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Patriots-Bills Week 16, Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 21, 2018 at 7:35 am ET

Patriots-Bills Week 16, Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

The New England Patriots are sailing in some uncharted waters this week. When we looked at this game on the schedule back in the spring, we expected that the division would be wrapped up and this game would only figure in whether New England was still playing for the top seed. And….we were wrong.

This game is extremely important to the Patriots this week because the division isn’t wrapped up and they need a win to do just that. The team can still get the #2 seed and a bye but now they no longer control their own destiny. They need to win their final two games at home this week against Buffalo and the Jets next week and hope that the Texans lose to either the Eagles or the Jaguars. Uncharted waters indeed.

The Patriots (9-5) lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10 last week as the offense only scored 10 points and made a ton of mistakes. Dropped passes on third down, penalties (14) and breakdowns at key times was the story as they dropped their second in a row.

The Bills (5-9) beat the Detroit Lions 14-13 as Josh Allen hit Robert Foster with a 42-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to come from behind.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2018 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game.

Series History:

The Patriots and the Bills are meeting for the 118th time and the Patriots have dominated overall 73-43-1. And since Bill Belichick took over in 2000, the Patriots have won 32 of 37 games between the two teams.

Tom Brady’s record against the Bills in games where he’s started and finished the game is 29-3. The Patriots won the last meeting between the two teams 25-6 on October 29 as the teams met on Monday Night Football.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, December 23 at 1:00 p.m.and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Greg Gumbel will handle play-by-play duties with Trent Green and Bruce Arians as the color analysts. Melanie Collins will work from the sidelines.

The game will also be broadcast on the Patriots flagship station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci doing the play-by-play, with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge. First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Bills Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Buffalo

The Patriots running game has sputtered the past two weeks on the road as the play of the offensive line has been consistently, inconsistent. Sony Michel is leading the way for the Patriots along with Rex Burkhead and James White. Fullback James Develin has been getting the ball more in short yardage and goal line.

Buffalo is 10th in the league allowing just 104.8 yards per game on the ground and just 4.0 yards per rush.  It starts up front with the big men, Kyle Williams, and Adolphus Washington with the linebackers, Matt Milano and Preston Brown being very active. However, with Milano suffering a broken fibula against the Jets, it is a blow to the defense.

In the first meeting, the Patriots didn’t have either Sony Michel or Rex Burkhead who were both out with an injury. However, look for the Bills to put pressure on the Patriots on early downs to try to force them into third and long situations.

Patriots WRs vs Bills Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game just lost a huge piece as Josh Gordon’s mental health issues are forcing him away for the game, possibly for good this time. He averaged 65 yards per game receiving in his 11 games with the Patriots and it won’t be easy to just say, “next man up” as they have around here in the past.

In the first meeting, Tom Brady threw for 324 yards in Buffalo. It will be difficult to throw for that much this time around despite still having Julian Edelman, James White, Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett.

The Bills defense is #1 against the pass allowing just 187.4 yards per pass play. They’re getting very good play from their corners and linebackers and safeties in coverage. The Bills have 31 sacks on the season.

With Gordon gone Brady will have to lean on everybody else now to pick up the slack. I would expect him to go both Julian Edelman (9-104) and James White (10-79) as he did in the first meeting to keep the chains moving.  The Bills did a good with their safeties on Rob Gronkowski in the first meeting and I’d expect more of the same. Buffalo is outstanding at not allowing big pass plays and I’d expect Brady to keep the ball in the short passing game.  

Next up the Buffalo offense:

Bills RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

As yes as strange as this sounds I expect the Patriots run defense which has been awful for the past few weeks to be better this week. The Bills running game has been struggling with their backs running the ball. LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory have averaged just 3.3 and 3.4 yards per rush respectively in 2018. Part of the reason is the offensive line was bad earlier in the season but has been playing better of late.

However, Josh Allen has transformed the running game. He’s rushed for 506 yards on the season and without him, the Bills rushing average of 124.7 would transform to just 90.9 yards per game.

