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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/13/2006

After an unexpected turn of events that included a significant decrease in playing time, wideout Doug Gabriel was released yesterday, reports Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe. Gabriel's agent, Bus Cook, said last week that he felt Gabriel's lack of playing time was simply due to others on the roster earning their time. Cook was unavailable for comment last night. Reiss details Gabriel's history with the Patriots.

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald also reports that Gabriel was released. "If there was a way for the Pats to have mismanaged the receiver situation following the 2005 season any worse than they did, it's hard to imagine," writes Felger, who takes a look at the receivers left on the squad, other potential free agent pickups from earlier in the season and the way defenses have been treating the Pats receivers throughout the season. Included is an indication that perhaps defensive lineman Vince Wilfork's injury (leg) is not season-ending.

Shalise Manza Young of The Providence Journal explains that Gabriel went from the doghouse to the unemployment line in this situation. Last week, Gabriel told the Journal, "If I made a mistake, I made a mistake, and that's in the past," and said he did not know if his fumble in the loss to the Jets led to him seeing fewer snaps. "I don't know what it is. I don't ever think about nothing like that. I just go out there and do my job, whether in practice or a game. That's what I'm here for. I'm here to play whenever my number's called. That's what they got me here for, so I come to do my job." He also said he was happy in New England.

With tight end Benjamin Watson's status questionable after he sustained a leg injury in the third quarter of Sunday's 21-0 loss in Miami, it would seem the Patriots are desperate for receivers, writes Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant. But not so desperate as to hang on to Gabriel, who had one reception (for 12 yards) in the past four games after catching 24 passes for 332 yards the previous seven.

Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe reports that the Miami Dolphins studied Brady's calls at the line of scrimmage from prior game tapes in order to better react to his adjustments. One line of thinking is that in studying Brady's protection calls, waiting until the latest possible moment to declare their intentions, and then adjusting the areas in which they brought pressure, the Dolphins negated any advantage Brady might have had in setting the protection at the line of scrimmage. "They don't call it the copycat league for nothing," said former NFL quarterback Jim Miller, who cohosts a show on Sirius Radio's NFL channel.

Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger also reports on the Dolphins use of audio cues in last weekend's game. According to McHugh, a Miami area paper said yesterday that the Dolphins believe that the Patriots stole their defensive signals prior to last year's 23-16 Patriots victory in Miami and that the theft allowed the Pats to successfully adjust to a Dolphins blitz on the winning touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson.

The Boston Globe's Patriots Notebook includes an interview with Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "I think back to that first year before we bought the team, in 1993, if we were told we'd be going into December with three games left and we'd be 9-4, we'd probably take that and be ecstatic," Kraft said last night. Kraft was recently named the NFL's most effective owner by Sports Business Journal, a distinction that he said was an "organizational effort." Also included in the notebook is an interview with injured linebacker Don Davis.

Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger reports that injured safety Rodney Harrison (shoulder) is remaining optimistic about returning before the playoffs this season. He's been out for the last five games. McHugh takes a look at injuries and boo-boos plaguing the Patriots right now, discussing each hurt player one-by-one.

Michael Parente of the Woonsocket Call reports that the Houston Texans are preparing for their upcoming meeting with the Pats by studying how the Broncos beat the Patriots in Week 3. That's because first-year head coach Gary Kubiak was Denver's offensive coordinator for 11 seasons under Broncos HC Mike Shanahan.

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

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