Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes that the Patriots seem to have found their swagger. The "Us against the World" mentality is back and seems to again be the motivating factor for the Patriots. Players are stepping up and talking tough. Willie McGinest spoke of making a statement against one of the best teams in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons to show that the Patriots are not down and out. "Voices don't win games. Playmakers do," he said assertively. "If I want to make a statement, this Sunday, we'll be out there, and all the guys that need to make statements will be out there making statements against one of the best teams in the league. That's what we'll try to do. That's how we'll make our statement." Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe also offers a similar article.
Mark Farinella of the Sun Chronicle writes that Bill Belichick commented on Brady's response to comments made about the Patriots' struggles by Schottenheimer after Sunday's game. "I have a lot of respect for what Tom thinks and what he says,'' Belichick said. "I don't really have any problem with what he said.''
Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that the Patriots defense will have it's hands full trying to contain Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. Solomon writes that Vick may not be one of the elite quarterbacks in the league, but he is definately in a class of his own. Vick is one of the fastest players in the NFL with the elusiveness of the top running backs in the league. If the Patriots can keep Vick in the pocket, they can make him one dimensional. "We want to make him a one-dimensional player," said linebacker Willie McGinest. '"We want to make him throw the ball. We don't want him running around the field. He destroys everybody when he does that." Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald also offers a similar article and adds that not only will the Patriots need to make Vick beat you with his arm, but they will also have to stop running backs Warrick Dunn and T.J. Ducket.
Jim McCabe of the Boston Globe offers brief previews of each of this weeks NFL matchups and discusses the predominant storylines leading up to the games.
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes that during the offseason Larry Izzo and Atlanta Falcons RB Warrick Dunn visited troops stationed overseas together as part of the NFL sponsored USO tour. The two helped open the Pat Tillman USO Center, and spent time with troops in Baghdad, Kuwait and Qatar. "It was really my pleasure and honor to be with him because obviously he's a hell of a football player, but he's also a hell of a person off the field," Dunn said of Izzo. "I had the opportunity to learn about him. Sometimes those types of things make everyone realize that we are human. People think we're these high-profile athletes, but we're human. It was an honor to hang out with him."
Skip Wood of USA Today writes that this weeks matchup between the Patriots (2-2) and the Atlanta Falcons (3-1) is all about team identity. One team is attempting to regain an identity. The other is trying to validate one. Beating one of the NFC's better teams would remind the Patriots who they are.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that though the Patriots tight ends have barely been a part of the offense this season (Watson - 5 catches, Graham - 2 catches), head coach Bill Belchick is happy with both their production and the role they play. "I think it's been pretty competitive," Belichick said. "A lot of times backs and tight ends are involved in different aspects of the game. They are involved in protection. They're involved in outlet routes. They're involved in down-the-field routes. Whatever their role is, then that's what they have to do. Collectively, I think our passing game, hopefully, it will be better, but I think it's been pretty competitive to this point."
*USA Today* is reporting that the Patriots may have to face the Atlanta Falcons without all-pro defensive lineman Richard Seymour. Seymour was not on the field Wednesday or Thursday during the time the media was allowed to view practice. He was listed as questionable on Thursday's injury report.
Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant offers a story of safety Guss Scott. Greenberg writes that Scott was credited with five tackles, three solo, against the Chargers. But those were mostly tackles after completed passes, and certainly none were the high-impact, game-changing hits that bolstered the run defense and made Harrison one of the league's most feared players. "You can't be somebody else, you can only be you," Scott said. "You've got to be yourself. It's so hard to be somebody else."
Chris Kennedy of The Republican writes the wide receiver Deion Branch is looking forward to a sort of homecoming as he plays against the Falcons this Sunday. "I finally get a chance to go home," Branch said, adding, "Everybody won't be able to get in. I'm going to try to mostly take care of the people who didn't get to go to the two Super Bowls." Branch is from Albany, Ga., which is about three hours from Atlanta.
Michael Parente of the Woonsocket Call writes that the Patriots have been very susceptible this season to the big play. The Patriots have already given up 13 completions of more than 20 yards. The longest was an 85-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward during the patriots win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.