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October 10, 2007
Wednesday participation report
The Patriots' first participation/injury report of the week is out:
Did Not Participate
T Wesley Britt - team decision
S Mel Mitchell - groin
QB Tom Brady - right shoulder
CB Randall Gay - thigh
C Dan Koppen - ankle
RB Laurence Maroney - groin
G Stephen Neal - shoulder
CB Asante Samuel - foot
WR Donte Stallworth - knee
LB Adalius Thomas - ankle
WR Kelley Washington - hamstring
* Samuel and Thomas are new additions to the list; Rosevelt Colvin (ankle) has been removed.
For the Cowboys:
WR Terry Glenn - knee
Did Not Participate
CB Anthony Henry - ankle
CB Courtney Brown - biceps
LB Kevin Burnett - thigh
S Keith Davis - shoulder
FB Oliver Hoyte - neck
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 4:43 PM to Adalius Thomas
, Asante Samuel
, Dan Koppen
, Donte Stallworth
, Kelley Washington
, Laurence Maroney
, Mel Mitchell
, Randall Gay
, Stephen Neal
, Tom Brady
, Wesley Britt
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T.O. has zipped his lips -- for now
Who ever thought that Dallas' Terrell Owens would shun the spotlight??? But when reporters went into the Cowboys' Valley Ranch practice facility locker room today, there was a laminated, signed note from Owens which said he wouldn't be talking until after Sunday's game.
Owens typically holds Wednesday press conferences.
In his note, which you can see right here (scroll down), Owens says:
Due to the magnitude of this week's game and high volume of questions for the Original 81 about the other 81. I will be taking all questions immediately following Sunday's game.
p.s. Getcha Popcorn Ready"
It looks to us like he's taking a swipe at Randy Moss with his reference to the "other 81" comment...
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 3:01 PM | Permalink
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Hey all --
While inside the Patriots locker room Sunday's game with Dallas is looked at as a big game mostly because it's the next game on the schedule, the national media don't feel the same way.
ESPN had four personalities here today -- Kenny Mayne doing his thing (he asked Bill Belichick was his inspiration was for the cutoff gray hoodie was), Wendi Nix, Rachel Nichols, and all-around good guy (and former Boston Globie) Michael Smith, as well as the cameramen and sound guys to go with them.
The Dallas Morning News and Ft. Worth Star-Telegram have reporters here to get things for Cowboys' fans, and the New York Times and nbcsports.com's Tom Curran were also on hand.
Bill Belichick always touts the strengths of Pats' opponents, but today he was particularly effusive when discussing the Cowboys in his opening comments:
"They’re a very, very impressive football team. I think they really do everything well. They’re very physical on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Statistically just about any stat that you want, they have. They can run it. They can throw it. They make big plays. They turn the ball over. They sack the quarterback. They have the most interceptions in the league. You could just go right down the line. They have a lot of great players," he said.
"They’re a complete team. They’re solid all the way around. They’re well coached. Wade [Phillips] has a very fundamentally sound defensive football team, but they don’t give you much. You have to earn it and they haven’t given up much. It will be a big challenge ahead of us this week."
In the locker room, Tom Brady talked more about the challenge Dallas poses, as did Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel, Rosevelt Colvin and Wes Welker.
Vrabel addressed the charge from Browns' guard Eric Steinbach that he's "classless," which Steinbach claimed on Monday for a last-second play in which Vrabel fell onto Cleveland left tackle Joe Thomas and Thomas fell into quarterback Derek Anderson. Steinbach felt Vrabel was intentionally going for Thomas' knees.
"I'm going to say this one time: I'm sorry they feel that way. I don't play that way," Vrabel said.
Harrison quipped that the only thing dirty on Vrabel is his underwear.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 2:11 PM | Permalink
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Transcript: Tom Brady's Wednesday press conference
How much are you looking forward to this matchup of the unbeatens?
It should be a good game. We’ve been studying hard for the last few days. They present some different challenges and they’re a very talented team so we need to play our best. They’re good in all facets and anyone who watched that game [on Monday Night] knows that they’re never out of it. We’ve got our work cut out for us so it should be fun.
What kind of challenge does their defense present for you?
