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

Trent RichardsonJan 27 10:43a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson's one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team voided the guarantee of a $3,184,062 salary in 2015.

Josh GordonJan 26 02:13p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is in Stage Three of an alcohol program, which requires him to be tested for alcohol for a minimum of two years. His failed [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 26 02:03p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski could cause a problem for the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX, because the Seahawks defense allowed 11 touchdowns to tight ends this [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 26 02:03p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) said he won't miss the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots with a dislocated shoulder, but he also admitted that it won't [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 01:52p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he'll need to shut himself down this offseason in order to enter 2015 fully healthy and in great shape. He [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 26 12:33p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon tested positive for alcohol, according to sources, and his failed test will subject him to a possible one-year suspension. Gordon caught 24 passes for [ More ]

Vontaze BurfictJan 26 12:23p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) is recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee, and the surgeon who operated on him is hoping that he will be at [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 11:22a

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he played this season with two tears in his right hamstring, which never fully healed.

Josh GordonJan 25 09:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will be under contract through the 2016 season, and he will only be a restricted free agent after that year due to his looming [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 25 04:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon has reportedly failed another drug test and will be subject to a one-year banishment, according to multiple league sources.

Earl ThomasJan 23 09:02p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) will play in the Super Bowl, head coach Pete Carroll said Friday, Jan. 23.

Dennis PittaJan 23 04:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) met with some specialists last week, but the team is not expected to have an update on his status for a few weeks, [ More ]

Johnny ManzielJan 23 01:12p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel had a big proponent last year in owner Jimmy Haslam, but Haslam now thinks the team needs a quarterback in order to get their [ More ]

Jimmy GrahamJan 23 10:32a

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) said he'll rehabilitate his shoulder injury after the Pro Bowl, but he hasn't made a final decision on surgery. 'It's something we [ More ]

Mark IngramJan 22 06:42p

New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram, who will be eligible for free agency this offseason, wants to return to the team next year, and he thinks the interest is [ More ]

Vernon DavisJan 22 06:22p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis had just two touchdowns in 2014, and they both came in Week 1. He also wasn't targeted at all in the red zone [ More ]

Geno SmithJan 22 05:32p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith has a lot of talent and promise, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. At the same time, Bowles acknowledged that the quarterback [ More ]

Brian HoyerJan 22 04:52p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be re-signed this offseason, according to his agent. Hoyer is expected to meet with general manager Ray Farmer and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in the near future.

Johnny ManzielJan 22 02:43p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel will be working with a new offensive coordinator this year in John DeFilippo, but DeFilippo is unsure if the team's quarterback next year is [ More ]

Joe FlaccoJan 22 12:52p

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco will have his fourth difference offensive coordinator in as many years in offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. However, head coach John Harbaugh is confident Flacco [ More ]

Tom BradyJan 22 10:12a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is now scheduled to speak to the media Thursday, Jan. 22, and he could come under fire due to the report of deflated [ More ]

Vontaze BurfictJan 21 09:03p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) has had knee surgery, head coach Marvin Lewis confirmed Wednesday, Jan. 21. While there has been concern Burfict might have to begin the [ More ]

Mike WallaceJan 21 09:03p

Miami Dolphins WR Mike Wallace's future with the team is unclear. General manager Dennis Hickey would not say Wednesday, Jan. 21, whether Wallace will be back or if his [ More ]

Johnny ManzielJan 21 04:43p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel could benefit from new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, according to Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr. Carr said DeFilippo will do great with Manziel, adding [ More ]

Richard ShermanJan 21 04:23p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (elbow) said he will practice in a brace, but should not have any limitations on gameday.

Marc TrestmanJan 21 03:53p

Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said he wants to learn the specificities of the team's offense instead of changing it. Head coach John Harbaugh said Trestman's familiarity and [ More ]

Blake BortlesJan 21 03:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles should be able to develop under new offensive coordinator Greg Olson, according to general manager Dave Caldwell. Caldwell said Olson has the ability to [ More ]

Blake BortlesJan 21 03:13p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles developed bad habits and may need to start over, in the opinion of NFL Films guru Greg Cosell.

Latavius MurrayJan 21 12:53p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray is likely to be the team's lead back in 2015, and new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave plans tailor his system to Murray's talents. Musgrave [ More ]

Peyton ManningJan 21 11:03a

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning plans to return in 2015, pending the results of his annual physical, according to three sources The Denver Post's Woody Paige trusts. The test [ More ]

Rashad JenningsJan 21 10:23a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings could have a veteran running back to complement or compete with him next season. The team could possibly add a change-of-pace back and [ More ]

Trent RichardsonJan 21 09:13a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson was suspended and deactivated for the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 18.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group