FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In the week leading up to the New England Patriots' divisional-round victory against the Tennessee Titans, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer played the role of Marcus Mariota on the scout team and earned praise for his work. He was named one of the team's practice players of the week.
Part of the focus for Hoyer was giving the Patriots' defense a feel for Mariota's scrambling ability, which is timely to revisit with Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles up next.
When Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Bortles on Wednesday, the first thing he mentioned was how he makes plays with his feet.
"He's played well. He's got a very high rushing average. When he carries the ball, he carries it productively whether that's to scramble or on designed runs," Belichick said.
During the regular season, Bortles rushed for 322 yards on 57 carries (5.6 avg.), with two touchdowns.
In two playoff games this season, he has 15 carries for 123 yards.
"He's another guy that can make plays with his feet," said linebacker Marquis Flowers, who played 44 defensive snaps against the Titans, as the coaches tapped his speed as an asset against Mariota.
The Patriots could once again use Flowers in an expanded role on Sunday, given Bortles' knack for picking up yards on the ground. Rush-lane integrity, and setting the edge in the running game, figure to be critical for the Patriots.
"Against Buffalo, he drops back, they drop into coverage, everybody has their back to him, and he scrambles for 15 yards [and] a big first down to keep the drive going," said safety Devin McCourty.