Taylor misses Patriots practice with ankle injury

October 7, 2009, 2:07 PM

By: Chris Forsberg

FOXBOROUGH -- New England Patriots running back Fred Taylor did not practice on Wednesday with an ankle injury. He and Randy Moss (not injury related) were the only players listed on the team's participation report as having missed practice Wednesday outside Gillette Stadium.

Linebacker Jerod Mayo (right MCL injury) had limited participation at practice, as did offensive lineman Nick Kaczur (ankle), safety James Sanders (shoulder), defensive back Shawn Springs (knee), wide receiver Wes Welker (knee), and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (ankle).

Taylor appeared shaken up after Sunday's game against the Ravens.

Defensive backs Brandon Meriweather and Bret Lockett, tight end Robbie Agnone, and linebacker Tully Banta-Cain wore black jerseys, highlighting them as "practice players of the week."

The Patriots also signed linebacker Bruce Davis to the practice squad, filling the spot vacated when Prescott Burgess was signed by Baltimore.

Davis, 6-foot-3, 252 pounds, was a third-round draft pick of the Steelers out of UCLA in 2008. He saw action in five games as a rookie last season in Pittsburgh on special teams. Davis was waived by Pittsburgh on Sept. 5.

Running back Correll Buckhalter (ankle), safety Brian Dawkins (knee/shoulder), and linebacker/fullback Spencer Larsen (shoulder) did not participate in the Broncos' practice Wednesday.

Last updated at 7:10 p.m.

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Brady talks about McDaniels, penalties

Pats QB holds court

October 7, 2009, 1:59 PM

By: Chris Forsberg

FOXBOROUGH -- After putting together back-to-back wins, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady returned to the podium inside the media room at Gillette Stadium for his weekly confab with reporters Wednesday (instead of holding court at his locker), but it wasn't a reward for improved play.

"I'm getting yelled at by [coach Bill] Belichick for doing it," said Brady. "But [wide receiver Randy Moss has] had enough of the people at his locker."

Here's a quick four downs with some of Brady comments:

1. On having his name attached to a rule that protects quarterbacks. "Well, the Tuck Rule was kinda associated with us, too. I don't think they're going for us. I'm sure the Jets' fans love it. And Rodney [Harrison] obviously does. Whatever they call it, they call it. We don't make the rules, we just play by them. We were on the fortunate end last week, but other times we haven't been. In the end, it probably evens out."

But does he think the rules are fair?

"I want the penalty call," said Brady. "I want 15 yards, I don't care whether they hit me or not. It's [the referee's] call. ... I go hug the ref before the game, ask about his kids and stuff and try to get him on our side."

2. On Harrison's jab at Brady on national television "He sent me a message, I wasn't watching, so I was like, 'What's he talking about?' I just ignored it. Then I got a bunch of texts from friends that said, 'Hey, what did Rodney say about you?' You know Rodney, some things never change."

3. On making changes because a familiar face (Josh McDaniels) is on the opposite sideline. "I think there's definitely changes you have to make -- we made a bunch with [former Jets coach] Eric [Mangini], we made a bunch with the Jets game this year with [former Patriots quarterback] Kevin [O'Connell] being over there. Obviously, [Denver coach] Josh [McDaniels], he knows us better than anybody. In the end, it comes down to how well you execute, it really does. They may have information, we have information, but when you're out there, what you see is what you see, and that's what you gotta react to. No matter what they say in the meetings before the game, you can't go, 'Well, coach, you told me two hours ago that would happen if they lined up in this formation.' He ran by you for an 80-yard touchdown and you're blaming the coach? Well, you gotta play it. That, as a player, is your responsibility. You take the information you gather from lots of different sources, then go out and make the plays."

4. On the chess match against a former player or coach and whether you can use that familiarity against them. "Yeah, but then Josh goes, 'OK, they're going to flip it.' He knows we're going to know they know. That's what you do, try to set them up, try to do things you haven't done. They're doing things they haven't done, that's what offensive football is all about. You don't want to have tendencies as an offense. On first down, you throw 100 percent of the time. Part of it is you get tendencies, then you gotta change your tendencies to keep things balanced. I think the last few weeks we've been half pass, half run. ... There's a lot to do so they can't key on one thing."

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Welker talks about injury

Receiver says knee is 'as good as can be expected'

October 7, 2009, 12:51 PM

By: Chris Forsberg

FOXBOROUGH -- A few days removed from Sunday's win over the Ravens, Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker gave a positive report on the mystery knee ailment that sidelined him for the first time in his career.

"Yeah, as good as can be expected," Welker said when asked how he was feeling. "It's a grind through the season, but I'm looking forward to this weekend."

The fact that Welker was even talking to reporters is a good indication the injury is in the rearview mirror. After missing consecutive games, including the Patriots' lone loss of the season against the Jets, he returned to catch a team-high six passes for 48 yards in a 27-21 triumph over Baltimore.

That's good news to fantasy sports owners.

"Everybody's asking, 'Should I start you or should I not?'" said Welker. "I didn't answer any of those. I'll answer the ones like, 'How are you doing?' Things like that. I definitely got a lot of calls."

And if those calls come this week?

"I don't know, man, just read the injury report, I guess," said Welker.

Welker playfully tackled a handful of questions from reporters. A few highlights:

How does Denver coach (and former Patriots offensive coordinator) Josh McDaniels look in a hoodie compared to Patriots coach Bill Belichick?: "I don't know -- once there's an original, you can't stray from that. Me, personally, I kinda like to set the trend."

Asked if that's what he did Sunday when he was spotted with a plaid scally cap: "Exactly, a little edgy hat. Some people wouldn't be comfortable enough with themselves to do that."

Does the altitude affect players in Denver (where the Pats play the Broncos on Sunday)?: "I don't think so. The altitude stuff, having played in Miami -- guys [are] worried more about the heat than the altitude [in Denver]. I guess it's something you have to take into consideration."

Is he ready for his first cold game in Denver, where flurries are in the potential forecast?: "My first cold game? That's warm for here. We'll be looking forward to it."

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Red Sox notes: Preparing to head to Anaheim

Delcarmen feels better after car accident

October 5, 2009, 2:46 PM

By: Chris Forsberg

BOSTON -- The Red Sox clubhouse was fairly quiet before an optional workout at Fenway Park on Monday, where the team departs later in the day for what seems like an annual trip to Anaheim for the American League Division Series vs. the Angels.

Here's a handful of quick-hits from the locker room:

1. Delcarmen feeling better. Two days after a scary automobile accident on his way to the park, relief pitcher Manny Delcarmen deemed himself in better health and hoped to throw from 120 feet during today's practice session. While his playoff availability remains uncertain, Delcarmen noted his neck feels, "100-times better than yesterday," but that getting to full health was his top priority. "I want to get healthy before anything and then we'll see what happens."

2. Lowrie ready if called upon.: Shortstop Jed Lowrie's surgically repaired left wrist hasn't fully recovered, but he's deemed himself ready should the Red Sox call on him in the opening round of the postseason. "I'm prepared to do whatever they ask of me," said Lowrie, who hit his first career grand slam Sunday, and could be thrust into action if Nick Green isn't ready to go. Green admitted Monday the nerve injury in his back is improving, but not maybe not enough to allow for game action.

3. Pedroia ready no matter who's next to him. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia said it didn't matter which of the team's shortstops ended up on the field during the playoffs. "I'm pretty comfortable with all of them. I've taken plenty of ground balls with each guy. We're comfortable out there. And they understand that, when we need to turn a double play, it needs to be turned. It's hard enough pitching and trying to find a way to get outs, hopefully we can do a good job for [the pitchers]."

As for Boston's chances during the second season, Pedroia likes what he sees. "We like our chances. We were one game away from the World Series last year and this year we've added Victor [Martinez] and [Alex Gonzalez]. We're pretty excited about everything."

Pedroia did discount the notion that Boston's domination of the Angels in the postseason would matter this year. "[Experience] helps every team. They have a lot of it, too. They've been through it. It'll be two great teams and it's going to be a great series."

4. Bay used to rest after 162 games. Left fielder Jason Bay joked that, before arriving in Boston, he was used to a lot of downtime after the final game of the regular season, so this year is nothing too abnormal. Asked if the uncertainty of when the Red Sox will play next would bother the team, he shrugged it off. "It's not even that, the biggest thing I learned last year is, you go home, like I have done numerous times years before, and watch the playoffs on TV ... When you're playing, you don't realize how much downtime there is. In baseball, you play every day, besides those random off-days. Suddenly, we have two or three days off, and we're flying here or there. We know we're going to play one day or another. With a lot of downtime, it's more about staying game-ready and knowing what we have to do."

