New England Patriots: Austin Collie

Several Pats FAs are still out there

March, 28, 2014
With the NFL owners meetings behind us, we’ve come to something of a natural juncture within the NFL offseason schedule.

Most of the major free-agent activity has come and passed, though there is still a collection of talent available.

The New England Patriots have been busy already this offseason, but certainly might not be done.

One of the orders of business the Patriots will continue to monitor is their own free agents.

Below is a snapshot of those still available to sign, with a quick-hit thought.

RB LeGarrette Blount: Blount is reportedly visiting the Steelers today, marking his most legitimate interest from another team that we’ve heard of. The running back market has been soft this offseason, and a return to New England would still make sense in our eyes.

DE Andre Carter: The veteran provided experience as a midseason signing, though his ability to impact the game on the field has regressed. He indicated last year that if he weren’t to return to the Patriots, he’d retire.

WR Austin Collie: Dependable in a small role last season, Collie is the type of player the Patriots can be patient on. After re-signing Julian Edelman and adding Brandon LaFell in free agency, there is not a huge need to re-sign Collie with Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson expected to develop in Year 2.

Tight end Matthew Mulligan: Tight end remains an area to address for the Patriots, but Mulligan is another player who there is no need to rush on. He’s replaceable through a late-round draft choice or other veteran option.

Offensive tackle Will Svitek: Svitek offers versatility to play both tackle spots and guard, though a balky ankle slowed him down the stretch last season. With Marcus Cannon on the roster, the Patriots have their swing tackle. Svitek has a place in this league as a reserve.

Center Ryan Wendell: Perhaps the most intriguing name still on this list. If Wendell had been a free agent after the 2012 season, the narrative might be different. But a difficult 2013 has decreased his market. At a low-money contract, bringing him back is a wise investment.

Lining up Patriots 2014 free agents

February, 27, 2014
With various top free agent lists starting to surface, let's narrow things down to the Patriots with a snapshot look at the team's free agents:

1. CB Aqib Talib -- Difference-maker when healthy and added a different dynamic to the cornerbacks room since November of 2012. A top priority for the team.

2. WR Julian Edelman -- Deserves everything coming to him after a terrific 2013 season. Patriots would obviously like him back, but if another team ups the bidding, he's probably gone.

3. RB LeGarrette Blount -- Mutual interest in his return. A player who seemingly has more value to the Patriots than most others, which makes us think it's a greater likelihood he's back.

4. LB Brandon Spikes -- The way 2013 ended makes it unlikely he returns.

5. C Ryan Wendell -- A scrappy heady performer, Wendell maximizes his talents. I don't evision the Patriots extending their budget to ensure his return, but if a market doesn't develop for him, he'd surely be welcome back in a situation where there might be top competition for the No. 1 job.

6. TE Michael Hoomanawanui-- Played his role well in 2013. Would think he's back unless another team unexpectedly ups the ante.

7. LB Dane Fletcher -- One of the Patriots' best special teams players. Would think there is a competitive bid to retain him.

8. DE Andre Carter -- They don't get much better from a locker-room perspective, but we'd be surprised if the team makes his return a priority at this point.

9. TE Matthew Mulligan -- More of a blocking presence, he filled his role well in 2013. Although the Patriots will probably look to add to the position, it wouldn't be a surprise if Mulligan competes for a roster spot again.

10. WR Austin Collie -- Veteran was dependable and should warrant serious consideration to re-sign.

11-. OT Will Svitek -- Smart, versatile veteran probably will see his spot go to a youngster, unless Sebastian Vollmer's recovery doesn't look promising.

Snaps: Edelman with ironman finish

January, 20, 2014
DENVER -- A look at the snaps played by skill-position players in the New England Patriots' 26-16 loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game:

QB Tom Brady -- 59 of 59
WR Julian Edelman -- 59 of 59
TE Michael Hoomanawanui -- 49 of 59
WR Danny Amendola -- 41 of 59
RB Shane Vereen -- 41 of 59
WR Austin Collie -- 37 of 59
WR Aaron Dobson -- 22 of 59
TE Matthew Mulligan -- 13 of 59
FB James Develin -- 12 of 59
RB Stevan Ridley -- 10 of 59
RB LeGarrette Blount -- 8 of 59
WR Matthew Slater -- 3 of 59

(Penalties included. Two-point conversion included.)

