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Bill Belichick, Julian Edelman getting ready to ‘spin the dial’ with Rex Ryan’s defense 09.30.16 at 6:41 pm ET
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FOXBORO — When it comes to the Bills defense this Sunday at Gillette Stadium, Bill Belichick is telling his team to expect the unexpected.

And the players are buying in.

One such player is Julian Edelman. The receiver has certainly had his chances against Ryan over his eight-year career. Last year, in the 40-32 win at Orchard Park, Edelman was targeted 19 times by Tom Brady. He caught 11 passes for 97 yards. That was easily his most active game in 11 career matchups against Ryan’s defense.

In 10 games against Ryan’s Jets (2009-14), Edelman caught 38 passes on 60 targets for 367 yards but just one touchdown.

Edelman has seen all sorts of coverages, man, press, zone, brackets with all different kinds of pressure combinations off those coverages.

“I see a spin-the-dial defense,” Edelman said Friday. “They bring a lot of everything. A well-coached team and a team that always plays us well. They’ve got a veteran group in the secondary that we’ve played a bunch. They know us. We know them. It’s going to be one of those games where you have to execute. The best team that executes will have a better chance of going out and winning.”

“They give a bunch of different looks. So, you’ve just got to lean on your fundamentals of the play and the scheme of what you have to do on certain looks. This [Buffalo] is one of the best teams at doing those types of things.”

Dennis Thurman is the defensive coordinator in Buffalo. Thurman is a former NFL corner for the Cowboys and Cardinals in the 1970s and 80s. But when it comes to the exotic nature of the Bills defense, Belichick has little doubt who’s making the final calls.

“I’d say it depends on who the person is and what the system – I mean I think we know where a lot of the decisions on defense with Buffalo are coming from,” Belichick said Friday, clearly referencing Ryan. “And I’m sure there’s certainly a team effort and a group effort and group ideas and so forth, but I think we also know where some of these are coming from and so to me its whoever the decision maker is.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Buffalo Bills, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Former Patriots DT Richard Bishop passes at 66 at 6:39 pm ET
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The Patriots are mourning the death of a member of their 1976 team that came so close to beating the Oakland Raiders in the playoffs.

The team announced Friday evening that former defensive tackle Richard Bishop died this week in Miami, Fla. at the age of 66. Bishop was with the Patriots for six seasons, starting in ’76 and ending in 1981.

Bishop started 51 of the 85 games played during his six seasons with the Patriots after joining the organization as a free agent in 1976. He appeared in every game for the Patriots in 1976 and 12 games of the 14 games in the 1977 season.

He earned a starting role at defensive end in 1978, starting 15 of 16 games for the eventual AFC East division champions. That season, he led the team in quarterback pressures (27), finished second in sacks (7) and third in tackles (75). His 1978 performance earned him the Jim Lee Hunt Memorial Award as the team’s most outstanding lineman.

Bishop originally entered the NFL when he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fifth round of the 1974 draft out of Louisville. He spent two seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Ottawa Rough Riders before signing with the Patriots as a free agent in 1976.

Bishop is survived by his son, Bryce, and his three daughters, Renata, Beatrice and Rachelle. Memorial services are tentatively scheduled for Saturday, October 8 in Miami, Fla. Services are being coordinated by the Stanfill Funeral Home in Miami. Details are expected to be finalized early next week. For service times and obituary information, visit the Stanfill Funeral Home webpage.

Read More: Cincinnati Bengals, Hamilton Ti-Cats, Louisville, New England Patriots
Jimmy Garoppolo (right shouler), Jacoby Brissett (right thumb) officially questionable for Sunday at 4:29 pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

It appears the guessing game with the Patriots quarterback situation will continue throughout the weekend.

Both Jimmy Garoppolo (right shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (right thumb) were listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bills at Gillette Stadium. Both quarterbacks practiced all week but were limited in their participation, as listed by the Patriots.

This represents an improvement for Garoppolo, who was doubtful going into the Houston game. He injured his right shoulder against the Dolphins on Sept. 18 and did not dress for the game against the Texans four days later. Brissett sprained his right thumb against the Texans in the second half and finished the game, a 27-0 win over Houston.

The Patriots did not work out or sign a quarterback this week, a strong sign they believe one or both will be ready to dress up.

All eight players on the Patriots injury report are officially questionable, including Rob Gronkowski and Dont’a Hightower. Gronkowski (hamstring) made his return against Houston after missing the first two games while Hightower (knee) has missed the last two games after tweaking his right knee against the Cardinals.

A designation of questionable indicates the team believes there’s a 50-50 chance a player will be available during the game. The Patriots had perfect attendance all week at practice. The Bills are not as fortunate, as receiver Sammy Watkins is one of four players ruled out for Sunday.

Here is the complete injury report:

QUESTIONABLE

QB Jimmy Garoppolo (right shoulder, limited)
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb, limited)
LB Dont’a Hightower (knee, limited)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring, limited)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle, limited)
OL Jonathan Cooper (foot, limited)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder, limited)
OL Marcus Cannon (calf, limited)

Read More: Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots,
Bills officially rule out WR Sammy Watkins for Sunday vs. Patriots at 1:06 pm ET
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Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) during the game against the New York Jets at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins will miss his second straight game with a foot injury. (Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports)

The defensive task just became somewhat simpler Sunday for the Patriots.

