AFC East: New England Patriots

Injury report: Chandler Jones lone Patriot who doesn't practice

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots' injury report confirmed that defensive end Chandler Jones has a hip injury. According to earlier reports, Jones will be out for a month.

Jones did not participate in practice Wednesday.

As Jones is expected to miss multiple games, the Patriots are preparing for the next man to step up. The team could turn to rookie defensive linemen Dominique Easley and Zach Moore to fill in for the injured Jones.

While the Patriots lost Jones to injury, Tom Brady (ankle), cornerback Brandon Browner (ankle), safety Devin McCourty (rib) and linebackers Dont'a Hightower (knee) and Jamie Collins (thigh) returned to full practice participation.

Offensive lineman Dan Connolly (concussion) and rookie center Bryan Stork (concussion) returned to practice after missing all of last week. Connolly missed the game against the Jets, and Stork missed two straight games. Both were limited participants Wednesday.

Core special-teamer Nate Ebner (finger) and rookie offensive lineman Cameron Fleming (finger) also returned to practice, though they were limited participants Wednesday. Both were spotted at Tuesday's practice wearing braces/casts on their right hands. Ebner's right thumb was protected by a cast.

Other limited participants include Easley (shoulder/knee) and core special-teamer Matthew Slater (shoulder).

Rookie Zach Moore could be 'next man up' on defensive line

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The mantra in the New England Patriots' locker room is "next man up."

With defensive end Chandler Jones reportedly sidelined for one month with a hip injury, that "next man up" could be rookie Zach Moore.

[+] EnlargeZach Moore
Steven Senne/AP PhotoPatriots rookie DE Zach Moore could see plenty more action on the field this season given the recent injury to Chandler Jones.
"Yeah, most definitely," Moore, a sixth-round pick, said when asked about his preparedness to step in. "But, it's kind of the philosophy out here, 'next man up.' Guys go down left and right.

"So you have to fit in where you can, take your opportunity because you never know when you could get another one. So just trying to stay prepared and go out to practice every day and show that I can step up and be there for the defense."

Moore said he doesn't put pressure on himself because he has great teammates around him, but he recognizes the magnitude of being a potential next man up.

"I do feel like I need to step up for my team so we can all strive toward the same goal," Moore said.

What makes this opportunity even more special for Moore is that he attended Simeon Academy in Chicago, and he and his family are Bears fans.

"Yeah they will be out here to cheer, definitely for the Patriots though," Moore said. "I was a big Bears fan growing up. Loved the defense. I still kind of am a Bears fan, I love the Bears. But, it's Pats Nation."

Moore grew up watching elite defensive players on the Bears, and now he has the chance to have a big role for the Patriots' defense in a game against his favorite childhood team.

"Growing up, definitely Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, when he was there -- that's my favorite player in the NFL -- and Charles Tillman, he's an excellent player," Moore said.

Moore, who is a humble player from Division II Concordia-St. Paul, talked about being awestruck and the realization that he is going to be playing on the same field as Briggs, a player he looked up to as a kid.

"It's crazy when I think about it," Moore said. "I was actually today at practice when I was walking off the field. I was thinking at this time last year I was playing at a Division II college stadium in front of no more than like 1,000 people, so it was kind of a reality check.

"It's a blessing, a great opportunity. I'm very thankful to be here. I'm proud to be a Patriot and will try to do the best I can to get a win for the team."

Darrelle Revis returns to Patriots practice

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis returned to practice Wednesday after missing Tuesday's practice for an unknown reason.

The lone player missing from practice Wednesday was defensive end Chandler Jones. Jones, who also missed practice Tuesday, is reportedly out for a month with a hip injury.

Newly acquired linebacker Akeem Ayers, who was brought to New England in a deal with the Tennessee Titans Tuesday, was on the field for his first practice with the Patriots. For those keeping track of jersey numbers, Ayers will be wearing No. 52.

The Patriots also reportedly signed free agent defensive lineman Alan Branch Tuesday, though Branch was not seen on the practice fields.

