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Archive for October, 2012

Patriots Rule Out Seven Against Rams In London

The New England Patriots ruled out seven players on Friday afternoon for Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams in London.

TE Aaron Hernandez
S Patrick Chung
RB Brandon Bolden
CB Ras-I Dowling
S Steve Gregory
LB Tracy White
DE Trevor Scott

Defensive back Ras-I Dowling was placed on Injured Reserve earlier Friday morning, ending his season. The second-round pick in 2011 started the first two games of his rookie season before being placed on IR with a hip injury and only was active for six games in 2012.

Defensive back Steve Gregory continues to nurse a hip injury that has bothered him for the past couple of weeks and tight end Aaron Hernandez will sit out with an ankle injury.

Here are the 11 Patriots players questionable for Sunday’s contest.

DT Ron Brace
WR Julian Edelman
TE Rob Gronkowski
LB Dont’a Hightower
WR Brandon Lloyd
G Logan Mankins
LB Jerod Mayo
OL Nick McDonald
CB Sterling Moore
OT Sebastian Vollmer
WR Wes Welker

With seven players already ruled out, I would assume these players will all be active on game day; even though they might not actually play in the game.

With 48 hours until kickoff, we should know more shorty. Stay tuned.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Pats Fans, Don’t Jump Off The Ledge

Six weeks into the 2012 NFL season and whoa, what a roller coaster it has been so far. Talk about your ups and downs for a football the team. The Patriots, sitting in a four-team tie in the AFC East, are at a surprising 3-3 record heading into week seven. Who would have predicted that? Not many.

Now, after three losses by a combined 4 points – yes, four – Patriots Nation is frustrated to say the least. Hard to blame anyone who watches this team on a regular basis to not be frustrated, confused and even a little angry –¬†Rightfully so in my opinion.


Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will look to get his team back on track after a rocky start to the 2012 season. (FILE:USPresswire)

When you look at this roster from top to bottom, including one of the best coaches in the NFL Bill Belichick, the results on the field should be better than what has been produced. For a team that many predicted to represent the AFC in the SuperBowl, losing half of their contests and not finishing close games is just not good enough.

Now, I am not trying to be a Patriots apologist by any means. I have no problem criticizing this team when need be and they must improve to accomplish their ultimate goal, winning a championship.

But let’s take a look around the league. There are 23 teams with a record of 3-3 or worse. In the AFC, only two teams have a better record than the Patriots. Like I mentioned previously, the AFC East is in a four-way tie.

So as much as the Patriots have been disappoint to this point, the rest of the league isn’t doing too much better. Well, unless you’re a member of the Atlanta Falcons, who are now the only undefeated team at 6-0 and I’m not even sure they are as good as their record indicates.

Point of the matter is, the NFL and specifically the AFC is up for grabs and New England has a great opportunity to take advantage. You never want injuries to happen, but with Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis out for the season now in Baltimore as well as Brian Cushing done for the year in Houston, injuries have opened up the conference’s landscape.

Looking back to last season, the Patriots lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in week eight and in week nine to the New York Giants back-to-back coming out of the team’s bye week. How did they respond? They rattled off an eight-game winning streak to close out the season. While I am not necessarily saying the same will happen this year, I know this team is capable of a similar run.

New England has a favorable schedule moving forward and are very talented. They also have the eighth youngest squad in the NFL this season, so they will likely improve as the season progresses.

Look for them to get back on track versus the division rival New York Jets on Sunday and be sure to check out my three keys to the game.

Don’t worry, Patriots Nation, it has been a frustrating year so far, but good things are still to come. Let’s see what this Patriots team is made of moving forward.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Keys To The Game: Patriots Host The New York Jets

The New England Patriots face the division rival New York Jets on Sunday and most fans consider week seven’s contest a “must win”. After starting the season a mediocre 3-3, the Pats find themselves in a four-way tie with their AFC East divisional opponents. Here are my three keys to the game and prediction for Sunday’s match-up. -

Three Keys:

- Limit The Big Plays: Plain and simple, big plays are killing the team right now; specifically in the secondary. The Pats have let up 33 plays of 20 yards or more this season through six weeks of action. Last week, the Seattle Seahawks had six and they’re currently ranked 31st in passing offense. Something has got to change and it needs to start this week.

- Protect Brady: We all know Jets head coach Rex Ryan is willing to gamble, and he knows he cannot let Tom Brady sit clean in pocket for 60 minutes. As much as I love Brady, he really seems to struggle when he is hit a lot and so it is crucial New England’s offensive line s prepared for whatever defense the Jets through at them on Sunday.

