Patriots' injury report: Chandler Jones, eight others limited

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Defensive end Chandler Jones (hip) was a limited participant in the New England Patriots' walk-through practice on Wednesday.

This is the first time Jones has participated in a practice since injuring his hip during Week 7 against the New York Jets. It is a good sign to see Jones edging closer to a return with his first practice, even if it was just a walk-through.

Long snapper Danny Aiken (concussion) is a new addition to the injury report, as he was limited on Wednesday. Aiken’s injury status coincides with the signing of long snapper Charley Hughlett to the practice squad. Hughlett could provide an option if Aiken is unable to play on Sunday against the Packers.

The other new additions to the injury report who were limited at practice are starting left guard Dan Connolly (ankle), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (shoulder) and running back Shane Vereen (ankle).

Rookie offensive lineman Cameron Fleming (ankle/finger) was limited at the walk-through, but a good sign is that he was no longer wearing his walking boot in the locker room.

Reserve offensive lineman Marcus Cannon (hip), rookie defensive lineman Dominique Easley (knee) and core special-teamer Nate Ebner (finger) were also limited participants.

Quarterback Tom Brady (ankle) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (thigh) were full participants for the walk-through.

Bills' Woods limited with ankle injury

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Fresh off an eight-catch, 110-yard performance against the New York Jets on Monday night, Buffalo Bills receiver Robert Woods (ankle) was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice.

It's not something that should keep Woods out of Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.

"He'll be fine," coach Doug Marrone said after practice.

Meanwhile, running back Fred Jackson (groin) and Sammy Watkins (groin) were both removed from the injury report.

Here is the full list:

Did not practice:
DE Jarius Wynn (knee)
TE Lee Smith (illness)
TE Chris Gragg (knee)

Limited participation:
WR Robert Woods (ankle)
K Dan Carpenter (right groin)
S Bacarri Rambo (hamstring)

Quick hits from Patriots' locker room

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Some quick hits from the media-access period in the New England Patriots' locker room on Wednesday:

Fleming sheds walking boot. Rookie offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, who wore a protective boot over his sprained left ankle last week, was present and walking without the boot today. That appears to be a sign of progress for him.

Slater appreciative of extended contract. Special teams captain Matthew Slater drew a large media crowd, and he mostly deflected talk of his contract extension through 2016. He said he didn't really want to get into it because his focus was on the Packers, but he allowed this: "I'm just so thankful for what the lord has done in my life and my career, [to] develop me here as a player and as a man. I'm thankful for an opportunity to continue that development -- to the coaching staff, Bill Belichick and this organization for believing in me and appreciating a player like me."

McCourty concurs with Revis on secondary. After Sunday's win against the Lions, cornerback Darrelle Revis said, "This is probably the best group of guys I've been around, secondary-wise, where everyone is just talented. We can do so many versatile things in our defense." Asked Wednesday if he agrees with Revis' viewpoint, safety Devin McCourty replied: “I would say that's a pretty fair opinion. This group has worked really hard each week of trying to be prepared and trying to be on point to the matchups we have. It hasn't been easy. ...I think our coaching staff does a good job each week coming up with whatever they think gives us the best chance to win. Here, we take it as a challenge to be ready for that. It's not easy when you do different things throughout the week."

Revis: Rodgers the biggest test yet. Revis called Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers the team's biggest test to date. Asked where he seems to hurt defenses most, he said, "Scrambling, when you watch film, that's what you see a lot of -- they extend a lot of plays." Revis added that it's his first time playing at Lambeau Field, which is something he's looking forward to.

Extra points. Receiver Danny Amendola was among the other players drawing a larger media crowd, with his work as a kickoff returner drawing much of the attention. ...New practice squad players Charley Hughlett and tight end Xavier Grimble will wear jersey numbers 53 and 86, respectively.
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams went through his first full practice of the week on Wednesday despite a small fracture on the tip of his left index finger. He is listed as probable for Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Williams is one of seven players listed as probable, including quarterback Tony Romo, who went through his second straight full practice. Defensive tackle Josh Brent (groin), defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (knee), right tackle Doug Free (foot), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (shoulder) and linebacker Rolando McClain (knee) are listed as probable.

Safety Jeff Heath, who had surgery on his thumb Tuesday, is listed as doubtful. On Monday, Heath expressed hope he would be able to have the surgery, wrap up his thumb and play.

