2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Competition about to get tougher for Patriots

By HOWARD ULMAN - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-13 18:36

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - With an unimpressive offense, the New England Patriots are unbeaten after strong fourth quarters by the defense.

But what will happen when they don't play rookie quarterbacks?

They're about to find out.

After squeaking out wins over the Buffalo Bills, with EJ Manuel at quarterback, and New York Jets, with Geno Smith under center, the Patriots will face two of the NFL's top quarterbacks, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees, in the next four games.

Rookie quarterbacks, though, aren't always easy to stop.

``I don't know if I'd call it easing'' into the season against Manuel and Smith, Patriots safety Steve Gregory said Friday. ``Those guys are still pretty talented guys. They can run. They can definitely create some things when they get outside the pocket and present challenges.''

In the opener, the defense forced the Bills to punt on all three of their fourth-quarter possessions before Stephen Gostkowski's 35-yard field goal with 5 seconds left gave the Patriots a 23-21 win.

Just four days later on Thursday night, the Patriots had three interceptions against Smith in the fourth quarter and beat the Jets 13-10 despite being blanked in the second half.

Smith ``did a pretty good job throughout the game, but it's tough, you know, when you're seeing some things for the first time,'' New England safety Devin McCourty said.

Aqib Talib's second interception of the game in the final minute clinched the victory. Alfonzo Dennard also picked off a pass at the Patriots 31-yard line with 4:23 left when the Jets needed a field goal to tie the game.

But he doesn't change his basic approach whether the opposing quarterback is a rookie or a veteran.

``I just say we've got to work on ourselves no matter who we play,'' Dennard said.

The Patriots have extra time to prepare with nine days between their home-opening win over the Jets and their next game, also at Gillette Stadium, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quarterback Josh Freeman on Sept. 22.

``I don't really see it as a break,'' coach Bill Belichick said. ``It's not like we're going to go to Hawaii for a vacation for a week.''

The challenge gets tougher after that with consecutive games against Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals and Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

That matchup on Oct. 13 against New Orleans could be the day Tom Brady ties Brees for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Brady's streak is at 50, four less than Brees' run that ended last year.

Brady extended it on his first series Thursday night with a 39-yard touchdown pass to rookie Aaron Dobson, who was wide open down the right sideline. But Brady showed his frustration later by raising his hands to his helmet after a rookie receiver ran the wrong route.

``I have to do a better job with my body language,'' he said. ``I wouldn't say it's a real strong point of mine right now.''

In his 14th season, one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history is working with a raw receiving group. Wes Welker signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos, Rob Gronkowski is sidelined after forearm and back surgery and Aaron Hernandez is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.

The Patriots signed veteran wide receivers Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones, but both were cut in training camp. With Danny Amendola out with a groin injury, the Patriots only receivers against the Jets were Julian Edelman, who caught 13 passes, and rookies Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce.

``I don't really have any expectations for any rookie players,'' Belichick said. ``We just coach them from the day they get here.''

Last season the Patriots averaged 34.8 points per game. This season, they've scored a total of 36 in two games.

Now, the competition should get tougher. But until Brady and his new receivers jell, the Patriots will have to keep relying on their defense.

``We welcome that,'' defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. ``Whatever situation we're in, it might have to be the defense that will win the game for us.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Luke WillsonOct 24 10:44p

Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson (groin) will play in the team's Week 8 game, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Crockett GillmoreOct 24 10:32p

Baltimore Ravens rookie TE Crockett Gillmore will receive the start at tight end in Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Ravens appear to have plenty of confidence [ More ]

Golden TateOct 24 10:12p

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate will be facing the league's 29th ranked pass defense in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Steve JohnsonOct 24 10:08p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson has played only 20 percent of the snaps in the last month, but he's been the team's most effective receiver in that time. [ More ]

Reggie BushOct 24 10:02p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is expected to be inactive for the Week 9 game against the Atlanta Falcons in London, according to a source Friday, Oct. 24.

Calvin JohnsonOct 24 10:02p

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) is unlikely to play in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons in London, according to a source. The team has a bye in [ More ]

Ryan MathewsOct 24 09:52p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) missed his sixth consecutive game in Week 8 Thursday, Oct. 23, against the Denver Broncos, but he could return to practice as [ More ]

Donald BrownOct 24 09:52p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) missed his third straight game in Week 8 Thursday, Oct. 23, against the Denver Broncos, but he might be able to return to practice Monday, Oct. 27.

