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He's got it covered Patriots' Samuel ready for Rams

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  • He's got it covered Patriots' Samuel ready for Rams

    He's got it covered

    Patriots' Samuel ready for Rams

    By Joe Burris, Globe Staff | November 6, 2004

    FOXBOROUGH -- To hear Patriots coach Bill Belichick tell it, the St. Louis Rams aren't necessarily prone to subscribe to the adage, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," when it comes to their offensive game plan. He said as far as play-calling is concerned, New England's opponent tomorrow won't run a particular formation on consecutive downs even if it does succeed.

    "The Rams don't have many tendencies because they make it a point of never running the same play twice," Belichick said yesterday.

    Therefore, regardless of how New England's secondary fared in a play where Torry Holt ran a slant pattern and Isaac Bruce went long, the Patriot defensive backs might as well forget about it as they move on to the next down. Belichick was asked if that meant St. Louis had as many as 70 formations in their playbook.

    "It's more like 300," he said.

    It will present quite a challenge for a Patriots secondary looking to bounce back from last Sunday's debacle in Pittsburgh, where All-Pro cornerback Ty Law suffered a broken bone in his left foot that will sideline him 4-7 weeks. That means the two starting cornerbacks are on the injured list, as Tyrone Poole is out with a knee injury.

    After its troubles with Pittsburgh wideouts Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward, the New England defense must face an offense that ranks sixth in the NFL in total yards (375.4 per game). Led by Bruce (44 catches, 635 yards, 1 touchdown) and Holt (37 catches, 491 yards, 4 TDs), St. Louis ranks fifth in the league in passing offense (264.1 yards per game).

    What's more, running back Marshall Faulk is a perennial pass-catching threat, placing third on the team with 28 receptions for 216 yards. Faulk leads the Rams in rushing with 111 carries for 465 yards and 3 touchdowns, and this season has been bolstered by the exceptional running of rookie Steven Jackson (46 carries, 260 yards, 1 TD).

    Asante Samuel, who has been the Patriots' starting right cornerback since Poole's injury, said the Rams merely offer another challenge.

    "You've got Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, and all those guys are very fast and they run very good routes," said Samuel. "They've got good hands and they play real good ball. This is the NFL, you never know what you're going to get. You can get [particular plays] twice or you may not get them twice.

    "Every game is a different kind of challenge, so you have to just approach it by watching film and figuring out what to do."

    After starting for the first time this season Oct. 10 against Miami, Samuel had 3 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and a forced fumble in the Oct. 24 win over the Jets. He had three tackles and a forced fumble in last Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh.

    "I think with each game I learn more and more," said Samuel, who has 18 tackles and five passes defensed this season. "Tendencies, you just pick up from being out there. And every game is getting more and more comfortable, so I feel really good about it."

    Rookie cornerback Randall Gay, who subbed for Law last week, will likely receive plenty of attention from the Rams. On the second play following Law's injury last Sunday, Burress burned Gay for a 47-yard touchdown.

    Gay finished with four tackles and a pass defensed in the game, and has eight stops and an interception this season.

    "Here the coach expects that if someone goes down, someone else is supposed to come in and get the job done," said Samuel. "Those guys are to do it just as good, if not better. You just have to go out there and play."

    Asked about Gay yesterday, Belichick said, "I am sure he will have some opportunities to play in the game, and hopefully he is well prepared for them. Then he can go out and execute the defense as it is called in game conditions. He has been doing that."

    Belichick declined to say whether wide receiver Troy Brown, who played some cornerback during the exhibition season, would appear at the position tomorrow. "Troy is a good team player," Belichick said. "He has done whatever we asked him to do. I'm sure if we asked him to play tackle, he would go in there and play it the best he could." . . .
    The Patriots' punt return team will undoubtedly be challenged by St. Louis's Sean Landeta, who at 42 continues to be one of the league's best punters. Landeta has punted 29 times for a 43.7-yard average, tops in the NFC. Not bad for a player whose first NFL season was 1985 with the Giants, when Belichick was the team's defensive coordinator. "I go way back with Sean, and if you told me in 1985 that Sean would be punting 20 years later, I would have never thought that," said Belichick. "I know punters have longer careers, especially the good ones, but Sean has really had a remarkable career." . . . The Patriots' injury report remained unchanged for the third consecutive day. Among those who are questionable are running back Corey Dillon (thigh), Brown (shoulder), linebacker Larry Izzo (knee), fullback Patrick Pass (thigh), and wide receiver David Givens (knee). Meanwhile, wide receiver Deion Branch, who is doubtful because of a knee injury, continues to progress. "You'll see me soon," he said . . . Asked how he felt the team would respond after its first loss in 22 games, Belichick said, "You try to get the team ready to play on Sunday, but you don't know what you are going to get [until] Sunday," he said. "How you set it up in practice may or may not be the way it unfolds."

