Patriots expect the unexpected from Rob Ryan


Patriots expect the unexpected from Rob Ryan

By A. Sherrod Blakely

If you see the New England Patriots run a lot of the same stuff offensively as they did against the New York Jets, well, there will be a reason for that.

The defense that the Dallas Cowboys will throw on the field Sunday against the Patriots, literally came from the same gene pool as what the Pats saw in last Sunday's 30-21 win over the New York Jets.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is the twin brother of Jets head coach Rex Ryan who like his twin, is very much a defensive-minded coach.

"There's definitely some carryover," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Figuring out how much of that has carried over and how much will be unique to Rob Ryan, will be among the many challenges facing the Patriots and offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.

In preparing for Sunday's game, O'Brien is aware that his players will see some familiar schemes against the Cowboys.

"Obviously, with them being brothers, they talk and there's a little bit of similarity," O'Brien said. "But I would say Rob is his own guy."

Clearly Rex Ryan is the more recognizable Ryan brother, in part because of what he says and how his teams have played defensively.

But Rob Ryan, to his credit, is no slouch either.

The Cowboys come into Sunday's game ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense (291.8 yards allowed per game), and feature one of the league's top linebackers in DeMarcus Ware, a seven year veteran who is among O'Brien's biggest concerns heading into Sunday's matchup.

This season, Ware has 12 tackles and five sacks, which is tied for fourth in the NFL.

"He's definitely a guy that can affect a game," O'Brien said. "He's having a real good year. Rob Ryan and his staff, they do a great job of moving him around so you can't really get a beat on where he is."

Which is exactly what we have come to expect from the Ryan brothers.

Collins, Hightower mum on contract talks


Collins, Hightower mum on contract talks

FOXBORO – A fleet of Patriots have expiring contracts after this season but Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins are the two most prominent on that list.

With the sport being the way it is – a nearly 100-percent casualty rate every season – it’s never comfortable for a player to enter a contract year without knowing his long-term future. And it’s especially uncomfortable for players whose first contracts are expiring because the second NFL contract is usually the bonanza.

Both Hightower and Collins can entertain thoughts of contracts worth more than $50M if good fortune sticks with them.

The question as it pertains to both of these players is whether they get contract extensions this summer or whether they go into the year with contract pressure bearing down and ultimately become free agents.

Neither player was very forthcoming after their OTA practice Thursday.

With Collins, that’s often the case. He’s never been expansive with media. It was very uncharacteristic for Hightower to be so clipped in his answers, though.

Every question posed to Hightower was met with a variation of, “I’m just trying to get better.”

Asked about his contract, Hightower replied, “I ain’t got nothing to do with none of that. I’m just out here trying to get better with my teammates.”

When it was pointed out that Hightower does indeed have say on his contract, he answered, “That might be. But there’s a time and place for everything and I’m just out here trying to get better.

“If I get better I feel like that’ll take care of everything else,” he added. “If I get better each and every day that’s all I can ask for.”

Asked whether he’s at all focused on his deal, Collins replied, “No, I come out here and I handle my business and I let the rest speak for itself … My first priority is me. So I’m gonna handle me."

Ravens forfeit one week of OTAs, fined by NFL


Ravens forfeit one week of OTAs, fined by NFL

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have forfeited one week of offseason practices for violating the labor agreement on such workouts.

The NFL also fined the team an undisclosed amount Thursday.

When the Ravens had rookies and first-year players don pads at a minicamp, it was a violation of the CBA rules. The team acknowledged that on Thursday, saying: "We made a mistake and we are sorry for that. We accept the NFL discipline."

Baltimore's June 1-3 voluntary workouts have been scrapped. The team will have OTAs on June 6-9 and a mandatory minicamp June 14-16.

© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.