With the issues the Patriots have had stopping the run, I’d look for Danny Shelton to make a return this week. Buffalo has the 31st rated pass offense and they want to run the football. The Patriots need a player over the nose that can two-gap. He’s been a healthy scratch the past few weeks but this week, I’d expect him back.

Bills WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Bills passing game has been really struggling as Josh Allen has struggled in his rookie season. But he’s gradually learning his craft and he’s cutting down his mistakes. But overall, they average just 168.7 yards per game, 31st in the NFL. He has Robert Foster who is becoming the Bills big play WR, he’s averaged 25-yards per reception this year. Zay Jones is their leading receiver with 49 catches.

The Patriots pass defense is currently 23rd allowing 256 yards per game, however, the secondary has been playing quite well and it seems that they’ve found another quality UDFA in corner J.C. Jackson. The Patriots don’t generate a ton of sacks but are tied in the league at pressuring the QB without blitzing.

The Bills like to run deep crosses using a rub route to get Foster open deep across the middle of the field. For the Patriots, they’ll look to bring pressure and force Allen to throw from outside the pocket without allowing him to run…More of this below.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots tandem of Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen have a slight edge over Stephen Hauschka and Corey Bojorquez in the kicking game, especially being at home. But their numbers are pretty similar. But with Cordarrelle Patterson in the kick return game, the Patriots get the edge in there, although in the first meeting Micah Hyde had a 31-yard punt return.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

This one will be closer than people are predicting. The Bills defense is tough and knows the Patriots well. They played them very tough in the first meeting back in October. I would expect this game to be much of the same.

Three keys to the game from a Patriots perspective include:

Win the Turnover Battle:

The Bills are -8 in the turnover department. Buffalo QBs have thrown 20 interceptions this season, with Allen tossing nine of them. They are the 31st team in the league in scoring averaging just 15.4 points per game. They don’t have the kind of offense that can afford to give away points. If the Patriots can play a clean game, they will put pressure on the Bills offense to take some chances.

Force Allen to Throw From Outside the Pocket:

Allen has played better of late as his pass protection has improved. But if the Patriots can generate pressure while keeping a spy on Allen and not allowing him to run, his numbers throwing outside the pocket are not good. ESPN’s Mike Rodak just posted some stats when Allen is forced to throw outside the pocket.
Completion percentage- 20 (33rd in the league)
Passing Yards per Attempt- 3.1 (30th in the league)
Off Target Throws- 40 % (most in the NFL)
Interception Percentage – 6.9 % (4th most in the NFL)

If the Patriots are successful in getting some pressure on Allen, they’d need to put a spy on him. I really don’t believe that their linebackers are fast enough to do the job…possibly Kyle Van Noy. But one possible piece would be to go to their “Big Nickel” with Obi Melifonwu substituting on obvious passing downs. He’d have the speed to keep up with Allen.

Spread the Ball Around:

The Patriots are at their best when Tom Brady spreads the wealth equally among the players. They need to run the ball better and will need a lot better effort from the offensive line. I’d expect to see the uptempo offense with the Pony formation with Burkhead and White a bit on passing downs.

This one will be close but eventually, the Pats will pull away and they’ll finally be able to break out the Hats and T-Shirts. Patriots 27-17

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 PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Bills, Different Feel for the Rematch, Key Matchups

Steve Balestrieri
October 28, 2016 at 7:00 am ET

The New England Patriots travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills in a big game for both teams. Kickoff is slated 1:05 p.m.

The game will be televised by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4 in Boston. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (6-1) defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-16 on the road. LeGarrette Blount rushed for 127 yards and Tom Brady threw for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski caught five passes for 93 yards and a score.