ANALYSIS: Edelman's importance to the offense is reflected in the fact he never left the field in the most important game of the season. He gave the team everything he had. ... Dobson, a rookie receiver, was obviously limited with a foot injury and was managed carefully. The beneficiary of his absence was Collie, who rose up to the challenge with a strong performance. ... Amendola played too many snaps to go without a catch. He had the one drop. ... At running back, it was a rotation with the big backs Blount and Ridley, but they hardly played because of the way the game unfolded and the Patriots were forced into more of a passing game. With that, Vereen took the majority of snaps at the position. ... The 59 snaps were a season-low. The previous low was 63, against the Bengals on Oct. 6.

Long story: Brady's misses deep costly

January, 19, 2014
Tom Brady Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty ImagesThe Patriots dug themselves a hole that Tom Brady was unable to get them out of.
DENVER -- Tom Brady and the deep ball. When considering where things fell short for the New England Patriots in their 26-16 loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, it’s one of the places to start.

The resilient Patriots dug themselves an early hole, never could find their way out of it, and the play that gave them the best chance to do so is one that is going to be tough for Brady to live with this offseason.

The long ball to receiver Julian Edelman was there late in the first quarter. Brady just missed it, and in a game of this magnitude with a near-perfect Peyton Manning on the other sideline, a miscue like that can be a difference-maker.

“I wish I would have made that,” Brady lamented of the one of the turning points of the game. “I just overthrew him.”

Between that play, which would have set the Patriots up to at least tie the game at 3-3 late in the first quarter, and cornerback Aqib Talib injuring his knee on the next long Broncos scoring drive and not returning, it was a double-barreled blow the team never could overcome. Brady airmailing open receiver Austin Collie late in the second quarter, when Collie had found a seam up the right sideline against a Cover-2 defensive shell, also cost the team a chance at possibly stealing three points.

So what’s up with Brady and the deep ball?

To some, this won’t come as a news flash. It hasn’t been a strength all season, with Brady’s 21.4 completion percentage on throws 25 yards or more ranking him tied for 31st in the NFL this season, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information.

But there was a notable difference between what we’ve seen most of the season -- a lack of consistent separation from pass-catchers not giving Brady clean windows in which to throw -- and what unfolded Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.

Edelman was wide open, having lined up in the right slot before running a vertical route up the middle of the field and cutting it out toward the left sideline 40 yards downfield. Safety Mike Adams was five yards behind in the rear-view mirror.

And Brady himself had plenty of time, the result of selling a hard play-action off the right side of the line, as there wasn’t a Bronco within five yards of him as he reset his feet and overthrew Edelman by about five yards. Brady’s reaction said it all as he immediately slapped his hands on top of his helmet.

Collie had also found a rather large opening across midfield that could have helped set up a long half-ending field goal in Denver’s thin air, where kicker Stephen Gostkowski was banging them through from 58 yards in pregame warmups.

Would the plays have made a difference in the final outcome? Perhaps not, as the Broncos outplayed the Patriots (a 35:44 to 24:16 time of possession edge is decisive) with everyone from head coach Bill Belichick to Brady acknowledging that the team that deserved to win did so.

But on a day when opportunities for big plays were sparse, the overthrows loomed large.

“When you play good teams, the margin for error is slim all day,” said Brady, who finished 24 of 38 for 277 yards and one touchdown. “We dug ourselves a pretty big hole there. I think this is a resilient tough team. We just got beat by a team that played really well.”

The Patriots, after putting together three of their best games of the season leading into the conference championship, didn’t. The Broncos’ run defense played a large role in that, limiting the effective ground-and-pound approach that had transformed the Patriots’ attack in recent weeks. The Patriots rushed for just 64 yards on 16 carries.

So that left the Patriots in a similar spot as they were in Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants in the 2007 and 2011 seasons, as well as last year’s AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens. They were forced to go to the air.

