Patriots prepare to face third straight backup quarterback

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Patriots prepare to face third straight backup quarterback

FOXBORO -- It's going to take some digging, but the Patriots are determined to find out all they can about new Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback Dan Orlovsky before Sunday's game.

Orlovsky, who will replace Curtis Painter under center for the 0-11 Colts, has completed 14-of-21 passes for 122 yards with no touchdowns and no picks in three appearances this season. His last NFL start came in 2008, when he quarterbacked the Lions in the final game of their historic 0-16 season. In seven seasons, he's 0-7 in seven career starts.

Needless to say, the Patriots don't have a library full of tapes labeled 'Orlovsky,' but they're making due with what they can find.

"Whatever we have, the coaching staff will get it," Vince Wilfork said. "I don't care where it's from. It's tough when you have a guy you haven't really seen much from and you have to dig and dig and dig. But if that's what we have to do, that's what we have to do."

The Patriots faced a situation like this one two weeks ago when they went up against Kansas City's Tyler Palko in his first-ever NFL start. Similarly, they had to do some sleuthing to find some video of Palko under center. Some of his most relevant film came from his work in preseason exhibitions.

Defending inexperienced quarterbacks may seem to make for light study weeks, but the Patriots insist that's not the case.

"It can be tough at times," Wilfork said. "You just don't know how teams are going to attack you certain weeks. Seems teams always attack us a little different than everybody else.

"We have to be prepared. Whatever it may be, we definitely have to be prepared for it. Whatever they give us. If we have to figure things out on the run, we will. That's where our sideline adjustments, our halftime adjustments come in."

Sterling Moore has become accustomed to long hours in the film room during his first few weeks as a regular in the Patriots secondary. This will be his third straight week of seeing a backup (or in the Colts' case, a backup to the backup) quarterback, and he's digesting whatever old footage the Patriots can scrape together.

"You gotta go back and watch a lot of film on him," Moore said. "You gotta spend a little more time in the film room, but that's every week at this point."

Of course, it's not all about the quarterback. The Colts will likely run similar schemes to what they ran with Painter, and the Patriots will break down that film as well. That Orlovsky is now the quarterback doesn't change everything.

"We're just trying to understand their tendencies offensively," Moore said. "Then we'll watch Orlovsky and see how he throws."

'Big, mean, physical back' Blount wins AFC Offensive Player of the Month

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'Big, mean, physical back' Blount wins AFC Offensive Player of the Month

FOXBORO -- The first three weeks of the season really couldn't have gone any better for LeGarrette Blount. 

He leads the NFL in rushing with 298 yards, and he's scored four times in three games as the Patriots have relied more on the running game in Tom Brady's absence. For his efforts, he's been named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Month. It's the first time he's earned an Offensive Player of the Month award, and it's the first time a Patriots player has been given the honor since Brady won it in September of last year. 

Blount was one of the keys to victory for the Patriots in their Thursday night win over the Texans as he ran for 105 yards and two scores. Patriots coach Bill Belichick lauded Blount for his performance -- especially his performance in the fourth quarter -- in the postgame locker room celebration. With that performance, the Patriots have called more running plays than any other club in the league (108), and Blount leads the NFL in carries with 75, one more than Houston's Lamar Miller. 

Blount is averaging 25 carries per game, which is 9.5 more than his previous career-high, which he recorded back when he was a rookie for the Buccaneers in 2010, and it's 11.2 carries more than his average last year. He could be in line to be a significant part of the game plan yet again during the final game of Brady's suspension Sunday against the Bills.

"Just a big, mean, physical back," Bills coach Rex Ryan said on Wednesday. "That’s how he runs, that’s how he’s always run."

Eric Mangini’s Spygate regret still haunts him

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Eric Mangini’s Spygate regret still haunts him

One of the few positives that emerged from the NFL trumping up charges on the Patriots for deflating footballs?

It allowed Bill Belichick to, for a brief moment in January 2015, do a drive-by on the last time the NFL trumped-up charges on the franchise, back in 2007, when it pinched the team for brazenly ignoring repeated requests to cut the crap with the sideline filming of opposing coaches.

“Look, that’s a whole ‘nother discussion,” Belichick said during the “Mona Lisa Vito” press conference after AP’s Jimmy Golen asked whether the team stopped “pushing the envelope” on the rules after Spygate. “The guy’s giving signals in front of 80,000 people, OK? So we filmed him making signals out in front of 80,000 people like there were a lot of other teams doing at that time, too. Forget about that. If we were wrong, then we’ve been disciplined for that.

“The guy is in front of 80,000 people, 80,000 people saw it. Everybody on the sideline saw it,” Belichick said. “Everybody sees our guy in front of 80,000 people. There he is. So, it was wrong and we were disciplined for it. That’s it. Again, we are never going to do it again and anything that’s close, we aren’t going to do it, either.”

That brief but telling detour revealed that, while the Patriots acknowledged what they did and owned it, the absurdity of the league prosecuting the Patriots at the level they did – a first-round pick, $750,000 in fines – only served to cement the franchise’s belief they were being singled out and scapegoated.

This week, Eric Mangini – the former Jets coach who put the league onto the Patriots that day – said he’s still bothered that the request for sideline vigilance turned into a permanent stain on Belichick’s record.

“Spygate is a big regret,” Mangini told Brian Costello of the New York Post . “It wasn’t supposed to go down the way it went down.”

Mangini was as close with Belichick as any of his coterie of Cleveland coaches. After graduating Wesleyan – Belichick’s alma mater – Mangini became a Browns’ ballboy and PR intern in 1994. 

He was with Belichick from there, through the time with the Jets in the late ‘90s and then in New England where he became Patriots defensive coordinator in 2005 before leaving to coach the Jets in 2006.

"He was my mentor. He taught me everything, and I respect him tremendously. That's not [BS],” Mangini told Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio in 2010. “That's how I feel. I hope at some point, we'll be able to sit down and talk about things and get back to a better relationship."

Judging by the context of Mangini’s comments to Costello, things haven’t been smoothed over.

“There was no great value in what they were doing,” Mangini said. “It wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth it to me personally. It wasn’t worth it to the relationship. … I cared about him. I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t want to hurt the Patriots. They were a huge part of my life, too, and the Kraft family. The Krafts were always great to me. It wasn’t like I was thinking I really want to get these guys. My thought was I don’t want to put my team at a competitive disadvantage, no matter how small.”

Mangini was let go by the 49ers in the offseason with two years left on his defensive coordinator’s contract. He’s currently doing some analysis for FOX and is living with his family in Cleveland. I reached out to Mangini on Wednesday but he said he didn’t want to continue to rehash the events of 2007.