Time will tell if play changes with regular referees


Time will tell if play changes with regular referees

FOXBORO -- The inconsistencies of the replacement referees seemed to break both ways during the NFL season's first three weeks. On one play, players might get away with an extra hold here, or a bump of a receiver there. On another, the slightest of infractions might get whistled.

Now that the league's referee lockout is over, the regular officials are back, and with them -- presumably -- more consistent rulings on certain penalties.

But how will the arrival of the league's regular officials change the way players play? Did players try to take advantage of the replacement officials who couldn't keep up with the game's pace? Or were players forced to try to cater to a new set of standards so that they wouldn't be flagged?

"I can't say that I did or didn't," Matthew Slater said when asked if he saw players trying to get away with more during the first three weeks.

"When you start thinking about the calls being made, and thinking that you're going to be jipped by a call then it affects the way you play the game. You live by the law of the land. If they're holding and grabbing, then you just gotta play through it. That's what we had to do and that's what we'll continue to have to do."

Rob Ninkovich said calls made by the replacement officials didn't change how he approached games.

"Everything's going at a real fast pace out there," he said. "You're just trying to play ball. Sometimes things happen. Sometimes the flag's thrown. Sometimes it's not, even when there was the old refs. What it comes down to at the end of the day is it's playing football. You can't really worry about the flags."

Slater said he'd be watching Thursday Night's game between the Ravens and the Browns, but not to see how the new officials change the game.

"I'll be watching the game to see the players play the game," he said. "I'm sure it'll be discussed by the commentators and other people, the networks and things like that. But like I said, nobody's to blame in this situation. It was a tough situation for all parties involved, and now that it's resolved we can move forward."

Thursday's Patriots-Bills practice participation/report: Edelman still limited


Thursday's Patriots-Bills practice participation/report: Edelman still limited

FOXBORO -- Even though Dion Lewis returned to practice on Thursday, there were no changes to the Patriots injury report.

Because Lewis remains on the physically unable to perform list, he does not count against the active roster, and the team is not required to list his participation level following practices. The Patriots have three weeks to activate Lewis, and whenever they do, he'll be eligible to show up on the participation report.

There were no changes to New England's injury report, meaning that tight end Martellus Bennett, receiver Julian Edelman and linebacker Jamie Collins all continue to be limited. Edelman has been limited with a foot injury since before his team's Week 6 matchup with the Browns. Despite just nine catches for 65 yards in Tom Brady's first two games back from suspension, Edelman bounced back against the Steelers and reeled in nine passes for 60 yards.

The Bills continue to be hampered by a variety of ailments. Linebacker Zach Brown, who almost single-handedly ruined Patriots plans back in Week 4, missed Thursday's workout with an illness, as did guard Richie Incognito. Running back LeSean McCoy missed practice for the second straight day with a hamstring injury, and receiver Marquis Goodwin was out with a concussion. 

Here's Thursday's full practice participation/injury report for the Patriots and Bills:


TE Martellus Bennett (ankle)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Jamie Collins (hip)
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
DL Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder)
LB Shea McClellin (concussion)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
DL Vincent Valentine (back)


LB Zach Brown (illness)
TE Cordy Glenn (ankle)
WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion)
G Richie Incognito (illness)
RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring)
S Aaron Williams (neck)

DT Corbin Bryan (shoulder)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
DT Marcell Dareus (hamstring)
RB Mike Gillislee (foot)
LB Jerry Hughes (hand)
LB Lerentee McCray (knee)
G John Miller (shoulder)
WR Robert Woods (foot)

T Seantreal Henderson (back)

LB Lorenzo Alexander (non-injury related)
DT Adolphus Washington (illness)

Van Noy: 'I was shocked" to be traded from Lions to Patriots

Van Noy: 'I was shocked" to be traded from Lions to Patriots

FOXBORO -- It's not often that NFL teams make deals before the trade deadline. Seeing starters get dealt before the deadline is a veritable rarity. It's no wonder linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who started in all seven Lions games this season, reacted the way he did when he was dealt to the Patriots earlier this week.

"I was shocked to go from starting there to traded," Van Noy said during his first back-and-forth with Patriots reporters. "I was shocked. I respect everybody with the Detroit Lions, they'll all be my guys there. Just grateful for the opportunity to come here and get it going."

Van Noy has been working closely with Patriots linebackers and linebackers coach Brian Flores since his arrival, even getting some last-minute notes from Flores before meeting with reporters and heading out to Thursday's practice. 

The 6-foot-3, 243-pounder wasn't completely unfamiliar with the operation in New England before being sent to Foxboro along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-rounder. He admitted he had "a lot" of contact with the Patriots before being taken in the second round by Detroit.  

Now he's playing "catch-up" to learn the Patriots playbook, which could include learning multiple positions within the team's defense. He played mostly as an off-the-line linebacker in Detroit, but when he entered into the league out of BYU, he was considered to have the tools to be a productive pass-rusher as a pro. 

Van Noy, who lost about 15 pounds going into this season, indicated that the Lions didn't get the most out of him because of how he was used. 

"I mean, they didn't know where to put me," he said. "Here, they want me here, and I'm happy to be wanted." 

Van Noy was injured for much of his rookie season and had a hard time making an impact last year. He was relied upon to fill a more substantial role this season, playing in 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps. It's unclear just how Van Noy will fit in as a member of the Patriots, but he says he's willing to do whatever it takes to work his way back up another depth chart.

"I'm here now, and I'm gonna do whatever they have me [do], and whatever they want my weight to be at," he said. "Whatever they want me to do I'm gonna do it because I want to win and be part of this team."