Ravens defense still dangerous without Suggs

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Ravens defense still dangerous without Suggs

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady is probably not broken up about the fact he won't see Terrell Suggs on Sunday.
But the Patriots quarterback managed his usual diplomatic approach when asked about Suggs this week. He couldn't have been more complimentary of the Ravens linebacker, who's currently relegated to PUP with an Achilles injury.
"You know, their defense, its interesting because over the years theyve lost key players and they fill different guys in and different guys play different roles," Brady said. "He's a phenomenal player and he's been very durable over his career. Weve played him multiple times."
There are plenty of other threats for Brady to worry about, anyway.
"They're still getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback and applying different blitz schemes to get pressure," he said. "Haloti Ngata is almost impossible to block at times. They like to get their safeties involved. They like to get Lardarius Webb involved. Everybody is a blitzer and thats the kind of scheme it is. Therere different playmakers and they know how to use them and they know what they like. Id like to blitz a lot of those guys, too, if I was how good they are at getting to the quarterback."
Bill Belichick also noted Batlimore's defensive turnover. The coach said the influx of contributions from new sources isn't just from rookies like Courtney Upshaw, but from established players who are coming into their own, like Webb.
"They lost Jarret Johnson and Suggs is out, so theyve had to make some changes there at the end of the line of scrimmage, however you want to look at it -- Sam, crash end, rush end, that type of thing. Haloti Ngata has been a big force for them inside and continues to be. Theyre very strong down the middle with Ngata and Ed Reed and Lewis of course.
"There are some new faces, some old faces and some guys that are entering their third, fourth, fifth seasons that are starting to emerge as solid players in their defense. Thats a big turnover like any team though, its not surprising from the last time we went down there and played them as an example, a lot of guys that arent on their defense anymore, but thats true of almost any team if you look five, six years back. But that was a great defense going back to their championship year and most of those players have been replaced; not Ray."
Ah, yes. Ray. Has anyone been more durable?
The 2012 season is No. 17 for Lewis. He's played in 12 or fewer games in just three of them (five in 2002, six in 2005, 12 in 2011). So Lewis is not only featured on the posters kids like Upshaw tacked to the wall and worshipped a decade ago, he's lining up next to Upshaw on defense at age 37.
"Rays smart, very smart, studies hard, very well prepared and he has good physical ability and he has great instincts for the game," said Belichick. "He anticipates well, has great instincts for the feel for the game and timing and anticipation and things like that. Of course, a lot of that is his preparation and film study and experience and so forth, but you put all those things together, I think they all add up."
New England has done the math. No Suggs, no problem? Not even close.

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

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Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."