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Considering that a solid portion of their roster has been decimated by injuries, it’s a pretty big surprise that the Patriots made no defensive moves during their bye week.
The Patriots did however release the injury prone Austin Collie. Collie was practically useless, recording only three receptions for 34 yards in his brief four-game stint with New England. Collie’s case wasn’t helped by the fact that he injured his knee during the Patriots game against the Steelers.
To fill Collie’s roster spot, the team signed wide receiver LaQuan Williams. He was previously with the Baltimore Ravens who waived him earlier this year. He will likely see time on special teams more so than at receiver.
The team also added running back Cierre Wood to their practice squad. Wood, who was instrumental in Notre Dame reaching the BCS National Championship Game, was waived by the Texans following allegations of drug use. He has since passed a drug test. His addition is a bit of a head scratcher as the Patriots are pretty deep at running back, but it’s still hard to question Bill Belichick when he makes a roster move.
The Patriots don’t have to officially release an injury report during their bye week. However, on Tuesday the Patriots officially put defensive tackle Tommy Kelly on the injured reserve.
With the circus going on down in Miami surrounding Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito it’s no surprise that Tom Brady was asked about the situation and what the atmosphere in the Patriots locker room. Here’s what Brady had to say:
“We’ve got a great locker room. We’ve got a lot of great guys. Everyone is just trying to do the best they can for the team. We take Coach [Bill] Belichick’s cue and try to go from there. But everyone has a role to play and everybody’s role is important. You can’t do someone else’s job. You show up every day trying to figure out what you can do to help the team win. That’s the most important thing for anybody in our locker room.”
Logan Mankins was also asked about the situation and here’s how he responded:
“We have tons of time in there where we’re doing a lot of joking around, messing around. We have a lot of fun with each other, too, but I don’t think it’s ever taken too far.”
Belichick with the Patriots is 10-3 following the bye week in the regular season. Nobody likes living in the past, unless you’re one of those weird people that dress in colonial clothes and give tours on the Freedom Trail, which is why that record will mean little when the Patriots meet the Panthers on Monday, Nov. 18.
The Panthers game is one that could sneak up on the Patriots. Carolina is sneaky good at 5-3 and mobile quarterbacks have given New England fits this season as evidenced by E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith. But, the Panthers will be coming off a difficult game against a tough 49ers team and New England will be coming off their bye and a solid team performance against the Steelers and therefore I think the Patriots win this one.
The shocker of the season will be when the Patriots beat the Denver Broncos. This game is in Gillette Stadium which bodes well for the Patriots because Manning is 2-4 all time when playing in Gillette. Also, Denver will be coming off two tough divisional games in San Diego and Kansas City. The Patriots offense looks like it’s starting to click, Denver’s defense is pretty bad and the key to beating Denver is to keep Manning off the field which is why the edge here goes to the Patriots.
The rest of the schedule should be manageable barring any more serious injuries to key players. The Patriots will likely falter at least one week which I’m guessing will be week 16 against the Ravens on a tough Sunday night game on the road against a team that could be battling for their playoff life.
So my prediction: Second half record 6-1, final record 13-3, with a two or three seed heading into the playoffs.
Tags: Austin Collie, Bill Belichick, Broncos, cierre wood, e.j. manuel, Geno Smith, Jonathan Martin, laquan williams, Logan Mankins, panthers, Peyton Manning, Ravens, Richie Incognito, Tom Brady, Tommy Kelly