Patriots await Pro Bowl voting results

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Patriots await Pro Bowl voting results

By MaryPaoletti
CSNNE.com

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 mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Hogan 'feeling good' as he recovers from thigh injury

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Hogan 'feeling good' as he recovers from thigh injury

FOXBORO -- Patriots wideout Chris Hogan indicated after Saturday's divisional round win over the Texans that he'd be OK, and he doubled down on that stance when meeting with reporters Tuesday. 

The veteran receiver, whose first season with the Patriots has brought his first career postseason experience, injured his thigh against Houston. He left in the third quarter and did not return. 

"Feeling good," Hogan said. "Just had a little minor setback in the game. I'm working back every single day and feeling better every day."

Hogan had an awkward collision with Texans defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney at the end of the first half on a play at the goal line. To that point, he had reeled in four passes for 95 yards as the team's primary deep threat. With Hogan out, Brady relied upon Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd as wideouts.

Hogan explained that he was expecting to practice this week.

"I'm just gonna go day by day," he said. "Come in here tomorrow. Everything's been feeling better day by day. I'm looking forward to getting out there and practicing this week."

Strahan picks Steelers to upset Patriots in AFC Championship

Strahan picks Steelers to upset Patriots in AFC Championship

Michael Strahan saw the Patriots lose a Super Bowl first-hand, but he doesn’t think they’ll lose Super Bowl LI. That’s because he doesn’t think they’ll be participants. 

Appearing on The Tonight Show, the former Giants defensive end and current Person Who is Frequently on Television said that he expects the Steelers to upset the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship.

“I think in the AFC, I think Pittsburgh might pull the upset this year,” Strahan said. 

When Jimmy Fallon objected, Strahan said Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ pass rush would be enough to beat the Pats if New England plays the way it did in the divisional round. 
 
“If you watched the Houston Texans, they had a shot; they just turned the ball over,” he said. “And the Houston Texans offense is in no way, shape or form near what Pittsburgh has. They don’t have the quarterback that [Pittsburgh has]. Defensively, Houston had the really good defense, but Pittsburgh [puts] the good pressure on the quarterback. And from my Super Bowl experience, Tom Brady does not like pressure. I’m just saying I feel like if there’s anybody who’s going to pull an upset, it will be them.” 

As for any rooting interest, Strahan said that he hopes the Falcons win the Super Bowl, citing Matt Ryan being overdue for a title and Julio Jones having a Brady-like quality of putting team goals before his own legacy.