Brady says Tebow's having 'great year'


Brady says Tebow's having 'great year'

FOXBORO - This week is shaping into a circus. The Patriots don't want to step under the big top until they have to. That explains why nearly all Tebow-related questions are quickly spun into Bronco-centric answers.

Inevitably, though, the impact Tebow is having in Denver during his 7-1 stint as a starter gives rise to so many questions that they can't all be spun into generic pap.

Tom Brady came closest on Wednesday to holding forth on Tebow and his impact as the Patriots get ready to play Denver.

Even though he's never met Tebow, Brady's take is germane because he plays the same position and overcame similar obstacles in his second year in the league when he led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl win.

How does a young player overcome non-believers?

"I think you just really have confidence in yourself that you can achieve whatever you think you can achieve, and then you try to work hard at it, and then when you get your opportunity you try to take advantage of it," Brady explained. "I think thats what a lot of young players not everyone is a high pick or not everyone gets a lot of chances right out of the box, but when you do get your opportunity, you really try to take advantage of your opportunity and do your best and give everything you have. If football means a lot to you and its important, usually good things happen."

Football is clearly important to Tebow. And aside from the spiritual element he espouses, his ability, energy, optimism and authenticity has seemed to make believers out of his teammates. Same way the Patriots bought in with Brady.

"Id say, as a team, everyone is trying to raise everybodys collective level energy and enthusiasm, and thats part of being a team," Brady said when asked if one player can raise the play of his teammates. "You can really only do your job. Thats what Coach Belichick has stressed to us day after day here. I can only play quarterback, Andre Carter can only play defensive end, Kevin Faulk can only play running back, and you have to do your job as well as you possibly can, because no one else can do it for you. The better you do it and the better everyone individually does it, the better collectively youll be as a team."

It seems more than coincidence, though, that Tebow's work- and that of his teammates - when the Broncos are in desperate straits is high. Tebow's fourth-quarter statistics, when he rises from a 46 percent completion guy to a 61 percent thrower, show the way his performance elevates.

What can a quarterback do as a leader in crunch time?

"Its an important part of the position," Brady said when asked about leadership. "You're the one calling the plays. Youre obviously the coach in the huddle. Its a responsibility that I think every quarterback takes very seriously leading your team and representing what your coaches are trying to put across on the field. Obviously he does a very good job of that."
Standard as his responses were, Brady did acknowledge that there is something compelling about Tebow's game.

"I appreciate good quarterback play," Brady said. "Im always watching around the league, whether its Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees having phenomenal years. Obviously, Tim is having a great year. You watch guys and the way that they perform under pressure and it says a lot about who they are and the way their teammates feel about them. Its a big challenge. Its going to be a very electric environment out there. Weve had some really great games against the Broncos over the years. I'm sure this will be no different."
Not sure everyone will agree with that.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars


THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There's nothing like a visit from the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the Tennessee Titans remember how to protect their home field.

Marcus Mariota threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns to end his home struggles and the Titans had their highest point total of the season in a 36-22 victory over the Jaguars on Thursday night.

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Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up


Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up

FOXBORO -- Once the Patriots traded AJ Derby to the Broncos for a fifth-round pick earlier this week, they were left with just two tight ends on their roster. While those two tight ends -- Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett -- have played as two of the best tight ends in football this season, it's a position group that has been considerably thinned. 

Until coach Bill Belichick adds another player at that spot, James Develin would be the logical "next man up." A position group unto himself as the team's lone active fullback -- the other fullback in the locker room is practice-squad player Glenn Gronkowski -- Develin meets with Patriots tight ends and coach Brian Daboll on a daily basis because the fullback and tight-end responsibilities in the Patriots offense are similar, particularly in the run game.

As much time as he spends with that group, Develin tries to absorb what he can when it comes to the nuances of the position. 

"I always kind of try to prepare, obviously, for my fullback role, but then in any other role that I might be called upon for," Develin said on Thursday. "A couple years ago, we had a bunch of injuries during the offseason program, during OTAs, and I filled in a little bit at tight end. I try to keep myself familiar with all those techniques and that tight end role so if the day were to come where I needed to go out there and do it, I'd be able to go out there and do it."

When the Patriots began the season relying more on the run, Develin was called upon to play a relatively significant role in the offense. He averaged 21.3 snaps per game through the first three games of the season, but that number has fallen to 13.6 since Tom Brady's return from a four-game suspension. Still, his role can be a critical one. 

The Patriots' running game faltered last season after both Blount and Dion Lewis went down with season-ending injuries. Having Develin in the mix as an extra blocker would not have guaranteed a more efficient attack, but it may have helped the team's running-game woes late in the year. 

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels now has the luxury of bringing Develin onto the field when he wants some added muscle for his blocking schemes, and should the Patriots need a tight end in a pinch, Develin could do that too.

"A lot of times, especially in the blocking game, really the only difference [between fullback and tight end] is that I'm five yards off the ball in the backfield and they're up on the line," Develin said. "The angles are a little bit different. But a lot of times the assignment is typcially the same thing. It's just the technique of getting there and the angles that you take.

"Then in the passing game, as a tight end, there's just a lot more routes and stuff like that. I try to work on that to help me as a fullback to be a little bit better in space . . . It's a sybiotic relationship." 

As it is, Develin will line up occasionally outside. Though not a threat as a receiver in that spot in the same way that Gronkowski or Bennett would be, he understands some of the different looks tight ends have to be comfortable with.

If an emergency arose and he was asked to fill that role, he wouldn't hesitate.

"There's a little bit of carry-over depending on what we're doing or whatever play we have called where I'll line up on the line," he said. "But that's kind of what a fullback has to do. You kind of have to be able to be thrown into whatever position on the field that you gotta do and you gotta just do your job."