Patriots

Bill Belichick: Patriots 'spent quite a bit of time' with Texans rookie D'Onta Foreman leading up to draft

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Bill Belichick: Patriots 'spent quite a bit of time' with Texans rookie D'Onta Foreman leading up to draft

FOXBORO — As the Patriots make final preparations for Sunday’s matchup against the Texans, they’ll keep an eye on rookie running back D’Onta Foreman. It won’t be the first time they’ve taken a look at him. 

Foreman, a big back out of Texas, appears to be pushing Lamar Miller for the Texans’ starting job. Bill Belichick said Friday that the Pats worked heavily with him leading up to the draft. 

“I spent quite a bit of time with him at Texas last spring,” Belichick said, likening Foreman to a LeGarette Blount type who can also contribute as a pass-catching back.

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The Patriots didn’t like (or need) Foreman enough to draft him in the third round, where he was chosen. They had three cracks at him in the third round (at No. 72, where they traded down, and then at Nos. 83 and 85) and passed all three times. 

Instead of taking Foreman with one of the picks, they came away with Derek Rivers at No. 83 and Antonio Garcia at No. 85. The Texans grabbed Foreman at No. 89. 

When the teams met in the preseason, Foreman rushed for only 17 yards on seven carries, but had a rushing touchdown and 66 receiving yards on two catches, one of which went for 63 yards.

“He's an impressive guy. He can run through guys,” Belichick said. “He can run around them. He’s got good quickness in space, a good receiver. He’s a big back with some little back skills, so he's got a very good overall skill set. He can be used on all three downs, but he can get tough yards and he can be tough in space, as we saw in the preseason game.”

Of course, the Pats had already loaded their running back group by adding Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead to a crowded depth chart by then, so it’s no surprise they opted against taking a back with one of their first picks. 

While there wasn’t a spot for Foreman in New England, the opportunity seems plentiful in Houston. He received just one carry in Houston’s season-opener but cut into Miller’s workload with 12 carries in last week’s win over the Bengals. 

With fellow rookie Deshaun Watson making his second NFL start at quarterback, the Texans may have to rely on the running game more than usual Sunday. If that means more touches for Foreman, the Pats will at least know who they’re dealing with. 

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Curran: Pats and Steelers a study in contrasts . . . and we should be grateful

Curran: Pats and Steelers a study in contrasts . . . and we should be grateful

PITTSBURGH --- Mike Tomlin started embracing the "elephant" s on November 27.

Foreplay with the pachyderm can finally cease. The Patriots and Steelers get after it this afternoon. This is the Game of the Year in the AFC. Maybe the NFL.

While Tomlin started hyping the Patriots game 21 days ago, the Patriots didn’t breathe a word about it until this week. And that only came after a Monday night loss in Miami that raised the stakes for this game into a do-or-die for the Patriots in terms of getting the No. 1 seed.

PATRIOTS VS. STEELERS

That whiff of vulnerability that descends after every Patriots loss was in the air this week. Segments of the fanbase react like the worst kinds of hypochondriacs -- perfectly fit but thinking every day that every twinge means an aneurysm is near.

But on Saturday, the 40-year-old quarterback did for New England what he’s been doing since 2001. Put his hand on its shoulder and said, “LFG.” 

Thank God for Tomlin. As much as we lampooned his giddy embrace of this matchup, he got the hype train out of the station and the tub-thumping since has made this the most anticipated Patriots game since February.

While we’re at it, thank God for the Steelers. For Big Sloppy Ben, for Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell and the detestable James Harrison. Without them, the Patriots would be completely without a foil in this league.

Think about it. The NFL is Rex-less. Peyton’s long gone, the Colts are dead, the Broncos are also dead, the Ravens are washed, Eli’s on his last legs for a two-win team.

The Steelers are the only ones out there, picking up a rock and fitting it in a slingshot for the rest of the conference, the rest of the league.

Take it a little further: Thank God for the Steelers as an organization. They serve as an AFC measuring stick for the Patriots. They won back-to-back Super Bowls twice in the 1970s and have won six Lombardis overall. While there’s no arguing which franchise has been better since the 1990s, you can have a spirited talk about whether the Patriots have yet supplanted the Steelers in overall historical resume. You want 45 years of really good with spikes of being the best, as Pittsburgh’s had? Or 40 years of not-so-good with spikes of real good and then a 17-year stretch like no team’s ever had?

These Steelers and Patriots have nothing in common when it comes to the way they do things. The coaches are polar opposites. The quarterbacks are nothing alike. The Steelers defense flies around with the same danger and disorganization of a wasp attack. Playing the Patriots defense is like punching a snowbank for three hours. Everything about the Patriots offense is based on timing and precision. The Steelers have an air of winging it when they have the ball, whether it’s Bell hanging out in the backfield after the snap until a crease opens or Roethlisberger waiting to restart a play while Brown skips through the opposing secondary.

The Steelers always talk a big game. The Patriots say next to nothing.

As consumers, we all love the talking and the hype because it ratchets up the drama. But as football observers based in New England, we’ve come to believe that talking beforehand is like giving your own eulogy.

But a lot of what Mike Tomlin said you can agree with even if you’re only on your couch today. You will remember this game, as opposed to the succession of beatdowns over the procession of also-rans the Patriots seasons sometimes become.

"It's good to be in the kitchen,” said Tomlin this week. “The kitchen's in Pittsburgh, PA, this week in the National Football League, and at Heinz Field. That's where you want to be in the middle of December. We don't take it for granted."

And neither should we.

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Patriots will be without Kyle Van Noy for showdown against Steelers

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Patriots will be without Kyle Van Noy for showdown against Steelers

The Patriots' defense won't be at full strength Sunday as linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who's been battling a calf injury for weeks, is ruled out against the Steelers:

And NBC Sports Boston's Mike Giardi wonders if it could have been avoided:

And what will it mean this afternoon? Giardi has an idea:

There is some good injury news for the Patriots, however:

As for the Steelers, they're getting nothing but good news: