Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that Tom Brady still feels that the Patriots can play out the "no respect" angle as in previous years. "I think we've been probably disrespected more than any team in the league this year," Brady said yesterday at his weekly news conference. "I think we've been given up on by a lot of media people, a lot of fans, our own fans, and other people around the league. I think if there's one team that feels like they're disrespected, it's us. I don't disrespect Jacksonville. How do you disrespect a team that's 12-4? If we were 12-4, it would be different. I think people gave up on us a long time ago, so, we'll see what that means." Tom Curran of the Providence Journal also offers a similar article.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that when it was relayed to the Jacksonville locker room yesterday that Tom Brady told reporters the Patriots didn't get enough respect, the message prompted some interesting and diverse responses. Jaguars receiver Jimmy Smith broke out in laughter. "Tell him to switch places with us," said Smith. "He has the respect. Trust me. That's why I'm taking this film home."
Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that safety Rodney Harrison, whose season ended with a knee injury in Week 3 at Pittsburgh, was at Gillette Stadium yesterday in street clothes as his teammates dressed for practice in preparation for Saturday's game against Jacksonville. ''I'm happy for the team, for the organization, for the city -- to come as far as we've come, with all the injuries and adversity we've faced this year, to be able to host a playoff game is pretty big," Harrison said. ''It says a lot about the people in this locker room."
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio is being second-guessed by some for benching quarterback David Garrard, who went 4-1 as the starter, and going to a rusty Leftwich, who has not played since Nov. 27, when he broke his right ankle. But Del Rio stood his ground yesterday when asked whether it was fair to send out Leftwich against the Patriots when the playoffs begin this weekend. ''It's an interesting way of looking at it," he said. ''I focus on preparing our guys to go out, taking the best combination of players that I think we can be successful with, and then going to battle and competing. Really, I focus more of my energy on preparation and matchups and things like that and less time worrying about how it's going to be viewed by whoever." Tom Curran of the Providence Journal also offers a similar article.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that if the Pats hope to avoid a loss in their first-round playoff matchup Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, then they must contain the Jags' talented and physical defense. It starts up front with star defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, who create the room for defensive ends Reggie Hayward (8.5 sacks) and Paul Spicer (7.5 sacks) to get to the quarterback and middle linebacker Mike Peterson to get to the ball carrier (130 tackles). Felger is also reporting that according to sources, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is expected to play.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that Marcus Stroud and John Henderson may not be household names outside of Jacksonville, but they're well known to every guard, center and offensive tackle in the NFL. One of the most dominant defensive tackle combos in the game, they'll be a center of attention Saturday night when the Patriots face the Jaguars in the first round of the playoffs. They control the middle of Jacksonville's 4-3 defense, which ranks sixth overall and leads the league in sacks per pass attempt. Whether running or throwing, the Patriots will have to contend with Stroud and Henderson all night. "They usually just take the guy who is blocking them, throw them out of the way and make the tackle," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "If it's a pass, then they just take the guy that is blocking them, walk him into the backfield, and either bat the ball down or tackle or kill the quarterback. And they do a lot of that."
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe takes a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville is a 12-4 underdog most of the country really doesn't know that well. Their players and fans are already in full-fledged ''we get no respect" mode, which worked famously as a motivational tool for the Patriots over the last few years. ''If we beat the Patriots, maybe people will shut up about us," said defensive tackle John Henderson after the Jaguars ended their season with a 40-13 rout of the Tennessee Titans at Alltel Stadium Sunday. They were afterthoughts in the AFC South as the Indianapolis Colts were winning their first 13 games. They didn't play one Monday night game. They may have been lightly regarded because they're a young team that had many ups and downs in terms of consistency in performance, yet their four losses were by an average margin of 7.8 points. Their last eight wins came against teams that finished with a combined record of 27-69.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that the Jags are a respectable 3-4 in games played below freezing since they joined the NFL in 1995. They've won their last two such games under coach Jack Del Rio, at Green Bay last year and Cleveland this year. Whatever home-field advantages the Patriots expect to hold, the weather may not be one of them.
Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant offers an article on Patriots rookie offensive lineman, Nick Kaczur.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald offers his weekly Patriots report card.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his analysis of the Patriots 28-26 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.