The Bills (4-3) lost to the Miami Dolphins 28-25 in Miami. The Bills blew a 17-6 lead in the second half and allowed RB Jay Ajayi to run for over 200 yards in the loss. Bills RB LeSean McCoy re-injured his hamstring in the game and left after 8 carries.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and Bills will meet for the 114th time in their history and the second of two divisional matchups in 2016. The Patriots have dominated overall in the series holding a 69-43-1 edge overall. The Patriots hold a 33-22-1 advantage in Buffalo over the course of their rivalry including the last four games played there.

The Bills shut out the Patriots 16-0 in the first meeting between the two teams a month ago in Foxboro. It was the first time that the Patriots have been shut out at home since 1993. It was also coincidentally the final game of Tom Brady’s four-game suspension and was started by Jacoby Brissett.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots – Bills Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
September 30, 2016 at 5:00 am ET

The New England Patriots will play the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

The game will be televised by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4 in Boston. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (3-0) defeated the Houston Texans 27-0 on Thursday Night Football. LaGarrette Blount ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns while Jacoby Brissett played well in his first NFL start. The defense didn’t allow Houston to cross midfield until there just a minute and a half left in the first quarter. The STs units forced two turnovers.

The Bills (1-2) beat the Arizona Cardinals 33-18 on Sunday in Buffalo. LeSean McCoy got the running game going with 110 yards and two TDs with QB Tyrod Taylor adding 76 more yards on the ground. The Bills defense sacked Carson Palmer five times and forced four interceptions in the second half.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and Bills will meet for the 113th time in their history and the first of two divisional matchups in 2016. The Patriots have dominated  the series holding a 69-42-1 edge overall. But Gillette Stadium hasn’t been a welcome site for the Bills with the Pats winning 12 of 13 with the only Buffalo win being the 2014 regular season finale with many of the Patriots starters sitting or playing very reduced roles.

The Patriots swept the Bills a year ago, winning 40-32 in Week 2 in Buffalo and 20-13 in a wild Monday Night Football game that was marked by an inadvertent whistle when he appeared to have a clear path to the end zone. Buffalo also stopped the Patriots string of scoring in 38 straight quarters by blanking them in the 4th quarter of that game.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

New England Patriots News 11-29 and Notes Around the AFC East

Steve Balestrieri
November 29, 2015 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division. From all of us here at PatsFans.com we hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving weekend.

Roster Moves Aplenty: This week with the injury bug still proving to be the team’s biggest nemesis thus far this season, the Patriots made a flurry of roster moves.

Both Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson were hurt in the Bills game, further weakening an already short receiver core short Julian Edelman and Keshawn Martin. Dobson was placed on IR and this marks two lost seasons for him in a row. One has to consider if this is the end of the road for him in New England.

Amendola was diagnosed with a knee sprain and is considered week-to-week. He did practice in a limited role on Friday, but the team took the cautious approach and kept him in NE for treatment while the team traveled for tonight’s game in Denver.

This leaves the Patriots with just two healthy wide receivers (Brandon LaFell and Chris Harper), to face the #1 pass defense in the league with Denver. Martin has been bothered with a hamstring and hasn’t played since Week 6.

The Patriots initially signed S Dewey McDonald but he was released as well as LB Eric Martin. The team then signed TE Asante Cleveland and LB Darius Fleming from the practice squad. Cleveland spent time with the Niners and Fleming played in five games in 2014 mainly on special teams.

Fleming’s ascension most undoubtedly means that Jamie Collins, listed as doubtful will miss his fourth game in a row for what has been characterized as an illness. Obviously it wasn’t a simple case of the flu for the Patriots talented linebacker as this will be a quarter of the season missed for him.

Defense is the Focus This Time: When the schedule was released, everyone (us included) circled this one as a big, big matchup. But with the releases of the Patriots top three cornerbacks, early season prognostications of the Pats defense falling apart and having to win shootouts hasn’t materialized.

With the injuries and deteriorating level of play from Peyton Manning, the Broncos have been winning with their stellar defense. Now Manning is out and possibly never to return with Denver as Brock Osweiler will start his second game in wintry conditions that Manning would have been a definite weak link with.

