Despite the pleas of his lawyer, Aaron Hernandez will not have the trial for his case moved from the confines of Bristol County.

Hernandez’€™s lawyer, Michael Fee, argued that media coverage of the proceedings has made possible jurors biased against the former Patriots tight end. Results from a telephone poll run by the defense reportedly showed that more than half of the people asked within the county believe that Hernandez most likely is guilty of murdering Odin Lloyd.

“This has poisoned the jury pool in Bristol County,” Fee said of the media.

Judge Susan E. Garsh, however, was not moved by the defense’€™s case, and said she will keep the trial within Bristol County. Garsh said she believes that impartial and unbiased jurors will can be selected from within the county, as over 1,000 people are going to be summoned to possibly be on the jury.

The trial for the Lloyd case is set to begin in early January 2015. Hernandez also is facing charges in Suffolk County for the shooting of two men in the summer of 2012. That trial is set for May 28.

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano

FOXBORO — Weather forecasts are something Bill Belichick often reads but almost never trusts.

Bill Belichick. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Bill Belichick. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Weather forecasts are something Bill Belichick often reads but almost never trusts. That was painfully evident Friday morning when asked about his preparations for potential inclement weather late Sunday afternoon for the game against the Broncos.

“When you play in New England, you’ve got to be ready for everything,” Belichick began. “I’d say based on the forecasts we’ve gotten so far this year, none of them were even very close to what the game conditions were.”

But Belichick was only getting started. He recalled the Thursday night game against the Jets, when the forecast called for monsoon-like rain throughout the contest.

“There was a 100 percent chance of rain last week and the only water I saw was on the Gatorade table,” he quipped. “It is what it is. It could start one way and change during the game so we’ve got to be ready for whatever it is. My experience of going with the forecasts in this area two days before the game, I’d bet a lot they’re wrong, just based on history, because they’re almost always wrong. An hour before the game, maybe you might have something to work with there. If you start game-planning for the weather going to be, and you’re wrong, you’ve wasted a lot of time.”

But he wasn’t just ripping New England weather casters.

“When you walk out on the field,” Belichick said. “That’s really when you know what it is. The rest of it is just a bunch of hot air. We played down in Miami two years ago and there was a zero percent chance of rain, zero, and it rained. I’m just telling you. If I did my job way they did theirs, I’d be here about a week.”

Ouch.

“I’m not saying I could do it better than them. I’m just saying they’re wrong a lot. That’s a fact. They’re wrong a lot. We all make mistakes. I’m not being critical of them. I’m just saying I don’t think you can go based on [forecast].”

As for the Foxboro forecast for Sunday from Weather.com, there’s a 50 percent chance of rain, with strong winds out of the north, northwest gusting at 22 MPH. Temperatures will start in the mid-40s and drop into the upper 20s, with rain possibly turning to wet snow by the end of the game.

Belichick won’t believe it till he sees it.

“It’s something you do more game day,” Belichick said.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Despite their ages, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning remains two of the NFL's most durable quarterbacks. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

With how skilled the two are on the field, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are both outstanding teammates as well. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

By now everyone has dissected everything possible on the field between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning with the debate of which quarterback is better likely continuing for years to come.

With Sunday being the 16th meeting between the two legendary quarterbacks, every stat imaginable has been compared between the two, but what are the two like behind the scenes –€“ how do the quarterbacks compare in practice, off the field and even who is funnier?

Defensive tackle/fullback Dan Klecko is one of the few players to ever play with both Manning and Brady. In fact, he won Super Bowls with both of them –€“ 2003 and 2004 with New England and 2006 with Indianapolis. Klecko was a member of the Patriots from 2003-05 and the Colts from 2006-07 so he was able to provide us with some tidbits on the two quarterbacks with a very unique perspective.

PRACTICE/LEADERSHIP

What are the two like during practice?

“€œDuring practice Peyton is running the everything,”€ Klecko said in a phone interview this week. “I mean everything from how long the periods are going to be, if we are going to repeat a period. From what I remember — look I loved Tony Dungy — but Peyton ran everything out there. He really did and I honestly believe he had a hand in being a general manager out there too, but Peyton ran everything.

“€œBill [Belichick] still is going to run everything in New England — with Tom’€™s input. I think Tom more lets Bill do his thing.”€

It’€™s no secret just how competitive both quarterbacks are and one of the main reasons why they are where they are today.

“They are both ignorantly competitive,” Klecko. “They are both super competitive. Every superlative you could use for them with competitive, they are. Both are the best guys off the field in the world, but on the field it’€™s tough.”