The difference between the two passing attacks was stark, with Manning outdueling Brady in the 15th installment of their terrific personal rivalry (Brady is now 10-5 in those games). Manning sought out Brady immediately on the field and later relayed that Brady was classy in his remarks.

“I just wished him good luck. I have a lot of respect for him,” Brady revealed. “He’s a great player and competitor. He played great today.”

Meanwhile, this wasn’t Brady’s best, the inability to connect on the long ball the big downer.

Ups & downs for the Patriots

January, 19, 2014
DENVER -- A look at who's "up" and who's "down" for the New England Patriots in their 26-16 loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game:

Ryan Allen -- Rookie punter played through a shoulder injury and delivered a couple of booming punts in the first half.

Austin Collie -- Veteran receiver turned out to be one of quarterback Tom Brady's most reliable options.

Chandler Jones -- Defensive end caught the eye with strong play against the run and a good rush that contributed to a red zone stop.

Danny Amendola -- Receiver was hardly a factor and had a drop in the third quarter.

Tom Brady -- The missed deep pass to receiver Julian Edelman in the first quarter will probably stick with the quarterback for a while. He also missed one to Collie late in the second quarter.

Alfonzo Dennard/Logan Ryan -- Young cornerbacks struggle in coverage and tackling.

Quick-hit thoughts from first quarter

January, 19, 2014
DENVER -- After 15 minutes of play, the New England Patriots trail the Denver Broncos 3-0 in the AFC Championship Game. Passing along quick-hit notes and observations from the first quarter.

1. Pats' O starts slow. The Patriots' offense needed just one play to find the end zone last Saturday, but the start wasn't quite the same today, as the offense went three and out on its first drive and punted on each of the first two drives. Some notable personnel factors: Aaron Dobson is playing some in two-receiver sets, LeGarrette Blount once again is handling lead back duties and both Matthew Slater and Austin Collie have been targeted on third-down plays.

2. Perfect conditions. The weather is idyllic in Denver today, with a temperature of 61 degrees at kickoff. There's hardly a cloud in the sky, and there's minimal wind. A strong glare has made things difficult on returners fielding punts deep.

3. Broncos open the scoring. The Broncos got on the board first with a field goal late in the first quarter. The drive was helped by a long completion from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas on a third and 10 play. The Patriots were able to hold the Broncos from the 10-yard line, however, forcing the field goal from Matt Prater.

4. Patriots' offense driving. The Patriots' offense generated a little bit of buzz at the end of the quarter, crossing into Denver territory. The second quarter will open with the Patriots facing a fourth down from Denver's 39.

5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were flagged for penalties during the first quarter: tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (offensive pass interference).

Rapid Reaction: New England Patriots

January, 11, 2014

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Sharing thoughts on the New England Patriots' 43-22 divisional-round playoff victory Saturday over the Indianapolis Colts:

What it means: The Patriots advance to the AFC Championship Game for the eighth time in Bill Belichick's 14 years as head coach, which continues a remarkable run of success for Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. Many of the faces around them have changed over the years, but Belichick and Brady have been the constants, and one could make a case this has been their most impressive season as a tandem. The Patriots have been hit as hard by injuries as any team in the NFL, but they've willed their way to put themselves in position to win their first Super Bowl championship since the 2004 season.

Running game sparks attack again: For the third consecutive game, the Patriots' ground attack was the difference-maker, led by hard-charging LeGarrette Blount (franchise-record four rushing touchdowns). The Patriots split snaps at running back evenly among Blount, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, and sliced up the Colts with strong work up front by the offensive line -- left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Logan Mankins, center Ryan Wendell, right guard Dan Connolly and right tackle Marcus Cannon -- as well as tight ends Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan and fullback James Develin. When the Patriots run it like this, it brings back memories of the 2004 Super Bowl championship team for which bruiser Corey Dillon was the lead back.

Injuries to monitor: Punter Ryan Allen left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski handled the punting duties, and Brady handled the holder responsibilities as part of the field-goal operation. If Allen is unavailable in the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots would almost certainly bring in another punter. Former Patriot Zoltan Mesko isn't an option, as he punted for the Bengals in the playoffs and isn't eligible to join another team. ... Elsewhere, rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins left the game in the fourth quarter with a head injury (presumably a concussion) and did not return. Veteran Austin Collie was his replacement.

