There's no rest for Matt Light.
His streak of facing formidable foes continues this weekend, when he'll match up against Denver's dominant outside linebacker, Elvis Dumervil. He stands all of 5-11 and weighs just shy of 250, but that hasn't been a problem so far for the fourth-year player, who has collected eight (yes, 8) sacks already this season
"Yeah, he's not the tallest guy out there, but he's got good leverage and he plays really strong," Light observed. "He's got a good power move, so, I really don't think size has a lot to do with it.
"They're obviously getting to the quarterback, making a lot of big plays. And their secondary gives teams a lot of trouble. The guys up front are making second and third moves because the coverage is good. If they can do that in their home stadium, with their crowd and everything else, then they'll be in position to play the game however they want to."
For the fourth week in a row (not counting the season opener), New England will face an undefeated team in the 4-0 Broncos – a fact not lost on Light.
"They're playing really well right now. It's just going to come down to us going out there and executing really well."
Easier said than done. Last October, the Pats hosted the Broncos at Gillette, but it wasn't much of a contest. New England won 41-7. Since that time, however, Denver has made some noticeable improvements. Plus, they'll be at home, and the Pats have had historic difficulty winning in Mile High.
"Well, I mean, the crowd's into it and it's loud," Light remarked. "Other than that, it's no different than any other stadium. Anytime you go on the road and play a good team like this, all the little things have to be done right … For us, it's important that we get the ball out in rhythm and on time and give Tom time to make all his reads.
"We've obviously played in loud environments, and communication has to be really good. It takes everybody to be on the same page, break the huddle, see what they're doing [on defense], make the calls and make them quick."
Light also said he's hoping the offense can get more production out of the running game, which should ease any pressure the Broncos defense will apply to Brady.
"We have great guys in the backfield and we're going to keep sticking them in there and try to get the running game going," Light insisted.
Where there's a Wilhite, there's a way
On the other side of the ball, cornerback Jonathan Wilhiteand his defensive backfield mates will have their hands full with Denver's big-play receiver, Brandon Marshall, who's coming off a highlight-reel touchdown reception versus the Dallas Cowboys.
"He's a big guy that can stretch the field and make plays," Wilhite observed. "You saw how he won the game last week [against Dallas]. He's a guy you always have to be tied down to and always be at the point of attack.
Marshall wouldn't be able to make those plays, though, without his quarterback, Kyle Orton. Though maligned as less than ideal compared to his predecessor, Jay Cutler, for whom he was traded, Orton is proving to Wilhite and the Patriots that he's more than capable.
"He can make all the throws," said Wilhite. "He's a guy that can throw some hard passes to get it in there. They've got some guys that can go deep. It's definitely going to be a challenge. I feel like we're working as hard as we can to be prepared."
Of late, the New England secondary appears to be improving, but Wilhite isn't willing to gloat about that just yet.
"I feel we're doing good, but I also feel that we have a lot of things to work on. We've got to get our hands on more balls and make more plays. That has to be a weekly thing because we're playing some pretty good teams. We can't get satisfied or complacent."
Thursday locker room/practice notes
WR Randy Mossreturned to the practice field and missing Wednesday's session for an unspecified, non-injury-related reason. RB Fred Taylorwas out again, however, with his ankle injury, and LB Adalius Thomaswas not on the field, reason unknown at this point.
For the second straight day, the Patriots wore full pads at practice.