Klecko told a story from when he was with the Patriots showing how ultra-competitive the Patriots signal-caller is.

“€œI can remember one time I picked off a screen pass from Brady in practice and I honesty thought he was going to come over and fist fight me,” Klecko laughed. “This was during a spring practice and he was yelling ‘€˜Ass Klecko, bla, bla, bla.’€™

“I’€™m going Tom, ‘€˜Calm down, guy.’€™ But, that is how he was.”

Both are similar with their leadership qualities, as they both lead by example.

“€œBoth are going to lead by example,”€ Klecko said. “Both are going to beat you in the building and be the last ones out of the building. Everything they do — from extra reps in practice to extra work in the workout room to extra film –€“ they are leading by example. They don’€™t have to yell at you. You’€™re in the NFL first of all, so they don’€™t need to babysit you, but it’€™s still something when you look up and see a Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in their 15th and 17th years and they are still doing the little things that got them there — maybe even more so now. Who are you to not put in the time like they are?”

HOW ARE THEY AS PEOPLE?

When Klecko was with the Patriots, Brady was just coming to form. He had won the Super Bowl in his rookie season, but the Patriots had just missed the playoffs the year before. In Klecko’s first two seasons with the team, the Patriots won two Super Bowls and Brady’€™s stardom rose to a new level, but Brady didn’€™t change one bit. That is something that has stuck with Klecko even today.

“€œIt was neat because when I first got there we weren’€™t the Patriots, we weren’€™t the dynasty yet,”€ Klecko recalled. “€œThey had won one, they had missed the playoffs and Tom wasn’€™t Tom yet. You knew he was a good player, but you didn’€™t know that he was this future Hall of Famer — not yet. It was fun to watch him take off. I was there as we won two more Super Bowls and Tom started to make Pro Bowls year after year and the greatest thing about him was nothing changed about him.

“Not a single thing changed about him. He was still that guy that was going to be your friend in the locker room and still that guy that is going to get on you on the field. Nothing changed about Tom and that was always what made me have so much respect and admiration for him.”

Klecko was cut by the Patriots prior to the 2006 season and he immediately caught on with the Colts. When he first got to the Colts’€™ facility is the moment that sticks with him when he thinks of Manning.

“€œPeyton was awesome. What a great guy,” Klecko said. “I played against Peyton before and obviously going back to our dad’€™s we kind of knew each other, but not like that. I can remember being nervous as hell my first time in the Indianapolis locker room — they had been through camp already and I got picked up after camp.

“€œPeyton was one of the first guys in the locker room and he comes over and says, ‘€˜Dan welcome, anything you need, we got you.’€™ Once again, he doesn’€™t have to do that. Here is Peyton Manning and he could have just strolled through the locker room — he didn’€™t have to care — but, he took the time to come over and shook my hand saying welcome to the team. That always meant a lot to me.”

SENSE OF HUMOR

Both players have their fair share of humor, both hosting ‘€œSaturday Night Live,’€ but in reality Klecko says it’€™s no contest.

“There is no doubt about it, Peyton is funnier,”€ Klecko said. “The way I tell people is Peyton is the type of guy that is going to sit and drink beers with you and go to the bar with you. Not that Tom won’€™t, but people always say, ‘€˜Is Tom as arrogant as he seems?’€™ I say, ‘€˜No. Tom is the least arrogant person I’€™ve ever met.’€™

“The straight true of it, Tom is just a nerd. That’€™s what he is. That’€™s what he’€™s always been. There is nothing about him that is arrogant or stuck up, he’€™s just a good guy. But, if you look at the commercials and stuff, it’€™s Peyton hands down. He’€™s funnier.”

OK, WHO IS BETTER?

What good is a comparison between the two players without asking who is better. When asked who would he rather have if he was the general manager of a team playing in the Super Bowl, Klecko was pretty definitive in who he would want.

“Can I take them both,” he laughed. “It’€™s well-documented. I love Peyton and he’€™s a great quarterback if he is not No. 2 or 3, he’€™s definitely up there, but I love Tom. I think he is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game and the way he always reinvents himself. I love when people always count him out because I know what is about to happen. This guy has come from being a sixth-round pick to being a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. I’€™ll take my chances with Tom.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Demaryius Thomas got the better of Darrelle Revis on this pass play from 2010 when Revis was with the Jets. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Demaryius Thomas got the better of Darrelle Revis on this pass play from 2010 when Revis was with the Jets. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Each week, we’ll present The Darrelle Revis Report, a look at what’s on tap for the Patriots cornerback. This week, New England will host the Broncos in a matchup that will give the winner the inside track when it comes to supremacy in the AFC.

