Jerome Solomon and Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe are reporting that cornerback Duane Starks is likely to be placed on injured reserve as early as today. Starks was pulled from Monday's loss to Indianapolis and did not play in the second half. After the game he said he wasn't hurt, and Belichick didn't say the benching was because of an injury, but Starks was put on the injury report that was released yesterday with shoulder and thigh problems. Starks was not on the field when the team began practice yesterday, and he was not seen in the locker room during the period open to the media.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that running back Corey Dillon looked tentative against the Colts Monday night, shuffling toward holes he'd usually blast through and gaining just 40 yards on 12 carries. Dillon injured his left ankle against Atlanta Oct. 9 and according to the injury report has missed at least portions of every practice since. "Am I 100 percent? No," Dillon said. "It is what it is. You just have to deal with it."
Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that Tom Brady addressed the media yesterday during his weekly press conference and spoke about what has to be done for the team to turn around its ''average" season. Brady said the entire team needs to pick it up, but he feels the offense must be prepared to shoulder more of the burden for a struggling defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in most major statistical categories. "Our offense has to be better than it's ever been, it really does. That's the reality of it," Brady said. "Our defense is making changes and they're trying hard to improve. In the meantime, we have to do everything we can to pick it up and try to be better than we've ever been to help our defense out. Those guys are fighting through things and they're working hard. As a team, we need to carry the torch for each other. In order for us to win, we have to score points. There's no doubt about that. Our defense, I'm confident they're going to turn it around, and they're going to start playing Patriots-style football. I'm confident our offense can go out there and continue to score points, and really, that is what we are going to need to do in order to be successful." Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald offers a similar report.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald discusses how the relationship between Bill Belichick and Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban has changed since Saban joined Belichick in the AFC East. For the last five years, Saban and Belichick kept a close personal relationship and a symbiotic football one. Saban, whose success at LSU mirrored Belichick's in New England, fed his friend valuable information on college players, most notably his own. Belichick, in turn, fed his friend cutting-edge football philosophy. That relationship changed when Saban joined the Dolphins. Sunday, they face off for the first time when the Patriots travel to Miami.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that though big plays allowed in the passing game tend to demand attention, they're not the reason the Patriots rank next to last in the league in total defense and have lost the time-of-possession battle by a 2-to-1 margin over the past two weeks. A large portion of the blame falls on the front seven, who have struggled to stop the run all season, but particularly in the absence of All-Pro defensive end Richard Seymour, who went down in Week 4. The Patriots are allowing 4.0 yards per carry, 16th in the league. They've surrendered an average of 143 yards on the ground in the four full games since a knee injury felled Seymour while playing fullback against San Diego on Oct. 2.
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reports that on Tuesday, injured Patriots safety Rodney Harrison appeared on sports radio WEEI, blasting Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, claiming Owens would never, ever fit the mold of a Patriot, saying he was a "disgrace" to the league.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers a preview of the Patriots - Dolphins game this Sunday and writes that Miami has a lot of talent on offense, including the running back tandem of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, and could have a breakout game at any time. "There's not too many teams that can put five (skill) guys on the field like we can at any time, and that's the one thing that might be frustrating," said Miami tight end Randy McMichael, referring to himself, wide receivers Marty Booker and Chris Chambers and the two running backs. "We have guys that are capable of making plays, and we're not doing our job right now. Hopefully, this week we can get this turned around." If they do, the Dolphins can draw even with the Patriots atop the division at 4-5 and give themselves a leg up in the head-to-head standings.
Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant writes that during the Pats 41-20 loss to the Colts at Gillette Stadium Monday night, a frustrated Tom Brady threw a water bottle on the sideline. When Brady appeared for his usual postgame press conference, he didn't answer questions. He made a 30-second statement, acknowledging that "we got our butts kicked," then left. "It was one in the morning," Brady said Wednesday. "I didn't want to waste everyone's time. I don't think I had a lot of good things to say. I think everyone was frustrated by the loss. To sit up there and tell you how bad we are, I don't think anyone wants to hear that. ... Losing stinks and it is no fun. Everyone is frustrated and disappointed with being 4-4, but at the same time I think [coach Bill Belichick] put it well to us. He said it's over and let's not make this loss any more damaging then it has already been."
Chris Kennedy of The Republican writes that the Patriots - Dolphins rivalry has a different look this year. Dolphins head coach Nick Saban has overhauled the team and installed a new defensive philosphy. Saban has changed the defensive approach radically, with the Dolphins now playing multiple fronts and changing up all the time. Saban was a defensive coordinator under New England's Bill Belichick in Cleveland from 1991-94, and Tom Brady said the Dolphins now attack offenses similar to how the Patriots do. "It's every front and every coverage and every adjustment off of every coverage," he said. "They make you prepare for everything. They are going to have stuff dialed up for us, specific blitzes, whatever."
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.