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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/5/2006

The Patriots' banged-up defensive backfield was delivered another knockout punch yesterday when safety Eugene Wilson was placed on injured reserve, ending his season, reports Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe. Reiss explains that the Patriots had been holding out hope for the opening-day starter, who had missed eight games with a hamstring injury. The team signed 33-year-old cornerback Ray Mickens to take his spot on the roster.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald also reports that Wilson was placed on IR. Mickens spent last season in Cleveland under former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and has a good understanding of Belichick's system. He spent training camp with the Jets but was one of Eric Mangini's last cuts and had been out of football until yesterday.

Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant reports that rookie running back Laurence Maroney sustained a concussion in the first quarter of Sunday's game. Greenberg explains that the Patriots can't afford any missteps at this point in the season, with or without Maroney. Luckily, they haven't dropped any 'gimme games.'

Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe reports that defensive lineman Ty Warren lets other look at the bright side. "I'm never satisfied," Warren said. "I just got through watching film, and some things I'd like to have back. I would not like to have jumped offsides one time. As good as a game people on the outside think I had, I'm sitting up at night thinking, 'Dang, why'd I jump offsides?' and thinking about those 3 points they converted at the end of that drive."

Boston Herald writer John Tomase also offers a feature on Warren, who he calls "the archetypal gentle giant" off the field, and simply a giant on the field. "I want to get as close to perfect as I can," said Warren, the Pats' 2003 first-round pick. "You may never get there, but I'll always be trying."

Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald asks you to remember what it was like when the Patriots were the perennial losers. "And while Pats football fans may have groused over the Pats' 28-21 victory over the Lions," writes Buckely," they can take solace in this: They're not Detroit football fans. Belichick weighs in on the differences between coaching a winning team and a losing one.

The Boston Globe reviews "Moving the Chains," a new book on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady by Charles Pierce. "Pierce's work on the whole, much like Brady's past and future career, is bright and entertaining. Among the hundreds of pinpoint observations is a gem when Brady, early in his rookie season when he was mired deep on the team's depth chart, happens to bump into team owner Robert Kraft, and tells him, matter-of-factly, "I'm the best decision this franchise has ever made." Fans who pick up 'Moving the Chains' will feel they've made a great choice as well. And chances are they won't take Brady for granted again," says Brion O'Connor of The Globe.

[Ian Clark](http://www.theunionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Ian Clark on Football: Pats play survivor&articleId=e1d0f9d9-8c1c-4600-85b5-dbc010f506db) of The Union Leader offers his post-Lions Patriots report card. The quarterbacking scores high marks, but the offensive line looked like it forgot to study for this quiz, according to Clark.

The Boston Herald's Michael Felger wonders if perhaps the media shouldn't mock coach Belichick next time. "The Patriots coach had us guffawing last week when he told us how dangerous the Lions' offense was under coordinator Mike Martz. He drew snickers when he said third-and-18 was no problem for them. Eyes were rolling when he talked about Jon Kitna oiling his arm in preparation," says Felger. "Turns out Belichick had it right." Felger offers his Patriots report card on the too-close-for-comfort Lions game. He's hardest on the secondary, but the running backs and defensive linemen won't be afraid to show their parents this one.

Providence Journal writer Shalise Manza Young reports that the Patriots need to correct turnover problems. "There's going to be times when the ball is going to come out and there's going to be times when it isn't ," Belichick said yesterday. "You want to have as many of those in your favor as possible and you work as hard on it every week. But that doesn't mean . . . there are still going to be some on both sides. I think that's the reality of football." Clearly, it's impressive that the Patriots have been able to overcome their own mistakes over the last couple of weeks and are 9-3 instead of a more pedestrian 7-5. But if they can't hold onto the ball, it may not matter how good their regular-season record is in January.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that the Patriots are having more problems with mental errors and mistakes than they typically do at this point in the season. Last week, the Patriots committed a season-high 10 penalties for 72 yards, giving the Lions an extra four first downs.

In a related article, the* Herald* sports staff takes a look at turnover stats from the past five seasons. The Patriots are on pace to have 32 turnovers this season, and have fumbled 11 times in the past three games. That's their worst three-game stretch since Belichick became the head coach in 2000.

Chris Kennedy of The Republican reports on an officiating error that occurred during the Lions game last weekend. The Lions were essentially given an extra timeout after they'd already used all of them up. "I think in our situation our guy just granted the timeout in error," said referee Jeff Triplette, "so best to ignore it, best to play on."

*The Patriot Ledger's *Ron Hobson explains that the Lions feel they let the Patriots off the hook. "There are things you can do against them," said wide receiver Roy Williams, who reached the 1,000-yard mark in the game. They have holes in their defense you can take advantage of, and we did that. We just couldn't finish it up. The fumble and interceptions came late. If we scored on the 2-yard line at one point, we would have been up big."

Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger reports that Tom Brady and receiver Reche Caldwell may not see eye-to-eye on the matchup for the BCS national championship game, but on the pro level, both players are pulling in the same direction - toward the playoffs. Caldwell had a career-high 112 yards on eight receptions against the Lions.

Bob Stern of The Enterprise also reports on Caldwell, saying, "As December hits, one thing is clear: Reche Caldwell is Tom Brady's go-to receiver." Caldwell, whose previous career-high had been 110 yards, became the first Patriots player to surpass 100 receiving yards this season.

Glen Farley of The Enterprise reports on the Patriots list of concerns, likening coach Belichick to a more "grumpy-looking" version of jolly St. Nick. "It's scary and kind of good," running back Heath Evans said. "We're not anywhere close to peaking yet."

Tom King of The Telegraph isn't pushing any panic buttons. He explains that "right now there's panic in the streets. How could the mighty New England Patriots have struggled so much against the Detroit Lions? How can they ever expect to beat good teams if they play like they did in Sunday's 28-21 comeback win?" King reminds doubters that the Patriots played poorly and still beat the Bears two weeks ago, and points out that the Patriots "fate this weekend was much kinder than what befell teams like the Indianapolis Colts, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos, all AFC playoff contenders, correct?"

Michael Parente of the Woonsocket Call reports on cornerback Asante Samuel, who's contract is up after this season. "Seven picks in 12 weeks should be good enough for at least seven figures a year," predicts Parente. Samuel's seven interceptions is tied for the league lead right now.

USA Today offers it's Inside Slant on the Patriots, updated yesterday.

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