Last week: In one of the best performances of his relatively short career with the Patriots, Revis was able to render Brandon Marshall a nonfactor in Sunday’s win over the Bears. Revis allowed one catch (on six targets) for 8 yards while working mostly against Marshall.

(There was one play where it’s unclear as to whether or not Revis was the one at fault when it came to coverage — on a quick out to Alshon Jeffery when the Bears had receivers stacked on the right side, Revis was essentially blocked out of the play. The completion to Jeffery led to a 15-yard pickup. He was in the neighborhood, but it was hard to see who exactly was at fault in coverage.)

The Patriots appeared to work in multiple coverage sets throughout the game, with Revis and the rest of the defensive backs throwing different looks at the Bears throughout the contest. For the first time all year, he was almost exclusively on the left side. Of his 60 snaps on Sunday, we had him on the left side for 48 of them, while he was on the right for 12.

In all, by our highly unscientific count, in eight games, Revis has yielded 19 catches on 38 targets for 271 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Looking ahead: Revis and the rest of the New England secondary will face their biggest test of the season against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Denver has a fleet of talented pass catchers, including wide receivers Demaryius Thomas (47 catches, 767 yards, six TDs) and Emmanuel Sanders (47 catches, 634 yards and four TDs), as well as tight end Julius Thomas (30 catches, 327 yards and nine TDs).

“It’s going to be exciting,” Revis said of the showdown with the Broncos. “It kind of reminds me of back in New York when we played against the Patriots.

“We know what’s at stake. We know Denver is a great team. At the same time, we’re trying to accomplish something like they are too. It’s the battle of the AFC. We understand. We totally understand. It’s two great quarterbacks going against each other. We’re going to have to duke it out.”

Revis has faced Manning three times in his career — twice in the playoffs — and has a 2-1 mark against the quarterback, with his only loss coming in the 2009 AFC title game.

Their first meeting came in 2009, and the Colts came into the contest with a 14-0 record. In that one, coach Jim Caldwell decided to yank Manning in the second half, which ultimately paved the way for a 29-15 New York upset. While it’s unclear how much man coverage Revis played against Indy’s top receiver in Reggie Wayne in that one, Wayne had three catches for 33 yards.

The two met again the following month in the AFC title game. The Colts won that one, 30-17, with Wayne coming away with three catches for 55 yards.

New York also took home a 17-16 win in a wild-card contest against the Colts on Jan. 8, 2011 — the last game Manning played as a member of the Colts. Again, Wayne was held almost completely in check with just one catch for one yard.

Overall, Revis has never picked off Manning, but he’s posted eight tackles in three games against the quarterback. Manning’s per game averages against Revis-led defenses are 19-of-28 for 264 yards, 1.3 touchdowns and no picks.

Possible man matchups this week (with the understanding that it won’t solely be one on one): There are a few possibilities when you’re talking about matchups with the Denver offense — and there remains the very real likelihood that Revis spends most of his time opposite Demaryius Thomas. Manning’s chief option in the passing game is Thomas has emerged as one of the best young receivers in the league.

Unlike Sammy Watkins — who was pretty sure he was going to face Revis when the Patriots met the Bills — Thomas said this week that he’€™s not sure who he’ll see when he lines up against New England on Sunday.

“I think so,” he said when asked if he’ll face Revis. “I can’t say, I don’t really know what they’re going to do because I’ve got [WR] Emmanuel [Sanders] on the other side. For the Cardinals’ game, I thought I was going to have Patrick Peterson and [Sanders] had Patrick Peterson so I can’t say right now. I don’t really know.”

Revis has faced an offense with Thomas on two occasions, both when the cornerback was with the Jets: the first game was on Oct. 17, 2010, and Thomas had one catch for 17 yards (which went for a touchdown) in a 24-20 win for New York. (Revis had three tackles in the contest.) The second game was on Nov. 17, 2011, and Thomas had two catches for 37 yards in a memorable 17-13 win for the Broncos that featured a fourth-quarter comeback generated by Denver quarterback Tim Tebow. (Revis had a pair of tackles in that loss.)

