Patriots

Jones considered rookie with top 'impact' potential

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Jones considered rookie with top 'impact' potential

Will Brinson, senior NFL blogger for CBSSports.com, took pains on Monday to clarify what he means by tagging "impact" rookies in the NFL. His piece, which names 10 such players for the 2012 season, is prefaced with specific criteria: statistical production, game impact, and playoff impact.

That in mind, the Patriots should be happy Brinson put rookie Chandler Jones in the No. 2 spot.

"It hasn't been a great run for Bill Belichick on defensive players over the past few years in the draft, but he's mostly whiffed on defensive backs. With the Patriots losing a ton of sacks to free agency, they needed someone to step in and provide a multi-faceted attack on the quarterback. That someone is Jones, and he could be ready for a huge year defensively," the author explained.

"He'll allow the Pats to mix 3-4 and 4-3 and continually put pressure on the quarterback, and in a division with Matt Moore (or Ryan Tannehill! Or David Garrard!), Mark Sanchez (or Tim Tebow!) and Fitzpatrick, Jones could pile up the pressures. No, it doesn't hurt that he plays for someone who's coming off a Super Bowl loss. But that's how these rankings work; if you can put up big numbers while pushing your team over the edge, you're a bigger difference maker right now."

Jones is already being compared to Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul -- a player consistently lauded by Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

How so soon? Rawness.

Jones left Syracuse a year early and so is considered green. But his skill, instinct, and athleticism create a huge upside for New England. Or, as Brinson believes, "impact" potential.

The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

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The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

FOXBORO -- Brian Hoyer did his best Sgt, Schultz impression Thursday afternoon.

He saw nothing, he knows nothing and, had we asked him, Hoyer probably would have denied even Tom Brady’s existence. The Patriots backup quarterback has been thrust into the spotlight because of the right-hand injury Brady suffered in practice Wednesday. Though Brady appeared at the media access portion of today’s session, the team listed him on the injury report as not having participated. That would mean Hoyer -  as the team’s only healthy signal caller - had to get more reps than usual, right? 

“Define what is usual,” he said. “Since I’ve been here there’s been days where I’ve taken a lot of reps and days where I’ve taken any. I just do what’s asked of me.”

MORE BRADY:

So, you were asked to do more today?

“You’ll have to check the injury report. I don’t know if they put that on there or not.”

Okay then. This was just the beginning of a question-and-answer session that provided many of the former and almost none of the latter. Hoyer said he “wasn’t there” when the injury happened. When asked if Brady threw any passes today, the normally genial Hoyer paused before saying tersely, “you have to ask somebody else that question. I’m not going to answer that question.”

There were also a couple of “I’m not going to speak for him” or “you have to ask him” responses. Not unexpected given the nature of the queries but also handled better by every player we spoke to today, from Trey Flowers saying he’s not a hand doctor to James White joking the world will never know how Brady was injured to Kyle Van Noy saying of Brady: “He always looks good. He’s handsome”.

What Hoyer did have a good handle on was what he needs to do to be ready if his number does get called Sunday in the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  

“I prepare every week like I’m going to play,” he said. “Whether I do or don’t...that’s not really up to me. I did the one thing I can benefit from since I was the backup here - I played a lot of football. I’ve been a starter for three different teams. I know how to prepare as a starter. Whether I’m given those reps or not, each rep I’m not getting I take as a mental rep. I stand back there and I go through and I try to think who I’d go to, who would I’d make the Mike [middle linebacker] on this play. Whether I’m getting the reps or not I’m always preparing to play because you never know when your name is going to be called.”

The Patriots hope it doesn’t come to that. Hell, maybe even Hoyer hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“If I don’t play, that’s good for our team.”

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Brady injury has moved Patriots-Jaguars line 1.5 points

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Brady injury has moved Patriots-Jaguars line 1.5 points

FOXBORO -- You would have to be either supremely confident or supremely behind on current events to place a bet on the Patriots in this weekend's AFC title game. 

Tom Brady suffered a hand injury in Wednesday's practice and he was held out of Thursday's session (for all but the stretching portion), leaving him one final chance to practice on Friday before the Jaguars make their way to Gillette Stadium for a shot at a Super Bowl berth. 

MORE BRADY:

It's unclear how Brady's hand issue will impact his ability to play on Sunday. The expectation is that he will play, but his effectiveness . . . for now seems somewhat uncertain. And the line has moved as a result. 

The Patriots were once nine-point favorites at Caesars Palace, and they are now favored by 7.5 points. Westgate's line made the same move from Patriots -9 to Patriots -7.5. 

For those who feel as though Brady will be OK as he takes on the league's top-ranked passing defense, this represents a golden opportunity. For everyone else, this is probably a good time to focus your gambling efforts on the NFC Championship Game.