Cornerback Tyler Patmon will miss his second straight game with a knee injury. Linebacker Dekoda Watson was ruled out with a hamstring injury. To cover for Watson’s absence, the Cowboys called up linebacker Keith Smith from the practice squad and placed defensive end Jack Crawford on injured reserve. Like Heath, Crawford had thumb surgery on Tuesday.
DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins (6-5) began their practice week on Wednesday in preparation for the New York Jets (2-9).

Here are some notes for Miami:
  • Miami wide receiver Mike Wallace did not practice Wednesday during the portion open to the media. Wallace's injury is unknown. But Wallace did some jogging and catching footballs on the sidelines. The Dolphins will not release an injury report until Thursday.
  • The Dolphins also had some interesting absences. Starting linebacker Koa Misi and cornerback Jamar Taylor were not present Wednesday during the portion open to the media. Taylor did not finish last Sunday's game against the Broncos because of a shoulder injury. Misi has been on and off with an ankle injury, but it’s unknown why he was absent this week.
  • Veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan dressed for practice but worked on the side with trainers during the early portion of practice. Finnegan is trying to come back from an ankle injury that's kept him out of the past two games.
  • The Dolphins received some good injury news. Starting left tackle Ja'Wuan James and tight end Charles Clay both practiced Wednesday. Clay did not play last week against Denver because of knee and hamstring injuries, and James was knocked out of the game with a stinger.

Patriots RB Jonas Gray's very bad day

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
Everyone knows New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray had a tough day on the field this past Sunday, as he did not receive any snaps during the Patriots’ win over the Lions.

Gray went from AFC Offensive Player of the Week with 37 carries for 201 yards and four touchdowns the previous week to sideline fixture, apparently for showing up late to practice Nov. 21.

But Gray also had a tough day off the field. On Sunday, his car was towed. Check out this Facebook post from the towing company.
IRVING, Texas – Jason Garrett’s signature moment as the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback turns 20 years old on Thursday.

Is it that long ago? Not to Garrett. The memories of that 42-31 win against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers at Texas Stadium on Nov. 24, 1994, remain fresh. He can recall the plays in his mind, the good and the bad, as if it were yesterday.

“I think it’s probably a lot like life,” Garrett said. “Sometimes things that happened a long time ago seem like they were yesterday, those memories are vivid for you. It certainly was a memorable day for me, for our team. Time travels quickly, and you have to embrace the moments.”

Garrett was making his first start because of injuries to Troy Aikman and Rodney Peete. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns.

But it was what happened after his first pass of the game was intercepted by Packers cornerback Terrell Buckley he remembers most.

The play was 525 F Post, a play that remains in the Cowboys’ playbook to this day.

“I worked through the progression, he sat underneath the five route and I threw it right at him. I think it was in the first or second series of the game,” Garrett said. “The great Michael Irvin came over to me and said, ‘Hey, if he wants to do that, we’re going up on top.’ It really was a great memory for me, because of the confidence he instilled in me, and then also, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ And eventually we did that in the game.”

The Cowboys trailed 17-6 at halftime, but they scored touchdowns on their first five drives of the second half, putting up a franchise-record 36 second-half points. Garrett completed 7-of-8 passes for 198 yards and two scores in the second half.

Garrett is asked about his heroics every Thanksgiving, a natural tie for the Cowboys’ annual game, but he’s not sure many of his players know about the game.

“Very few of them were born I think,” Garrett said. “I’m not so sure.”

Cowboys rookies Anthony Hitchens, DeMarcus Lawrence were 2 years old. Jeremy Mincey is in his first year with the Cowboys and did not recall Garrett’s heroics. He was only 10 at the time. Tony Romo was 14 and vaguely remembers the game because he grew up in Burlington, Wisconsin. He also has around the Cowboys long enough to know most of the team’s history.

“I remember just this little red-head guy, putting on a performance,” Romo said with a tinge of sarcasm.

Romo was not the biggest of Packers’ fans. He was more of a John Elway fan than anything else, but there was some disappointment that Green Bay lost.

“Thought you might be able to win when they put a backup quarterback in,” Romo said. “Not when you’ve got a guy as good as Jason.”

Garrett is hoping for another Thanksgiving memory Thursday when the Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles with first place in the NFC East on the line. That is more important now then reminiscing about the past.

