The Patriots and Falcons will meet with the media for the final time on Thursday but there was still plenty to talk about for both teams.
The Boston Globe says rookie Elandon Roberts backs up his talk with hard hits. Also, there’s a piece on how the Patriots consistently make in-season trades work to their advantage. The Boston Herald's notebook leads with Nate Ebner looking to go from the Olympics to Super Bowl champion. Alan Branch was added to the team’s injury report with a toe injury.
Atlanta's Courtney Upshaw is a big fan of his college teammate Dont'a Hightower. WEEI.com says it’s easy to see why Hightower is such a great leader. The Patriots unheralded group of receivers is getting the job done. The Patriots backup quarterbacks have learned well under Tom Brady's guidance. The Herald's staff makes some predictions for Sunday.
On the Atlanta side, ESPN.com says Matt Ryan has won over the city and surpassed Michael Vick. Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will have his bag of tricks full for the Patriots. Sunday's game figures to be quite a show between Josh McDaniels and Shanahan.
Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe says Roger Goodell did plenty of talking but gave us few answers. Shortly after Goodell’s state of the league press conference, Robert Kraft indicated he would extend an invitation to the commissioner to attend the 2017 season-opener at Gillette Stadium if the Patriots were able to win on Sunday. Goodell confirmed the Patriots would be playing the Raiders next season in Mexico City.
The Providence Journal has Hightower “looking forward” to a Jamie Collins-like payday. They also recount fullback James Develin’s long road from Brown to the Super Bowl. Dante Scarnecchia only knows one way to succeed. Danny Amendola is enjoying his time back home. The Attleboro Sun-Chronicle says Stephen Gostkowski is ready if needed with the game on the line. The Worcester Telegram says Malcolm Butler is not resting on his laurels.
MassLive.com writes that Martellus Bennett’s stats aren’t “sexy” because he blocks, unlike most tight ends. Jonathan Jones could be the next Malcolm Butler. Hightower says LeGarrette Blount makes opponents “a little shaky.” Mohamed Sanu says he was very close to joining the Patriots as a free agent last offseason.
CSNNE.com says Marcus Cannon is the key to slowing down NFL sacks leaderVic Beasley. The Patriots offense has started slow in all of its previous Super Bowls. Belichick believes Wes Welker will succeed as an NFL coach. Julio Jones says he can't be covered one-on-one and CSNNE.com wonders of the Patriots would even try. Devonta Freeman says the Falcons are unstoppable on offense. Boston.com wonders how important stopping Jones is for the Patriots chances.
NESN.com says Alan Branch is the leader of the young defensive line, even if he doesn't want to be. They also say that defense will be the determining factor on Sunday. Bennett says the Patriots have been like a Wes Anderson film. Brandon Bolden is thankful for his relationship with Brady. Despite constant rumors to the contrary, Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t even thought about being traded.
ESPN.com offers some picks for the year-end NFL awards, which will be handed out Saturday night.
ESPN.com takes a look at the officiating crew for Sunday’s game and says to expect Carl Cheffers to let the boys play.