|Dont’a Hightower ‘hopeful’ he will be able to play Thursday vs. Jets||10.14.14 at 6:31 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After missing the last two games because of a knee injury, Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower stood at his locker already knowing the question would be coming.
Will he be ready to play Thursday night against the Jets?
“The next question is do I think am I going play Thursday? That is day-to-day,” Hightower said. “I am holding up, doing everything they’ve asked me to do, so hopefully I will be out there.”
Hightower has missed the last two games after having a strong start to the season — recording 20 tackles in the four games he’s played — as well as coming along in terms of pass coverage, something that was a bit suspect in past years.
In his third season, Hightower only missed two games in his career prior to this year, so standing on the sidelines has been tough — but he’s done what he can to help the defense.
“It definitely sucks,” he said “Definitely these last couple games coming up are definitely games we want to have and seeing those guys out there having fun and playing the way we have been playing and not being able to have a part of — the most I can do is help give those guys checks and alerts from the sideline and doing my part. Hopefully that was the last game of the season I’ll have to do that.’
With fellow inside linebacker Jerod Mayo going down with a season-ending leg injury, the Patriots need Hightower back even more now. While no one person can replace Mayo — a captain — it will take a number players on the defensive side of the ball, including Hightower, who should become more of a leader for the group.
The unit went through the same thing last year when Mayo also went down for the season in Week 6 with a torn pectoral muscle. Going through the same thing last year should help them moving forward this season.
|Bill Belichick and Patriots ‘haven’t decided yet’ how to replace Jerod Mayo, Stevan Ridley||at 3:57 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In a compressed week, Wednesday becomes Saturday. And with a game Thursday night against their AFC East rivals from New York, the Patriots could announce roster moves to fill the void created by injuries to Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley, both of whom are expected to miss the rest of the season with lower leg injuries.
That is, of course, if the Patriots decide they need to put both on season-ending injured reserve to create roster space for a move like running back Jonas Gray from the practice squad. Belichick acknowledged he’s spoken with player personnel director Nick Caserio about their roster options.
“I think that’s something that we’re just going to have to evaluate here in the next day or two,” Belichick said Tuesday. “I’ve talked with Nick Caserio and our coaching staff and Nick’s staff and we’ll just have to try to figure it all out here. It’s a real short week. So, we’ll just have to take all those things into consideration and try to figure out what we’re going to do ‘ if we would make one and who it would be and so forth. We haven’t decided that yet. We’ll see how it goes here.”
While Deontae Skinner figures to move up on depth chart and get more playing time to help with the loss of Mayo, the running back situation could be different. Brandon Bolden figures to get more carries but there is the chance for someone like Jonas Gray to be promoted from the practice squad. If that’s the case, then the Patriots need to make the move by Wednesday.
“We tell the practice squad, all those players every week, that they’re one sprained ankle or one day away from being active,” Belichick said. “We’ve made those moves as late as the day before the game ‘ Saturdays on a Sunday game and things like that. Those players prepare every week to be ready to play both on offense or defense and in the kicking game. As you know, we’ve done that before. That’s the same for them every week.
“There’s no difference for them this week or from any other week. They’re on the roster, on the practice squad, they’re potentially on the roster for the game. So, they prepare for the game as if they are on the roster. If that happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, then we go to next week.”
NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Patriots’ injury issues and the upcoming game against the Jets. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Harrison said he expects Thursday’s game will be a tough one despite the Jets coming in with a 1-5 record and struggling badly on offense.
“I think it will be competitive,” Harrison said. “The Jets, they have such a hatred for the Patriots. Rex Ryan, he’s had success against Tom Brady, he knows what to expect. And I think he will have this team ready. And this team, they’re 1-5, they’re not very good. Geno Smith, he stinks, Michael Vick doesn’t want to play, they haven’t practiced well. This team has lost a lot of players, young guys in the secondary. Tom can really eat up this defense.
“But just knowing Rex, and just knowing how much he dislikes the Patriots, I think this game will be a lot more competitive than what people think.”
Added Harrison of the Jets: “They’re going to have to win on defense, because they’re offense is nothing.”
Smith, the second-year quarterback, has struggled on the field and made some questionable comments off it, which leads Harrison to question his approach.
“When they talked about drafting him, I never viewed him as a top first- or second-round pick. I thought maybe he was a guy that could probably go between Rounds 3 and 5. I just wasn’t really impressed with him,” Harrison said.
“Sometimes when you’re a young quarterback and you’re struggling, sometimes it’s best just to be quiet and not say too much in the media, just come off as a very humble guy, just trying to learn the system. But he continues to talk, he continues to put his foot in his mouth.
“What he needs to do is stop turning the ball over, bottom line. Every game this year he’s turned the ball over, and they just don’t have a chance if he continues to turn the ball over.”
|Patriots supporting Jerod Mayo following season-ending injury: ‘Hopefully we can play well for him’||10.13.14 at 7:57 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Sunday’s win over the Bills came with a big price.
