Smerlas: Too early to question Belichick's reputation

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Smerlas: Too early to question Belichick's reputation

Ex-NFL lineman Fred Smerlas says it's too early to question, as Michael Felger is doing, Bill Belichick's reputation as a defensive genius.

In the light of the Pats' defensive meltdown Sunday in Buffalo, Felger wondered why Belichick has the reputation as a great defensive coach. But Smerlas says this year's team is still learning to play together.

We saw a whole new group of players come in that we thought could play," he told Felger Monday on 'Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight'. "It's the third game; they haven't performed. Albert Haynesworth hasn't played as well as we thought he would. Andre Carter, we thought he'd play better. Mark Anderson, Shawn Ellis . . . So you're going to have to give them a little bit of time.

"You're right. If this does not pan out, this will be on Belichick's head because he brought these guys in.

"I feel that these players are much better than what they had last year. If they keep performing at this level, it's a disaster. But there's still plenty of time, Felgie."

Fridays' Patriots-Ravens practice report: Richards returns to the field

Fridays' Patriots-Ravens practice report: Richards returns to the field

Friday's practice participation/injury report for Monday night's Patriots-Ravens game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
TE Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder)
DB Jordan Richards (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (hamstring)
DB Eric Rowe (hamstring)
WR/SpT Matthew Slater (foot)

BALTIMORE RAVENS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Crockett Gilmore (thigh)
LB Terrell Suggs (not injury related)
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh)
C Jeremy Zuttah (not injury related)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
G Alex Lewis (ankle)

FULL PARTICIPATION
G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

Mitchell rising fast but somehow totally unaware of fantasy football

Mitchell rising fast but somehow totally unaware of fantasy football

FOXBORO -- It seems unlikely that a 23-year-old who has spent much of his life around sports would be unaware of how fantasy football works. But Malcolm Mitchell insisted on Friday that he was that 23-year-old. 

Over the past seven days, Mitchell has been the second-most added player in ESPN.com fantasy leagues behind only Steelers tight end Ladarius Green. The rookie wideout went undrafted in many fantasy leagues before the start of the regular season, but his production has spiked over the last three weeks making him one of a hot commodity for people headed into the fantasy playoffs.

In wins over the Niners, Jets and Rams, Mitchell has caught 17 passes for 222 yards and three scores. 

"I have family members mention it, but I never know what they're talking about," Mitchell said when asked if he was asked about his newfound popularity among fans of fantasy football. "I'm not sure how that works. If someone said it, I'd probably have no idea what it means."

A fewer lockers down from Mitchell is the stall of rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who cut into Mitchell's back-and-forth with reporters joking, "I've got him on my team!"

Mitchell's confusion over the phenomenon that is fantasy football seemed to be genuine as he asked questions about how teams operate and what fantasy free-agency means. 

Those who've picked him up probably don't mind that Mitchell is in the dark on the subject -- and the same goes for the Patriots coaching staff, it's safe to assume -- as long as he continues to do his job as well as he's done it in recent weeks.