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FOXBORO — With the evidence in hand, Brian Brazil made his case to the referees.

The coach of Hebron High in Carrollton, Texas, Brazil had just watched his team lose to Allen, 28-21, in 2011. What had Brazil up in arms was how his defensive end, Deatrich Wise Jr., fell victim to one hold after another without a single yellow flag thrown.

The explanation he received made it even worse.

“The game was over and I took (Wise’s) jersey over to the official, and the jersey was completely ripped. It was torn to shreds. I took it to the officials after the game and said, ‘Not one holding call. Did not call holding once, and I told you before the game (he would be held),’ ” Brazil recalled. “And they said, ‘Coach, he’s on the backside of the play.’ And I said, ‘Exactly. He runs everything down from the backside.’ ”

That didn’t matter. The officials, despite acknowledging the fouls, believed Wise wasn’t in position to make the plays and, thus, didn’t see it as a violation.

“I guess (the holding) worked,” Brazil said. “I had to get his jersey replaced because I couldn’t use it after that game. It was totally shredded.”

Wise said Thursday that game taught him a valuable lesson.

“High school is when I learned that refs never call a holding call,” Wise said, “and I’ve kind of got to get used to it.”

As Wise enters his third career NFL game this afternoon with the Houston Texans coming to Gillette Stadium, opposing offensive linemen have yet to keep him out of the backfield. Already with two sacks in two games, Wise has drawn an illegal hands to the face call, but no holding penalties yet.

He can see it, do it

All one must do to get a sense of how Wise can dominate at the point of attack is shake his hand. Not only does Wise have fingers that stretch out seemingly to the size of a catcher’s mitt, but his grip can have a crushing effect. Those big, strong hands, combined with 35-plus-inch arm length, make for a daunting physical specimen. Brazil even theorized that the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Wise could have grown into an offensive tackle.

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“Don’t just be in the game. Win the game.”

The No.1 U.S compression wraps and tapes manufacturer, Healit™, has joined forces with the New England Patriots to bring fans health, fitness and Patriots-inspired content throughout the 2017 season.

Healit™ systems are the next generation of therapeutic sports and medical compression wraps. Their unique self-adhesive compression wraps and tapes are designed to prepare the body, prevent injury, protect against re-injury and enhance performance. Healit™  wraps and tapes help to reduce swelling, improve blood flow and increase oxygen and nutrient delivery to damaged tissues so you can go faster, work harder and last longer.

The “Patriots Wrap-Up presented by Healit™” will be available on and Patriots social media channels throughout the season. Additionally, Healit™ will have a monthly series published right here on the Lifestyle section of, in which Patriots fans are provided with beneficial health and fitness tips.

Photo by David Silverman

For this month’s Healit™ tips, let’s kick it off with Speed Training: Patriots Style.

Even with the season in full swing, you can always do more to improve your speed and efficiency. The days of endlessly running laps are gone, making way for new and improved techniques to increase your explosive power and overall speed. Patriots are at the forefront of innovation, and by using the training model below you can train like a Patriot and win the game.

1. Speed starts with strength…
Without adequate strength, you will not be able to generate the explosive power required for speed over short distances. To speed train effectively, it is vital that we develop explosive leg strength. This is accomplished through load bearing exercises like dead lifts, squats, upper body and core stabilizing exercises, like shoulder presses and curls.

2. Strength generates acceleration…
To increase your acceleration speed you must enhance your body’s physiology and increasing the efficiency of the fast twitch fibers that are activated during maximum exertion. Hill sprints are a great way to do this. Because of the incline you are asking your body to work much harder than when you run on flat ground. Sprinting up an incline will therefore help to build up your muscular strength. The more you do it, the more your legs will adapt to running uphill. As a result, sprinting on a flat surface will become much easier.

3. Acceleration translates to speed with a good stride…
The easiest and most effective way to increase your ground speed is to increase the length of your stride. This can be done by gaining flexibility in your leg muscles. More often than not, the longer your stride, the faster you can cover a set distance. Combine this with an increased stride frequency and you’re on your way to success.

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Forced to step in at cornerback, second-year player Jonathan Jones, who’d primarily been used as a special teamer to that point in time, stepped up last Sunday in New Orleans.

Jonathan Jones majored in business ad ministration at Auburn Univer sity.

Which is exactly what he was doing at the Mercedes- Benz Superdome last Sunday afternoon – taking care of busi ness.

“It was a good feeling to be out there, be out there with those guys and be able to con tribute on defense,” the Patriots cornerback-special teamer said. “I’d say you have to be pre pared when your name’s called and when it’s your time go out there and not miss a beat and for it to (not) look like the backup’s in because they’re go ing to come at the guys they’re not used to seeing. So you have to be able to step in and make the plays.”

