tom brady

An MRI on Tom Brady Monday showed that the quarterback suffered a sprained ankle as well as bruised ribs. The ankle injury occurred in the first half when Brady was rolled up on by Ndamukong Suh. Brady came off the field gingerly and had his ankle re-taped prior to the next offensive series. He did not miss any snaps following the injury (besides running the clock out late in the fourth quarter) but his ankle did seem to bother him at times, especially while throwing.

Brady has taken a beating in recent weeks. The Patriots have had to shuffle offensive linemen due to injury and Julian Edelman, a security blanket who can get open quickly, has been out injured. Both of these factors have combined to cause Brady plenty of pain since Thanksgiving and the Patriots 2-4 record since starting 10-0 is due in part to offensive struggles.

The first round playoff bye could not come at a better time for New England. Not only will it give Brady time to heal but the Patriots have a contingent of injured players that are important to the team’s success on both sides of the ball. Dont’a Hightower, Sebastian Vollmer, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Danny Amendola are all dealing with injuries, as are several other players.

Brady should be fully ready to go for the Patriots Divisional Playoff matchup and likely would have played if the team had to play a Wild Card game, but the extra time off will only help. The more critical are for New England is keeping Brady protected once the postseason begins.

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Julian Edelman Likely Out Sunday

December 31, 2015 at 12:06pm in Featured, NFL, Patriots, Top Story
New England Patriots' Julian Edelman (11) returns a punt as Buffalo Bills' Marcus Dowtin (54) attempts to tackle him during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, in Orchard Park. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Tom E. Curran of CSNNE tweet that the chances of Julian Edelman returning to action on Sunday are “real long.” Edelman has been out since he broke a bone in his foot during the first half of the Patriots win over the Giants in November.  The timetable for Edelman’s recovery could open the possibility for him to play this week and he has been practicing over the last several weeks. However, the Patriots can likely defeat the Dolphins and lock up the number one seed without him and the team has had little injury luck this season.

Prior to his injury, Edelman had amassed 61 catches for 692 yards and seven touchdowns in just under eight and a half games. He was also a major reason why the Patriots’ poor offensive line play did not show up as he was able to get open quickly and allow Tom Brady to throw faster than pass rushers could get to him.

This is an important function of Edelman, as well as Danny Amendola, and they will be counted on when they return. Because the team already has a first round bye, sitting Edelman out this weekend would give him an additional two weeks of rest before returning to action.

It likely won’t be clear until tomorrow or Saturday if Edelman is playing, but it would not be surprising for the team to hold him and out and play things on the safe side.

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The Patriots announced prior to today’s game that Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Josh Kline and Danny Amendola will all be inactive today. Julian Edelman is also still out as he rehabs his leg. Given that the Patriots will be facing  a Jets team that is fighting for a playoff spot, these players missing will make this game a tall order for the Patriots. Dont’a Hightower will play but will also be limited as he still works his way back from injury.

Two rookies, Tre Jackson and Shaq Mason, will be the starting guards against one of the best defensive lines in football. Tom Brady is going to have to get rid of the ball quickly and James White could also be  a major contributor. White has gotten better every week and he will need to gain yards after the catch when Brady uses him as an outlet to avoid the pass rush.

Having McCourty and Chung out is a major blow for the Patriots secondary that will start Duron Harmon and rookie Jordan Richards at the two safety spots.  McCourty is one of the better free safeties in the NFL and Chung is having his best season as a pro. Chung is also an excellent run defender and the Jets are a team that likes to run the ball.

The inactives for the Patriots don’t make the game insurmountable, but their margin for error is next to zero. The Jets need this game and the Patriots are more focused on health at this point with a first round bye already clinched. Although the team does not have the number one seed locked up, they don’t have to win this game to make that happen. New England should still be the favorite to win, but today is shaping up to be a razor thin game.

Malcolm Butler continued his impressive sophomore season with his second interception of the year late in the game Sunday.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

On Monday morning the Patriots came to an agreement with veteran, free agent running back Steven Jackson. Adding Jackson to the 53-man roster put the Patriots at a total of 75 different players making up the 53-man roster over the course of this season. The injuries have been noticeable and if this were any other team they would have been crippled. Instead Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have steered the ship to another first round playoff bye and with another win can lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Injuries are part of the game but it’s obvious that no one handles them better than the New England Patriots.