Who would have thought back in the spring that on the day of this game, we aren’t talking about shootouts and an over/under in the 60’s, but the defenses and how points could very well be in a premium tonight.  Entering the game, the Patriots are #1 and 2 in defensive points allowed. Given that Osweiler is starting just his second game and the state of the Patriots receiving core, the first team to 20 points may very well win tonight.

Raise your hand if you thought that back in the spring….

Offensive Line Carousel Must Slow Down: Entering tonight’s game, the Patriots have, thus far used 25 different offensive line combinations. While some of it has been by design and matchups, the injuries suffered have also played a large part. And for the first time in 2015 cracks have shown up for the offense.

In the second half of the Washington game, the offense was much more conservative than they’ve been all season, taking into consideration the score and the players out of position. Against the Giants, a team that had issues rushing the passer all season, they sacked Brady and harassed more than they’ve done all year. Then on Monday night, the Bills defense harassed Brady all night long and hit him 10 times and pressured him on 50 percent of his dropbacks. That was the highest total since 2008.

Facing a team that leads the NFL in sacks with 34 (although their number has slowed since the DeMarcus Ware injury), the Patriots can ill-afford another performance like that. Denver loves to blitz so expect them to test not only the offensive line but whoever is running the hot routes for Brady, replacing the injured Edelman and Amendola.

Look for the Patriots to find their best starting unit and stick with it tonight with the exception of situations where they bring in extra OL for short-yardage etc.

Brady/Brees Closing in on Marino: Tom Brady and Drew Brees are both closing on another milestone this season. With three more TD passes, Brady will tie Dan Marino with 420 good for third most in NFL history. Right on his heels is Drew Brees who is one behind Brady with 416.

Both are closing in on pretty rarified air with the passing of Marino, who was considered one of the best to ever play the position for the Dolphins. This will bear watching as the two near the milestone in the coming games.

Monday Night Wasn’t a Stellar One For Steratore: In what is becoming a weekly occurrence, the officiating in the Patriots – Bills game on Monday night is exactly what the league doesn’t need on the national stage.

The refereeing crew of Gene Steratore is considered one of the better ones in the NFL; but they didn’t perform like on in Gillette.

In one of the most bizarre plays we’ve seen, early in the third quarter Patriots QB Tom Brady was under pressure in the pocket and rolled out toward the right sideline. Side judge Gary Arthur who had a clear un-obstructed view of Brady who was still two yards from the sideline; got confused from Bill coach Rex Ryan who was yelling in his ear that Brady was out of bounds and inexplicably blew his whistle.

But Brady had flipped the ball over the Bills defenders to Danny Amendola who had nothing but green in front of him. Once the whistle blew everyone, including the Bills defenders stopped. We’ll never know if Amendola would have scored, been immediately tackled or tacked on some yardage after the catch. The inadvertent whistle was a black eye for the officials and for the league, whose head of officiating Dean Blandino admitted, he’d never seen before.

The officials had a prolonged huddle where they ultimately correctly decided to place the ball at the spot of the catch and tack on 15 yards as a penalty to Ryan for obstruction. Fans in Gillette Stadium were incensed. Compounding matters was the drive for the Patriots stalled and Stephen Gostkowski missed a 54-yard field goal, his first miss of the season and New England came away with zero points. Imagine the hue and outcry had the tables been turned and it was the Bills that had a play whistled dead.

Then Steratore’s crew took in an inordinate amount of time to rule on the James White touchdown run where the Bills were clearly off-sides. At the snap one of Buffalo’s linebackers was a full 10-15 yards behind the Patriots line of scrimmage. What in the world would take so long to iron out?

To compound already muddy waters, the final play of the game, a pass from Tyrod Taylor to Sammy Watkins should have stopped the clock with two seconds left as Watkins went down untouched but scooted out of bounds on his behind. The officials ruled he gave himself up and ended the game. And it was another black eye for the league in 2015. The game was dragging on so long it felt like a Red Sox – Yankees game.