With the groin injury Eric Rowe suffered in the game forcing Jones into some rather extensive duty, the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder was on the field for 27 of the Patriots’ 62 plays on defense (42 percent) and an other 19 on special teams in their 36-20 victory over New Orleans.

Jones had two tackles, but what were easily his two biggest plays in the game were two breakups of Drew Brees passes, one on which he literal ly stripped Ted Ginn of a po tential touchdown reception, the other denying Brandin Coleman on a deep ball.

Those two plays drew a rave review from head coach Bill Belichick, who said “the technique that (Jones) used to finish the play at the final re ception point was excellent, perfect” and called it “textbook technique, what we teach all of our players to do.”

“I think the biggest point is just trying to make an impact in any way you can,” said Jones. “If you’re on the team, whatever they ask you to do be able to do it and do it to the best of your abilities. I think for me, that’s definitely important. A guy that’s undrafted, you get in where you fit in and be able to do more. Bill always says that. The more you can do and just be able to contribute in any way possible.”

While he quickly developed into a key contributor on spe cial teams (eight tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in that phase of the game during the regular sea son; four special teams stops to tie Patrick Chung for the team lead in the playoffs), Jones has had to bide his time on defense (only six tackles and one pass defensed all of last year; he was on the field for just three de fensive plays in the Patriots’ 42-27 season-opening loss to Kansas City this year) since he entered the league as a rookie free agent out of Auburn.

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After blowing a 17-9 lead in Detroit, the Cardinals’ defense looks to bounce back from a poor showing

Things couldn’t have started off any better for the Cardinals on defense after Justin Bethel ran away with an interception and returned it for a TD. After that, however, things seemed to slowly go downhill for James Bettcher’s unit.

At the end of the day, the defense gave up 367 total yards (285 passing; 82 rushing). They also allowed nineteen (19) 1st downs, allowing the Lions to keep drives extended, especially on 3rd down. With essentially playing zone coverage the entire game, Matthew Stafford took advantage.

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 10: Kenny Golladay #19 of the Detroit Lions scores a touch down in the second half against Justin Bethel #28 of the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field on September 10, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

With what usually is a blitz-happy team, the Cardinals only blitzed on 15.5% of pass plays, according to Pro Football Focus. Very uncharacteristic for an aggressive defense.

The conservative game plan allowed Matthew Stafford to have a great game, resulting in yet another comeback win for his Lions. He finished the day completing 29-of-41 passes for 292 yards, while adding 4 TDs.

Haason Reddick making strides

There was a silver lining in the loss on Sunday, however, and that was the play of rookie linebacker Haason Reddick. Reddick recorded six tackles and two assists. At times, looking like he knew exactly what was coming towards him on the play. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 80.9 for his efforts. Not bad for a rookie playing in his first regular season game.

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New England’s ex-third-stringer has risen to staring quarterback for the Colts.

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

On the day of the NFL’s cutdown deadline and only one year after drafting him in the third round, the New England Patriots traded third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the Indianapolis Colts for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. The trade was a surprising one but hailed as a win-win situation for both teams.

Dorsett would add depth to the Patriots’ depleted receiver depth chart, while Brissett would do the same for the Colts’ quarterback position. Two weeks later, the situation has changed drastically for the 23-year old passer. With Pro Bowler Andrew Luck still dealing with injuries, Scott Tolzien took over as Indianapolis’ starter in week one.

However, Tolzien delivered a forgettable performance and was ultimately replaced by Brissett late in the game. Now, it seems as if he has been replaced at the start of the game as well. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the ex-Patriot will start Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals:

Sources: The #Colts are planning on starting QB Jacoby Brissett on Sunday vs. #AZCardinals. Former starter Scott Tolzien goes to the bench.

After Tolzien completed only 9 of 18 pass attempts for a mere 128 yards and two interceptions – both of which were returned for touchdowns –, the writing was on the wall. Consequently, Brissett now appears to get the next chance to prove himself a capable starting quarterback in the NFL after starting two games during his 2016 rookie year with the Patriots.

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Are you mentally prepared?

Can you handle the what if?

As in, what if the Patriots are in decline . . . for real?

Which, without doubt, means Tom Brady, too.

Mental preparation is a hallmark of the Patriots success. Now Pats fans must become mentally prepared, get geared up for what they saw on opening night — The End.

Bad enough the Chiefs spit on the Pats’ fifth Super Bowl banner festivities, but now the wonder of it all, the glory of the last 16 years of fab football in Foxboro, a sad glimpse of what happens to dynasties.

Nothing lasts forever, except for a Red Sox game.

So how do you get mentally prepared for The End? How do you deal with a two-, three- or four-win season? Yikes!

