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Behind Enemy Lines: The Patriots

Behind Enemy Lines: The Patriots

I received an invitation from Bruce Allen of PatriotsDaily.com, an outstanding independent blog covering New England, to exchange a few questions about the respective teams that we cover. I was happy to oblige. Here are Bruce's answers to my queries about the Pats. As soon as I get it I will post a link to my answers to his questions.

Rich Tandler: Does Belichick seem like a lifer as coach of the Pats? Or is there maybe a surprise retirement announcement out there in three or four years?

Bruce Allen: His contract is always a subject of discussion by the media here. The last we had heard was that his current deal took him through 2013. Coaching really seems to be his life, and I'd say the job is his as long as he wants to keep doing it. At this point I can't imagine him coaching anywhere else, nor can I really see him doing what Bill Parcells is going with the Dolphins right now, being strictly a front office type. My guess is that he'll be here at least as long as Tom Brady is.

RT: Some key members of the defense, the guys that won the Super Bowls, are getting up there in age. Give me a couple of players who will be the next generations of anchors on the defense.

BA: Two names come immediately to mind - linebacker Jerod Mayo and safety Brandon Meriweather. Mayo is already a leader on the veteran defense, will be handling the play calling and seems to be the type of student of the game that Belichick loves. One school of thought has the Patriots toying with a 4-3 defensive front this season just to free up Mayo to be able to go out and make plays. He's all over the field.

The 2008 Patriots defense didn't have many big plays in the course of the season. On the rare occasions that they needed a play made and someone actually stepped up and made it, it was Meriweather. A last season 4th down sack of Seattle QB Seneca Wallace which sealed a victory for the Patriots comes to mind. His rookie year he couldn't catch a pass thrown directly at him, last year he lead the team in interceptions. He's not the big, hard hitting type of safety, but he's a playmaker.

RT: What's the concern level about Brady's knee? And, should he have to sit out a game or two, is there another Matt Cassel on the bench?

BA: Brady had a couple of awkward throws off his back leg in the previous preseason game, and the timing on his throws has been a little off at times. Generally though he seems to be ready to start the season, and he has yet to miss a practice session in training camp - including a ridiculous stretch in which the team had double sessions seemingly every day for two weeks. The backups seem a little shaky at the moment. Kevin O'Connell was a third round pick last year, has a good arm and is mobile, he would seem to be the QB to call on, though the team did sign former Raider Andrew Walter in camp and seems high on his potential. I don't know if there is a Cassel there, but then again, Cassel looked absolutely dreadful in the preseason last year. There was a lot of surprise around that he even made the opening day roster.

RT: Give me someone on each side of the ball who will be fun to watch after the starters have departed.

BA: On Offense, seventh round pick Julian Edelman has been the talk of camp. A converted QB from Kent State, Edelman has been in at wide receiver and punt returns, and has been electric, running back a punt 75 yards for a TD in the first preseason game. He seems a lock to make the final roster. A longer shot to make the roster is undrafted WR Terrence Nunn, who has made a big impression in practice, catching everything thrown his way, and should end up on an NFL roster somewhere.

On defense, check out second round pick Pat Chung, who seems to have a little Rodney Harrison in him. He's a hard hitting safety who has also made some plays on special teams, blocking a field goal. Sixth round pick Myron Pryor has also been active on the defensive line, getting into the backfield on a regular basis.

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Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

As Jay Gruden stepped to the podium to read the injury report, he warned, “This will be a while.”

He was right, as he rattled off one the longest injury reports of the season.

Out were G Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion), DE Chris Baker (ankle), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Anthony Lanier (lower leg), G Shawn Lauvao (groin), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), and S Donte Whitner (illness).

Of that group, all but Jean Francois, Lanier, and Nsekhe are starters. Between them and the limited players listed below it was difficult for the Redskin to conduct a normal practice.

“It was a challenge,” said Gruden of getting through it. “Practice was modified quite a bit today. We did more walkthrough today than we ever have on a Wednesday.”

“Sometimes you have to taper back just a hair to make it through practice, try to get the mental reps in with walkthrough and then hopefully the physical part will come maybe tomorrow. Friday we can open them up a bit.”

Limited in practice were TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), OLB Preston Smith (groin), ILB Will Compton (hip), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and TE Derek Carrier (knee).

READ MORE: FULL UPDATE ON JORDAN REED

Reed returned to practice for the first time since suffering a Grade 3 sprain to the AC joint in his left shoulder in the game against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. He missed the game in Arizona. While his limited participation was a good sign for his return it’ is way too early in the week to say with any degree of certainty that he will be playing against the Eagles.

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Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

RGIII is finally getting another chance to play.

Plagued by injury after injury — most recently breaking a bone in his left shoulder in the Brown’s 29-10 loss to the Eagles in their season opener — the former Redskin is set to start for Cleveland against the Bengals on Sunday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

Griffin was cleared for contact last week after missing the majority of the Browns’ 0-12 season, and the team is coming off a bye week after its last loss to the Giants over Thanksgiving weekend.

In 2015, Kirk Cousins replaced Griffin as starting quarterback, and the Redskins released him at the end of the season. He signed a two-year, $15 million contract with Cleveland in March.  

In Griffin’s absence, the Browns have relied on Cody Kessler and Josh McCown, who boast a 65.5 and 54.5 completion percentage, respectively. The two combine for just 12 touchdowns this season.

Will Griffin be the key to ending the Browns’ winless season? We’ll find out Sunday.

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