Tag:Stevan Ridley
Posted on: January 22, 2012 2:02 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 2:05 pm
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WR Chad Ochocinco inactive for Patriots Sunday


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

By Ryan Wilson

Chad Ochocinco missed practice Friday and wasn't with the team Saturday because, according to various reports, he had flown home to Fort Lauderdale to attend his father's funeral. Ochocinco, who was traded to the Patriots just before training camp but managed just 15 receptions and one touchdown all season, rejoined his team in time for Sunday's AFC Championship matchup against the Raven but he will not be active.

The former Bengals wide receiver and Pro Bowler, considered a healthy scratch, struggled to learn the nuances of the Patriots' offense, which explained why Ochocinco was often on the sidelines when the team went no-huddle during the season. Missing valuable practice time this week likely played a part in coach Bill Belichick's decision to deactivate him.

This won't affect the Patriots' offensive game plan, however. Tom Brady's favorite targets -- Wes Welker (122 receptions, 9 TDs), Rob Gronkowski (90, 17), Aaron Hernandez (79, 7) and Deion Branch (51, 5) -- will all play.

Running back Stevan Ridley is also inactive, possibly due to fumbling twice in the previous two games.

Other Patriots inactives: OL Sebastian Vollmer, OL Donald Thomas, LB Gary Guyton, RB Shane Vereen and QB Ryan Mallett.

Ravens inactives: WR Tandon Doss, CB Chykie Brown, RB Anthony Allen, LBs Josh Bynes andSergio Kindle, OL Justin Boren, NT Brandon McKinney.

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Posted on: January 11, 2012 2:40 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 9:40 pm
 

Film Room: Patriots vs Broncos divisional preview

Will Gronk get his Gronk on this time around? (Getty Images)
Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

It was assumed the Patriots would draw a rematch in their divisional round playoff opener. However, most figured that rematch would be of their Week 8 bout with Pittsburgh, not their Week 15 bout with Denver.

Here’s the breakdown of what could turn out to be the highest-rated divisional round Saturday night game of all-time.


1. New England’s plan for Tebow
Something to keep in mind is the Steelers had a sound gameplan last week, playing man coverage and using a tepid pass-rush to ensure that Tim Tebow stayed in the pocket. What the Steelers didn’t count on was Demaryius Thomas being able to get by Ike Taylor and Tebow being able to pull the trigger on downfield throws. Those two young ’10 first-rounders both had career days.

The Patriots might bet that the two youngsters can’t do it again.

On the one hand, that’s a smart bet given that Thomas and Tebow were inconsistent all season (Tebow especially). On the other hand, it’s foolish given that cornerback Kyle Arrington – who would draw the Thomas matchup, as Thomas almost always lines up on the favorable side of the left-handed Tebow – is not half the cover artist Ike Taylor is, and given that logic says if Tebow can win against the man coverage of the league’s best pass defense, he can surely win against the man coverage of the league’s worst pass defense.

In the last meeting, the Patriots played predominant Cover 3 in the first half:

The Broncos had success throwing skinny posts to Tebow’s left against the Patriots Cover 3 defense in the last meeting. Cover 3 is what you’d guess it is: three defensive backs each responsible for a third of the field. Because there is so much field to cover, the outside defensive backs often play man-to-man concepts (as Devin McCourty is doing on the right side). Cover 3 is something defenses play when they blitz or when they want to force a quarterback to throw (it’s the default zone coverage behind an eight-defender box).

In this example, the Patriots were clearly baiting Tebow to throw. Notice there are only five rushers (which is hardly a blitz considering Denver has seven guys in pass protection – the idea was to keep Tebow from scrambling). Also notice how linebacker Dane Fletcher has his back to the quarterback and is running towards the left passing window. (Fletcher was late getting there; Tebow did a good job recognizing the coverage and getting the ball out quickly. The result was a 22-yard completion to Eric Decker.)

The Broncos used great routes for beating this anticipated coverage, but Tebow was unable to connect on some of the throws.

Still, throws against Cover 3 are easier than throws against quality press-man, as long as the pass protection holds up. Denver’s protection was tremendous last week.