Well, scream therapy is sometimes helpful, but how about simply recalling bits of past Patriots putridness. In small doses, please.

One can watch highlights of the Rod Rust era. At least that won’t take too much time.

Or how about recalling the chaos of the Ron Meyer regime. Meyer was fired after firing Rust, his then assistant coach, who then succeeded Raymond Berry to coach the Pats to that 1-15 season in 1990.

At the same time, remember the late 1980s to mid-’90s collection of nutty owners, from an aging Billy Sullivan to a clean-shaven Victor Kiam to Midwest carpetbagger James Orthwein. Phew, that will speed up your mental preparation for The End.

Then there’s the run of stadiums for the grand AFL Boston Pats, from Braves Field, to Fenway Park, to Alumni Stadium, to Harvard Stadium. Followed by the concrete colossus of Schaefer Stadium.

So give thanks to Bob Kraft for finally giving us a major league stadium, even though he never lets us forget it.

One can go on and on about the terrible and tawdry times of Patriots football while knowing the 2017 season is far from The End, though those thoughts are creepingly creepy.

Now is the time, Pats fans. Nothing like getting mentally prepared for The End. Bill Belichick would love it.

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“My confidence will never waver. They can come after me. I’m here.”

Tom Brady and Drew Brees during training camp in 2010.
Tom Brady and Drew Brees during training camp in 2010. –AP Photo/Winslow Townson

The Patriots are headed to New Orleans this weekend for a matchup between two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks over the last decade. Both teams are looking for a first win in the 2017 season.

Here’s what the Saints had to say about the Patriots ahead of Sunday’s kickoff:

Sean Payton, Head Coach

On playing a Patriots team coming off of a loss:

Obviously they are a real good football team and they are very well-coached and very talented. And I think it’s pretty common in our league there’s a certain I guess level of urgency, especially losing your opening season game, like we just did and like New England just did. … Our preparation and our focus has to be internal. We have to correct a lot of things that kept us from winning the other night and will continue to keep us from winning games if we don’t get it squared away.

On Rob Gronkowski and the evolution of the tight end:

You have to find him first. He lines up everywhere. He is outside, he is inside, he is in-line. I think his versatility is one of his biggest assets. He’s a guy that can play in the running game, just as well in protection, just as well as a receiver. So that flexibility and versatility does not make him one-dimensional. He is a big target and he has strong hands in traffic.

The location throws that Tom (Brady) does a great job with become challenging in regards to how you defend. It is not one thing you have to do. If you let him just run up the field without any type of obstruction that probably helps him. I think that they do a great job of moving him around to these different spots. Often times you get a pre-snap man or zone read based on who goes outside to cover him. If there is a receiver in the slot and Gronkowski is outside and you see a big go out there, safety or linebacker, it is probably man. There are a number of things you have to look closely at and watch on the tape.

It used to be that you would find those tight ends next to the tackle and then one day (Kellen) Winslow stood up in a two-point stance and it was like the solar eclipse. Then someone said, why don’t we put (Shannon) Sharpe outside of (Ed) McCaffrey in Denver and that was like we split the atom and pretty soon they’re everywhere.

On Brandin Cooks:

He’s a great competitor and he comes to work every day with an intensity each rep. There’s not really an off-speed rep for him and the way he prepares, I know he’s a good teammate, well -respected. For us you’re constantly looking at how you can improve some of the areas where you feel like you’re lean and we just felt like that was going to be one of the assets possibly that we could utilize, but his personality and each day you know what you’re getting and that’s a good thing. He has a great smile on his face, there are a lot of things to like.

Drew Brees, Quarterback

On Brandin Cooks:

I loved Brandin, loved playing with him for three years. I felt like we had some great years together. I felt like he had a lot of success in this offense. I wish him nothing but the best. We’re still good friends off the field, just happens to be that he’s on the other side of the ball this week coming back here to New Orleans, but nothing but great respect for him.

On the Patriots defense:

Yeah, they are big, thick, they do some interesting things upfront with their scheme. They can give you a lot of variations, obviously very game plan specific so we have to be ready for anything.

On Tom Brady:

We played against each other in college. We’ve known each other for a long time, I guess since 1999, when he was at Michigan and I was at Purdue, but I’ve got a ton of respect for Tom and what he’s accomplished. I don’t know if there is a guy in this game that is more disciplined, more mentally tough and has just been so consistent, so so consistent. A lot to be respected and I have a ton of respect for him and his approach and his accomplishments.

On facing the Patriots after a loss:

That’s a team especially after a loss, comes out with a vengeance and we know that they are going to be ready to play and we need to make sure that we are ready to play.

On Dont’a Hightower:

He is a very good football player and he’s a game changer, extremely smart, tough, plays all over the place. The leader of the defense, just an exceptional football player.

