Patriots

Kubiak conscious of Patriots' stout run defense

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Kubiak conscious of Patriots' stout run defense

J.J. Watt will inevitably be the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year when the votes are counted. But the Texans defensive lineman won't necessarily be the most impactful defensive lineman on the field Sunday when the Patriots and Texans get together again.

We pointed out Monday the importance of Vince Wilfork in stopping the Texans' running game.

Down in Houston, Texans coach Gary Kubiak was answering similar questions, including ones about whether the Texans are better off having seen Wilfork once.

He's going to look the same," said Kubiak. "Hes the same player. Hes one heck of a player and hes a load to handle. The thing about him is hes so athletic. We like to cut (block, where an offensive lineman fires out at a defensive lineman's lower body), we like to do those things up front offensively. And he jumped over us a couple of times.

"Theyre built right down the middle with the young linebacker and Wilfork," Kubiak added (one presumes the "young linebacker" is Jerod Mayo but it may be Brandon Spikes). "Theyre built very well right there. Against us they squeeze the ball really good off the edges with their outside players and let him do his work. Us containing him, for a player that plays inside, as many big plays as he makes, causing fumbles, those types of things, Thats the thing that concerns you the most. We cant let him do that.

The Patriots run defense in general has been very good, though statistically aided by the season opener against Tennessee when the Titans ran for just 20 yards. The 49ers ran all over New England for 180 yards but no other team got more than 120 over the final seven games.

Wilfork, says Kubiak, is the key.

"If you sit there and think youre going to run it at him consistently, its very difficult," he acknowledged. "Hes been one of the best players in the league, most dominant players in the league. Theyre very good against the run. I think theyre ranked like sixth or seventh. They have been all year long. The thing that is so difficult, is he plays everywhere. So he doesnt just play one spot. Its not like you go the other way with the ball or try to avoid something. Youre going to have to deal with him all day long. We know the importance of us playing well on the line of scrimmage. It was a key to what we did last week and Im sure it wont be any different this week."

The Texans played a very good front on Saturday when they took on the Bengals and lead back Arian Foster had 140 yards on 32 carries. The Texans defense played a big role in allowing Houston to use Foster so much. It was so stingy against Cincy's offense, the Texans never needed to get away from the running game and play catch-up. That's a dynamic that could change against New England.

And Kubiak acknowledged that as well.

"Missed opportunities they hurt all the time," said Kubiak. "But against these guys theyre a lot worse because of what they do offensively and how good they are. When you get opportunities to go down there and score some points, you better. You better not hurt yourself. Weve got to find ways to do that. Theyre going to make plays and we understand that, but we got to find a way to make quite a few ourselves."

Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury

Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski both sat out of the entirety of Wednesday's practice at Gillette Stadium. 

Brady is dealing with an Achilles injury, per the injury report released by the Patriots. The Boston Herald has reported that Brady will play despite the issue. It's unclear when exactly Brady suffered the injury, but Brady was hit low by Raiders pass-rusher Khalil Mack in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and Mack was called for a roughing-the-passer penalty.

Gronkowski, like teammate David Andrews, is dealing with an illness. Patrick Chung, who left Sunday's game briefly, has an ankle issue. 

Here's the full injury report for both the Patriots and Dolphins . . . 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
C David Andrews (illness)
QB Tom Brady (Achilles)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
S Patrick Chung (ankle)
TE Rob Gronkowski (illness)
WR Chris Hogan (shoulder)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (knee)
TE Marellus Bennett (shoulder/hamstring)
DT Malcom Brown (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)

MIAMI DOLPHINS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
LB Stephone Anthony (quadriceps)
G Jermon Bushrod (foot)
QB Jay Cutler (concussion)
DE William Hayes (back)
T Laremy Tunsill (illness)

FULL PARTICIPATION
RB Senorise Perry (knee)
S Michael Thomas (knee)

 

Curran: Randy Moss better not have to wait for Hall call

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Curran: Randy Moss better not have to wait for Hall call

If you’re a Hall of Famer, you’re a Hall of Famer. The notion that a great player’s candidacy has to have some kind of gestation period before it can be deemed induction-worthy is just plain cruel.

