Patriots prepare for Ravens' physical play

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Patriots prepare for Ravens' physical play

FOXBORO -- Recent history would suggest that the Patriots are going to put up points on Sunday, and that the team's biggest task is stopping Baltimore's offense from getting in the end zone.

But in order for New England's offense to have success in the AFC Championship, quarterback Tom Brady will need his offensive line to be at its best against a Ravens defense that finished the regular season with the third-most sacks.

"This will be the most physical front we face all year, by far," said Patriots veteran offensive lineman Brian Waters on Thursday. "That's something that, if you watch them, it doesn't take long to figure out that that's what they thrive upon, being physical and really trying to overwhelm you on defense, getting to the ball, going after the football. The way they hit, the way they attack the quarterback, the way they shed blockers, that's definitely an emphasis on their football team.

"It's always our number one job up front," added Waters. "We obviously know that, if we keep him clean, then we have a better chance of winning, by far. So it's going to be a great task for us, but it's the largest emphasis of our job, as offensive linemen."

Logan Mankins agreed, and pointed out that the Ravens pass-rush doesn't just have one or two dangerous players. It's their whole system that allows them to have such a ferocious attack on opposing quarterbacks.

"They're very physical," he said. "They have numerous guys that are at least 350 pounds. They've got some big guys. And that all starts with Ray Lewis. He's played physical for his entire career. Those guys feed off this, and I think that he demands that they play physical also. They're a physical football team, offensively and defensively.

"They have numerous guys across the board that can rush the passer, and they've all got numerous sacks. So, it's not just one guy doing it," added Mankins. "They have a lot of guys that are good at it. And I think collectively, they know how to rush the passer. That's why they're so good."

Patriots training camp: Who will be this year's Zach Sudfeld?

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Jets coach Todd Bowles: 'Garoppolo can play'

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Jets coach Todd Bowles: 'Garoppolo can play'

The Jets don't have to play the Patriots during the first four weeks of the season, but they'll be watching as their division rivals go to work with Jimmy Garoppolo behind center. 

Jets head coach Todd Bowles is expecting more of the same from New England despite Tom Brady's four-game suspension.

"Garoppolo can play," Bowles told the New York Daily News. "They don't worry about who they have. They just have a system in place and they go play football. I think people underestimate that. You still have to knock off the champs. It's theirs until somebody takes it from them."

The Patriots haven't had a quarterback other than Brady take snaps of consequence since Brady tore his ACL in Week 1 of the 2008 season. Garoppolo is still a relative unknown given his 31 total pass attempts over the last two years, but with coach Bill Belichick still on the sidelines, and Belichick's system still in place, Bowles is assuming the Patriots will be a very good team once again -- even without their best player for the first month of the season. 

"They got a good team," Bowles said. "It's not just us. It's everybody. We split 1-1 (against them last year). They're a tough team. They're a tough out. They've had a coach and a quarterback and a system in place for a long time. There's a bunch of ways to skin a cat. They've found pretty good ways to skin it. They do what they have to."