Patriots

Doug Pederson marvels at Patriots QB Tom Brady's success late in career

Doug Pederson marvels at Patriots QB Tom Brady's success late in career

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the oldest starter at his position in the NFL, but you wouldn't know it just by watching him play each Sunday.

Brady is completing 64.8 percent of his passes for 2,536 yards with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions through nine games. The 42-year-old veteran isn't posting MVP-caliber stats, but he's made enough plays to help New England earn an AFC-leading 8-1 record entering Sunday's Week 11 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is quite impressed with how well Brady has played late in his career.

"You're kind of in awe of his play," Pederson told reporters Wednesday, via John McMullen of 93.7 ESPN. "Where he is in his career, and how he's gotten himself physically and mentally, really, to play every season and every play of every game. You're really not going to show him anything he hasn't seen from a schematic standpoint. He's smart, he knows exactly where to go with the football. He can direct his offense and get guys in positions to be successful.

"And he does a great job with the football and protecting it. It's hard to get to him, No. 1 -- he gets the ball out extremely fast. It's just really impressive to watch where he is in his career and the age and all of that. As a former quarterback, to sit back and watch him play has been very impressive to me."

The Patriots and Eagles last met in Super Bowl LII, where Brady shredded Philly's defense for a Super Bowl-record 505 yards and three touchdowns. It wasn't good enough to win the Lombardi Trophy, however, as the Eagles prevailed with a 41-33 victory for their first Super Bowl championship in franchise history. 

Brady should again tally impressive stats Sunday because the Eagles pass defense, particularly at cornerback, has struggled throughout the 2019 season. The Eagles defense ranks 20th in pass coverage, 27th in tackling and 17th in defense overall, according to Pro Football Focus' grades.

The Patriots passing attack also could receive a boost in Week 11 if rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry makes his regular season debut. Harry is eligible to play Sunday and is making good progress in practice.

Kyle Van Noy admits Pats will use Super Bowl loss as motivation Sunday>>>

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Could trick-shot kicker return to Patriots in 2020 after practice squad release?

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USA TODAY Sports

Could trick-shot kicker return to Patriots in 2020 after practice squad release?

FOXBORO -- The New England Patriots' rare instability at kicker has forced them to get creative.

The Patriots raised a few eyebrows Wednesday by signing Josh Gable -- a "YouTube star" with no college football kicking experience best known for his trick shot videos -- to their practice squad.

Gable's tenure in New England was short-lived, as the Patriots released him Friday.

So, why use a practice squad spot on a kicker only to cut him two days later?

"We had a spot available on the practice squad, and it gave us an opportunity to look at a younger kicker," head coach Bill Belichick said Friday.

" ... Rather than just (have him) come in and do a workout, we were actually able to (have him) kick with the team and put him on the practice squad for a couple days."

Belichick said the Patriots have no plans to move away from Nick Folk as their starting kicker this season. 

But getting Gable in for essentially a multi-day tryout allowed New England to explore a potential kicking option for 2020.

"We'll worry about that next year," Belichick said. " ... Put that in the bank, and maybe it comes up later on at some point in time down the road. Maybe it doesn’t. I’m not sure."

Such is the reality for the Patriots, who lost Stephen Gostkowski to season-ending hip surgery in October and have cycled through Mike Nugent, Kai Forbath, Folk and Younghoe Koo (practice squad) since.

Gostkowski turns 36 in January and is entering the final year of his contract, so Belichick has good reason to get a head start on contingency kicking options for 2020.

That's assuming New England doesn't stick with Folk: The veteran has been the most consistent of Gostkowski's replacements this season, connecting on eight of 11 field goals and making all four of his extra-point attempts.

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N'Keal Harry using big play vs. Chiefs as a reminder of his potential

N'Keal Harry using big play vs. Chiefs as a reminder of his potential

FOXBORO -- At the moment, N'Keal Harry will take positive reinforcement wherever he can get it.

The New England Patriots rookie had just one reception in last Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He made the most of it, though, breaking multiple tackles and diving for what should have been ruled a touchdown.

For 21-year-old rookie with just five catches on 10 targets through four NFL games, the play was a reminder to himself and the Patriots of what he's capable of in space with the ball in his hands.

"Yeah, definitely," Harry said Friday when asked if that play was a confidence boost for him. "It kind of felt like some of the stuff I did in college, just getting the ball in my hand and being able to run with it.

"So, that definitely helped. Just seeing that I'm able to do the same things (I did in college)."

Harry averaged 13.9 yards per catch as a sophomore and 14.9 yards per catch as a junior at Arizona State, earning First-Team All-Pac-12 honors in both seasons as a playmaking deep threat.

Harry's NFL transition has been bumpy to date, as an ankle injury caused him to miss New England's first nine games. But the Patriots still are well aware of his talent.

"I need to do a better job of finding ways to get him in space, get him the ball, and let him have an opportunity to (make plays)," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels admitted earlier this week.

The red zone seems like a natural place to get Harry more involved; the 6-foot-4, 225-pound wideout is a matchup nightmare for smaller cornerbacks and scored 17 touchdowns over his final two seasons.

Even after the Week 14 confidence booster, though, Harry will defer to McDaniels on how the Patriots want to increase his workload entering Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"That's more of a Josh question," Harry said when asked about his role in New England's red zone offense. "I'm just ready whenever my name is called."

" ... Whenever I get onto the field, whether it's 50 snaps or one snap, whenever my name is called, I have to be able to contribute."

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