Phifer vs. Centers [5:33 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'Roman Phifer is considered the Patriots' best cover linebacker, and he'll have his hands full against Larry Centers, one of the best receiving running backs ever.'
When call came, Van Pelt was ready [5:32 AM]
Boston Globe reports: '''I think the biggest thing from '97, when I got three starts that year, is the offense we are running,'' he said. ''The `West Coast' is something I was very familiar with from college and I really enjoy running, and I think that's helped a lot in our success.'''
Switch turns on Patriots' D-line [5:31 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'Because of a rash of injuries to the linebacker corps, coach Bill Belichick switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 alignment a month ago. After seeing the results, he's not likely to switch out of it anytime soon.'
Ex-Bill braces for a reunion [5:31 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'So why didn't Buffalo, under new coach Gregg Williams, try to keep Smith? ''I don't know,'' he said. ``The last two years there I was getting weeded out a little bit. I wasn't really getting the chance to go out there and help the team. So I think the best thing for both of us was just to part ways and move on.'''
Vrabel an outside influence [5:30 AM]
Boston Herald reports: '``Mike is a smart guy,'' said coach Bill Belichick, who scouted Vrabel out of Ohio State five years ago and kept tabs on him during his days in Pittsburgh. ``He is a hard-working guy. He trains well, he's in top condition and football is really important to him."'
Patriots' quiet man makes presence felt [5:29 AM]
Providence Journal reports: 'Both on and off the field, Mike Vrabel is the Patriots' quiet linebacker.'
Belichick's view: Focus on finish line [5:28 AM]
Providence Journal reports: '"The only thing that matters," the coach told his players, "is when they cross the finish line . . . Sometimes you are ahead and get further ahead, sometimes you are behind and you catch up. That is what it is about. It is about where we finish, not where we are in the middle of December. Right now, it is Buffalo. That's it. 9-5. That's all we can do anything about. There's where we want to be."'
Compton is the glue on Pats' offensive line [5:27 AM]
Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports: 'The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Compton is New England's starting left guard. It's his first year in Foxboro, but his ninth in the NFL. So, while he's a new guy on the block, he has brought stability to an unstable situation.'
Outside linebackers solid [5:26 AM]
Springfield Union News reports: 'With inside linebackers Bryan Cox and Ted Johnson hurting in recent weeks, the Patriots have played more 4-3 defensive fronts. Vrabel and Phifer have manned the outside spots with Tedy Bruschi, who is playing superbly of late, in the middle.'
Holiday time to take break [5:26 AM]
Springfield Union News reports: 'How does Belichick know when to push and when to pull back? "I think one thing I would gauge it on is that if I'm feeling (tired)," he said, "then everyone else is probably feeling worse."'
An intersting tidbit from TMQ [2:04 PM]
Slate reports: Hidden Indicator Player: The Bills are cover-your-eyes awful now, but this time last season they were 7-4 and pounding Tampa on the road. Then the above-cited Sam Cowart, who some purists felt was having the best season of any NFL defender last year, including Ray Lewis, went down for the count with a knee. Buffalo honked its lead in Tampa and spiraled toward the water for the remainder of 2000. In this season's opener, Buffalo was pounding New Orleans, holding the Saints to one first down in the first half. Then Cowart was lost for the season to another injury; the Bills again honked and spiraled toward the water. Since Cowart joined Buffalo, the team is 28-17 when he plays, 3-14 when he does not.
We're All Professionals Here: Warming up on the sidelines, Buffalo punter Brian Moorman missed the kick-catch net.
There's no hocus-pocus, just a whole lot of focus [1:43 PM]
Portland Press Herald reports: 'We viewed them as underachievers the last couple of seasons. This year we view them as overachievers.'
Belichick's motive is motivation [1:42 PM]
Lowell Sun reports: '"It's about where we finish, not where we are in the middle of December," said Belichick. "Right now it's about Buffalo (on Sunday in Buffalo). That's all we can do anything about."'
QB's best friend: Good night's sleep [1:41 PM]
Quincy Patriot Ledger reports: "Getting rest and making sure I am getting enough sleep is something Drew (Bledsoe) had told me seven weeks ago," Brady said. "He said, 'Hey, Tom, make sure you really get your rest and eat well and take care of your body because you can wear down pretty easily.' I've noticed that."
