If Only Holmgren, Kraft Had Known [6:00 AM]
Hartford Courant reports: 'It won't happen now. If Tom Brady, 24, keeps playing the way he has, the Patriots will be left to ponder if they should trade the league's hottest young quarterback for a couple of first-round draft choices, or stake their future on Brady and figure out if there's a way to unload Bledsoe without taking a huge salary cap hit.'
Bills (1-6) At Patriots (4-4) [5:59 AM]
Hartford Courant reports: 'The last three Patriots-Bills games have gone to overtime. All were decided by a field goal.'
Pats wear new label: They're favorites [5:52 AM]
Providence Journal reports: '"People talk about Flutie running around all the time, but Johnson is the second-leading rusher on their team," said New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "He's able to scramble. He's a very gifted athlete. He's got a big arm. He'll take off and run. They've sort of got the same type of offense with him as with Flutie."'
Playoff talk a stretch? Maybe not [5:50 AM]
Providence Journal reports: 'Are the playoffs in the Patriots' future? Who knows? But if they're going to make a run, it starts today.'
CMGi Field rapidly taking shape [5:49 AM]
Providence Journal reports: '"It's a modern looking facility, but with a very traditional twist," Wasynczuk said. "We felt New England is a very traditional area and that's reinforced with the style of the building."'
The school of hard knocks [5:36 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'He HAS played well when healthy. He's completed more than 60 percent of his passes for Buffalo, and is averaging a robust 6.83 yards per pass attempt this season on 102 completions in 190 throws. He's also rushed for 223 yards, second among NFL QBs this season. All of which has impressed Bills fans not at all. It was Johnson's ultimate misfortune to be an injury-prone quarterback whose backup was the charisimatic and resourceful Doug Flutie.'
A real self-starter [5:33 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'One significant difference between Williams and Belichick is that the Pats coach has the final say in all New England player personnel decisions. Williams must defer to Bills' GM Tom Donahoe. And Williams wouldn't have it any other way. ``The first thing about this job is that I'm doing it here with Tom,'' Williams said. ``I think football's like any other business. You have to be able to work together. If you can, anything else doesn't matter."'
The old master [5:31 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'It's known as the look of love, and that admiring gleam is never so apparent as when Patriots coach Bill Belichick is asked to address the unusual longevity of Otis Smith. Not only has the 36-year-old cornerback avoided the sort of decline that normally begins nipping at players in his position at a much younger age.'
Trying for a home run [5:26 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'Forget the bogus 18-man injury report Bill Belichick put out for reasons he never will explain. When the Patriots start the second half of the season today against the Buffalo Bills, the majority of those 18 will play. In fact, many of them didn't even know they were injured when asked.'
Refresh your memories of a record-setting Patriots ground game [5:25 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'In 1976, the Patriots rushed for 2,948 yards and averaged a phenomenal 5.0 yards per rush. 1n 1978, when they set the 16-game record for total yardage, they averaged 4.7 yards per carry. With those marks, they established themselves as one of the best teams ever at running the ball, even though it didn't stay in the minds of some of their fans for very long.'
Hot QB battle could be fiery camp story [5:23 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'The Drew Bledsoe-Tom Brady competition at quarterback will not be a problem in the second half of a season that has begun with a surprisingly decent 4-4 record for the Patriots and a remarkable 4-2 run for Brady. But there is a real chance it will flare up next summer, when all things will again be equal.'
Bills say farewell to obnoxious Foxboro [5:16 AM]
D and C reports: 'The Patriots begin play in a shiny new facility being built next door starting in 2002. For many players, it's good riddance to the old place, but for some it's a fond farewell. After all, this has been the scene of some of the most memorable games in Bills' history, a college-type atmosphere that will soon be lost in the name of corporate suites and seats with cup holders.'
Q & A with Bryce Fisher [5:15 AM]
D and C reports: 'Q: What's the worst thing about football? A: "The losing. I hate losing, I've never been good at it, it's terrible. I don't recommend it for anybody. We put so much effort into it, you put everything into trying to be good."'
Scouting report [5:13 AM]
D and C reports: 'Protect Johnson. It's the same old story, but here we go again. The guy can play if his line just gives him a chance.'
Robert Hicks trying to get new start with Texans [3:37 PM]
AP reports: The Texans will continue occasional tryout sessions until Dec. 27, when they can begin signing players for the team that will begin play next season.
