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News Blitz 12/22: Steven Jackson is a Patriot

Though the move had not yet be made official by the team Tuesday morning, widespread reports on Monday indicated that the Patriots had reached an agreement with veteran free agent running back Steven Jackson.

The former Pro Bowl running back has been out of football this season after being released by the Falcons last winter, having played two injury-riddled and low-production seasons in Atlanta. The back is a veteran of 11 seasons as a former first-round pick by St. Louis who regularly rolled out 1,000-yard campaigns with the Rams.

(The Patriots made the signing official Tuesday afternoon.)

A solid a source as Jackson himself via Twitter announced his return Monday, describing himself in his bio as a "New England Patriots running back":

https://twitter.com/sj39/status/678972912481644544

The Boston Globe notes that Bill Belichick would not comment on the reported signing in his Monday day-after-game conference call. After another week with a major mistake in the third phase, the Globe says the kicking game needs some special attention in New England. The paper also breaks down some of the key plays from the win over Tennessee, while the Globe checks in with latest filings form the never-ending Deflategate appeals process.

The Boston Herald has its weekly Patriots report card from Sunday's win and says the results were "barely passable." The Herald *Patriots notebook says that the prognosis is good for Danny Amendola, who failed to finish Sunday's game due to a knee injury. The *Herald also looks at how workers have begun to transform Gillette Stadium into a hockey facility for the Bruins/NHL's Winter Classic on New Year's Day.

The Providence Journal says James White emerged as an essential target against Tennessee. The ProJo also notes that the Patriots will have to balance a need to heal with a need to wrap up the No. 1 seed over the next two games.

ESPNBoston.com shows Jackson on the field for a Tuesday walkthrough wearing his customary No. 39 jersey, with practice sqauder Montee all switching to No. 31. ESPNBoston.com passes along the positive words White's coaches and teammates have regarding the young passing back. The site also breaks down the 3-for-2 situation Jabaal Sheard has brought to the defensive end depth chart in New England. ESPNBoston.com passes along Tom Brady making it clear that he thinks the officials blew the call of offensive pass interference on Keyshawn Martin on Sunday that wiped out a long White catch-and-run.

WEEI.com notes that a Pro Football Focus rep said on the WEEI radio airwaves that Malcolm Butler has been better than Darrelle Revis this season. WEEI.com also has Belichick calling rookie Shaq Mason "one of the most athletic offensive linemen" he's ever coached.

CSNNE.com's weekly Patriots report card says the physical front of the New England defense dominated the Titans. CSNNE.com notes that Belichick is no fan of football analytics websites such as Pro Football Focus. "I'd say a lot of that stuff is not real accurate, so take it with a grain of salt," Belichick said on WEEI on Monday.

Rumor site ProFootballTalk.com notes Jets coach Todd Bowles saying his team has grown a lot since a loss in New England earlier this season.

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