Tebow's presence complicates Patriots' preparation


Tebow's presence complicates Patriots' preparation

FOXBORO -- In the NFL, you must turn the page quickly. The Patriots have been acknowledging that all week as they try to move on from last Sunday's loss in Seattle and prepare for this Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

The transition from the Seahawks to the Jets isn't a seamless one, though. Mainly because of the wrinkle that is Tim Tebow.

Sure, from the outside, Tebow hasn't been anything close to the game-changing player he was last year, when he took the football world by storm. But in fairness to Tebow, that's because he hasn't been used anywhere close to as much as he was while the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

Though Mark Sanchez' numbers aren't great, he's still the Jets' starting quarterback. In fact, Tebow has only thrown the ball three times in six games, completing two of those passes for 32 yards.

"They're running the ball well and Sanchez is playing well these last couple weeks," said Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo on Thursday. "They're a dangerous football team. They have a great offensive line, a couple good running backs that are a different, change-of-pace type of backs . . . They have a lot of different weapons."

As Rex Ryan's original plan was drawn up, Tebow is one of those weapons, and he's been used in many different ways this season. Which is why the Patriots have the unusual task for preparing for a backup quarterback in a somewhat unfamiliar manner.

"He's obviously a guy that can run the ball," said linebacker Rob Ninkovich. "He's a strong guy.

"Last year, obviously, we saw him a few times. (The Patriots played Denver twice, once in the regular season and once in the playoffs.) So we've seen him. That helps us out.

"You've got to give him attention," added Ninkovich. "Because, you never know what game they're going to keep him in there longer, or have more of a focus on him during that game. So obviously, our defense has to respect the wildcat-type offense."

Mayo said he's never had to prepare for a backup quarterback like this before. But that's because Tebow isn't your everyday backup QB.

"He doesn't only play quarterback," said Mayo on Thursday. "He plays a lot of different spots. So I don't know how much he'll be playing quarterback against us, but we'll be ready for it.

Tebow has rushed the ball 18 times for 64 yards. He's also lined up at wide receiver, and even has recorded two tackles this season.

"Well, obviously, he has a specific skill set," said Mayo. "He can do a lot of different things. Special teams, playing quarterback, and sometimes he lines up at wide receiver. So he does a lot of different things for them.

"You always have to know where he is. But at the same time, he's a football player, just like everyone else."

Super Bowl appearances aren't old hat to all the Patriots

Super Bowl appearances aren't old hat to all the Patriots

FOXBORO -- It’s old hat to plenty of the Patriot, but certainly not all of them. A whole lot of players who joined the team since 2015 haven’t been to a Super Bowl. That says an awful lot about the personnel department headed by Nick Caserio with Dave Ziegler heading up pro personnel and Monti Ossenfort doing college personnel. 

Two of them -- cornerback Eric Rowe and linebacker Kyle Van Noy -- figured in the two Steelers turnovers in Sunday night’s AFC Championship Game. Both joined the team via in-season trades. 


So in the afterglow of the Patriots postgame locker room, we asked a few of them what their emotions were upon realizing they were going to the Super Bowl

Eric Rowe (acquired via trade with Eagles, September 6): "It’s been a long road. Everyone has their own journey and how they got here but just for me, it’s been a long road. During OTAs and training camp down in Philadelphia, it was frustrating. I didn’t understand why I was sliding down the depth chart but I just kept my head down and kept working and once I got traded here I had to learn a whole new culture and defense and then I got hurt. Through those ups and downs it’s been all worth it. My parents, my girlfriend, my agent, all through training camp with the Eagles kept telling me, ‘Just keep your head up, there’s always something greater on the other side. Don’t stop working, keep working because you never know when you’ll get your chance and, ‘Boom’ I got traded so that was the way around that obstacle. And now I know what’s on the other side. 

Kyle Van Noy (acquired via trade with Lions, October 26): “I took a lot of heat [in Detroit]. I wasn’t living up to what I was capable of doing, even for myself. I had high expectations and I just wasn’t fitting in right away and it was great to get a fresh start and I’m really blessed to have them trust in me to come in and contribute. I don’t know if you ever get comfortable here. You better learn or they’re gonna pass up on you. I’m just grateful for the opportunity. Eric and I are holding it down for the Utah schools (Rowe went to Utah; Van Noy to BYU). We’re here to represent. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I am truly blessed and the man upstairs is looking out.”

Chris Long (signed in March as free agent): "I honestly didn't know they did the confetti thing after. Because I'm usually at the bar with these games are going on. And maybe it's a little later at night. I've turned it off. I didn't know they did the confetti thing after the AFC Championship. That was a real plus . . . because I love confetti. There's no bad situation where there's confetti. I can't think of one. I certainly feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. I’m on a helluva football team and lucky to be a part of it and we’ve earned the right for one more opportunity. It means something different to everybody. We come from different backgrounds, we come from different teams but we’ve all earned this together. It’s a melting pot in that way."

David Andrews (signed as undrafted free agent, 2015) whose great uncle is former Atlanta coach Dan Reeves: "When the Falcons went [in 1998], my parents couldn't take me, but they went." (Is he still sore about that?) "Not anymore. Not at this moment."

Joe Thuney (drafted in third round in May): "It's just a great opportunity. You've got people like Marty [Bennett] and Chris Long that have played so long and just don't get the opportunity. You just got to take advantage of it, and soak upevery minute, and just prepare as best you can, I think. Just go out there and do the best you can."

Malcolm Mitchell (drafted in fourth round in May): "I have no idea [what to expect]. I'm pretty sure I'll be debriefed. And guys will tell me everything I need to know walking into it."

Jabaal Sheard (signed as free agent, 2015): “Great feeling. Unreal. Just an awesome feeling. We gotta get this ring, man and go finish this thing off. It’s exciting, obviously. I’ve heard the stories from the guys who’ve been here. It’s huge. We have to go out there and take care of business.” 

Phil Perry contributed to this report.

Alarm-puller: ‘I’m drunk. I’m stupid. I’m a Pats fan’

Alarm-puller: ‘I’m drunk. I’m stupid. I’m a Pats fan’

Intentionally or otherwise, the guy who allegedly pulled the fire alarm at the Steelers’ hotel Sunday morning may have also provided the average Bud Light-loving Bostonian a new motto. 

“I’m drunk. I’m stupid. I’m a Pats fan,” Dennis Harrison told police after he was arrested, according to the Boston Globe.  

Citing the State Police report, the Globe wrote Monday that Harrison was talked into pulling the alarm while at a party in Revere, with a friend driving the 25-year-old to the Boston Hilton Logan Airport hotel Sunday morning. 

Harrison reportedly walked up to the second floor and pulled the fire alarm before returning to the car, but his friend and the keys were gone. He was then picked up by police while walking away from the hotel. 

According to the Globe, Harrison pleaded not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and setting off a false fire alarm Monday and was released on personal recognizance.