They’re very active. They’ve got a great front seven. They have playmakers in the secondary; I think they lead the league in turnovers. They do a lot of things really well. They strip the ball. They intercept balls. They rush the passer. They stop the run. We’re playing on the road so that’s always a factor with the crowd noise.
Is this your first time playing in Texas Stadium?
How much better do you feel you’re playing this year?
I don’t know. I think this offense… the longer we work together, hopefully, the better we play. We’re still getting to know each other. I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
You’ve had four-interception games before yourself. How do you bounce back from a game like Tony Romo had on Monday? What do you have to do to put that behind yourself, quickly?
I don’t know. I don’t know. You just try to play the best you can. I think that I’ve always approached it like that. You never try to go out there and do that. You just have confidence in yourself that you’ll go out and play better.
Sunday’s game would mark your 100th career start. Is that amazing to you?
Yeah, that is. I was hoping to get 10 games, but a 100, that’s good. I didn’t know that. That’s very exciting. That doesn’t include playoff games though does it? Regular season?
Coach Belichick said that one of the most important things about you is that regardless of how you were playing, you were always trying to get better. What in particular has been a focus for you this season?
I think everyone is trying to do things better each week. You take the things that you learned from last year. I think all of us try to protect the ball, it’s something that quarterbacks can always try to do a better job of, protecting the ball in the pocket and trying to make better decisions. But I think, overall, that we hopefully can continue to run the ball like we’ve been running and cause problems for defenses in that we can run it and pass it. You don’t want to become one-dimensional. I think more so than anything what this offense has done is we’ve been a threat when we run it and we’ve been a threat when we throw it. So if they want to play heavy pass coverage, we’ll try to run the ball and that’s great for a quarterback.
How similar are these defenses? Say of the Cowboys this year and the Chargers last year when you look at them on film.
How similar are they? I think it’s a similar scheme, obviously it’s the same coach and the same coach is calling the defense, and they’re very talented players. This team has very talented linebackers, a lot like San Diego does, a big front, their three down guys are big guys. It’s a one-gap defense that penetrates the line of scrimmage and the guys in the secondary can make plays so I hope I play better than the last time I played against them out in San Diego. I’m hoping for that.
What do you take from the last time you played the Cowboys in 2003 [a 12-0 Patriots’ win?
I don’t remember that so well. That was the Tuna Bowl with [Coach Bill] Parcells. That’s all I remember.
Did that game at all spur to become better as the season went on?
Any time you score 12 points, I hope you would’ve done better. But I think we kicked a bunch of field goals that game. I’m glad our defense played really well.
With both teams being 5-0, obviously the fans are going to pay a lot of attention to two teams being 5-0. Do you get caught up in that at all?
Not really. It’s another regular season game for us and there have been a lot of big games around here. They’re a very talented team and we need to play our best game. I think that’s what it comes down to. It’s a great defense that attacks the quarterback, attacks the football and they’re very good at what they do. I don’t think we’re building this to anything more than it really is, which is another game on our schedule. It’s another game that we’re hoping to play our best and make improvements.
