|With Rob Ninkovich back, will Patriots be able to slow LeSean McCoy?||10.25.16 at 6:08 pm ET|
When the Patriots and Bills met the first time this season, not only was Tom Brady finishing up his four-game suspension, one of the best edge-setters in the Patriots defense was also finishing up his four-game ban to start the season.
Now, Rob Ninkovich is back and the results have been impressive.
Against the best rushing team in the NFL, Ninkovich helped the defense hold the Browns to 27 yards on 22 carries, including Isaiah Crowell to 22 yards on 13 carries.
Against Cincinnati, the Patriots held the Bengals to 120 yards on 32 carries. And last week against Pittsburgh, New England allowed the explosive Le’Veon Bell to 81 yards on 21 carries. Bell had his moments where he jitterbugged but didn’t explode for any huge plays.
Back on Oct. 2, McCoy and the Bills ran 32 times for 134 yards. McCoy had 70 yards on 19 carries. But don’t forget – he caught six passes on six targets for 38 yards and the only touchdown of the game, a seven-yard catch in the right flat.
Then, against the Rams and 49ers, he exploded for 150 and 140 yards respectively. He had just 11 yards on eight carries last week against Miami before coming out with a hamstring injury.
“Obviously, an outstanding, outstanding running back,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said Tuesday. “Someone that is extremely quick, fast and versatile. They’re doing a good job of using him in a bunch of different runs and run packages. I would say overall with him this year [he’s] much more of an inside threat in the run game. He’s obviously always been an outside threat. He does a good job with the bounce-out runs or some of the scheme runs where they get him outside on the edge and he can use his speed.”
“He does a real good job with the C-gap [between tackle and tight end] runs, which are a lot of the runs that Buffalo likes to run kind of in their core aspect of the run game. You know, get the ball off tackle and he can hit it really at that 45-degree angle and get quick into the secondary. What he’s been able to do now, what he’s done a real good job of is downhill runs. The downhill runs, I would say out of him now, are much more dangerous and really once he breaks, he’s into the secondary or into the safeties a lot quicker.”
In other words, get him before he gets to the second level or look out.
|After mimicking him on interception, Malcolm Butler has ‘much love’ for Antonio Brown||10.23.16 at 11:00 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Just ask Malcolm Butler.
After picking off a first quarter pass in the end zone, intended for star receiver Antonio Brown, Malcolm Butler celebrated his first interception of the season by breaking into a dance.
It was supposed to be modeled after the dance Brown makes after a touchdown. High style points for the play. As for the celebration? Maybe not so much. But Butler, when asked about the pick after the game, admitted the dance was indeed modeled after the receiver he has so much respect for.
“Yeah. Yeah. [Laughter]. Me and Brown had conversation before. It was a joke. It was a joke to him once I showed him how I do it. I just did it in the game,” Butler said. “Much love for that guy. It’s nothing personal.
“I just turned around and [found] the ball. Just playing football. That’s all I did. I just made the play. That’s all there was to it.”
He went even further, speaking of Brown in the most glowing of terms.
“He’s one of the best, if not the best,” Butler said. “He’s one or two. He has no flaws. There’s no stopping Antonio Brown. That’s impossible. You can’t stop him. You only can slow him down. He’s going to do what he does. I just went out there and tried to complete today. Le’Veon does what he does also. Great players are going to make great plays. You just have to match their intensity.”
Butler did give up a 51-yard play to Brown in the second quarter that set up Pittsburgh’s only touchdown of the day, a pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey. It was the first time the Patriots allowed a pass completion of over 40 yards this season.
|Jonathan Kraft references Christian Peter on Josh Brown, adds NFL still has ‘a ways to go to make it perfect’||at 4:28 pm ET|
Speaking on the Patriots pregame radio show, the team president said he and his father are very sensitive to the issue since the early days of owning the franchise. He referenced what he and his family learned from the ill-conceived drafting of defensive tackle Christian Peter in the fifth round of the 1996 draft.
“Well, I’m going to speak for the New England Patriots. I think it’s something going back to the days of Christian Peter that we’ve been pretty stringent about, and I think ahead of the curve, in terms of the seriousness of,” Kraft said.
The Patriots relinquished the rights to Peter only a week after the draft. After Myra Kraft spoke out against Peter’s arrest (his eighth in seven months) for grabbing a woman’s throat, the team said Peter, who played with the Giants, Colts, and was “incompatible with our organization’s standards of acceptable conduct.”
Jonathan Kraft reiterated that stance on Sunday.
“There might be some that are as serious but there’s nothing more serious than what’s going on in the domestic violence and the sexual abuse area,” Kraft said. “It’s something we have felt strongly about since we’ve owned the franchise. We’ve partnered with [Massachusetts Attorney General] Maura Healey over the last year, plus, to starting bringing programs into high schools in Massachusetts to make sure we’re using the power of professional sports, and our players and our brand that at the teenage level that A, we prevent teenage sexual assault and abuse and hopefully, teach young men when they’re still in their formative years that it’s something that’s totally unacceptable and it’s not something we’re ever going to tolerate here at the New England Patriots.”
