AFC East: Danny Aiken

Tom Brady not spotted at practice

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was not spotted at the start of practice on Wednesday morning during the media availability portion of the on-field workout.

The reason for Brady's absence is unclear, as is whether he will take part in any portion of Wednesday's practice. A source told's Mike Reiss that Brady is "good and will be ready for Sunday."

Brady did not suffer any apparent injury during the team's game against the Colts on Saturday night, though he was sick throughout the week last week.

He has been listed as a limited participant with a shoulder injury on multiple occasions since late October, though Brady has not missed a practice this season.

The Patriots moved Brady's regularly scheduled Wednesday news conference to Friday morning.

He was one of two Patriots not seen at the start of practice, as long snapper Danny Aiken, who was also playing through illness on Saturday night, was also not spotted.

Meanwhile, the Patriots did have punter Ryan Allen, who left Saturday's game with a shoulder injury, on the field. Allen suffered an AC sprain, according to sources, and the team is hopeful he can rehab the injury this week to a point that he is good to go on Sunday.

Finally, wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who was injured in Week 17 and had not practiced since that time, returned to practice on Wednesday as he continues to work through a foot injury.

Source: Patriots hopeful on Allen

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
The New England Patriots believe there is a possibility that injured punter Ryan Allen will be able to play in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, depending on how his shoulder responds to aggressive treatment over the course of the week, according to sources.

The plan with Allen, while fluid, reflects why the Patriots have not had any free-agent punters in for workouts as of 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Allen suffered a sprained AC joint, sources said, when he was tackled by multiple Indianapolis Colts players while running down a high snap in the second quarter of last Saturday’s AFC divisional round playoff game. The play resulted in a safety and Allen took the ensuing free kick (a solid 68-yard effort) before leaving the game for good. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski took over the punting duties.

Should Allen punt in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, one of the greater concerns for the Patriots would be his ability to reach up to corral a high snap. Thus, the accuracy of third-year snapper Danny Aiken would take on added importance.

Also, Allen serves as the team’s holder for field goals, a role that quarterback Tom Brady assumed after Allen was knocked out of Saturday’s game. There is a possibility that Allen could punt Sunday, but not serve as the holder. Brady or backup quarterback Ryan Mallett would be top options to replace him.

Allen, a two-time Ray Guy Award winner at Louisiana Tech, joined the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in May and won a training camp competition over incumbent Zoltan Mesko. A left-footed punter, he finished 14th in the NFL in average (45.9) and 16th in net (39.9). His 12 touchbacks led the NFL.

The Patriots, as much as any team in the NFL, place a greater emphasis on directional and situational punting under veteran coach Scott O’Brien.

Asked about Allen’s availability on Sunday, head coach Bill Belichick said, “We’ll put out the injury report [Wednesday] after practice like we usually do.”

Belichick also said it’s possible Gostkowski could once again handle both kicking and punting duties, or the team could still bring in a free-agent punter, although the lack of movement at this point would seem to make that less likely.

In November, the Patriots worked out punters Shawn Powell and Robert Malone as part of their emergency list preparations at the time. Mesko, who could have been an obvious replacement, isn’t an option because he’s still under contract to the Cincinnati Bengals after signing with them in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

Highlighting Patriots-Bills connections

December, 27, 2013
We normally use this space to highlight players or members of the Patriots' upcoming opponent's organization who have ties to New England. With Sunday marking the second time that they'll face the Bills this season, we'll do things a little differently and note current Patriots with ties to Buffalo.

Long-snapper Danny Aiken. Undrafted out of Virginia in 2011, Aiken got his start with the Bills, attending training camp with the team that preseason. The Patriots signed Aiken shortly after his release from Buffalo, and he has held the long-snapping duties since.

Linebacker Chris White. Originally a sixth-round pick of the Bills out of Mississippi State in 2011, White was traded this past offseason to Detroit, who subsequently waived him. The Patriots claimed him, and he has served as a coverage player on special teams in 2013.

Offensive assistant Brian Daboll. Daboll is a native of Buffalo and attended St. Francis High School, just a handful of miles from Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Bills play their home games. He went on to play at the nearby University of Rochester.