Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe reports that the Patriots placed cornerback Duane Starks on the reserve/injured list with a should/thigh injury. According to Belichick, Starks's on-the-field struggles were related to his injuries, though the coach would not comment on whether Starks was a good fit for the Patriots' defensive scheme. Belichick had only praise for the eight-year veteran he acquired in March in a trade with the Cardinals, saying Starks did everything asked of him. "Medically, we're looking into what the best way is to handle his situation with his shoulder, and he'll probably have some kind of procedure done soon," Belichick said. "Right now, the main thing is he's just not healthy." John Tomase of the Boston Herald also offers a similar report.
Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that the Patriots turned up the heat inside the Dana Farber Fieldhouse for yesterday's practice to simulate the heat expected in Miami this weekend, where the temperature is expected to be in the 80s. But is the heat really the reason the Patriots have a 3-8 record in Miami since 1994. "I don't think the heat beats you," McGinest said. "It's Miami. They're a really good team, they're tough, they're physical. A lot of people blame it on going down there where it's so hot, but this team, they win all over the place. A team like that that gets started really fast, gets on top of you, gets the crowd into you, and the defense -- once they get ahead -- the defense picks up the slack. They're one of the better defenses in the league. That's the hard part about going down there."
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that defensive end Richard Seymour hasn't played in six weeks and there's no telling if that streak will end Sunday. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he has seen improvement. "He's getting better," Belichick said. "He's getting better." Seymour strained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee playing fullback against San Diego on Oct. 2. He suffered a similar injury last season and missed six weeks. "There's some degree of similarity, but I think it's a little bit of a different situation," Belichick said. "The bottom line is, he's getting better. I think he's closer than he was last week. Hopefully he'll be able to play as soon as he's ready. I know he's working hard to be back. "When exactly that will be I can't tell you, but we're heading in the right direction."
Jim McCabe of the Boston Globe previews all of this weeks NFL matchups and offers his picks.
John Tomase of the Boston Globe writes that while the Patriots defense has taken heat for an inability to get opponents off the field, the offense deserves blame for being unable to stay on it. The Bills and Colts dominated the time-of-possession battle by a 2-1 margin over the last two weeks, and Sunday in Miami the Patriots face a Dolphins squad determined to chew up the clock by running the ball behind No. 2 overall pick Ronnie Brown and former Pro Bowler Ricky Williams.
Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal writes that the Patriots have never been better than they have been the last two seasons, when they won 34 of 38 games, including playoffs and back-to-back Super Bowls. But this year, suddenly -- and what would have been shockingly, if not for a devastating series of injuries and retirements -- Bill Belichick's defense has been riddled for more than 40 points twice in the last five games, and in two of their last three games at Gillette Stadium.
Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal writes that Michael Stone may be the Patriots likely starter at strong safety in Miami on Sunday. Stone saw significant time at strong safety during the Colts came and made seven tackles, five solo. "I play a pretty physical game, an all-effort style. I like to be aggressive out there and fly around," said Stone.
Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant writes that the 2005 Patriots already have allowed 220 points, an average of 27.5. At this rate, they would give up 440 points this season, a total that would put them in the same ugly neighborhood as Rod Rust's incompetent 1990 team, which allowed 446 and finished 1-15.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.