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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/23/05

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that Colvin has never made the Pro Bowl, despite back-to-back seasons (2001-02) in which he had 10 1/2 sacks playing with the Chicago Bears. Colvin was overshadowed by star middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who would be double-teamed, freeing Colvin to make plays. Colvin was the Patriots' big free agent signing prior to the 2003 season, but his season was cut short by a serious hip injury in the second week against Philadelphia. Colvin's career was in jeopardy, but he rebounded after an arduous rehabilitation. He was a situational player last season, appearing in 16 games but making only one start (he had 5 sacks and 1 forced fumble). With the reshuffling of the linebacking corps after Tedy Bruschi's stroke (and subsequent return) and Ted Johnson's retirement, Colvin became the starting outside linebacker and has responded with a performance reminiscent of his prime years with the Bears. ''I think everybody has a chance [of making the Pro Bowl] if you go out there and perform," said Colvin. ''I wasn't the guy they felt was deserving so that's not going to change who I am."

Jim McCabe of the Boston Globe previews this weeks NFL matchups and offers his picks.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that James Dungy, Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy's 18-year-old son, was found dead in his Tampa-area apartment. Patriots players yesterday offered their sympathies to the family of Colts coach Tony Dungy after news spread that his son had died. "I can't even imagine what he's going through," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "That's something where I just want to give my condolences. I respect Tony Dungy as much as any coach in the league. It's so sad to see this happen."

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that the Patriots are stepping up on first down. In the third quarter of the season's 11th game in Kansas City, Trent Green hit Dante Hall for a 52-yard touchdown pass on first-and-10 from the Chiefs' 48. Since then, there have been 69 first-down plays run against the Patriots that have gained 199 yards -- an average of 2.9 per play. Including that touchdown pass to Hall, there were 300 first-down plays against the New England defense and they gained 1,866 yards, an average of 6.2 yards per play. Curran breaks down how the Patriots fared defensively on first downs in each of their 14 games and what the opposition achieved rushing and passing.

Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant writes that for the first time this season, the Patriots (9-5) have won three games in a row. And for the first time this season, they are winning impressively. The Patriots' first six victories were by 10 points or less. Their last three have been by 13, 28 and 28. . "As I said a couple of weeks ago, I think that we have more confidence now. I don't think we ever lacked confidence or maybe lacked intensity or emotional whatever. ... I just think we're at a higher lever now. I think that has come from having a little bit more success. Confidence is really, in the end, what drives your aggressiveness, your emotion, your spirit, your communication, your everything. If you're sure it's right and you know it's going to work out right, it's a lot easier to hit it hard. You know the nail is sitting right there and you can just lean back and crack it. If the thing is moving, it's tilting, it's jiggling, it's vibrating, you just can't get the same. ... You just can't do it as aggressively," said Belichick.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers a story on second-year safety Guss Scott. A safety from Florida, the Pats spent a third-round pick on Scott in 2004. He and the Patriots agreed to a five-year rookie deal and sent it in to the league before the 2004 training camp began. When the league sent the contract back -- which provided for a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $500,000 -- Scott and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had second thoughts. They opted not to sign the contract and let Scott play for the rookie minimum. As bad luck would have it, Scott blew out his knee in a Patriots exhibition game at Cincinnati, ending his rookie year. With the Pats holding Scott's exclusive rights, he again was playing for the minimum in 2005. Now he's blown out his other knee and again is on injured reserve. "This is just something you have to deal with," said Scott. "You ask yourself why, but you can't prevent things. You can't wear braces all game. You just play the game and what happens, happens. I'm blessed just to be here with this organization and I'm trying to make the best of it."

Chris Kennedy of The Republican writes that although Monday Night Football will continue on NBC, the game between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets does bring to a close ABC's 36-year tenure carrying the game. The Patriots are 12-21 on Monday Night Football, and that includes their appearances on those recent season-opening Thursday night games - considered a special edition of Monday Night Football.

Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger writes that the New England Patriots were left with only two Pro Bowlers - quarterback Tom Brady(third) and defensive end Richard Seymour(fourth) - when the rosters for the Fed. 12 game in Hawaii were announced Wednesday. It's the smallest Patriots contingent since the 2000 club was shut out. The Patriots had four representatives in 2001, six in 2002, three in 2003 and five last year.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that left tackle Matt Light was placed on injured reserve after weeks of trying to come back from a broken right fibula. It is unknown whether the Patriots will fill Light's roster spot.

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. Reiss also offers his latest mailbag where he answers your questions.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.

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