And if you think “cruel” is an overstatement, consider Ken Stabler. Three times a Hall of Fame finalist, Snake had to croak before Pro Football Hall of Fame voters decided it was time to put him in Canton.

There are borderline guys whose candidacies need to marinate. There are players whose contributions to an era take on greater meaning as time passes. You could make the case Stabler was one of those.

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You could also make the case that too many HOF voters in each of the major sports get caught up in a “guardian at the gate” mentality, puffing out birdlike chests until they align with swollen stomachs and declaring an athlete’s not getting inducted on HIS watch.

Or until said athlete’s served time in purgatory and either begs for induction or says, “F--- it, I don’t care if I get in at this point anyway.

Which brings me to Terrell Owens and how his HOF candidacy will impact Randy Moss.

Moss was a better player than T.O. Historic. The second he entered the league in 1998, he was probably one of the five best players in the league at any position. Owens took a while. He didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his fifth NFL season.

Moss was a technician and a savant. Owens just wrestled the game to the ground with brute force.

When measuring what a player “means” to the NFL and its fans, a reasonable Moss comp is Allen Iverson. They were iconic. Owens? Dwight Howard. Where T.O. felt needy, desperate and narcissistic. Moss just didn’t GAF.

And that’s where some voters start to rub their hands together and scheme.

How can we exact revenge for perceived crimes against football and propriety? Make 'em sweat. Use incidents, moments and comments as cudgels and pound penance out of them.

Even though Moss was better than T.O., that doesn’t mean Owens is borderline. Owens is second in all-time yards (Moss is third), eighth in receptions (Moss is 15th), third in touchdowns (Moss is second) and was a five-time All-Pro (Moss was a four-time All-Pro).

The only justification for voters keeping T.O. out the past two years was that he was a prick.

Few – if any - of his ex-teammates say that he should be kept out of the HOF for that. But scores of people in the media, ex-players and league lobbyists do think he should be kept out. At least until he learns his lesson, or whatever.

Owens’ narcissism chewed at the fabric of franchises he was a part of, is the contention. That’s why he played for five teams. That’s why he only played in one Super Bowl. That’s why tears weren’t shed when he signed someplace else.

Moss also played for five teams. He also played in just one Super Bowl (like Owens, Moss’ ’07 Patriots lost though Moss – like Owens – did his part to win). And tears weren’t shed too often when Moss left either.

Check this Tom Brady quote from September 2010. It came just days before Moss began shooting his way out of New England because he was unhappy the team wouldn’t extend his deal.

"There's only one Randy Moss that will ever play this game," Brady said. "He's the greatest, probably, downfield receiver in the history of the NFL. Those catches that he makes, where you guys see he runs 65 yards down the field, you throw it and he just runs and catches it. That's impossible to do.And I ask him, 'How did you do that?' And he says, 'I don't know, man. I've been doing it for a long time.' He has some special skills that nobody's really gifted with." 

That weekend, Moss gave his “This probably will be my last year here as a Patriot…” press conference after a season-opening win over the Bengals. The next week, he caught two of 10 passes that Brady threw his way in a loss to the Jets. One of the passes was a touchdown pass where he blew past Darrelle Revis and made a one-handed pull. Two of the other passes were picked off and Moss was non-competitive. After that, he was effectively frozen out of the offense and was traded after Week 4, less than a month after Brady accurately described him as the greatest downfield receiver in the history of the NFL.

Stuff like that, nudging a traffic cop for a half-block with his car stating “I’ll play when I want to play…,” fake-mooning the Lambeau Stadium crowd, saying he still smoked weed “once in a blue moon” – all those occasions will be aggregated and used as cudgels used to beat down Moss’ candidacy just as the driveway situps are used to beat down T.O.’s.

Whole bunch of voters will hand-wring about what it all meeeaaaannnnnsssss if they sweep Moss in on the first ballot after keeping T.O. out. And then wonder if T.O. should go in before Moss, after Moss or with him. Meanwhile, they’ll rush to get Ray Lewis in line for his gold jacket with nary a word about disappearing white suits 

The whole “between the lines is all that matters” defense.

Randy Moss belongs in the Hall of Fame. ASAP.