Belichick: Patriots need to be aware of Witten


Belichick: Patriots need to be aware of Witten

By A. Sherrod Blakely

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 Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Patriots celebrate 15-year anniversary of 2001 team with videos, Hall exhibit


Patriots celebrate 15-year anniversary of 2001 team with videos, Hall exhibit

The Patriots have announced a series of initiatives to celebrate the 2001 Super Bowl championship team on the 15th aniversary of their title-winning season.

Throughout the course of the 2016 season, the Patriots will feature special content online and on Patriots All-Access that will lead up to Dec. 4, when Gillette Stadium will host a reunion of the 2001 team during halftime of the Patriots-Rams regular-season matchup. 

The Patriots have already featured images of moments from the 2001 campaign on tickets for their eight regular-season home games. They'll also have a special exhibit dedicated to the 2001 team at The Hall at Patriot Place beginning in the fall. In addition, issues of Patriots Football Weekly this year will include posters of shots from the 2001 season. 

"The Super Bowl XXXVI win over the Rams was the first championship for our team and will always hold a very special place in our hearts," Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement. "The victory made everyone that ever wore a Patriots uniform or rooted for the Patriots on the bleachers at Foxboro Stadium feel proud to be a fan. I know I am looking forward to reliving some of those great memories throughout the 2016 season."

The Patriots said that video vignettes of the 2001 season will launch this week on Twitter and Facebook as well as on

Mayo: Patriots QB situation has him thinking back to 2008

Mayo: Patriots QB situation has him thinking back to 2008

Jerod Mayo looks at the looming quarterback situation for the Patriots and can’t help thinking back to his rookie season.

The former Patriots linebacker who graduated (ahem) to co-hosting “Quick Slants” with me on Monday nights, was asked how drastic the impact of Brady’s four-game suspension will be.

“I still remember 2008, my rookie year, in the first game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs and Tom tears his ACL,” said Mayo. “Matt Cassel, at the same point, had zero starts just like Jimmy Garoppolo and we won 11 games. I know we missed the playoffs, but we still won 11 games and that’s something.”

Asked what the message Bill Belichick gave the team in the wake of Brady’s injury and what Mayo anticipates the message being now, Mayo answered, “Honestly, it’s so cliché but it’s that ‘next man up’ mentality and the depth of the team that Bill Belichick builds, you just can’t top it.”

Later in the show, Mayo indicated he wouldn’t be surprised if the team did add a little more quarterback depth in camp. In 2015, the team brought on both Ryan Lindley and Matt Flynn as a cushion behind Brady and Garoppolo.