NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The biggest roster change this week occurred when the Patriots traded RB Laurence Maroney and a 2011 sixth-round draft pick to Denver in exchange for a 2011 fourth-round pick from the Broncos.
The move signaled the end of Maroney's disappointing career with the Patriots. The former first-round pick never developed into an every-down back, and the Patriots figure they have enough depth at this position to trade Maroney now while he still has some value.
Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor ran well in the opener against Cincinnati, which may or may not have expedited this trade, though it's obvious the Patriots had fallen out of favor with Maroney long before the deal was made. He didn't get many opportunities in the preseason and had zero carries last week against the Bengals.
This will now be a two-man job with Morris and Taylor, so look for them to split the bulk of the carries from here on out with Kevin Faulk serving as a change-of-pace back with the ability to catch balls out of the backfield, too -- a role he's grown accustomed to during the latter stage of his career.
--OL Nick Kaczur did not practice Wednesday due to a back injury. He missed Sunday's opener and was replaced by Sebastian Vollmer. The Patriots can get by without him for now, but his absence leaves them without much depth up front.
--RB Fred Taylor missed portions of Wednesday's practice with a toe injury, though it doesn't appear to be anything serious enough to keep him out of Sunday's game. He and Sammy Morris are expected to handle most of the workload against the Jets.
--WR Julian Edelman only practiced during portions of Wednesday's session due to a foot injury. Edelman's absence was not a major setback for the offense last week since the tight ends were involved, but the Jets' defense is a bit more complicated. Edelman could provide some relief for Wes Welker, too.
--CB Terrence Wheatley missed Wednesday's practice with a foot injury and will likely sit out Sunday's game against the Jets. Wheatley is primarily used on sub-defense packages and special teams.
--S Patrick Chung was one of six players wearing a black jersey at practice Wednesday, signifying he was one of the practice players of the week in preparation for the opener against Cincinnati. The others were: OL Stephen Neal, OL Rich Ohrnberger, CB Tony Carter, LB Shawn Crable and C Ryan Wendell.
GAME PLAN: This won't be much like last week's game, which turned into a shootout in the third quarter. The Jets are far more sophisticated defensively and they have a hard time moving the ball on offense, so this figures to be a low-scoring game.
What the Patriots need to do is attack the Jets' defensive line, which will have to do without NT Kris Jenkins for the second year in a row. Jenkins tore his ACL against Baltimore and is done for the year. Strangely enough, the Jets were better statistically without him in 2009, but their secondary is so strong that it makes more sense for the Patriots to test their luck on the ground first before they think about airing it out.
On the flipside, they need to rush the passer better than they did against Cincinnati. Mark Sanchez won't hurt them as badly as Carson Palmer did, but the last thing the Patriots want to do is give Sanchez any sort of momentum given his struggles against Baltimore.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Patriots WR Randy Moss vs. Jets CB Darrelle Revis. This is an obvious match-up: the league's best cornerback against one of the NFL's top wide receivers. The Jets were leery about giving Revis a heavy workload in the season opener since he missed all of training camp, but they ultimately paid the price for it, so don't expect them to take it easy this time. Revis' job will to cover Moss the way he has in the past, which means Tom Brady will have to work the underbelly of the defense.
Jets NT Matt Kroul vs. Patriots C Dan Koppen. Kroul becomes the focal point of the Jets' defense now that Kris Jenkins is out for the season. The Patriots need to take advantage of Kroul's experience. Koppen has been in the league long enough, so his experience could be the determining factor in this matchup and go a long way in deciding how the Patriots do in their attempt to establish the run.
Jets TE Dustin Keller vs. Patriots S Patrick Chung. We'll see how the Patriots utilize Chung in this game, but it might be best to have him keep an eye on Keller, who has the potential to be a dangerous weapon in New York's passing game. Keller didn't get open much against the Ravens, but he's physical enough to fight his way through the Patriots' defense. Chung will need to be equally physical.
INJURY IMPACT: The biggest impact actually comes on the Jets' side, where Kris Jenkins' season-ending injury could change how the Patriots map out their offensive game plan. Whether they decide to run early and often remains to be seen, but it's clear they're more comfortable with their corps of running backs now that they've traded Laurence Maroney to Denver. Sebastian Vollmer will likely have to start another game at right tackle in place of Nick Kaczur, which makes it important for everyone to stay healthy along the offensive line. The Patriots don't have a lot of depth here.