“It was a good Thanksgiving 20 years ago, there’s no question about that,” Garrett said. “There were a lot of great ones growing up, nothing like my mom’s Thanksgiving dinner and the backyard games we played all throughout our youth. Those were good days for us.”
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was at the tail end of his Wednesday morning news conference as there was a call for one last question.

Turns out Belichick saved his best answer for last.

When asked if he sees any similarities between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, Belichick was quick with the response.

"They both wear number 12," he deadpanned, before walking off.

In the words of "NFL Live" host Trey Wingo, that's Bill Belichick for the win.

Earlier in the news conference, Belichick was asked about Rodgers having never started a game against his teams, and if he likes that dynamic from a game-planning standpoint entering Sunday's game.

Belichick's response: "It is what it is. Whatever hasn't happened, hasn't happened. I don't really worry about it."

And now we'll get back to our regularly scheduled Patriots programming.
A few quick thoughts on the New York Jets' decision to start Geno Smith at quarterback, not Michael Vick:

1. This has John Idzik's fingerprints all over it. On Tuesday, the feeling around the Jets was that Rex Ryan was planning to keep Vick in the starting lineup. But late Tuesday night, it was decided they will return Smith to his former job after three games on the bench. No doubt, Ryan will present this as an "organizational decision," as he always does, but this smacks of the head coach being overruled by his GM.

Geno Smith
AP Photo/Seth WenigGeno Smith, who was benched after an awful performance in Week 8, is once again the starter in New York.
2. You can rip the process, but it's hard to criticize the choice. The Jets (2-9) are mathematically eliminated, so it's all about the future. Even Ryan admitted that Tuesday, telling reporters he's planning to increase the roles of some young players -- in backup roles, he clarified. He said it wouldn't be anything as dramatic as changing a starting job. So much for that.

3. This looks like Smith's last chance to prove to the organization that he has a future. He went 1-7 this season as the starter before an awful performance in Week 8 landed him on the bench. The fact that he's back in the lineup is no shock -- you knew Idzik wanted to give Smith another audition, so to speak -- but it's surprising that it is coming now. If Smith happens to play well (does anybody really think that will happen with this offense?), it could create a false sense of hope. The Jets got sucked into that late last season, when Smith made some strides in meaningless games.

4. It'll be interesting to see how this plays in the locker room. The sense from the players is they liked Vick as the starter. They respect his experience and, of course, ability to make plays outside the pocket. There was a palpable loss of confidence in Smith after his brutal Week 8 start against the Buffalo Bills. This decision probably will be met with some grumbling in the locker room. Then again, does it matter at this point? The Jets are toast, and so is Ryan.

5. This move is not Ryan-like. One thing about him is that he doesn't have a quick hook. Maybe it's one of his faults. He stayed with Mark Sanchez too long and he did the same with Smith, who should've been benched after missing a team meeting and playing poorly in a Week 4 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Vick gets yanked after one bad start.

6. It never changes with the Jets. This quarterback circus triggers memories of 2012, when it was the Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy fiasco. Unfortunately for Ryan, this will be one of his legacies: dysfunction at the quarterback position.
Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson underwent an MRI exam Tuesday for a toe injury that could cause him to miss a game for the first time in his career.

Results of the MRI weren't immediately available. The New York Jets didn't provide an update on Wilkerson, who started receiving treatment, but Rex Ryan sounded concerned.

"He doesn’t look great," Ryan said. "But, hopefully, in a couple of days he’ll bounce back from it."

Wilkerson, the team's sack leader, suffered the injury in the second quarter of the 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills and never returned to the game. He was replaced by Leger Douzable. After Monday night's game, Wilkerson provided no details, refusing to say how it happened. The fact that he wasn't able to return is significant. Wilkerson is one of the most durable players on the team, having played in all 59 games in his career.

The Jets don't play until Monday night against the Dolphins, so Wilkerson will have the benefit of an extra day. The Jets (2-9) have a light practice Wednesday and an off day for Thanksgiving before stepping up the game prep Friday and Saturday.

Rookie tight end Jace Amaro also is a question mark. He suffered a head injury in the game and is being evaluated as part of the NFL's concussion protocol.
From all indications, the New York Jets will stick with a banged-up Michael Vick at quarterback, but that decision won't be announced until Wednesday.

Another delay penalty on the Jets.

Rex Ryan said Tuesday he will wait the extra day because he wants to sit down with Vick and Geno Smith before going public with his decision. The players had a day off after the embarrassing 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Detroit. The Jets don't play again until Monday night against the Miami Dolphins.

