Deontae Skinner

Deontae Skinner

The Patriots promoted linebacker Deontae Skinner from the practice squad on Saturday and waived linebacker Darius Fleming.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Skinner was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Mississippi State on May 12, 2014. He was released in August and later added to the practice squad.

As for Fleming, he was selected by the Niners in the fifth round (165th overall) of the 2012 draft out of Notre Dame. The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder, missed his first two NFL season due to injury, but signed with the Patriots this past spring and made the final roster following cuts. He wasn’t active for the regular-season opener against the Dolphins.

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Tom Brady and the Patriots will look to win their first game of the season Sunday in Minnesota. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the Patriots will look to win their first game of the season Sunday in Minnesota. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Here’€™s everything you need to know about Sunday’€™s contest between the Patriots and Vikings:

Our three favorite matchups on the afternoon:

1. Quarterback Tom Brady against head coach Mike Zimmer: Brady was corralled last year when the Patriots went into Cincy, and in a monsoon, were shut down by the Bengals defense. (The game saw Brady’€™s consecutive games streak of touchdown passes halted at 52.) Zimmer was the architect of that Bengals defense, and was able to bother Brady to a point where the quarterback suffered one of the worst games of his career (18-for-38, 197 yards, one interception). Zimmer has now moved on to become the head coach in Minnesota, but as colleague Mike Petraglia adroitly pointed out here, Brady will likely be a lot of the same elements he saw last year against the Bengals — not a lot of blitzing, but with steady and consistent pressure from a four-man front designed to be physical with the quarterback. It will be up to Brady to get the ball out as fast as possible against a fast and physical defensive front ‘€“ don’€™t look for a lot of five-step drops.

2. The Patriots offensive line against the Minnesota defensive front: The New England offensive line really struggled in the heat of South Florida in last week’€™s opener, allowing four sacks on Brady and six hits on the quarterback. As we said in No. 1, Brady should expect to see good pressure from the Vikings defensive front. Two things to look for this week that could help out the Patriots’€™ offensive line: one, for as much as we talk about Rob Gronkowski as a pass catcher, his ability as a blocker is undersold. As he continues to work his way back to full strength — he played roughly half the snaps in the opener in steamy South Florida — his presence as an end of the line blocker will provide a boost when it comes to pass protection. And two, expect a heavier reliance on the running backs, both in blitz pickup and helping when it comes to the running game. The Patriots not only struggled with pass protection on the edge, but from this viewpoint, where Logan Mankins‘€™ skill set was really missing Sunday was on the ground. According to Football Outsiders, in 2013 the Patriots were one of the few teams to run better from two-back formations (5.0 yards per carry) than from single-back formations (4.6 yards per carry). On Sunday, fullback James Develin played 46 snaps. Look for him to be more of a presence Sunday.

3. Bill Belichick against Norv Turner: The Patriots coach and new Minnesota OC go back a long ways. In the 12 meetings since Belichick took over the Patriots prior to the start of the 2000 season, he’€™s enjoyed a 10-2 edge against Turner-coached offenses. That includes games when Turner was offensive coordinator with the Chargers, Dolphins and Browns, as well as head coach of the Raiders and Chargers. (That record moves to 10-5 if you include Belichick’€™s time as a head coach with the Browns and an assistant with the Patriots and Jets.) It’€™s important to note that four of those wins came as the result of late-game or overtime magic on the part of Tom Brady (including last year’€™s remarkable comeback against the Browns where New England posted 16 fourth-quarter points in a 27-26 victory in Foxboro), but Belichick’€™s healthy advantage certainly suggests that’€™s he’€™s consistently been able to figure out Turner’€™s offenses, regardless of the locale.

4. Under the radar opponent who Patriots’€™ fans need to know: Tight end Kyle Rudolph isn’€™t mentioned as one of the elite-level offensive options for Minnesota, but the 6-foot-6, 260-pounder has developed into a nice security blanket for the Minnesota passing game in his three-plus years in the league. Known as a player who has displayed proficiency both as a blocker and pass catcher, he had 30 catches in eight games last year before a foot injury prematurely ended his season. (That was on the heels of a 53-catch season in 2012 that produced nine touchdowns.) A relatively dependable option in the passing game, he could benefit if the Patriots end up focusing their attentions elsewhere. While linebacker Jamie Collins is a question mark heading into Sunday’€™s game because of a thigh issue, he could see the bulk of attention on Rudolph if he’€™s good to go.