If tackles Ryan Clady and Orlando Franklin (who may need some help on the right side) can keep speed-rusher Mark Anderson at bay, the Broncos will be golden. (Keeping a backup like Anderson at bay may not sound difficult, but the former Bear was actually very disruptive in the last meeting.)

2. Stop the run!
The Patriots gave up 167 yards rushing in the first quarter of the Week 15 contest. They wound up winning the game handily, but they were on the fortuitous side of a few fumbles.

Common sense says you can’t bank on having success with such porous run defense. The issue last game was outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich’s inability to set the edge and the defensive line’s inability to prevent the Bronco linemen from contacting inside linebackers. This was a problem both with New England’s 3-4 and 4-3 fronts.

Nose tackle Vince Wilfork must stand out more this time around. The Broncos will be willing at times to block him one-on-one with J.D. Walton. The second-year center has been up-and-down (in a good way) handling tough solo assignments against nose tackles down the stretch this season. He was phenomenal against Antonio Garay of the Chargers in Week 12 but had been just so-so the previous week against Sione Pouha of the Jets. In Week 15 he held his own against Wilfork, but in Week 16 he got schooled by Marcell Dareus.
 
If Walton has a strong game, the Broncos can pound the rock inside. If he struggles, Denver’s at least capable of getting to the perimeter, though they’ll miss the fervid blocking of wideout Eric Decker.

3. Defending the Patriots tight ends
Greg Cosell, executive producer of the NFL Matchup Show, did an excellent job breaking down the Week 15 film back in December. Cosell wrote that the Broncos focused their coverages on Rob Gronkowski, successfully disrupting his timing by hitting him at the line of scrimmage.

However, that left fourth-round rookie safety Quinton Carter on Aaron Hernandez. Carter, like the rest of Denver’s safeties, is not great in man coverage, which Hernandez proved by posting what were at the time his career highs in catches (nine) and yards (129).

Though still a little green as a route runner (particularly against zone), Hernandez has the movement skills of a wide receiver. The Broncos may choose to defend him with rising rookie nickel back Chris Harris. That would leave safeties and linebackers to cover Gronkowski.

Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen may figure he can get away with that as long as coverage linebackers Wesley Woodyard and D.J. Williams are once again physical with the second-year superstar.

The Patriots’ counter to this would be splitting Gronkowski into a slot receiver position (likely in a spread 2 x 2 or 3 x 2 set), where he could line up a few yards off the line and operate against an overwhelmed defender in space. Even if the Broncos decided to sacrifice their run defense by going with dime personnel against the two tight ends, they still would be overmatched.

After all, just because Jonathan Wilhite is a corner doesn’t mean he can cover Gronkowski. This is the problem New England’s offense poses, this is why the Patriots are the No. 1 seed.

4. If lightning strikes twice ...
As the tight end analysis just suggested, the Broncos are faced with a very serious matchup problem that can only be solved by their players rising up and doing things no one thought they could do. It’s improbable, but as Denver’s offense showed last week, not impossible.

So let’s say for the sake of extra analysis that the Broncos can stop Gronkowski and Hernandez with their inside pass defenders. That leaves outside corners Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman on Wes Welker and Deion Branch (who did not play in the last matchup).

If the Broncos want to avoid the matchup problems that New England’s flexible formations create (such as Welker working against a linebacker in the slot), they’ll have to play man-to-man, with Bailey assigned on Welker and Goodman on Branch. Those aren’t bad matchups for either side – it would come down to who executes better (general rule of thumb, over the course of 60 minutes, put your money on the offense).

What we’re not considering is New England’s ability to run the ball. They’re not known for that, but against nickel or dime defense, they’re capable of controlling the game the old fashioned way.

Danny Woodhead has great lateral agility. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a steady, highly professional runner. Of course, he may lose snaps to the more dynamic Stevan Ridley, a third-round rookie who has come on as of late. The Patriots have an excellent run-blocking front five with LG Logan Mankins being a premier puller, RG Brian Waters a shrewd playside anchor, LT Matt Light a crafty angles-creator (including at the second level) and RT Nate Solder a ridiculous athlete out in front.