The Bills Friday ruled out star third-year receiver Sammy Watkins with a left foot injury.

It will be the second straight game Watkins has missed since a teammate stepped on his surgically repaired foot during a walk-through after the loss to the Jets. The fourth overall pick of the Bills in 2014 has just six catches for 60 yards and no touchdowns this season as the Bills have focused on getting their run game going with LeSean McCoy and quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

The Bills more than made up for his absence against the Cardinals last week in a 33-18 win, totaling over 200 yards rushing.

On Thursday, Bills coach Rex Ryan wasn’t ready to rule out Watkins from playing at Gillette on Sunday after the receiver missed his second straight practice on Thursday because of the injury. That changed on Friday.

Also ruled out were back up tackle Cyrus Kouandijo (ankle), offensive lineman Patrick Lewis with a knee injury and receiver Greg Salas with a groin problem.

Ryan said he is hopeful starting left tackle Cordy Glenn can return after missing two games with a sprained left ankle. Glenn practiced on a limited basis for a second consecutive day.

Read More: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, Sammy Watkins,
Another day of perfect attendance for Patriots at 12:04 pm ET
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The Patriots stretch on Friday before practice. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — The Patriots were back practicing Friday after a rare Thursday walkthrough.

And, for a fourth straight day, it was a perfect day of attendance. The only players not on the field were Tom Brady and Rob Ninkovich, both of whom return Monday from their four-game suspensions.

As for the quarterbacks who were on the field, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett were suited up for shorts and shells practice. Brissett, nursing a right thumb injury, was wearing gloves while Garoppolo was not. Both have been limited all week in the injury report.

The media was only permitted to watch stretching.

Typically, Fridays are reserved for work on red zone offense and defense and speciality situations.

The Patriots will try to improve to 4-0 when they host the Bills this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Read More: Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots,
Bill Belichick isn’t worrying about his defense in 2017: ‘I don’t think you can be afraid of free agency’ at 11:27 am ET
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Sep 1, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;   New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) attempts to block a pass by New York Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib (12) during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Jamie Collins could be soaring toward a big deal in free agency. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — No one knows more than Bill Belichick that, in today’s NFL, you have to prepare for the games while always keeping an eye on the future.

Asked Friday about the large number of defensive starters who have pending contract issues on the horizon after the season, the Patriots coach provided some perspective and insight on how the team regards signing its own free agents.

“In general, there’s some team planning, you do what you can do,” Belichick said Friday. “Sometimes if you can work out a contract, which we’ve done that during the season with various players — if you can work that out, you work that out. If you can’t, there’s been a number of players we’ve signed — our players that we’ve signed once free agency has started. Devin (McCourty), to pick a name.”

McCourty’s case might provide some insight as to the Patriots approach this time. After free agency began in March 2015, the team inked him to a five-year, $47.5 million deal through 2019. But that didn’t mean the team wouldn’t re-visit it down the road. Days before this season began, they converted $3.74 million of his salary this season into his signing bonus. That move cleared $2.8 million of cap space. A win-win for the player and the team.

“I don’t think you can be afraid of free agency. It’s not if a guy gets to free agency, you can’t resign him. You’re in a competitive market, but you’re in a competitive market anyway. These guys know that they have other options, depending on who the player is and what their situation is. They have other options. We know there’s only so much money to go around.”

What the Patriots were able to do with Devin McCourty last season is something they would certainly like to pursue with others on their defense.

Linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower, defensive ends Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long, cornerback Logan Ryan, safety Duron Harmon and defensive tackle Alan Branch are unrestricted free agents. Collins, Hightower and Sheard are all considered front line starters and figure to demand big money over multiple years.

Third-year corner Malcolm Butler is a restricted free agent. The Patriots could match any offer Butler receives and be more patient with that.

“If you can work it out, then you have the security, if you can’t then you have your options,” Belichick added. “They have their options, we have our options. That’s professional sports.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots,
Bill Belichick really doesn’t care what anyone thinks about Patriots handling adversity at 10:37 am ET
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Bill Belichick holds court Friday in Foxboro. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — The praise of Bill Belichick, his coaching staff and the players has been flying around Foxboro more than Tom Brady’s passing game at its peak.

Even our own Chris Price wrote after the 27-0 demolition of the Texans without Brady, Rob Ninkovich and Jimmy Garoppolo that Belichick should already be considered the 2016 NFL coach of the year.

Don’t trying telling that to Belichick.

Asked by CSNNE’s Tom Curran at the end of Friday’s press conference if he takes any measure of pride in the amount of adversity the team has negotiated in the 3-0 start, Belichick showed his laser focus.

“Again, we’re really focused on Buffalo,” Belichick began. “I mean, I don’t really care about last week, I don’t really care about two weeks ago, I don’t really care about last year. I don’t really care about four years ago. I don’t really care.

“We’re just trying to get ready and compete against Buffalo. That’s our challenge this week. The rest of it, it’s in the books. It is what it is. Write whatever you want to write about it.

“I don’t care. It was good, it was bad, I don’t really care. It’s done. We’ve got to do a good job with what we have right here with Buffalo. Can’t live in the past.

“I respect where you’re coming from. It’s not like I’m trying to be dismissive of it but I really don’t care. It doesn’t really matter. Nothing that happened last year, last week, last month, really has anything to do with this week.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots,
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