5. By the numbers: Per Pro Football Reference, the Patriots and Vikings have played 11 times and New England holds a 7-4 series lead. However, in those games, Minnesota has averaged more points per game in those 11 contests than the Patriots, 21.5-20.9.

6. Quote of note: “We know him. He knows us.”€ — Belichick, talking about former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, who is now the starter in Minnesota. Cassel spent the first four years of his career with the Patriots (2005-2008), and will be making his first career start against a Belichick-coached defense

7. Patriots fans should be worried about… without Adrian Peterson in the lineup, Minnesota finding a way to Cordarrelle Patterson the ball by any means necessary. The 2014 season is still in its infancy, but the multidimensional wide receiver has already shown himself to be a really nice offensive threat for the Vikings — in the opener against the Rams, he caught three passes for 26 yards, but did the majority of his damage on the ground, coming away with 102 yards and a touchdown on three carries. Opinions vary on how best to slow him down, but it wouldn’€™t be a shock to see Darrelle Revis spend a sizable bulk of the afternoon trailing Patterson, at least when he’€™s split out to the right as a receiver. (Some numbers on Patterson: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Patterson is the second player since 1950 to gain at least 100 rushing yards in a game with three or fewer rushes. Patterson has gained at least 50 yards rushing in each of his last three games — according to ESPN Stats & Information, Dexter McCluster is the only other wide receiver since 2001 to have three games with at least 50 rushing yards and no other wideout has done it in back-to-back games during that span.)

8. Vikings fans should be worried about… the Patriots getting any sort of support in the passing game beyond wide receiver Julian Edelman and running back Shane Vereen. Some of this goes back to the offensive line issues, but New England needed more offensive depth Sunday against Miami. Edelman and Vereen combined for 11 of Brady’€™s 29 completed passes last week, and were the only two offensive players who were able to consistently move the chains for New England when they were on the field. (Including the preseason, Edelman has caught a whopping 16 of the 18 passes that have been thrown in his direction this year.) Edelman was almost completely shut down in the second half, and while Vereen was able to chip in with a team-high 36 rushing yards, there was precious little offense from anyone else on the afternoon — including Danny Amendola, who couldn’€™t get any separation for most of the day, and Brandon LaFell, who someone didn’€™t catch a single pass despite being targeted six times. (For what it’€™s worth, Brady often appeared to be trying to force the ball into Rob Gronkowski — the big tight end was targeted 11 times, but only had four catches.) The Patriots need someone else to step up on the offensive end on Sunday.

9. One more thing: The Patriots and Vikings have a relatively short history, but their recent games have almost always been entertaining. In 1994, it was an epic at old Foxboro Stadium, as Drew Bledsoe attempted 70 passes in a remarkable 26-20 overtime win over the Vikings, a team led by Warren Moon and included old pal Cris Carter. (It was the second straight OT win New England, which also upended Minnesota in 1991 by a 26-23 count in extra time.) The 2006 Patriots — who had been castigated for the better part of the first month because they didn’€™t have much of a receiving corps — came into the Metrodome the night before Halloween and croaked the Vikings, 31-7, as Brady put up 345 passing yards in the rout. And in 2010, the Vikings came to Foxboro less than a month after the blockbuster trade that sent wide receiver Randy Moss to Minnesota. With Brett Favre under center, Moss back in town and a 4 o’€™clock start on Halloween all in the mix, it was a circus atmosphere. Favre was knocked out of the game by Myron Pryor, Moss professed his undying love for Brady and Belichick after the game, and New England came away with a resounding 28-18 win.

10. Prediction: In the wake of their season-opening loss to the Dolphins, the Patriots now find themselves in danger of falling into an 0-2 hole to start the season. History tells us that when faced with a similar dilemma, New England had found a way to figure it out. But it’€™s not being overdramatic to suggest that this is an early-season gut check game for the 2014 Patriots. How they respond in this contest will ultimately tell us a lot about what sort of mental toughness this team possesses. From this viewpoint, this appears to be the sort of team that’€™s capable of answering the bell. It won’€™t be easy — Patterson has a unique skill set and the sort of positional versatility that will make him very difficult to contain — but the call is New England 27, Minnesota 21.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Adrian Peterson turned himself in to Montgomery County, Texas, authorities early Saturday morning and was released after posting a bond of $15,000. He was officially booked into the Montgomery County jail just after 1 a.m. CT and released 30 minutes later after posting the bond.

