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New England Patriots News 9-24, AFC East Notes

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

New England Patriots News 9-24, AFC East NotesSteve Balestrieri -

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news 9-24, and AFC East Notes for this week.

Congratulations again to Raymond Clayborn who was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame this summer which was long overdue in our opinion here. Today, he’ll be honored at halftime during the game against the Texans.

Patriots Need to Protect the Ball Today: Against a team with such a good defense but with a limited offense as Houston, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to hold serve at home and come out on top…as long as they protect the ball.

Houston is banged up offensively and rookie QB DeShaun Watson is making just his second NFL start. The Patriots are going to attempt to limit the big plays that have plagued them on defense thus far this season, and make the Texans go the length of the field to score. One thing that can turn the game and give Houston a short field for the offense is turnovers. The last time the teams met in Foxboro during the Divisional Round of the playoffs, The Texans intercepted Brady twice and had forced a pair of fumbles, recovering one.

I’m sure Bill Belichick has been preaching ball security all week with the film of that one showing prominently.  No doubt Bill O’Brien is preaching the same message as the Texans (Brock Osweiler) threw three picks in that playoff game.

All Eyes on Butler This Week: With Patriots corner Malcolm Butler being sat down last week, the talented corner knows he isn’t playing as well as he’s capable of and watched Bill Belichick shower Jonathan Jones with praise. Now the trade rumors are running amok and as always, social media is chock full of deals that make total sense for New England. The other teams? Not so much. Before the Pats trade Butler, (which I’m still not buying yet), they’d have to be getting something of equal value in return. If he sits this week? then the rumors will increase even more. This will bear watching today.

Gronkowski, Amendola Expected to Play Today: The team is expecting (as of Friday night) that both Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola will be available to play today. That will be very welcome news for one Tom Brady, the quarterback for the Patriots.

Both will play key roles today if they’re able to go, especially in the middle of the field where the Patriots like to make their living on offense. Amendola would play the slot and be that quick pass target cutting across the middle which would help Brady negate the Texans pass rush.

Gronkowski can threaten the seams of the defense but can also slide outside if Brady detects single coverage. As we saw last week, against most single coverages, Gronkowski can be borderline unstoppable. Against this tough Texans defense, having most of your weapons on offense is always key. Although Rex Burkhead is expected to miss this week’s game with a rib injury.

Hernandez Fiancee Sues Patriots, NFL for his CTE: With news that deceased former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s brain showed advanced stages of CTE, his fiancee has sued the Patriots and the NFL.

His ambulance chaser attorney Jose Baez rushed to the microphone and announced “We’re told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age,” Baez said. Exactly how many dead 27-year old NFL players brains have they examined?

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston by Baez on Thursday claims that the team and league deprived Avielle Hernandez (his daughter) of the companionship of her father. It is separate from a $1 billion settlement in which the league agreed to pay families of players who suffered brain damage because of repeated head trauma while playing football.

Um…the NFL didn’t deprive his daughter of seeing her father, his murderous ways did. And while Baez convinced a jury that Hernandez didn’t gun down two men outside a Boston nightclub for having the misfortune of bumping Hernandez and spilling his drink, he WAS serving life for killing one of his best friends Odin Lloyd.

Baez was also famous for convincing a jury that Casey Anthony didn’t kill her own daughter but that is a story for another time. Baez was appealing the Lloyd conviction when Hernandez killed himself in prison which technically vacated his conviction. That set the stage for his former fiancee to sue both the Patriots and the NFL.

The unspoken part of the suit is obviously going to be that Hernandez’s CTE caused him to become the sociopath murderer that pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes. If that is the case, then they have a lot of history changing to do before the trial.

During the Lloyd trial, it came to light that Hernandez’s issues began long before he reached the NFL, it began in high school after the death of his father. That changed him and not for the better and he began associating with criminal elements in Bristol.

During his freshman year at Florida, he was already a suspect in a shooting down there.

He was also involved in other off-field activities that the school tried their best to hush to protect the football program. This isn’t uncommon.

But if his CTE is to blame for turning Hernandez into a sociopath, then his lawyers need to look back long before his NFL service began. Hernandez played in 40 games for the Gators and 38 regular season games with six playoff tilts for the Patriots. The signs were already there….but they don’t have the deep pockets of the NFL and the Patriots. That’s what this lawsuit really comes down to. But hey, if Baez can convince a jury that Anthony was innocent, then perhaps he’ll win this one too. But it smells to the high heavens.

Patriots Sign Welker-like Clone and a QB to the PS: The Patriots signed former Texans WR Riley McCarron to the practice squad after he was released this week and he took part in the team’s practice on Friday.

McCarron, a UDFA from Iowa is 5’9, 185 and was a punt returner and kick returner in college. Texans’ coach Bill O’Brien nicknamed him the “Iowa Flash” during training camp. McCarron ran a very fast 40-yard dash in 4.36 at Iowa’s pro day and had a 6.47 time in the three-cone drill and 40.5-inch vertical leap.

“He’s the spitting image of [Wes] Welker, wearing number 83 and all,” O’Brien said during the summer. “He’s smart and tough, he’s played through injury already with a sore thumb. … He just needs to continue to get better.” He’s expected to get a lot of work in the return game in the coming days and if he works out, he may find himself activated to the 53-man roster. To make room for him, Geneo Grissom was signed to the active roster and DL Vincent Valentine was placed on IR.

The Patriots also signed free-agent QB Taylor Heinicke this week to the practice squad. Heinicke lost the battle to be Sam Bradford’s backup to Case Keenum and was released by Minnesota with an injury settlement. He was a UDFA in 2015 out of Old Dominion.  He shined in Minnesota’s third preseason game but struggled in the fourth, going only 9-20 for 93 yards, getting a concussion in the process to go along with bruised ribs.

Who Do You Like This Week? NFL Schedule Week 3:

Last week was a much better 14-2 (why did I consider taking the Giants) cumulative  Season record of 23-8.
Got the Rams over the 49ers right for TNF and here are the rest of the games on the slate this week:

Ravens at Jaguars – Baltimore
Browns at Colts – Cleveland

Giants at Eagles – Philadelphia

Dolphins at Jets – Miami

Broncos at Bills – Denver

Saints at Panthers – Carolina

Steelers at Bears – Pittsburgh

Falcons at Lions – Atlanta

Buccaneers at Vikings – Tampa Bay

Texans at Patriots – New England (break down here🙂

Seahawks at Titans – Tennessee

Bengals at Packers – Green Bay

Chiefs at Chargers – Kansas City

Raiders at Redskins – Oakland

Cowboys at Cardinals – Dallas

EastBound and Down… AFC East Notes:

Bills Watch Watkins, Woods Tear It Up This Week:

The Buffalo Bills have a tough task facing the excellent defense of the Denver Broncos this week. They know they have their work cut out for them after scoring only three points against the Carolina Panthers.

Then having to watch Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods carving up the 49ers on Thursday Night Football had to be difficult for them to watch. Watkins, traded by GM Brandon Beane in exchange for cornerback E.J. Gaines and a second-round pick, caught six passes for 106 yards including a brilliant 47-yard catch. Woods had six receptions for 108 yards.

After beating the Jets on opening day, the Bills offense needs a boost and in their first two games their top trio of receivers, Jordan Matthews, Zay Jones and Andre Holmes – have combined to catch 11 passes for 149 yards. Going against the Broncos secondary with Aqib Talib and Chris Harris is going to be much more difficult sledding.

Dolphins, Ajai Looking to Continue Strong Play:

The Dolphins are picked to roll over the New York Jets today and it is a game they SHOULD win easily. The Dolphins running game with Jay Ajayi looked very strong against the Chargers in LA last weekend and this week he’s facing a Jets front seven that has allowed 370 yards in the first two weeks of the season.

But Ajayi is still facing questions about his durability. After last week’s 28 carries, he missed both Wednesday and Thursday’s practices before returning on Friday. Given he should run well against the Jets, it will be interesting to see how the team manages his snaps this week.

One guy who could take some heat off of Ajayi this week could be TE Charles Clay. Miami failed to score in all three red zone trips last week and Clay, who had just three catches for 26 yards could be in line for a much bigger role when the Dolphins hit the red zone against the Jets this week.

Jets Darron Lee Confident Despite a Poor Game in Oakland :

The New York Jets took it on the chin last week in Oakland, going down 45-20 against the Raiders in a game that was probably more one-sided than the scoreboard would indicate. So, while linebacker Darron Lee struggled, he was hardly alone.

However, the talented LB from Ohio State said that he wasn’t overly concerned with the way he played, specifically getting pushed around by the Raiders early and often. The Jets athletic linebacker is listed at 232-pounds but claims he’s closer to 236 which is up nearly 10 pounds since the spring OTAs.

The ILB knows he must do a better job of shedding blockers in the running game. “I’m confident in what I do,” he said. “That’s about it. I’m not sitting here saying I’m worried. If you’re going to say I get worried over one play, that’s not smart. I’m not concerned whatsoever.”

Head Coach Todd Bowles believes that Lee will be fine, “My assessment of Darron is fine,” Bowles said. “He plays well. He has some mistakes he can correct, just like everybody else on defense.”

Facing the solid Buffalo running game with LeSean McCoy will be a big game to turn things around for Lee this week.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts 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: 2017 Patriots Season Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Chris Hogan Danny Amendola Dion Lewis Dont'a Hightower James White Jimmy Garoppolo Julian Edelman Malcolm Butler Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Rob Gronkowski Tom Brady Trey Flowers

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