What are the New England Patriots' players and coaches talking about ahead of Sunday's Week 5 matchup against the Detroit Lions in Foxborough? Let's find out:
1. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was really complimentary of the Lions rushing attack when speaking to the New England media Wednesday morning. The Lions currently rank sixth in rushing (164.0). Tackling will be a big point of emphasis this week for the Patriots' defense. Belichick talked about Lions running backs doing a good job of consistently getting more yards than they should on plays because of broken tackles and their elusiveness. He mentioned how Detroit uses an extra offensive lineman to support the run game more than anyone in the league (13.8 percent vs. league average of 2.7 percent).
2. ESPN's Dan Graziano reported this week that Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is 'unlikely' to play vs. Detroit Sunday. Backup Brian Hoyer's status is unclear after he suffered a concussion last week against Green Bay. Graziano reports that New England would feel comfortable with third stringer Bailey Zappe taking the reins Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Jones could return to practice this week, but Belichick declined to update the status of his injured quarterbacks on Wednesday. The Patriots media got the good old 'check the report' line.
3. Safety Adrian Phillips, New England's leading tackler (107) last season, referred to the Lions as a high powered offense.
"You know it's going to be another dog fight," Phillips said. "We just have to make sure we're locked in on every detail."
4. Patriots defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington on the Lions' run game: "They have two talented backs. They've got really good experience and good offensive linemen. So for us, we definitely got to do a good job preparing for these guys and we have to do a good job handling the running backs and offensive line."
5. Outside of the run game, Belichick was also complimentary of the scheme Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has developed in Detroit. Belichick said Detroit does a really good job with the marriage of the run and the play action pass game. If a team ramps up to stop one aspect, there's always a complementary play off the same look that's tough to stop, per Belichick.
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6. The Patriots will be wearing their throwback uniforms for Sunday's home game against the Lions, the classic red jerseys with familiar Pat Patriots logo on the side of the helmet, created by Phil Bissell in 1960.
7. Aggressive. That's the word Patriots players and coaches talked about when preparing to play Detroit. Belichick mentioned the fake punt last week, the flea flicker on offense, and Detroit's defense having one of the highest blitz percentages in the league. Belichick said Detroit and Miami are two of the most aggressive defenses in the league.
8. "We aren't in this for moral victories." That was the line from Phillips when talking about being in every game this year, but not finding a way to make the one play to make the difference in a win vs. loss. The Patriots have started 1-3, just like the Lions.
"We have to make sure we do every little detail the right way to get the win because it's so hard to get those wins. Close losses like that might affect you down the road, so every chance you get to go out there and stack in the W column, we have to take advantage of that," he said.
That sounds a lot like the Lions' mindset after four games.
9. The Patriots have been in a couple knock-down, drag-out fights the last couple weeks against good teams in Baltimore and Green Bay. They've come up short in both contests, last week's in overtime vs. the Packers. Because of that, Belichick eased off practice on Wednesday and conducted just a walkthrough.