Patriots keeping their eyes on Cardinals' Peterson

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Patriots keeping their eyes on Cardinals' Peterson

FOXBORO -- Patriots special teams units face a unique problem this week in Patrick Peterson.

Last season, the Cardinals rookie first-rounder returned four kicks for touchdowns, tying an NFL record. Despite his short NFL resume, he has already established himself as the kind of player around whom coaches must game plan.

Nate Ebner was still in college when Peterson was tearing up the NFL last year. But this week of film study has served as a tutorial for the Patriots special teamer as to just how dangerous Peterson can be.

How do the Patriots contain him?

"Be aware of him. Everywhere he is. In every aspect of the kicking game," Ebner said. "Do what we practice. Special teams coach Scott O'Brien put together a good scheme. We need to do it to the best of our ability to stop anything from happening. That's what we're there for."

Peterson possesses good speed -- he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at last year's NFL Combine -- but it's his combination of skills that sets him apart, according to Ebner's scouting report.

"Big guy with a lot of speed, very explosive," Ebner said. "He's got good vision and he's strong. You gotta wrap him up."

Ebner did a good job of that against the Titans in Week 1. He finished the game with two tackles on special teams to lead the Patriots.

When he was drafted, considering his background as an elite rugby player, Ebner was expected to be a special teams ball hawk. It appears as though he's on his way.

"If a play comes to me I try to do my best to make it happen," he said. "I play the best I can every week and try and get better as the games come. Make plays as they come."

Peterson seems to live by the same philosophy. Unfortunately for the Patriots this week, plays seem to come to him more regularly than most.

On Tuesday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised Peterson's work on defense as well as his ability to return kicks.

"Hes very dangerous on punt returns, that goes without saying," Belichick said during a conference call. "Hes a big guy, has good length, good speed so hes a hard guy to throw over in the secondary. Excellent ball skills. If he gets his hands on the ball, youre looking at a lot of trouble, not just interceptions but probably a run back for touchdowns, too. It would be like a punt return."

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.