At 2-9, the Jets' quarterback situation isn't exactly high drama. Ryan is leaning toward Vick as long as he's healthy, according to a source -- and Vick appears to be fine.

Vick got "beat up a little bit" in the game, suffering minor wrist and ankle injuries, but his condition isn't serious enough to impact the decision, according to Ryan.

"No, I don’t think that will be the final thing we talk about," Ryan said. "I’ll address it tomorrow and we’ll go from there."

The Jets were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs with the loss, so you could make the case for starting Smith and using the last five games as a final evaluation. Ryan acknowledged he's planning to give more playing time to some of the younger players, but he indicated those would be subtle moves, not outright changes in the starting lineup.

The one variable is general manager John Idzik. If he decides he wants Smith 2.0, it'll be Smith returning to the lineup. He was benched after a three-interception debacle in Week 8, which dropped the Jets to 1-7. Smith replaced Vick late in the third quarter on Monday night, completing 10 of 12 passes for 89 yards -- his first action since the benching.

Ryan offered only a lukewarm assessment of Smith's performance, saying he was "pretty decent." He criticized Smith for a late sack and for not sliding on a scramble. In short, Ryan didn't sound like he was eager to get him back in the starting lineup.

Vick was solid in his first two starts, but he struggled against the Bills. Under heavy pressure, he completed only 7 of 19 passes for 76 yards and an interception. He was sacked five times. His worst moment was overthrowing a wide-open Eric Decker on what should've been a 69-yard touchdown pass.

What about third-stringer Matt Simms? Ryan, on his weekly spot on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7, had a curious response when asked if Simms is a consideration to start. Ryan laughed and said simply, "No."

Bill Belichick: Patriots liked Packers center Corey Linsley in draft too

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
Quick hits from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s conference call on Tuesday:

Two rookie centers. The Packers have rookie Corey Linsley at center, while the Patriots have their own rookie at the position in Bryan Stork. The Patriots had interest in Linsley (a fifth-round pick) before taking Stork in the fourth round. Now these two rookies are anchoring the interior of their offensive lines and learning on the fly.

“Linsley is a guy that we were all over too at Ohio State and after we took Stork in the fourth round, we didn’t really plan on coming right back and taking the same position,” Belichick said. “But, he was a guy we spent a lot of time on and had a lot of interest in too. He’s done a good job for the Packers. [He’s] started all year and is playing behind two very experienced players at guard similar to Bryan’s situation here. There is a lot at that position -- a learning curve and being a rookie -- just on a lot of levels, especially with cadence.”

Peppers still going strong. Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers may be 34-years-old and in his 13th NFL season, but he is still impressive with his athleticism and versatility as a pass-rusher and coverage linebacker.

“[Peppers] has seen everything, experienced it. I don’t think there’s too many things on the football field that would surprise him anymore,” Belichick said. “He’s a very disruptive guy and in the pass-rush more than he is in coverage, but when he is in coverage, you have to be aware of his length and size he presents. He’s certainly a lot bigger than almost anyone else you would see in coverage.”

Rodgers-Nelson back-shoulder threat. Last week, Tom Brady discussed the back-shoulder pass with Brandon LaFell, and regarded Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson as the best at executing the highly evolved play. Likewise, Belichick is tuned into the threat of back-shoulder throws to Nelson.

“Well the back-shoulder is tough because especially with a guy like [Jordy] Nelson who has such good height (6-3), length [and] speed; as a defensive back you never want guys to get on top of you or behind you,” Belichick said. “At the same time, they are so good at that back-shoulder throw that if you are thinking about that and then Nelson runs by you, it’s all over.”

Don’t forget about Cobb. Even with Nelson having an impressive season, Randall Cobb is certainly not to be forgotten with his 10 receiving touchdowns.

“Cobb is a tough matchup, usually inside the slot,” Belichick said. “Good speed, good quickness, good playing strength, good with hands, an excellent run after catch player, also a returner, so the problems with him are his separation and ability to get open but also getting him on the ground after he has the ball.

“Seems to have a really good rapport on the field with Rodgers.”

Protecting the football. Sunday’s Patriots-Packers showdown features the NFL’s top two teams in turnover differential with the Packers at plus-15 and the Patriots at plus-11.

“Not only do they not turn the ball over and get turnovers, but they are also the best in the league at converting turnovers into touchdowns,” Belichick said. “They are a very opportunistic team. They play good complementary football. They are an explosive team, and they can get the ball away from you and pretty much score from anywhere and they are explosive in the kicking game and the return game.”

