Patriots notebook

They'll flex muscle in Miami

Green pumping physical encounter in rematch

Matt Cassel says double coverage doesn't necessarily take Randy Moss off his radar. Matt Cassel says double coverage doesn't necessarily take Randy Moss off his radar. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / November 21, 2008
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FOXBOROUGH - The Patriots are prepared to get physical with the Dolphins Sunday.

As much talk as there has been about Miami outmaneuvering the Patriots with the "Wildcat" scheme, defensive lineman Jarvis Green pointed out that the scheme simply employs traditional zone blocking. Miami just outmuscled and out-executed the Patriots at the line of scrimmage in the first meeting, a 38-13 New England loss, as the Dolphins rushed for 216 yards on 36 carries.

"Yes, they outplayed us," said Green. "It was very tough the way they played, and everything about the game they manhandled us and made a lot of big plays in the running game. We didn't look good at all that game."

The physical nature of Miami's play is something coach Bill Belichick has also pointed out, and that may have been one reason he had his banged-up team practice in full pads Tuesday for the first time in more than a month. The Patriots spent yesterday and Wednesday in light shoulder pads (shells).

"I would think so; you know how Coach is," said Green. "That's our signature as far as the Patriots, playing a physical game and putting the pads on. I think it was great because last week we didn't really have the chance to go out there and move around, so that was very important."

Green said that being physical alone won't get it done against Miami's rushing attack. He said the Patriots have to be mentally aware, play technique, and use their hands to shed blockers.

However, in a conference call with Miami reporters Wednesday, nose tackle Vince Wilfork, while reciprocating praise from Miami center Samson Satele, said Satele and the rest of the Dolphins offensive line should be ready for more physical play from the Patriots defense.

"I can pretty much assure you it's going to be a physical game again," said Wilfork. "Any time we play a division game like this, it will always be a physical game. The most physical teams come out on top."

Takeoff points

The Dolphins are certainly concerned about Matt Cassel's ability to run the football. Last week against the Jets, who played a lot of man coverage underneath, Cassel ran eight times for 62 yards and had first-down scrambles of 12, 17, and 19 yards.

Cassel, who has run 51 times for 185 yards, said none of his rushes has been designed. He has just seen a seam and taken off.

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano is telling his pass rushers to beware of Cassel's running ability and to stay in their lanes when they rush.

"You get man coverage, people are running out of there, the linebackers are matched up on backs, there's nothing in the under area of the field, you're not playing disciplined, and they'll put the ball down and they'll go," said Sparano. "It's as good as any pass you're going to get."

Bruschi has ailing knee

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi was added to the Patriots' practice participation/injury report with a knee injury and was listed as having limited participation.

Wilfork was one of four players who didn't participate in practice, but his absence was listed as "non-injury related." The other missing players were linebacker Eric Alexander (hamstring), running back LaMont Jordan (right calf), and linebacker Adalius Thomas (broken right forearm).

Center Dan Koppen was added to the report with an elbow injury, but had full participation, and cornerback Jonathan Wilhite returned to practice after missing Wednesday's session with flu-like symptoms.

Double jeopardy

Teams have taken to putting a safety over the top of wide receiver Randy Moss to discourage the Patriots from throwing to him in double coverage. Yesterday, Cassel said that just because Moss is doubled doesn't mean he's not an option when the quarterback is reading the defense. "It really depends on my read and what we have talked about in meetings," said Cassel. "Sometimes there are plays that my read will take me somewhere else based on him getting doubled, and there are other reads that I will stick with him a little bit longer because he still has an opportunity to get open on that particular pattern. So it is all based on one play or another. But to say that I eliminate him right away based on the fact that he is being double covered is not necessarily true all the time." . . . Miami linebacker Joey Porter opened his mouth again when asked if the Patriots would be seeking payback for the Dolphins' win in Week 3. "It's on everybody's minds," he said. "If you lose to anybody, you want to pay them back. That's just part of the game. You want to beat everybody every time you take the field. Are we worried about that? No. They've got to come down here and prove it. So we're going to be ready."

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