freezing with the wind chill ‘€” returned the favor on Thursday.

‘€œI don’€™t know what we could really say about Chicago, other than they’€™re good all the way around,’€ he said. ‘€œTheir defense is really good. They’€™ve got a good front four and good linebackers, so it’€™s going to be a tough day on Sunday.’€

As a group, the New England offensive line has played well this season, allowing 18 sacks through 12 games. The hits that did come against quarterback Tom Brady on Monday’€™s game were minimal, and as a group, they more than did their share when it came to keeping the offense moving.

‘€œThat’€™s what we’€™re supposed to do, so we’€™re happy when we do it and disappointed when we don’€™t play well,’€ he shrugged. ‘€œLike I said, Chicago is going to be tough this week, and that’€™s what we’€™re focused on right now. We’€™re not trying to look back and see what we did. We’€™re looking ahead.’€

2. The Patriots practiced in sweats and shells on the lower fields behind Gillette Stadium in absolutely bone-chilling conditions on Thursday afternoon. Not present for the media portion of practice were defensive backs Jonathan Wilhite and Patrick Chung, linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive linemen Myron Pryor and Mike Wright.

While Wilhite (hip), Pryor (back) and Wright (concussion) have been absent for the better part of the last week with various ailments, it was a surprise to see Chung and Spikes not present. Chung dealt with a knee injury that left him sidelined for two games last month, but didn’€™t appear to sustain an injury on Monday against the Jets, and was present at the walkthrough on Wednesday. The same is true for Spikes, who saw extended snaps against the Jets and was at the Wednesday afternoon walkthrough.
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Read More: Brandon Spikes, Devin McCourty, Frank Bauer, James Sanders
Analysis of pregame inactives for Patriots 11.25.10 at 12:06 pm ET
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While the Patriots announced five of their inactives on Wednesday night, they added three more to the list late Thursday morning, adding defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick, wide receiver Taylor Price and offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger.

While both Price and Ohrnberger have been inactive more than active this season, the biggest shock among the final three was Deaderick, who appears to be a healthy scratch ‘€” he wasn’t on the injury report this week. It’ll leave New England thin along the defensive line, as the Patriots are already without Myron Pryor (back) and Mike Wright (neck).

The full list of inactives for the Patriots: Deaderick, Ohrnberger, Price, Pryor, Wright, Mark LeVoir, Stephen Neal and Jonathan Wilhite. With Neal out, expect Dan Connolly to get a heathy amount of reps at the right guard spot, while the absence of Pryor, Wright and Deaderick will place more responsibilities on the shoulders of defensive linemen like Ron Brace, Gerard Warren and Vince Wilfork. And the loss of Wilhite means that Darius Butler is likely to see more time at cornerback ‘€” Butler returned to semi-regular duty for the first time since Week 2 last Sunday against the Colts, as Kyle Arrington was shuffled from his spot at corner to an outside linebacker/defensive end role.

Two interesting names who have been late pregame scratches recently ‘€” safety Jarrad Page and running back Fred Taylor ‘€” were not on the list, which opens up the possibility that both could see game action for the first time in a couple of months. Page hasn’€™t played since Oct. 17 and Taylor hasn’€™t been seen in a game since Sept. 26.

Read More: Brandon Deaderick, Fred Taylor, Gerard Warren, Jarrad Page
Patriots downgrade five players to out for Thursday 11.24.10 at 7:45 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Wednesday nigh that four players ‘€” offensive lineman Stephen Neal, defensive lineman Myron Pryor, cornerback Jonathan Wilhite and defensive lineman Mike Wright ‘€” have been downgraded to out for Thursday’s game in Detroit against the Lions. All four players have struggled with injury over the last week, with Wright sustaining a concussion last week against the Colts, while Neal (shoulder), Pryor (back) and Wilhite (hip) have all had injury issues over the last week or two.

With Neal out, expect Dan Connolly to get a heathy amount of reps at the right guard spot, while the absence of Pryor and Wright will place more responsibilities on the shoulders of defensive linemen like Brandon Deaderick, Ron Brace, Gerard Warren and Vince Wilfork. And the loss of Wilhite means that Darius Butler is likely to see more time at cornerback ‘€” Butler returned to semi-regular duty for the first time since Week 2 last Sunday against the Colts, as Kyle Arrington was shuffled from his spot at corner to an outside linebacker/defensive end role.

Two interesting names who have been late pregame scratches recently ‘€” safety Jarrad Page and running back Fred Taylor ‘€” were not on the list, which opens up the possibility that both could see game action for the first time in a couple of months. Page hasn’t played since Oct. 17 and Taylor hasn’t been seen in a game since Sept. 26.

(UPDATE, 8:42 p.m.: The Patriots have also downgraded offensive lineman Mark LeVoir to out because of an elbow injury. No LeVoir and Neal could open the door for backup lineman Quinn Ojinnaka, who has played all three offensive line spots, to provide depth for the Patriots on Thursday.)

Read More: Brandon Deaderick, Darius Butler, Fred Taylor, Gerard Warren
No Brandon Tate at Patriots practice 11.19.10 at 12:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Wide receiver and kick returner Brandon Tate was not spotted at Patriots practice on Friday as the team worked out on the upper grass fields in preparation for the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Tate emerged as one of the team’s leading weapons when he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season. He opened the second half of the season opener against the Bengals with a 97-yard kickoff return for a TD and then followed that up with a 103-yard kick-off return against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, Oct. 4 for a score.

Tate became the first Patriots player to return two kicks for a touchdown in a season since Kevin Faulk in 2002. The team record is three by Raymond Clayborn in 1977.

Also missing at Friday practice were cornerback Jonathan Wilhite (hip), offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger and defensive lineman Myron Pryor (back). Safety Jarrad Page (calf) returned for the first time since injuring himself during the San Diego game on Oct. 24.

The team worked out in sweats and shells on the upper grass fields behind Gillette Stadium.

Read More: Brandon Tate, Indianapolis Colts, Jarrad Page, Kevin Faulk



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