Belichick: Patriots need to be aware of Witten

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Belichick: Patriots need to be aware of Witten

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

Another week, another talented tight end up for the New England Patriots to face.

But this week's talented tight end - Dallas' Jason Witten - presents a host of challenges for the Patriots in both the passing and running game.

"He's outstanding," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "He's a guy you have to be aware of, all the time. The big thing that separates Witten from a lot of tight ends is his blocking ability. He's a very good point-of-attack blocker."

Despite their record, the Cowboys (2-2) are among the NFL's top teams offensively.

They average 417.8 yards of total offense per game, which ranks sixth in the NFL.

And while the 7-time Pro Bowler plays a vital role in the Cowboys running attack, his ability as a pass-catcher is even more impressive. He leads the Cowboys in catches (27) and yards receiving (366) this season, getting it done in a variety of ways.

"He's good on the short routes; he's a hard guy to tackle. He's good on the intermediate routes and he can get down field," Belichick said. "He's really a complete player."

But Witten isn't the first talented tight end the Patriots have faced this season.

In Week 2, San Diego's Antonio Gates came in as one of the NFL's leading receivers among tight ends.

Against the Patriots, he didn't have a single catch.

In Sunday's 30-21 win over the New York Jets, New York came in with one of the league's better tight end targets in Dustin Keller.

After averaging more than three catches and nearly 50 yards receiving prior to facing the Patriots, the New England defense limited Keller to just one catch for seven yards.

Gates and Keller may be both be talented, but containing Witten - Tony Romo's favorite target - will be an even bigger challenge for the Pats.

"Witten really is an outstanding player," Belichick said. "He's one of the best tight ends in the league, no question."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Bryan Stork: 'Nothing but great memories' with Patriots

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Bryan Stork: 'Nothing but great memories' with Patriots

After being traded to the Washington Redskins this week, former Patriots center Bryan Stork broke his 35-day Twitter silence to say farewell to New England.

For those who are wondering, the acronym "HTTR" stands for "Hail to the Redskins," the team's fight song. #HTTR is used by the team and fans on social media.

Stork was reportedly mulling retirement after being dealt, but has decided to report. 

The Patriots informed Stork of his release early Wednesday, but the Patriots and Redskins were able to work out a deal for a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick before the move was processed.

Ratto: Kaepernick controversy touches on hot-button issues in an ugly political year

Ratto: Kaepernick controversy touches on hot-button issues in an ugly political year

Ray Ratto joins Chevrolet SportsNet Central to discuss Colin Kaepernick's decision to not stand during the national anthem before the San Francisco 49ers preseason game.

Belichick says all three QBs could use more game reps

Belichick says all three QBs could use more game reps

Bill Belichick was expansive Saturday when asked on a conference call how he'll split the quarterback reps for the Patriots final preseason game Thursday in New York.

"I think that’s a good question, it’s a fair question, it’s one that we really have to give some good consideration to," Belichick began. "As I said before, I think whatever we do will benefit whoever does it. We want to get Jimmy [Garoppolo] ready for the Arizona game. Tom [Brady] isn’t going to be playing for a while, so it’s kind of his last chance to play until he comes back after a few weeks. Jacoby [Brissett] certainly could use all the playing time that he can get. I think that whichever players we play will benefit from it and it will be valuable to them. We could play all three quarterbacks a lot next week and they’d all benefit from that and it would all be good, but we can’t."

Since they can't, Belichick said there will be situational work done with whoever isn't going to get the game reps.

"We only have one game and so many snaps, so we’ll have to, between practice and the game, put them in some situations that are somewhat controllable like a two-minute situation or things like that that you know are going to kind of come up one way or another," said Belichick. "You can sort of control those in how you want those broken down, what’s best, what does each guy need and how can we get the best we need for each guy. I need to let them get the reps that they need, but it’s how do we get the team ready for what they need to be ready for. They all need to get ready for different things.

What Jimmy’s role is in a couple weeks is going to be a lot different than what Tom’s is, and it’s going to be a lot different than what Jacoby’s is. At some point later on, those roles are going to change again. So again, there’s no perfect solution to it. We’ll just do the best we can to try to have our individual players and our team as well prepared as possible at whatever point that is that we have to deal with, and whenever those situations come up."

As I wrote earlier today, this is the sticky and uncomfortable situation arising from Deflategate. It's not a Tom Brady penalty. It's a team penalty when one considers the ripple effects. And there's no handbook to consult.