– Joey Iosefa is the exact reason Patriots fans only wonder one thing every year which is “are they going to have the first or second seed?” LeGarrette Blount was finally getting the late season production that he has been so good at. Just as he’s getting the carries he goes down for the year with a hip injury. The expectation was James White and Brandon Bolden would see an increased role, which they both did. In classic Belichick fashion he promoted Iosefa from he practice squad on Saturday night. Iosefa then carried the ball 14 times for 51 hard earned yards, while also blocking as a full back. Sure it wasn’t a Jonas Gray 200-yard game but Belichick once again found production where you’d least expect it. The addition of Steven Jackson adds depth and experience, not to mention he has fresh legs. For how the Patriots use the running game they definitely have the pieces in place for a postseason push. Continue reading Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Clinch 1st Round Bye Handling the Titans 33-16 »

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Patriots Sign Steven Jackson to 1-Year Deal

December 21, 2015 at 6:30pm in Patriots
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

New England has added some much needed depth at the running back position signing veteran back Steven Jackson to a 1-year contract. With Dion Lewis and LaGarrette Blount out with season ending injuries the once dynamic combo of speed and power has been replaced by special team players and practice squad promotions. Jackson will add depth, experience, power running, ball security, and, for the Patriots, will hopefully transition to the offensive system quickly having played under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in 2011 in St. Louis.

With all the injuries the Pats have suffered Brandon Bolden, a key player in the special teams game who has always taken limited snaps at running back, has become the featured back in the New England offensive. He has been accompanied by the speedy James White who is able to play a vital role in the passing game. However with only two backs on the active roster New England was forced to promote a practice squad player for Sunday’s game against the Titans. Joey Iosefa, a 247-pound fullback who had been cut by Tampa Bay and later picked up by New England, made an impact with 51 yards on 14 carries and one big run in which he bulldozed Tennessee cornerback Coty Sensabaugh.

With New England so thin in the backfield, and with the playoffs and cold weather ahead, signing a veteran back like Steven Jackson looks like a solid move, although Jackson hasn’t played since being released by Atlanta in February. When in a Falcons uniform last season he averaged 3.7 yards per carry in 15 games. The three time Pro Bowler has churned out 11,388 yards over the course of 11 seasons in the NFL playing for Atlanta and St. Louis before that. Now at 32 years old the Patriots hope he has a little left in the tank to propel their running game forward. At 12-2 New England has secured a first round bye and has a great shot at the number one overall seed in the AFC. Over the next few weeks McDaniels and running back coaches will have the opportunity to work with Jackson and integrate him into the current carousel of backs.

If Jackson is able to get on the field quickly this would mean Bolden could get back to his special teams duties with limited touches at running back if needed. It would seem that the apparently explosive James White isn’t going anywhere as he has become a integral part of the Patriots offensive attack, particularly on passing downs. His combination of pass catching and ability to make plays when getting the ball in space gives back a little of the Dion Lewis dimension to the offensive.

The Patriots also recently signed running back Montee Ball to the practice squad, the Denver Broncos 2013 second round draft pick. Ball was productive in his rookie season with 120 carries for 559 yards and four touchdowns. In 2014 a groin injury sidelined him for much of the season before he was ultimately released.

If Jackson can get on the field this Sunday he will face a defense that is second in the NFL against the run for a better-than-expected Jets team currently fighting for a wild card spot.

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With their 33-16 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday couple with a Denver Broncos loss at Pittsburgh, the Patriots clinched a first round bye for the playoffs. They are also in position to clinch the top overall seed next weekend if they can defeated the Jets and the Broncos beat the Bengals.

The bye is critically important for the Patriots from both a health and Super Bowl standpoint. It is no secret that New England is banged up, so getting an extra week to rest will give several players extra time to heal and come back fresh for the Divisional Playoff round. These players include Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Dont’a Hightower, and Devin McCourty, all of whom are central to the Patriots Super Bowl hopes. If the Patriots clinch the top seed next week it will provide even more time for these players to rest and get healthy. In an AFC field that includes Denver, Cincinnati and a surging Pittsburgh, the Patriots will need to be as healthy as possible if they hope to defend their title.

The second aspect of the bye being important is the extra practice and chance to gameplan it will provide the Patriots. Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach the Patriots have been to six Super Bowls. They had a first round bye every single time and were the number one seed four of the six years. The extra practice time will give the team a chance to clean up any areas of concern before beginning playoff action.

Having to play in the Wild Card round would not have been an insurmountable task for the Patriots, but having that weekend off helps the team in several ways. The extra rest and practice will help set the Patriots up strong going into postseason play. The healthiest team in January generally has the best shot at playing in February and things are no different for this Patriots team.

1. Patriots vs. Titans:

MISC

* How happy were gamblers with the Patriots covering the spread and over with a meaningless field goal kick

* With Brady’s illness and all – just take the win and get out of there

* I know Belichick is right almost always but why is Gronk in the game up by two scores to the Titans with three minutes left (he tweaked something falling out of bounds in the end zone)

* Amazing how many times Gostkowski is close to hitting that bulls eye in the stands

* Interesting camera angle today at Foxboro – thought it was lower

* Do your job – Is Gronk responsible for helping Brady with high fiving

* Injuries – Hightower, Chung and Amendola – ugh

OFFENSE

* How about Joey Iosefa trucking Coty Sensabaugh Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Send Gamblers Home Happy »

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