|12.19.14 at 4:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots had perfect attendance for the last two days of practice but there remain several question marks when it comes to the health and readiness of the team for Sunday’s game against the 3-11 Jets at MetLife Stadium.
As a matter of fact, 12 players were limited for a second straight day and all 12 are officially listed as questionable (50-50 chance of playing) by the Patriots in their final injury report of the week.
Leading that list is Julian Edelman (thigh/concussion), who apparently received a concussion this week during practice. Edelman played in the closing moments of Sunday’s win over the Dolphins and spoke to reporters, not likely if he had been playing with the suspicion of a head injury. LeGarrette Blount (shoulder), Kyle Arrington (hamstring) and Danny Aiken (finger) are among the 12 players limited.
Quarterback Tom Brady (ankle) remained a full participant.
Here is Friday’s complete practice report:
LS Danny Aiken (finger) QUESTIONABLE
CB Kyle Arrington (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE
RB LeGarrette Blount (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
OL Dan Connolly (knee) QUESTIONABLE
WR Julian Edelman (thigh/concussion) QUESTIONABLE
OL Cameron Fleming (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
DE Chandler Jones (hip) QUESTIONABLE
WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
DE Rob Ninkovich (heel) QUESTIONABLE
RB Shane Vereen (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
LB Chris White (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
QB Tom Brady (ankle) PROBABLE
|12.19.14 at 1:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s not just Vince Wilfork‘s job to plug the middle anymore.
For years, the Patriots run defense hinged on the ability of the veteran nose tackle to stay on the field, sometimes for the whole game.
With the emergence of Sealver Siliga last year and the addition of Alan Branch this season, the Patriots have some big bodies backing up the big man along the Patriots defensive line.
And with the Jets on deck Sunday at MetLife Stadium, the Patriots have picked a good time to get healthy in the middle of the line where New York loves to run Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson behind Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold.
“I’d say the combination of getting Alan and Siliga back,” Belichick said. “It was two weeks ago, right? Well, Branch was longer than that, Siliga and even Chandler [Jones] last week. Those players have definitely given our line more depth and more versatility really.
“Branch is a big guy, Siliga is a big guy, Chandler is more of an edge guy, but when you put them all together, it looks a little different than it did a few weeks ago. The guys that are coming back like Siliga and Branch [has] now been here going on two months, but they have improved. Just like Chandler, his timing and some of the things that he does this week will probably be fundamentally a little better than they were last week.”
Branch, released by the Bills after an August DUI, was considered a project when the team signed him to a one-year deal Oct. 29 after being claimed him off the waiver wire. But now, he is playing on short yardage and early down situations, seeing 16 snaps on Sunday.
“Alan has done a good job. He’s had some versatility,” Belichick said Friday. “He’s got length, but he’s also got size. He’s very athletic, [he] runs five flat or whatever. He has good quickness and can move. So, he has the versatility to play some different spots and do some different things along the defensive front.”
But just because he’s playing short yardage and on first and second down doesn’t mean Belichick would hesitate to leave him on the field. Read the rest of this entry »
|12.19.14 at 1:15 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Chandler Jones had no hesitation in returning to game action last Sunday, playing 55 of 78 snaps in a 41-13 win over the Dolphins.
But more to the point and more importantly, Bill Belichick saw no hesitation in his game. His seven combined tackles was third highest on the team and his 1.5 sacks led a revitalized Patriots pass rush that got after Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
A coach can never be certain a player is ready to return, especially after Jones missed six games with a hip injury. But Belichick said Friday he had a pretty good idea.
“I think you usually get a pretty good indication of it in practice, but there’s no substitute for game evaluation. I think that’s where you really can highlight it. A guy can look good in practice, you could feel like he’s ready to go and then you watch him perform in the game and maybe it’s not quite what you thought it would be, or maybe it is.
“I think that’s when you really know. Some of that is just confidence too. You go out there and a guy hasn’t played for a while and he kind of goes out there and tests it a little bit and then as he feels more confident then he becomes more aggressive.”
Jones was subbed in early on in the first half of last Sunday’s game but after watching the way he was playing, Belichick and the coaching staff gave the green light for him to play almost the rest of the way.
“I’d say in Chandler’s case, I think he didn’t have much of a tentative aspect to his game,” Belichick said. “I thought that he really went out and right off the bat, as soon as he got on the field, his playing style was similar to what it was before. I’m not saying that’s the case for him, but until you actually see it, the player himself might be a little ‘need to see it,’ and the coach might need to see it, too.”
|12.19.14 at 12:49 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For a second straight day, the Patriots had perfect attendance on a cold, gray day on the lower practice field outside Gillette Stadium.
The 11-3 Patriots are preparing for Sunday’s game against the 3-11 Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Edeman played in the final minutes of Sunday’s win and spoke postgame, leading to speculation that the injury occurred during Wednesday’s practice. Having him present at the start of practice on Thursday and again on Friday is a good sign for his availability Sunday.
