New faces or not, Patriots expect to see the same Peyton Manning


New faces or not, Patriots expect to see the same Peyton Manning

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo admitted Thursday that he's played as Peyton Manning in Madden.

Sure, it's just a video game. But don't overreact to the news. It was something he enjoyed doing while at the University of Tennessee, not while a member of the New England Patriots.

And he wasn't the only one. Why wouldn't you want to play as the Colts, and their prolific offense while trying to dominate in the college dorms, especially if you have no affiliation with their biggest rival?

A lot has changed since the days that Mayo -- and most likely other young Patriots players -- used to re-create Manning's dominant offense on their video-game system of choice.

The Colts' offense looks much different these days. For starters, there's no more Marvin Harrison. It's Manning's second season without his favorite wide receiver.

Adding to the list of offensive Colts players who won't be on the field for Sunday's game against the Patriots is tight end Dallas Clark, who is out for the season after having wrist surgery. In his place has been third-year tight end Jacob Tamme, who has 24 receptions for 245 yards and two touchdowns in the three games since Clark went down.

"He definitely does have receiving capabilities, similar to Dallas," said Patriots linebacker Tully Banta-Cain. "Obviously, Dallas is a guy who's more proven, but Tamme is a guy who has been proving himself. And he's very capable of making plays down the field."

Also capable of making plays down the field is running back Joseph Addai, but his status is up in the air for Sunday. Addai has missed the last three games because of a shoulder injury, and if he misses another on Sunday, the Patriots will see a mix of Donald Brown and Javarris James in the backfield.

But as different as the Colts' offense will look on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, the more it remains the same.

"They still get the ball around pretty well," said Banta-Cain. "He makes the best of the receivers he has. It's obviously different guys doing it, but it's the same stuff."

Mainly because, well, it's the same guy calling the shots. It's the same guy who's walking up to the line, then stepping back, changing the play, or at least, making it look like he's changing the play.

Manning is still the Colts' quarterback. And the Patriots know that regardless of the different faces in the offense, their defensive strategy will also remain the same in trying to mix and match their different looks in an attempt to confuse Manning.

"You're trying to trick him, basically," said Mayo. "He's a great quarterback. He has a great arm, and can make all the throws.

"It's very difficult," added Mayo. "He studies a lot of film. He's a great quarterback, like I said. We have to try, you know? We have to try."

Manning was only sacked 10 times last season, but nine games into this year, the Colts' quarterback has already been sacked 12 times. Still, he's only thrown four interceptions in those nine games, opposed to the 16 total picks he threw last season.

Bottom line: Manning's still got it. And while the Patriots will continue to try and fool him on the defensive end, Manning will certainly continue to bring trickery of his own, something that's made him a successful quarterback.

"His pre-snap reads are amazing," said Mayo. "He pretty much knows what's going on before he even snaps the ball."

"A lot of times, you don't really want to key on what he's doing, because you don't know if it's real or fake," said Banta-Cain. "It's not something you can fully rely on.

"He's a tough quarterback to try and confuse," he said. "He'll confuse you more than you confuse him. He's a guy that, yeah, you try to do your best to disguise stuff, and things like that. But he's really good at what he does, and picking out coverages."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.

Lady Gaga.

More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.

Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice. 

"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.

Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.

"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."


It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade


It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.