Smith, Broncos O-Line top Patriot concerns

As the Boston Patriots prepare for their Monday night game against Denver, wide receiver Rod Smith and the Broncos offensive line are major concerns. Meanwhile, back in Denver, Clinton Portis wants to see more production out of the running game. Read about it in today's news reports.

Athletes' fear factor - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
October 31, 2003 - Professional football players are not fearless. Brave, in their own way, yes, but not fearless. When Broncos linebacker John Mobley slumped to the turf Sunday in Baltimore - his arms motionless, his legs useless - fear swept over his teammates.

Patriots' draft class a step above - Denver Post - Adam Schefter
Friday, October 31, 2003 - The deal that would have reshaped Denver's draft wound up reshaping New England's instead. Minutes before their scheduled 20th overall selection last April, the Broncos agreed to trade the pick to the Ravens for Baltimore's first-round pick in 2004 and its third-, fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round picks in 2003.

Portis critical of offense's poor running game - Denver Post - Adam Schefter
Friday, October 31, 2003 - Even Denver running back Clinton Portis admits the Broncos' offense has turned into orange trash. "We've got to get the ball to those guys downfield," Portis said Thursday in the midst of Denver's preparations for Monday night's game vs. New England. "As the running game gets going, that's what will open things up downfield.

Patriots not ones to lick wounds - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
October 31, 2003 - No excuses allowed. It's built into the NFL's fabric. The game's inherent violence lends itself to injury, and losses are to be expected along the way every year, even if the salary cap makes it more and more difficult to stock quality, experienced reserves.

Portis says Pats deliver punishment - Rocky Mountain News - Lynn DeBruin
October 31, 2003 - Ask Clinton Portis what he remembers about the Denver Broncos' battle against New England last season, and he doesn't mention his first two-touchdown game in the NFL or his third 100-yard effort. "That was the most physical game I was a part of," he said of Denver's 24-16 win on Oct. 27, 2002. "All of the linebackers are 6-(feet-)3, 250 (pounds), so there is going to be a lot of banging. You've got to be prepared for that."

Tagliabue says Billick's gripes about replays are out of line - Rocky Mountain News
October 31, 2003 - CHICAGO - NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue lashed back at Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick for criticizing instant replay, saying Thursday his comments were "intolerable." Tagliabue said he expects owners to keep video review as an officiating aid, when it comes up for a vote at a meeting in March.

NFL Report: Son king? Griese, Manning to duel - Rocky Mountain News - Lynn DeBruin and Lee Rasizer
October 31, 2003 - When Brian Griese was 8 or 9 years old, he said he would make people forget about his dad one day. OK, so he was only joking. But the former Denver Broncos quarterback has a chance to make his own mark with the Miami Dolphins.

Inside the AFC West - Rocky Mountain News
October 31, 2003 - DENVER: Jason Elam is off to a fast start in 2003. After eight weeks, he is on pace to set career bests in points scored and field goals. He has 70 points, and has hit 17 of 18 field-goal attempts. His season best is 132 points, set in 1995. That same year he set a personal best by making 31 of 38 field-goal attempts.

Patriots' 'D' could create problems for Broncos - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
October 31, 2003 - Bill Belichick and Mike Shanahan, among their peers and opposing players, are two of the most respected head coaches in the NFL, the former because of his defensive schemes, the latter for his offensive game plans. On Monday night, New England comes to town to play Denver at Invesco Field in what should be an interesting chess match, especially when the Patriots defense and Broncos offense are on the field.

Broncos have little margin for error in division bid - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
October 31, 2003 - The Denver Broncos have a math problem to solve. Right now, they are 5-3 and without quarterback Jake Plummer for Monday's matchup with surging New England. When they look up, way up, they see that the Kansas City Chiefs are 8-0 and in complete control of the AFC West. Which makes the Broncos' game against the Patriots a must-steal situation with No. 3 quarterback Danny Kanell facing Bill Belichick's stingy defense.

Turning corner in safety adjustment - Boston Globe - Michael Smith
10/31/2003 - The Patriots coaches knew Eugene Wilson could cover. They knew he was instinctive. They knew he possessed those all-important "ball skills." They liked his versatility. The only concern they had about moving the 5-foot-10-inch, 195-pound rookie cornerback to safety was his tackling. It's one thing to have help from the sideline. It's another to have to take down, say, a barreling running back in the open field.

This year, they're not half bad - Boston Globe - Michael Smith
10/31/2003 - Hard to win it when you're not in it. This time last season, opponents were finishing the Patriots as soon as the games got started. It was just about a year ago that the team was in the midst of a four-game skid. Three of those losses pretty much were over by halftime. The Patriots (26 yards) went into the locker room trailing, 16-0, to Miami.

Rod Smith vs. Ty Law - Boston Globe - Michael Smith
10/31/2003 - "Rod Smith is a player that, defensively, you've got to stop," Bill Belichick said. That's been easier said than done for the Patriots. Three years ago, Smith caught 13 passes for 160 yards in a loss at Foxboro Stadium. Two years ago, in a win at Denver, he caught six for 159, including a 65-yard touchdown. Last year, he was relatively quiet with seven receptions for 54 yards in a 24-16 win at Gillette Stadium.

Broncos not expected to spare Rod - Boston Herald - Michael Felger
October 31, 2003 - Bill Belichick can't stand Rod Smith, not as a person but as someone who has consistently befuddled his defenses. Belichick knows the Pats will have to find a way to slow down the prolific Broncos receiver Monday night in Denver, something that won't be easy given Smith's success against Belichick in recent years. Over the past three meetings, Smith has torched the Pats for 26 catches and a whopping 373 yards.

Bull's eye on Kanell: Patriots target third-string QB - Boston Herald - Michael Felger
Thursday, October 30, 2003 - FOXBORO - There's a reason Danny Kanell spent much of 2000 playing baseball for the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League. There's a reason he spent 2001 playing football for the New York Dragons of the Arena League. There's a reason he spent most of September coaching, and playing scout team, for Westminster Academy high school in Fort Lauderdale. The reason? No NFL team wanted him.

Belichick cuts to chase: No more talk of Broncos' blocks - Boston Herald - Michael Felger
October 31, 2003 - Bill Belichick has heard enough of the talk and he's decided he doesn't want to hear any more of it, at least from the players in his locker room. When it comes to cut-blocking, no team in the NFL is more notorious than the Denver Broncos [stats, news]. They do it whenever they get the chance and they do it with great results. There is a reason the Broncos' running backs are consistently at the top of the league.

Nick Ferguson Answers Your Questions -
Friday, October 24, 2003 - When Kenoy Kennedy went down with a sprained ankle in Week 3 against the Oakland Raiders, it was Nick Ferguson to the rescue. The veteran safety stepped in and has started the past four games at the position providing solid play as well as remaining a contributor on special teams. His best effort saw him make 10 solo and 12 total tackles in the club's 17-14 victory over Pittsburgh. He has proven to be a leader on special teams as well as his nine tackles leads the team in that category.

Thursday Notebook: Smith Finds Mood 'Kind of Tense' - - Andrew Mason
Thursday, October 30, 2003 - What is the mood of the Broncos, a team dealing with numerous injuries and a two-game losing streak? It depends on which player you ask. "Kind of tense, kind of tight," wide receiver Rod Smith said. "You can't play this game if you are all uptight because you are going to go out there and you're going to overdo it; you're going to make mistakes. It's still a game. True, there's a lot of emphasis on these games, but it's still a game."

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