The Patriots lost running back Stevan Ridley for the season with a torn ACL and MCL and also their leader on defense — captain Jerod Mayo to a ‘severe lower right leg’ injury, also reportedly ending his season.
It’s the second straight season Mayo has been lost for the year in Week 6 after he tore his pectoral last season and it gets no easier for his teammates, both coping with the injury as well as replacing him in the middle of the field at his middle linebacker position.
“With that happening yesterday, it was a blow,” fellow captain Matthew Slater said. “You can’t try and pretend it’s one of those things you can pick up and move on from because you feel for a guy like Jerod. I came in with Jerod, we were rookies together and to see him go down I know took a toll on me, but we have to do the best we can to bounce back.
“A lot of guys have to step up because a guy like that is hard to replace — not only what he does on the field, but who he is in this locker room. His leadership, the man that he is. A lot of guys can emulate and imitate because of who he is. Hopefully we can play well for him the rest of the year, but like I said there is no replacing him with one guy, it’s going to take a lot of guys stepping up.”
With all the season-ending injuries the defense had to deal with last season — including Mayo’s — defensive end/linebacker Rob Ninkovich was forced into playing much more than he was accustomed to and played quite well. Once again, it will take efforts like that to replace Mayo.
The worst fears have been realized for Jerod Mayo and the Patriots.
The veteran middle linebacker and Patriots defensive captain suffered a season-ending right leg injury in Sunday’s 37-22 win over the Bills, multiple sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Those sources tell Schefter that the injury is “bad,” leading to the assumption that he will require major corrective surgery. This comes one year to the month when he tore his pectoral muscle and missed the second half of the 2013 season.
Earlier in the day, Bill Belichick indicated that “no one guy” will be able to replace Mayo or do for the Patriots what the seven-year veteran out of Tennessee does in the middle of the New England defense.
Patriots LB Jerod Mayo is out for the year after suffering a lower right leg injury that multiple sources say ‘is bad’.
‘ Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 13, 2014
On Monday, he reaffirmed that belief when asked about the huge task of going about replacing what the captain and middle linebacker brings to the team.
“So, we’re just going to have to get contributions from other guys ‘ some at the linebacker position and some at other positions as well,” Belichick said. “We’ll see how it all comes together. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for him and see exactly what his situation is. We have to be ready to move on without him. So, we’ll have to look to, I’d say, multiple groups [and] multiple players to do some of the things that he did. There’s no one guy who is going to, on this team, do what Jerod did. We’re lucky to have him, let alone another guy that can do all that too. It will have to come from a combination of guys somehow.”
The Patriots are awaiting tests on the right knees of Mayo and Stevan Ridley to determine the severity of each injury and whether one, both or, best-case scenario, neither is lost for the season.
Mayo injured his right knee making a tackle with about six minutes remaining in the second quarter of Sunday’s 37-22 win over the Bills in Buffalo. Ridley was lost when he was tackled while trying to avoid a tackle on a run to the left side.
What makes the Mayo injury particularly frustrating for player and coaching staff is the likelihood Mayo could be gone for the second half of the season for a second straight year. Mayo tore his pectoral muscle against the Dolphins in Oct. 2013 and subsequently went on injured reserve.
|Tom Brady on D&C: ‘We’re going to go out there and play our best for’ injured teammates Jerod Mayo, Stevan Ridley||at 8:04 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Monday, one day after Sunday’s impressive 37-22 victory over the Bills. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Brady completed 27-of-37 passes for 361 yards and four touchdown passes as he improved to 23-2 against Buffalo.
“I think all the guys, we made a ton of plays out there. It was really fun to be out there,” Brady said. “We’ve been making some improvements, and hopefully we continue to do so. I said after the game, it’s still early in the year, it’s great to go on the road against a team that is a good team, it’s always a battle against those guys.
“I know we’ve had a good record against them over the years, but they always play us tough. They had a great front, and the crowd was really jacked and into it. We went out there in the second half and did really a great job as a team, just taking the crowd out of the game and then going out and executing at a high level. That’s what it takes, that’s what it was all about.”
The Patriots had two bad losses early this season and now have put together two straight good wins, and Brady said it’s important not to overreact to either.
“Coach always says hopefully the losses act as motivation,” Brady said. “The only thing I would say, when you lose you’re probably way more hypercritical to your deficiencies than when you win. Having a tough loss like we did, we had a couple of tough losses this year, really understanding the things that we needed to do better hopefully can really serve a purpose for us.
“Like every week, whatever happened against Buffalo, it means nothing for what’s going to happen on Thursday night against the Jets. We’ve got to refill the tank and then go out there and try to play as best as we possibly can, because this team’s going to be ready to go. I know they’re having a tough year, but they always play us tough, they’ve got a great defensive front, it’s a division battle. We’ve got to put everything we can into. and that’s what you’ve got to do every week.
“You just can’t think this last game’s going to carry over to the next game, ’cause it doesn’t. Not sure if you guys understand that, but coach always nails that point home, and the veteran leaders really talk about that. So, that’s what we’ve got to do.”