Patriots

Haley knows defense faces a tough test

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Haley knows defense faces a tough test

FOXBORO -- Todd Haley knows his defense faces a tough test on Monday night. He realizes all of the options that Tom Brady has to utilize.

And forget about preventing the Pats from putting points on the board. The Kansas City Chiefs coach said in a conference call on Wednesday, that it's going to be tough enough to just slow them and their no-huddle offense down.

"Offensively, Tom looks like he's playing at as high a level as we've seen him play," said Haley. "He's got a lot of good -- some veteran, some young -- developing players that look like they all have a chance to be really, really good.

"What Welker's doing to this point is just phenomenal. Having coached receivers for a long time, I know he was really, really good, but what he's doing right now is just off the charts. And then throw in the fact that Gronkowski has 700-plus yards and you still have a guy like Deion Branch over there, and Chad Ochocinco and Hernandez, and the two running backs I really, really like, including Woodhead.

"So up front, they're as solid and sound as any team we've seen, as far as protecting the quarterback," added Haley. "And they look like they have a chance to keep getting better. It's a great challenge for our defense to even slow down this offense."

Haley went on to praise New England's tight-end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who are a major part of the Patriots' offense.

"Both of these guys are really playing well, Hernandez and Gronkowski," said Haley. "Players that I, personally, really thought a lot of, coming out of college. We spent time with both of those guys at the combine. We spent a lot of time watching tape. They're players that I really, really thought had a chance to be good, and they haven't disappointed."

Gronkowski's name will be fresh in Kansas City's mind, as he was all over the game film from New England's 37-16 win over the New York Jets on Sunday night.

Brady found Gronkowski eight times for 113 yards and two touchdowns in that win. And on Wednesday, Haley compared him to . . . former wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson.

"Gronkowski is just a physical presence that, much like some receivers that I've coached in the past -- like a Keyshawn Johnson or somebody like that -- once the quarterback understands that you can throw it to him when he's covered, that's always a great trait or characteristic to have," said Haley. "If you're a guy catching the ball from a quarterback, and the quarterback knows he can throw it when you're covered, which obviously Tom does a bunch, that's just a testament to Rob and really how good he is able to position and use his body to make catches on top of it. Just great, great hands."

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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