East Bound and Down…Notes Around the AFC East:

Jets Looking to Start Quickly vs Miami:  The Jets are still very much alive for a playoff spot at 5-5 but things have begun to go south for a team that started off so well. They’ve lost four of their last five games and reportedly Jet coach Todd Bowles, always so cool and calm in public, lit into his team after their loss to Houston.

They need to win against Miami (4-6), who still isn’t out of the playoff race yet either at the Meadowlands this Sunday. The Jets will be looking at getting the offense in gear much quicker this week, something that has been hampering them dating back 24 games. The Jets have one opening drive touchdown in that time…the lone one, against Miami this season in London.

One big matchup will be who will cover Jarvis Landry now that Darrelle Revis has been ruled out with a concussion. In Miami’s blowout loss earlier in the year, Landry racked up 268 all-purpose yards. With Revis out, Miami will be looking to capitalize.

Landry for his part wanted the matchup with Revis; “Can’t wait, man, can’t wait. I’m hoping he plays, I’m praying he plays,” Landry said.

Bills Have Big Game vs KC: The Bills are another team that are on the cusp of the playoffs with a 5-5 record and face a very resurgent Chiefs team that was left for dead earlier in 2015 and now could find themselves right back in the hunt.

The Bills were thought to be ready to possibly push New England for the AFC East this season and to be .500 after all the bluster before the season is disappointing. Now they face a team that has beaten them in each of the last two seasons in heartbreaking fashion.

If the Bills lose to the Chiefs they’ll be a game behind in the standings at 5-6 but the Chiefs will hold the all important tie-breaker in head-to-head competition. The Bills defense comes in a bit short-handed as DT Kyle Williams was placed on IR, needing surgery on his left knee and DE Mario Williams will miss this one as well.

But the biggest question is just how healthy is Taylor’s throwing shoulder? The team says he’s fine, but he looked anything but at the end of the Patriots game. He couldn’t put anything on his passes on that final drive. This will bear 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 PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon

AFC East Roundtable – Surprises and Disappointments So Far in Training Camp

Ian Logue
August 12, 2015 at 5:26 pm ET

Four AFC East websites get together each week to discuss the AFC East. This week we discuss who has surprised in the first ten days of camp and who has been a disappointment for each team in the division. See what Matt Barbato of New York Jet Fuel, Ian Logue ofPatsFans.com, Steve Saslow of Bills Daily, and Luis Sung of Phin Maniacs has to say right here.

Steve Saslow (@BillsDaily): The biggest surprise for the Bills so far in training camp is DL Corbin Bryant. He was a solid contributor last year for the team but has really blossomed in training camp this year. He will be a solid depth player who will likely start on opening day while Marcell Dareus serves his one game suspension. Bryant will be there if Dareus or Kyle Williams get injured and provide a second wave along the defensive line along with another solid second teamer in Stefan Charles.

The biggest disappointment so far in training camp for the Bills are the quarterbacks, all four of them have struggled. This was the battle to watch during camp to see who would win the starting job but right now it looks like which quarterback is going to be the lesser of all the evils.

Matt Cassel is the leader by default and did have a fantastic day on Monday but has been average to below average for most of camp. EJ Manuel has been wildly inconsistent while Tyrod Taylor has shown some flashes but just not enough to make an impact in the battle.

Granted they are going against one of the top defenses in the NFL but the way things have gone so far fans are very restless knowing all the pieces are on place for a playoff run except at the most important position.

Luis Sung (@PhinManiacs): Training camp always has its own set of surprises and disappointments, and the Miami Dolphins are no exception to this rule. Probably the biggest surprise for the Dolphins so far this training camp is running back LaMichael James, who after having a rather dramatic exit out of San Francisco, joined the Dolphins and struggled to get onto the field due to the lack of experience in the offense. Now however, James has stepped up dramatically and has started making a case for himself to be the primary backup running back behind starter Lamar Miller.

The only thing keeping James from winning that job now is the fact that running back Damien Williams is better at pass-blocking than James, and the Dolphins coaching staff prefers players who are good at everything rather than having players who specialize in one thing. Don’t get me wrong, Williams is a very good running back too, but he isn’t the pure explosive weapon that LaMichael James is turning out to be in Bill Lazor’s offense.

As for the biggest disappointment so far, I could say that it’s projected right guard Billy Turner, who has continuously gotten his face beat in ever since camp started, but that would be unfair as they guy beating his face in is the best defensive tackle in the NFL: Ndamukong Suh. He beats everyone’s faces in, so I give Turner the benefit of the doubt as he looks much better when he’s not facing Suh.

Instead, I’ll say the biggest disappointment is wide receiver Kenny Stills. He was brought in to be Mike Wallace’s “replacement”, but that’s truthfully only a false narrative created by the media because of the similar speed Stills and departed receiver Mike Wallace share. Stills has done well while on the field, but his issue is he hasn’t been on the field very long. A calf injury has kept Stills out of the last several practices and fans are beginning to grow concerned.

If Stills can get healthy and get back onto the field, I have no doubt he’ll be a good receiver here in Miami. But up until now, he’s been disappointing, mainly because he just hasn’t been able to play. And if you can’t play, you’re no help to your team. DeVante Parker has an excuse, Stills does not.

Matt Barbato (@NewYorkJetFuel): The most pleasant surprise in training camp has to be wide receiver Chris Owusu, who is one of the few players that head coach Todd Bowles has highlighted during training camp. Owusu has played in only 22 games in his four-year NFL career, but he is impressing at training camp this summer.

Owusu has 20 catches in his career and joined the Jets midway through the 2014 season when he was claimed off waivers. He is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds and has blazing speed in open space. With second-round pick Devin Smith sidelined with broken ribs, the Jets may elect to keep Owusu on the 53-man roster since he possesses a similar skill set to the rookie.

Unfortunately, Owusu is dealing with a concussion he suffered last weekend in camp. He missed the annual Green and White scrimmage and is still undergoing concussion protocol. If he can get on the field before the first preseason game, Owusu will have a great shot to make the roster with a strong camp.

The most disappointing in training camp has been Dee Milliner, and it isn’t really his own fault. Milliner has had poor injury luck, to say the least. His most recent injury came after last Thursday’s practice when the team announced he would undergo surgery for a torn tendon in his right wrist. This injury is his seventh injury of his career and his second ailment with New York. He suffered a torn Achilles early in the 2014 season that cost him the final 13 games of the year.

Milliner was having an impressive camp up until the injury and he is expected to miss four-to-six weeks. Unfortunately, it’s hard to rely on Milliner to stay healthy going forward. He was expected to continue his development in a depth role behind veterans Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine. Now, there’s a possibility Milliner’s future with New York is in jeopardy.

Ian Logue (@PatsFans): The biggest surprise so far during Patriots training camp, believe it or not, has been Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler. Considering the fact he’s been under the microscope this entire offseason since making the play heard around the world against the Seahawks, Butler has come into camp playing better than anyone could have ever hoped. He’s been confident and consistent, and even after getting beaten on one play he’s right there the next, with the defensive back never really having had a poor practice thus far through training camp. There were high hopes for him coming into 2015 and so far he’s been absolutely terrific and is one of the only cornerbacks that seems to have locked down a role this early in the preseason.

However, on the other end of the spectrum is second-year defensive lineman Dominique Easley, who so far has been a disappointment during the early part of camp. The expectations were high for Easley after the Patriots opted to move on from veteran defensive lineman Vince Wilfork this offseason, especially given their needs up front. But so far the 2014 first round pick hasn’t really stood out. He hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t been great and that’s the type of player most had hoped to see given the potential he had showed during his collegiate career. There have been flashes at times, but Easley really needs to put more of those together and start settling in over these final few weeks because at this point he’s not playing up to the level the Patriots likely hoped they’d get when they took a chance on him last year.