September 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees before the game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Ravens 37-33. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Dean Pees has been calling the Ravens defense since 2012. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — How will the Patriots attack the Ravens Monday night?

Whether it’s Tom Brady firing passes all over the field against their secondary or mixing in Dion Lewis and James White, one thing is for certain, the Patriots’ offense will be taking on a very familiar foe.

Dean Pees is in his fifth year as Ravens defensive coordinator. As Chris Price notes, Pees is no stranger to Brady and the Patriots, beating Brady twice in four meetings over that period, including the 2012 AFC championship at Gillette Stadium.

The last time the Patriots faced Pees, Rob Gronkowski had seven catches on 13 targets for 108 yards and a touchdown. Danny Amendola had five catches on six targets for 81 yards and two touchdowns, including the trick play from Julian Edelman. That’s 12 catches, 189 yards and three touchdowns worth of production from the top two receivers from the 2014 AFC divisional game that will be missing Monday night.

Pees, of course, is no stranger to Patriots fans either, having run the Patriots’ defense from 2006 through 2009, taking over for Eric Mangini when Mangini left to become the Jets head coach in ’06.

Pees was at the helm in 2007 when the Patriots went 18-0 before falling 17-14 to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. It was in that game that Pees and the defense came under scrutiny at the end for allowing Giants receiver Plaxico Burress to be in single coverage with 5-foot-9 Ellis Hobbs on the outside.

But that’s water under the bridge and now it’s up to Josh McDaniels and the Patriots to come up with some type of game plan to attack a Ravens defense that is leading the NFL in fewest rushing yards allowed at 73.8. The next closest team is Dallas at 82.3.

How might knowing Pees and his tendencies factor into game planning?

“I don’t try to guess, that’s for sure,” McDaniels said. “Dean is going to change things up. Dean is going to do the things that have made him successful as a coach and Baltimore successful as a team. I think my concern is not going to be trying to over-analyze how Dean may or may not think about this week, but to try to prepare the best we can with our staff and our players to get ready to play one of the best defenses in the league without question.

“They’re aware of the fact that he was here. He had a great run here and he’s doing an incredible job there. Their whole staff does a really great job. Coach [John] Harbaugh, they have a tremendous culture in the way that they play. They’re going to do what they do and try to do it better than what we do. Hopefully we’ll do a great job of preparing for them and do a great job on Monday night.

“We’re going to spend a lot of time on Baltimore in every way, shape or form that we can. We’re certainly; I mean this is as well-coached of a defense that we’ll play. They’re a physical group that doesn’t really give up any easy plays; no big plays, stops the run, makes you one-dimensional, forces you into a lot of third-and-long situations, they’re the best third down team in the league. They create a lot of turnovers; they’re in the top five in that. They stop the run; second in points, 12th in sacks. They challenge you on every play and they don’t give up any easy yards. That’s the sign of a team that’s well-coached, disciplined, knows their scheme really well.”

A former secondaries coach with Miami (Ohio) and Navy early in his career, Pees has coached up a secondary as part of his defense that entered Week 14 second in the NFL in interceptions with 14.

“Dean’s background is primarily in the secondary so they’re well-schooled back there, good fundamentals,” Bill Belichick said. “They give you a number of different coverage looks – single-high, split-safety, man-pressure, zone-pressure – so they do a good job of mixing it up, making it hard for you to really get a real consistent read on what they’re going to do. They’re going to play a number of different things and you’re going to have to block them, figure it out, and get the ball to the open guy. It won’t necessarily be an easy read for the quarterback or for the receivers in terms of route adjustments and things like that.

“They’ve been able to hit the quarterback and they’ve got good instinctive players in the secondary. [Lardarius] Webb and [Eric] Weddle do a great job of finding the ball and getting around the ball. Their corners are instinctive. Their linebackers have good range – [C.J.] Mosley, [Albert] McClellan – but if you don’t take care of the ball they get it off of you. They do a good job of raking the ball out and taking advantage of poor ball security situations by the quarterback, or running backs, or receivers, whoever’s carrying it; tight ends.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — The man most noted for his participation in an epic fake punt fail against the Patriots in 2015 is now providing some insurance in the Patriots’ wide receiver corps.

