Patriots prepare for Round 2 of Texans' Watt

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Patriots prepare for Round 2 of Texans' Watt

FOXBORO -- All eyes will be on J.J. Watt Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Watt didn't have the game he would have liked to have the last time these two teams faced each other in December. And the Patriots realize he'll be hungry for another shot in the playoffs.

"Hes a force on every play," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Friday. "That guy can, no matter what play you have called, he can ruin it. Hes good at the point of attack. He makes a lot of plays on the backside, disrupts the ball, strip-sacks, fumbles, caused fumbles, batted balls. Hes an excellent pass rusher, hes quick, hes powerful, hes very long, he has good technique, gets off on the ball well. Hes a tough matchup against really anybody. He runs games well. He has a lot of ability, hes well coached and he has good technique. He plays hard. Like I said, hes really a factor on every play."

So how do you contain him twice in one season?

"I dont know how you can put more than one guy on him very often," said Belichick. "You have to block the other guys too. You have to block Antonio Smith, you have to block Shaun Cody, you have to block Brooks Reed, you have to block Connor Barwin, you have to block Bradie James. Who is blocking them? Somebody has to block them. You cant put three guys on Watt and cut everybody else loose. I dont think thats the answer. Whoever has to block him has to block him.

"But I think the way that they play, hell get matched up against everybody sooner or later -- the right tackle, the right guard, the center, the left guard, the left tackle. Weve watched a lot of their games. Ive seen everybody have to block him -- tight ends at times depending on what the play is or the protection. They stunt him a lot. He might line up on one side of the ball, but hell twist to the other side on certain calls, certain plays. I think everybody has to be ready for him."

Even the running backs.

"J.J. Watt's an exceptional player," said Patriots running back Stevan Ridley. "And we have to have some hats on him every down, every play, throughout the game, because he's a playmaker. And so, for us, if it's coming out of the backfield, catching him on the way out, running routes, whatever we have to do. We've got to get away from him, put two hats on him, make sure he's blocked, make sure he's covered up. Because he's the leader of their defense. If he gets momentum, we're going to have trouble on that.

"I might have to put a hat on him, man," added Ridley. "I mean, he's going to be causing chaos out there. But I have faith in our offensive line. They're going to do a great job. Buy hey, if they need us to help, that's what a team's for. We'll come through.

Bennett back at practice, but admits injuries hurting his play

Bennett back at practice, but admits injuries hurting his play

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett is willing to admit it. 

"Last week was probably my worst game as a Patriot," he told reporters in the locker room on Thursday. "But, you know, you have a bad game here and there. This week, come back grinding, and get ready."

Never was it more clear than on Sunday that Bennett has been hobbled by the injuries he's dealing with. He's coped with an ankle injury since Week 5 in Cleveland that has earned him the respect of his teammates and coaches, but against the Rams it appeared to severely impact his performance. 

He saw four targets and caught two for four yards. As a blocker -- the facet of his game that stood out more than his receiving ability early this season -- he was called for two holds and had difficulty keeping his assignments in check, both in the run game and in pass protection. 

Asked if he may benefit from a week off, Bennett said he planned to continue to play.

"I never thought about that. I just keep going," he said. "I'm like the energizer bunny. I just try to find a way. Sometimes it's [expletive] when you're out there playing with different injuries. You can't do a lot of things that you want to do. You have [expletive] plays. You might have a string of bad plays in a row just because youre dealing with different things . . . 

"But throughout the game you kind of find a way to get the job done. I think that's the biggest point. It may not be pretty all the time, but try to figure some kind of way to get it done. Sometimes it's adjusting as the game goes on."

He added: "The thing about this sport is it's always something. You never go throuigh a season without having some kind of nick or tear, but there's a lot of guys playing with different things. But some guys are able to play through different injuries, and [with] some of the same injuries, you see guys around the league . . . go on IR and things like that. But it just depends on the person and their pain tolerance."

Bennett was back at practice Thursday after he wasn't spotted there on Wednesday. He may be helped by the long week leading up to Monday's game against the Ravens. It could mean an extra day of rest and recovery.

Sometimes, he said, it's difficult not to be out there.

"Sometimes. Sometimes it's like, thank God. I needed that today," he said. "It varies each week. . . I'll fight through whatever and I think that's something that my teammates and coaches know about me that I'm going to try to give them everything I got no matter what."

Tim Thomas ranked one of top 40 goalies on very weird list

Tim Thomas ranked one of top 40 goalies on very weird list

The NHL Network is terrific. Its programming is the best of any of the four major sports leagues’ channels, its talent is outstanding and it shows a lot of cool games across various leagues.  

Players mess up though. 

In the network’s recently released ranking of the 40 best goaltenders of all time, the Bruins were well-represented, but so too was insanity. We’re talking Jonathan Quick in the top 20 (No. 16!), Marc-Andre Fleury top 25 (No. 21!) and Corey Crawford top 30 (No. 26!). Those are just a few of the head-scratchers. 

Tim Thomas was one of seven Bruins on the list, coming in at No. 27. Other Bruins ranked were Bernie Parent (No. 12), Frank Brimsek (No. 23), Rogie Vachon (No. 25), Tiny Thompson (No. 28), Gerry Cheevers (No. 29), Andy Moog (No. 36). Here's the full list, per Mark Lazerus. 

Statistically, Tuukka Rask deserves a place on this list if Fleury and Crawford are going to be that high, but we’ll save the Rask arguments for literally every other second of my life. 

[OK, real quick: Rask has the highest career save percentage of all time. Quick sits No. 17 and Fleury is 32nd. This doesn’t need to be completely statistics based, but it also shouldn’t be completely how-many-Cup-teams-were-on-based. Honestly, I can’t tell what this list is based on at all. Like Cristobal Huet had a better career save percentage than Fleury has.]

Anyway, everyone else hated the list, too.