It's an interesting paradox. They are never on the field at the same time, yet Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have set the standard for their peers, and themselves, in two careers inexorably linked to one another.



CHRIS VILLANI

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FOXBORO — When it comes to providing a scouting report on the Bears, Shane Vereen is better prepared than most of the Patriots.

When he lines up Sunday against Chicago, the New England running back will get his first crack at his brother — Bears rookie safety Brock Vereen — for the first time as professionals.

“I’m looking forward to it — it’s exciting,” Shane said after practice Tuesday. “It’s definitely going to be a good time for me and my family. But at the same time, you have to get down to the basics. It would mean more if we just came out on top and won the game as a team.

“Growing up, we talked about it a lot. But we were never on the field together at the same time because of our age difference. Now, we finally get that chance, and we’re both really excited about it.”

While he was interviewed by the Patriots prior to the draft, Brock ended up going in the fourth round to the Bears, and has 12 tackles in seven games in his first year with Chicago. The 5-foot-11, 199-pounder, who said he was looking to put a big hit on his brother when he reached the NFL, said in February that Shane was a big help to him throughout the pre-draft process.

‘€œI’€™€ve been very fortunate as to always to have an older brother at the level I was trying to get to,’€€ said Brock in February. ‘€œ€œWhen I was in high school, he was already in college, and now, the situation here. Just to have that insight, and to understand the ins and outs of certain things that some people might not find out until they’€™€™re actually in the NFL, it’€™€™s definitely a blessing.”

Of course, there’s also the chance to put a hit on your brother.

“I have not been hit by my brother. Not in pads,” said Shane with a smile on Tuesday. “I definitely think he is looking forward to it. So am I.”

Shane said there will plenty of family in attendance, but he said Tuesday that their mother, Venita, isn’t going to tip her hands as to who she’ll be rooting for.

“Last time I talked to my mother, she said she was going neutral — no colors,” Shane said. “We’ll see. I think that’s going to change.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
We check in with SI/MMQB's Peter King for his weekly take on the Patriots and all things NFL.

[0:01:49] ... that he believes. Is not. It is is sort of against him Brad Childress it is in Minnesota and from that point on its initial Minnesota. And I think that he got off on the wrong ...
[0:04:33] ... of them. City a record passing record touchdown record. On Sunday night Peyton Manning and the other one as you can imagine is Tom Brady because we're in new England and anytime Peyton Manning does something gives Manning vs Brady. Where have you stood on this great debate and in hock how could how can we ...
[0:06:14] ... is one of the top 5617. In football on Sunday night. And Peyton Manning may have a great UG ABT. I mean he just he totally control them and after the game so interesting reading stuff brought the 49ers locker room. They were they were like hey. They are fans. And so I just think what you look at the waiting game is played today. I'd I think we're getting is doing is amazing but I also have incredible respect. Sort of postseason prowess of Tom Brady and you know in another error Tom Brady also would have obliterated. A guy who after fifty years was the best touchdowns during history street churkin is. So you know it's not like he's hit you have to apologize for at least at least put a piece but a break now. I heard a lot of people say that. Brady Manning 21 century guys a twentieth century version of Joseph Montana Dan Marino I probably upset at a few times do you agree with that. Yeah I mean. That's that's an interesting way to look ...





The Patriots are expected to sign free-agent defensive lineman Alan Branch, according to Shalise Manza-Young of the Boston Globe.

Defensive lineman Alan Branch will apparently join the Patriots. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Defensive lineman Alan Branch will apparently join the Patriots. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The Patriots are expected to sign free-agent defensive lineman Alan Branch, according to Shalise Manza-Young of the Boston Globe.

The 29-year-old Branch, who was cut loose by the Bills in August following an arrest for drunken driving, is a 6-foot-6, 325-pounder out of Michigan who has played for the Bills, Seahawks and Cardinals over the course of his career. His best year likely came in 2012, when he started 16 games for Seattle and finished with 29 tackles and a sack.

Known as a run stopper, he should be able to provide some support for a New England run defense that has yielded 190 or more rushing yards in three of the first seven games of the season.

Branch has put together an impressive stretch over the last few seasons, but it is worth mentioning that he comes with some baggage — there was the August arrest, as well as the fact that the Patriots will be his fourth team in the last five seasons, which is always a red flag.

Branch would make the second defender the Patriots acquired on Tuesday — New England reportedly swung a deal to acquire outside linebacker Akeem Ayers.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Defensive end Chandler Jones missed practice Tuesday with a hip injury that is expected to sideline him for about a month, according to Shalise Manza-Young of the Boston Globe.

Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

Defensive end Chandler Jones missed practice Tuesday with a hip injury that is expected to sideline him for about a month, according to Shalise Manza-Young of the Boston Globe.

The 6-foot-5, 247-pound Jones, in his third season out of Syracuse, leads the Patriots in sacks (4.5) and quarterback hits (8), and is tied for the team lead with Rob Ninkovich in quarterback hurries (14).

With Jones on the sidelines, the Patriots will likely be forced to get creative up front, mixing and matching some different personnel in hopes of finding the right combination. One player who could be in line for more work is rookie defensive end Zach Moore. In addition — if he’s healthy — newcomer Akeem Ayers could be asked to provide a pass-rushing spark off the edge sooner rather than later.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots swung a deal for linebacker Akeem Ayers on Tuesday. The veteran has struggled with knee issues over the last year-plus, but if he’s healthy, he could add some much-needed depth for New England at a position that’s taken a hit with the season-ending injury to Jerod Mayo.

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Blog Author: 
WEEI
Akeem Ayers has nine career sacks with the Titans. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Akeem Ayers has nine career sacks with the Titans. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The Patriots passed on Akeem Ayers in the 2011 draft, but he was certainly a prospect who drew their interest.

“I think I would be a great fit for their defense,” Ayers told me at the combine that February when I asked him about the possibility of playing for the Patriots.

One reason he stuck out as a possible Patriot at the time was the fact that even though he made his bones as a defensive end in college, he displayed enough versatility as a collegian at UCLA to think about him as an outside linebacker/pass rusher in a 3-4 pro set.

“I feel like I can adapt to any kind of defense, whether it’€™s 4-3 or 3-4, because of my versatility playing defensive end in college [and] being a pass-rush linebacker,” he said at the time.

“As far as my pass-rush ability, I know I’€™m nowhere near reaching my peak. I’€™ve done a pretty good job rushing the passer these last two seasons, and I’€™m only going to get better.”

The Patriots certainly hope so, as they have apparently swung a deal to acquire Ayers. A longish, active presence who worked primarily as an end in college, he was a second-round pick of the Titans out of UCLA in the 2011 draft after finishing his college career with 14 sacks.

The 6-foot-3, 253-pounder made the move to outside linebacker in the pros, and had his best season in 2012 when he had a career-best six sacks and eight passes defensed to go along with 110 tackles for Tennessee. From 2011 through 2013, he started 44 of a possible 48 games his first three years with the Titans.

However, he’s struggled with knee issues as of late — he had two separate knee operations this past offseason to repair the patellar tendons in both knees. In the final year of his rookie deal, Ayers has only been active for two games this season, and has had three tackles. (Pro Football Focus has him down for just 10 snaps on the season.)

He has shown a nice ability to work in support when it comes to run defense, but he’s known first and foremost as a pass rusher. In New England, Ayers’ versatility could allow him to play a couple of different roles in the Patriots’ 4-3 front, including a possible strong-side spot, as well as work as an outside linebacker. Ultimately, New England gets a veteran body to help out as a position where it was dangerously thin following the injury to Jerod Mayo.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price