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Target Practice: Who is getting most opportunities in Patriots’ passing game? 12.06.16 at 9:16 am ET
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Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman

Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat — a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback — it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer or coach might have in said pass catcher. With all that in mind, here’s a look at the target breakdown through the first 12 games of the regular season.

WR Julian Edelman: 72 catches on 112 targets (64 percent)
RB James White: 47 catches on 66 targets (71 percent)
TE Martellus Bennett: 44 catches on 58 targets (76 percent)
WR Chris Hogan: 27 catches on 40 targets (68 percent)
TE Rob Gronkowski: 25 catches on 38 targets (66 percent)
WR Malcolm Mitchell: 24 catches on 37 targets (65 percent)
WR Danny Amendola: 23 catches on 29 targets (79 percent)
RB Dion Lewis: 11 catches on 17 targets (65 percent)
RB LeGarrette Blount: 6 catches on 7 targets (86 percent)
RB Brandon Bolden: 2 catches on 4 targets (50 percent)
FB James Develin: 1 catch on 3 targets (33 percent)
RB D.J. Foster: 1 catch on 2 targets (50 percent)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 1 catch on 1 target (100 percent)
WR Matthew Slater: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)

Breakdown of targets by position
Wide Receiver: 146 catches on 219 targets (67 percent)
Running Back: 68 catches on 99 targets (69 percent)\
Tight End: 69 catches on 98 targets (70 percent)
Quarterback: 1 catch on 1 target (100 percent)

By way of comparison, here’s a look at how the targets broke down through 12 games last year.

Read More: Julian Edelman, targets,
Julian Edelman: ‘[Tom Brady] should be the face of this league’ 12.04.16 at 5:30 pm ET
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Julian Edelman said it was a honor to be part of Tom Brady's 201st career win. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Julian Edelman said it was a honor to be part of Tom Brady’s 201st career win. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Sunday’s 26-10 win over the Rams belonged to Tom Brady, as it was his 201st career win, which is the most among quarterbacks in NFL history.

Julian Edelman is among the players closest to Brady on the team, so it was a honor for the receiver to be part of the milestone.

“Like I’ve said, I’ve watched him play since I was like in eighth grade and I’ve been here for eight years. That tells you something,” Edelman said. “To get to see him do this, couldn’t happen to a better guy or a better player. Everything he’s done he’s deserved. He should be the face of this league with how his story, how he prepares — he’s a family man. Couldn’t happen to anyone better.”

It was fitting Brady reached the mark on the day the Patriots honored the 2001 Super Bowl winning team, which was Brady’s first year as a starter when he replaced Drew Bledsoe in Week 2. While his teammates were honored at halftime, Brady was in the process of leading the 2016 Patriots to their 10th win of the season.

“Quite frankly, it’s unreal,” Edelman said. “It just shows you that’s what separates himself from the other guys. You go look at the other greats, I mean, when they are at this age, they don’t look like him. Not even close. You can put a stamp on that one.”

For Edelman personally, it was another good game as he finished with a team-leading 101 yards on eight catches. He’s now gone four straight games with at least seven catches and 77 yards receiving.

“I’m feeling a day better than yesterday,” he said. “I don’t feel better than yesterday because we just had a game. Really just trying to stack together weeks and try to do my job and stay within the system. That’s what I am going to try and continue to do.”

Now, Edelman and the Patriots will face the Ravens on Monday Night who are coming off a big win over the red-hot Dolphins.

“You can never look past Baltimore,” he said. “These guys, they are a really good team always. They always play us hard. We know it’s going to go down to the end. We’re just going to have a good week of practice.”