Stock watch: Jamie Collins -- up. The Patriots' top pick in the 2013 draft (52nd overall) was thrust into an expanded role, in part because linebacker Brandon Spikes was placed on season-ending injured reserve earlier in the week. Collins had played just 25 percent of the defensive snaps during the regular season, but he didn't come off the field and made his presence felt as a tackler, pass-rusher and in coverage with an interception. He was all over the field in what was a coming out party for the ultra-athletic defender from Southern Mississippi.

What's next: The Patriots will play in the AFC Championship Game against the winner of Sunday's game between the visiting San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos (4:40 p.m. ET). If Denver beats San Diego, the AFC Championship Game will be played in Denver. If San Diego beats Denver, the AFC Championship Game will be played in New England. Regardless of location, the game will be played at 3 p.m. ET next Sunday.

WR Dobson remains out of practice

January, 8, 2014
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson remains out of practice with a foot injury, making it unlikely he will be available for Saturday's divisional-round playoff against the Indianapolis Colts.

Dobson, who hobbled off in the second quarter of the Patriots' season finale against the Bills on Dec. 29, hasn't practiced since.

At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he is the team's tallest receiver and also arguably the club's best deep threat. A second-round draft choice out of Marshall, Dobson totaled 37 catches for 519 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season, playing 46.4 percent of the offensive snaps.

Julian Edelman (5-foot-10, 198 pounds) has been the Patriots' top receiver for most of the year and the Patriots' most ideal pairing in the two-receiver set has been when he teams up with Dobson, with Danny Amendola (5-11, 195) serving as the No. 3 target.

Without Dobson, the Patriots have at times turned more to Amendola, although he has a similar skill set to Edelman's. An Edelman-Amendola pairing also leaves the Patriots a bit smaller on the outside.

Rookie Kenbrell Thompkins (6-1, 195) and five-year veteran Austin Collie (6-0, 204) are next on the depth chart.

Elsewhere on the Patriots' injury front, starting left guard Logan Mankins (ankle) and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee) were present at practice for the second straight day.

Source: Pats re-sign WR Austin Collie

January, 2, 2014
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have re-signed veteran wide receiver Austin Collie for the third time this season, according to a league source.

Collie, who was released last Friday, adds depth to the Patriots' receiving corps, where they are dealing with injuries to rookies Josh Boyce (ankle) and Aaron Dobson (foot). Neither of those players has practiced this week.

The veteran Collie has played in seven games for the Patriots this season, totaling six catches for 63 yards. If either Dobson or Boyce is unable to play in the team's divisional round game next Saturday night, Collie could be a part of the team's top four wide-receiver rotation.

Originally a fourth-round pick of the Colts back in 2009, a string of injuries have impacted Collie's career in recent seasons.

The Patriots will need to announce a corresponding roster move, as Collie was at practice on Thursday and wearing jersey number 10.

Four absent from practice

January, 2, 2014
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For the second consecutive day, guard Logan Mankins, wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard were not spotted at the start of New England Patriots practice.

Mankins left Sunday's game briefly with an ankle injury and had a walking boot next to his locker on Monday afternoon. Given that the Patriots do not play until next Saturday night, it's possible they are looking to build in extra rest for their top offensive lineman.

Dobson, remains out after injuring his foot in Week 17, the same area that caused him to miss time late in the season. It's unclear if Dobson suffered the same injury to his foot or if a separate issue is now bothering him. Boyce has been hampered by an ankle injury since Week 16, and has not practiced since.

Veteran wide receiver Austin Collie was re-signed Thursday, according to a league source, and was spotted wearing number 10.

Dennard did not play in Week 17, and has dealt with injuries throughout much of the second half of the regular season. Beyond a knee injury, Dennard is also playing through a shoulder problem.

Today is the Patriots' second of three practice days this week before a break over the weekend. The team practiced on the game field at Gillette Stadium in the snow, where nearly a foot is expected to come down between Thursday and Friday.

The Patriots practiced in full pads.