Nov 13, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Griff Whalen (83) catches a pass before the game against the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Griff Whalen spent this season in San Diego before being released in November. (Jake Roth/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The man most noted for his participation in an epic fake punt fail against the Patriots in 2015 is now providing some insurance in the Patriots’ wide receiver corps.

Griff Whalen, a 26-year-old receiver who was an undrafted rookie in 2012 out of Stanford, has been signed to the Patriots active roster to provide some insurance after the ankle injury suffered by Danny Amendola against the Rams. Defensive tackle Darius Kilgo was released Thursday to make room on the roster.

Friday morning, Bill Belichick confirmed the move. Belichick noted how the Patriots have been down this road before, signing a veteran receiver in the middle of the season when a player on their roster was injured.

“Haven’t seen much of anything from him,” Belichick said of Whalen, who played in eight games this season with the Chargers, catching two passes for 22 yards. “We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see how that works into our receiver situation. I don’t know. We’ll see. He’s been more of an inside receiver. He’s done some returning. We’ll see.”

Whalen, who was released by the Chargers on Nov. 22, had his best season in 2013, when he caught 24 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns for the Colts in Andrew Luck’s second year. With Amendola providing punt return insurance behind the struggling Cyrus Jones, Belichick was asked if Whalen, with four kickoff returns for 56 yards this season.

“No. I’d say there are some returners out there,” Belichick said. “He hasn’t had a ton of production as a returner but he’s returned [kicks]. Again, we’ll see.”

“Austin Collie a couple of years ago, guys like that. You just have to see how it works out,” Belichick said, referencing 2013, when the Patriots brought him back late in the season after injuries to Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. This year, Belichick decided to go with Whalen over practice squad receivers Devin Lucien and DeAndrew White.

“It’s experience and really the contrast of being in a system and moving up a little bit or having been at that level but not having as much time in the system,” Belichick said. “It’s the conversation, obviously. Sometimes, I kind of feel like you know for sure you’re making the right decision. Other times you’re kind of in a wait-and-see mode. It’s what you feel like is best at that time.

“But in the end, is there a better way to go? I don’t know. Until you get a player in that you haven’t had before, it’s hard to evaluate. At least the guys you have, you have an idea where they are. You have to wait and see how they perform at the next level. Guys that aren’t on your roster that you bring in, you sort of have to wait and see how that goes. We’ve been in that situation before at this time of year.”

Last season, Whalen made news when Colts coach Chuck Pagano called for a fake punt on 4th-and-3 late in the third quarter with the Colts trailng 27-21. Whalen snapped the ball to Colt Anderson with no Colts teammates blocking and two Patriots players standing over the ball. The play was stopped for a loss, the Patriots took over on downs and scored a touchdown en route to a 34-27 triumph.

Just a week later, Whalen fumbled on a kick return which led to a touchdown in a game against the Saints. A week after that, Whalen redeemed himself against the Panthers by catching all five of his targets that came in the fourth quarter, helping send the game into overtime. His highlight came against the unbeaten Broncos in when he had five receptions for 73 yards, helping the Colts beat Denver.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Patriots have reportedly signed wide receiver Griff Whalen.

Griff Whalen has joined the Patriots. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Griff Whalen has joined the Patriots. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Patriots have reportedly signed wide receiver Griff Whalen.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder out of Stanford — who was the snapper on one of the funniest attempted fakes in recent league history — has been in the league since 2012, and has spent time with Indy and San Diego. He has 47 catches for 509 yards and three touchdowns in his career, with his finest season coming in 2013 when he had 24 receptions for 259 yards and two touchdowns with the Colts.

Whalen also has experience as a punt and kick returner, and averaged 7.2 yards per punt return and 25.3 yards per kick return in 2014.

Whalen will likely take up some of the slack caused after the recent injury to Danny Amendola. Amendola suffered an injury in last week’s win over Los Angeles, but will reportedly be on the shelf for the rest of the regular season.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media was first to report the news.

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — The Patriots and some of their key players appear to be getting healthy for the stretch run.

Tom Brady (knee) and Julian Edelman (foot) were both removed from this week’s injury report, which is certainly a good sign moving forward.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

FOXBORO — The Patriots and some of their key players appear to be getting healthy for the stretch run.

Tom Brady (knee) and Julian Edelman (foot) were both removed from this week’s injury report, which is certainly a good sign moving forward.