Adrian Peterson turned himself in to Montgomery County, Texas, authorities early Saturday morning and was released after posting a bond of $15,000. He was officially booked into the Montgomery County jail just after 1 a.m. CT and released 30 minutes later after posting the bond.

On Friday, Peterson was indicted by a grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child and a warrant had been issued for his arrest. The team has deactivated him for Sunday’s home game against the Patriots.

Peterson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin issued a statement saying his client’s conduct “involves using a switch to spank his son.” Peterson reportedly removed the leaves of a tree branch, which he referred to in a police report as “a switch,” to strike the 4-year-old boy.

“This indictment follows Adrian’s full cooperation with authorities who have been looking into this matter,” Hardin said in the statement. “Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas. Adrian has never hidden from what happened.”

Hardin also said that Peterson used the same discipline with his child that he experienced growing up in Texas and said the star running back has cooperated fully with authorities and voluntarily testified before the grand jury for several hours.

“Adrian will address the charges with the same respect and responsiveness he has brought to this inquiry from its beginning,” Hardin said. “It is important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury.”

Last October, his 2-year-old son died in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after being allegedly assaulted by a man who was dating the boy’s mother. Two months prior, he found out he was the boy’s father. The man who assaulted the boy, Joseph Robert Patterson, was charged with murder and manslaughter.

A Houston station, citing law enforcement sources, said Peterson told police that the incident — he referred to it as a “whooping” — occurred in Spring, Texas, in May as punishment for his son pushing another one of Peterson’s children. The boy suffered cuts and bruises to areas including his back, buttocks, ankles and legs.

“It’s just made me stop taking things for granted,” Peterson told ESPN.com Vikings reporter Ben Goessling in August. “Life is short. You never know. You just want to take advantage of the time you do have.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia


FOXBORO — Earlier in the day, Bill Belichick compared Cordarrelle Patterson to Baltimore’s explosive Jacoby Jones, the man who returned a key kick for a touchdown to open the second half of Super Bowl XLVII.

Matthew Slater, the Patriots special teams captain who’s responsible for helping the unit contain threats like Patterson this Sunday, made another comparison – Devin Hester.

With 18 touchdowns, Hester holds the NFL record for most all-time return touchdowns (punt and kick combined) and most all-time punt return touchdowns (13). Last year, Patterson had two kickoff returns for touchdowns.

“I think what we have to do is really do a good job of getting a lot of hats to the ball,” Slater said. “This guy back there is as good as anybody we’ve seen over the last 10, 15 years in this league. He reminds you a lot of a young Hester with his explosive play. We just have to do a good job of getting a lot of hats to the ball, everybody just doing their job, not trying to go down there and run out of your lane to make a heroic play. We just have to do our job, beat this front and hopefully contain him.”

Like Jones in the Super Bowl, Patterson returned a kick 109 yards for a touchdown last year, one of two he took to the house in 2013. He led the NFL with a 15.4 yard average. What makes him so good from a defender’s perspective?

“I think similar to Devin and Jacoby, he is fearless,” Slater said. “Those guys, the good ones, are not afraid. Sometimes there may be smoke and they’re running though it. Now, there may be a guy on the other side of that smoke or there may be a seam. Those guys are not afraid to hit it and that’s what makes them great.”

Patterson isn’t the only return specialist Slater is concerned about as Marcus Sherels is one of the most feared punt returners in the game.

“This guy was second in the league in punt returns last year,” Slater noted. “Speed, quickness, similar aggressive nature about him. He’s got the ability to make people miss in the open field and he seems to have a good feel for the return schemes that they run. He poses a big problem back there as well.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

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FOXBORO — The illegal hits by Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will cost them in t he pocketbook.

Each were docked $16,537 for their roughing-the-passer penalties in Sunday’s season-opening 33-20 loss to the Dolphins.


FOXBORO — The illegal hits by Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will cost them in t he pocketbook.

Each were docked $16,537 for their roughing-the-passer penalties in Sunday’s season-opening 33-20 loss to the Dolphins.

Jones was penalized twice for getting his hands up in the head area while Hightower was flagged and fined for driving quarterback Ryan Tannehill into the turf in the first half.

The three penalties were among the 11 “roughing the passer” penalties called in Week 1.

