Patriots have quick turnaround for Chargers


Patriots have quick turnaround for Chargers

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO -- The Patriots have a short week going into Sunday's game versus San Diego. And they've got to buckle down quickly; Tom Brady believes he and his teammates will be tested.

"Guys in here are kind of walking around a little stiff, a little tight," he said Wednesday. "But we've got to move on from last week's game and really get working hard on these guys."

The Chargers' 2010 record (9-7) almost had another in the 'W' column, as New England just barely escaped a 17-point fourth-quarter San Diego surge last October. The 23-20 Patriots win wasn't pretty. And, if anything, Brady thinks the opponent has improved since then.

"They were pretty good last year," Brady said. "They lead the league in defense. That was our fewest production of the season when we played them. We had, like, 200 yards of offense 128 net passing, 179 total. Didn't really do well in the red area, didn't run it great -- certainly didn't throw it great. Didn't protect as well as we were capable. We were pretty fortunate last year when we played them. Hopefully we can execute better.

"They've got a good team, they've got a good defense," Brady added. "They've got veterans, they're tough, they're aggressive, they can tackle, they're experienced. They've got a very good offense that can put up points and do it quickly. Special teams are much improved from last seasons. It's one of the best teams in the AFC -- always has been. Got a great quarterback. It's going to be a big challenge for us."

The compliments are thrown wide but not contrived. Brady was sacked four times in San Diego last season, twice by linebacker Antwan Barnes, and once each by tackle Antonio Garay and explosive LB Shaun Phillips. That was Week 7, when Chargers were weighed down by five early losses.

This season is starting better for Norv Turner's club. Last week the Chargers overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Minnesota, 24-17. The game became a grab bag of highlights: Shaun Phillips tipping a screen pass to himself for an interception, 243-pound running back Mike Tolbert rushed for three touchdowns, Mike Scifres scored on his first NFL field goal attempt (40-yards).

Brady saw it all on the tape.

"San Diego is one of the most talented teams in the league every year," he said. "I think they've gotten off to some slow starts the last few years, but it doesn't look like they're starting slow this year. I think that's really been a point of emphasis for them. You can really see it on film. It's an attacking defense. They've got great players at every position."

The Patriots don't look so bad themselves. A Week 1 win in Miami is no small prize and Brady was positive in retrospect. The foundation has been laid, he said, and now there's work to be done. It's time to get back to practice, clean things up and build off of it.

"I thought we got off to a decent start," he said. "I think there was a lot of three-and-outs, we had penalties, we had a turnover. It wasn't a perfect performance by any stretch. I think we were fishing, I think we took advantage of the opportunities that we had, but there were certainly more plays out ther for us to be made. There are some games where you can't make any mistakes and I think that's what we've got to strive toward.

"It's been one week. I know there's not much to go on other than one game, but we're trying to string it together for a very, very long season. We got off to a decent start. I wouldn't say it was our best performance I've ever seen around here. It was one game and now we've got to move on to the next one."

The rebound rate will have to be good; it's a hurry-up week.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

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…”


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.