Morning Huddle 11/13 - Panthers Defense a Big Test, Dec 1st Game Moved, Today's Links

Ian Logue
November 13, 2013 at 11:34am ET

No Brady or Gronk, but plenty of storylines at Patriots OTAs
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski not at the start of the team's OTA's today
NFL notes: Don't be surprised if Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers rise up for Patriots
New Patriots DL Danny Shelton preps to hit the hill
Patriots center David Andrews excited with his new Georgia Bulldog teammates

Looking at Monday night's upcoming match-up against Carolina, considering the issues the Patriots have dealt with recently with their offensive line, it's hard not to wonder how much success the Panthers may have getting to Tom Brady.

Logan Mankins and the Patriots' offensive line is going to need to do a better job protecting Tom Brady Monday night.
(USA TODAY Images)

Carolina is tied for eighth in the NFL with 29 sacks, and Charles Johnson is a player for the Panthers who is one of the higher rated players by in terms of his effectiveness in getting to the quarterback among 4-3 defensive ends.  He has 8.5 sacks on the year, along with 6 quarterback hits and 32 hurries rushing from the left side.  Clearly he's going to be a tough match-up for Logan Mankins and Nate Solder, who both have struggled at times this season.

Looking at's rankings, Mankins has allowed 21 pressures this season, while Solder has allowed 18, and from a sack standpoint, Mankins has given up 7 sacks, and Solder has allowed 5.  They've also allowed quarterback hurries on Brady 13 and 12 times respectively this season.

It's been a tough start in general for New England's offensive line, which already through nine games have allowed 26 sacks.  That's the seventh highest total in the league, and one that is going to have to obviously be better in the coming weeks.  They're already dealing with a pretty big adjustment having recently lost starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer for the season with a broken leg two weeks ago, which has forced Marcus Cannon into that spot for the foreseeable future. Cannon played fairly well against Pittsburgh but still allowed three quarterback hurries and one QB hit, one of the highest collective totals among New England's offensive lineman during that contest.

Green Bay has already seen their season get derailed after Aaron Rodgers got knocked out with a fractured collarbone, which is a harsh reminder of how quickly things can change in this league.  Despite the progress Ryan Mallett has made in recent years, Brady has been one of the big reasons why this team has gotten to where they are right now, and an injury to him would likely be a massive blow to a team that has already lost enough starters on both sides of the football.

At 7-2 they've already overcome quite a few obstacles to put themselves in the position to make a playoff run, and with seven games remaining, it remains to be seen how much improvement they can make as they continue to evolve from where they were at the start of the season.  Carolina should be just the barometer to let them know just how big of a step forward their recent win against Pittsburgh really was, and Brady knows it should be a tough match-up for them.

"They’ve won five straight," said Brady during his press conference on Tuesday. "They’re a great team – defense, everything. They have every stat, every category: third down, red area, sacks, they turn it over. They have it all. They’re one of the best defenses in the league. We have to play really well. I think our execution has to be at its best. It’ll be fun."

An Interesting Comparison of Why Reed Would Be Redundant Here:

As I was digging through this morning I came upon an interesting entry showing similarities between both he and Patriots safety Devin McCourty.  Hayden Bird has an entry on the BostInno showing GIFs from two similar plays against the Steelers of both Reed and McCourty, and how the two reacted in each situation.  It's an interesting read, and you can view it here.

Breaking Down Edelman on the Punt Return Unit:

Our friends over at have a good article from Oliver Thomas looking at how much of an art form punt returns are, and how well Julian Edelman has handled them.  In this entry Thomas takes a look at the big return that Edelman made against the Steelers, and how each of the guys around him managed to help make it happen.  This one is pretty in-depth with lots of still frames outlining how it all unfolded and if you haven't seen it, you should definitely check it out.

Patriots, Texans Game Flexed Out to 1:00pm

Considering how the AFC West is beginning to shape up, the NFL announced on Tuesday that the Patriots match-up against the Texans on December 1st is being moved to 1:00pm, shifting the Broncos and Chiefs into the late afternoon 4:25pm EST slot.

As it stands right now Denver is 8-1 while the Chiefs remain undefeated at 9-0, and the league wants to highlight what they obviously feel is a better match-up than New England facing a 2-7 Texans team that is currently in a tailspin.  Needless to say, adjust your DVRs accordingly.

Patriots Can Move Above .500 All Time on Monday Night Football:

An interesting fact coming into Monday night's game is the Patriots are 22-22 all-time on Monday Night Football, including 15-5 under head coach Bill Belichick and 7-1 at home. Tom Brady is 13-4 all-time on Monday night football, with his last performance being a four-touchdown showing during New England's blowout win over the Texans last season.



Unlikely Patriots will get a chance to bring in Ed Reed - Shalise Manza Young - Manza Young files her notebook this morning, which leads off with the fact that after being released following the trade deadline, Ed Reed likely won't end up getting the chance to land with the Patriots.

Tom Brady says there are no shortcuts against Carolina Panthers - Zuri Berry - Berry has comments from Brady on his upcoming match-up against Carolina, and he feels their execution will have to be at its best in order for them to win.


Patriots must confront Panthers - Jeff Howe - Howe writes that with a physical Panthers team upcoming on Sunday, it's time for the Patriots to punch back.

Buckley: Happy days for Tom Brady's Patriots - Steve Buckley - Buckely has a column on the fact that that Tom Brady has come to grips with who the Patriots are, and where they might be going, and what needs to be done to make it all possible.

Ed Reed up for grabs on waivers - Jeff Howe - files his notebook this morning and wonders if the Patriots will have any interest in bringing him here to New England.


Pondering Ed Reed and Patriots fit - Mike Reiss - Reiss looks at the potential fit of Ed Reed here in New England.

On Pats-Panthers and beyond - Mike Reiss - Reiss has his mailbag for this week, which as usual covers a variety of interesting topics.

Catching up with former Patriots, Week 10 - Mike Reiss - Reiss has his weekly look at what's going on with some former Patriots players, including Jake Ballard's season debut with Arizona last Sunday.


Close Calls: Do Close Regular-Season Games Better Prepare a Team For Playoffs? - Christopher Price - Price has an article on the fact the Patriots certainly haven't been boring thus far and with six of their nine games having been decided by seven points or less, he wonders if being in tough games will help them heading into the postseason.


Game Preview: Patriots travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers - The team has a preview of this week's match-up, including a variety of interesting facts about the two teams.

Oliver Ames High School's Jim Artz named Patriots High School Coach of the Week - This week's High School Coach of the Week has been selected, and it's Jim Artz of Ames High School in North Attleboro who earned the honor.

Speculating on Reed coming to Patriots - Glen Farley - Farley writes that according to the NFL Network, Indianapolis or New England could be potential landing spots for the safety if he clears waivers.


Mike Giardi On The Adam Jones Show: Ed Reed Can't Run Anymore - Mike Giardi appeared on the Adam Jones Show and doesn't feel Reed has enough left to fit in with New England.


Ed Reed could be a perfect fit for the Patriots at safety - Tom Curran - Curran has a quick entry with some thoughts on Reed's potetnial of coming to New England.