Patriots

Patriots concerned about Tannehill's mobility

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Patriots concerned about Tannehill's mobility

FOXBORO -- When the Patriots play the Dolphins and their quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Sunday, it will mark the third time this season that they face a rookie signal-caller.

The results for New England's defense so far have been split: The Patriots dominated Andrew Luck and the Colts in Week 10, but fell to Seattle's Russell Wilson in Week 6.

Tannehill doesn't have the numbers to match up with either one of his 2012 draft classmates. He's in the top 10 in terms of interceptions thrown and has completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,373 yards.

But much like Luck and Wilson, Tannehill can make plays with his legs. A receiver at Texas A&M for two full seasons and part of a third, he has the athleticism to get outside of the pocket and extend plays.

Tannehill's mobility is something the Patriots have been aware of as they've watched him on tape this week.

"All these guys, Wilson, Luck, and now this guy, they all have one thing in common -- they can beat you on the ground running," Vince Wilfork said. "Up front we just have to do a good job of making sure that we keep him under control. Keep him in the pocket, make him throw from the pocket because we know if you get outside of the pocket, it'll be a nightmare for our defense."

At 6-foot-4 and 222 pounds, Tannehill has the look of a prototypical quarterback. And even if his numbers suggest otherwise, the Patriots believe he has the ability to match.

"This quarterback is making some big plays for this team," Wilfork said. "Of course he makes some bonehead plays. But guess what? We all make bonehead plays. It's all in the process of learning. I think that guy has came in there and given them guys the best shot to win and he's playing very, very well as a rookie so they believe in him. Looking at him on film he's very good, he's got a lot of talent, I'll tell you that."

Against the Seeahawks last week, Tannehill led the Dolphins to two late scoring drives. His 29-yard touchdown pass to Charles Clay with 5:13 left tied the game at 21. The Dolphins then were able to set up kicker Dan Carpenter for the game-winning 43-yard field goal.

He's improving, and the Patriots know it.

"Obviously he's a good athlete," Jerod Mayo said. "Right now -- what is it Week 12? -- I don't think there are any rookies left in the NFL."

They just hope to make him look like one on Sunday.

Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

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Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season. 

Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder. 

Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick. 

Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury. 

Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad. 

Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.

The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues

Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

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Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

BRIGHTON -- Coming off a pair of back-to-back wins from backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are still undecided about what they’re going to do between the pipes Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

On the one hand, the Bruins are very tempted to ride the hot goaltending hand with Khudobin a strong 5-0-2 record on the season and a .935 save percentage that currently leads all goaltenders across the league. There’s a school of thought that the B’s should simply keep plugging Khudobin into the lineup until he actually loses a game, and begins to cool down a little bit between the pipes after stopping 63-of-65 shots against LA and San Jose.

At the same time it will be over a week since Tuukka Rask has played in a game if the Bruins go with Khudobin on Wednesday night against the Devils, and Bruce Cassidy was clear to stress that Rask is still their No. 1 guy. So that’s the dilemma the Bruins are facing with Cassidy calling it “a good problem to have” based on Khudobin’s strong play from the backup spot.

That is a far cry from what the Bruins experienced a year ago with the same goalie, and a reason for optimism that their goaltending situation will be better off throughout a long season.

“Do you go with the hot hand and leave your No. 1 sitting where he’s beginning to wonder what the hell is going on? That’s the decision,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We need to keep them both in a good place, and not lose out on [Khudobin’s] good run while keeping Tuukka focused and confident in his game. That’s what we’re battling and I talk to Goalie Bob [Essensa] about it every day. We’ll make our decision [on Wednesday] and we hope it’s the right one.

“It’s a long year so no matter who we use there are a lot of starts. I don’t think Khudobin is going to go ice cold if he use Tuukka tomorrow, and I don’t think Tuukka is going to blow a gasket if we go with the hot hand. For me I don’t think it’s that big of a decision.”

Perhaps Rask blowing a gasket wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world given the way he’s played this season.

The one underlying concern for Rask beyond the .897 save percentage this season is that his game has really been in a different place for the last three seasons. While his .922 career save percentage mark is among the best in the NHL, he has been below that mark in each of the last three seasons while struggling to maintain consistently behind a changing roster that’s turning over to youth and inexperience.

It certainly seems like the Bruins feel it’s premature to label Rask as anything but their No. 1 goaltender, but the pause they’re giving on Wednesday night’s starter speaks volumes about their current confidence level in each of their puck-stoppers.

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