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New England Patriots News 12-13 and AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
8 years ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

New England Patriots News 12-13 and AFC East NotesChris Humphreys - USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division.

Army-Navy Great Example of What’s Right in Sports: With the annual service academy game in the books, it is a good time to look upon that game and it is easy to see the country is indeed lucky to have so many fine young men representing not only their respective services but us as a nation.

Life in the service academies for athletes are vastly different than the traditional football factories, these young men have plenty of commitments that come before their sport. It is a life of sacrifice and dedication and each team did their respective services proud. I would imagine Bill Belichick will say something to his players about those things this week.

Speaking of athletics, why in the world was Navy QB Keenan Reynolds taken off the Heisman ballot? While I have no problem with any of the three finalists, but could there be a better representation of what the Heisman is supposed to represent than Reynolds? And that is coming from an Army guy?

Patriots Get Great News with Gronk/Edelman Back to Practice: With the offense struggling since Edelman and Gronkowski went down with injuries, things seem to be finally turning for the Patriots. Danny Amendola returned to action last week, and although far from 100 percent he gutted thru a solid performance.

But the big news was the return to the Patriots practice this week of both Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. They were both filmed (not so coincidentally), beside each other during warmups with a smiling Belichick behind them. The message to the rest of the league is they’re almost back and ….so is the Pats offense.

Edelman was immediately ruled out for Sunday’s game but Gronk did make the trip to Houston and will probably be a Sunday game time decision if he plays along with Dont’a Hightower. Edelman is making a very quick turnaround from his broken foot. We heard rumors (that we weren’t able to confirm), that he was working out in the bubble last week. With him being back to practice on Friday, those rumors were probably right on.

That has to be music to the ears of Tom Brady who was completing about 68 percent of his passes with Gronk and Edelman in the lineup and only about 58 percent since they’ve been out.

Expect The Ohio State Pipeline to Be Heading to NE: Bill Belichick has always had his buddies in the college ranks among them Nick Saban, Kirk Ferentz, Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano. When Schiano was first at Rutgers and then the Bucs, the Patriots brought many of Schiano’s players on board among them Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon and Jonathan Freeny as well as Aqib Talib, LaGarrette Blount, Jonathan Casillas and Tim Wright. The latest player was cornerback Leonard Johnson was signed to the roster this week.

And with the news of Schiano’s hiring by Meyer at Ohio State as the new Defensive Coordinator, expect that trend to continue. Schiano replaces Chris Ash who left to take over the head coaching job at… guessed it Rutgers. You can’t make this stuff up.

Schiano has always held Belichick’s respect and with many of his Rutgers’ alums playing in the NE secondary, one can rest assured the Buckeyes of the future will be getting some long looks in Foxboro.

East Bound and Down…Notes Around the AFC East:

Bowles Wants Fitz Back in 2016: When he was signed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was supposed to be the holder for a bridge year or at worst camp competition for incumbent Geno Smith. But things haven’t worked out that way.

Fitzpatrick’s play has impressed HC Todd Bowles to the point where the first year coach wants Fitzpatrick back for at least one more season. Does this mean the Jets won’t be looking for the next long-term quarterback this spring? No… but they won’t be in desperation mode when they do. Bowles likes what Fitzy has brought to the table and will at a minimum allow him to compete for the starter’s job.

“You can see it in his play,” Bowles said to the NY media earlier this week. “You can see it in his demeanor, his professionalism. Every day, the way he approaches his job. So, it’s somebody you definitely want around.”

With the Jets in contention for a playoff spot and a firm supporting cast around him, Fitzpatrick has cut down on him mistakes and his feeling that he had to make a big play every down. Maybe after six teams in ten years, Fitzpatrick has found a home.

Bills Enter Key Game with Philly Shorthanded: The Buffalo Bills have a big game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday with playoff implications for both teams. Each won a big last week; the Bills defeated Houston 30-21 and the Eagles beat the Patriots 35-28.

But the Bills have some injuries that are building up and will face Philadelphia missing some of their key players. Running back Karlos Williams, CB Stephon Gillmore and LB Nigel Bradham are all out. Safety Aaron Williams who has been on IR-Designated to Return has not been activated yet although he’s returned to practice.

The Eagles come in healthy and should have all of their players available on Sunday.

Dolphins Going with Throwbacks against the Giants: The Miami Dolphins are wearing their 1973 throwback unis when they face off against the New York Giants this week. The last time the Dolphins wore them was in 2003 and they defeated the Dallas Cowboys 40-21.

This week’s matchup between 5-7 teams reflects how crazy the NFL can be. Miami is mired in last place and whose playoff life is hanging by a thread. The Giants also at 5-7 are in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East.

This is a game that Miami, on paper should have a clear cut advantage with. But with the Giants ownership putting coach Tom Coughlin on notice, he’s always had a way of lighting a fire under his teams. He was also called out in the 2007 and 2011 seasons and both ended with the Giants winning the Super Bowl. So this game will bear close watching.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

 Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2015 NFL Season Bill Belichick Brandon LaFell Buffalo Bills Jabaal Sheard Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Patriots news Patriots Training Camp Photos predictions Rex Ryan Rob Gronkowski Tom Brady

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