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

Related Topics


  • RamDez
    Patriots Notebook: Injuries raising doubts by Frank Tadych (pats press)
    by RamDez
    Patriots Notebook: Injuries raising doubtsby Frank Tadych

    Wide receiver David Givens, one of 11 players on the Patriots injury report, was listed as questionable again on Friday.

    Foxborough, Mass. - The Patriots didn't report any changes to their injury report Friday, which isn't good news. The Patriots again listed 11 players on the report, including wide receiver David Givens, who sustained a knee injury in last week's game against Pittsburgh and listed as questionable for the third straight day.

    Givens was one of nine players who missed a portion of team practice Friday. Givens has been quarterback Tom Brady's primary target this season, leading the Patriots in both receptions (32) and receiving yards (544) while joining David Patten as the only receivers to play in all seven games.

    "I think Givens will be all right," head coach Bill Belichick said, electing not to elaborate any farther.

    Givens joined fellow receivers Troy Brown (shoulder) and Deion Branch (knee) on the injury report this week. Brown, who also missed the season opener due to a knee injury, saw his first action in four weeks against Pittsburgh, finishing with five receptions for 59 yards. Branch, who hasn't played since a knee injury Week 2 against Arizona, made an infrequent visit to the locker room during the media's open session Thursday. Brown, listed as questionable, and Branch, who is doubtful, both missed portions of team practice for the third consecutive day on Friday.

    "I'm straight," Branch told reporters. "You'll see me soon."

    Despite the overall rash of injuries, especially at receiver, Belichick wasn't looking to make excuses heading into Sunday's game in St. Louis. The only other receivers on the Patriots roster are Bethel Johnson and Kevin Kasper, both of whom play mainly on special teams.

    "I think everybody has a job to do and regardless of who the people are, who the 45 active players are, it is their responsibility to be ready to go and do that," Belichick said. "From a player's standpoint, their job is the same every week-get ready to play and play well in the situations that they are called on. When we go to the game we expect everybody to be ready to go and perform at their highest level."

    As for the rest of the injury report, cornerbacks Ty Law (foot) and Tyrone Poole (knee) are out and will not play Sunday. Offensive tackle Tom Ashworth (back), running backs Corey Dillon (thigh) and Patrick Pass (thigh), and linebacker Larry Izzo (knee) are all listed as questionable after missing portions of team practice again Friday. Ashworth, Dillon and Pass did not play last week.

    Quarterbacks Brady (shoulder) and Jim Miller (shoulder) are again listed as probable.

    A player who is listed as doubtful is described as having at least a 75 percent...
    -11-07-2004, 03:04 AM
  • txramsfan
    Law has undisclosed foot injury
    by txramsfan

    Law has an undisclosed foot injury
    Cornerback hurt on third series
    By Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff | November 1, 2004

    PITTSBURGH -- The Patriots suffered a severe blow yesterday when All-Pro cornerback Ty Law left with an undisclosed left foot injury on the third series of the game and never returned.

    The Patriots were, as usual, mum on Law's injury, initially indicating he was "questionable" to return and then "doubtful" by the second half. With Tyrone Poole already out with a knee injury, it forced the team to use rookie Randall Gay in Law's spot and the Steelers took advantage, burning Gay on a 47-yard touchdown pass to Plexico Burress in Pittsburgh's 34-20 win.

    After the game, Law's locker was cleaned out.

    Asked to provide an update on Law, coach Bill Belichick said, "No, he did not come back and finish the game so obviously we will evaluate him and see how he is doing later." Gay also was helped off the field midway through the third quarter, favoring his leg. That moved free safety Eugene Wilson to corner and brought rookie Dexter Reid into Wilson's spot until Gay returned.

    The Patriots were as depleted as they've been this season with running back Corey Dillon a scratch with a thigh/foot injury. Dillon had been listed as questionable at midweek.