5. Broncos pass-rush slowing down?
Pass-rush pressure is always a prerequisite for beating Tom Brady. Lately, the Patriots have nullified it with an increased emphasis on three-and five-step drops. Brady is especially sharp at this when working out of an empty backfield.

The Broncos have not had the most fervid pass-rush the last month anyway. They sacked Brady just twice in Week 15. They got Ryan Fitzpatrick just once the next week and Kyle Orton once in the season finale. They got to Ben Roethlisberger in the wild card round but that’s a product of Roethlisberger’s style of play. Denver’s pass-rush did not control the flow of last Saturday’s game. Von Miller has had just one sack since his first game back from a thumb injury (December 11 at Minnesota) and has been less explosive playing with a cast.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all divisional-round games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: August 19, 2011 6:54 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 8:58 pm
 

Report: Clinton Portis tried out with Patriots

PortisPosted by Josh Katzowitz

In case you were wondering what happened to RB Clinton Portis -- aside from the fact Ryan Torain is still waving to him in his rearview mirror -- the Boston Herald has the news that the former Redskins star was in town Friday to work out with the Patriots.

Portis has had a number of good years for the Broncos and Redskins, gaining at least 1,200 yards in six of the seven seasons between 2002-08,and it’s a tad surprising his name hasn’t been brought up more as a viable free agent (I mean, when Tiki Barber is getting more pub than you, that’s not a great thing). But then again, Portis is 29 years old -- certainly middle age at his position -- and he’s been slowed down by injuries.

Last year, the loss of Portis for 11 games (he only carried the ball 54 times for 227 yards after suffering a torn abdominal muscle) led to the impressive play by Torain, hastening Portis’ departure out of town, especially since he was going to be paid $8.2 million for 2011.

It seems rather unlikely the Patriots are the team for Portis, though. They’ve already got young talent in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, as well as draft picks Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see Portis land somewhere this season.

As the preseason continues, there are bound to be teams who wouldn’t mind having Portis around to help build depth. Wouldn’t you rather have him than Barber anyway?

First, he'll have to get in better shape. As the Boston Globe writes, Portis apparently wasn't at all fit during his tryout after having to lose 25 pounds in two weeks. Hmm, maybe teams would rather have an in-shape Barber rather than an eccentric overweight Portis.

UPDATED (8:56 p.m. ET): Player agent JR Rickert disputes the Globe claim. He tweeted that Poris weighed in at 222 pounds and there is "absolutely no truth to him being overweight."

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Posted on: May 7, 2011 1:22 pm
 

AFC East draft truths revealed

Posted by Andy Benoit

One of the best things about the draft is that from it we can find out what teams really think about their current players. Excluding examples of teams filling obvious needs, here are some of the more revealing draft picks from 2011, with a quick blurb of what the team was really saying by making this pick.

Buffalo Bills

1st round, Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama
Deep down we know we’ll never really run a 3-4 defense.

3rd round, Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, LSU
But just in case we do….

4th round, Da’Norris Searcy, SS, North Carolina
Replace Donte Whitner? Heavens no, we wouldn’t have him do that! We’ll have Searcy replace backup George Wilson…and let Wilson be the guy to replace Whitner.

Miami DolphinsM. Pouncey (US Presswire)

1st round, Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida
We’re still not entirely sure if Richie Incognito is a guard or a center. So, we got an even better tweener to shape that decision around.

New England Patriots

1st round, Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
The hints of decline that veteran left tackle Matt Light showed last season are only going to get worse. No way we’ll pay him market value.
P.S. Sebastian Vollmer’s future is at right tackle.

2nd round, Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
It’s a tradition around here to draft corners in the second round. Plus, Kyle Arrington has no ball skills.

2nd round, Shane Vereen, RB, California
We need to replace Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor. Also, we wouldn’t mind letting some other team overpay BenJarvus Green-Ellis once he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

3rd round, Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU
Just in case Vereen turns out to be a flop.

3rd round, Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Even we’re not sure exactly why we did this. But we’ll figure something out.

New York Jets

4th round, Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville
We can’t shake the images of Joe McKnight throwing up at camp last year.

Check back throughout the week for other division’s Draft Truths Revealed. To see all Draft Truths Revealed, click the “Draft Truths” tag.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com