Patriots

Enemy Intel: How'd the Steelers do in the draft?

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Enemy Intel: How'd the Steelers do in the draft?

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

The Patriots turned their nose up to Ohio State defensive end Cam Heyward, preferring instead to deal the 28th pick to the New Orleans Saints. Two picks later, the Steelers grabbed Heyward. But while people will see "DE" and think the Pats passed on a pass-rusher, that's not really the case. The feeling is that Heyward will be more of an anchoring 3-4 end in the NFL and his pass-rush ability is low. But the Steelers - with James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley - aren't hurting for pass rushers. They needed depth and successors for ends Brett Kiesel and Aaron Smith. And in Heyward - 6-5, 295-pounds and a treasure in terms of intangibles - they got that. Pittsburgh followed up Heyward by taking the 6-6, 330-pound tackle Marcus Gilbert from Florida in the second round. The Steelers' offensive line is a perennial question mark.Not sure if Gilbert is an answer, though. Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrockisaid Gilbert's a 25 cab ride to get around but described his temperament as that of a "chardonnay drinker." (He calls tough hombres "glass eaters"). The Steelers then went after two long, lean corners who aren't exceptionally physical but are very athletic. They took Texas' Curtis Brown in the third round then Cortez Allen from The Citadel in the fourth. They are 6-foo and 6-foot-1 respectively and are going to provide immediate special teams boosts in addition to being able to sic on bigger receivers (in theory). Chris Carter, an outside linebacker from Fresno State, seems like a great value pick in the fifth round. He was a defensive end at Fresno and is a terrific pass rusher (11 sacks, four forced fumbles) and you wonder why the Patriots didn't take a run at this kid more-so than with Heyward. He's got to make the DE to OLB conversion in the pros. The Steelers rounded it out with offensive lineman Keith Williams from Nebraska and RB Baron Batch from Texas Tech, a change-up back, in the seventh. SUMMARY: No stars, just solid. The Pittsburgh offensive line is a major shortcoming and was not really addressed unless Gilbert comes on really strongly, but the combo of Heyward, Brown, and Carter is a real winner. (Other AFC elite reviews: Colts. )
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Brady enjoys 'unique experience' of road trip

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Brady enjoys 'unique experience' of road trip

While being away from home isn’t uncommon for the Patriots - just think about all those Super Bowl trips - Tom Brady believes each excursion takes on its own feel, its own flavor and - eventually - its own meaning.

Back in 2014, the Pats went from playing in Green Bay and losing to the Packers straight to San Diego for a week on the West Coast prior to a rousing victory over the Chargers. That week, many players said in the aftermath, helped propel the team to great heights,.  You’ll recall, that season ended in grand fashion, a triumph in Super Bowl 49 over Seattle, at the time - and maybe still - the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

“I think all these experiences are pretty unique,” Brady said Friday from Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy. “That was a very unique experience. This is different.”

Brady spoke about the number of stops the Pats have and will have to make on this trip - from Denver to Colorado Springs then on to Mexico City Saturday before a Sunday night return to Foxboro and their own beds for the first time in 10 nights.

“When you’re on the road like this, there’s less to do,” he said. “You know my family is not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house. It’s just being at home and now it’s being here and trying to figure out a way to win a game.”

Brady quickly smoothed over any possible ill-will at home - why make Gisele mad? - smiling and saying “I didn’t mean that so I’ll take it back.”

Kidding aside, the 40-year old signal caller seemed pleased with the work the Patriots have put in during this long trip. A week of team-bonding can’t be a bad thing, especially for a group that seems to be hitting it’s stride both on and off the field. There’s the five wins in a row and also a locker room that has a better understanding of one another than it did during the first month of the season. But Brady is not ready to make any grand proclamations. That just wouldn’t be his style.

“I think it’s still work in progress,” he said of team chemistry. “You look at still adding a player like Marty (Bennett) last week. Things are always changing and evolving. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing well and after 8 or 9 weeks, you start to figure those things out. Now we have to work hard at those things, try to really own them, and use them going forward to try and win the most important games. We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one. Hopefully we can play our best football going forward.”

Brady said he’s been fired up for this game with the Raiders south of the border ever since the schedule was released all those months ago.

“I’ve never been to Mexico City,” he said. “It’s been a game you kind of look forward to. We’re playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. It will be very memorable. I think everyone is excited.”

Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

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Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

The Patriots will be without center David Andrews on Sunday when they play the Raiders in Mexico City. Andrews, who hasn’t all practice all week with an illness, is one of four Pats listed as out on the injury report released Friday.

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Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who didn’t play last week against the Broncos is also out, along with wide receiver Chris Hogan and special teams captain Matthew Slater. Offensive linemen Ted Karras and Joe Thuney each took reps at center so one of them will likely start in Andrews’ absence. LaAdrian Waddle filled in for Cannon and performed well last week vs. Denver. 

Here’s the full injury report for the Patriots and Raiders: