Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe reports on the way the Patriots have reshuffled following a few injuries. When backups fill in for hurt starters, their backups get the special teams work formerly handled by the new starter. "It's a chain reaction," writes Benjamin. The story features rookie linebackers Pierre Woods and Corey Mays. At this level there are a lot of things that go on," Mays said. "It's football, the injuries will occur, so whoever's backing whomever up, you have to be ready to step in at any time. Also included are notes on the Patriots punting situation and the Jaguars running backs.
Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe reports on Kevin Faulk, who's right knee was sore after the Texans game. When you're out there, you have that adrenaline going, and because of the competitiveness that's within you, you really don't feel some things," Faulk said yesterday. "Then the adrenaline wears down and it's like, 'OK, what's going on here?' Everybody saw I could barely walk." Faulk is listed as "Questionable" for the upcoming game at Jacksonville. "Things happen that you can't control, and you have to adjust on the fly," he said. "You play a physical sport and you never can tell. That's life. Each day has gotten better and I'm staying positive."
John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports on the Jaguars defense. "Put the Jaguars on the road and they're barely the Green Bay Packers - 2-5, with losses to Houston, Washington and Tennessee. But play them at home, and they're the Chicago Bears of September and October, ferocious on defense and high-powered on offense - 6-1 with victories over Dallas, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and the Jets," writes Tomase. The Jags have allowed a league-best 9.1 points a game at Alltel Stadium and have yet to allow more than 17 points in a game there. Opponents have scored just 12 times in 84 possessions, and five of those were field goals.
The Boston Herald's Karen Guregian explains that it's unusual for a team to be shopping for a punter this late in the season. That's exactly what the Patriots are doing, however, with Ken Walter being placed on injured reserve. "This is definitely not how it's drawn up on the chalkboard in Belichick's World of Winning 101. The Patriots coach puts as much emphasis on special teams as he does on offense and on defense, and with good reason," writes Guregian.
Rich Garven of The Worcester Telegram & Gazette also reports on the Patriots punting situation. Presumably, the Patriots will fill the position today. They could wait until tomorrow when their charter flight departs for Florida, but that would seem to be pushing it. They auditioned veteran Sean Landeta on Tuesday, but didn't sign him. They did ink young Tom Malone to the practice squad, where he joins fellow rookie punter Danny Baugher. If nobody else is signed, one of the practice squad punters will be signed to the active roster for the game.
Michael Parente of *The Woonsocket Call *reports on the Patriots punting situation as well. The Patriots lost two punters in the span of 26 days when Josh Miller and Ken Walter suffered season-ending injuries. "The status is quo," said head coach Bill Belichick.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald offers a follow-up with defensive lineman Ty Warren about not being selected to the Pro Bowl, despite putting forth and excellent effort and some hefty stats this season. "One day after missing out on the honor despite having arguably the best season of any Patriots defensive player, Warren admitted disappointment but promised to work even harder to improve," according to Tomase. Also included are notes on Faulk.
The Providence Journal's Shalise Manza Young also reports on Warren. "I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want to go. Of course you want to go," the fourth-year pro out of Texas A&M said. Warren has posted career highs across the board.
Shalise Manza Young of The Providence Journal reports on Jaguars running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, who've combined to make Jacksonville the second most effective rushing team in the NFL this season. The only team with a better running game is Atlanta, which wins out because of Michael Vick's production on the ground. The Jags tandem features differing running styles. "Taylor is listed at 6-foot-1, 226 pounds and Jones-Drew is 5-7, 212 -- each player presents his own set of problems. Add in the fact that New England never has faced Jones-Drew, and it makes for an intriguing matchup," pens Manza Young.
Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant reports that the Jaguars are looking to stay in the running. How do they plan on doing that? By running, of course. The Jaguars, who lost to the Titans in Nashville last Sunday, are one of four 8-6 teams (the Broncos, Bengals and Jets are the others) vying for the two AFC wild card berths. Jacksonville would clinch a postseason berth by beating the Patriots and the Chiefs next week in Kansas City. "It's a big game for both teams," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "Obviously, it's more important for us. It's a must-win situation."
Rich Garven of The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports on the Patriots special team units. "You can't look at this football team and understand the challenge that we have without recognizing how good their special teams are," said Del Rio, whose Jaguars will host the Patriots on Sunday in a game with postseason implications for both AFC teams.
Albert Breer of The MetroWest Daily News reports on a couple backups who have been filling in for injured starters. "I kind of draw an analogy between (this switch and) a relief pitcher and a starter," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "If you're the starting pitcher, you know what you're going to do. You're gonna go out there and throw. Now, if you're the relief pitcher, you don't know if you're coming in fifth inning or the eighth inning." Both Tully Banta-Cain, at right outside linebacker, and Mike Wright, at nose tackle, have been forced to make the move because of injuries over the last month. "There's something of a transition," says Banta-Cain. "You have to be ready to deal with being consistent on a regular-down basis. If you're a situational guy, you get yourself ready for one situation."
Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle reports on Tom Brady's press conference this week, and discusses the offensive weapons the Patriots will be facing in the upcoming game against Jacksonville.
The Sun Chronicle's Lauren Carter reports that Marshall alum Troy Brown brought about 100 high school football players to the movies last night to view a special screening of "We Are Marshall," the true story of a plane crash in 1970 that claimed the lives of 75 football players, coaches and fans from Marshall University.
Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call reports on the Patriots defense, which is on pace to break the 2003 team's franchise record for fewest touchdowns and points per game allowed in a single season.
Jesse Noyes of the Boston Herald reports that Jimmy Buffett is one of the investors backing Plum TV, a television network for ritzy resort areas started by Nantucket Nectars founder Thomas Scott. Buffett is just one of several investors in the venture. He joins New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, former Viacom chief Tom Freston, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and Andy and Kate Spade, who founded the high-end fashion brand Kate Spade and Jack Spade.