2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Patriots prepare for a veteran QB - for a change

    2013-09-20 02:26

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By MATTHEW CARROLL
Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Rookie quarterbacks haven't exactly made life simple for New England's defense this season.

The Patriots finally will face a veteran Sunday, though, and they're quite familiar with Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman.

``He's a big guy. I didn't realize how big he was,'' New England defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. ``Until you see him in person, you realize he's 6-5, 6-6. Big presence in the pocket.''

Ninkovich was speaking from plenty of firsthand experience.

New England and Tampa Bay held joint practices each of the last two training camps. And contrary to facing a pair of first-year signal-callers in Buffalo's EJ Manuel and the New York Jets' Geno Smith, there is plenty of tape to watch on the fifth-year Freeman.

There's been more than enough time to prepare, too. Sunday will mark 10 days since the Patriots (2-0) last played a game.

``The more film you have of somebody, obviously, the easier it is,'' Patriots safety Steve Gregory said.

Nothing has been easy for New England. And Tampa Bay (0-2) isn't about to change that.

Between Freeman, explosive running back Doug Martin and 6-foot-5, 230-pound receiver Vincent Jackson, the Patriots are in for another test despite the Buccaneers' record.

``We have our hands full with (Martin) and Vincent Jackson. There's no letdown with those two on the field,'' Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. ``It's going to be a challenge for us. But at the same time, every week it feels like it's something different.

``But that's football. You get challenged in different ways every week. It's going to be different from the first two weeks for us.''

But it starts and ends with the tough-to-tackle Freeman. Despite rumors that he wants to be traded, coupled with a poor start to the season, Freeman still poses a threat to New England's defense.

``I think Josh has real good physical skills and he's matured and developed a lot as a player,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ``Even working against him in practice the last two years, just seeing him on a consecutive-day basis standing out there watching him throw the ball, run the offense, handle the team, he's definitely grown and developed as a quarterback and is a guy who can run the offense and has all the physical talent to make all the throws, scramble and get out of trouble.

``He's a hard guy to sack.''

Freeman isn't off to the best start, completing just 45.3 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He's not much of a threat to run the ball, either, something New England had to contend with when facing Manuel and Smith.

``As a D-line, you just try and get the pressure on him and get him thinking,'' Ninkovich said. ``Just getting pressure on him, having him make quick decisions, that's what you want to do to get after him.''

They've certainly wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks so far. In fact, New England's defense surprisingly has helped overcome a shaky start by Tom Brady and the offense.

Usually, it's the other way around.

Trailing by four points in the fourth quarter of the opener at Buffalo, the Patriots forced three punts and recovered a late fumble to help seal the win. Four days later, with Brady and a slew of rookie receivers struggling to connect, the defense recorded four sacks of Smith and intercepted him three times in the fourth quarter to end the upset bid.

``I think everyone knows we're a couple of plays away from losing games and they were a couple of plays away from winning games,'' Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. ``So you really can't always take a team just from the record.''

And as much as the Patriots seem to understand what Freeman is capable of doing, the benefits extend to both teams.

``Having those preseason practices and the game, you can kind of get a sense of personnel, strengths, weaknesses. And they also have the same thing, too,'' Ninkovich said. ``It was cool to have practices against them, but it is preseason and it's not like they're throwing everything at us and we're throwing everything at them.

``This is a regular season game and this is where it counts.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Lardarius WebbJul 29 10:45a

Baltimore Ravens CB Lardarius Webb (back) missed his third straight day of practice Monday, July 28, and will undergo further testing to determine the extent of the injury, according [ More ]

Jairus ByrdJul 29 10:43a

New Orleans Saints FS Jairus Byrd (back) was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Alfonso SmithJul 29 10:43a

The San Francisco 49ers signed free-agent RB Alfonso Smith (Cardinals) to an undisclosed deal and waived/injured OT Fou Fonoti (undisclosed).

Eric WinstonJul 29 10:43a

The Seattle Seahawks signed free-agent OT Eric Winston (Cardinals) to a one-year deal.

Kelvin BenjaminJul 29 10:40a

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) doesn't have a timetable for his return after bruising his left knee, but he is expected to be back in days, not weeks. [ More ]

Josh ThomasJul 29 10:03a

Carolina Panthers CB Josh Thomas (undisclosed) was activated from the Non-Football Injury list and is practicing Tuesday, July 29.

Chris IvoryJul 29 09:53a

New York Jets RB Chris Ivory is likely to be the team's goal line back, according to running backs coach Anthony Lynn.

D'Aundre ReedJul 29 08:53a

The Miami Dolphins signed free-agent TE Brett Brackett (Cardinals), undrafted free-agent QB Seth Lobato (Northern Colorado) and DE D'Aundre Reed. QB Brock Jensen was waived and OG Davonte Wallace (undisclosed) was waived/injured.

