Ravens defense still dangerous without Suggs


Ravens defense still dangerous without Suggs

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady is probably not broken up about the fact he won't see Terrell Suggs on Sunday.
But the Patriots quarterback managed his usual diplomatic approach when asked about Suggs this week. He couldn't have been more complimentary of the Ravens linebacker, who's currently relegated to PUP with an Achilles injury.
"You know, their defense, its interesting because over the years theyve lost key players and they fill different guys in and different guys play different roles," Brady said. "He's a phenomenal player and he's been very durable over his career. Weve played him multiple times."
There are plenty of other threats for Brady to worry about, anyway.
"They're still getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback and applying different blitz schemes to get pressure," he said. "Haloti Ngata is almost impossible to block at times. They like to get their safeties involved. They like to get Lardarius Webb involved. Everybody is a blitzer and thats the kind of scheme it is. Therere different playmakers and they know how to use them and they know what they like. Id like to blitz a lot of those guys, too, if I was how good they are at getting to the quarterback."
Bill Belichick also noted Batlimore's defensive turnover. The coach said the influx of contributions from new sources isn't just from rookies like Courtney Upshaw, but from established players who are coming into their own, like Webb.
"They lost Jarret Johnson and Suggs is out, so theyve had to make some changes there at the end of the line of scrimmage, however you want to look at it -- Sam, crash end, rush end, that type of thing. Haloti Ngata has been a big force for them inside and continues to be. Theyre very strong down the middle with Ngata and Ed Reed and Lewis of course.
"There are some new faces, some old faces and some guys that are entering their third, fourth, fifth seasons that are starting to emerge as solid players in their defense. Thats a big turnover like any team though, its not surprising from the last time we went down there and played them as an example, a lot of guys that arent on their defense anymore, but thats true of almost any team if you look five, six years back. But that was a great defense going back to their championship year and most of those players have been replaced; not Ray."
Ah, yes. Ray. Has anyone been more durable?
The 2012 season is No. 17 for Lewis. He's played in 12 or fewer games in just three of them (five in 2002, six in 2005, 12 in 2011). So Lewis is not only featured on the posters kids like Upshaw tacked to the wall and worshipped a decade ago, he's lining up next to Upshaw on defense at age 37.
"Rays smart, very smart, studies hard, very well prepared and he has good physical ability and he has great instincts for the game," said Belichick. "He anticipates well, has great instincts for the feel for the game and timing and anticipation and things like that. Of course, a lot of that is his preparation and film study and experience and so forth, but you put all those things together, I think they all add up."
New England has done the math. No Suggs, no problem? Not even close.

Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language


Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

When Kyle Van Noy was traded to the Patriots in late October, he had a lot to learn. He needed to understand the layout of his new team's maze-like facility. He needed to adjust to a new locker room. He needed to adapt to a new home. 

He also had to become fluent in a new language.

The former Lions 'backer was inactive for two weeks before he was comfortable enough with the Patriots system -- and the coaching staff was comfortable enough with him -- to get on the field. He played 29 snaps against the Niners in first game with his new club, then saw 28 plays against the Jets. On Sunday he saw his role expand as he played 40 of a possible 51 plays, which was more than Shea McClellin (38) or Dont'a Hightower (33). 

"Kyle has done a great job of working really hard to acclimate to what we’re doing, and he has had to learn really fast as far as the system, the communication, the language," said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on a conference call Tuesday. "It’s like when you go to a different system, offensively or defensively, a lot of times it’s just learning the vernacular and the verbiage . . . That’s a big part of it. Then getting more familiar with that kind of terminology and the communication is critical because there’s a lot of calls and adjustments, things like that that we’ve got to do on the field."

Van Noy was making some of those calls himself on Sunday as he wore the green dot on his helmet when Hightower was on the sidelines. Even with the added responsibility, Van Noy was able to play freely enough that he put together what might have been the best game of his three-year career. 

Used at the end of the line of scrimmage as well as in a more traditional off-the-line linebacker role, Van Noy was effective in defending both the pass and the run: He stuffed three Rams rush attempts, he recorded a quarterback hit that led to an incompletion, he drew a holding call, and he recorded an athletic interception when he tracked a wobbling Jared Goff pass that floated over the middle after Jabaal Sheard hit Goff's arm as the rookie released his throw.

After several of his stand-out plays, Van Noy was visibly excited on the field and later on the sidelines. It was the culmination of six weeks of work, learning as much as he could from a coaching staff that was eager to teach him. 

"He’s extremely prideful in his work and his approach to the game," Patricia said. "He’s very cerebral. He’ll ask a lot of questions. He really wants to understand what we’re doing and why, which is great. We’re trying to give him those answers and insight into kind of where some of this either came from or developed or situations like that so that’s really good."