The Patriots were practicing in full pads on a cold, rainy day in Foxborough.

The team will release its first injury report of the week later Wednesday.

Tom Brady's work at extending plays

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Fifteen years into his NFL career, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady knows his deficiencies well. One of them is extending plays with his feet.

"It's never really been something I've been great at -- extending plays," he said. "I see so many of these players, whether it be Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler and Alex Smith, some really mobile quarterbacks who do a great job for their team; Ben Roethlisberger has done it for a lot of years. ...

"I've tried to focus on that a little bit. I don't think instinctually it's there for me yet, but I'm going to keep working on it. You see when they happen they end up being big momentum plays."

[+] EnlargeTom Brady
AP Photo/Stew MilneTom Brady says the decision for him to run with the ball is "more a mental issue" because the Patriots QB says he's not so great at extending plays.
Brady's work in this area is topical this week for two reasons.

First, his slide step in the pocket and scramble to his left to buy more time on receiver Danny Amendola's 19-yard touchdown reception against the New York Jets was one of the big plays of the game.

Second, with the Chicago Bears coming to town Sunday, it sparks memories of arguably the best quarterback scramble of his career -- an 11-yarder on third-and-9 in which he juked out Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher in a 17-13 victory on Nov. 26, 2006.

"Somehow that always gets brought up when we play these guys," Brady chucked Wednesday morning. "There weren't many of those in my career. It's pretty easy to count them on one hand when something like that happens. ...He'll be in the Hall of Fame someday. It might be my only time I made a Hall of Famer miss."

As for keeping the play alive before the throw to Amendola Thursday against the Jets, Brady talked about the combination of physical and mental work that goes into it.

Physically, leg strength and the ability to move are obviously key, and then it's just mentally allowing himself to make it happen.

"For me, sometimes it's more a mental issue," he acknowledged. "I joke all the time, I don't have one cell in my body that ever tells me to run. I think I just sit there and kind of go, 'Wow, I have more time to throw than usual.' As opposed to, I see some other players that maybe the initial read isn't open and 'bam!' they're on the move. I think there is a balance for both of those. ...

"It's just trying to understand how I can help our team more, and if I can make some more of those plays, I think it will really help our team. Coach has talked about it and I think there could be more of those still."

Bill Belichick: 'We will see' what Akeem Ayers has

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots formally announced the trade for Akeem Ayers from the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday morning, which means the linebacker passed his physical.

"Well, we will see," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked at his Wednesday news conference about what Ayers brings to the team. "Start working with him today. He's played linebacker. He's played defensive end in some sub situations.

"We will see [what he is more suited to play]. I'd say he has some versatility, but we will see."

Ayers is coming off of surgeries on both of his knees to repair patella tendons and has only played in two of the Titans' seven games this season.

"We talked with him about [his inactivity]," Belichick said. "You have the injury reports so you can look at all the injury reports this year."

Ayers was a second-round pick (39th overall) in the 2011 NFL draft out of UCLA. The Patriots scouted Ayers in 2011, when they selected cornerback Ras-I Dowling in the second round (33rd overall).

"Yeah, we did [scout] him coming out of UCLA," Belichick said. "We spend time with a lot players. That was a long time ago. I don't think it's really that relevant."

Belichick discussed the biggest challenges faced with bringing in a new player in the middle of the season.

"The combination of us getting to know him and him learning our scheme, learning our system, evaluating him on the run," Belichick said.

Other sound bites from Belichick:

On Browner's size. The Bears have huge receivers with Brandon Marshall (6-foot-4), Alshon Jeffery (6-foot-3) and Josh Morgan (6-foot-1). Cornerback Brandon Browner at 6-foot-4 is a rare breed of defensive back that is meant for this role as a corner that matches the physicality of big receivers. "He's one of the biggest corners in the league, so it's a hard matchup," Belichick said. "Not many teams have guys like that, we are fortunate we do. And that's a big plus for him. He's had a lot of success in the league with his ability to match up with bigger players."