NEW YORK JETS
Second-year pro Matt Slauson started at left guard against Baltimore. Slauson defeated second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse in a preseason position battle to replace Alan Faneca, released in April. The Jets were concerned about Faneca's declining skills as a pass protector, and hope Slauson will be an upgrade in that department. Slauson did allow a crucial sack to Baltimore's Haloti Ngata late in the fourth quarter of the opener.
With LCB Darrelle Revis back in the fold, Antonio Cromartie moved from LCB back to his intended RCB slot, and rookie Kyle Wilson went from starting to playing in the nickel package. Both struggled against Baltimore, although coach Rex Ryan said he thought Wilson played well. Revis was used mostly on the left side against the Ravens, but will shadow Randy Moss this Sunday, much the way he covered the opposition's top wideout for most of last season.
--OLB Calvin Pace will be able to discard the walking boot from his right foot Thursday, but still doesn't know when he'll be able to play. Pace, who broke a bone in his foot on Aug. 27, said, "I wish I could give you a date. The doctors couldn't give me a date either. ... I have to be patient."
--DT Howard Green, who played in 12 games for the Jets last season, was re-signed to help provide depth after NT Kris Jenkins suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee. Green practiced Wednesday. Jenkins was placed on injured reserve.
--S Brodney Pool (ankle), who sat out the opener, was limited in practice Wednesday. The Jets are hoping he can play Sunday versus the Patriots.
--WR David Clowney was re-signed by the Jets after being cut Sept. 5. Clowney is the fastest receiver on the team and may be able to help stretch opposing defenses until Santonio Holmes returns from his four-game suspension.
--WR Braylon Edwards had only one reception for nine yards Monday night, but coach Rex Ryan has made it clear he wants Mark Sanchez to throw to him more often, and for Edwards to be a more prominent part of the game plan.
GAME PLAN: The Jets need to open things up on offense if they hope to match scores with New England, which appeared to be in mid-season form on offense in its 38-24 opening-day win over Cincinnati. Look for the Jets to take more shots downfield, something they did sparingly against the Ravens. On defense, they may have to back off their usual blitz-happy schemes, as Tom Brady looked sharp on opening day and will be able to exploit single coverage away from CB Darrelle Revis, as Baltimore and Joe Flacco did Monday.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Jets CB Darrelle Revis vs. Patriots WR Randy Moss. Moss has been itching to get at Revis since the cornerback called him a "slouch" in a game of word association in an interview, which perhaps was payback for Moss downplaying Revis' ability to shut him down in Week 2 last season by saying Revis had plenty of help. The 6-foot-4 Moss is five inches taller than Revis, but Revis uses his excellent technique and physicality at the line of scrimmage to throw opposing receivers out of synch. Moss must find a way to defeat that tactic.
Jets LG Matt Slauson vs. Patriots NT Vince Wilfork. Wilfork has given the Jets fits in the past, using his push up front to help slow down their running game. Slauson is making only his second NFL start, and while he didn't play badly for four quarters against Baltimore, he did allow a crucial sack to Haloti Ngata in the fourth quarter on which Ngata simply overpowered him. The 315-pound Slauson can't allow the 325-pound Wilfork to do the same to him.
INJURY IMPACT: OLB Calvin Pace, rehabbing from surgery on his right foot, will miss his second consecutive game. Former Dolphin Jason Taylor again will start in his place, and he had his moments against the Ravens, twice trapping RB Ray Rice for losses. The Jets had intended to use Taylor as more of a situational pass rusher, but that role will be increased markedly for however long Pace is out. FS Brodney Pool practiced Wednesday the Jets hope he will be able to return after missing the Baltimore game. Eric Smith again would start in his place, if Pool can't go. The Jets wouldn't lose much, because Smith has performed well in a starting role. NT Kris Jenkins (knee) is out for the season. DT Sione Pouha will slide over and start in his spot and others, including Mike DeVito, will take turns in the rotation. The Jets were able to play well against the run last season after Jenkins was lost with a season-ending knee injury, so they have experience at making up for his absence.
This report courtesy of The Sports Xchange
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