Patriots

Patriots-Redskins: What to expect this afternoon

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Patriots-Redskins: What to expect this afternoon

What I'm looking for today as the New England Patriots host the Washington Redskins at Gillette Stadium:

1) The Redskins secondary is beat up. D'Angelo Hall is not likely to play. Their best corner, Bashaud Breeland, has a bad hamstring and will try to gut it out (although he first may need to convince trainers he can go). Another corner, Chris Culliver, has a sore knee and is in the same predicament as Breeland. Couple that with a pair of safeties in Dashon Goldson and Trenton Robinson who haven't been average this season, and it's easy to see Tom Brady doing what he's done every week: Going for 300 yards, if that's the route the Pats choose.

2) Of course the Pats could attack the Redskins between the tackles as well, with injuries playing a role there. Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton didn't make the trip to Foxboro. He's dealing with something called cluster headaches, which are debillitating. Knighton hasn't been playing great football this year. He's been merely average. But he's the 'Skins starting nose tackle and his absence could force Jason Hatcher to a more prominent role over rookie center David Andrews. Hatcher is better suited as a defensive end either over the tackle or shaded betwen the tackle/guard gap. He might get lost on the interior. So that could entice the Pats to finally unleash LeGarrette Blount, though I'm still of the opinion that every game should be a Dion Lewis game until he proves otherwise.

3) There's also the matter of the Pats' offensive line. I expect Andrews to remain at center despite the activation of last year's man in the middle, Bryan Stork. Stork got work at guard this week in practice and it seems a smart decision to let him stay there for now, especially with Tre' Jackson out this week and Shaq Mason also recovering from a knee injury that's kept him sidelined the last two games. This is an area the Pats can ill-afford any more injuries, having placed Ryan Wendell on season-ending IR yesterday (where he joins starting left tackle Nate Solder). The third tackle would seem to be TE Michael Williams, who played tackle with Detroit before being dealt to New England.

4) If you're buying on Chandler Jones and his breakout performance this year, his matchup with Redskins left tackle Trent Williams is one to watch. Williams is a top-3 left tackle in my book, and elite as a pass blocker.

5) Little bit different of a test for the Pats secondary. DeSean Jackson is expected to play, and he is a straight burner with a big-play resume. To me, he's the guy I keep a body over the top of, and take my chances being physical with the other wideout, Pierre Garcon. The Redskins' best threat in the passing game is tight end Jordan Reed, at least when he's healthy. He is for this game, but he's been brittle. If the Pats are without LB Jamie Collins, who showed up as questionable on the injury report with illness yesterday, Matt Patricia's defense loses someone who could give Reed a different look, with the size and speed to run with Reed. Pat Chung, who's played his best football as a Patriot in the last month, surrenders 3 inches and 25 pounds to Reed.

6) Lastly, I love Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins hybrid LB/DE. He got off to a fast start this year but has been quieter in recent weeks, and then broke his hand versus the Buccaneers two weeks ago and couldn't finish the game. One of the things that makes Kerrigan so impressive is how well he uses his hands both as a pass rusher and in the run game, disengaging from blockers. If he's casted up, or wrapped up, as you would expect him to be, I would think that would be a big deterrent on Kerrigan reaching the levels he's capable of reaching.

Chris Long doesn't put stock in Brady-Belichick drama. "It took everything to beat them."

Chris Long doesn't put stock in Brady-Belichick drama. "It took everything to beat them."

In an interview with The Big Lead, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long spoke on the drama surrounding Tom Brady and Bill Belichick

It's safe to say he doesn't put much stock into it

I just think any NFL team, any NFL locker room under a lot of stress over a year period, there are going to be storylines people can choose to kind of blow out of proportion or not pay attention to. I think everyone’s going to pay attention to sometimes really small issues. Whatever people are alluding to going on up there hasn’t affected their play, it hasn’t affected their bottom line. It hasn’t affected how they executed on Sundays. 

Long played with the Patriots during the 2016 season and won Super Bowl 51 with them before signing a two-year contract with the Eagles. The Eagles then went on to beat New England in Super Bowl 52. If anyone outside of the Patriots' locker room has an idea of the culture inside the past two years, Long has to be one of them. 

It took everything for us to beat them. It took a heroic performance by Nick Foles and we had to play our best game. So while everybody likes to always point to the Patriots as being under duress or there’s some drama in the locker room, there’s drama in every locker room that you could blow out of proportion. They’re just on top and those stories sell because they’ve been so great.

ESPN's Seth Wickersham released a story detailing some of the issues that arose in New England over the past few years in January, and with Brady missing almost all of the Patriots' voluntary workouts last month, some have started to wonder whether this is the end for one of both of Brady-Belichick. 

While their hasn't been much public acknowledgement from either side about the drama, but Long certainly doesn't see much substance to the noise. 

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Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction draws response from Tom Brady

Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction draws response from Tom Brady

Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction of the Jacksonville Jaguars taking over the AFC title from the Patriots and facing the Green Bay Packers in Atlanta in SB53 drew a response from Tom Brady on Instagram.

The NFL's official Instagram account posted a photo of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the prediction of Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys QB now the analyst on CBS' No. 1 NFL broadcast team. Here's a screenshot, complete with Brady's comment:

Appearing on the NFL Network earlier this week, Romo said rumors of a rift between Brady and coach Bill Belichick are overblown. “I think they probably squabble just like any married couple for 20 years, and then they also love each other.

“I just think when you work together for 15 to 20 years, whatever it is, I think that whenever you have the success that they have, people have to come up with stuff,” Romo said. “I also think that I’ve been upset with my coaches before, and then you come back and you’re fine. And then you get upset with them, and you come back and you’re fine. It’s a part of sports.”

Brady and the Patriots report to camp on July 26.

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