Cardinals blitzes may be familiar to Patriots

881127.jpg

Cardinals blitzes may be familiar to Patriots

FOXBORO -- It's been almost four years since the Patriots last played Arizona, but they'll be familiar with the blitz schemes they face on Sunday.

Arizona's defensive coordinator Ray Horton was an assistant in Pittsburgh, his time there overlapping with current Cards head coach Ken Wisenhunt between 2004 and 2006. Under renowned Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, Horton got an education on the zone blitz packages he now puts to use in his current position.

Since Horton took over last year, the Cardinals blitz early and often -- they brought five pass rushers in just over half their plays in Week 1 against the Seahawks and blitzed on 40 percent of their plays last season under Horton, according to ESPN -- and the Patriots know it.

"You just have to be prepared for it," said Logan Mankins. "The play-callers have to be aware of it and as linemen we're always aware that there's always a good chance of pressure when you play a team like this. You gotta be ready for it."

Mankins, now the senior member of the offensive line, said there may have to be a bit more communication when facing a blitz-happy defense like Arizona's. But Patriots offensive linemen are doing their homework this week in the hopes that they will recognize whatever looks they see Sunday.

"If we've done enough studying and can see our keys, we shouldn't have to talk a whole lot," Mankins said. "But there's gonna be times in the game where they might confuse us with the amount of things they do, and we'll just have to get to the sideline and learn from that."

The Patriots offensive line gave up just one sack last week against the Titans. Though Tom Brady's nose got busted up, it was a solid performance from the guys up front. This week, however, will be a very different challenge. Between Arizona's varied blitzes and their ability to pass rush with defensive linemen Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, New England's offensive linemen will have their work cut out for them, especially if they are missing any of their regulars.

Starting right guard Dan Connolly missed time because of a concussion he suffered in Week 1, but he returned to practice Thursday and could be in line to play against Arizona. Backup Donald Thomas would likely fill in if need be.

"Being able to fill in where I can in the interior line, you just never know what can happen from week-to-week and you have to be ready to go," Thomas said. "And I think we all understand that, and we all know we can play multiple positions so we have to be able to play them."

No matter who is out there, they'll inevitably face pressure. What's important is how they react to it.

"That's gonna be key for us this week," Thomas said, "is to be able to identify what's going on before the snap of the ball and all of us to be on the same page and pick up the blitz is gonna be key."

Belichick shares Pearl Harbor thoughts on 75th anniversary of the attack

patriots-belichick-100216.jpg

Belichick shares Pearl Harbor thoughts on 75th anniversary of the attack

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick's connection to the Navy has been well-chronicled in this space and others, and so it comes as little surprise that he gladly took the opportunity to discuss Pearl Harbor and its aftermath when given the opportunity during a press conference Wednesday, the 75th anniversary of the attack. 

"Yeah, pretty big day in our history," Belichick said. "Certainly in Naval history. But for me, the lesson on Pearl Harbor, and for us as a team and individually, I'd say, is not what happened on Dec. 7 -- although that was a lesson there -- but the response.

"What the response was from our nation, from our military, from our civilians, from our population, to battle the world on two fronts and win both of them. Think of what this country did under [President Franklin Delano] Roosevelt's leadership, as well as multiple military leaders, and then go fight in Europe and go fight in Southeast Asia and Japan, the response to what happened on Dec. 7, 1941 is pretty impressive.

"I remember my dad talking a lot about that, when it happened, when he found out, then when he went to the Navy and went to Great Lakes, and then eventually went to Europe and eventually went to Okinawa. It was a tough time for this country, but it was a great example of the Patriotism of our citizens, men, women, fighting together, pulling together and being victorious in a lot of different ways.

"It's special. Special day . . . Tough day for the Navy, though, but they responded. They bounced back. Battle of Midway, that was really a huge turning point. Had it not gone on the way it did. I don't know, it probably would've been a longer fight."