Patriots Notes: Vrabel moves to a new spot
By Site Staff
--QB Tom Brady has put up gaudy passing numbers through New England's first six games (143-of-228 for 1,821 yards), but one number that gets little attention is his being sacked just seven times in 228 attempts. Despite an offensive line that includes two rookie starters and constant pressure, Brady's pocket presence, lateral movement and quick release have him on pace to set a career-low in sacks. More than the line, Brady himself deserves credit for that low number.
--RB Corey Dillon turned 31 earlier this week. Through six weeks he's rushed for 329 yards on 96 carries (3.4 avg.) with five touchdowns. Some in the New England media have questioned whether the low numbers are related to his age and Dillon has stopped speaking with the local writers, although he walks through the locker room making age jokes as he declines interviews. "I can't talk right now. I have to go pop another Geritol pill," Dillon joked recently.
--RB Patrick Pass has filled in nicely for injured backs Kevin Faulk and Dillon. Pass has two rushing touchdowns this season, the first two of his career, and had just one score in his previous five seasons with the Patriots. Pass is also now tied for third on the team with 16 receptions for 164 yards.
--WR Deion Branch has 37 receptions for 437 yards (11.8 avg.) and one score through six games. The reigning Super Bowl MVP already has more catches than he did for the entire 2004 season (35) and if he remains healthy should pass his previous career highs in receptions (57), yards (803) and touchdowns (4).
--WR David Givens is currently playing under a one-year, $1.43 million restricted free-agent tender for the Patriots and is on pace to put up career numbers heading into a potential free-agent payday. Givens has 31 catches for 355 yards and one score. The former seventh-round pick's previous career bests came in 2004 with 56 catches for 874 yards (15.6 avg.).
--WR Andre' Davis could see reps in the New England receiving rotation in the coming weeks if Troy Brown remains sidelined with a foot injury that kept him out of the team's Week 6 loss in Denver. Acquired in a trade (fifth-round pick) with the Browns in training camp Davis injured his foot in a preseason game and was cut at the end of camp. He re-signed with the Patriots on Oct. 19.
--TE Benjamin Watson, the team's 2004 first-round pick who missed all but one game as a rookie with a knee injury, is the only Patriot with more than two catches who is averaging more than 19 yards per reception. Watson has seven catches for 134 yards (19.1 avg.) with one score in six games.
--PK Adam Vinatieri (9 of 12 on field goals through six weeks) generally gives Patriots the kicking advantage each week, but so far this season his missed more kicks than New England's opponents (eight of 10).
--ILB Tedy Bruschi spent the bye week practicing with the team in working back from the mild stroke he suffered last February. The team has a 21-day window to activate the Pro Bowl linebacker to the 53-man roster. Bruschi has been working with the first-team defense and is expected to be activated in time to play in Sunday night's game against the Bills.
--CB Tyrone Poole appears to have had an injury setback for the second straight season. Poole missed most of 2004 with a knee injury, attempting two comebacks before going on injured reserve last December. The trend appears to be continuing in a similar fashion with an ankle injury this season. Poole said he could have played over the few weeks, but then appeared in the locker room on crutches with a cast during the team's bye week.
--LB Mike Vrabel started two weeks ago at inside linebacker against the Broncos and appears ready to remain in the spot. Vrabel, who has played outside linebacker in his previous four-plus seasons in New England, and Tedy Bruschi took reps at inside linebacker in the team's 3-4 with the first unit early in practice action last week, with early season starter Monty Beisel rotating in.
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