5. Punching the time card. Red Sox players didn't spend too much time on the field for today's optional workout. Most were off the Fenway lawn by 1:30 p.m. (just a half hour before the official start of the session). Players spotted on the field or in the clubhouse included: Pitchers Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester, Takashi Saito, and Daisuke Matsuzaka and position players Jason Bay, Dustin Pedroia, Nick Green, Jed Lowrie, Brian Anderson, Casey Kotchman, Jacoby Ellsbury, and George Kottaras.

Most players arrived in suits and will don those same duds for the cross-country trip to Anaheim. Busses depart Fenway for the airport at 3:15 p.m.

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Patriots improve in red zone

But teams know it can still get better

October 4, 2009, 11:37 PM

By: Chris Forsberg

FOXBOROUGH -- Leave it to quarterback Tom Brady to sum up the Patriots' success in the red zone on Sunday in the simplest of terms.

"We got it in three times and [Baltimore] got it in twice," Brady said. "And that was the difference."

Indeed, the Patriots cashed in with three touchdowns out of five trips to what had previously been better described as the dread zone, and that helped New England escape with a 27-21 triumph over the Ravens at Gillette Stadium.

Brady could surely identify that New England's 60 percent efficiency in the red zone this week is far better than the 30.8 percent mark the Patriots boasted over their first three games of the season, striking pay dirt on 4 of 13 trips inside the 20, including a mere 1-of-8 over the previous two weeks.

And Sunday's game got off to a frustrating start when, after recovering a game-opening fumble at the Ravens' 12, the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 10th field goal of the season.

(Here's some more quick math for you: Gostkowski is still on pace to break the NFL record for field goals -- 40, set by Neil Rackers in 2005 -- and challenge the mark for most field goals attempted -- 49 -- with 11 field goals in 12 attempts at the quarter mark of the 2009 campaign).

But the Patriots can hang their hats on the fact they not only scored three red zone touchdowns on Sunday, but did so against a Ravens squad that entered the game atop the NFL in red zone defense.

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Moss comes up with big touchdown

Wide receiver focused on getting win

October 4, 2009, 11:41 PM

By: Chris Forsberg

FOXBOROUGH -- Having hauled in 26 passes over the first three games of the season, Randy Moss' production Sunday against the Ravens could have been classified as "quiet."

After all, Moss hauled in just three passes for 50 yards, good for a spot in the middle of the stat sheet after Tom Brady spread the ball around to nine different receivers.

But Moss caught maybe the most important pass of the game: a 14-yard touchdown toss from Brady with 2:27 remaining in the third quarter, which helped the Patriots emerge with a 27-21 triumph at Gillette Stadium.

For an offense that has struggled mightily to reach the end zone, particularly in the red zone, Moss' third-down grab put crucial points on the scoreboard and the Patriots hung on from there.

For Moss, it was the 137th touchdown of his career, pushing him past Marshall Faulk and into sole possession of sixth place all-time in NFL history. But Moss didn't care to talk about himself or the bad back that plagued him in a gutsy effort last week against the Falcons

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Herzlich still a part of BC's victory

Wild win for Boston College

October 3, 2009, 10:05 PM

By: Chris Forsberg

CHESTNUT HILL -- There's a poor receptionist at a doctor's office outside of Wayne, Pa., who's sure to be inundated with phone calls Monday morning. Anyone who watched Boston College's Mark Herzlich on Saturday on national television is certain that this doctor has invented some sort of cancer wonderdrug.

There's no other explanation after watching Herzlich and his boundless energy help rally the Eagles to a 28-21 triumph over visiting Florida State on Saturday at Alumni Stadium.

No one with three chemotherapy treatments remaining should have the sort of energy Herzlich displayed. From the time he walked into the stadium until the moment he left, Herzlich never stopped moving. Whether he was roaming midfield pumping up the crowd before the Eagles took the field, or hopping up and down in front of the BC cheering section to celebrate after the win, Herzlich looked like the same kid who led the Eagles with 110 tackles a year ago and was projected to be a first-round draft pick if he had entered the NFL draft.

The only thing missing was his No. 94 jersey. It won't leave the hanger for the 2009 season.

Diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, on May 14, Herzlich announced this week he's been told by his doctors that he's 99.9 percent cancer-free. There's seems very little that will prevent him from suiting up for the Eagles in 2010. Except maybe that his coaches worry sometimes that he might emerge from halftime wearing his familiar No. 94 this season.

Clearly, there's not much that can sap Herzlich's intensity.

