Patriots

Ebner, Gostkowski return to Patriots practice

Ebner, Gostkowski return to Patriots practice

FOXBORO -- Nate Ebner and Stephen Gostkowski were both spotted by reporters on hand at Patriots practice Saturday, giving New England perfect attendance for the first time this week. 

Ebner did not practice Thursday or Friday due to a concussion suffered in the AFC Championship, while Gostkowski missed the sessions due to illness. 

Gostkowski is a perfect five-for-five on field goals this postseason with a long of 47 yards in last week’s win over the Steelers. He did miss an extra point in that game, making him seven-of-eight on PATs in the playoffs. 

Friday saw Julio Jones return to practice for the Falcons with limited participation. Both Jones (toe sprain) and center Alex Mack were scheduled to sit out this week’s practices, but Jones got back on the field sooner than expected. 

Brady touched by Gronk's loyalty, sad for Jimmy G

Brady touched by Gronk's loyalty, sad for Jimmy G

Tom Brady sounded humbled both by his team's performance and his All-Pro tight end's pledge of loyalty to him in the aftermath of the Patriots' 26-10 loss to the Lions in Detroit on Sunday night.

Of Rob Gronkowski's acknowledgment that he was nearly traded to the Lions in the offseason and that "Brady's my quarterback. I'm not going anywhere without Brady," the Patriots quarterback, in his weekly WEEI interview on the "Kirk and Callahan" show, said the feeling is mutual about Gronk.

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“Well, I think that speaks to our relationship and I feel as strongly about him as he does about me," he said. "I love the guy. He has had a big impact on my career personally, professionally. Like I said, I am very lucky to play with him and we’re going to keep fighting. We are going to keep going after it week in and week out. We’re going to figure out a way to get this thing turned around.”

Brady would comment specifically on the rumored trade, but called it "nothing short of a miracle" that Gronk is playing after fighting through injuries throughout his career. 

“I don’t want to get into any hypotheticals and things like that. I have played with him for a long time," he said. "I think so highly of him as a player, as a person, as a friend, as a teammate and I am lucky to play with such a great player and someone who I just love being out there with. [He is] such a great competitor with what he’s fought through over the course of his career. Nothing short of a miracle in a lot of ways. … I love playing with Gronk. 

Brady also expressed sympathy for his former backup QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, who is likely out for the season with a torn ACL suffered in the San Francisco 49ers loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/patriots/49ers-fear-jimmy-garoppolo-tore-left-acl?int

“I feel terrible for him,” Brady said. “It’s a tough injury. I feel bad for Jimmy, and it's football. Things happen like that. I've been through an ACL. It just sucks. You hate to see people go down, and (Jimmy) is someone I really like and have been friends with since the day he got here. It just sucks to have to go through that.”

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For Patriots, 'gotta play better, gotta coach better' never rang more true

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USA Today Sports Photo

For Patriots, 'gotta play better, gotta coach better' never rang more true

The Patriots fell to 1-2 on the season with a stunning 26-10 loss in Detroit against former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Click here for the boxscore, and here to watch what the coaches, players and analysts were saying after the game.

GAME WITHIN THE GAME
The biggest X-factor going into this game was how well-prepared the Lions would be by Matt Patricia, given his knowledge of what the Patriots would like to do on both sides of the ball.

Based the Lions’ success, it’s safe to say he sniffed some things out.

Defensively, Detroit didn’t appear to blitz much. The Lions just played solid coverage and rushed four most of the time. That was plenty to keep the Patriots receivers from running free and allowing Tom Brady to stand back and pick them apart. The sacks they had were coverage sacks. The pick they had was an instance where Brady appeared to just wing it into coverage hoping to pick up a chunk. It wasn’t close.

Meanwhile, the Lions took full advantage offensively of the Patriots' inept and unimaginative pass rush. Aside from Deatrich Wise showing up with a terrific singular effort on his sack, there was precious little heat on Matt Stafford and he was content to find the holes on the sidelines and throw short over the middle where the Patriots labor to cover.

Most discouraging for New England was the way Patricia and his offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter, exposed Malcom Brown and Lawrence Guy at the point of attack, rooting them out of there and then getting LeGarrette Blount and Kerryon Johnson to the second level with speed.

The Patriots were outcoached, certainly. But they also seemed to just take it on defense. They got pushed around, play after play, and just kept lining up and allowing it to happen again. 

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