On defending Marshall. Marshall has been one of the NFL's elite receivers in recent years and his combination of size and the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands presents issues for the Patriots' defense. "He's a hard guy to match up on," Belichick said. "He has great size, big catch radius, big hands, strong hands. He's a tough guy to bring down because of his size. He's a strong runner. I think he presents a lot of challenges."

Facing off against the versatile Forte. Bears running back Matt Forte has 448 rushing yards to go along with 52 receptions for 436 yards this season. Belichick called matching up against Forte "very challenging."

"He's a threat every time he steps onto the field in a number of different ways -- the passing game, the running game -- any time he gets the ball in his hands," Belichick said. "He's a good, solid player. He's tough, great vision, great balance. He definitely has the ability to turn nothing into something in a hurry and he can turn something into a lot in a hurry too."

McDaniels says Gray will get more chances

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
When New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray was promoted from the practice squad prior to Thursday night's 27-25 win against the Jets, it was a move to find answers after Stevan Ridley's season-ending knee injury. Gray earned the opportunity with his hard work and consistent presence on the scout teams during practice.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels attested to Gray's work ethic and desire to be a team contributor.

[+] EnlargeJonas Gray
Stew Milne/USA TODAY SportsPatriots rookie Jonas Gray (No. 35) saw his first NFL action of the season in Week 7 against the Jets, rushing for 12 yards on three attempts.
"Jonas works really hard," McDaniels said. "He's been well prepared and done a great job for us on the scout teams here. And certainly made the most of his opportunities in the preseason and just continues to prepare like he is playing each week."

Gray said earlier in the week, when asked about the potential of being called up from the practice squad, that he prepares every week like he is playing and that the Patriots' coaching staff doesn't treat practice squad players any differently from roster players.

In his first career NFL game, Gray had three carries for 12 yards -- a modest performance. But, he made his impact in blitz pickups and proved he could be a consistent back within the limited work he had.

"He had an opportunity to come up last week and help and I thought he did a good job in his role," McDaniels said. "Didn't play -- I think he played a total of 11 plays, if I am correct on it -- but, again, did a great job of running hard, runs behind his pads, stays low, not the easiest guy in the world to bring down because he's a thick guy with the ball."

At 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, Gray packs a lot of power into his running and has the confidence to land blocks on safeties, linebackers and defensive linemen because he has the size to do so.

Based on Gray receiving the second-most snaps among Patriots running backs on Thursday night with 12 of 60 -- behind Shane Vereen's 48 snaps and trumping Brandon Bolden's one offensive snap -- Gray could see more action and become the secondary back in the Patriots' offense.

McDaniels liked Gray's performance throughout the offseason and in his first NFL game and is looking forward to working with his hard-working running back.

"He stepped in there and picked up the blitz a couple of times the other night," McDaniels said. "So just a young guy that is eager to do whatever is asked of him and we will continue to work with him and see if we can't continue to build on what we did the other night with him."
Each week during the season, the positional groupings the New England Patriots utilize on offense are charted. Sometimes these groupings can take us deeper inside the game to get a feel for how coaches view personnel and favorable matchups -- both with their own team and the opposition.

With the Patriots not playing this weekend, it provides a chance to step back and look at the seven-game snapshot (split in two categories between three-receiver groupings or fewer):

3-WR/1-TE/1-RB -- 188 of 494 (38.0 percent)
3-WR/2-RB -- 12 of 494 (2.4 percent)
3-WR/1-FB/1-RB -- 12 of 494 (2.4 percent)
Total: 212 of 494 (42.9 percent)

2-WR/2-TE/1-RB -- 171 of 494 (34.6 percent)
2-WR/1-TE/1-FB/1-RB -- 62 of 494 (12.5 percent)
1-WR/2-TE/1-FB/1-RB -- 30 of 494 (6.1 percent)
1-WR/3-TE/1-RB -- 9 of 494 (1.8 percent)
3-TE/1-FB/1-RB -- 6 of 494 (1.2 percent)
2-WR/1-TE/2-RB -- 4 of 494 (0.8 percent)
Total: 282 of 494 (57.0 percent)