Posted by Art Martone at 2:10 PM to Tom Brady
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Transcript: Bill Belichick's Wednesday press conference
We’ve spent the last couple of days here working on Dallas. They’re a very, very impressive football team. I think they really do everything well. They’re very physical on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Statistically just about any stat that you want, they have. They can run it. They can throw it. They make big plays. They turn the ball over. They sack the quarterback. The have the most interceptions in the league. You could just go right down the line. They have a lot of great players. Defensively, they’re outstanding up front. They’re physical. The linebackers run well. They have a bunch of playmakers in the secondary of course headed by [Terrence] Newman, who they got back last week, and [Roy] Williams. Offensively, that offensive line is as big and powerful and explosive as I’ve seen in a long time with [Flozell] Adams and [Keith] Davis and [Andre] Gurode there. They’re very powerful. The tight ends are great. [Jason] Whitten is a great player, probably the best all around tight end that I’ve seen in a quite a while. [Tony] Romo is a very athletic quarterback. The play that he made against St. Louis where they snapped the ball over his head and he’s running around 35 yards behind the line of scrimmage and still scrambles and picks up a first down kind of epitomizes his playmaking ability. Both backs are outstanding. [Marion] Barber is having a terrific year. He’s really a hard guy to tackle. Both of them are good in the passing game. Of course they have a lot of big play receivers. You can’t underestimate guys like [Patrick] Crayton and [Sam] Hurd just because they have T.O. [Terrell Owens] and Whitten. [Anthony] Fasano. They all get involved. They’re good in the kicking game. We saw that Monday night. A couple of big kicks there at the end. They cover well. [Leonard] Davis and [Patrick] Watkins and those guys are hard to handle in coverage and they return the ball well. They’re a complete team. They’re solid all the way around. They’re well coached. Wade [Phillips] has a very fundamentally sound defensive football team, but they don’t give you much. You have to earn it and they haven’t given up much. It will be a big challenge ahead of us this week. We don’t know these guys very well. Haven’t played them in several years and they have a lot of new players since then, a lot of young players who have developed, especially guys on the defensive line and linebacker group. They’re a very athletic team. They’re a very tough team. They’re a physical team and they’re hard to score against and they score a lot of points. Those second half numbers are pretty impressive - what they’ve done in terms of outscoring their opponents in the second half. They’re a team that kind of looks like they wear people down and they just keep coming at you. They’re pretty good.
Will [Tom Brady] see action this week after being on the injury report this week?
Brady? We’ll give you the injury report after practice today.
Does it help that Dallas just played your division opponent? Is that helpful in any way?
Not really. We’ve talked about it before. Buffalo, I thought they played an outstanding game Monday night, I’m not taking anything away from them, but their style of play is so different from ours, especially defensively. They play a different style of defense and they’re good at it and they’re fast and they’re quick and they stunt a lot and that’s just not something that we do a lot of. They would play them a lot differently than we would play them. Their style of defense is more like what St. Louis plays. That being said, there are certainly things that we can take from the game, I’m not saying that, but I think Buffalo’s style of play and our style of play, they’re not really that close, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, they’re a four-wide receiver team on third down. They mix the personnel groups up on early downs. There is some carryover, but we’re not really a four wideout team like they are sometimes on third down.
You mentioned Dallas’ second half coring. They haven’t really scored in the first quarter. Does that affect your planning at all?
No, but look at the Giants game. They took the ball up and down the field against them. I don't know. Did they score on the opening drive? They took it right down the field and hit Whitten for a touchdown. I don’t know if that was the first drive or not, but it was early in the game. They can move the ball. I think that may be a statistical abnormality, but I’m sure that over the course of the season, that will work itself out. They’re just too good on offense. They score running, throwing, tight ends, receivers, running backs, quarterbacks, they all score and they score a lot.
Defensively, is last year’s film a little irrelevant with Wade coming in?
Well, it’s a lot of the same players. I think structurally there are a lot of similarities, but it’s definitely different. Wade has had a great deal of success wherever he’s coached defense, whether it be as a head coach or a coordinator. His teams are very sound. They pressure quite a bit and they don’t make many mistakes. They haven’t given up many big plays, not nearly as many as they gave up last year. I think their secondary play, especially [Ken] Hamlin and Williams, the safeties, they’ve prevented a lot…they’ve given up fewer big plays than they gave up last year. Getting Newman back certainly helps. [Anthony] Henry, [Jacques] Reeves, the corner situation, but they’ve always had a couple of good guys out there. [Nathan] Jones has helped them out a little bit there in the sub situations. They’re solid. On third down, they are such a good first and second down defense that a lot of those third down situations are long yardage and then they tee off on the pass rush with [DeMarcus] Ware and [Anthony] Spencer and [Greg] Ellis and all of those guys, so it’s hard to hold the ball and get the ball down the field for the yardage you need.
Do you see them using Ware the same way Wade used [Shawne] Merriman?
