Curran's pregame thoughts for Patriots-Texans

Curran's pregame thoughts for Patriots-Texans
December 1, 2013, 12:45 pm
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HOUSTON -- I anticipated a light load for Stevan Ridley against Houston -- five carries or fewer -- but while I didn’t expect him to be inactive, I’m not shocked, either. Ridley was almost inconsolable Sunday night and if he’s going to have success going forward, he has to get his mind right first. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Ridley himself was relieved at being allowed to sit out this week. The dropoff from Ridley to Brandon Bolden is there, but it’s not precipitous.
* The absence of Alfonzo Dennard, who’s down with a knee injury and didn’t make the trip, makes it vital for Aqib Talib’s hip to hold up. If Talib -- who made it through without event last week against the Broncos -- is deployed on Andre Johnson, that’s a good matchup for the Pats. If Talib goes down and Johnson gets to roam and is covered by revolving corners, that’s a potential issue.
* Patriots receivers coach Chad O’Shea told me before the game the turf wasn’t as bad as he anticipated. Still, it’s in the Patriots heads as this game starts. All coaches were on the field checking it out. No surprise given the team lost Wes Welker to a blown ACL on a non-contact play here in 2009.
* I’ve been remiss in crediting Brandon Spikes’ work this season. At the start of camp, I observed he seemed intent on doing his own thing after an offseason spent away from the team working out on his own. Entering the last year of his contract, I wondered if his desire for a bigger role and perhaps a new deal might short-circuit his season. As the season’s gone on and players have gone down, Spikes has emerged as a defensive leader. Devin McCourty stressed his importance during the Denver comeback. He told me during our Quick Slants sitdown that, “A guy that was huge for us was Brandon Spikes. He just kept going through halftime, reminded us the game’s not over, questioning and calling us out (saying), ‘We’re down 24 points, we’re at home this is embarrassing.' He was that guy, that voice all throughout the game and I think that was key for us.”