Robert Hicks, who started seven games for the Buffalo Bills last season, is looking for a new start. `It's a new beginning for me,'' Hicks said. ``I'm blessed to be able to come down here and show this team what I have. It's like a rebirth for me.''
Jennings, Ostroski ready to hold the line [9:19 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Both Jerry Ostroski and Jonas Jennings worked with the first team in practice again Friday and are expected to start at the tackle spots.'
Before cheering stops, Miller deserves farewell tour [9:18 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Miller may be able to do another season after this one. But he would be wise to heed Hull's pregame words and get out of the booth before more people talk about his decline than talk about his storied career.'
Faulk Getting Grip On His Career [8:06 AM]
Hartford Courant reports: 'Fumbling just about killed Faulk's Patriots career last season, and coach Bill Belichick had so little confidence in Faulk entering this season that he didn't put him on the 45-man active roster for the opener in Cincinnati. "We dress the best 45," Belichick said at the time. Faulk hasn't missed a game since, and his fumbling is in remission: He has fumbled once this season, and recovered it himself.'
Healthy returns on D-line [8:00 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'Defensive end Willie McGinest (leg) and tackle Richard Seymour (hamstring) were upgraded to probable on the injury report yesterday after participating in practice all week. Only starting defensive right end Anthony Pleasant (flu) remains questionable among the regulars on the defensive line. Meanwhile, Matt Light (shoulder) and Greg Robinson-Randall (ankle) remain doubtful, meaning rookie Kenyatta Jones will likely get the start at left tackle and veteran Grant Williams will get the start at right tackle.'
Brady has stepped up since replacing injured Bledsoe this season and is...getting the job done [7:59 AM]
Qunicy Patriot Ledger reports: 'Tom Brady was one of the 200 most sought-after players in the 2000 draft, which is a nice way of saying he was chosen 199th overall.'
Coaches share humble origins [7:57 AM]
Quincy Patriot Ledger reports: 'What jumps out to Belichick about the Bills quarterback has been the way he has been hit. If he isn't sacked, Johnson is hit delivering the ball. It's far worse than Bledsoe ever experienced. They have an offensive line with three rookie starters.'
Vinatieri provides kick [7:56 AM]
Springfield Union News reports: 'Adam Vinatieri has been rock solid again this season for the Patriots, while rookie Jake Arians has struggled during his brief tenure with the Bills.'
Money is sure to kick in [5:43 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'Right now, Vinatieri is fourth in the NFL with 59 points, making 13 of his 14 field goal attempts, including 6 for 7 from 40-49 yards.'
Bledsoe awaits the magic word [5:42 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'There has been speculation that Bledsoe could be ready to play next Sunday night against the Rams at Foxboro Stadium.'
Williams calls 615 to reach old pal [5:11 AM]
D and C reports: 'That would be the area code for Nashville, Tenn., where Williams spent the past four years as the very successful defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. Williams is discovering what many NFL coaches before him learned, that it's lonely at the top, especially during his team's challenging 1-6 start.'
Smith looks forward to playing Bills [5:08 AM]
D and C reports: 'Smith said he held "no grudges" mainly because his problems stemmed from his disputes with offensive coordinator Joe Pendry, who no longer works in Buffalo.'
Fina says he's not done yet [6:32 PM]
AP reports: '"John wants to be back out there, but he's just struggled as much with fatigue in the leg as anything else," Donahoe said. "We're trying to give John a little bit of time to see if he can get some strength back and contribute for us this year. ... We have not phased him out at all."'
Bills rookie RB Henry sentenced to community service [6:30 PM]
Sportsticker reports: 'Henry could still get suspended by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy.'
Pats must disregard Buffalo's record [4:30 PM]
Quincy Patriot Ledger reports: '"Like a wounded animal, they'll come out fighting. They're also playing better on the road. It looks like (quarterback) Rob Johnson doesn't get booed, and they look more comfortable on the road."'
Seeing red [1:48 PM]
Niagara Falls Reporter reports: 'The Buffalo Bills are a bunch of losers. Okay, with the exception of Peerless Price, whom I'd adore even if he hadn't done that absolutely wonderful job of catching a 61-yard Johnson pass. I just love that man's name. Mama and Daddy must have loved that little boy to name him Peerless. And here's to you, peerless Peerless, for living up to your name. That was one fine catch. And of course Eric Moulds, who gave Flutie a postgame hug and can always be counted on to work hard for his money. But a good portion of the Bills are losers, and not only because they lose games. They are losers because they cheat.'
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