Belichick acknowledges looming scheme changes

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Belichick acknowledges looming scheme changes

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots InsiderFollow @tomecurran
FOXBORO- Last week, Bill Belichick pished-poshedtheflurry of speculation about whether his team will run a 3-4 defense or a 4-3. He did that despite the fact he hired the most devastating 4-3 DT in the league, Albert Haynesworth (when he feels like it), has been running a ton of four-man fronts in practice and that recently released Ty Warren said it's clear the team is changing to a 4-3 set. Belichick's contention is that it really doesn't matter how many guys are in three-point stances at the front of the defense. What matters is their alignment and marching orders.OK. Point taken. But as the pass-rushing 4-3 defensive ends and defensive tackles with pocket-crashing ability stack up like cord wood here at Gillette Stadium, Belichick acknowledged on Monday that, yeah, things may look a little differently. This past weekend the Patriots added Andre Carter, a pass-rushing specialist at defensive end. Asked about Carter's strength Belichick said, "Last year with(when Carter was with Washington)they went to a 3-4 defense and it wasn't a good fit for him in that system.But we feel like with what we'll be asking him to do this year, as opposed to what he was asked to do last year and what we've seen him do in the first nine years of his career that we could use his ability on the edge and (we felt he could ) be effective."Ah-HA! So there you have it. Carter sucked in the 3-4, he's been hired to play here where his skills will be a better fit, hence...no 3-4. I am ... a super sleuth. Here's the thing though - and this is the point Belichick is trying to makeby being persnickety about the front- just because Carter has 4-3 defensive end attributes (the ability to get upfield, beat left tackles 1-on-1 and get to the quarterback), doesn't mean the Patriots are going away totally from their 3-4 roots. They will switch and mix and match. And sometimes Carter will be at the end in a 4-3. And other times, Shaun Ellis will be at the end in a 3-4. Down, distance, matchups, time left in the game, field position, injuries and personnel are going to figure in. Adding Carter, Ellis, Mark Anderson and Haynesworth allows them to be more versatile. That's all. "I don't think the defensive philosophy's gonna change," Belichick added. "How we align and how we handle the responsibilities could definitely change by game plan or by what we feel are our strengths and weaknesses, but I don't think fundamentally our philosophy and techniques will change. I think what we're teaching, we'll continue to teach and use on a very consistent basis. How we want to move guys around or put them in certain formations ...I think there's flexibility there."What this whole conversation comes down to is this: "Will the Patriots become an attacking defense? Will they remain a read and react defense?""We have an assortment of things to choose from from my time here and depending on how our teams shapes up, what some of these players can do (will help decide the scheme). Some of these players I'venever coached before so I'm not sure exactly how they'll fit in or what roles they'll play in this defense. We'll just have to wait and see how that turns out. I think we'll have enough defense where we'll be able to."It certainly seems that way. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Jamie Collins says he'll play quarterback for Patriots if they need him

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Jamie Collins says he'll play quarterback for Patriots if they need him

FOXBORO -- It's looking more and more like the Patriots will have options at quarterback Sunday against the Bills. Both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett threw at practice on Wednesday, and it appears that at least one of them, if not both, will be available for the final game of Tom Brady's suspension. 

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman is the likely candidate to jump behind center should the team run into an emergency, but on Wednesday another player threw his hat into the ring. 

"Yeah, I'll play," said linebacker Jamie Collins. "Whatever it is. I don't care what the level is. I don't care what the level is. Whatever it is they need me to do, I'm doing it."

That would be some kind of show.

At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, and with remarkable closing speed, Collins would be an intimidating run-first signal-caller. He's listed at two inches shorter and five pounds heavier than Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, and his NFL Scouting Combine 40-yard dash time was only 0.05 seconds slower than Newton's. 

Just to take this pie-in-the-sky idea even further, Collins can throw, too. Or he could at one point in time. He played quarterback at Franklin County High in Meadville, Miss. before heading off to Southern Mississippi to play all over the Golden Eagles defense. As a high school senior, he cracked 1,000 yards both on the ground and through the air.

Asked if he saw himself back then as a future star in the NFL as a passer, Collins shook his head.

"Nah," he said. "I ain't even see myself as a quarterback in the NFL."

The Patriots would be just fine with Collins sticking at linebacker. He had one of the best games of his career against the Texans last week, racking up 14 tackles and picking off Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler. He also made the calls in the middle of the defense, which is a job that typically falls to Dont'a Hightower, but Collins took over with Hightower out with a knee injury.

"Jamie Collins, he's a beast, man," said safety Duron Harmon after the game. "I tell you what, I've seen a lot of football players play, and he's definitely one of my favorite players to just watch. You just get caught up sometimes seeing all the amazing stuff he does on the field, you just sit in awe. I'm so happy he's on my team, I'll tell you that."

And the team is happy he's at linebacker. But imagine him at quarterback?

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)