The Pats past won't change the present

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The Pats past won't change the present

Heading into tonights showdown with the Texans, Tom Brady has a career record of 38-5 in December. He's also 12-4 on Monday Night Football. And as impressive as those records are, it's even better when you only consider games played in Foxboro where Bradys a career 22-1 in December and 4-1 on MNF.

Sorta strange that hes played 11 of his 16 Monday Night Football games on the road, no? Yes, yes it is. But that will be irrelevant once the ball goes up tonight. And really, so will the 38-5. So will the 12-4. So will the 22-1 and 4-1. So will anything and everything thats happened up until this point in time.

Truth is, while the Texans and Patriots recent histories could not fall farther apart on the spectrum of NFL success, tonight is about tonight. Tonight is about now. Tonight will tell us more about the present and future of the AFC than any game thats come before it regardless of month, location andor day of the week.

Unless the Patriots lose.

In that case, we'll find ways to justify what happened. We'll discover reasons to believe that the Pats still have a chance; that losing a prime time home game against Houston doesn't mean they can't eventually win a prime time playoff game in Houston. But that will all be speculation. In reality, tonight's outcome will define the rest of the regular season in the AFC.

If the Pats win, this is still their conference. Even if they lose next week to San Francisco. Even if they still have to travel to Houston in the postseason. Even if Denver's still getting better every week. With a win, the Pats will be everyone's pick. As I type, they're already favored to win the Super Bowl. They and the 49ers are both at 4-1, while the Texans and Broncos trail closely at 9-2. With a win, they'll take another leap. They'll be "the best team in the NFL."

A Patriots loss? And Houston is for real. This time, for really real. They'll have passed nearly every test that's been placed before them. They'll head into the playoffs with (most likely) home field advantage to go along with road wins in Denver and New England and a blow out victory over the Ravens. They'll be the favorites. Regardless of the fact that they've never experiences any kind of legitimate playoff success. Regardless of the fact that Matt Schaub has never even started a playoff game.

Unlike his QB counterpart, Schaub hasn't experienced any level of legitimate late-season success. While Brady's a career 38-5 in December, Schaub is 11-15. And as unimpressive as that record is, it's even worse when you only consider games played on the road where Schaub's a career 6-12 in December.

But tonight at 8:30, we'll throw out the past on both sides of the field, as we sit back and watch the future unfold.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Knighton not worried about Deflategate: 'We have enough on our plate'

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Knighton not worried about Deflategate: 'We have enough on our plate'

FOXBORO -- Patriots defensive tackle Terrance Knighton has been on three different teams since the Deflategate controversy was sparked on the night of the AFC title game in 2015. But that doesn't mean he's immune to receiving questions about Tom Brady's ongoing saga. 

Meeting with reporters after Thursday's OTA session, Knighton was asked if he was surprised by the buzz that still surrounds Brady's legal situation. Earlier in the week, Brady filed a petition for a rehearing to have his four-game suspension overturned, and the Patriots organization filed an amicus brief backing their quarterback.

"All I was thinking about that year was losing to the Colts," said Knighton, who was a member of the Broncos two seasons ago. "I wasn't really worried about what was going on. I don't really feed into that. I just try to handle what I have to do in the building. We have enough on our plate as it is. That'll handle itself. 'Terrance Knighton' is not anywhere in the documents so it doesn't have anything to do with me."

As was the case during last preseason, with Deflategate hearings hanging over Brady's head, the Patriots quarterback didn't appear at all distracted by the continuing proceedings. He went 9-for-14 in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 periods during Thursday's practice, working with a group of offenive weapons that was without tight end Rob Gronkowski and receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. 

Knighton said on Thursday that Brady has ben equally impressive off the field in the short time he's been able to spend with the future Hall of Famer. 

"[Conversations hav been] a little bit about our past playing against each other, me getting the better of him, him getting the better of me," Knighton said. "He's won that matchp more times than I have, but it's always good to be around guys like that, pick their brain and see what type of professional they are.

"Playing with a Peyton Manning and a Demarcus Ware, you learn a lot from those guys, Hall of Famers. I'm just trying tp pick [Brady's] brain, and just watch him out of the corner of my eye, and see how he prepares and how me moves around."

Quick Slants the podcast Ep 54: Brady, OTAs, and contract situations

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Quick Slants the podcast Ep 54: Brady, OTAs, and contract situations

Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry attended Thursday’s OTA session and offer their analysis on some of the new additions in Quick Slants the podcast.

Also on the docket, a look at some upcoming contract situations for the team, Tom Brady’s 17th season and Robert Kraft taking legal action in support of Brady.

Listen to the entire podcast via the player below, or by searching CSNNE on iTunes.

New Patriots DE Chris Long willing to be led

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New Patriots DE Chris Long willing to be led

Chris Long’s been in the NFL since 2008. As the offspring of Hall of Famer Howie Long, he knows the ways and means of life in the league.
 
So, it’s instructive that a player who’s been around this long decided that success here hinged on allowing himself to be led. Check the ego, check the pride, behave as if you know nothing.
 
In doing so, Long’s affixed himself to the side of fellow defensive end Rob Ninkovich like a 275-pound remora.
 
“Rob and I really clicked,” Long said Thursday after a Patriots OTA session open to the media. “We’ve got a lot of similarities, and he’s a great guy to learn from and shadow. He’s been here obviously a long time. Rob knows how to do things the right way around here. When you see a guy like that, if you’re halfway smart, you follow him around and do what he does. If Rob goes to lunch, I go to lunch. That type of thing. Rob’s a good buddy already.”
 
Long was also observed Thursday spending a lot of downtime with Jabaal Sheard, the two defensive ends on a knee near the Gatorade conversing for a couple of minutes.
 
With Chandler Jones now a Cardinal, the Patriots defensive end depth chart this offseason has have Sheard and Ninkovich at the top, with Long in the mix situationally, one supposes. Reps need to be split for freshness. Meanwhile, Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers are coming into their second seasons and will push for time as well.
 
For his part, Long isn’t projecting anything.
 
“Well, I’m still learning, so I can’t make the determination yet,” Long said. “Ask me again during training camp. Every day in the NFL is an opportunity. A coach I’ve had before said every day is an interview, and that’s how I like to look at things. Every day, you have a chance to get better and learn and worry about your own — farm your own land and do all that good stuff. That’s the way I approach everything. It would be a disservice to the other guys if I was worried about anything other than myself, that opportunity just to get out here on the practice field and compete and get better.”
 
And let yourself be led.