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|Jamie Collins (hip), Julian Edelman (foot) among 9 Pats questionable for Sunday vs. Steelers, DeAngelo Williams (knee) out||10.21.16 at 4:37 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots head to Pittsburgh in relatively healthy shape.
The team did officially announce Friday afternoon that nine players are officially questionable for Sunday’s game, including linebacker Jamie Collins, who missed last Sunday’s game against the Bengals with a hip injury.
Collins practiced all week leading into the Cincinnati game but was ruled out Sunday morning. Collins was limited all three days in practice. Also listed as questionable are Julian Edelman (foot) and Brandon Bolden (knee). Edelman was limited in practice all week while Bolden was limited Wednesday and Thursday before missing Friday.
This week, the team took the opportunity to take several players off the injury report altogether, including Rob Gronkowski with his hamstring issue, Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and LeGarrette Blount (hip). The move indicates that both players fully participated in practice and are expected to be available at full strength for Sunday.
For the Steelers, not only will they be without Ben Roethlisberger (left knee), running back DeAngelo Williams (knee), defensive end Cameron Heyward (hamstring) and receiver Markus Wheaton (shoulder) will all be unavailable after being ruled out Friday.
Here is Friday’s complete practice report.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB Brandon Bolden (knee) QUESTIONABLE
TE Martellus Bennett (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
LB Jamie Collins (hip) QUESTIONABLE
LB Shea McClellin (concussion) QUESTIONABLE
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
DL Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
WR Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE
DL Vincent Valentine (back) QUESTIONABLE
WR Julian Edelman (foot) QUESTIONABLE
|Mike Petraglia, Ryan Hannable on whether Patriots really have anything to fear in Pittsburgh||10.19.16 at 4:10 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Do the Patriots stand any chance of losing this weekend in Pittsburgh without Ben Roethlisberger? Bill Belichick is getting his team ready and amped for Heinz Field. WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable have your preview.
|Bill Belichick thinks his defense is going to have a challenge with Le’Veon Bell: ‘Oh my God’||at 11:12 am ET|
FOXBORO — It’s pretty clear that Bill Belichick thinks the world of Le’Veon Bell.
The fourth year back out of Michigan State is considered one of – if not the best – all around back in the National Football League.
After sitting out the first three games this season for a drug suspension, Bell has come back with a force, averaging 5.5 yards a carry in three games, amassing 263 yards. With 20 catches for 177 yards, he is also their second leading receiver behind Antonio Brown.
“Oh my God. Oh yeah, tremendous player,” Belichick raved Wednesday during his press conference. “Great hands, catch the ball, very quick, makes people miss. Strong, breaks tackles, excellent balance, tough, doesn’t run out of bounds, fights for extra yardage. Great player.”
As Belichick noted on Tuesday, the Patriots defense also has to be wary every time DeAngelo Williams is on the field. The 33-year-old running back is a remarkable study in career endurance. He has three of Pittsburgh’s four rushing touchdowns this season. Williams, who carried the load when Bell went down with a knee injury last season, has gone over 8,000 yards career rushing with a 4.8 yards per carry average.
“DeAngelo Williams, led the league the league in rushing the two weeks where he played earlier in the year when he got a lot of carries,” Belichick said. “He’s had a tremendous career. Really, one of the all-time great careers. Statisicially, he’s been tremendous.”
|Bill Belichick has had it with tablets, wonders where’s urgency from NFL to fix communication issues||10.18.16 at 1:02 pm ET|
From the moment that Bill Belichick was trying to fix his car clock in his own NFL Films documentary, it’s been clear that the head coach and technology don’t always mix.
But the coach gave it his best chance, using tablets on the sidelines to read pictures of plays on the field and make in-game adjustments. That even included video this preseason in an experiment through the NFL.
But now, Belichick has reached his breaking point. No more tablets on the sidelines. Why? They’re just not dependable. He went into great detail Tuesday, spending over five minutes explaining his decision to break with technology.
“As you know, there are multiple communication systems on the sideline. And as you probably noticed, I’m done with the tablets. I’ve given them as much time as I can give them,” Belichick said. “They’re just too undependable for me. I’m going to stick with pictures as several of our other coaches do as well because there’s just not enough consistency in the performance of the tablets. I just can’t take it anymore.”
There was the image of Belichick destroying his tablet during the 16-0 loss to the Bills. But there’s more to it than that. Much more. Belichick was one of thousands on Sunday who was inconvenienced by a breakdown of the internet service at the start of the Bengals game.
What Belichick doesn’t understand is why the NFL limits teams to their ability to work with the equipment during the week to make sure both teams can have good communication with their players and coaches during games.
“The other communication systems involve the press box to the coaches on the field and the coach on the field, the signal-caller to the quarterback-coach signal-calling system. Those fail on a regular basis. They’re very few games that we play, home or away, day, night, cold, hot, preseason, regular season, postseason, doesn’t make any difference, there are very few games where there aren’t issues in some form or fashion with the equipment. Again, there’s a lot of equipment involved, too. There’s headsets in the helmets, there’s the beltpack communication, there’s a hook-up or a connection to internet service or that process and so forth with the coaches in the press box. There’s a number of pieces of equipment. There’s a number of connections. They’re on different frequencies, again not that I know anything about this [technology].
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