Giants key pass-rusher ailing after practice crash

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Giants key pass-rusher ailing after practice crash

FOXBORO - The Patriotstopic du semaine has been the Giants devastating pass rush. You may remember it well. The Giants may have taken an unexpected personnel hit on Thursday though. Jason Pierre-Paul, who leads the Giants with 8.5 sacks, injured his neck during practice.

Pierre-Paul sat out Friday's practice. Also watching were wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who hasn't practiced all week, and Ahmad Bradshaw. So the Giants may be without their leading receiver, running back and pass rusher. Could be a boon for New England, but the Steelers didn't have James Harrison, James Farrior and Hines Ward last week and things worked OK for them. Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick lauded Pierre-Paul, a second-year player out of South Florida. "We played against him in last year in preseason and just from last year to this year he's improved," said Belichick. "He's a great talent. He's long, very athletic, fast, quick. He's got good power. He runs well. He makes plays in pursuit. But from a technique standpoint, just overall understanding, recognizing draws, screens, the different pass sets, those kind of things. You can see he's made a lot of improvement over the last year."The Giants took Pierre-Paul with the 15th overall pick last year. Belichick was just getting warmed up with his raving with those opening statements.

"He's a good football player," Belichick added. "He's very disruptive. They play him everywhere too. Which is another sign that when you move a player around he must be catching on fairly well. He plays on our left side, on our right side, plays inside. ....He's a very disruptive player and they put him in a lot of different spots. When you come out of the huddle offensively, you're not sure where he's gonna be. There's not a lot of defensive lineman you can say that about. Usually they play one spot, maybe two, but he can pretty much be anywhere."Makes you wonder if the Patriots might have been interested in Pierre-Paul if he was on the board when they chose. Then you remember they don't draft guys who rush the passer and dismiss the notion entirely.
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Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

FOXBORO – Back in March, Eric Weddle batted his eyes longingly at the Patriots. The two-time All-Pro safety’s time was done with the Chargers and he wanted to spend his NFL autumn with a team that had a chance to win it all. 

He didn’t land in New England, but he didn’t too badly, winding up with the usually competitive Ravens.  

On a Thursday conference call with New England media, Weddle confirmed that there was mutual interest expressed. 

“Obviously, I was interested,” he acknowledged. “I have nothing but high regard, respect and admiration – and envy, quite honestly – of the success of the New England Patriots over the years. Obviously, battling them in my career, it’s always been a great game. I love the way they play, love the foundation, love everything about it. It was definitely on my radar. There were talks both ways, it just didn’t end up [working out].”

The numbers massed at the position with Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon played a role in the two sides not being able to reach accord, according to Weddle. 

“I’m good buddies with Patrick Chung,” he said. “I grew up playing with him and Devin [McCourty] is one of the best to play, so I don’t know if it would have worked out personnel-wise. But obviously, I could have seen myself fitting in there seamlessly.”

Weddle’s New England attraction apparently wasn’t love that bloomed late in his career. Toward the end of his conference call, Weddle said, “I’m still wondering why they just didn’t draft me in ’07; I could have been still playing there now.”

As reporters puzzled for a moment trying to recall the 2007 first-rounder, Weddle chipped in with the answer: “[They took] Brandon Meriweather.”

Raiders' loss to Chiefs puts Patriots in AFC driver's seat

Raiders' loss to Chiefs puts Patriots in AFC driver's seat

FOXBORO - The Patriots got a desired outcome Thursday night when the Chiefs handed the Raiders their third loss of the season. 

The 21-13 loss dropped Oakland and KC into a tie atop the AFC West at 10-3 but the Chiefs, by virtue of beating Oakland twice this season, have the divisional tiebreaker. Oakland went from the top seed in the AFC to the fifth spot.

More importantly around here, the Patriots now are in position to win out and claim the AFC’s No. 1 seed. 

Prior to the Raiders loss, Oakland would have been the top seed if both they and the Patriots won out.  Now, the 10-2 Patriots have a leg up on the rest of the conference. The Raiders’ road stays tough. They are at San Diego and Denver and host the Colts. 

The Chiefs have a more favorable close to the season with home games against Tennessee and Denver before their season finale at San Diego. 

The Patriots’ road over the final four is no picnic though, beginning with the Ravens and at Denver before the last two hosting the Jets and traveling to Miami.