If there was one word that stuck out on Thursday in the Patriots locker room it was "explosive". From linebackers Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy to safety Terrence Brooks, the defense was uniformly focused on stopping the big plays that the Browns have produced this season.
"Explosive across the board," said Roberts when asked what kind of challenge Baker Mayfield and company present. "Everybody. Quarterback, o-line, running back, receiver group, everybody across the board."
"They've got a really, really good passing attack and running attack," said Van Noy. "Freddie Kitchens calls it very aggressive and the players like that.
"It comes down to fundamental football against a talented group like this. Everybody has to be ready. We're confident in what we've been doing. We know they're going to be confident and it's going to be a good game. I'm excited to be here on Sunday, that's for sure."
Safety Terrence Brooks, who has seen an increased defensive role in recent weeks with Patrick Chung battling injuries, agreed with his teammates.
"They got a lot of playmakers over there, a lot of guys you got to keep your eye on," said Brooks. "Everybody's gotta be on their P's and Q's this week. We know they have some playmakers over there, we just have to do our job and play hard."
One playmaker that drew particular interest was running back Nick Chubb, who was a bit under the radar this offseason while Mayfield, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry stole the headlines. Chubb is fourth in the NFL in rushing, has six touchdowns and is averaging over 100 yards-per-game. He certainly was not under the radar of the Patriots defense.
"He's really, really good. underrated running back," said Van Noy. "He's really explosive. The play that sticks out to me is that run he had against the Ravens. He looked really, really fast running away from them. We've got to have everybody, all 11 of us, running to the ball and being aggressive."
Roberts agreed when asked what kind of challenge Chubb presented the defenders.
"A big one," said Roberts. "He's an explosive running back. Sometimes it's not even there and he makes a play. That brings a big challenge for not just the front seven but for everybody. We gotta tackle this guy, pursue hard. They got guys that can make something out of nothing, from the running backs to the tight ends to the receivers. We gotta be on high alert the whole game, 60 minutes."
As for the Browns lackluster 2-4 start to the season, the Patriots weren't buying that their record meant anything.
"It's the NFL, continued Roberts. "Each week you're going to play NFL players. Any given Sunday you can get beat. Doesn't matter what your record is. So we're gonna go in there with the mindset of playing 60 minutes. That's it."
Practice & Injury Report
The Patriots practiced in helmets and shells on Thursday, taking a lighter approach to the short week after just having a walk through on Wednesday. All were present and accounted for except Matt LaCosse and practice squad member Ufomba Kalmalu. This was positive news for starting right guard Shaq Mason, who would've not participated in a full practice on Wednesday due to a new ankle injury. Eric Tomlinson, who was announced as being released on Wednesday, was back at practice with the team as well.
The full injury report is below, which includes the removal of Philip Dorsett. Things are not trending well for Ryan Izzo to return this weekend.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Ryan Izzo, Concussion
TE Matt LaCosse, Knee
RB Rex Burkhead, Foot
S Patrick Chung, Heel/Chest
WR Julian Edelman, Chest
G Shaq Mason, Ankle
WR Gunner Olszewski, Ankle/Hamstring
WR Phillip Dorsett, Hamstring
Locker Room Sound Bites
Kyle Van Noy on Jarvis Landry's prediction of a Browns win:
"We're focused on us. I think that's everybody's mindset coming in, is to win. Some people talk about it. Some people just try to back it up on the field. I think we're just focused on us. Obviously they have a lot of confidence coming off a bye week rested and we're gonna do whatever we can to win the game ourselves."
Elandon Roberts on getting to play fullback against the Jets:
"It was cool"
Do you get to hit people more there or at linebacker?
"Nah, at linebacker I kinda hit a little more."