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

Rolando McClainApr 1 08:33a

Free-agent LB Rolando McClain re-signed with the Dallas Cowboys on a one-year deal worth $3 million. He can also earn $1 million in playing time incentives.

Greg JenningsMar 31 10:23p

Free-agent WR Greg Jennings (Vikings) visited the Carolina Panthers Tuesday, March 31, and he tweeted he has a deal done. However, a source is reporting that the deal is not with the Panthers.

Eric EbronMar 31 09:03p

The Detroit Lions are expecting TE Eric Ebron to make a big jump from his rookie season to year number two. 'Ebron's the guy we're counting on to be [ More ]

Demaryius ThomasMar 31 07:13p

Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas (ankle, Achilles') took 'about a month' to recover from an ankle/Achilles' injury that he suffered last December. Thomas said his ankle will be fine [ More ]

Jacquizz RodgersMar 31 06:03p

Free-agent RB Jacquizz Rodgers (Falcons) signed an undisclosed deal with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, March 31.

Vincent BrownMar 31 04:13p

Free-agent WR Vincent Brown (Raiders) signed an undisclosed deal with the Indianapolis Colts Tuesday, March 31.

Antonio SmithMar 31 04:13p

Oakland Raiders DE Antonio Smith will be released, according to a source informed on the move. The Raiders will save $3.2 million with the move.

Jason TrusnikMar 31 04:13p

Free-agent LB Jason Trusnik (Dolphins) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Tuesday, March 31. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Chandler HarnishMar 31 03:43p

Free-agent QB Chandler Harnish (Vikings) signed an undisclosed deal with the Arizona Cardinals Tuesday, March 31.

Matt SchaubMar 31 02:22p

Free-agent QB Matt Schaub (Raiders) signed with the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday, March 31. Terms were not disclosed.

Theo RiddickMar 31 01:33p

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick will have his role expanded in 2015. The team may opt to draft a running back in the NFL Draft, so how much his [ More ]

Miles AustinMar 30 05:32p

Free-agent WR Miles Austin (Browns) signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, March 30. The deal is worth $2.3 million with $700,000 available in incentives, according to a source.

DeMeco RyansMar 30 05:02p

Philadelphia Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans (Achilles') said he will be ready for training camp in July after coming back from his second torn Achilles' tendon since 2010. He will [ More ]

Michael HillMar 30 05:02p

Free-agent RB Michael Hill (Colts) signed an undisclosed deal with the Washington Redskins Monday, March 30.

Demaryius ThomasMar 30 02:12p

Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas will not be present at the Broncos' offseason program or attend workouts with QB Peyton Manning at Duke University. Thomas is currently in Los Angeles for a charity event.

Jordan TodmanMar 30 01:42p

Free-agent RB Jordan Todman (Jaguars) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Monday, March 30. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Miles AustinMar 30 11:42a

Free-agent WR Miles Austin (Browns) will likely sign with the Philadelphia Eagles this week if all goes well with his physical, according to a source.

R. Griffin IIIMar 29 07:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will be the first-team quarterback during offseason workouts, according to head Jay Gruden, but Gruden also said he expects QB Kirk Cousins and [ More ]

Stevan RidleyMar 29 10:12a

Free-agent RB Stevan Ridley (knee) is scheduled to meet with a few teams this week. Ridley is expected to receive full medical clearance in around six weeks.

Andre EllingtonMar 27 07:52p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington, who averaged 20.6 touches per game in 2014 before being injured, won't have his role reduced in 2015, according to head coach Bruce Arians. [ More ]

C.J. AndersonMar 27 07:32p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson, who finished 2014 with 648 rushing yards in the last six games, will enter the 2015 season at the top of the running back [ More ]

Jonathan MartinMar 27 04:32p

San Francisco 49ers OT Jonathan Martin was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers Friday, March 27.

Alan BallMar 27 03:02p

Free-agent CB Alan Ball (Jaguars) signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears Friday, March 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jarrett BoykinMar 27 02:12p

Free-agent WR Jarrett Boykin (Packers) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Friday, March 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Nick FolesMar 27 01:22p

St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said it's the team's intention to draft a quarterback in this year's draft, despite trading for QB Nick Foles in the offseason. [ More ]

Dont'a HightowerMar 26 08:02p

New England Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder) will miss six to seven months after undergoing surgery on a torn right labrum. Hightower's availability for the beginning of the regular [ More ]

Brian QuickMar 26 06:52p

St. Louis Rams WR Brian Quick (shoulder) is making progress in recovering from a torn rotator cuff and separated shoulder he suffered last October. Head coach Jeff Fisher has [ More ]

Jay CutlerMar 26 06:32p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will head into the offseason as the team's No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, but head coach John Fox said there will be [ More ]

Danny LansanahMar 26 05:42p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Danny Lansanah signed his one-year tender Thursday, March 26.

Jonathan MartinMar 26 04:52p

San Francisco 49ers OT Jonathan Martin was waived Thursday, March 26.

Pat SimsMar 26 04:22p

Free-agent DT Pat Sims (Raiders) signed an undisclosed deal with the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday, March 26.

Victor CruzMar 26 01:32p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) 'looks really good and light,' according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz started running last week six months after he tore the [ More ]

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