One of the bigger stories this morning is the fact that most fans in New England are waiting to see how things unfold for Patriots safety Patrick Chung, who suffered a knee injury during Sunday’s win over the Chargers out in San Diego. Chung is reportedly set to undergo tests to find out the severity of the injury, and his loss is disappointing – especially considering that he appeard to be on the verge of a breakout year so far this season.
The other big story this morning is the fact that Vikings head coach Brad Childress called the Patriots the “All time greatest signal stealers” in his press conference yesterday when talking about their previous meeting back in 2006.
“It was like a surgical procedure,” Childress said of the ’06 contest. “That’s back when we used to signal [plays] and things like that. I remember having a conversation with [former Vikings defensive coordinator] Mike Tomlin about that. These were some of the all-time great signal stealers. In fact, that’s what was going on. They were holding, holding, holding. We were signaling from the sideline. They were good at it. It’s like stealing signals from a catcher.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady heard about the comments, and fired back this morning during his weekly interview with WEEI.
“We’ve been called a lot worse than that,” said Brady. “That game was so long ago. … I remember us executing pretty well that night. I’ve heard different guys in the past say that. That’s come and gone. That’s been not a part of football here for a long time, and we’ve still won a lot of games. In ’07, they changed the rule and so forth. I don’t buy a whole lot into that. The team that’s going to win this weekend is the team that plays better. I can promise you that.”
Meanwhile despite reports that Brett Favre has a fractured ankle, Glenn Farley of the Patriot Ledger reports that the Patriots defense is getting ready to face him anyway. They’re also preparing for backup Tavaris Jackson – who is a five year veteran with 19-career starts.
“Of course, he’s started 8,000 games in a row,” said Belichick of Favre. “It’s the same thing we were all talking about with (San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio) Gates last week. He wasn’t going to play and all that.
“I don’t think you can ever count players like that out. I don’t know when the last time Gates has missed a game. Favre, it’s like playing Lou Gehrig.”
Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe takes a look at New England’s first half struggles, and points out that one of the changes they made in the second half was the fact they went to the no huddle. According to Wes Welker that changed the tempo of the game, and helped alleviate some of the pressure Brady faced from the pass rush.
“Using the no-huddle really changed the tempo,’’ wide receiver Wes Welker said. “It tired out the [defensive] linemen, and the rush wasn’t such a factor. The change in tempo helped.’’
Meanwhile safety Brandon Meriweather got some praise from the league office yesterday for his play on Sunday. On one of the hits by the veteran safety, he completely leveled Patrick Crayton and dropped his shoulder right into the midsection of the vetran receiver. Ray Anderson, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, offered up some praise for Meriweather yesterday.
“Last week, we were appropriately calling him out and chastising him,’’ Anderson said of Meriweather. “[Sunday], Meriweather made two very tenacious, effective and legal hits in similar situations. But you could see it, he lowered the target area, blasted the opponent with his shoulder. He adapted, showing it can be done. It is appropriate to praise him for the tough play.’’
When he heard the news, Belichick was fairly sarcastic in his response about the fact the league is now evaluating the play of individual players.
“Nah, it’s got to be a first for me,” said Belichick when asked if he’d ever heard a league official praising one of his players. “The officials now are evaluating the players and their performance, I mean, that’s great. I can’t say how much that means to me…. really.’’
Ron Borges of the Herald has a report card this morning of Sunday’s game, offering up some interesting opinions in this one.
Kirk Minihane also has his report card, with a different breakdown of this one.
Ian Rapoport of the Herald takes a look at the play of Sergio Brown, who filled in nicely when Chung went down with an injury Sunday.
Rapoport also writes that the Patriots have plenty of “situational intelligence”, and that was one of the key factors in beating the Chargers on Sunday.
And finally on a different topic, Greg Easterbrook of ESPN discusses the fact the league needs to go to outer padded helmets for next season, and writes that several players have tried them and it’s lengthened their careers. Here’s a link to a photo of one of the prototypes that was discussed a while ago, but never came into widespread use in the league.
That’s it for this morning. We’ll have more later on, so be sure and check back for updates.