Money quotes: “The guy has been a perennial Pro Bowler. He’s got size. He’s got length. He’s a quality player at his position in the league. He’s been around a little bit, so he’s a smart, tough, athletic guy that covers very well.” — Denver coach John Fox on Revis

“I’ve gone up against some good ones. I went up against Aqib [Talib] last year and I can say he’s the best I went against last year. I know Revis is another great player and I’m looking forward to playing him, but I’ve gone up against some good ones.” — Demaryius Thomas on the prospect of facing Revis

“Certainly, it’s a great challenge playing against him. He’s just a top-notch cover corner that has great ball skills and great quickness, hip transition … all the characteristics of a great cover corner.” — Manning on Revis

One more thing: While a Demaryius Thomas-Revis matchup makes sense on paper, there is something to the idea of Brandon Browner spending some time squaring off against the speedy receiver. Thomas is one of the best receivers in the league when it comes to racking up yards after the catch. He’s fourth in the NFL with 342 yards. Brandon Browner is one of the best in the league over the last year-plus. According to Pro Football Focus, he yielded just two YAC on three passes in Browner’s neighborhood last week against the Bears. Of course, this isn’t new for Browner — he’s always been one of the best corners in the league when it comes to limiting YAC. According to Football Outsiders, in his eight games in 2013, he yielded an average of just 1.8 yards after the catch, tied for the league lead with Jabari Greer.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Tim Wright has been a valuable red-zone presence this season for the Patriots. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tim Wright has been a valuable red-zone presence this season for the Patriots. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — With the 16th showdown between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning looming Sunday in Foxboro, it makes sense that most of the focus has been on the matchup between the two legendary quarterbacks. And while their performances ultimately will tell the story as to which team will win, in their previous matchups there’€™s almost always an under-the-radar performer who helps swing the balance of power. With that in mind, here are eight candidates — four on each side, plus two more who might not be relatively anonymous but could still surprise — who could have a sizable impact in Sunday’€™s game between the Patriots and Broncos.

PATRIOTS
Running back Jonas Gray — The Notre Dame product got his chance to shine Sunday against the Bears and took advantage, amassing 86 yards on 17 carries. The 5-foot-10, 225-pounder might not get the same amount of action this week against the Broncos — one of the reasons Shane Vereen might have been limited last week against the Bears was because he had the flu, but he apparently is better now — but he has earned the right to be part of the mix and certainly will be a part of the action in some form or fashion on Sunday afternoon.

Fullback James Develin — The Broncos defense is threatening on a couple of levels. Denver is capable of doing damage when it comes to getting after the passer with rushers like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, but it also is stout against the run with a league-best 72.4 rushing yards per game. That means if the Patriots are going to try to move the chains on the ground (or even do their due diligence when it comes to slowing the Denver pass rush), look for Develin, who routinely has been caving in defenders all season as a blocker.

Tight end Tim Wright — Wright has turned into an astoundingly dependable target for Brady, having caught 94 percent of the passes that were thrown in his direction over the first eight games. The former Buccaneer really has distinguished himself as a nice complementary threat to fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski, especially when it comes to working in the red zone. Wright has three touchdowns on the season, with two coming from one yard out off play-action fakes. If history is any indication, look for him early as a red zone presence Sunday.

Punter Ryan Allen — Go back and check the box score — Allen certainly did his part in the AFC title game last season in Denver. Whether it was the thin air, good temperatures or the culmination of a pretty successful rookie year, he was impressive in the defeat, connecting on three early punts (putting them all inside the 20) and averaging 49 yards on the afternoon. That was on the heels of an impressive performance in the regular season against the Broncos, a game in which he averaged 44.5 yards on his six punts, two of which ended up inside the 20.

Bonus: Wide receiver/returner Danny Amendola — Amendola has been a forgotten man in the passing game over the last year-plus, but he has recently been able to inject a bit of life into New England’€™s kick return game. The 28-year-old delivered a jolt to the Patriots’€™ special teams unit with four returns for an average of 26 yards in a recent win over the Jets. Amendola showed some energy as a return man, finding some seams and running with some nice confidence. A solid special teams performance would go a long way toward New England coming away with a win over Denver Sunday afternoon, and a solid return game by Amendola against the Broncos (25th in the league in average kickoff yardage allowed at 26.2 yards) would be a big boost for the Patriots.

BRONCOS
Punt returner Isaiah Burse — Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State, Burse has become the Broncos’€™ top option this year when it comes to returning punts. The 5-foot-10, 181-pounder has 16 returns for 97 yards (overall, the Broncos are 26th in the league in punt returns), and while he’€™s displayed some sure hands in his first year in the league, the expected nasty conditions Sunday in Foxboro could present a challenge for the youngster, who has not had to deal with the elements to this point in the season. (It’€™s worth mentioning that last year’€™s regular-season classic turned when Wes Welker muffed a punt return in overtime.)