Danny Amendola (ankle) and Jordan Richards (knee) both missed Thursday’s practice, while four other Patriots players were limited, including rookie Elandon Roberts (hamstring), who played only the opening kickoff against the Rams.

Roberts had a jaw injury listed at the end of last week, but that has been removed.

Also limited were Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder), Eric Rowe (hamstring) and Matthew Slater (foot).

Here is the complete Patriots injury report.

DID NOT PARTICIPATE

WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
S Jordan Richards (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION

TE Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder)
LB Elandon Roberts (hamstring)
CB Eric Rowe (hamstring)
WR Matthew Slater (foot)

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — The Patriots and Ravens will meet Monday night for the first time since they met in the AFC divisional round in 2015.

New England won the game 35-31, but the biggest talker following the game was a few ineligible receiver plays when the Patriots had more receivers on the field that were eligible and made one of them ineligible.

John Harbaugh still seems bothered by the AFC divisional round game in 2015. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

John Harbaugh still seems bothered by the AFC divisional round game in 2015. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The Patriots and Ravens will meet Monday night for the first time since they met in the AFC divisional round in 2015.

New England won the game 35-31, but the biggest talker following the game was a few ineligible receiver plays when the Patriots had more receivers on the field that were eligible and made one of them ineligible.

This caught the Ravens off-guard and helped the Patriots come back from a 14-point deficit.

After the game Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the plays were “clearly deception” and was upset the Ravens didn’t get a chance to see where the ineligible players were lined up before the snap.

Thursday, on a conference call with the New England media, CSNNE.com’s Tom E. Curran brought up how a few weeks ago the Ravens held every player on the Bengals during a punt play before taking a safety to ensure the game ended before the ensuing free kick.

Curran asked how that play was different than what the Patriots did in the playoffs a few years back.

“Well, that is something — I don’t even want to get into all that,” Harbaugh said. “That’s all been hashed out. As far as that goes, I mean, I believe what I believe and I think that’s all been proven to be right, but the point about that is that’s been talked about. That’s been looked at. That tactic has been used by punt teams for 20 years. It’s nothing new. It’s nothing that hasn’t been addressed before by officials and by the competition committee.

“As a matter in fact, after we did it in the Super Bowl, my brother [Jim Harbaugh] brought it up and I supported him to change it — to extend it on special teams plays and the competition committee and the coaches on the competition committee and Dean [Blandino] didn’t want to look at it back then. They had a chance to change it four years ago. So everyone knew about it and it wasn’t a surprise to anybody, so it didn’t create an unfair advantage for anybody.”

Curran brought up how the Patriots’ play was ran earlier that season by the Titans and also by Nick Saban with Alabama. He also noted Harbaugh’s comments after the game inferred he was discrediting the Patriots’ win.

“Like I said, I don’t want to get into that, and that was not the intent,” he said. “If you go back and read my comments at the time and the tone of it, anybody that takes it that way is taking it the wrong way. That was not the point at all. The point was you had an eligible receiver that wasn’t identified and an ineligible receiver that wasn’t identified as such and the official had no way to identify that for the defense.

“They never addressed it before so there was no signal or any other way to do that and that was something that was addressed the very next week when they put in a method to identify an ineligible number as an eligible player. It’s all technical stuff. If somebody wants to look at it a certain way, that’s not my concern.”

It was then brought to Harbaugh’s attention that the referees announced over the microphone who was ineligible and who wasn’t, which Harbaugh said didn’t matter and there needed to be more.

“That’s not something that had every been gone over,” he said. “Players were never taught don’t cover a player and when you’re on the field you can’t hear that microphone. That’s not something you can hear on the field and not something you’re even listening for. There is a signal. They tap the player on the shoulder. They brush the numbers to say that an ineligible player is now eligible. They had no method of doing that for the opposite and they put it in the next week where they tap the shoulder then make the safe sign and that meant that the eligible number was no ineligible, so the fact that they changed that the next week was a good thing and I think it made it more fair for the defense.”

By all accounts Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Harbaugh have a good relationship, but it’s instances like this that lead you to believe there is some hint of animosity between the two organizations.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Tom Brady could face a series of intriguing defenses the rest of the way. (Greg M.</p>
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