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Defense looks to stall Carr; Sep. 18 notes

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Oakland is winless in its first two games of 2014, with rookie QB Derek Carr at the helm of the Raiders' ship.

But as you might expect, the Patriots defense isn't taking this Sunday's home opener against Carr and the Raiders for granted.

"I'm expecting their best. Being 0-2 is tough. You have to find ways to turn that around. I'm pretty sure we'll get something that's out of the ordinary, to give their team a spark," defensive lineman/co-captain Vince Wilfork predicted.

"We have to be ready for whatever they show. We can't practice everything. We just have to play what we see. This [Raiders] team has some guys that can play good football. They're big, physical, they have a run game, and they're committed with this rookie quarterback. We have our hands full. We're definitely not going to take them lightly."

Check out photos of Patriots practice and media access leading up to New England's week three game against the Oakland Raiders.

"We just gotta be ready," echoed cornerback Darrelle Revis. "They're 0-2 right now. I'm sure they're searching for a win. We just gotta be focused and make sure we don't let one slip away."

But how does a defense prepare for a player about whom they have so little information?

"You just try to watch the preseason, the first two games. You can see him get better each time he's out there," remarked safety/co-captain Devin McCourty. "He's smart, he has a strong arm, he's athletic, he can run the ball. We'll have to be ready for him.

"It's tough playing any team early in the season because you don't know fully what they're going to do. You don't have much to work with. We have to be prepared for everything."

"We've got to stick to the material we've got and go from there," added Revis.

"I mean, he's running their offense, throwing every route. My main objective is just watching my [receiver]. We're giving them a lot of respect for their receiving corps. We're just looking forward to the matchup and covering those guys. We don't have much material on Carr, so, we have to focus on the receivers."

As much as they praise the rookie QB, the Patriots defenders are planning to make the road more like an obstacle course for this Carr.

"We've got to try to make it a little difficult for him, disguising some things, doing some different things defensively, which we usually do," McCourty acknowledged. "They have some pretty good receivers out there. It'll be key if we can just cover and get some pressure. It'll make it a little tougher for a rookie, but he's showed pretty good poise in the first two games."

"With a rookie quarterback, he's making all the throws, he's taking care of the ball, he's getting the ball out quick, he's running the ship," said Wilfork. "He can hurt you on the ground with his legs. We understand the challenge we have ahead of us."

Woodson fan club

Several Patriots expressed admiration this week for Raiders safety Charles Woodson. The one-time cornerback and former Heisman Trophy winner is now in his 17th NFL season.

"He looks phenomenal to me. I've known him for a long time. I've practiced against Charles when I was in college," said Tom Brady, a former teammate at Michigan. "We've known each other for 20 years. I have a lot of respect for him as a player, as a person, as a friend, and he looks phenomenal back there. He's a big playmaker for that defense, and he gets his hands on a lot of balls – not only in the pass game but in the run game. He's trying to strip the ball out on every play. He's a great tackler. He's got great anticipation. He's someone that I really have to know where he's at on every play."

"Big fan of him, too," stressed Revis. "Watching him at Michigan, I looked up to him. He's a future Hall of Famer. The guy's played great ball in the league and still making plays. I tip my hat to him. I have much respect for him."

"I never play offense, but I turn on a little bit of that film just to see him out there and still making plays," McCourty revealed. "He had an interception versus the Jets that, I mean, he baited the quarterback into throwing. That just shows his work ethic to be in the league that long, still being able to have the athletic ability and playing at a very high level."

Practice report

Linebacker/co-captain Jerod Mayo was back at practice Thursday. He was given the day off Wednesday to witness the birth of he and his wife's third child.

Eleven Patriots were listed on the Wednesday injury report, but every player on both the 53-man active roster and 10-man practice squad was in uniform Thursday.

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