Clearly the Patriots 32nd-ranked defense could use some help.
And thanks to NFL rules that now allow two players to return from injured reserve per season, some help at linebacker could be on the way.
The Boston Globe notes that Shea McClellin kicked off the process of a possible return from IR by getting on the practice field on Wednesday. The Globe explains why some Patriots call Malcolm Butler – who is now sporting t-shirts with his new MB21 logo – "Scrap," a nickname that dates back to his first season in Foxborough. The Globe passes along a social media post from Harvey Langi's wife showing a video of the couple reuniting following their car accident and hospitalization last weekend. The* Globe* that the NFL is stopping short of saying players will be penalized for not standing during the national anthem.
The Boston Herald writes that the Falcons can't dodge a "supercharged" Rob Gronkowski, the tight end having missed the Super Bowl last February with a back injury. The Herald *passes along word that Kyle Van Noy and his wife will be serving as celebrity servers at a charity event this coming Monday night a Skipjack's at Patriot Place. The *Herald Patriots notebook states that increased chances for Dion Lewis help the New England offense. The Herald says that Thursday's Patriots practice in Foxborough is a big day for the defense to work on its third-down issues in preparation for Sunday's battle with Matt Ryan and the rest of the Falcons offense. The *Herald *also says Atlanta's talented running backs present a problem for the Patriots defense.
The Providence Journal has Gronkowski saying that sometimes his biggest obstacle is himself. The ProJo notes that Brandin Cooks is somewhat quietly putting up elite numbers in his first season with the Patriots.
ESPNBoston.com writes that Mike Gillislee isn't letting his lost fumble in New York get him down. ESPNBoston.com says that it's no Super Bowl rematch for Gronkowski and he's just happy to be playing on Sunday. ESPNBoston.com passes along Bill Belichick calling his big tight end "Twinkle Toes" in a video on Patriots.com. ESPNBoston.com has Falcons coach Dan Quinn focused on the current Patriots and not a Super Bowl rematch.
NBC Sports Boston wonders if the Falcons are indeed really over the horrible loss in Super Bowl LI. NBC Sports Boston has Gronkowski advising Celtics injured star Gordon Heyward to "dominate" his rehab from the horrific broken leg he suffered in his Boston debut. NBC Sports Boston recaps the Patriots injury report, which has Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe still absent from practice while Chris Hogan (ribs) and Shaq Mason (shoulder) are newcomers to the list.
NFL.com recaps what we need to know from the NFL's Fall Meeting. NFL.com also ranks the league's 32 backup QBs, with Jimmy Garoppolo taking the No. 1 spot overall while Patriot-turned-Colt is No. 2. NFL.com notes that Sunday night's battle is the eighth Super Bowl rematch in NFL history with Atlanta trying to become the first team since the 1993 Bills to avenge their title-game loss the following fall.
TheRinger.com declares that the Patriots pass defense is bad at everything, with video evidence to back up the assertion.