Running back Ronnie Hillman — Hillman recently took over the starting running back duties for Montee Ball after Ball went down with a groin injury, and he has done well to keep the chains moving on the rare occasion the Broncos turn to their ground game, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Overall, the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder has 75 carries for 349 yards and a pair of touchdowns through seven games, which includes at least 100 yards on the ground in two of Denver’€™s last three contests. As a unit, the Broncos running game is relatively pedestrian — Denver is 21st in the league, averaging 101.4 rushing yards per game.

Kicker Brandon McManus — The Broncos dumped veteran Matt Prater after he started the year with a four-game suspension because of a violation of the league’€™s substance-abuse policy, and in the interim they’€™ve turned to the rookie out of Temple. He’€™s looked shaky at times — he hooked a 53-yarder and hit the uprights on a 41-yard make against the Cardinals — and is 6-for-8 on the season, with both of his misses coming from beyond 50 yards. Like Burse, he might be tested with some interesting conditions on Sunday afternoon.

Linebacker Brandon Marshall — The 24-year-old who has taken over in the wake of the injury to the steady Danny Trevathan, he’€™s gone from utilityman to a key part of the Denver defense in a relative heartbeat. The 6-foot-1, 242-pounder has been solid in coverage over the course of the season, and he could be one of the defenders who might be called upon to help try and slow down Rob Gronkowski. This year, he has 57 tackles (43 solo) and five passes defensed for the Broncos.

Bonus: Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. — An undrafted free agent out of Kansas, he probably doesn’€™t deserve a spot on this list, but Harris lands here simply because he doesn’€™t have the star power of some of his more high-profile defensive teammates like Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Terrence Knighton and Aqib Talib. However, that doesn’€™t mean he doesn’€™t deserve just as much respect: The 5-foot-10, 188-pounder, who had his left ACL fixed in February, has 11 pass breakups and two interceptions, and he has teamed with Talib to form one of the more impressive cornerback duos in the league over the first half of the season.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO ‘€” Defensive lineman Alan Branch (not injury related) and defensive end Chandler Jones (hip) were the only two players who weren’t on the field for the Patriots at Thursday’s practice.

FOXBORO ‘€” Defensive lineman Alan Branch (not injury related) and defensive end Chandler Jones (hip) were the only two players who weren’t on the field for the Patriots at Thursday’s practice.

Defensive lineman Dominique Easley (knee), defensive back Nate Ebner (finger), offensive lineman Cameron Fleming (finger) and special teamer Matthew Slater (shoulder) were all limited in Thursday’s practice, similar to Wednesday.

Here is the complete practice report:

Did not practice
DL Alan Branch (not injury related)
DE Chandler Jones (hip)

Limited participation
S Nate Ebner (finger)
DL Dominique Easley (knee)
OL Cameron Fleming (finger)
WR Matthew Slater (shoulder)

Full participation
QB Tom Brady (ankle)
CB Brandon Browner (ankle)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower (knee)

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Jonathan Casillas figures to help out with New England's linebacking depth, as well as on special teams. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Jonathan Casillas figures to help out with New England’s linebacking depth, as well as on special teams. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Jonathan Casillas hit the ground running this week, both literally and figuratively.

The linebacker, who was acquired by the Patriots from Tampa Bay on Tuesday, has been working to get ready for New England’s game against the Broncos Sunday.

“I’ve been running — I covered about six kickoffs today, full speed,” he said after practice on Thursday with a smile. “You want to test the hamstring out, I think that’s a good way to do it. I feel pretty good.

“Whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do,” he added. “[Special teams coach] Scotty O’Brien, as soon as I got here, he’s meeting with me and I’m doing extra work with him just to get caught up to speed, because they want me to go this weekend — and I want to go this weekend.

“I don’t like missing games, whether I’m new or not. I want to play. If I have to play all [on all] four special teams [units] and no defense to all four special teams and just a little defense, whatever that means, then I’m going to do it. I love this game. [Special] teams is something I do pretty well. I’m looking to get out there in all four.”

For Casillas, his best season for the 27-year-old came with the Saints in 2011 when he finished with 43 tackles, three sacks and two passes defensed in 13 games (five starts). In his five-plus years in the NFL, he has played in 55 games (20 starts), and has 138 tackles, three sacks and five passes defensed.