Some thoughts on these groupings that stand out when looking at how they've evolved over the course of the season:

1. As Rob Gronkowski's playing time has increased upon his return from a torn right ACL, the Patriots have trended more toward multiple-tight-end groupings, which makes sense. Specifically, the Patriots seem to have found something that works for them -- going empty with the 2-WR/2-TE/1-RB grouping with Gronkowski and Tim Wright at tight end, which in a lot of ways could be viewed as a 3-WR package of sorts because of Wright's presence as more of a pass-catching tight end.

2. The 1-WR/3-TE/1-RB run-based package was introduced for the first time against the Bengals (three snaps) Oct. 5 and then used again against the Bills the following week (six snaps), with the Patriots having nice success throwing out of it despite being a run-based look. Again, another example of how the usage of tight ends has changed a bit in recent weeks, which is probably tied to Gronkowski's graduation to nearly full-time action and the acclimation process of Wright (acquired from Tampa Bay Aug. 26) gaining momentum with more time.

3. With a lower percentage of three-receiver packages, it has reduced the playing-time totals for pure slot receiver Danny Amendola. But as we saw Thursday, he's still contributing in that niche role (as well as a kickoff returner).

4. One could also draw the conclusion that inconsistent play along the offensive line has contributed to fewer three-receiver packages. By playing with a second or third tight end instead of a second or third receiver, the Patriots are devoting more resources to the line of scrimmage. Everything starts up front.

5. Tom Brady said a big part of early-season action is finding out what an offense can hang its hat on, and after the Sept. 29 game against the Chiefs, the idea of an offensive "identity crisis" was detailed at this address. What has stood out since that time is that the Patriots are using their tight ends more, but at the same time opening things up a bit and giving Brady a chance to attack down the field. It has been an interesting contrast, aided by some improvement in pass protection and, of course, Gronkowski's return to close to top form.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Former New York Jets coach Bill Parcells shot down a report that said a Jets scout implored him to pick Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 draft.

"I have no, absolutely no recollection of that," Parcells said Thursday during an appearance on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "You know, some of these scouts ... now that Brady has been a monumental success, they kind of re-visit their opinion. Don't forget, 198 teams passed him."

Brady was drafted 199th by the New England Patriots, and you know the rest. The New York Daily News, citing an unnamed source, said Jets area scout Jesse Kaye lobbied Parcells in the draft room to select Brady with the 179th pick.

The Jets, who had picked quarterback Chad Pennington in the first round, ended up choosing defensive back Tony Scott at No. 179. He never amounted to anything in the NFL.

Parcells said he had a "high regard" for Kaye, a longtime scout, but he emphatically denied the Brady scenario.

"I don't ever remember hearing his name from anyone in the Jets organization," he said. "I don't know who that was that said it, but I can tell you no one ever told me to draft Tom Brady."

Here's what I think happened:

It's commonplace in the draft room for area scouts to push players from their region. Kaye scouted the Midwest and had seen Brady at Michigan, so he probably gave a positive scouting report. But to say he made a passionate plea for Brady ... I'm not sure. I have to think Parcells would've remembered that. Then again, it doesn't help his legacy to admit he passed on Brady.

The Jets already had Pennington, Vinny Testaverde and Ray Lucas, so they weren't looking for another quarterback.

There was one heated draft-room debate that year, and it involved the decision to pick wide receiver Laveranues Coles in the third round. Parcells was skeptical because of Coles' off-the-field troubles, but he was talked into it -- and it turned out to be a good selection.

Tom Brady on injuries: 'Our job to carry on'

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With a short week of preparations for Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said he hasn’t had much time to think about the loss of linebacker Jerod Mayo and running back Stevan Ridley to season-ending injuries.

