FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price detail how the Patriots prepare for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price preview Sunday's Patriots-Packers game, one that many are calling a possible Super Bowl preview.

[0:00:26] ... team besides themselves. In the NFL the Green Bay Packers led by Aaron Rodgers what are the keys to coming away with a win. First of all you're not too far removed from calling this a ...
[0:01:18] ... Bay office. I go well checked actually spoke out very highly of Aaron Rodgers but what I found interest thing. Here on Wednesday when bella check was done raving about him he's great he's this he's ...
[0:03:59] ... about the other side of the ball and the weapons not named Aaron Rodgers I think in the last Bill Belichick act about this today. Running back Eddie lacy is coming off a fantastic game he ...
[0:04:57] ... this year. Yeah they are interesting nugget I think about this game. Aaron Rodgers has been on the Green Bay roster the two previous times the patriots have played the Packers but it 2006. He of course was still behind Brett Favre and did not see any action at 35 nothing patriots victory. Up in Lambeau and then four years ago that was the game that Matt Flynn I think for all intents and purposes really earned his big contract. With the Seattle Seahawks. Nearly bringing the Packers to a victory here it's a lot stadium in prime time so this will be the first time ...






Bill Belichick has received his share of criticism for his personnel decisions, but he's looking pretty good now that the Patriots are sitting atop the AFC.</p>
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CHRIS VILLANI

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Tim Wright has caught 23 passes on 26 targets this season, the best target rate on the team. (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Tim Wright has caught 23 passes on 26 targets this season, the best target rate on the team. (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Tim Wright is in some rarefied air.

In his first season with the Patriots, the tight end has proven himself to be an eminently reliable part of the passing game — he has 23 catches on 26 targets. Even with the understanding that one of the targets was a throwaway by quarterback Tom Brady (an uncatchable ball), that’€™s an 88 percent catch rate, the best on the New England roster when it comes to players who have been targeted by Brady at least 20 times.

If he continues at his current rate, he’ll set a new standard for the Patriots. Since 2006, no member of the Patriots who has been targeted at least 20 times has a reception rate of better than 80 percent.

Of course, none of this is particularly new for Wright — last season with the Bucs, he proved equally sure-handed, as he caught 71 percent of the passes (54 receptions on 76 targets) that were thrown his way. But his target numbers this year — combined with his six receiving touchdowns (second on the team to fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski), have made him one of the surprise success stories when you’re talking about the 2014 Patriots offense.

Part of Wright’s success is rooted in the fact that most teams are solely focused on stopping Gronkowski, and have usually dedicated at least two defenders per play in hopes of trying to slow down the big fella. But it’s another thing altogether to take advantage of the opportunities when they’re presented to you, and Wright has done just that.

“Every time we throw to him it’s a touchdown — we’ll try to find him more down there,” Brady said after Wright’s two-touchdown performance against the Lions. “He does a great job in the coverage and finds the open spots.”

While the touchdown ratio is impressive — more than one-quarter of his catches have resulted in touchdowns — his work as a reliable target has really distinguished him from the rest of the field. Since 2006 — when targets were first tallied, on five different occasions, a New England pass catcher who was targeted at least 20 times caught 77 percent of the passes that were thrown in his direction. The latest high-level connection came in 2010 when running back Danny Woodhead caught 34 of the 44 passes that were thrown his way.

Prior to that, veteran running back Kevin Faulk did it three times: Faulk caught 58 of the 75 passes thrown his way in 2008, while both wide receiver Wes Welker (112 of 145) and Faulk (47 of 61) hit the 77 percent mark in 2007. And Faulk caught 43 of the 56 passes thrown his way in 2006 to reach the same plateau. (While Welker was targeted more than any other receiver between 2007 and 2012 and was consistently over 70 percent between 2007 and 2011, he never topped the 77 percent mark.)

According to Wright, the key to being a good target is simple.

“The key is just finishing the route and always thinking in the back of your mind that the ball can come to you on every play,” he said. “When you prepare like that, you go out there and you play physical and you play strong, you put yourself in a position to receive the ball. When it comes to you, you just have to make the play. That’s my job description — to catch the ball, and to block as well. But when the ball is thrown to me, I have to come down with it. That’s my mentality.”

Wright also added that Brady makes it fairly easy.

“It’s awesome. It’s awesome — just a guy who has been doing it for 15 years,” said Wright, who caught passes from Mike Glennon and Josh Freeman last year with Tampa. “It’s just amazing to see how his tempo is, how he reaches out to his players on the things he sees when you’re out there running routes and what has been working for him for his whole career. An amazing arm and an amazing leader. It’s been a fun ride.

“Me coming in just a few months ago and him working with so many other guys, it’s just a testament to how he can adjust to the people who come in with him and play alongside of him,” he added. “He puts the ball in the right place and a good position so you can attack the ball only. He’s just a great quarterback.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price


FOXBORO — Usually when Bill Belichick speaks glowingly about the opposing team or a star quarterback like Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, he gives the usual calculated response about their amazing abilities.

But on Wednesday, in describing Aaron Rodgers, Belichick offered up the normal compliments and then just shook his head at the end.

Asked to compare his quarterback with Mr. Rodgers, Belichick did crack a smile.

“They both wear 12,” the coach said.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — The Patriots have re-signed long snapper Charley Hughlett to the Patriots practice squad, according to his agent.

Hughlett was with New England this spring and summer before being cut loose at the end of training camp. The 6-foot-4, 251-pounder has been with the Cowboys and Jaguars. As a collegian, he handled all long snapping duties for four seasons at Central Florida.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots have signed special teams specialist Matthew Slater to a 2-year, $4 million contract extension through the 2016 season. His contract was set to expire at the end of this season.

FOXBORO — According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots have signed special teams specialist Matthew Slater to a 2-year, $4 million contract extension through the 2016 season. His contract was set to expire at the end of this season.

Slater, a special teams captain and the Patriots’ player representative, has been a member of the team since 2008 after being selected in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. He has made three Pro Bowls in his previous five full seasons (he didn’t play in 2010), a big accomplishment for a player who plays almost strictly special teams.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Over the last 10 seasons, Tom Brady and the Patriots have been plenty hot down the stretch in the regular season, but that late-season momentum hasn't paid off with a title.</p>
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