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

Charles ClayNov 21 05:52p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) did not practice Friday, Nov. 21, and he is doubtful for Week 12 against the Denver Broncos. Clay suffered a setback in practice [ More ]

Arian FosterNov 21 05:32p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) did not practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is questionable for Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Head coach Bill O'Brien said Foster would [ More ]

Jason AvantNov 21 04:52p

The Kansas City Chiefs will sign free-agent WR Jason Avant (Panthers), according to a source. Avant worked out for the team Friday, Nov. 21.

Delanie WalkerNov 21 03:32p

Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion) fully participated in practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is listed as probable for Week 12.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 21 03:12p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) is considered a game-time decision for Week 12, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Adrian PetersonNov 21 03:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's appeal hearing is scheduled to occur Dec. 2, and commissioner Roger Goodell will not be in charge of the hearing. Former NFL employee Harold [ More ]

Larry FitzgeraldNov 21 02:22p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) was not participating during the media-access portion of practice Friday, Nov. 21. Fitzgerald was working on the side during that part of practice.

Delanie WalkerNov 21 02:22p

Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion) has passed his concussion test and is good to go in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Giovani BernardNov 21 02:12p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, clavicle) fully participated in practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is probable for Week 12.

Julius ThomasNov 21 02:12p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) is listed as questionable for Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins after putting in a limited practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Emmanuel SandersNov 21 02:02p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) practiced in full Friday, Nov. 21, and is probable for Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins, according to head coach John Fox.

Julius ThomasNov 21 01:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle), who appeared limited during practice Friday, Nov. 21, figures to be a game-time decision against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. Thomas said [ More ]

Dwayne AllenNov 21 01:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jonas GrayNov 21 01:22p

New England Patriots RB Jonas Gray (undisclosed) was a no-show at practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Jordan ReedNov 21 01:12p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) missed his third straight day of practice Friday, Nov. 21, and head coach Jay Gruden said Reed has been ruled out for Week [ More ]

Emmanuel SandersNov 21 01:12p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) is participating in practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Adrian PetersonNov 21 11:02a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson said he'll gladly return this season if he wins the appeal of his indefinite suspension. If he loses his appeal and has to sit [ More ]

Latavius MurrayNov 21 10:32a

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) has earned himself a larger role in the offense, according to interim head coach Tony Sparano. His concussion, obviously, will dictate when that [ More ]

LeGarrette BlountNov 21 10:32a

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount was not signed by the team to replace RB Jonas Gray as the between-the-tackles runner. Blount's presence gives the team another tough inside [ More ]

Jeremy HillNov 21 10:02a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Jeremy Hill will be the leader in a 65-35 split of the carries with RB Giovani Bernard in Week 12, in the opinion of beat writer Paul Dehner Jr.

Emmanuel SandersNov 20 07:42p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) has done conditioning work and will be evaluated again Friday, Nov. 21.

Eric KushNov 20 07:03p

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared WR A.J. Jenkins, QB Aaron Murray, CB Christopher Owens, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, CB Jamell Fleming, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif inactive for Week 12.

Matt McGloinNov 20 07:03p

The Oakland Raiders have declared CB Carlos Rogers, TE David Ausberry, OG Gabe Jackson, SS Jonathan Dowling, QB Matt McGloin, OG Tony Bergstrom, CB Travis Carrie inactive for Week 12.

Charles ClayNov 20 06:42p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Tauren PooleNov 20 06:42p

The New Orleans Saints released RB Tauren Poole Thursday, Nov. 20.

Jordan CameronNov 20 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

Arian FosterNov 20 05:52p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited the previous day.

Pierre ThomasNov 20 05:42p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 20. Thomas has missed the last four games, but he said there's a chance that [ More ]

Jerick McKinnonNov 20 05:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Jimmy SmithNov 20 04:32p

Baltimore Ravens CB Jimmy Smith (foot) said Thursday, Nov. 20, that a Lisfranc injury is the reason he is out for the rest of the season.

Montee BallNov 20 04:22p

Denver Broncos RBs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) both did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

Ronnie HillmanNov 20 04:22p

Denver Broncos RBs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) both did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

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