The team worked out in sweats and shells.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|12.19.14 at 12:46 pm ET|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Friday to talk about the Patriots, the Jets and other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
It’s expected that Rex Ryan is in his final days coaching the Jets, who are in last place in the AFC East at 3-11 as they prepare to host the Patriots on Sunday. Schefter said he does not believe Ryan will latch on with another team for the 2015 season.
“I think the chances of Rex Ryan staying in the NFL are slightly better than Jim Harbaugh going to Michigan,” Schefter said after predicting Harbaugh will not leave the pro game to coach his alma mater. “I think Rex Ryan is going to wind up on TV next year. That’s what I’m expecting. I think he’ll be in a studio somewhere. I think he’ll be dishing out opinions. He’ll be about being Rex. To me, just like I’m expecting Jim Harbaugh to be in the NFL, I’m expecting Rex Ryan to be in TV.”
Schefter predicted both Ryan and general manager John Idzik will be fired at season’s end, but he isn’t sure what will happen with inconsistent young quarterback Geno Smith.
“I think that they’re both going to be gone. That’s my read into the situation. I think they’re going to clean house,” Schefter said. “And depending on who they bring in as a head coach and a GM, then they can decide what they’re going to do with the quarterback. But I think that’s the direction that organization is moving right now. When you speak to people around the league, that’s what they believe will happen in New York.”
If the Patriots win Sunday and the Broncos lose to the Bengals on Monday night, that would make New England’s final regular-season game against the Bills unimportant. While it might be good for the Pats to protect some players by having them sit out the final, Schefter isn’t sure that would be the best situation.
“I think Denver wins on Monday night. Would I be surprised if they went into Cincinnati and lost? No. And you know what, I’ve got news for you: I almost think the Patriots are better off that way, with Denver winning,” Schefter said, adding: “To me, the best thing that could happen for the Patriots is that Denver wins out and New England wins out. If Denver loses and New England wins this week and you wrap up the [No. 1 seed], and then essentially you’re not playing for anything next week, and then you get a bye week, that’s three weeks [without a meaningful game].”
Added Schefter: “It just doesn’t come and go. You just can’t turn it on. You’ve got to go play. And the teams usually that fare the best in the postseason are the teams that are just rolling along at the end of the regular season and they just keep rolling into the postseason. And even the teams that start out that first weekend with a wild card win, they get some momentum going and start moving.
“So if you’re the Patriots and you wrap up home-field advantage this weekend and now you’re got a meaningless game next weekend against the Buffalo Bills, that means essentially you’re not playing a meaningful game for the three weeks. I don’t like that. That’s me. Now, Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots, they may want to sit him out, rest him and not give him any opportunities to be hurt. But every game they play is an opportunity for anyone to be hurt. That’s the way it goes. That’s the sport they play.”
Looking to the postseason, Schefter said the Patriots should feel confident against any opponent if the game is in Foxboro.
“The fact of the matter is if you’ve got them in New England, the Patriots should win every playoff game they play in New England,” Schefter said.
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
|12.19.14 at 11:44 am ET|
WEEI.com Patriots writer Chris Price previews the Week 16 matchup between the Patriots and Jets. Find out the keys to the game as well as Chris’ prediction.
|12.19.14 at 11:04 am ET|
Continuing a theme of wanting to play hard for their coach and showing they can compete (at least for a day) with the big, bad Patriots in the AFC East, Jeremy Kerley has thrown down the gauntlet.
“This game is personal,” Kerley told New York’s Newsday on Thursday. “It’s as big as people want it to be, or it’s as small as people want it to be. But for us, it’s personal.”
The reason, according to Kerley, is that there is a sense in the Jets locker room and in the building in Florham Park, New Jersey that no one up in Foxboro respects the Jets.
“You can’t give respect to someone who doesn’t respect you,” Kerley told Kimberly Martin of Newsday. “If you don’t give me any respect, I don’t care what you’ve got. I’m coming for you.”
All of this despite Bill Belichick insisting on Wednesday and again on Friday that this will be a very difficult challenge for the 11-3 Patriots, who desperately need the win to stay out in front of the Broncos for top seed in the AFC.
The 3-11 Jets are battling for position atop the NFL draft order in the spring.
Whether it’s this season’s records or the fact the Patriots have utterly dominated the series in the Bill Belichick era in Foxboro (21-8), the Jets are playing the disrespect card to the hilt.
“They don’t honestly respect us as a franchise,” Willie Colon said. “It just doesn’t seem like we get any respect. And maybe it needs to be earned. Respect is earned, it’s not given.”
Except for a shocking playoff loss in Jan. 2011, the Patriots have made life miserable for Rex Ryan, winning eight of the 12 meetings between the two since Ryan’s tenure with the Jets began in 2009. There has been plenty of speculation that the 13th meeting will be the final episode in the drama, as Ryan could be given his walking papers after the season.
“Is it special to beat the Patriots? They’re the ones that you try to beat,” Ryan said. “Even though the year hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to, sure you want to beat them, without question.”
As for Colon, he acknowledged that the Patriots are “the top dog every year,” but added, “I don’t like ‘em and it is what it is. Listen, I don’t take anything from New England. They win with whatever they have. So you’ve got to be able to respect them.”