“Yesterday just flies by and you are trying to get so much done and caught up,” Brady said. “We love those guys that have worked so hard to be selfless and great teammates -- Jerod and Stevan are. It’s unfortunate to see them go down because they do so much.

“But it’s our job to carry on, and certainly we’ve done it in the past, we are going to need to do it again. There are definitely challenges every year, injuries are always one of them. You hate to see guys that mean so much to your team go down. We have to keep fighting.”

Brady acknowledged that Mayo and Ridley are invaluable players who had major roles on the team not just as players but as leaders.

“It’s hard to replace. There’s no swaps,” Brady said. “There’s no, let’s just move that guy into that role because he plays like Jerod. Guys like Jerod and Stevan play such a big role, so I think the rest of the group has to pick it up and understand the things that they brought to the table that they continue to bring and everyone just has to do more.”

With Ridley out, the Patriots have Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, rookie James White and practice squad member Jonas Gray as potential backs to fill the void.

“Well, [Bolden and Gray] are big, physical runners,” Brady said. “Some explosiveness to them. I would say I’m confident in all those guys that are out there. Those guys are working hard. That’s why they are here, because coach feels like they can contribute. All those guys, whether they have been on the practice squad at some point, there is going to be an opportunity. That’s just the way football is.

“You start with a certain number of players at the beginning of the year, and as the year goes on every week teams are hurt with injuries and another guy gets called up, but all the work done in practice has hopefully prepared you. You sit in all the same meetings that the other guys sit in, getting not quite as many reps, but you are being coached the same way.”

Brady offered a line about making the most of opportunities when a player goes down with an injury -- a move that jump-started his own pro career.

“When you get your opportunity, that’s what you have to take advantage of,” Brady said. “You don’t know how many opportunities you are going to get in the NFL, and when you get your one, you better be ready to take advantage of it.”

Pats recognize heavier load without Mayo

October, 13, 2014
Oct 13

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The consensus from players in the New England Patriots locker room on Monday echoed their head coach's words from that morning -- there is no replacing linebacker Jerod Mayo with one player.

However, the show will still go on Thursday night as the Patriots get ready to host the New York Jets on a shortened schedule without their defensive signal-caller, as Mayo was officially ruled out in Monday's practice report and is expected to miss significant time moving forward.

To put it simply, the entire team will be counted upon to fill the void.

"Everyone has to step up if Mayo can't go," safety Devin McCourty said. "That just is what it is. One guy is not going to do what Mayo's done the last seven years. ... You just can't pick one guy to go out there and do that."

Mayo was carted off the field with a right knee injury in the second quarter of Sunday's win against the Bills and was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday. The results have not yet been released.

Playing without Mayo is familiar territory for the Patriots, seeing as they lost him for the season to a torn pectoral muscle in Week 6 last year.

"I think we're like every other team," said McCourty. "Each year you come in and, in this sport, you're most likely going to deal with injuries. You just can't prevent it."

Special-teams captain Matthew Slater particularly took the loss of Mayo hard. The two broke into the league together as rookies with the Patriots in 2008.

"It was a blow. You can't try to pretend like it's just one of those things that you can move on from because you feel for a guy like Jerod," Slater said. "To see him go down, I know it took a toll on me. But we will do the best we can to bounce back.

"A lot of guys have to step up because a guy like that is hard to replace," Slater added. "Hopefully we can play well for him the rest of the year. There is no replacing that guy with one guy, it's going to take a lot of guys to step up."

The Patriots will also be without the services of running back Stevan Ridley on Thursday, as he too was ruled out of the game on Monday's practice report with a knee injury. While most of the focus Monday was on Mayo, Slater made sure to mention that losing Ridley will also be a big blow to the team.

"Stevan put a lot of work in this offseason preparing himself and making himself better. He was doing a good job for us. We asked a lot of him and he gave us a lot," Slater said. "That's another situation you just hate to see. Sometimes the cruel effects of this game -- injuries -- it's definitely heartbreaking to see these guys go down. Again, we have to do as good a job as we can just trying to move on and continue to play well."
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- In April, Buffalo Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes took to Twitter saying it would be "like Christmas" to beat the New England Patriots, his former team, twice this season.