    Dillon was on the sideline, but when approached after the game, he said he wanted no part of answering questions.

    Asked how much of a difference Dillon not playing made to the offense, which ran only six times, Belichick answered, "You tell me; he did not play."

    The Patriots were also playing without right tackle Tom Ashworth, receiver Deion Branch, and fullback Patrick Pass.

    The injuries forced the Patriots to start Kevin Faulk at running back, Asante Samuel at right corner, and Brandon Gorin at right tackle.

    Law did not make contact with anyone on the play on which he was hurt. He made a move on a Hines Ward route and then collapsed to the turf.

    Left tackle Matt Light had the wind knocked out of him late in the third quarter and did not return. That created a mish-mash at offensive line, which in the fourth quarter consisted of Stephen Neal shifting to right tackle with Russ Hochstein entering the game at right guard and Gorin moving to left tackle.

    Before the game, the Patriots placed linebacker Dan Klecko on injured reserve with a knee injury incurred while playing fullback on a pass route last week against the Jets. The Patriots replaced Klecko with rookie running back Cedric Cobbs, who gained 1 yard in his first NFL carry.

    Vinatieri on deck?
    The Patriots have cap room to sign another impending free agent before Nov. 8,...
    -11-01-2004, 12:50 PM
  • RamDez
    Rams-Pats: 5 Things To Watch
    by RamDez
    Rams-Pats: 5 Things To Watch
    By Jim Thomas

    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Life without Law

    The New England secondary that muscled the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI will not be found Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome. CB Otis Smith, a former Mizzou player, just turned 39 and is out of football. Free safety Tebucky Jones was traded to New Orleans in April 2003. Strong safety Lawyer Milloy, a St. Louis native, was released in September '03 and now plays for Buffalo. That leaves four-time Pro Bowler Ty Law. He's still with the Pats, but is out after suffering a fractured left foot last week. Law is one of the league's best cornerbacks and will be tough to replace.

    "He's a great player ... and he's definitely one of the shutdown corners," Rams QB Marc Bulger said. "But they have a lot of great players, and the structure of their defense is pretty sound."

    The Patriots already are missing veteran Tyrone Poole (knee), so the Rams could face a pair of unproven cornerbacks in second-year man Asante Samuel and undrafted rookie Randall Gay. Samuel was effective last year as the Patriots' nickel back, but is on the small side and sometimes struggles against bigger receivers. Gay was only a part-time starter in college, but played for Bill Belichick disciple Nick Saban at LSU in a Patriots-style defense.

    Gay was shaken up against Pittsburgh, so there's a chance the Patriots could move free safety Eugene Wilson to cornerback and bring Dexter Reid off the bench to safety. But no matter what the alignment, the Rams should be able to exploit the New England secondary if Bulger gets enough time to throw.

    What's up front

    New England has three former first-round picks in its 3-4 defensive alignment in ends Ty Warren and Richard Seymour and nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Seymour is one of the league's top young defensive linemen. The two-time Pro Bowler has excellent size (6-6, 310), a huge wingspan, a non-stop motor and good quickness and burst. In short, he's the total package.

    Normally, Seymour lines up on the side of Rams LT Orlando Pace. But he has been known to line up over center on passing downs. The Patriots also move him to the other end, which could be the case Sunday if New England tries to create a matchup advantage with Rams RT Grant Williams. The X-factor for opposing blockers is New England's outside linebackers, mainly Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinest and Rosevelt Colvin. The Patriots move them around, which can create confusion and mismatches.

    "They'll use a four-man front, they'll use a three-man front," Rams C Andy McCollum said. "They'll use linebackers as ends - down guys. You've got to be able to determine who's blocking where, and if you consider somebody a rusher, or if you consider him a linebacker."

    As imposing as the Patriots can be, the power-rushing
    -11-07-2004, 10:55 AM
  • Nick
    Patriots lose third straight game
    by Nick
    FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- New England coach Bill Belichick rested his regulars and Jacksonville routed the remaining Patriots.

    The Jaguars beat the Super Bowl champs 31-0 Thursday night behind three touchdown passes from Quinn Gray and one from David Garrard, all in the fourth quarter.

    But starting quarterback Byron Leftwich was disappointed he didn't face the Patriots' first-stringers in the exhibition finale for both teams.

    "You want to compete against those guys, because when you leave the game you will be better," Leftwich said. But, he added, "you understand because they've got a game in a week."