Yeah, I’d say it’s similar, but I really see Ware playing about the way he played last year. He plays outside on the 3-4 and he plays end on a 4-3, or in their 4-2 or sub package. He’s tough off the edge. He’s tough in pursuit. He’s a very instinctive guy – reads screens, like the interception he had against Atlanta last year on [Michael] Vick where he batted the ball up in the air and caught it on a bootleg and stuff like that. He’s strong. He’s fast. He’s athletic and you don’t want to run at him. You don’t want to run away from him. It’s a problem. It’s the same thing with the rest of those guys. You don’t want to run at [Marcus] Spears. You don’t want to run at [Chris] Canty either. You don’t want to run away from them. I think they’re good all the way around. They’re a very good pursuit team.
How much better is Tom Brady this year than he was last year?
I think Tom has been a pretty good player for us now. Each game every year there are good plays and there are a couple of plays that he’d like to have back, but he has a lot more good ones than not so good ones and that’s the way it’s been for a while here. It’s hard to criticize his play overall. Again, there’s always some things he can work on and get better at and Tom works very hard at that. I’d say overall his play…he’s a pretty good quarterback.
Do you think nationally he’s been under appreciated?
I don't know. He’s appreciated here, I can tell you that. I don't know what somebody else thinks. You’d have to ask somebody else that.
Has he become a better self-evaluator?
He’s always been pretty good at that. I think Tom has always been pretty good at that even going back to the 2000 season. You give Tom something to work at, he’s going to work at it and try to get better at it and do what he has to do. That’s just not on the field, it’s doing extra work, doing extra drills, spending extra time on things, whether it be physically or mechanically or just understanding overall, whether it’s our system or what the defenses are doing. He works very hard to get everything right. Everything is important to him and I think those little things show up sometimes when you least expect them, but usually in a positive way. He’s always done that. He’s always working to get better. He’s done it through his entire career. He’s certainly doing it this year. I think that’s a great example for all of us, that even a guy who is playing really good football is still always looking to do little things to get better and improve and that’s one of the reasons why he’s so successful.
In last week’s game where both teams didn’t play their best football, as a coach, are you concerned about the breakdowns or are you encouraged that you didn’t play your best football and still won the game?
I think every week, there are always plays that you need to correct and improve on. That was no different last week or the Cincinnati game or the Buffalo game or the San Diego game or the Jets game. There were things in every one of those games that we needed to talk about, improve and get straightened out. I think it’s going to be that way every week. I’m not really too concerned about those games, other than you want to try to learn from the mistakes and make improvements. All of that stuff is in the past, our game and their games and last year and everything else. The most important thing is these next four or five days to maximize our preparation for this game and be in the best position we can be Sunday afternoon to face them.
How has Tom’s performance this season been influenced by the infusion of new receivers around him?
Again, I think Tom has been a good player for us. If you look at the second half of the season last year, we threw the ball pretty well, about as well as anybody in the league. I think there are games where we’re throwing it. There are games where we’re running it. There are some times we’re throwing it deep. Sometimes we’re throwing it short, screen passes, things like that. You do what you need to do offensively to move the ball and score points and that’s what we try to do on offense. It’s not about stats. It’s not about getting the ball to one player ‘x’ number of times or getting so many yards rushing or passing or whatever. It’s about moving the ball and scoring points and winning the game. As long as we’re scoring points and winning, we’re efficient offensively. When we’re not doing that, then that’s not good.
What is the origin of your sweatshirt?
The origin of it? I don't know. It’s comfortable. I can carry my stuff in my pouch here, whatever I need.
Posted by Art Martone at 2:07 PM | Permalink
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Wednesday practice look
Hey all --
We're just in from practice, and there are two absences to report: special-teamer Mel Mitchell and guard Wesley Britt were not on the field today.
Britt, we've been led to believe, is tending to a personal matter.
But Dan Koppen and Laurence Maroney, the starters who missed Sunday's game, were on the field, and both were spotted in the locker room today, which is generally a good sign for the player.
The practice players of the week were practice-squadders Dan Connolly, an offensive lineman, and receiver C.J. Jones. It is Jones' second black jersey this year.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 12:18 PM | Permalink
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Rivers re-signed; C. Brown released
In an expected move, the Patriots have re-signed tight end Marcellus Rivers.
To make room for Rivers, veteran linebacker Chad Brown has been released. Brown had been inactive for the last three games.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 10:34 AM | Permalink
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