Spikes and the Bills lost their first tilt with the Patriots, 37-22, on Sunday, leading to Spikes lamenting his offseason prediction in the locker room Monday.

"I think I talked a lot of trash in the offseason and we weren't able to back it up. That's what hurts me the most," Spikes said. "I pride myself on being a man of my word and it just let the city down. It's just unfortunate."

Spikes was noticeably hobbled Monday as he continues to deal with a rib injury. He played 44 snaps in Sunday's loss to the Patriots, tallying eight tackles.

"We worked so hard in OTAs, the offseason, training camp, just for this game. It was disappointing. Just come out and trip it off like that. They played well. I'll give my hats off to them," he said. "[Tom] Brady came out and -- it don't surprise me. He's a competitor. He's always looking to get better.

"With that guy being in this conference, he's the guy you gotta beat. It's that simple. We all know that."
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- New England Patriots wide receiver Brian Tyms played only eight snaps in Sunday's 37-22 victory against the Buffalo Bills, but all it took was one to make his presence felt.

Tyms' 43-yard touchdown catch on a long bomb from quarterback Tom Brady early in the third quarter was one of the plays of the game. The Patriots' deep passing game had basically been non-existent this season up to that point.

"Brian found a way to kind of slither his way through there and get behind him, and I threw it up and gave him a chance to make the play," Brady recalled. "Like he has continued to do, he goes up and makes them. That was a big play for our team."

Tyms was matched up against cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

"Gilmore is really good. I knew regardless if I ran past him, he had make-up speed so I have to attack the ball," he said. "That's just my M.O. I always try to attack the ball. I don't like to let the ball come to me. There are a lot of good players in this league that can make a play. I wanted the ball more."

Tyms made his mark in the preseason, showing a knack for coming down with the deep ball while playing mostly with backup Jimmy Garoppolo.

"I've seen him do that several times this year in the preseason and it was good to see it today," coach Bill Belichick said. "Nice job by Tom creating the coverage -- low safety there -- and put it up there and give Tyms the chance for the ball and he made the play."

Jerod Mayo injury dampens Patriots' spirits

October, 12, 2014
Oct 12
The New England Patriots are sitting atop the AFC East after their 37-22 win over the Buffalo Bills, but there was a somber feeling after the game as the team saw one of its leaders, linebacker Jerod Mayo, carted off the field with a knee injury.

“I’m still a bit bittersweet with Jerod going down,” coach Bill Belichick told reporters in Buffalo. “So we hope he’s OK.

“We will just go forward this week and see what we think the best thing to do is.”

Mayo appeared to twist his knee on a tackle in the second quarter. He was seen after the game using crutches and had a compression sleeve over his right knee. Mayo suffered a season-ending torn pectoral injury in 2013 during Week 6.

Team captain and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who also suffered a season-ending injury in 2013, knows what it’s like to lose a key player.

“It’s always tough when you lose a guy like that,” Wilfork said. “Don’t know exactly what it is, I just talked with him for a little bit at halftime and got back to making adjustments. Haven’t really spoken to him. But anybody of that caliber means so much to this team on and off the field, their character and all. That’s what it’s all about -- who he is as a person first and foremost.

“And being a great leader and contributor to the team, you lose some value there. I’m pretty sure I’ll talk to him on the way home and see how he is feeling and stuff like that. But we are going to have to rally around one another.”

Wilfork and Mayo have a close relationship, and Wilfork had a somber tone when discussing Mayo’s injury.

“It does [cut a little deeper] because we are so close; it’s almost like we are brothers,” Wilfork said. “Our wives, our kids, we both spend a lot of time together off the field. So it kind of means something a little different to me just because of the personal relationship I have with him and him being a leader of the defense.

“It’s tough to lose somebody like that, but I’m pretty sure this team will rally around him. One thing he said going off the field was ‘finish the job for us,’ and I think we did a good job of rallying around one another. [We] played this game for him in the second half. It means a lot to us, what he brings to this team not only on the field, but off the field also.”