    The regulars played an unusually long time in last Saturday's 20-17 loss at Carolina and open the season next Thursday night at home against Indianapolis, while other teams start next weekend.

    "Any time you have the Colts coming to town, it's not a bad thing to get some rest," said Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour.

    None of the 22 offensive and defensive first-stringers played, but the Patriots (1-3) trailed just 3-0 after three quarters.

    The Jaguars (3-1) ended the exhibition season without a touchdown from their first-string offense, but coach Jack Del Rio wasn't worried.

    "I'm not really concerned," he said. "You would like to be a little more explosive in these preseason games, but overall I think we're going to have a good offense."

    Leftwich played just three series, going 4-for-8 for 24 yards. Starting running back Fred Taylor, who had a strained foot, didn't play.

    With Tom Brady charting plays on a clipboard, Rohan Davey played all but the Patriots' final series. The offensive player of the year in NFL Europe went 13-for-25 for 104 yards and two interceptions, but Belichick praised him.

    "Rohan did some good things," Belichick said. "He managed the game well. I thought he made a couple good throws that we weren't able to come up with."

    Kliff Kingsbury finished up at quarterback

    "I loved" playing so much, Davey said. "The only thing that could have been better would have been a win."

    The Patriots lost their third straight game, the others 31-3 at Cincinnati and 20-17 at Carolina. They enter the regular season with a 15-game winning streak covering the last regular season and playoffs.

    With Corey Dillon resting, Mike Cloud led New England rushers with 93 yards on 19 carries.

    The Jaguars committed no turnovers, while the Patriots had five, and outgained New England 451 yards to 222.

    "The two things I'm most excited about coming out of this preseason are turnovers and special teams," Del Rio said.

    After a scoreless first half, the Jaguars took a 3-0 lead on Josh Scobee's 31-yard...
    -09-02-2004, 09:51 PM
  • RamDez
    Run defense also a concern (pats press)
    by RamDez
    Run defense also a concern

    Friday, November 06, 2004 By CHRIS KENNEDY
    [email protected]

    The Patriots defense has more to worry about tomorrow than simply their depleted secondary.

    While injuries that will sideline starting cornerbacks Ty Law and Tyrone Poole will encourage St. Louis coach Mike Martz to call pass plays to his wide receivers early and often, the Patriots were not exactly stalwarts against the run in last week's 34-20 loss at Pittsburgh.

    The Steelers gained 221 yards on the ground, the second team in seven games to crack the 200-yard rushing mark against the Patriots. Edgerrin James and the Colts piled up 202 in the season-opener. With Kansas City's Priest Holmes and Baltimore's Jamal Lewis on the horizon, the Patriots need to solidify that area of their game in a hurry.

    As for this week, New England has to hope any added emphasis they put on shoring up their secondary does not come at the expense of their run defense. The Rams will never be run-oriented, but they certainly have what it takes to mix in an effective ground game that might make them seem unstoppable.

    Marshall Faulk, still one of the most feared combination backs in the league, is averaging 4.2 yards per carry over 111 rushes and is the team's third-leading receiver with 28 catches. Oregon State rookie Steven Jackson, the 24th overall pick in last April's draft, is averaging 5.7 yards over 46 carries.

    One of the two is in most of the time, but there have been occasions when both are on the field. Faulk is a better receiver than most wide receivers, so having both on the field certainly can work. The bigger Jackson is obviously a more powerful back, the smaller but still hard-nosed Faulk is one of the most dynamic players in league history.

    Martz said the carries might now be split right down the middle over the coming weeks because the Rams are confident the 6-foot-1, 231-pound Jackson can handle his responsibilities.

    "To be honest, if something were to happen to Marshall, with Steven we wouldn't miss a beat in terms of what we are doing," Martz said. "It doesn't diminish our offensive package at all, which I could never say about a rookie before and never thought I would say about a rookie back.

    "I can't tell you how pleased I am with his maturity, his ability to absorb and be a student of the game."

    Jackson's progress allows the Rams to give the 5-11, 211-pound Faulk the kind of breaks that will leave him fresh late in games and perhaps late in the season as well. Faulk, in his 11th year, has been hampered by hand and knee injuries in recent seasons.

    "He is playing very well," Martz said of Faulk. "His weight is...
    -11-07-2004, 03:00 AM