Patriots

Kony Ealy on his curious start to Patriots camp: 'It's just a learning curve'

Kony Ealy on his curious start to Patriots camp: 'It's just a learning curve'

FOXBORO - Kony Ealy doesn’t want to talk about what he can’t do, only what he can. 

“I can’t just pick one part of my game out,” he told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “You don’t do that as an athlete. Try to pick everything you’re good at, [then] you try to perfect it even more. That’s what I’m trying to do...Not worried about anything else or anyone else.”

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Patriots defensive end has had a curious start to his career in Foxboro since being acquired from Carolina. He left a mini-camp practice back on June 8 and we didn’t see him in a uniform again until July 28, a day after training camp started. When asked where he was that day, Ealy provided a curious answer.

“You have to ask Coach Bill," Ealy said. "Me and him had something going or whatever."

When Bill Belichick was asked about Ealy that morning, he wouldn’t get into details, other to say Ealy was in Foxboro. Earlier this week, the Pats coach seemed like he was okay with how the defensive end was adapting to his new surroundings and new program.

“He’s a smart kid, he works hard, and he’s building his versatility,” he said. “We’ll see how far that goes, but he’s got the ability to play inside, to play outside on the end of the line, to play in some coverage situations, to have a role in the kicking game…”

“We’ve asked him to do some new things, and we’ll evaluate those as we go through camp and see how it goes.”

Belichick pointed to the number of different responsibilities they’ve presented to Ealy, including working in the kicking game and also asking the former Missouri standout to drop into pass coverage.

“It’s just a learning curve. That’s fair to say," Ealy said. “Within the scheme of the defense, I’m learning, studying, picking things up every day. I had a natural ability to cover and do everything they ask me to do in the drop game so I don’t have a problem with it.”

That doesn’t seem to jibe with what Belichick and the coaching staff are feeling at this juncture, and while Ealy showed more Wednesday than he had any day prior, including making a couple of plays in the running game, most of his time was spent with the second and third units. 

“[You’re] asking way too many questions with that one,” he said when asked about an expanded role. “You have to ask Coach Belichick. Right now, I’m just in the phase of study, put back to back practices together and get better.”

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Rex Burkhead, David Harris in uniform for Patriots vs. Falcons

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Rex Burkhead, David Harris in uniform for Patriots vs. Falcons

FOXBORO -- The Patriots went into Sunday night's game with only three corners available to them, and even one of those was questionable. Pitted against a Falcons attack that features the reigning MVP and one of the most physically-gifted receivers to ever play, that felt like a problem. 

It still might be, but that one questionable corner -- Johnson Bademosi (abdomen) -- will be in uniform to help thwart Julio Jones and Co. Patriots tight end Jacob Hollister (questionable with a chest injury) is also active and in uniform. 

The Patriots ruled out three players in the days leading up to the game: corners Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe and defensive end Harvey Langi. Joining them as inactive on Sunday night at Elandon Roberts (ankle), Geneo Grissom (healthy scratch), Cam Fleming (healthy scratch) and Cole Croston (healthy scratch). 

Running back Rex Burkhead will be available to the Patriots for the first time since Week 2 when he injured his ribs against the Saints. Though he's only seen a very limited number of snaps this season, when he was on the field through the first two weeks he was heavily involved. He's seen just 18 offensive snaps, but he's carried the ball five times and he's been targeted seven times in the passing game. 

Also in uniform will be veteran linebacker David Harris. He's played just seven snaps this season, but with Roberts out, maybe this is the week when he sees more playing time. He should slot in behind Kyle Van Noy and Dont'a Hightower as New England's off-the-ball 'backers. 

AFC: Steelers shut down Bengals to pull away for 29-14 win

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AFC: Steelers shut down Bengals to pull away for 29-14 win

PITTSBURGH - Ben Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell added 192 total yards and Pittsburgh's defense dominated the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half of a 29-14 victory on Sunday.

The Steelers (5-2) relied on their stars to take the lead and then on their reinvigorated defense to blunt Cincinnati's and give themselves a significant cushion over the rest of the underwhelming AFC North.

The Bengals (2-4) came in looking to add some street cred to their resurgence after their 0-3 start, but instead spent the second half reverting to the kind of ineffective offense that got Ken Zampese fired two weeks into the season. The Steelers picked off Andy Dalton twice and sacked him three times over the final two quarters to pull away.

Chris Boswell added five field goals for Pittsburgh, which posted its highest points total and appears to be rounding into form as Halloween nears.

Two weeks after openly questioning whether he still "had it," Roethlisberger put together easily his best half of the season. He hit Antonio Brown for a 7-yard touchdown to cap Pittsburgh's first drive, found a wide-open JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 31-yard score in the second quarter and threw a perfectly placed 23-yard deep out to Brown late in the second quarter to spark a drive that ended with a 24-yard Chris Boswell field goal that put the Steelers up 20-14 at the half.

Dalton and Cincinnati appeared ready to keep pace early. He connected with Brandon LaFell and Tyler Kroft with first-half touchdowns, but when the Steelers turned the pressure up, the Bengals crumbled while losing for the eighth time in their last nine meets with their longtime nemesis.

Cincinnati managed just one first down in the second half, much of which Dalton spent on the run or throwing picks. Joe Haden collected his first interception with Pittsburgh when he made a juggling grab that set up Boswell's field goal. William Gay added one later in the third quarter on an ugly overthrow by Dalton.

Dalton finished 17 of 30 for 144 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Bengals had just 19 yards of total offense in the second half. Given one last desperate shot to get back in it with 5 minutes left trailing by 15, Dalton threw the ball away on fourth down, a microcosm of a forgettable afternoon.

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