Patriots

Bills' newly acquired WR Matthews 'week-to-week' with chip fracture in sternum

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Bills' newly acquired WR Matthews 'week-to-week' with chip fracture in sternum

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- The revamped group of Buffalo Bills receivers is suddenly down a key addition with Jordan Matthews sidelined indefinitely because of a chip fracture in his sternum.

The Bills list Matthews as week to week, and general manager Brandon Beane told The Associated Press on Monday he's "hopeful" the newly acquired player will be ready for the season opener in four weeks. Beane said the team's medical staff is "still figuring it out," because the timetable for recovery depends on how quickly the bruising subsides and the bone heals.

Matthews hurt the mid-chest bone that connects his rib cage on Sunday, during his first practice since joining the team in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. Matthews finished practice before being escorted off the field to be evaluated.

It's unclear when Matthews was hurt, though he did fall hard along the sideline while attempting to make a leaping catch in one-on-one coverage with cornerback Shareece Wright during a team drill.

The Bills are counting on Matthews to fill Sammy Watkins' spot after he was dealt to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E.J. Gaines and a second-round draft pick in a separate trade on Friday. Buffalo gave up starting cornerback Ronald Darby to acquire Matthews and a third-round draft pick from Philadelphia.

Coincidentally, one of the reasons the Bills considered Watkins expendable was because of a rash of injuries that have hampered his production during his three seasons in Buffalo. That included a broken left foot that forced the 2014 first-round draft pick to miss eight games last season.

Aside from the draft picks, Matthews was the key addition to address Buffalo's more immediate needs on what is now a retooled group of receivers. Buffalo lost starter Robert Woods and speedster Marquise Goodwin in free agency this past offseason.

The Bills were looking for Matthews to play alongside Anquan Boldin , who was signed last week, and rookie second-round draft pick Zay Jones. Also competing for jobs are Walt Powell and offseason free-agent additions Andre Holmes and Rod Streater.

Though not considered as dynamic of a deep threat as Watkins, Matthews has been consistent in his first three seasons with the Eagles. He was Philadelphia's most productive receiver with 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns. He became just the fifth NFL player to top 65 catches and 800 yards in each of his first three seasons.

Matthews would have made his preseason debut Thursday against his former team.

Dr. Matthew DiPaola, a University at Buffalo assistant professor of orthopedics and sports medicine, said a chip fracture involves a small sliver or shell breaking off any bone in the body.

Though he's not treating Matthews or seen the player's medical records, DiPaola said chip fractures don't usually require surgery and are treated through rest and anti-inflammatory medicine. A chip fracture to the sternum could cause a person discomfort when breathing, he said.

Speed to burn: Cooks, Brady team up to form most productive deep-ball combo

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Speed to burn: Cooks, Brady team up to form most productive deep-ball combo

The first came in the second quarter, when Brandin Cooks turned on afterburners to beat a Raiders double team and glide underneath a Tom Brady heave for 52 yards. The second came in the third quarter, on the third play from scrimmage of the second half, when Cooks faked an out-route, jetted past rookie corner Obi Melifonwu, and sped into the end zone to make the score 24-0. 

Both deep completions in New England's 33-8 win over Oakland just added to cumulative effect that Cooks has had on the Patriots offense since arriving before the season to become their top deep threat. 

Paired with Brady, Cooks has actually become the most productive deep threat in the NFL. 

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According to Pro Football Focus, Cooks leads all receivers with 431 yards on deep passes (throws that travel 20 yards or more down the field). In second place is Houston's DeAndre Hopkins with 313 yards. 

And Brady, who has long been more effective in the short-to-intermediate range than he has been deep, is now among the league leaders in creating explosive plays from the quarterback position. The Patriots are third in the NFL with 41 pass plays of 20 yards or more, and they are tied for second with nine plays of 40 yards or more. 

"You're always trying to work on that," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show of his team's deep passing game. "It's not one particular year [you work on it]. I think that's been a concerted effort by our entire offense, trying to make more explosive plays in the pass game. 

"Sometimes your offense is built differently. We actually have some guys now that can really get down the field so that becomes more of a point of emphasis. The way Brandin runs, the way that Chris Hogan runs, the way that Phillip Dorsett runs, they're very fast. You need to be able to take advantage of their skill set . . . 

"When we had David Patten we were throwing it deep. I mean, but David Patten didn't run a lot of short routes. I would say Brandin Cooks, in general, he doesn't run a lot of short routes. Everyone has a different role. If we can get by you, I think that's a good place to throw the ball. if we can't, we gotta figure out ways to throw it underneath and different weeks are going to call for different things based on the strengths of the defenses we're playing, too."

A week before beating the Raiders, against the Broncos and their talented corners, the Patriots had less luck pushing the ball down the field -- though they tried to hit Cooks deep multiple times. In Mexico City, Cooks matched up with a weaker secondary, and he wasn't at all slowed by the altitude, catching six passes in all for 149 yards and a score. 

Per PFF, Cooks has seen almost one third of his targets (30 percent) come on deep passes, which is the ninth-highest rate in the league. He's caught all 11 of his catchable deep passes, three of them accounting for scores.

"Obviously when you're throwing the ball 50-60 yards down the field," Brady said, "your chances of completion go down, but if you hit it, it ends up being a very explosive plays and you can change a lot of field position and get a defense really on their heels if they have to defend every blade of grass on the field." 

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Belichick remembers Glenn: 'A good person with good intentions'

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Belichick remembers Glenn: 'A good person with good intentions'

Terry Glenn, the Patriots' top draft pick in 1996, died early Monday morning in a one-car accident in Irving, Texas. He was 43. 

Bill Belichick coached Glenn as an assistant with the Patriots during Glenn's rookie season. He was later Glenn's head coach in 2000 and 2001. Belichick traded Glenn to the Packers before the 2002 season after a tumultuous run in New England that involved legal trouble, injuries and clashes with the coaching staff.

During a conference call with reporters soon after the news of Glenn's death was published, Belichick remembered Glenn for his natural physical ability and "a good heart."

"I was pretty close with Terry," Belichick said, "and his rookie season was my first year here in '96, and so I had a lot of interaction with him and other people that were involved in his life and his upbringing separate from the Patriots. Terry's a very smart individual. Had a lot of, obviously, a lot of physical skill and talent. Could do a lot of things on the football field very naturally. And I think he was deep down inside a good person with good intentions and, you know, a good heart. Obviously it's very unfortunate. Very unfortunate passing. I mean, it's a sad day. Sad news."

According to reports, Glenn was with his fiancee at the time of the accident. She's being treated at a local hospital for unspecified injuries.