Ted Ginn Jr., Wide Reciever

On the Patriots’ starting cornerbacks:

It’s a great duo. They’ve got a lot of range to them. They play the ball pretty good. You have to be real fine in your routes to be able to get open.

De’Vante Harris, Cornerback

On the prospect of being targeted by the Patriots:

I’m a competitor, man. I just gotta keep in the mentality that I’m going to win more than I’m going to lose. Playing this game, being a corner, you gotta have a real short memory. You gotta be able to eliminate the bad plays that happen to you and I feel I can do that.

My confidence will never waver. They can come after me. I’m here.

Manti Te’o, Linebacker

On facing the Patriots in Week 2:

Obviously, having the Patriots in here, it doesn’t make it a bigger game; we just understand who’s coming in here,” Te’o said. “After this past Monday and for them last week Thursday, you ask both teams, it doesn’t matter who we line up against. It’s a big game because of the statement we hoped we’d make on Week 1, but now you get another opportunity. So, we hope we can make it this week.

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Every detail you need to know in order to watch the Patriots take on the Saints.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The (0-1) New England Patriots travel to face the (0-1) New Orleans Saints.

The Patriots are looking to rebound from their week 1 embarrassment and to get the 2017 season back on track. Teams that start the year 0-2 have roughly a 10% chance of reaching the postseason (8%-12% based on how far back you look), so the Patriots must come out laser-focused.

QB Tom Brady and QB Drew Brees face off in what is the most impressive battle of the old guns in league history. Hopefully they can put together a strong performance.

Here’s all the game information below.

Date: Sunday, September 17th, 2017

Location: Mercedes-Benz Super Dome, New Orleans, Louisiana

Kickoff: 1:00 PM EST

SB Nation


Announcers: Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, with Tracy Wolfson on the sidelines.

ChannelsCourtesy of the New England Patriots media guide.


Boston, Mass. WBZ-TV Channel 4

Online StreamingNFL Game Pass for international viewers, 98.5 The Sports Hub Online Radio Stream.

Radio: 98.5 FM, with Scott Zolak and Bob Socci

Additional Information: The Patriots provide an incredible breakdown on their website.

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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers Antonio Brown (84) and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers (15) in an NFL preseason football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers Antonio Brown (84) and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers (15) in an NFL preseason football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)(Fred Vuich)

FOXBOROUGH — Down to three healthy wide receivers, and without a reliable punt returner, the Patriots could turn to undrafted rookie DeMarcus Ayers in Week 2 versus the Saints.

Ayers, who signed with the Patriots practice squad after he was cut by the Steelers earlier this month, is one of the few players on the roster with punt return experience.

If he gets promoted, the transaction will likely happen on Saturday.

“DeMarcus has played inside and outside, and he has returned punts,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Friday. “We’ve looked at him doing all of those things as a practice squad player. Definitely making progress. They’re never really ready to go into the game when they come in this late, but a lot of times they do and will based on circumstances or need or whatever. We’re just trying to get him ready. He’s certainly a lot more ready this week than he was last week. If he keeps progressing, he’ll push for an opportunity to play.”

A seventh-round pick in 2016, Ayers played toward the end of the season for Pittsburgh once the Steelers had sewn up their playoff spot. He caught five passes for 44 yards in Week 17 versus Cleveland. Ayers, who attended the University of Houston with Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts, also played in the postseason, catching three passes for 21 yards.

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New England has released its second injury report of the week. Let’s take a look.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are only three days away from their game against the New Orleans Saints. Today, the team released its second injury report of the week and it gives further indication about the overall health of the roster and who may or may not make the trip to Louisiana.

Let’s take a look at it (via

Did not participate

WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee)

LB Dont’a Hightower (knee)

WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)

New England had four players out yesterday and the number decreased to three today. However, all three are core members of the team and it appears increasingly likely that the Patriots will have to face the Saints without them. While Matthew Slater certainly is a tough player to replace due to his leadership and experience, New England looked good on special teams despite the veteran being out in week one.

Replacing Danny Amendola and Dont’a Hightower, on the other hand, is not that easy: Both have played important roles against the Kansas City Chiefs – roles that now potentially have to be redistributed.

Limited participation

DT Adam Butler (knee)

OT Marcus Cannon (ankle)

SS Nate Ebner (shoulder)

OT Cameron Fleming (ankle)

FS Devin McCourty (groin)

DT Vincent Valentine (knee)

The lone change to the injury report came on the limited participation list. Defensive tackle Vincent Valentine, who has been dealing with a knee injury since the start of the regular season, was present for his first practice of the last two weeks. It would still not be a surprise to see the second-year man ultimately be declared inactive but his presence on the practice fields certainly is encouraging.

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