Read More: Julian Edelman, Tom Brady,
Scouting Report: What you have to know about Rams-Patriots 12.03.16 at 12:07 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Martellus Bennett have the Patriots holding firm at the No. 2 spot. (Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports)

With no Rob Gronkowski in the lineup, Tom Brady and Martellus Bennett will be working closely together down the stretch. (Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports)

Here’s everything you have to know about Sunday’s game between the Patriots (9-2) and the Rams (4-7) at Gillette Stadium.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL

New England now features three primary backs, not counting “Brandon” and “Danny,” as part of its ground game. The between-the-tackles work will continue to be done by LeGarrette Blount (212 carries, 869 yards, 12 TDs), while Dion Lewis (11 carries, 47 yards) and James White (28 carries, 112 yards) will offer support, as well as a third-down option for Tom Brady. Blount still figures to be the man, especially if the game gets out of hand early. He’s 138 yards from tying his career-high for yards in a season, and while he probably won’t reach the milestone Sunday against Los Angeles, he’s got a good chance of at least nearing the mark. Look for the occasional two-back set of White and Lewis. We saw it occasionally last week against the Jets, and could be an intriguing combo going forward. Overall, Los Angeles is 20th against the run (112.3 rushing yards allowed per game), and has struggled as of late, allowing an average of 149 rushing yards per contest in the last three games. That includes yielding a season-high 209 rushing yards last week in a loss to the Saints.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL

With no Rob Gronkowski in the lineup anymore, Brady (68 percent completion rate, 2,201 yards, 18 TDs, 1 INT, 116.7 passer rating) and the Patriots passing game will change its focus to more of a spread look with an emphasis on multiple (three and four) receiver sets. That’s not to say we won’t see plenty of work for Martellus Bennett (42 catches, 54 targets, 540 yards, 4 TDs), who will be asked to continue to produce at a high level in the wake of the loss of Gronkowski. It’s only to suggest that it’ll be the likes of Julian Edelman (64 catches, 100 targets, 617 yards, 2 TDs), Danny Amendola (20 catches, 25 targets, 213 yards, 4 TDs), Chris Hogan (23 catches, 35 targets, 461 yards, 2 TDs) and Malcolm Mitchell (16 catches, 27 targets, 235 yards, 3 TDs) will get more targets going forward. That doesn’t even begin to take into account the White/Lewis combo, which caught eight passes last week out of the backfield and will continue to account for a sizable portion of the passing game the rest of the way.

Los Angeles is actually pretty good when it comes to pass defense (seventh in the league at 227.5 yards per game). Aaron Donald is a terrifying presence along the interior, and one of the best young linemen in the league. The 6-foot-1, 285-pounder will present a sizable challenge for New England’s offensive line — he has 35 tackles (28 solo) this year, to go along with a team-high six sacks. Defensive end Robert Quinn has four sacks on the year, while ex-Patriot Dominique Easley has 2.5 sacks of his own. Los Angeles is middle of the pack when it comes to forcing turnovers (13 takeaways are tied for 19th in the league). Linebacker Mark Barron leads the team with two picks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Aaron Donald, Brian Quick, Dominique Easley, Jared Goff
Martellus Bennett, Tom Brady, Julian Edelman among 9 Patriots questionable vs. Rams 12.02.16 at 4:12 pm ET
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This is a 2016 photo of Martellus Bennett of the New England Patriots NFL football team. This image reflects the New England Patriots active roster as of Wednesday, May 25, 2016 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)

Martellus Bennett

FOXBORO — It’s a lengthy injury report for the Patriots this week leading into Sunday’s game against the Rams.

Two players were ruled out on Friday in Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Richards. Gronkowski is having back surgery Friday, while Richards missed practice all week with a foot injury.

There are nine players listed as questionable, including Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett and Chris Hogan.

Elandon Roberts popped up on the injury report with a jaw injury and is questionable. After missing Friday’s practice, Matthew Slater is questionable with a foot injury. He missed last week, but practiced Wednesday and Thursday.

After missing Wednesday and Thursday, Nate Ebner was limited Friday with a concussion.

Here is the complete Patriots injury report.