- Take Advantage of Every Opportunity: The Pats have left a lot of points on the field this season, especially in their three losses. The team must do a better job in the redzone, somewhere they mightily struggled against the Seahawks. Those who have followed the Pats this year, have seen how missed opportunities have come back to haunt them at the end of the game so maximizing their possessions could be the biggest factor overall.

If the Patriots can accomplish these keys, I believe they’ll not only win the game, but take control of the division.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Jets 16.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Seahawks and Patriots Inactives

The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks have listed their inactives for week six. -

New England Patriots:

LB Dont’a Hightower
LB Tracy White
TE Michael Hoomanawanui
WR Julian Edelman
OL Matt Tennant
S Steve Gregory
DL Jake Bequette

Seattle Seahawks:

DT Jaye Howard
G John Moffitt
DT Clinton McDonald
CB Jeremy Lane
CB Danny Gorrer
SS Winston Guy
WR Charly Martin

Score Prediction: Patriots – 34, Seahawks – 17.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Scouting Report: Spotlight on Marshawn Lynch

In New England’s week 6 match up against the Seattle Seahawks, their ability to stop running back Marshawn Lynch may be the key to victory; however, that is easier said than done. The Seahawks tailback has been dominant at times in his career and can take over games. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind for Sunday. -

- Lynch has rushed for 508 yards on 113 carries this season, adding 2 touchdowns on the ground. He ranks third in NFL rushing totals through five weeks. He has only fumbled once this season, but struggled with ball security early on in his career.


Brandon Spikes and the rest of the Patriots defense hopes to contain one of the NFL’s best running backs in Marshawn Lynch. (FILE:USPresswire)

- Even though Lynch is a threat rushing, he is also valuable in the passing game. As a three down running back, the 26-year-old can be on the field for any situation. While Seattle does not catch a ton of passes, he is very efficient and maximizes each oppurtunity. Through five games this season, he has caught eight passes for 59 yards.

- When Patriots defensive captain Vince Wilfork was asked about Marshawn Lynch on Thursday, he spoke highly of him.

‚ÄúThe guy can go anywhere. Sometimes, he doesn‚Äôt even need a block,‚ÄĚ Wilfork said. ‚ÄúHe breaks a lot, a lot of tackles — A lot of tackles. He‚Äôs been running hard ever since we were facing him at Buffalo. He‚Äôs just a tough, tough back. He‚Äôs strong. A physical runner. He‚Äôs quick. Shifty. He‚Äôs well put together.‚ÄĚ

- Not only is Seattle’s star tailback averaging an impressive 4.8 yards-per-carry this season, Lynch leads the league in yards after contact with 229 yards. While I would not say he is a breakaway runner by any means, he has exceptional burst and hits the hole with a tremendous amount of force.

- Brandon Spikes and the Patriots linebackers will play a large role containing Lynch Sunday afternoon. If the defensive line can control the line of scrimmage, the linebackers should have the opportunities to make tackles for short or no gains. The team has done a pretty good job so far tackling this season, but you won’t be able to arm tackle Lynch. Defenders will need to stay disciplined and wrap up to ensure the Seahawks tailback won’t explode to the second level.

Analysis:

The Patriots ability to contain Lynch will undoubtedly be one of the keys to the game. While these statistics may make that out to be a tough task, it is not impossible. Bill Belichick has always done a great job of taking away what opposing teams do best and the unit played incredibly well last week.

While the defense has struggled at times this season, they have done a pretty good job against opposing running backs. The Pats have held Chris Johnson to 4 yards, C.J. Spiller to 33 yards, Fred Jackson to 29 yards and Willis McGahee to 51 yards. New England has the eighth-best run defense in the league, holding opponents to only 82.2 yards per game on the ground.

Hopefully, the defense can continue to build off their recent performances and continue to make strides. I believe the Pats do enough to contain Lynch, resulting in another New England victory.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Kevin Faulk to Announce Retirement Tuesday

Long time New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk has decided to call it a career.


After a 13 year career with the Patriots, running back Kevin Faulk has decided to call it a career. (FILE:USPresswire)

The team announced on Monday that Faulk, who spent his entire 13-year career with the Patriots, will announce his retirement on Tuesday. The ceremony will be held at The Hall at Patriots Place at 10:30 on Tuesday morning.

The retirement ceremony will be open to the public, but those attending will need to pay an admission fee to The Hall. Mike Reiss reports the Kraft’s will donate half of tomorrow’s proceedings to a charity of Faulk’s choosing.

Among those who will be speaking, Patriots¬†Owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick. The ceremony should be full of emotion as Faulk’s time in New England helped define the Patriot Way and played a large role in the success of this team over the past decade.

