Curran's 34 lines on 17 Patriots issues


Curran's 34 lines on 17 Patriots issues

Sit down, because this will rock you to your core. Over the final seven games of the 2011 season, Aaron Hernandez was targeted more than eight times per game: Sunday, he saw six passes.

I think we know whats afoot. A phase out for Hernandez and an example of the Patriots evil genius where they sign a player to a huge contract or guarantee him nearly 10 million (in the case of Wes Welker) and then dont use him.

After watching the debacle authored by the Raiders backup long snapper Travis Goethel Monday night -- a ground ball on which the punt by Shane Lechler was aborted, a slow wobbler leading to a blocked punt and another ground ball leading to another aborted punt -- you can be sure of this: Its good to be an out-of-work linebacker with actual long-snapping abilities this week.

On the Ras-I Dowling pass interference in the first quarter, one of the contributing factors was at the snap. Dowling was still looking into the backfield when the ball was snapped and Kendall Wright was on Dowling and nearly past him by the time Dowling reacted.

The two biggest assets Stevan Ridley has as a running back are superior balance and the ability to make the first tackler miss more often than not. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ball control was enviable but Ridleys got far more explosiveness.

The new Nike pants being worn around the league? The players arent fans of them, saying they bunch up around the crotch and come down too easily in the back.

Josh McDaniels did a terrific job of throwing different formations, personnel and quick throws in during the opener. The Cardinals will have a ton to prepare for this week.

Jason McCourty didnt have friendly things to say to Aaron Hernandez when McCourty drove Hernandez out on the sideline in the second half. Ill (screw) you up all day (friend), was what the sideline mics picked up.

Went to the Mayo Bowl on Monday night at Kings in Dedham and saw Patriots guard Dan Connolly up and about, which is a good sign that the concussion he suffered Sunday was mild.

Also seen at the event, defensive tackle Gerard Warren who raised his eyebrows and smiled when asked if he might be back with the team. Tom Brady and wife Giselle Bundchen were there, too.

Their presence can cause chaos and, as a result, Brady says he sometimes takes a pass on public events to avoid detracting from the mission of them. That he showed up for Mayos event for the first time (I believe, not dead positive) was a nice gesture.

When I walked past Brady, he and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd were locked in football-related discussion. It just doesnt stop with Brady.

When you realize that the most times Chad Ochocinco was targeted last season was five (against the Giants in October) and then realize that Lloyd had eight balls thrown to him, the notion of a Welker freeze-out takes another hit. If one spot is getting more passes and the ball is thrown less (31 times) it stands to reason the target numbers will drop.

Lloyd wasnt too happy with me after Sundays game when I asked him if he slowed down on the first quarter deep ball from Brady. It was an incomplete pass, dont read too much into it, he said icily. When I told him its my job to read into things and then check if theyre right, he stared hard at me then asked for the next question. Weve since straightened it out. I share this because it helps readers understand the dynamic that players and reporters are in when a question that critiques performance arises. The player isn't going to like being second-guessed; the reporter isn't going to like having a legitimate question dismissed. It's a fine balance.

Is Richard Seymour a possible Hall of Fame player? Discuss.

Kevin Kolb will get the start Sunday for the Cardinals when they visit the Patriots, it appears. He was 6-of-8 for 66 yards directing the game-winning drive for the Cards against the Seahawks after John Skelton injured his ankle.

The pursuit speed of Chandler Jones continues to be the most impressive aspect of his game. On the strip sack that led to the Donta Hightower touchdown, Jones turned the corner on Michael Roos then accelerated in two huge steps to get to Jake Lockervery impressive.

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

The Patriots went into Pittsburgh and beat an under-manned Steelers team Sunday afternoon, 27-16. Here are some of our quick takeaways.

PATRIOTS 27, STEELERS 16: Curran's Best and Worst | Troy Brown: Pittsburgh didn't capitalize on Pats' mistakes

-- With all eyes on the matchup between Antonio Brown and Malcolm Butler, the third-year Patriots corner held his own. After allowing nine catches for 133 yards to Brown in their first meeting last season, Butler allowed Brown to catch five passes for 90 yards Sunday. Butler also took advantage of some of the chances taken by Landry Jones, intercepting one pass intended for Brown in the end zone in the first quarter. Butler finished the day with two pass breakups and a pick on 10 targets. The four catches he allowed to Brown were the only catches he allowed in the game. 

-- Julian Edelman looked like Julian Edelman in the win. He caught 9 of the 10 targets sent his way for 60 yards, getting open underneath while seeing one-on-one coverage for much of the contest. Edelman has been on the injury report for the last two weeks, limited with a foot injury, but he was able to get open on the intermediate routes that has made him one of Tom Brady's favorite targets over the last few years. Edelman did have one drop on third down, and he did fumble a punt return, which allows us to . . . 

-- . . . take a look at what was a rough day for Patriots special teams units. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed yet another extra point -- his second in as many weeks. He has now missed five kicks on the season, including three field goals. The Patriots kickoff unit also had a difficult day, allowing three kicks to be returned past the 25-yard line. The punt-coverage team made one costly error at the end of the first half when Brandon Bolden kicked a bouncing ball out of the back of the Steelers end zone. Instead of the Pittsburgh drive starting at the 6-yard line, where Bolden touched the football, it came out to the 20. At the end of the half, the Steelers kicked a 32-yard field goal. Bolden also dropped a third-down pass that would have gone for a first down. On another punt, it appeared as though Bolden got up slowly after trying to down the ball near the goal line. It was his first game back after suffering a knee injury in Week 4.

-- LeGarrette Blount had a big day against his former team. The 250-pound back didn't want to be a story line earlier in the week, denying interview requests, saying that he would speak after the game on Sunday. His performance at Heinz Field will certainly keep those requests coming. He ran 24 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, beating up on the Steelers front-seven late in the game as New England protected its lead. 

-- While the Patriots offensive line provided Blount with enough room to run, it was a relatively sloppy day for Brady's protection up front. Left tackle Nate Solder turned in one drive during which he allowed a pressure and was then flagged for back-to-back holding penalties (one of which was declined). Shaq Mason also appeared to have trouble with Pittsburgh's Jarvis Jones, allowing a couple of pressures and picking up a flag for holding. Joe Thuney and David Andrews -- both of whom had good blocks on James White's score -- also picked up penalties. There will be plenty for offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to pick at and try to improve in the coming week of practice.