Ricky SappJul 29 08:43a

The Houston Texans signed free-agent RB Tim Cornett (Cardinals) and OT Mike Farrell (Broncos) to undisclosed deals. LB Ricky Sapp was waived.

Alan BonnerJul 29 02:23a

Houston Texans WR Alan Bonner (foot) was placed on the Texans' Reserve/Injured list after clearing waivers Monday, July 28.

Brandon JenkinsJul 29 02:13a

OG James Dunbar (Bears), OT Anthony Dima (Texans), OT Jack Breckner (Colts) and LB Brandon Jenkins (Redskins) all cleared waivers Monday, July 28, and are free to sign with any team.

Menelik WatsonJul 29 01:43a

Oakland Raiders OT Menelik Watson is slated to start at right tackle. The coaching staff has confidence in his ability after what was largely viewed as a disappointing 2013 [ More ]

Jimmy ClausenJul 29 12:22a

Chicago Bears QB Jimmy Clausen was accurate with his throws during practice Monday, July 28, and he led a touchdown drive during a two-minute drill. Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com [ More ]

Jordan ZumwaltJul 28 11:43p

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Jordan Zumwalt (groin) left practice early Monday, July 28, and WR C.J. Goodwin (shoulder) was held out of drills during practice.

Rod StreaterJul 28 11:33p

Oakland Raiders WR Rod Streater (concussion) is dealing with a concussion, head coach Dennis Allen confirmed Monday, July 28.

Odell Beckham Jr.Jul 28 11:33p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) is expected to be sidelined at least another week due to his hamstring injury. Beckham was originally [ More ]

Marcus LattimoreJul 28 11:33p

San Francisco 49ers RB Marcus Lattimore (knee) has not been cleared to practice yet due to lingering concerns about his surgically repaired right knee. However, he appears close to joining his teammates.

Chris CantyJul 28 11:33p

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty (family issue) missed practice Monday, July 28. OG Will Rackley (head) and OT Parker Graham (groin) also missed practice.

Alfonso SmithJul 28 11:33p

The San Francisco 49ers are expected to announce the signing of free-agent RB Alfonso Smith (Cardinals) Tuesday, July 29. The team needs healthy reinforcements with RBs Kendall Hunter (knee) [ More ]

Juron CrinerJul 28 11:33p

Oakland Raiders WR Juron Criner (hamstring) has been sidelined from practice due to a hamstring injury, head coach Dennis Allen confirmed Monday, July 28.

Gavin EscobarJul 28 11:23p

Dallas Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar has often lined up out wide during training camp, and offensive play-caller Scott Linehan is experimenting with different ways to get him involved in the offense.

Roy MillerJul 28 10:52p

Jacksonville Jaguars DT Roy Miller (shoulder) returned to practice Monday, July 28, after being given the day off Sunday, July 27, to rest his shoulder that he had surgery on in the offseason.

Cyrus KouandjioJul 28 10:43p

Buffalo Bills OT Cyrus Kouandjio has struggled in training camp, and Joe Buscaglia of 550 Sports Radio believes that OT Erik Pears is now the frontrunner for the starting RT job.

Mario ManninghamJul 28 10:42p

New York Giants WR Mario Manningham (knee) said he is still not 100 percent confident in his surgically repaired knee. 'I'm working on it,' he said of overcoming that [ More ]

John AbrahamJul 28 10:23p

Arizona Cardinals DE John Abraham was detained, questioned and later charged with multiple counts, including DUI, on Sunday, June 29, according to arrest reports in DeKalb County. Abraham missed [ More ]

Anthony DixonJul 28 10:12p

Buffalo Bills RB Anthony Dixon was listed as the No. 3 back on the team's first official depth chart with RB Bryce Brown listed as the No. 4 back.

Scott ChandlerJul 28 10:12p

Buffalo Bills FS Kenny Ladler (hamstring), TE Scott Chandler (groin), TE Tony Moeaki (hamstring) and TE Chris Gragg (cramps) were held out of practice Monday, July 28.

Joe HawleyJul 28 10:02p

Atlanta Falcons C Joe Hawley and C Peter Konz have both been taking reps with the first-team this offseason.

Odell Beckham Jr.Jul 28 09:53p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) had tests on his injured hamstring Monday, July 28, and the results were negative, according to two sources briefed on the injury.

Danny AmendolaJul 28 09:43p

New England Patriots WR Danny Amendola has spent the offseason working with trainer Alex Guerrero. Guerrero is also QB Tom Brady's trainer, and he helped WR Julian Edelman prior to last season.

Marlon MooreJul 28 08:42p

The Cleveland Browns signed WR Marlon Moore (Dolphins) Monday, July 28.

Clay HarborJul 28 08:32p

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Clay Harbor (calf) will miss some time with a strained calf, according to John Oehser of Jaguars.com.

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