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Patriots notebook

Restructured for rematch

Teams will have different looks

Matt Light stopped by to chat with Tom Brady during the tackle’s limited practice. Matt Light stopped by to chat with Tom Brady during the tackle’s limited practice.
(Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
)
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / November 19, 2009

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FOXBOROUGH - Back in September, Joey Galloway was taking snaps at receiver and Wes Welker was on the bench with a knee injury when the Patriots played the Jets.

The Patriots left the Meadowlands with a 16-9 loss, shut out in the second half and owners of 299 total yards of offense, a season low. While Galloway never panned out as a third receiver and was released, Welker returned and has opened up many options for the Patriots with his presence.

“We always miss Wes, he’s one of the best players on our team, one of the best in the league,’’ Tom Brady said. “Whenever he’s not playing, you have to make up for it in other ways. Julian [Edelman] stepped in there the last time and did a good job against them. But there’s only one Wes Welker out there.’’

In that first meeting, Edelman made his NFL debut in Welker’s place, catching eight passes for 98 yards. The Patriots didn’t score a touchdown in that game, their only points coming on Stephen Gostkowski’s three field goals.

But Brady enters this week having thrown for more than 300 yards in four straight games, and while the offense had its miscues against the Colts, Brady said they should be in position to have a stronger outing against the Jets.

One big difference on the Jets defense is the loss of nose tackle Kris Jenkins, who had season-ending knee surgery.

“Well, I’d like to think that we’re a better team now than we were in the second week of the year,’’ Brady said. “We’ve made some good improvements. But this team really challenges us. It was probably our lowest output of the season in points, yards, production, third downs, all the way across the board. We had a bunch of yards in penalties, also.

“They’re a good team and they challenge us in a lot of ways. Playing them one time, I think that’s going to help you, but we can’t play much worse than we played. There’s got to be some saving grace in that.’’

Picking it up
The Patriots got a heavy dose of the blitz the first time they faced Rex Ryan and the Jets - they blitzed Brady on 33 of 47 pass plays, according to the New York Daily News - and the same is expected Sunday. At some point, all that will stand between Brady and an oncoming blitzer will be running back Kevin Faulk.

When it comes to blitz pickup, Faulk is the Patriots’ first pick, which is why he is a staple of shotgun formations.

When Faulk entered the league in 1999 out of Louisiana State as the Southeastern Conference’s all-time leader in touchdowns with 53 (a mark tied last week by Florida’s Tim Tebow), he was more concerned with picking up rushing yards than blitzers. But he quickly figured out that to last in the league, he needed to pass protect.

“It really is funny for me now because you can see me during games now when Tom throws the ball deep, and I have to pick up the blitz, I’ll be cheering like I made a 30- or 40-yard run because I know that’s what I do, that’s what they expect of me,’’ said Faulk.

Cryin’ time
Ryan famously said in the offseason that he wouldn’t kiss Belichick’s rings. And despite having lost five of six games, the Jets coach isn’t backing down.

“This is a huge challenge,’’ Ryan said. “But this is the same football team we beat in Week 2. So we know we can beat them. Again, I know everybody said, ‘They’re going to be mad and they’re going to be ready to get after it, and they’re going to try to whip us’ and all that. Guess what? We’re going to try to whip them. Again.’’

The Jets exhibited similar bluster before their Week 2 win.

The difference is that the team is now reeling, and drama has descended upon its North Jersey headquarters. This week, the tumult took aim at Ryan, who admitted to weeping before addressing his players Monday, in the wake of the loss to Jacksonville.

Ryan opened his press conference yesterday by poking fun at himself (he brought a box of Kleenex to the podium and declared he had a new sponsor) and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez (reading from a prepared statement, as Sanchez did Sunday), eliciting laughs from the media.

“This is who I am; you can go back and ask anybody who I coached in Baltimore, whoever,’’ Ryan said. “I’m gonna be myself. I’m man enough to be me. Again, it’s more passion than it is anything else. I have a strong belief in myself and this football team. And if that comes out, that comes out.’’

Belichick was asked at his press conference if he has ever cried in front of his team.

“I’ve coached for 35 years, so I probably covered most all the bases,’’ he said. “I think I swore once, too.’’

Injured list grows
There are number of unknowns facing the Patriots this week as several players were held out of practice yesterday.

Wide receiver Sam Aiken (hip), linebacker Tully Banta-Cain (groin), guard Stephen Neal (head), and linebacker Rob Ninkovich (knee), who were injured against the Colts, did not practice. Others who missed practice were defensive end Jarvis Green (knee), linebacker Gary Guyton (illness), wide receiver Randy Moss (not injury-related), defensive end Ty Warren (ankle), and running back Fred Taylor (ankle).

Those who had limited participation were linebacker Eric Alexander (groin), tight end Chris Baker (shoulder), nose tackle Ron Brace (ankle), Edelman (forearm), center Dan Koppen (knee), tackle Matt Light (knee), and running back Sammy Morris (knee).

Knee didn’t buckle
Koppen said he felt good playing against the Colts, his first game since injuring his knee Nov. 8 against Miami. “I think there were some things that needed to get done and I felt comfortable on it and went out there and did my best,’’ he said . . . The Patriots-Colts game was the fourth-most-watched game in the four-year history of “Sunday Night Football’’ on NBC, with 22.4 million viewers . . . Wide receiver Isaiah Stanback is wearing No. 15 this week instead of No. 9. Belichick said Stanback is still practicing at quarterback, too . . . Defensive back Bret Lockett, a core special teams player, was wearing a No. 57 yellow jersey at practice. That’s a sign he’ll be impersonating linebacker Bart Scott, who wears 57 for the Jets, this week.

Albert R. Breer, Christopher L. Gasper, and Adam Kilgore of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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