Patriots smart to be wary of Buffalo's backup

191543.jpg

Patriots smart to be wary of Buffalo's backup

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- For the second time in two years, 27-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick is being given the reins of the Buffalo Bills. But instead of replacing an injured Number One, this time he is being asked to perform better than the healthy-but-struggling Trent Edwards.

It would be a lot of pressure for the quarterback of the new-look Bills anyway, even if Fitzpatrick's first start of 2010 wasn't coming against the New England Patriots. But it is, so it's a good thing he's smart. Ivy League smart.

Tom Brady is just one of many people who is aware of it.

"I got a General Studies degree from Michigan, barely,'' Brady laughed. "He's one of those Harvard guys . . . we've had a few of those around here. We're not getting into a math contest, thank God.''

No, the two QBs won't be facing off on the Wonderlic this Sunday. But the best quarterbacks are smart -- they're quick thinkers and proficient problem-solvers -- and Fitzpatrick's Harvard education won't hurt in that capacity. It's also important to remember that his Finance degree isn't what's earned him a starting job in the NFL this week. Fitzpatrick is a good football player. He's the kind of guy Bill Belichick would never underestimate.

"Hes a strong-armed guy, can get the ball down the field. He has a little more experience. Hes been in a couple different systems,'' New England's coach remarked. "Hes a smart guy, handles himself well. He's a good quarterback. We had a hard time with him last year there.''

The Patriots did win that December game, 17-10, but Fitzpatrick didn't make it easy for them. The quarterback kept Buffalo in the game by finding Lee Evans for a fourth-quarter touchdown and some late-game agitation for New England's defense. It was impressive that Fitzpatrick stayed tough; the Patriots sacked him four times that day.

On Wednesday, Belichick didn't credit his team's pressure to any weakness of The Crimson Kid.

"I dont think it was specific to Fitzpatrick. If guys come free up front, then they come free. I think hes a relatively mobile, athletic guy. This week will be a new challenge,'' he said. "I dont think that's really an issue with him. He's a tough guy. He'll stand there in the pocket. Every quarterback gets hit sooner or later.''

Patriots safety Patrick Chung was also complimentary of Buffalo's backup.

"Obviously we know he's a running quarterback,'' Chung remarked. "He can run it, he can pass it, he's got a strong arm . . . He's smart. There's a lot of fast guys at Harvard; he was one of them. He's a good player.''

A smart player. A good player. A guy who will be playing to earn a starting role. The Patriots would be wise not to undervalue the geek on the gridiron this Sunday. It sounds like they won't.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Bennett to critics: ‘You take a paycut’

Bennett to critics: ‘You take a paycut’

Martellus Bennett is as good at Twitter as he is at football. Add to that the fact that all eyes are on whether the free agent will stay in New England and the @MartysaurusRex account becomes a must-follow. 

On Wednesday, Bennett put his powers to good use and shared a glimpse into his line of thinking regarding free agency.

Bennett, who could very well leave the Pats for more money, responded to a criticism of his desire to get paid and followed it with several more musings. 

Report: Belichick may be called to testify in Hernandez trial

Report: Belichick may be called to testify in Hernandez trial

Bill Belichick, identified as "William Belichick," has been added to the list of potential defense witnesses who could testify during the upcoming double-homicide trial of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, according to the Boston Herald.

Per the Herald, the new list of potential witnesses for the defense also includes Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, who was Hernandez's teammate at the University of Florida. 

Belichick, McDaniels and Pouncey aren't guaranteed to testify, but their presence on the civilian witness list makes their presence in court a possibility. 

Hernandez's trial is scheduled to start next Wednesday. He's accused of killing Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu and Safiro Furtado back in July of 2012. Hernandez is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted of the murder Odin Lloyd in 2013.