Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division:
Brown To IR, CB Depth Thin: The Patriots placed CB Tarell Brown on IR today ending his season. He was coming off an injury shortened season where he sustained a foot injury and the same type of ailment is ending his 2015 season after just three games.
He played in the first two games, but missed the Jacksonville game before returning against Dallas. This week we heard that his foot ailment was serious and with the news of the Patriots signing former Raven Rashaan Melvin, the outlook wasn’t promising.
With Brown now on IR, all three of the veteran CBs the team brought in this offseason, Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain and Brown are no longer with the team.
This leaves the depth of the cornerback position, perilously thin. There are currently only four CBs on the active roster, Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Justin Coleman and Melvin. They also have Brandon Dixon on the practice squad.
That is two major hits that the team has suffered this week after losing LT Nate Solder to a torn biceps earlier this week. Solder will require surgery and was also placed on IR. Dont’a Hightower was also injured in the Cowboys game and will miss the game against Indy with a rib injury.
This Week It Is Personal: There are rivalries and there are rivalries and there is the Patriots and Colts. The two teams were at one time in the same division but although that is no longer the case, the two teams seem to meet every season, (twice in 2014) and are poised to renew unpleasantries again tonight on national television.
The two teams will meet for the 80th time and genuinely dislike one another. Bill Poilian now with ESPN was the GM of the Colts during the Manning years and took great exception to the beating the Patriots defense gave to his wide receivers during the playoffs in 2003 and 2004 and used his position with the NFL Rules Committee to have a greater emphasis on the calling of contact between defenders and receivers.
When he signed then Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri away in 2006, he reportedly cackled with glee about sticking it to Belichick and the Patriots. Even Tony Dungy, who normally speaks in reserved and measured tones came out strongly against New England during the Spygate controversy.
Now with the Deflategate conversation lasting into the 10th month, the Patriots are playing the team that first made all the accusations in the first place. It isn’t about revenge. The Patriots love to play with a chip on their shoulder; it is a facet of their psyche as a team that they’ve carried since 2001. It is about perceived insults. And now the Colts are the team that caused the Patriots Super Bowl championship to be called into question. Of course it doesn’t hurt that a couple of Indy writers continue to fan the flames with ever more accusatory and outlandish columns… But hey it gets them on the radio here in Boston, so it must be working.
Tom Brady always seems to perform at his best when he’s questioned and feels he’s being pushed. He’ll want to send a message on national television tonight. For Indy, they’ve been curb-stomped by those hated Patriots six times in a row, the last four in increasingly ugly fashion. They want to show that they’re ready to be counted upon as one of the elite teams in the AFC. The atmosphere will be playoff like.
Former Patriot Sam Adams Passes Away at 67: This week the Patriots learned the sad news that former Patriot guard Sam Adams died in Houston at the age of 67. Adams had the perfect name to play for the Patriots, played nine seasons for the Patriots and started 90 of his 119 career games with New England.
In 1978, Adams was part of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL as the Patriots rushed for a league record 3165 yards a record that still stands today. He and fellow guard John Hannah were one of the best guard tandems in the game.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft issued this statement saying, “For the majority of his Patriots career, he played right guard, opposite John Hannah at left guard. The two helped form the most formidable offensive line in franchise history and, quite possibly, one of the best in league history,” said Kraft.
“In 1978, Sam started every game and helped pave the way for the Patriots to rush for 3,165 yards, an NFL record that still stands 37 years later. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and all the friends who are mourning his loss.”
The funeral service for Adams was held on Saturday afternoon in Jasper, Texas.
LaFell ‘s Return Timetable Nearing: Patriots WR Brandon LaFell who started the season on PUP has been seen working out both in the Patriots facility and in Texas prior to the Patriots – Cowboys game.
LaFell is eligible to play in his first game against the Jets in Week 7 although that is probably a bit of a stretch at this point since he hasn’t officially begun practicing yet. He can begin practicing right after the Colts game tonight.
Any player who begins the season on PUP must sit out the first six weeks. Once the player is eligible to begin practicing, teams then have a three-week window to either add the player to the active roster, put the player on injured reserve or release the player.
LaFell was one of the Patriots most valuable assets on the offense last season garnering more than 1000 yards receiving in the regular season and playoffs with more than 80 receptions and nine touchdowns. He’s a big physical receiver who can move the chains and catch passes in contested spaces.
As much as the offense has been clicking with Tom Brady thru the first quarter of the season, adding LaFell puts another dimension to the equation and gives #12 a plethora of targets including Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Dion Lewis in the passing game.
If he’s physically ready to go…even for a few snaps against the Jets, it would be a big boost to the Patriots against one of the better defenses they’ll face this season.
East Bound and Down…Notes Around the AFC East:
Look For the Jets To Blitz Cousins Today: The Jets are facing a Washington Redskins team that is built similar to them; a stingy, tough physical defense and an offense that wants to run the ball, control the clock and have their QB not make the mistakes that will beat the team.
The Jets love to bring pressure on the QB and Washington QB Kirk Cousins, doesn’t handle the blitz well. The best way to beat the blitz is to make them pay but without top WR DeSean Jackson for the fifth consecutive week, the Skins offense won’t scare the Jets.
Look for the Jets to dominate on the defensive side of the ball. The only way they could lose this one is if Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’s on pace for 24 interceptions this season, gets the old gunslinger mentality and starts flinging the ball wildly all over the field. Look for the Jets to pull into Foxboro at 4-1 next week.
Tennessee is Just What the Dr. Ordered For Miami: The Miami Dolphins are reeling at 1-3 and have fired their coach Joe Philbin and replaced him with Dan Campbell. They also fired DC Kevin Coyle and replaced him with Lou Anarumo. There are no more excuses and the players are going to have to get it done. Especially for a team that was supposed to compete for a playoff spot.
After spending a lot of money during free agency and rewarding QB Ryan Tannehill with a new contract extension, the Dolphins have been getting production from either side of the ball. Miami’s defense is ranked 29th in the league allowing 399.5 yards per game. Worse they’ve only gotten one sack and that is with Ndamukong Suh in the lineup.
The offense is ranked 28th in the league averaging only 314.8 yards per game. Tannehill’s completing only 56.7 percent of his passes and his QB rating of 77.1 is among the worst in the league.
But Miami is facing a Tennessee team that has dropped three in a row and is also 1-3. The Titans have blown leads in the last two games and coach Ken Whisenhunt is rumored to be on the hot seat. Look for the Fins to get back in the win column with a close victory this week.
E.J. Manuel Expect to Start For Bills against the Bengals: The Buffalo Bills are off to a 3-2 start this season but will probably be without starting QB Tyrod Taylor this week when facing the 5-0 Cincinnati Bengals. Taylor sprained an MCL against the Titans last week and is expected to miss this week’s game, although he’s listed as questionable.
Manuel hasn’t played this season after losing the starting job to Taylor this offseason. He was the third QB on the depth chart for awhile before the team traded Matt Cassel to the Dallas Cowboys. Manuel played in just five games last season and was largely ineffective completing only 58 percent of his throws for 838 yards with five touchdown passes and three interceptions.
The pressure will be on the Buffalo defense to keep them in this game against a Cincinnati offense that has been clicking thru the first five games. With a win today the Bengals will tie the team record for the best start in team history.
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