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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/14/2006

Mike Reiss of* The Boston Globe* reports that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady entreated his teammates to focus in his Wednesday press conference. "I think this team has to listen more to what the coach says. I think if we listen more and we did more of what our coaches told us to do, I think we'd be a lot better off," Brady said. "But at times I think we figure we can do it our way, and we show there is quite a bit of inconsistency to that." Brady also expressed doubts that the Dolphins deciphered his behind-center calls and adjustment indicators. "I don't see that. I'd love to see evidence of that; that they could know exactly what our line calls are," Brady said.

The Boston Globe's Mike Reiss reports that the Patriots signed veteran tight end O.J. Santiago yesterday, while "bracing for the possibility of playing with out injured tight end Benjamin Watson." Because the Patriots run a bulk of plays with two tight ends, the team has preferred to activate three tight ends for games whenever possible. Daniel Graham, Watson, and rookie David Thomas are the top players on the depth chart, but Watson injured his left knee during last Sunday's loss to the Dolphins and is questionable for Sunday's game against Houston , giving him a 50-50 chance of playing. Included are notes on team happenings.

Boston Herald writer John Tomase reports that "these are trying times for the Patriots. Brady called out his team. Bill Belichick sent a message by releasing one of the few experienced receivers on the roster. The offensive line shaved." The Patriots have just three weeks left to get fix problems before the games become single elimination. "Yesterday they showed signs of feeling the pressure," writes Tomase. The offensive line arrived clean-shaven for the first time in weeks. They had all grown beards as a show of solidarity, but apparently felt change was in order after Sunday's 21-0 loss to Miami.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that defensive lineman Vince Wilfork will not play on Sunday against Houston as a precautionary measure. If Wilfork doesn't play, he'll be replaced by second-year backup Mike Wright, an undrafted free agent out of Cincinnati. Also included are notes and quotes from yesterday.

The Providence Journal's Shalise Manza Young also reports on Brady's Wednesday press conference, explaining that his mood was written on his face nearly from the moment he took the podium. His hands were in the pouch of his red hoodie, and a Patriots hat was pulled low over his face. "Toughness. Preparation. Playing physical. Playing smart. I think those four qualities that have been the makeup of this team are the reason why we have been successful late in the year. You come in, you're 9-4, you sit at a place where you can go one of two ways: you get better or you get worse. This team has always chosen to get better and work hard and put the work in to improve," said Brady.

Shalise Manza Young of The Providence Journal reports on a few of the Patriots latest roster moves, explaining that fullback Patrick Pass was placed on injured reserve yesterday, ending his season. Wideout Doug Gabriel was released, and re-signed with the Raiders, since Randy Moss is "Questionable" for Sunday's game. The Pats signed O.J. Santiago and offensive lineman Gene Mruczkowski to fill the roster spots vacated by Pass and Gabriel.

Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant reports that the Patriots need more consistency from their offense. Three days after the Patriots' most lopsided loss of the season, 21-0 in Miami, Tom Brady was still somber. "Brady is too prudent to say it publicly, but the way his team has been playing the past six weeks - 3-3 after a 6-1 start - he has to be wondering if these Patriots (9-4) are good enough to go deep into the playoffs," writes Greenberg.

The Worcester Telegram's Rich Garven offers the opinions of players and coaches on the rumor that the Dolphins deciphered Brady's verbal protection adjustments entering last weekend's game. "(Miami) can say that, but I think that's a big crock of you know what," Brady said yesterday. "I think it's a matter of how we played. If you ask them, it probably sounds good for them to say they have it all figured out, but, you know, they're 6-7, and we're 9-4, so you tell me who's got it more figured out."

Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger discusses the release of Gabriel and offers his weekly Patriots report card, which examines the Pats play in last Sunday's Miami game and previews the upcoming matchups in this weekend's home finale against the Houston Texans.

Glen Farley of The Enterprise explains that "there isn't any reason to think the Patriots will be booking a return trip to Miami to play in February," but he also takes a look around the league and notices that no teams look perfect right now. Farley examines other AFC contenders before taking a look at the NFC.

According to The Sun Chronicle, a report issued Tuesday by the town's Patriot Place committee found that the huge commercial project proposed at Gillette Stadium would "unreasonably strain" the police and fire departments under current staffing, and that it cannot be assumed that the project will fiscally benefit the town. Selectmen will discuss the findings of the report on Tuesday.

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

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