Patriots expect a physical game against Browns


Patriots expect a physical game against Browns

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- The Cleveland Browns have one of the worst offenses in the NFL. They average only 16.9 points per game and don't have a star-studded depth chart.

But coming off a bye week, the Browns are a team that feels good about itself, having defeated the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, 30-17, in New Orleans, nearly two weeks ago.

It was only their second win of the season, but it came in the type of style that Cleveland is supposed to be known for: its defense.

Linebacker David Bowens intercepted two Drew Brees passes, and returned both for touchdowns. The Browns picked Brees off four times in the game.

The Patriots are preparing for a similar type of defensive battle against the Browns on Sunday.

"These guys are a physical bunch, they can score a lot of different ways, and it's our job to stand up to the pressure and win the ball game," said Patriots tight end Alge Crumpler on Thursday.

"They're very solid," he said. "They're a much more physical bunch than the group Vikings that we just played. They're very disciplined, and they're a little rested, so I'm sure they're going to come out with some new looks."

But some looks will be similar. Browns head coach Eric Mangini spent six seasons on the Patriots' coaching staff as a defensive backs coach and the defensive coordinator.

"I would expect to see some similarities across the board," said Crumpler.

Another familiar face is tight end Ben Watson, who is in his first season with Cleveland after spending six years in New England. Watson has two touchdown receptions and 336 receiving yards in seven games for the Browns. In Cleveland's West Coast-style offense, a lot of the focus is on the tight ends.

The Pats' defense will be focusing on it as well on Sunday.

"Watson is one of the fastest tight ends in the league, so I mean, I would want to get the ball in his hands, too," said Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington.

Even with familiar faces on Cleveland's sideline, the Patriots will also be expecting some new looks from Mangini's squad. The reason? The Browns are coming off a bye week and their coaching staff has had extra time putting the game plan together.

It's the same thing the Patriots did against the Ravens in Week 6.

"You've got coaches sitting there, thinking of a thousand different things to try, since you've got a few extra days," said Crumpler. "And I'm sure they'll throw some new looks at us, just like we threw some new looks at Baltimore when we had our bye week."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: What's going on between Patriots, Butler?


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: What's going on between Patriots, Butler?

0:41 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss what’s going on between the Patriots and Malcolm Butler after Bill Belichick praised Jonathan Jones and Eric Rowe but didn’t have much to say on Butler.

5:39 - John Farrell thinks David Price out of the bullpen can be similar to Andrew Miller with the Indians last year in the playoffs. Our panel on BST break it down.

10:35 - Curran, Holley, Smith, and Phil Perry talk about the NFL ratings being down and why that continues to be.

15:15 - Evan Drellich joins BST after the Red Sox win to explain why Drew Pomeranz could be even more threatening, how good the bullpen actually is, and the offense not driving in runs.

Dorsett (knee) hoping to be able to practice this week


Dorsett (knee) hoping to be able to practice this week

FOXBORO -- The picture at wide receiver wasn't pretty for the Patriots by the time the clock hit zeros in the fourth quarter in New Orleans over the weekend. 

Chris Hogan looked hobbled for much of the second half. Phillip Dorsett left with a knee injury. Danny Amendola was ruled out well in advance of kickoff with a concussion and a knee injury. Matthew Slater was ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Brandin Cooks looked like the only Patriots wideout to finish the game feeling spry.


But as the team prepares for the Texans this week, Dorsett is hoping he'll be back on the field with his teammates for practice. 

"I feel good," Dorsett said in the Patriots locker room Monday. "Just a little sore, but I'm alright."

Not only would it help the Patriots offense to have another body available at receiver, but Dorsett understands how crucial it is for him to practice as much as possible. He was acquired in a trade with the Colts just before the season, and he knows he has work to do to get adjusted to his new offense.

"It's just me going out there and getting the plays in practice," Dorsett said when asked about his confidence level in running New England's system. "I feel like practice builds my confidence. If I get to play in practice, I feel more comfortable when it comes to the game."

Dorsett looked comfortable in Week 2, catching three passes for 68 yards. His first grab in the first quarter went for 23 yards and came on a play when Tom Brady, who was hit as he released, threw a floater down the right sideline. Dorsett alertly saw the pass falling short and worked back toward the line of scrimmage to make the catch. 

"I think he trusts me," Dorsett said of Brady. "We work a lot during practice and after practice. Hopefully we can continue to gain more trust as the season goes on. It's only the second game. We got a long way to go."

More practice time would be helpful in allowing that relationship to continue to grow. We'll see if Dorsett gets any when the Patriots take the fields behind Gillette Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.