Patriots await Pro Bowl voting results


Patriots await Pro Bowl voting results

By MaryPaoletti

The NFL Pro Bowl teams will be announced Tuesday night. In a conference call Tuesday afternoon, Both Nick Caserio and Bill Belichick were asked about how they thought the Patriots players should and would fare in the voting.

"I think it's hard to reward every player that's here," Caserio said. "The Pro Bowl, it is what it is. It's a fan vote. It's a player vote. There are a number of things that go into it. I'd say that there are a number of players this year that have made a significant contribution to our team in some capacity.

"It's nice to be recognized league-wide, but the most important thing is the recognition they receive and the respect that they receive from the players that they are with on a day-to-day basis. I think our players . . . you can ask them what they think, but I think its nice just when you get contributions from as many players and you can within your program, and you want them to do well and be successful."

Unsurprisingly, Jerod Mayo was mentioned when talking about the league's best players. Mayo leads the NFL in tackles by a margin of 14 (169 total). The linebacker had some particularly punishing hits in New England's 34-3 win over Buffalo on Sunday.

Belichick said that, while he isn't sure how the entire field stacks up, Mayo and some of his teammates deserve the nod.

"Jerod's done a very nice job as a captain, providing a lot of plays on the field and a lot of leadership and preparation off the field,'' the coach said. "I havent seen all the players play - just the ones weve played against and Im familiar with them, but I know there are a lot of other outstanding players in the league. If I could vote for our own players, Id vote for a lot of them, but, again, the people that see them all play Well see how it all comes out. But, hes certainly done a good job for us and hes had a real good season."

Other players commended by the coaching staff on Tuesday? Tom Brady, of course. The Patriots quarterback seems to be setting records every time he takes the field this season. In Buffalo, Brady reached 319 consecutive passes attempted without an interception to surpass Bernie Kosar's previous record (309).

Caserio couldn't help but but give credit.

"Tom is probably one of the most prepared players. He prepares as hard as anybody on our team and anybody in the league. He makes good decisions with the football. I think one of the most important things as a quarterback is you want to try to make good decisions with the football. You have to make them quickly. Theyre going to be under duress.

"He wants to be perfect. He tries to be perfect on every throw," Caserio continued. "In the end, Tom is the one thats pulling the trigger and hes very diligent and very conscious taking care of the football. Quite frankly, its a remarkable achievement and its a credit to him."

Not even Brady's battle with the flu could keep the QB down in Week 15. And he wasn't the only one fighting. Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Deaderick and James Sanders also missed time for being sick.

So how does a team to get by this season?

"Its fairly common; it can go around. Weve had some of that,'' Belichick said. "What the exact diagnosis of it is and all that, I dont really have a whole lot to add as far as the symptoms and the strand of it and so forth. But our medical staff takes care of it the best they can and the players have to do as much as they can to stay healthy at this time of year."

Doling out flu shots might be the only part of team maintenance that Belichick isn't involved in.

According to defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, the Patriots boss does it all. Johnson didn't even hesitate when asked about New England's success despite not having a defensive coordinator.

"I think we have the ultimate defensive coordinator in Bill Belichick," he stated. "He will always be my coach, to me. With him just coming in and some of the things he does in our meeting rooms, and just orchestrating the meetings, with the players and the tips and all that stuff, to me it's priceless."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Van Noy: 'I was shocked" to be traded from Lions to Patriots

Van Noy: 'I was shocked" to be traded from Lions to Patriots

FOXBORO -- It's not often that NFL teams make deals before the trade deadline. Seeing starters get dealt before the deadline is a veritable rarity. It's no wonder linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who started in all seven Lions games this season, reacted the way he did when he was dealt to the Patriots earlier this week.

"I was shocked to go from starting there to traded," Van Noy said during his first back-and-forth with Patriots reporters. "I was shocked. I respect everybody with the Detroit Lions, they'll all be my guys there. Just grateful for the opportunity to come here and get it going."

Van Noy has been working closely with Patriots linebackers and linebackers coach Brian Flores since his arrival, even getting some last-minute notes from Flores before meeting with reporters and heading out to Thursday's practice. 

The 6-foot-3, 243-pounder wasn't completely unfamiliar with the operation in New England before being sent to Foxboro along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-rounder. He admitted he had "a lot" of contact with the Patriots before being taken in the second round by Detroit.  

Now he's playing "catch-up" to learn the Patriots playbook, which could include learning multiple positions within the team's defense. He played mostly as an off-the-line linebacker in Detroit, but when he entered into the league out of BYU, he was considered to have the tools to be a productive pass-rusher as a pro. 

Van Noy, who lost about 15 pounds going into this season, indicated that the Lions didn't get the most out of him because of how he was used. 

"I mean, they didn't know where to put me," he said. "Here, they want me here, and I'm happy to be wanted." 

Van Noy was injured for much of his rookie season and had a hard time making an impact last year. He was relied upon to fill a more substantial role this season, playing in 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps. It's unclear just how Van Noy will fit in as a member of the Patriots, but he says he's willing to do whatever it takes to work his way back up another depth chart.

"I'm here now, and I'm gonna do whatever they have me [do], and whatever they want my weight to be at," he said. "Whatever they want me to do I'm gonna do it because I want to win and be part of this team."

Patriots running back Dion Lewis (knee) returns to practice

Patriots running back Dion Lewis (knee) returns to practice

FOXBORO -- Dion Lewis returned to practice for the Patriots on Thursday afternoon. He has not practiced all season and has been on the physically unable to perform list since before the start of training camp.

The clock has now started on the deadline for the Patriots to activate Lewis. The team has three weeks to place him on their 53-man roster. Should the Patriots make the most of that window, they would not activate him until the days leading up to their Week 11 game against the 49ers. He is eligible to be activated as soon as this week and could, in theory, be on the roster for this weekend's matchup with the Bills. The Patriots have an open roster spot at the moment. 

Lewis suffered a torn ACL in Week 9 of last season and was progressing well until enduring a stress fracture to his patella. In order to repair the fracture, Lewis underwent a surgical procedure that required screws to be inserted to the affected area. 

On Thursday, the Patriots conducted practice in full pads, and the media availbility portion of the session included only stretching and warmups so Lewis was not seen participating in drills. 

Lewis established himself as one of the most dynamic backs in the league last season, catching 36 passes for 388 yards and two scores. He also averaged 4.8 yards per carry and ran for two scores, forcing 43 missed tackles in seven games.