The Packers’ dominance at home. The Packers are undefeated at home (5-0) and winning home games by a margin of 26.8 points.

“We have to find a way to be competitive in their home stadium where they have played exceptionally well in recent weeks -- just extraordinary,” Belichick said. “So, it will be a huge challenge.”
DETROIT -- Does anyone need two hands to catch in the NFL anymore?

With fans' jaws still dropping at New York Giants rookie Odell Beckham Jr.'s physics-defying grab Sunday night, Buffalo Bills receiver Robert Woods put on his own show Monday night.

[+] EnlargeRobert Woods
Jamie Sabau/Getty ImagesRobert Woods was able to pin the ball against his helmet for a 27-yard reception in the second quarter.
In a play that quickly drew comparisons to David Tyree's incredible catch in Super Bowl XLII, the second-year Bills receiver pulled in an astonishing 27-yard pass from Kyle Orton in the second quarter of the Bills' 38-3 blowout win over the New York Jets.

On third-and-2, Woods streaked past Jets cornerback Darrin Walls down the right sideline, stretching out his right hand for Orton's pass. Bobbling the pass as he continued to run, Woods was able to momentarily pin it against his helmet while keeping his feet in bounds.

Talk about concentration.

"He could have caught it with two hands," teammate Sammy Watkins opined. "But being Robert, he wanted to go one-handed and it was a great catch."

Yet it wasn't Woods' only impressive grab of the night. Darting into the end zone on a third-and-goal in the first quarter, Woods turned his body and fell backward while snagging a 7-yard touchdown pass from Orton.

It was all in a day's work for Woods, a second-round pick last season who set career highs with nine catches for 118 yards.

Part of that production, coach Doug Marrone explained, was courtesy of the Jets shading their coverage to help take Sammy Watkins out of the game.

"If you look at it, they kept rolling everything to Sammy so it was difficult for us to get him the football," Marrone said. "Like I said before, when they do that you're going to need the other guys to step up because they're going to be in one-on-one coverage.

"I thought Robert really stepped up and played extremely well and if he doesn't then we're in trouble. That's just the way it is."

Compared to Woods' 11 targets, Orton threw at Watkins just five times and the rookie finished with three catches for 35 yards.

"When you're winning the game, you don't get caught up into that. If I was losing, it probably would've been a problem," Watkins said. "But when you're winning and seeing your boys, the team who you grind with every day, [Chris Hogan] and Robert making plays, it's nothing. But it can get scrapping if you're losing the game. But if we're winning, I'm fine."

QB snapshot: Kyle Orton

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
A quick observation of quarterback Kyle Orton and how he played in the Buffalo Bills' 38-3 win in Week 12:

The New York Jets really do bring out the best in Orton.

A month after the Bills quarterback posted a career-high 142.8 quarterback rating in a Week 8 win against the Jets, Orton set a career high in completion percentage Monday night.

Orton completed 24 of 32 passes, a 75 percent rate that topped his previous career high of 74.2 percent set in 2011 when he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

It wasn't exactly a high-flying outing by any means -- his 7.19 yards per attempt ranked 13th among QBs in Week 12 -- but even with 230 yards passing, Orton had little trouble against the Jets' defense.

With the win, Orton improved to 4-0 all time in games at Ford Field. After two wins in Detroit as a member of the Chicago Bears, he now has added two more victories at the facility in a span of two months.

QB snapshot: Ryan Tannehill

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
A quick observation of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and how he played in the Miami Dolphins' 39-36 loss in Week 12:

Tannehill had another strong performance in a losing effort to the Denver Broncos. He didn't necessarily put up huge numbers, but he stayed within the flow of the game and nearly matched future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning drive for drive for four quarters.

Tannehill threw for 228 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also posted his fifth triple-digit passer rating (104.9) of the season. But the most impressive statistic was Tannehill led Miami to five touchdowns in five trips to the red zone. The Dolphins entered Sunday's game ranked 30th in red zone efficiency. This was a big step in the right direction and bodes well for Tannehill and the offense.

The Dolphins (6-5) now have a must-win game against the lowly New York Jets (2-9) on ESPN's "Monday Night Football." Miami needs a strong finish from Tannehill, who must continue to produce touchdown drives instead of settling for field goals.



Sunday, 11/30
Monday, 12/1