Quarterback Tom Brady added to Wilfork’s mantra that it’s time for teammates to rally around each other when a player such as Mayo goes down.

“I think you have to rely on all of the guys that you have in the locker room you have confidence in,” Brady said. “You build your trust in each other by going to practice and when you lose someone -- like I said, every team loses certain players every year -- it’s hard to do. But guys have to rally around the guy who steps in there and try to do a great job.”

Brady choked up a little when asked about Mayo’s injury as he took a long pause before saying, “It’s unfortunate.”

“Guys like that -- Jerod, we lost Vince last year, we lost a lot of really key, important players -- you just have to keep fighting on and there’s a lot of football to play. Those guys have played great football for us and they give everything they can to our team, so it’s tough when you lose them.”

Ups and downs for the Patriots

October, 12, 2014
Oct 12
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- At an initial glance, and without the benefit of film review, a look at which New England Patriots players are "up" and "down" from Sunday's 37-22 win over the Buffalo Bills:

Tom Brady -- Quarterback was on his game, making some of the best deep-ball throws he's delivered in recent memory.

Jamie Collins -- Linebacker had an interception and then took over the play-calling duties for the defense after Jerod Mayo was lost to a knee injury.

Julian Edelman -- Receiver always comes to play, as he made some big plays early to get the offense going.

Chandler Jones -- When the Patriots could have been down after Mayo's knee injury, he delivered a strip sack that helped the Patriots stay in control.

Stephen Gostkowski -- While the kicker missed his first attempt of the season, which could have been the result of a low snap that affected the overall operation, he hit from 53 yards at the end of the second quarter and continues to be a steadying presence as the Patriots played tight on special teams.

Rob Ninkovich -- Defensive end played every snap and collected three sacks. He's the definition of a pure football player.

Darrelle Revis -- Mostly covering rookie receiver Sammy Watkins, he gave the rookie an introduction to Revis Island.

Brian Tyms -- Receiver delivered with a highlight catch on his 43-yard third-quarter touchdown.

Danny Aiken -- Snapper delivered low on a missed field goal attempt in the first half.

Alfonzo Dennard -- Cornerback was closest in coverage on a Bills touchdown, was beaten deep and also picked up a penalty.

Jordan Devey -- Stepping in for injured left guard Dan Connolly, he was penalized for holding to negate a Rob Gronkowski touchdown.

Duron Harmon -- Two penalties -- one on defense, one on special teams, the latter of which had the Patriots pinned back after the Bills scored to close to 30-22.

Anyone covering Scott Chandler -- The Bills tight end had a big day.

Jonathan Kraft explains cross-flex of Patriots-Bills

October, 12, 2014
Oct 12
Some have asked why a New England Patriots-Buffalo Bills game would be on Fox, not CBS. Patriots president Jonathan Kraft explained on 98.5 The Sports Hub the new television programming policy called cross-flex.

"We started this season with something called cross-flex. We've always had that Sunday night flex where you could flex a game in or out in the back half of the season. And starting this season after Week 5, we did something where on a weekend like this, where CBS decides a couple weeks ago what looks like the big games. And in this case you had Denver and the Jets, and you are deciding when the Jets are 1-1 and Denver is Denver, you have Pittsburgh and Cleveland which is always a marquee divisional matchup, so a Bills-Patriots game that didn't look that exciting for the network up against other stuff, we were only scheduled to go to like five or six percent of the country.

"Fox had a much lighter slate at 1 o'clock today -- it's their doubleheader weekend, they have a bunch of games late. So they were willing, if they could take this game to clear it to something like 20 percent of the country, that way two teams that are 3-2 and battling for first place don't get stuck just basically going to Buffalo and the New England markets. Now it will go to a larger portion of the country. Hopefully NFL fans in general will get to choose from the most interesting games possible. And that was the idea behind flexing across networks. And so we have the honor of being the first one."