"Being kinda rainy, this was one of those days that can lull you to sleep," said BC senior middle linebacker Mike McLaughlin. "Any time you have a kid like [Herzlich], you can't even describe it. He's a class act and he knows how to fire us up."

BC needed a spark after watching the visiting Seminoles overcome an 18-point deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter. When BC sophomore running back Montel Harris struck a match with his 42-yard touchdown run with 4:07 remaining, Herzlich rushed over with a gallon of gasoline and lit a fire under the defense.

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Friday practice report

Mayo and Wilfork both at practice

October 3, 2009, 2:10 PM

By: Chris Forsberg

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots got a boost Friday as both inside linebacker Jerod Mayo and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork returned to practice, giving New England full attendance as it prepares to tangle with the Ravens Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Coach Bill Belichick noted the return of Mayo, who suffered a sprained right MCL in the Patriots' Week 1 triumph over the Bills and remains doubtful for Sunday's game, provided a nice jolt of energy for his team.

"That gives a good lift for everybody to see him back out there," said Belichick. "It was good to have him in uniform."

A smiling Mayo entered the locker room in his blue No. 51 practice jersey and showed no signs of a pronounced limp. With a prognosis that suggested he'd be out as long as six to eight weeks, it's an encouraging sign for team and player that he was able to put on the pads, even for Friday's typically light session.

And Belichick stressed that Mayo is working hard in his recovery.

"Jerod always works hard," said Belichick. "He's worked hard from the day he's been here. He's the first guy in the building, and last one to leave, and he's working the whole time, too. He doesn't spend half the day playing dominoes and that stuff. He works hard. He does. He's here with a purpose."

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Wilfork listed as questionable

Mayo practices for first time since injury

October 3, 2009, 2:10 PM

By: Chris Forsberg

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo returned to practice Thursday for the first time since suffering a sprained right MCL in a Week 1 win over the Bills, but remains doubtful for Sunday's game versus the Ravens.

It's still a bit of encouraging news in the recovery of last year's Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Patriots received other positive news Friday, as CB Darius Butler (thigh), WR Randy Moss (back), DB Matthew Slater (elbow), DB Shawn Springs (knee) and CB Jonathan Wilhite (groin) all have been removed from the injury report and, barring setbacks, should be active Sunday.

OT Nick Kaczur (ankle), WR Wes Welker (knee) and DT Vince Wilfork (ankle) are questionable for Sunday's game, though all engaged in limited participation Friday. That was the first action of the week for Wilfork, who sprained his left ankle in last week's win over the Falcons. For more on Welker, here's a story in which he addresses his injury and when he might return.

CB Leigh Bodden (thigh), QB Tom Brady (shoulder), RB Laurence Maroney (thigh) and DT Mike Wright (shoulder) all are listed as probable. All but Wright (limited participation) engaged in full participation during Friday's session.

For the Ravens, LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder/head), Derrick Mason (illness) and QB Troy Smith (illness) are questionable.

Former Patriots wide receiver Kelley Washington (groin) and linebacker Ray Lewis (head) headline a list of seven players listed as probable. The others: DT Justin Bannan (knee), LB Antwan Barnes (shoulder), TE Todd Heap (back), LB Jarret Johnson (shoulder) and DE Trevor Pryce (illness).

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Welker still not 100 percent

First time the WR has missed games

October 3, 2009, 2:10 PM

By: Chris Forsberg

FOXBOROUGH -- Talking to reporters for the first time since a mystery knee injury sidelined him the past two weeks, Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker stressed that he's eager to get back on the field, but noted the key is to make sure he's healthy enough for the long haul.

"It's been hard just not being able to play," Welker said. "It's always frustrating not being able to do what you love. You spend all this time working hard to get ready for this time of year, it's frustrating. You gotta be smart about it."

Welker wouldn't divulge whether the injury occurred during a Week 1 win against Buffalo (he caught 12 passes in that game for 93 yards) or whether it was something that was aggravated at about the same time.

"Things come up all the time, injuries are just one of those deals," he said. "It just kinda happened, it's kind of a combination, I guess, of those things. It's something that's taken time."

Welker admitted he remains less than 100 percent and wouldn't set a timetable for his return.

"We'll have to see," he said. "Every day I'm just working hard trying to get it better. It's getting better, but we'll see what happens."

Reminded this was the first time he had missed two games in a row, Welker noted it was the first time he's even missed a single game in his six-year career.

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