Josh McDaniels on filling No. 4 WR void

November, 11, 2013
When the New England Patriots released veteran Austin Collie last Tuesday after he injured his knee, it created a void at the No. 4 receiver spot.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was asked Monday about the team's plans to fill it, and his answer provided insight as to how the coaching staff currently views the receiver depth chart.

First, McDaniels said that the idea of settling on a top three (Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola) has been part of the mindset, with the idea of "being able to try to have some consistency in terms of the things we are doing with those guys."

So that puts rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce as the top candidates to vie for Collie's playing time in the No. 4 spot, which averaged 22 snaps per game over the past three weeks. Both were healthy scratches last week against the Steelers.

"KT and Josh Boyce will also factor into the competition in terms of who is active and how we go about forming the game plan," McDaniels said. "You never like to have a player get hurt, and certainly Austin was helping us and doing what we asked of him, but any time you have a situation like this that comes up during the course of the season, it provides a little spark of competition, and [I] think that is healthy for any group on the team. We will look forward to the receivers going out there and having a good week of practice and then trying to let it unfold from there."

Thompkins has 23 receptions for 334 yards and four touchdowns in eight games played. Boyce has been inactive for each of the past four games, and has one catch for 24 yards this season.

Gregory, Collie, Bolden not at practice

November, 5, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Starting safety Steve Gregory, who broke his thumb against the Steelers in Week 9, according to ESPN's NFL Insider Adam Schefter, was one of three players not spotted at the start of practice on Tuesday, conducted in full pads on the practice fields outside Gillette Stadium.

Running back Brandon Bolden, who has dealt with a knee issue this season, was not spotted, nor was wide receiver Austin Collie, who left Sunday's game with a knee injury and did not return.

On the other end of the spectrum, defensive end Rob Ninkovich was on the practice field after leaving Sunday's game due to a foot injury.

Cornerback Aqib Talib (hip) and running back Shane Vereen (wrist) were once again on the practice field as well.

Two players, a wide receiver wearing number 16 and a running back wearing number 35, were also spotted on the practice field. The team had just one open roster spot -- a practice-squad opening -- as of Tuesday morning, meaning a spot would need to be created for one of those two players. More information to come as it is received.

Before practice began, the Patriots announced that wide receiver Josh Boyce, fullback James Develin, cornerback Logan Ryan and Gregory had been named last week's practice players of the week.

Rapid Reaction: New England Patriots

November, 3, 2013

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick thoughts from the New England Patriots' 55-31 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers:

What it means: The banged-up Patriots enter their bye with a 7-2 record. For much of the first half of the season, it was the defense that picked up the struggling offense. But the offense found its groove in this game, with quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and receivers Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson playing starring roles. This was an offensive explosion against the NFL's No. 2-ranked pass defense in terms of yards allowed per game.

Injuries continue to add up: This was a physical game that left a mark. No. 4 receiver Austin Collie left with a knee injury in the second quarter and did not return. ... Starting safety Steve Gregory left with a right thumb/wrist injury in the third quarter and did not return. ... Starting left defensive end/outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich left in the third quarter with a foot injury and did not return. ... Starting cornerback Alfonzo Dennard came off on the final drive and was being looked at by the medical staff and didn't finish. Ninkovich seemed to dodge a bullet as he returned to the sideline and gave a thumbs-up to his teammates. It might have been a case where the Patriots just decided to play it safe by not putting him back in the game.

Ridley is the workhorse: One week after being limited to just 20 snaps, which sparked media-based discussion on why the Patriots aren't playing their best running back more, Stevan Ridley was used as the workhorse and responded with his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. It almost makes one wonder if the coaching staff was out-thinking itself at times in limiting Ridley, who we charted on the field for 51 snaps (including penalties).

Gronkowski impact in full effect: Playing in his third game since returning from five surgeries since November, tight end Gronkowski was immense. He had seven of his nine receptions in the first half and quite simply, the Patriots' offense is a much different unit when he's at full health. He's a true difference-maker.

Any more questions about Brady? His age is showing. He can't throw the deep ball. He's not the same quarterback we've seen in the past. All those storylines that have surrounded Brady can be tossed out the window after a game like this. Same old Brady.

