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Patriots.com News Blitz - 11/17/2006

Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe reports on receiver Jabar Gaffney, who had a breakout performance last weekend against the Jets with three catches for 65 yards. He joined the team on Oct. 9, and said he's been waiting for his number to be called. "It felt real good, felt real good," Gaffney said of his breakout performance, which included a 33-yard catch that started a 31-second, fourth-quarter touchdown drive. "I've just been waiting around patiently and they called my number this past Sunday. I was able to go out there and produce." Gaffney credited veteran Troy Brown for helping him get acclimated in the Patriots system.

Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald offers a story on receiver Doug Gabriel, who didn't play in the second half of last week's loss to the Jets. Gabriel declined to comment yesterday in the locker room. Buckley wonders if Gabriel was taken out of the game because of a sloppy fumble he made in the first half, and examines the logic behind such a decision by the coaches.

Jennifer Toland of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports on the improving play of receiver Reche Caldwell. He caught a career-high nine passes last week, the most by a Patriot this season, for 90 yards, a season-high for Caldwell. "It helped (my confidence)," Caldwell said of his best game of the year. "Unfortunately, it was in a losing effort, but I think we're building toward a good chemistry. Not just me, but all of our receivers."

John Tomase of the Boston Herald offers a piece on Packers quarterback Brett Favre. His ability to freelance in the passing game has made him great. "Favre is at his best when the game devolves to its sandlot roots. Sometimes his scrambling flights of fancy result in huge turnovers - he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in a 31-9 October loss to the Eagles - but those days are the exception. He'll take up permanent residency in Canton one day for all the times his gambles paid off," writes Tomase.

The Boston Globe's Amalie Benjamin reports that the Packers rookies, five of whom are starting, aren't so green anymore. "I just think that they're young guys that are given an opportunity probably sooner than you would like," said McCarthy, a rookie head coach. "But they've done an excellent job week in and week out. I think the coaching staff has done a great job with the extra work getting them ready to play. And we're excited about the future." The Packers will be starting three rookie offensive lineman when the Patriots travel to Green Bay this weekend to take them on. Also included are stories on Vinny Testaverde, road games and former Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that coach Bill Belichick may be turning in his signature sideline hoodie for a suit. The NFL recently gave coaches Mike Nolan of the 49ers and Jack Del Rio of the Jaguars permission to wear suits on the sidelines. "If I had an option to wear [a suit], would I wear one? I'd consider it, yeah," said Belichick yesterday. He joked that he'd have to rent a fedora in honor of coaches like Paul Brown, Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi.

The Boston Herald's John Tomase offers the thoughts of Junior Seau on Favre. They're two of the oldest players in the NFL, both born in 1969. "I respect what he's been able to do," Seau said. "I think there's a mutual respect which everyone has when they've been around for so long."

The Providence Journal's Shalise Manza Young reports on the FieldTurf being installed at Gillette Stadium. Crews are working around the clock to have the new artificial playing surface done in time for next week's Bears game. Manza Young talks to members of the crews. "This is a dream job for all of the men; it was not a problem getting men to volunteer for 24-hour duty," said one of them.

Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant reports on the Patriots weak points, including depth concerns which have recently arisen. Greenberg puts the Patriots record up against other AFC teams' and finds that the Patriots are not in the top tier right now, though they still lead the AFC East Division.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette writer Jennifer Toland reports on Packers' receiver Donald Driver, who is coming off a career-best 191-yard performance against the Vikings.

Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger reports that Brady is feeling good this week. "It's a rough game," Brady said. "You play quarterback and you're holding the ball and they want to come get you. I think I'm less sore this week than I have been the last two, though. I think that Minnesota game was tough. I took a few shots in that game, but I feel pretty good this week, surprisingly."

The Patriot Ledger's Eric McHugh discusses the fact that Favre is listed as probable on the injury report with an ankle injury. Chances are, he won't miss the game... It will be his 251st straight start. McHugh discusses injuries on the Patriots as well as the Packers.

Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle reports on rookie running back Laurence Maroney, whose focus is purely on winning this week. Maroney expressed indifference about playing on grass or artificial turf, and isn't overly excited about getting to play at the hallowed "frozen tundra," Lambeau Field.

Michael Parente of the Woonsocket Call reports that Favre isn't finished yet. "Brett Favre's best plays are the ones that aren't in the playbook," Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs said. "That's what makes him such a great star in this game and such a great athlete and football player in the NFL, because somehow he finds a way to get it done."

Don't forget to check out USA Today's Inside Slant on the Patriots, updated today.

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