Patriots Preparing To Contain Bills' Running Game

Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots will have a lot on their mind when they travel to Buffalo to face the division-rival Bills.

They're just trying their best to avoid making it all about the R-word: revenge.

"I guess so," safety Devin McCourty said when asked if he and his teammates are out to avenge a loss later this week. "I mean we want to win. I guess you can call it that if you want."

New England showed deficiencies in all three phases of the game in its 16-0 loss at home in Week 4. One of the most glaring was its run defense, which allowed the Bills to rush for 134 yards, the most the Patriots have allowed in a game this season.

Buffalo also kept the Patriots offense in check by holding it to a season-low 1-for-12 on third down.

The Bills gave the Patriots a steady diet of running back LeSean McCoy in the first game, but his status for this week is in doubt after he sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury.

If he can't go, it would put more of a load on quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running backs Mike Gillislee and Reggie Bush, who notched his first touchdown of the season last week against Miami.

McCourty said whoever they have in the backfield will be a challenge to contain.

"The things that we knew they did well, they're continuing to do it," McCourty said. "I think everyone knows they're going to run but they still go out there and run the football against everybody."

Taylor's ability to scramble kept the Patriots off balance in the first meeting. That opened up passing lanes and led to long completions to receiver Robert Woods.

This time, New England could chase Taylor with a defensive line that is lacking in depth.

Tackles Alan Branch and Malcolm Brown had little rest in last week's win at Pittsburgh with Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder) and Vincent Valentine (back) inactive. Anthony Johnson was called up from the practice squad to add to the rotation, and he could be called upon again this week.

Lewis back: Patriots RB Dion Lewis, who has been on the reserve/physically unable to perform list since Aug. 30, returned to practice Thursday. Lewis had surgery on his left knee in November to repair an ACL injury.

Jets Defense Comes Around

David Harris and the Jets' defense watched the film of their stingy performance last week against the Baltimore Ravens and liked what they saw.

Thumbs up all around — and it had been a long time coming.

"It was probably our best game of the year," Harris said Thursday. "We got turnovers, limited them in running the ball and had a good day all around. We didn't give up any touchdowns, so that's a huge plus for us."

In New York's 24-16 victory last Sunday , the Ravens managed just 245 overall yards while the Jets put consistent pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco.

Baltimore ended up with just 11 yards rushing, a franchise-record low for New York. It initially had been 6 yards, but a scoring change during the week gave Leonard Williams a sack and slightly increased the Ravens' rush total.

In the three games leading up to last Sunday, Terrance West rushed for 295 yards, the fourth-best mark in the NFL during that span. He finished with 10 on eight carries against the Jets.

"Yeah, that's tough to do in this league," Harris said. "Any time you can make a team one-dimensional like that, you can pretty much tell the guys up front to pin their ears back and go after the quarterback and try to make him uncomfortable back there, and I think we did that."

Which quarterback they'll be trying to take down against the 0-7 Browns remains to be seen. Josh McCown was medically cleared to play after breaking his left collarbone in the second game of the season. Cody Kessler, who started last week, is in the NFL's head injury protocol after being hurt last Sunday in Tennessee, and Kevin Hogan finished up in his place.

The Jets could have defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson back after he missed last week with soreness in his foot, a remnant of the broken leg he suffered in the finale last season. He had been playing through soreness in the tendon by the ankle but is hoping to be back on the field Sunday.

That would be a big boost for a defensive line that already includes Williams, Sheldon Richardson and Steve McLendon.

Mangold hurting: The Jets might be without the man in the middle of their offensive line.

Center Nick Mangold appears unlikely to play Sunday at Cleveland because of a sprained right ankle that has him in a walking boot.

Rookie linebacker Darron Lee will miss his second straight game with a sprained ankle. Offensive lineman Brent Qvale (neck) and linebacker Bruce Carter (quadriceps) have also been ruled out.

Copyright © 2017, CT Now
35°