Alan BallOct 24 07:02p

The Jacksonville Jaguars are extremely thin at cornerback heading into the team's Week 8 game, with CBs Alan Ball (biceps) out, and Dwayne Gratz (hip flexor) questionable. There is [ More ]

Kevin WilliamsOct 24 06:32p

Seattle Seahawks FB Derrick Coleman (foot), DT Jordan Hill (ankle), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), TE Zach Miller (ankle), C Max Unger (foot), LB Bobby Wagner (toe) and WR Bryan [ More ]

Khalif BarnesOct 24 06:32p

Oakland Raiders OT Khalif Barnes (quadriceps) is expected to start at right tackle in Week 8, but head coach Tony Sparano would not say if Barnes or OT Menelik [ More ]

LaMarr WoodleyOct 24 06:22p

Oakland Raiders DE LaMarr Woodley (biceps) and FS Usama Young (knee) are expected to be placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Dion SimsOct 24 06:02p

Miami Dolphins SS Jimmy Wilson (hamstring) is listed as doubtful for Week 8. LB Koa Misi (ankle) is listed as questionable, while OT Branden Albert (elbow), LS John Denney [ More ]

Billy WinnOct 24 05:52p

Cleveland Browns WR Rodney Smith (hamstring) and DT Phil Taylor (knee) have been ruled out for Week 8. DE Billy Winn (quadriceps) and SS Jim Leonhard (ankle) are listed [ More ]

Justin TuckOct 24 05:42p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring), CB Keith McGill (groin), DE LaMarr Woodley (biceps) and FS Usama Young (knee) did not participate in practice Friday, [ More ]

Derrick ColemanOct 24 05:32p

Updating a previous report, Seattle Seahawks RB Derrick Coleman (foot) had surgery to repair a foot injury this week. He is expected to miss at least six weeks.

Brandon BrownerOct 24 05:32p

New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and has been ruled out for Week 8. OG Dan Connolly (concussion), DE Dominique [ More ]

Johnathan JosephOct 24 05:32p

Houston Texans CB Darryl Morris (ankle) and LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee) have been ruled out for Week 8 against the Tennessee Titans. LBs Jadeveon Clowney (knee), Brian Cushing (knee), [ More ]

Frostee RuckerOct 24 05:22p

Arizona Cardinals TE Troy Niklas (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles. DE Calais Campbell (knee) is questionable, while S Rashad Johnson (knee) and [ More ]

Morgan BurnettOct 24 05:12p

Green Bay Packers DE Datone Jones (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the New Orleans Saints. S Morgan Burnett (calf) is questionable, while CB Sam Shields [ More ]

James StarksOct 24 05:12p

Green Bay Packers RB James Starks (ankle) was limited in practice for the second straight day Friday, Oct. 24, but is probable for Week 8 against the New Orleans [ More ]

Lance BriggsOct 24 05:02p

Chicago Bears LB Jonathan Bostic (back) and LB Lance Briggs (ribs) were limited in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and are doubtful for Week 8. S Danny McCray (knee) did [ More ]

Ryan ClarkOct 24 05:02p

Washington Redskins CB Tracy Porter (hamstring) and FS Ryan Clark (ankle, shoulder) were limited during practice Friday, Oct. 24. DE Chris Baker (thigh), OT Tyler Polumbus (knee), LB Perry [ More ]

Jack CrawfordOct 24 04:52p

Dallas Cowboys OT Doug Free (foot) and DE Jack Crawford (calf) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 24. Anthony Spencer (knee) was limited during practice, while LB Bruce [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanOct 24 04:52p

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman continues to run with confidence in the absence of RB Montee Ball (groin), and Ball will likely find it hard to win his starting [ More ]

Jonathan GoodwinOct 24 04:32p

New Orleans Saints C Jonathan Goodwin (ankle, knee) and LB Kyle Knox (ankle) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and have been ruled out. DT Brodrick Bunkley [ More ]

Nick MangoldOct 24 04:32p

New York Jets LB Trevor Reilly (knee) and WR Greg Salas (wrist, ankle) both were limited in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and are questionable for Week 8. OT Oday [ More ]

Cyrus GrayOct 24 04:32p

Kansas City Chiefs CB Christopher Owens (knee) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the St. Louis Rams. WR Junior Hemingway (hamstring) and S Eric Berry (ankle) are [ More ]

Khiry RobinsonOct 24 04:22p

New Orleans Saints RB Khiry Robinson (forearm) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and has been ruled out for Week 8.

Jo-Lonn DunbarOct 24 04:22p

St. Louis Rams C Tim Barnes (shoulder) and CB Brandon McGee (foot) are both out for Week 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs. CBs Janoris Jenkins (knee) and Trumaine [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 24 04:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) said he won't rush back to play until his ankle is fully healed. 'It's our job to help this team win, and [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 24 04:12p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and has been ruled out for Week 8.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group