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Patriots.com News Blitz - 1/17/2012

Michael Whitmer of the Boston Globe writes about a comeback for former Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown. Kind of. Brown was named as one of four honorary captains from the 1996 Super Bowl team by Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. The other three captains will be named as the week continues. Brown played with the Patriots from 1993-2007 and is the franchise leader in career receptions with 557. "I was talking to Deion Branch about the way players should feel this time of year,'' Brown said. "I was explaining to him that I didn't get that feeling from this team a couple years ago, that they didn't really push that button to the next level. They should all be feeling different right now, there should be a sense of urgency and a different type of feeling in the locker room right now. I told him I still get those feelings today. When the playoffs start, for whatever reason, I feel different. This is the time of year where I feel like, if I had one more game, this is the time of year I want to play it.''

Mark Daniels of the Boston Herald writes about the biggest and smallest challenge for the Patriots as they prepare to face the Baltimore Ravens; running back Ray Rice. En route to their 33-14 win in the playoffs two years ago, the Ravens ran up and down the field at Gillette Stadium, rushing for 234 yards and four touchdowns. Leading the way was Ray Rice with 159 yards and two scores. "He's a little bit different because he's a smaller, compact guy, real strong," Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich said. "Kind of like a (Maurice) Jones-Drew guy — real strong at hitting the hole and is real fast, but also can catch the ball out of the backfield and make some plays in the passing game. He's a target for them that really makes a lot of plays for them so you have to make sure that you account for him on the field at all times."

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com writes about the players that were on the roster when the Ravens beat the Patriots in the playoffs in 2009. The Patriots had BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Dan Connolly and Ron Brace inactive for that game. Wes Welker headlined the list of injured players, as he was out with a torn ACL. However Tom Brady, Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer, Julian Edelman, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton, Stephen Gostkowski, Matthew Slater, Patrick Chung, Kyle Arrington, Kevin Faulk, Rob Ninkovich, Ryan Wendell and Brian Hoyer all dressed for the game with Hoyer being the only one not to see action.

Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald writes about Wes Welker's account of the Patriots playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens at the end of the '09 season. Welker did not play in that game after tearing his ACL just one week prior to the playoff match-up. "It's always tough when your team is out there playing and you're not able to, especially in the playoffs," Welker said. "We had such a good year that year and wanting to help my team and things like that. I'm just glad it's behind me."

Jeff Howe of NESN.com writes about the Patriots preparations for this Sunday's AFC Championship game with Baltimore. According to players, nothing has changed. Rookie Nate Solder summed it as by calling the team a "routine machine." James Ihedigbo also spoke about the preparations, but had a different outlook. "You're that much closer to your ultimate goal," Ihedigbo said. "Your preparation has to increase. Your level of intensity has to increase. You're playing for something huge here -- an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl and be Super Bowl champs. Nothing else matters at this point."

Carolyn Thornton of the Providence Journal writes about recent comments from Tom Brady about the Patriots motivating factors going into this weekend's game. Surprisingly, revenge is not a factor even though the last time these two teams met in the playoffs Baltimore won 33-14 at Gillette Stadium. "This is nothing about '09 or '10," the Patriots quarterback said in his weekly chat on WEEI. "This is nothing about last week or last season or last month or 10 years ago. It's about this week, and the clock's ticking. And every second that goes by, we're one second closer to getting to that game. So we've got to use our time wisely to repair, get our rest and then be ready to go out and face our biggest challenge of our season." Brady also said that knowing a trip to the Super Bowl is awarded to the winner this weekend is "All we need."

SI.com takes a look inside "The Fabulous Life of Rob Gronkowski." In a chronicle of the young tight end's rise to fame, stats and pictures of his days at the University of Arizona and with the Patriots are used. The fan favorite was a second round pick of the Patriots after missing his junior year at Arizona with a back injury. He has since set records for the most receiving yards and touchdown in a season for a tight end, and tied an NFL record with three touchdown receptions in the First half of the Patriots win over Denver.

James Walker of ESPN.com looks at if home field will be an advantage for the Patriots this Sunday. The Patriots are 8-1 at home this season while Baltimore is 4-4 on the road this season. Home teams are 7-1 this year in the playoffs with the only upset being the New York Giants winning at Lambeau Field over the Green Bay Packers.

ProFootballWeekly.com gives out its awards for its NFL All-Pro team. Three Patriots are included on the list: Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker and Matthew Slater. Welker joins Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson while Gronkowski was the only tight end selected and Matthew Slater was the only special teamer named.

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