So many plays stand out when I look back over Faulk’s time with the Pats. His characteristics as a football player and person shine through even more. His work ethic, awareness, football IQ, character, leadership, ability, selflessness and so much more are some of the many reasons he did so much for this team and organization.

I know I speak for all of us in Patriots Nation when I say he will be missed and I wish him all of the best moving forward.

Do you have a favorite moment from Faulk’s career? If so, share your thoughts with a comment below!

For Patriots updates in an instant, follow me on Twitter: @PatriotsHaven!

3 Up, 3 Down: Patriots Run Over Denver

A look at both the good and bad individual performances from the Patriots 31-21 win against the Denver Broncos.


Stevan Ridley’s fourth quarter fumble did not take away from his performance Sunday afternoon. (FILE:USPresswire)

Up:

The Running backs  - Ridley and Bolden had another great week combining for 42 carries, 195 yards and a touchdown. Woodhead came through with two huge plays, including converting a huge third and 17. Great balance for an offense that had a team record 35 first downs.


Wes Welker РWelker was tremendous on Sunday. Brady and him were in sync and Denver could not find an answer. His nine first half receptions was a career high. He finished with 13 catches for 104 yards a touchdown. He leads the AFC with 38 receptions and is tied with Harvin for 2nd in the NFL; Tony Gonzalez is first with 39.

Tavon Wilson – Does anyone agree with me that Tavon Wilson has been far and away New England’s best safety this year? I would say it is a close call between him and McCourty, although McCourty’s head scratching penalties make is close. Wilson¬†plays with an edge and fire that I love, similar to Brandon Spikes. A lot better than I expected him to be at this point of his young career.

*Honorable Mentions: Alfonzo Dennard – The rookie defensive back was active for his first career game and he made the most of it. Dennard did a great job tackling and in coverage. I loved him coming out of Nebraska and I believe he has earned a role with this team moving forward.

Rob Ninkovich – For the second straight week, Ninkovich has a strip sack. I was skeptical of his ability to play the left defensive end position to start the season, but he has stepped up his game the past few weeks setting the edge and creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Tom Brady – Brady¬†had a great game, even though the statistics don’t necessarily support that statement. He only had three incompletions in the first half and was on target during the contest. For those keeping track at home, he finished 23 of 31, for 223 passing yards and a touchdown. He also had a rushing score on a QB keeper.

Crazy to think that at this point of the 2012 NFL season Tom Brady has more rushing touchdowns than Titans Running back Chris Johnson.

 

Down:

Ryan Wendell – Wendell had a game to forget on Sunday afternoon. He struggled protecting Brady in the pocket and also had a terrible holding call late in the game.

Devin McCourty - The defensive captain was flagged for pass interference in the end zone, leading to a touchdown and beaten a few times throughout the day.¬†It’s not always the right technique as a defensive back to look back at the ball, but McCourty really has to do a better job.

Pass rush - I am surprised how bad the Pats four-man rush has been this season. The team needs to blitz and get more creative  more moving forward. The defense did not get a lot of pressure on Manning and the secondary was hung out to dry.

For Patriots updates in an instant, follow me on Twitter: @PatriotsHaven!

Practice Report: Hernandez Returns To The Field

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez returned to practice today, according to several media outlets.


Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez returned to practice today for the first time since Sept. 16 against the Arizona Cardinals. (FILE:USPresswire)

Hernandez, whose missed the last two games, attended his first practice since injuring his ankle Sept. 16 against the Arizona Cardinals.

Not only did Hernandez return, however, both tight ends Rob Gronkowski - listed with a hip injury Рand Michael Hoomanawanui - listed with a concussion Рreturned to practice as well.

The three tight ends returning is certainly good news after the Pats only had two practice earlier this week in Daniel Fells and Alex Silvestro.

Cornerback Ras-I Dowling, safety Steve Gregory and wide receiver Julian Edelman were absent.

Although Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports Dowling was with his family Thursday after the death of his grandmother.

Quick Thought:

The Pats seem to be in good shape on the health front and Hernandez’s return to practice is definitely encouraging. Despite returning to practice today, I still believe Hernandez will not play this Sunday, but I think there is a good possibility he plays in Seattle next week.

My guess is supported by¬†NFL Network and NFL.com’s Albert Breer who reported Thursday that Hernandez is a virtual certainty to miss Sunday’s game vs Denver,¬†but might be available for the team in week 6. For that, however, only time will tell.

For Patriots updates in an instant, follow me on Twitter:@PatriotsHaven!