Defense limps to the bye: How many more hits can the defense take? Playing without cornerback Aqib Talib for the third straight game, the unit hung tough, with newly-acquired nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga showing up with a few plays in limited work (he held his ground on a fourth-and-1 stop and nearly had an interception on a batted ball). Losing starting safety Steve Gregory would be a blow as he's been playing well and leading the defensive huddle the past two weeks.

What's next: The Patriots enter a long bye week as they visit the Carolina Panthers on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" on Nov. 18.

Collie leaves with apparent knee injury

November, 3, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots wide receiver Austin Collie was shaken up near the end of the first half with an injury to his left knee and did not return to the sideline as the second half began. The team said he is out for the rest of the game.

The veteran wideout, who was one of the five active receivers for Sunday's game, had been playing in some of the team's three-receiver sets.

Since being signed in October, Collie has played in four games, totaling three catches and 34 yards.

Without Collie, the Patriots are down to four active receivers: Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson and special-teamer Matthew Slater.

What we learned from coaches' calls

October, 15, 2013
Every Tuesday during the regular season, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Josh McDanels hold conference calls in the 12 p.m. hour.

Here are some of the things we learned today:

1. Discussions on Armstead and Harrison coming: Defensive tackle Armond Armstead (non-football illness list) and wide receiver Mark Harrison (non-football injury list) are eligible to begin practicing for the first time this week, and Belichick was asked if that will happen. "That's one of the things that we'll be talking about later on today," he said. "[Those are] some of the things that we do on Tuesdays, in addition to game planning for the Jets, we talk about our roster [and] find out what the expected practice availability is for the players." It's hard to imagine Belichick doesn't have a feel for whether either player will begin practicing; this is probably a case where he just doesn't prefer to reveal the information.

2. Jets as a "game-plan" team: One week after facing Rob Ryan's Saints defense, the Patriots now get Rex Ryan's Jets defense. Asked the common threads between the twin brothers, Belichick focused on how each is a game-plan specific coach. "What they decide to do in one game could be dramatically different from what they do in another game," he said. Opposing coaches have often said the same thing about the Patriots.

3. Practicing the two-minute drill: Belichick was asked about the team's practice sessions working on the two-minute drill, and he revealed that it usually happens once per week, and "We usually do it without timeouts so we can emphasize the hardest situation, which is the continual play and keeping the ball moving and stopping the clock either getting out of bounds or spiking the ball so that we create the type of situation that had in the New Orleans. That's really as tough as it gets, where you have to go down the field with just over a minute and no timeouts so you don't have any artificial way to stop it."

4. Collie making an impression: Receiver Austin Collie came through in the clutch for the Patriots on the game-winning drive, and he's made an impression on McDaniels. "I think it is probably uncommon, and Austin is impressive," he said. "With the time we've had to spend with him so far, he's really working hard to learn our offense and our system, which is new to him. He is a player that adds veteran experience to our group. He knows how to play and handle himself during the course of the games. He knows how to handle himself during the week of practice, and really he's a guy that has an opportunity to carve out a good role for himself and he's got flexibility that allows us to move him. We maneuvered him a little bit, not on that two-minute drive because we were under the gun in terms of time, but if he goes in there on another play during the course of the game when we had a couple guys go down, we switched some things on the sideline and he showed poise and composure in a situation where certainly we were under a lot of pressure. That was really his first exposure to playing in a game for us. So I have a lot of respect for him, and he's done nothing but try to work his tail off to learn our offense and help us any way that he can. We look forward to future contributions from Austin."

5. Getting ready to stop the run: Will this be a week in which the season-ending injury to defensive tackle Vince Wilfork especially hurts the Patriots? The Jets like to run the ball and the Patriots seem to be expecting it. "I definitely think that's the heart and soul of what they do," Patricia said. "They certainly provide many different attack points in the run game, whether it's the traditional run game that they can line up in two-back sets and pound the ball downhill, which they like to do, or their one-back run game, or incorporating their different packages, whether it's the running back taking the direct snap in the Wildcat formations or the quarterback in the shotgun 'triple look' being able to run from different packages there too."