Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division:
First off, all of our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Paris who were subjected to several terrorist attacks on Friday evening at a time when most people were just trying to enjoy a night out in the City of Light.
Some Milestones to Monitor Today: There are a couple of big milestones that are well within reach for the Patriots as they play the Giants at the Meadowlands today. If the Patriots score in the first quarter of the game today, they will have scored in 32 straight quarters dating back to the first quarter against Pittsburgh in the season opener. That will become a new NFL record.
Stephen Gostokowski needs just one more field goal tie Adam Vinatieri for the franchise record of 262 career field goals. With two FGs on Sunday, he’d own a new Patriots record.
A win on Sunday against the Giants will ensure that the Patriots would have their 15th straight winning season under Bill Belichick. Only Tom Landry with 16 has more consecutive winning seasons and no one since the 1970 merger has more than 10.
Too Soon to Re-sign Jones, Hightower and Collins?: The Patriots have a dynamic young core of players on the defense with Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins. With the first two set to become free agents after the 2016 season, the time would be perfect to re-sign them and keep out possibility of losing them in free agency.
The prevailing consensus is that the Patriots can sign two but unlikely to keep all three. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald wrote a compelling piece on Saturday where he spelled out a scenario where the Patriots indeed keep the three of them around for the foreseeable future.
Collins isn’t eligible for an extension or a new contract until the third year of his rookie deal is completed. So the team can’t do anything with him until after the league season is complete.
Chris Barker Activated From PS: On Saturday the Patriots activated OL Chris Barker from the Practice Squad. The team signed S Dewey McDonald who was cut from the active roster on Friday to replace Barker on the PS.
Barker has been with the team since 2013 and has the versatility to play either guard or tackle. He’s likely to be the backup tackle but can fill in just about anywhere and that could be the case as the team’s OL has been beset by injuries. Marcus Cannon (toe) is out today as is tackle Sebastian Vollmer (concussion/head) and G Tre’ Jackson. Nate Solder and Ryan Wendell have already been placed on IR. The probable starters at tackle today will be former PS player Cameron Fleming and Bryan Stork as well as TE/T Michael Williams with Barker being able to step in anywhere he’s needed.
East Bound and Down…Notes Around the AFC East:
Jets Fitzpatrick, Stacy Have surgery: The Jets’ starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had surgery on his injured thumb on Friday but is still thought to be able to play next Sunday when the team travels to Houston.
Fitzpatrick tore the ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb on his non-throwing hand at Oakland on November 1st and has played through it in two games while wearing a brace. He could have waited until after the season but opted for surgery now after the team’s Thursday night game against Buffalo. It is expected to take several weeks to heal but Fitzpatrick can play thru the injury and wear a brace over his non-throwing hand.
In other news Jets running back Zac Stacy had season ending surgery on his broken left ankle on Friday and is lost for the season. He injured it when running back a kickoff at the end of the first half against the Bills.
Bills Safeties Get High Marks From Ryan: Bills coach Rex Ryan is never one to shy away from making big guarantees or high praise for his players. But this week he’s thrilled with the way his safeties are playing and shared those sentiments with the media.
He especially singled out Baccari Rambo who had a big night, he forced a fumble on a kickoff that was returned for a touchdown, then later forced a fumble from Jets RB Chris Ivory that he recovered and finally Rambo’s interception on the Jets final possession sealed the game for Buffalo.
“Rambo’s performance yesterday was…..that’s about as good as you can get,” Ryan told the Buffalo media. “Not saying Eddie Reed-ish, but I mean the one where that big back came in there, he ripped the ball from Chris Ivory. That was phenomenal. Makes the interception. Gets the great hit on special teams. I mean he’s dong tremendous job.”
The Bills will also get their best safety, Aaron Williams back from short term IR in December so the problem of trying to fit all of the safeties in a crowded backfield is a good one to have if you’re Ryan and the Bills coaches.
Dolphins Sign Hull, Cut Francis: The Miami Dolphins announced some personnel changes on Saturday. First, the team signed linebacker Mike Hull from the practice squad and cut defensive tackle A.J. Francis in a corresponding move. He was waived after training camp but was quickly signed to the Dolphins practice squad.
Hull played his college ball at Penn State, where his 294 career tackles are sixth in team history. In his final season, Hull led the Big Ten with 140 tackles and had 10.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, one interception, a forced fumble, one fumble recovery and three passes defensed.
Francis spent time on the Patriots practice squad before being signed to the Dolphins active roster in 2014. He was a healthy scratch for the last five games of last year after the trade. The Dolphins are playing the Eagles on Sunday and need the victory to try to get some momentum heading into the second half of the season.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
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