Patriots

NFL rumors: Patriots hosting former Broncos tight end for free agent visit

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL rumors: Patriots hosting former Broncos tight end for free agent visit

The New England Patriots need depth at tight end, and they reportedly will be hosting one for a free agent visit Thursday. 

Matt LaCosse, who's played three seasons in the NFL, will meet with the Patriots, per the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson.

Lacosse spent the 2018 season with the Denver Broncos. He tallied 24 receptions for 250 yards and one touchdown in 15 games for the Broncos.

The 26-year-old spent his first two pro seasons with the New York Giants but played in only five games total. 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has not made a decision on whether he'll retire or return in 2019, and New England released veteran tight end Dwayne Allen last week.

The Patriots, given their lack of depth at the position, figure to be in the mix for a tight end during next month's 2019 NFL Draft, where they currently have a league-high 12 picks, including six in the first three rounds.

Click to read our Patriots offseason tracker>>>

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Patriots punter Jake Bailey wins AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after great performance

Patriots punter Jake Bailey wins AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after great performance

New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey might be the most impressive rookie from the team's 2019 NFL Draft class. 

The NFL announced Wednesday that Bailey is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week winner for Week 12. He also won this award after the Patriots' Week 3 win over the New York Jets.

Bailey put on a punting clinic in New England's 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. The Stanford product had six punts inside the 20-yard line and five punts that went over 50 yards. His punts helped the Patriots win the field position battle and forced the Eagles to go on long scoring drives. Bailey's kicks were among the primary factors in the Patriots holding the Eagles scoreless through the final three quarters.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised Bailey's ability to pin the Eagles deep in their own territory amid the difficult kicking conditions in Philly.

“Yeah. I’d say at Stanford, not a lot of tough conditions out there – out there playing Arizona State and Arizona and UCLA and all. But he’s had a lot of, I would say, challenging conditions out here – both in the spring, and then as we’ve gone through the regular season," Belichick told reporters after Sunday's victory. "This year there have been days out there where it’s been cold, rainy, windy and I think he learned something every day. There’s cross winds and there’s winds in your face and it’s kicking with the wind and all that. There’s challenges in every one of them. If you’re kicking with the wind, that’s an advantage to the punter, but handling the snap, which is coming back into the wind, wobbles and things like that. It’s a little tougher snap for the snapper.

"He’s done a good job of, I would say, adapting to the conditions. He’s still got a long way to go. I’m sure he’ll learn a lot more as the season goes along, but between the holding, the kickoffs and the punting in various conditions and certainly situational football, which came up today. You know, the end-of-the-game punts and backed-up punts and plus 50-punts and the kickoffs and so forth. There were a lot of situations. But he’s a great kid. He works hard. He’s really played well for us this entire season and he’s been so valuable to this team and he proved it out there today. I wish he could have recovered that fumble, but he’s been great for us.”

Belichick doesn't often give that level of praise to a rookie, but it's certainly warranted in Bailey's case. He's been a tremendous asset to the Patriots not only as a punter, but also as the holder on field goals and player handling kickoff duties. That's the kind of versatility Belichick values so much.

Phil Perry: Jake Bailey, special teams excel in Week 12 report card>>>

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These stats sum up impressive improvement Patriots' pass rush has made in 2019

These stats sum up impressive improvement Patriots' pass rush has made in 2019

The New England Patriots didn't have much of a pass rush last season, but 2019 has been a far different (and better) story.

The improvement in the Patriots' pass rush was evident Sunday in the team's 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, where New England tallied five sacks. The pressure the Pats put on Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz swung the momentum in their favor as they shut Philly out over the final three quarters.

The defending Super Bowl champs have dominated opposing offensive lines throughout the season with 37 sacks in 10 games -- the second-highest total in the NFL and two behind the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers for the league lead. The Patriots tallied only 30 sacks in all of 2018, which tied for the second-fewest.

It's been a long time, as ESPN's Mike Reiss notes, since the Patriots had 37 sacks at this point in a season:

The Patriots have done a good job slowing down the opponent's pass rush, too. Sacks aren't the only stat to factor when grading offensive linemen, but New England's pass protection has allowed the fourth-fewest sacks in the league. The Patriots, as a result, are tied with the 49ers for the best net sack total:

Sunday's test against the Dallas Cowboys should be a tough one for the Patriots. The Cowboys have one of the most talented offensive lines in the league. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has been sacked a league-low 12 times, and based on the fact he's playing at an MVP-level right now, pressuring him in the pocket will be of the utmost importance in Week 12.

Pats' D must beat Prescott in this specific area of the field>>>

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