OUT

S Jordan Richards (foot)
TE Rob Gronkowski (knee)

QUESTIONABLE

QB Tom Brady (knee)
TE Martellus Bennett (shoulder/ankle)
S/ST Nate Ebner (concussion)
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
DL Trey Flowers (shin)
WR Chris Hogan (back)
DL Woodrow Hamilton (illness)
LB Elandon Roberts (jaw)
WR Matthew Slater (foot)

Read More: Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett, Tom Brady,
Tom Brady (knee), Julian Edelman (foot) among 6 Patriots limited 12.01.16 at 4:50 pm ET
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Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman

FOXBORO — The Patriots got some good news at practice on Thursday as a few of their players who missed Wednesdays session returned.

Tom Brady (knee), Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder) and Julian Edelman (foot) all returned and were limited in the session.

There were two additions to the injury report as Trey Flowers was limited with a shin injury, while Woodrow Hamilton missed the practice with an illness.

For the second straight day, Nate Ebner was present, but didn’t practice with a concussion and Jordan Richards was out with a knee injury.

Missing two straight practices is not a good sign for their availability for Sunday. The Patriots special teams could need some reinforcements.

Here is the complete injury report.

DID NOT PRACTICE

TE Rob Gronkowski (back)
ST Nate Ebner (concussion)
S Jordan Richards (knee)
DL Woodrow Hamilton (shin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION

TE Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder)
QB Tom Brady (knee)
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
WR Chris Hogan (back)
ST/WR Matthew Slater (foot)
DL Trey Flowers (shin)

Read More: Julian Edelman, Tom Brady,
Tom Brady, Martellus Bennett, Julian Edelman return to Patriots practice at 2:14 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Want some good news from Gillette Stadium on Thursday?

A few key members of the Patriots returned to the practice field after missing Wednesdays practice.

Tom Brady (knee), Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder) and Julian Edelman (foot/birth of child) were spotted at Patriots practice on Thursday, which was held in shells, not full pads like they have been on past Thursdays, on the lower field behind Gillette Stadium.

There were four players missing, though: Trey Flowers, Jordan Richards, Rob Gronkowski and Woodrow Hamilton. Also, practice squad tight end Kennard Backman was not spotted as well.

(Gronkowski of course, reportedly needs back surgery.)

Nate Ebner, who didn’t practice with a concussion on Wednesday, was out on the field, but he was also spotted Wednesday, so it’s unclear if he will participate in the session.

The injury report will come out later in the day.

Read More: Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett, Tom Brady,
Updating Tom Brady’s big board of favorite pass catchers: Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman now solidly ensconced among all-time leaders at 12:58 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski continues to move up the list of all-time receptions via Tom Brady. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski continues to move up the list of all-time receptions via Tom Brady. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

We’ve tracked Tom Brady’s big board of favorite receivers several times over the last few years, but with Rob Gronkowski continuing to move up the list and Julian Edelman landing in the top 5 this year, we figured it would be a good time to revisit the latest totals. As always, we have to point out that these are not career totals, but only catches from Brady during regular-season contests:

Most catches from Brady, regular-season games only, career
1. Wes Welker (563 catches in 78 career regular-season games with Brady)
2. Rob Gronkowski (403 catches in 86 games)
3. Julian Edelman (363 catches in 94 games)
4. Deion Branch (328 catches in 89 games)
5. Troy Brown (323 catches in 84 games)
6. Kevin Faulk (310 catches in 117 games)

7. Randy Moss (192 catches in 36 games)
8. Aaron Hernandez (175 catches in 38 games)
9. David Givens (158 catches in 53 career games with Brady)
10. David Patten (157 catches in 54 games)

Here’s the rest of the top 20:
11. Danny Amendola, 151 catches; 12. Ben Watson, 142; 13. Daniel Graham, 117; 14. Brandon LaFell, 107; 15. Shane Vereen, 106; 16. Danny Woodhead, 92; 17. James White, 65; 18. Christian Fauria, 79; 19. Brandon Lloyd, 74; 20. Antowain Smith, 64.

Read More: Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, targets, Tom Brady
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