“We just have to do a better job of coaching it and being disciplined in doing it,” Bill Belichick said when asked Friday about it. “The rule is what it is. You have a strike zone to hit, you have to hit in that strike zone. That’€™s the rule. And you can’€™t lead with your head. Below the shoulders, above the knees, can’€™t lead with the head — we have to find a way to hit the quarterback without doing those things. Every team in the league has to do it, that’€™s what we have to do and we have to do a better job. We have to coach it better; we have to do it better.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The NFLPA voted Friday to approve a new drug-testing policy for both substances of abuse and performance enhancing drugs. The new rule puts a series of new rules into effect, including a higher threshold for marijuana, as well as an HGH test that will be put in place this season.

In addition, it’s reported that a number of players who have suspended under the old rules will be immediately reinstated. Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports is reporting that the NFLPA isn’t yet confirming the names of players who will be clear to return to action, but he quotes a source as saying  “it’s in the range of 20.” It’s not known if that group includes cornerback Brandon Browner or wide receiver Brian Tyms, two members of the Patriots who are currently serving four-game suspensions under the old rules.

The following is the complete announcement from the NFLPA on the decision:

This is an historic moment for our Players and our League,”€ said NFLPA President Eric Winston. “We have collectively bargained drug policies that will keep the game clean and safe, but also provide our players with an unprecedented level of fairness and transparency. Players should be proud of their union for standing up for what was best for the game.”

“€œWe stood up and fought for what was right,”€ said DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director. “Twenty-five years ago it was NFL players that set out to make the game clean by asking for and collectively bargaining the first drug testing policy in professional sports. Today, this union and these player leaders have approved a policy that will serve the game well for generations of players to come.”

Important changes include:

‘€¢ NEUTRAL ARBITRATION: An Independent Arbitrator will hear appeals for positive test violations of both Substances of Abuse and Performance Enhancing Drug Policies. The NFL and NFLPA will jointly select, approve and pay for retention of 3-5 arbitrators.

‘€¢ AMENDING MARIJUANA POLICIES: The threshold for a positive test for marijuana will increase to 35 ng/ml from the previous limit of 15 ng/ml. There will be additional steps for players who test positive for the substance before suspension.

‘€¢ RETROACTIVITY: Discipline of players for certain violations in the 2014 League Year will have their discipline adjusted by certain aspects of the new policies.

‘€¢ DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE: Players successfully rejected the league’€™s proposal to issue discipline upon arrest, prior to adjudication. A two-game suspension will be issued upon conviction or plea agreement for violations of law involving alcohol and driving.

”€¢ AMPHETAMINES: During the off-season, a first time positive test for amphetamines without a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) will now be evaluated under the Substances of Abuse Policy. During the season, a positive test without a TUE will continue to be a violation of the Performance Enhancing Drug Policy.

‘€¢ HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE TESTING: Testing for hGH will occur in the 2014 season. Players have the right to challenge any aspect of the science of the hGH isoforms test. The collection of blood specimens is prohibited on game days.

‘€¢ DISCIPLINE FOR BREACHES OF CONFIDENTIALITY: The NFL and NFLPA will have the right to retain independent investigators to review cases where player confidentiality as related to the drug policies has been breached. Employees of the NFL/NFLPA/Clubs, players, certified contract advisors (agents) and policy administrators found to be in violation will face fines up to $500,000 and/or termination or other discipline.

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

In the wake of a report regarding abuse of his 4-year-old son, the Vikings have officially deactivated running back Adrian Peterson i

In the wake of a report regarding abuse of his 4-year-old son, the Vikings have officially deactivated running back Adrian Peterson in advance of Sunday’s game against the Patriots in Minnesota.

Peterson has been indicted in Montgomery County, Texas, for reckless or negligent injury to a child, according to MyFoxHouston.com. According to ESPN, a warrant has been issued for his arrest in the case.

Peterson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, released the following statement Friday:

‘€œAdrian Peterson has been informed that he was indicted by a grand jury in Montgomery County, Texas for Injury to a Child. The charged conduct involves using a switch to spank his son. This indictment follows Adrian’€™s full cooperation with authorities who have been looking into this matter. Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas. Adrian has never hidden from what happened. He has cooperated fully with authorities and voluntarily testified before the grand jury for several hours. Adrian will address the charges with the same respect and responsiveness he has brought to this inquiry from its beginning. It is important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury.’€

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price