Setting the table for Patriots-Texans

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Setting the table for Patriots-Texans

Idle Friday thoughts while cleaning out the desk drawer of my mind and riffling through Springsteen and Neil Young lyrics to find something apt to apply to this weekend's game at Gillette Field.

Wade Phillips dawdled into a verbal snafu Thursday when he used the words "not" and "a real athletic guy" when discussing Wes Welker. Phillips was actually describing Welker in relation to A.J. Green, who is 6-foot-4 and can jump out of the gym. Wes Welker is 5-9 and cannot jump out of the gym. "Ah, Welkers not Green, Phillips said. Hes a good player, but hes not that big or a real athletic guy. Hes a quick guy that gets open on option routes. The perceived slight on Welker was quickly seized upon forcing Phillips to take to Twitter to stomp out flames of indignation.

Wade Phillips @sonofbum Wes Welker is a great athlete and one of the best receivers of all time- twistthataround
Twitter. It's a helluva place.
It's been amusing this week to listen to the media weigh in on what players should and shouldn't use for motivation. Ummm, they're the players... they can use whatever they want.

You think Gary Kubiak doesn't know how to brain battle and get into some gamesmanship with the Patriots? The Texans head coach strayed from his customary sharing of injury information early in the week. Asked the status of tight end Garrett Graham, Kubiak said, "Were going to talk about injuries on Wednesday. So well update you guys. Thatll be the first time well talk about that.

Why? "Ive got a new philosophy, thats what I was told," Kubiak replied. "That was my philosophy, starting today so thats my philosophy. Well talk about it on Wednesday.The Patriots, you may have heard, are less forthcoming than most teams about injuries.

With both Brian Kelly (Everett) and Chip Kelly (Manch-vegas, New Hampshire) and Bill O'Brien (Dorchester) all being courted for NFL head coaching jobs - and opting to stay at Notre Dame, Oregon and Penn State respectively, the tide of coaches with New England (mainly Massachusetts) ties taking over top spots in the NFL was stemmed a bit. In addition to those three, Medway's Pete Carmichael (offensive assistant for the Saints) was in the mix and could soon get his shot at a head job. And the Dolphins staff is littered with Mass guys led by head coach Joe Philbin (Springfield), OC Mike Sherman (Norwood), line coach Jim Turner (Braintree), wide receivers coach Ken O'Keefe (Worcester Academy), and strength coach Dave Puloka (Arlington).

The key player on the NFC side of the playoffs? Justin Smith. The Niners defensive tackle left the game against the Patriots with a torn triceps and the decline of the San Fran defense was breathtaking. He'll be back for the Divisional Playoff game against the Packers, but what level he can play at may determine whether San Fran has another game next week.

It will be interesting to see what happens next with Armond Armstead, the defensive tackle the Patriots worked out earlier this week. Armstead went undrafted in 2012 after having a star-crossed college career at USC. Released by the CFL's Toronto Argonauts (reportedly by mutual agreement if an NFL opportunity arose), Armstead had six sacks for Toronto this past season. The 6-5, 298-pound Armstead is not eligible to be added to the Patriots roster during the playoffs because of NFLCFL rules. He could be a target for 2013, though.

Wow. The Jets Mike Westhoff, their retiring special teams coach, carpet-bombed the organization on the radio Friday morning. Given the performance of the Jets special teams in 2012, this is one of those pot-calling-the-kettle-a-glass-house deals. Here's a route to the full audio from The Joe Rose Show.

The always insightful Matt Bowen from National Football Post goes inside the Xs and Os of the Patriots play-action game against the Texans. The question to me is whether Wade Phillips has it in him to back off his blitzing nature and drop more guys into coverage and make Tom Brady process more defenders. If he doesn't, the Texans are meat.

The more I consider this Patriots-Texans game, the more I believe it won't be the same blowout as last time. Patriots 41, Texans 14.

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

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Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.

PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

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PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

Tom E. Curran has Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports as a guest to discuss the Aaron Hernandez double homicide trial. Wetzel has been in the courtroom, and wrote this piece about the day Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified in court. 

After speaking with Wetzel, Curran has Tim Rohan of MMQB.com on to discuss his day with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

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