Pats lining things up on defense

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Pats lining things up on defense

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
FOXBORO The New England Patriots continue to stockpile defensive linemen, which isn't unusual this time of year.

But these defensive linemen aren't your garden variety, hope-to-make-the-53-man-roster types.

They can play.

They can play well.

And they can make an immediate impact, which is exactly what the Patriots are looking for from a pair of recently signed defensive ends, Andre Carter (6-foot-4, 255) and Shaun Ellis (6-5, 290).

While the albatross of expectations isn't necessarily draped across the massive shoulders of Carter and Ellis, there's little doubt both are expected to contribute.

"Any player we bring on to the team, we feel can help our team," said Pats coach Bill Belichick.

Of the two, look for Ellis to be more productive.

"Shaun's played a lot of good football against us," Belichick said of Ellis, who spent the past 11 seasons with the Pats' nemesis, the New York Jets. "Very durable player, and very consistent. It seems like every time we play them, he lines up there and we have a hard time with him."

Drafted by the Jets with the 12th overall pick in 2000 out of Tennessee, Ellis has been a mainstay in the Jets' attacking 3-4 scheme. In 170 career regular-season games, he has started 156 times while racking up 552 tackles, 72.5 sacks, 13 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

His play earned him a pair (2003, 2009) of Pro Bowl berths.

While Carter's impact is a bit more uncertain, the 10-year veteran - 5 years in San Francisco and the last 5 in Washington - has been a starter for the bulk of his career.

In 149 career games, he has started 133 times with a total of 517 tackles, 66 sacks, 30 passes defended, 15 forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the seventh overall pick in 2001, Carter has had three double-digit sack seasons which included a career-high 12.5 during the 2002 season with the 49ers.

Having coached his father, Rubin, Belichick is very familiar with the player - as well as the person.

"Andre Carter's a player I spent a lot of time with prior to him coming out of the draft," said Belichick, who coached Rubin Carter while an assistant coach with the Denver Broncos in 1978. "He's a high quality individual, very professional, works hard."

And that hard work will be put to the test early and often now that he's part of a New England team that has a bevy of defensive linemen.

"That's just competition," Belichick said. "We're always looking for competition."

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

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”