Sat, 31 Oct 2020

Unfiltered Notebook 9/26: Pats defense locked on Raiders

New England Patriots
26 Sep 2020, 20:34 GMT+10

Mike Dussault

The Patriots defense will look to get back on track this Sunday against a dangerous Las Vegas offense that has posted 34 points in each of their first two contests. The Raiders have a host of dangerous weapons that will challenge the Pats at all three levels, just like the Seahawks did.

"Just keep playing," said McCourty on the group's mindset coming off their first loss of the season. "Obviously, Sunday night wasn't our best night, that's obvious. But that's not going to change our mentality of how we play, the competitiveness of the guys in this room, that's never going to change. We know at the end of the day the only thing that needs to happen is we need to play better.

"That's been our focus. Not just being there but making plays when our defense and team needs them."

Henry Ruggs shot up the draft board after posting a 4.27 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine this past February, prompting the Raiders to take him 12th overall, three picks ahead of more productive Alabama teammate Jerry Jeudy, who seemed like the consensus top receiver in the class.

But with Ruggs ruled out, it puts even more attention on the team's leading receiver, tight end Darren Waller.

"He's a big guy, he played the receiver position, he's knows how to get open, he's strong, he can make the catches," said Stephon Gilmore of Waller. "He had a great game last game. Carr likes throwing him the ball and it's gonna be a big challenge for us to stop all of those guys, it's not just him."

Waller himself is questionable for the game but the Patriots were clearly expecting to see him Sunday at his best, which means he'll be lining up all over the place, making matchups for the Patriots defense to manage.

"We can't say, 'hey we're gonna do this here' and once you start trying to get into doing something, and he's all over the place, you start hurting yourself as a defense," said Devin McCourty. "It's going to be a total team effort. There's going to be multiple guys that end up on him just because of where he aligns in their offense. I think the biggest thing is when you play great players like this is awareness -- knowing where he is."

The other big threat will be running back Josh Jacobs, who, like Waller, is also questionable. Jacobs is a hard-running back who plays over two-thirds of the snaps. Lawrence Guy knows the Patriots defensive front will have to be on their tackling game.

"You see it on film, he breaks tackles," said Guy. "He has a nice spin move, a good stiff arm, he can run through his pads. He's one of those backs we understand we have to get a good wrap on him, we have to drive our feet and we have to do the best we can to get him on the ground."

With Seattle clearly behind them, Gilmore was ready to get back on the field.

"It's a new week," said Gilmore. "We're going out there, we got a great team coming in here. It's an opportunity for us to go out there and prove ourselves this week. I think the guys are pumped up, we just have to go out there and perform."

Practice & Injury Report

James White was once again absent from practice on Friday as the Patriots wrapped up their on-field preparations for the Raiders. Josh Uche, who popped up on the injury report on Thursday, was a new absence and later ruled out for the game, while practice squad player Jake Burt returned to action after missing two sessions this week.

David Andrews and White were also ruled out for Sunday, while five players are questionable.

OUT

C David Andrews (hand) - DNP

RB James White (not injury related) - DNP

LB Josh Uche (foot) - DNP

DOUBTFUL

No Players Listed.

QUESTIONABLE

DL Adam Butler (shoulder) - LP

DB Kyle Dugger (ankle) - LP

WR Julian Edelman (knee) - LP

WR N'Keal Harry (ankle) - LP

T Isaiah Wynn (calf) - LP

For the Raiders, rookie receiver Henry Ruggs and starting right tackle Trent Brown have already been ruled out, while Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs remain questionable.

OUT

T Trent Brown (calf) - DNP

LB Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral) - DNP

WR Henry Ruggs III (knee / hamstring ) - DNP

QUESTIONABLE

G Denzelle Good (thumb / illness) - LP

RB Josh Jacobs (hip) - LP

TE Darren Waller (knee) - LP

T Sam Young (groin) - LP

WebEx Quotes of Note

Julian Edelman to WEEI about N'Keal Harry:

"With any young guy it's just becoming a professional. I've been super proud of N'Keal and how he's continually progressed in that facet of professional sports. It's night and day from last year. It's not too big. He has a year under his belt. He's confident in certain abilities. That's when things start to go well, is when you start getting comfortable and then your athletic ability can take its place, when the game slows down because you're mentally into it. It's awesome he's been doing what he's been doing. We're going to need him to keep on doing that."

Lawrence Guy on the challenges that the Raiders offense present:

"They are a good complementary team. They can run the ball, throw the ball, they got a lot of weapons on their team so it's just an overall game plan where we have to go ahead and work on everything. You saw what happened on Monday night, they played a good game. Getting those passes out, running the ball efficiently, breaking tackles. So we just got to go out there, just gang tackle and play every down as best we can and try to illuminate the big plays."

Julian Edelman on establishing a route:

"I think establishing a good routine is probably something that helped me get to where I want to go and where I continue to try to get to. When you have a good routine, and I learned that from a lot of veteran players, and that adjusts accordingl to position... but if you put together a routine, find out what you have to do, work hard at those things and try to improve, that's usually when you improve. Have a healthy mindset. Those are some of the things to kind of helped me."

Devin McCourty on playing games without fans:

"It's practice in there. We haven't played a game yet on the road that has fans or at home with fans. It's a battle of, you could call it, sidelines I guess as far as noise and cheering. But I would say each game feels like you're on your own. Whoever's on your sideline, that's your guys for the day. That's all you got."

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