Cunningham, teammates will play catch-up this week


Cunningham, teammates will play catch-up this week

FOXBORO -- The Patriots got a roster-related present Christmas day when Jermaine Cunningham's suspension was lifted. 
The defensive end received a four-game ban November 26 after violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. 
Wednesday morning, Bill Belichick talked about Cunningham's reinstatement. The team will do its best to make the transition seamless, which means they will all have to play catch-up this week. 
"I think anytime a player comes back after an absence for a while -- for whatever the reasons are, doesn't matter -- there's a combination of catching up mentally to what's going on, but also from a technique standpoint, communication, and reaction," the coach explained.
"No matter how much a player runs around a track or does sit-ups, or whatever, it's not the same as when the other 21 guys are out there. Hearing plays called, reading to what happens on the other side of the ball, communicating, making adjustments with your teammates there's just no way to do that other than to do it. It needs to be something the teammates need to have happen as well as the individual player who wasn't there himself."
Adjustments will be made by those who took Cunningham's place, too. For players like Trevor Scott and rookie Justin Francis, that could mean the increased snaps they've gotten in recent weeks could be cut back. 
But all is not lost.  
"It certainly is a positive for some of the players who get those opportunities," Belichick noted. "If they can take advantage of them and use the opportunity to enhance their role or show through their performance that they're able to handle more responsibility, it's a good thing for them. 
"And ultimately, it can be a good thing for the team to be able to actually see those guys improve, watch them get more reps in practice and in the games. Have more confidence in them to know that their execution level is higher." 

Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury


Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski both sat out of the entirety of Wednesday's practice at Gillette Stadium. 

Brady is dealing with an Achilles injury, per the injury report released by the Patriots. The Boston Herald has reported that Brady will play despite the issue. It's unclear when exactly Brady suffered the injury, but Brady was hit low by Raiders pass-rusher Khalil Mack in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and Mack was called for a roughing-the-passer penalty.

Gronkowski, like teammate David Andrews, is dealing with an illness. Patrick Chung, who left Sunday's game briefly, has an ankle issue. 

Here's the full injury report for both the Patriots and Dolphins . . . 


C David Andrews (illness)
QB Tom Brady (Achilles)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
S Patrick Chung (ankle)
TE Rob Gronkowski (illness)
WR Chris Hogan (shoulder)

WR Danny Amendola (knee)
TE Marellus Bennett (shoulder/hamstring)
DT Malcom Brown (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)


LB Stephone Anthony (quadriceps)
G Jermon Bushrod (foot)
QB Jay Cutler (concussion)
DE William Hayes (back)
T Laremy Tunsill (illness)

RB Senorise Perry (knee)
S Michael Thomas (knee)


Morning Skate: Dad's texts and emails reveal enforcer's sad story


Morning Skate: Dad's texts and emails reveal enforcer's sad story

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wishing everybody a safe night before Thanksgiving. Be careful out there, people.

*The New York Times has a very sad story on former NHL enforcer Stephen Peat, as told to the Times through a series of emails and texts from Peat’s dad as he struggles with a number of seemingly concussion-related issues in his post-hockey life.

*There’s nothing better than some Benn on Benn brotherly crime as Jordie Benn lays a hit on Jamie Benn in the Stars vs. Habs game.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Marc Spector has the Edmonton Oilers hitting a new low after they quit in a loss to the St. Louis Blues.

*Duncan Keith said he wants to play until he’s 45 and defy the odds as one of the few that get a chance to play pro hockey for that long.

*Dylan Larkin is flourishing with the Detroit Red Wings as he’s adding more responsibility to his chores in Hockeytown.

*A Happy Thanksgiving to the Boychuks and all the other great people around the NHL, including Matt Beleskey with the Bruins, who take time out of their days to help make sure everybody has a good meal on Turkey Day.

*For something completely different: Excited for my kids that there is going to be more Trolls in their future starting with a Christmas special on Friday.