Bills wrap up home slate against Patriots [11:17 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Both starting QBs for New England and Buffalo have been injury-injured. For New England, virtually unknown Tom Brady's 8-3 mark as a starter has him in the starting role likely for the rest of New England's season. Van Pelt recorded his first win as a starter since 1997 Sunday, he has performed very well and kept Buffalo's offense moving well in three of their last four games.
Bills host party for top readers [11:10 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Bills tackle Jonas Jennings and safety Keion Carpenter will host the winners of the 2001 Rush for Reading Challenge at the Paul Maguire Club at Ralph Wilson Stadium from 6:00 - 7:00 PM on Wednesday, December 12th.
Van Pelt led Carolina comeback ranks fourth in Bills history [11:06 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Ven Pelt has joined Frank Reich and Todd Collins in the record book. The 18-point deficit overcome marked the fourth largest regular season comeback in team history and the largest since coming back from a 26-0 deficit vs. Indy on 9/21/97 by Todd Collins.
Bills' 'Shop with a Jock' a success [10:08 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: With the help of Galyan's and the Buffalo Bills, local children affiliated with the Salvation Army were given the opportunity to 'Shop with a Jock' Tuesday evening. The event benefited 42 children and ran early Tuesday evening at the Walden Galleria Galyan's sporting goods store.
Smith revives career with Patriots [8:58 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"I do have confidence in my line, knowing they're going to come off hard and hit their blocks, which allows me just to think about running in there hard."'
Price plans to appeal one of NFL's stiffest fines [8:57 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Pats are plus-2 in turnover ratio. The Bills are minus-16.'
Free agents or first-round picks at the all-important position of QB [7:32 AM]
Pro Football Weekly reports: 'Since 1986, the starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl have been first-round picks 20 times. Nine other times they were drafted in the second and third round. With only a couple of exceptions, most prominently Brett Favre, the starting quarterback was still playing with the team that originally drafted him.'
The Way We Hear It [7:30 AM]
Pro Football Weekly reports: RJ and Cowart in free agency, TD on trading down, plus McKinnie, Butler & Cottrell rumors.
Pro Football Weekly's Spin On Dec 4th [7:28 AM]
Pro Football Weekly reports: Buffalo-Carolina meeting Sunday will impact draft
Buchsbaum: The Buffalo Bills' first pick in the draft next year will either be an offensive left tackle or a quarterback. The only quarterback Buffalo would consider with that first-round pick is Fresno State's David Carr.
The draft pecking order could be affected by next week's Buffalo-Carolina game. Both teams have one win going in, and the loser could actually end up being the winner.
Fred Smerlas - A Tribute to a Nose [7:21 AM]
TBD reports: 'After losing the AFC Championship game to Cincinnati in 1989 and an AFC Divisional playoff game to Cleveland in 1990, head coach Marv Levy made it clear that he wanted to rebuild his team around younger players. Joe Devlin and Art Still had been already told there was no longer a place for them on the team. Fred Smerlas was put on the list of unprotected free agents, meaning any team could now bid for his contract.'
Departed Bills wouldn't have helped [5:44 AM]
D and C reports: 'Of the 22 players who were jettisoned from the 53-man roster of Wade Phillips and John Butler's final Buffalo team, only six have gone on to play regularly for new teams. Seven are contributing little to their new teams, and nine are out of football.'
Rob might be back -- this year [5:44 AM]
D and C reports: '"He's probably got another couple of weeks of the bone healing, but we hope that he'll be able to get back into the practice situation within a couple of weeks and start to work on the field and be able to do some non-contact things," Williams said.'
Brady's in position for a postseason reward [5:43 AM]
Boston Globe reports: 'Tom Brady, All-Pro. Tom Brady ... MVP?'
Returning to familiar territory [5:42 AM]
Boston Globe reports: '''Sometimes you are ahead, you get further ahead, sometimes you are behind, and you catch up. That is what it is about. It is about where we finish, not where we are in the middle of December. Right now it is Buffalo, that is it. 9-5, that is all we can do anything about, that's where we want to be.'''
Final test for Brady a stretch [5:40 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'Now, with three games remaining and all of New England watching, Brady is set to face a whole new battery of tests and an entirely new level of expectation. It's guaranteed to be more intense than anything he's experienced yet.'
Sullivan returns to shore up front line [5:40 AM]
Boston Herald reports: 'With Willie McGinest still on the shelf and depth on the defensive line at a premium, the Patriots turned to a familiar face yesterday, signing former Patriot and North Attleboro native Chris Sullivan.'
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