“We’ve known, watched Jonathan for a while,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “Athletic, smart guy. Has played defense — four-down player — played defense and in the kicking game. Been a productive player in New Orleans and Tampa. Played against him, practiced against him. I have a lot of respect for him, his experience, and his versatile skills.”

The 6-foot-1, 227-pound Casillas has been predictably overwhelmed by the events of the last few days, but appears to be the type who can step in and fill a role on special teams. He also has some positional versatility at the linebacker slot. Even though he’s a bit undersized at the position — and has seen more experience as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense as opposed to New England’s 3-4, where he might spend more time inside — he’s been able to roll with whatever has come his way over the previous 48 hours.

“Just [from] talking to Bill and [defensive coordinator Matt Patricia] and the linebacker coach, basically, they see me playing in some sub packages, passing situations — nickel and dollar personnel,” said Casillas, who added that he’s spent some time at inside linebacker this week. “Stuff like that. Just adding some depth.

“It’s different. The terminology is different, the communication is different. The alignment is different. I’ve never seen Vince Wilfork — I’ve seen him, but a player like that before and the scheme we run. Like I said earlier, I’ve had four or five defensive coordinators the last four or five years. It’s just catching on as fast as I can. Football is  football, at the end of the day. I have to be able to communicate with all these guys in here.”

He also has more than a passing acquaintance with the linebackers who are already on the roster.

“I think our linebackers are good, man,” he said. “Watching Jamie [Collins] and Dont’a [Hightower] on film — they’re big guys who can run. Very physical. I’m just helping to add a little different element to that. A little speed, a little quickness.

“I’ve been watching these guys for a while. I’m a big fan of Jerod [Mayo] — I played against him when I was a junior and he was a senior in the Outback Bowl, and he had, like, 15 tackles. I’ve always watched these guys – I’m a fan of the game an definitely a fan of these guys, with [Devin] McCourty back deep. It’s a great scheme for me to be in, and just helping to add wherever I’m needed. Wherever they called me for and whatever they need me for, I’m there for.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — When Peyton Manning and the Broncos look to go deep on Sunday against the Patriots, it’ll be strength against strength.

The Denver passing game is one of the best in the league, averaging 297 passing yards per contest, third-best in the NFL. Manning has a fleet of talented pass catchers at his disposal, including wide receivers Demaryius Thomas (47 catches, 767 yards, six TDs) and Emmanuel Sanders (47 catches, 634 yards and four TDs), as well as tight end Julius Thomas (30 catches, 327 yards and nine TDs).

When it comes to looking deep, the Broncos are tied for seventh in the league with 28 pass plays of 20 yards or more. (Indy is first overall with 20.) In addition, Denver is fifth in the league when it comes to pass plays of 40 yards of more with seven on the season. (Washington leads the league with 12.)

On the other side of the ball, the Patriots have allowed 210.9 yards per game passing this year (second-fewest in the NFL) compared to 239.0 (18th in the NFL) last year. They’ve also made sizable gains when it comes to defending the deep ball. This year, through eight games, the Patriots remain the only team that has yet to allow a pass play of 40-plus yards. Also, passes of 20-plus yards are down significantly — 74 in 2012 (worst in NFL), 55 last year (tied for 20th), 23 this year (tied for 15th).

“We talk about it, with every [team], that there’s a way to stop it,” said veteran safety Devin McCourty said when asked about some of the specifics in defending the deep ball. “The credit goes to the guys out there on the field, whether it be the guys coming off the edge and maybe somebody was free and somebody makes a big play or the guys in coverage.”

New England went out and spent heavily at cornerback this offseason, and the results have paid off. With the addition of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, it has changed the way Manning looks at the Patriots defensive backs.

“With the excellent cover corners, it allows them to do a lot of things,” Manning said. “It’€™s a matter of trying to be good at what you’€™re doing, and you know you’€™ve got to be prepared to handle the different adjustments that they can certainly make you go through during the course of a game.

“Certainly, it’€™s a great challenge playing against him,” Manning added when asked about Revis’ impact. “He’€™s just a top-notch cover corner that has great ball skills and great quickness, hip transition ‘€“ all the characteristics of a great cover corner. So, it’€™s a challenge, certainly. With the receivers we have, we’€™re trying to get everybody involved. To get everybody involved, that keeps the player involved and obviously you spread the ball around, and hopefully that can put pressure on the defense. But if you’€™re throwing against him, you better be accurate and you better be running really good routes.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price