[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="359931"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]Everybody who follows the NFL knows that Rex Ryan likes to talk. You might even say he likes to talk trash.
He even went so far today as to make a gratuitous barb at former Patriots QB Steve Grogan's expense.
But the Patriots understand that there's plenty of substance underneath all of the Buffalo Bills head coach's braggadocio. Ryan has given the Patriots fits since his days as the New York Jets head coach.
"Yeah, we've had quite a history with those [Rex Ryan] defenses," QB Tom Brady observed. "I think he tries to play to the strength of the players, and I think he gives those guys a great chance every week, and that's all you can ask of as a coach is to put your guys in the best position they can to take advantage of opportunities, make the plays and not put them in positions where they can't do the things that the coaches are really asking them to do. He complements one scheme with another. It makes it hard to exactly dial up what you're looking at, and that makes it a little tougher for an offense to execute really at a high level."
"He does a great job coaching," DE/co-captain Rob Ninkovich. "Every time I've played against him he prepares his team well. This game, like other games I've played against coach Ryan, it's going to be a tough game. For us, it's about preparing and doing our best to prepare with the time we have right now."
It's clear from their comments that the Patriots respect Ryan's abilities as a coach, and given his track record against Bill Belichick's Patriots, it's incumbent on Belichick and his staff to adapt to whatever Ryan has planned for New England when the Patriots visit Orchard Park this Sunday.
"Teams that game plan a lot, like Buffalo does on both sides of the ball, you go in with a general plan, a general idea, you certainly know what their personnel is and how you want to defend certain individual players," Belichick explained, "but then as the game unfolds, then you can generally start to see this is how they're going to try to attack us.
"And then at that point you have to make sometimes some in-game adjustments or maybe some things that you had prepared for, that you've gotten different things ready for doesn't look like they're going to come up, so you kind of put those off to the side and focus on the things that either they're hurting you with or the things that it looks to you like the way they're going to try to play the game. It starts wider and then it generally funnels in as the game starts to unfold."
The Patriots will have to be quick to adjust at halftime if the Bills do to New England what they did to Indianapolis in Western New York last weekend.
"I think the Colts, they really got pushed around," Brady added. "When you get pushed around by a team like this, they really feed off that. We've been preparing, done blitz pickup probably more than any other team in football since the spring started, especially with some young players in there up front. Just to have a lot of work that we've put in the bank and know you have to trust the guys next to you to make the calls.
"We're going up against probably the best D-line in football. These guys are phenomenal all the way across the board. It puts a lot of pressure on the offense to communicate well, trust each other and when that breaks down, I throw it as quick as I can. You don't want to be holding the ball all day."
Actions speak louder
Ryan has admitted that he often says outrageous things to play mind games with his opponents, particularly Brady and the Patriots, and that trickles down to his players, some of whom said this week that they "hate" the Patriots.
That suits Julian Edelman just fine.
"You're the villain," the wide receiver said about playing on the road. "When you go into a hostile environment where no one likes you, it's always fun sometimes."
Edelman also offered this caveat.
"We're not in high school where it's 'ra, ra' and this guy said that. This is the National Football League," Edelman said. "This is our job, so if you've taken time out of your day to think about what other teams are saying, and what's going on in the outside world, you're taking away time for preparing.
"You know coach Ryan is going to have them fired up, and all we can do right now is take advantage of this time we have to go out and try to prepare for these guys, because we know it's going to be a hostile environment."
Other players, like DE Chandler Jones, would rather not engage in the Ryan's verbal antics.
"The Patriot Way is the only way I know," he asserted, referring to Belichick's preference for saying as little as possible. "That's how you're a professional. Professionals should carry themselves that way: let the pads do the talking and not your mouth. Personally, that's how I was raised, is just being quiet through it all. Let them see you, not hear you for the most part."
For the second straight practice, DL Dominique Easley (left hip) was the only Patriot not on the field. He was injured in the first quarter of the opener against Pittsburgh and hasn't been seen since.
New England also had a free spot on its 53-man roster after releasing rookie WR Chris Harper Tuesday. That spot was filled by veteran LB Dekoda Watson, who was recently released after spending the spring and summer with the Patriots.
There were also changes to the practice squad, where LB Eric Martin was re-signed. He was on the 53-man roster during Week 1. To make room, the club released not one, but two players: rookie LB Alex Singleton and first-year DL Jimmy Staten.
Meanwhile, OL/co-captain Ryan Wendell, inactive in Week 1 vs. Pittsburgh, has been added to New England's injury report this week with an unspecified illness.