Pats hope to ride recent resurgence into playoff contention

Fri Nov 20 1:31pm ET
AP Sports Writer

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton passes against the Baltimore Ravens in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters, rear, tackles New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers after a pass reception in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

New England Patriots running back Damien Harris, center, runs past Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen, left, and cornerback Marlon Humphrey, right, in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Cam Newton was adamant at the trade deadline that the answers to the Patriots turning things around were already within their locker room. Over the past two weeks his teammates have done their best to fulfill their quarterback's prophecy.

From Jakobi Meyers becoming Newton's new go-to receiver to Damien Harris fortifying the running game, the Patriots' offensive production is trending upward.

Currently sitting at third in the AFC East and in 10th place in the conference, it will take more than a couple of wins to get New England back into the playoff conversation, with matchups with the Cardinals, Rams, Dolphins and Bills - all owning winning records - still on tap. But the best news for their prospects is Newton says he's experiencing a comfort level under center he hasn't felt since before he tested positive for the coronavirus in early October.

''Ever since coming back from corona, to be honest with you, I felt stagnant in my thought process,'' Newton said.. ''The pre-snap production wasn't happening fast enough for me in games. Did it happen in practice? Yeah, but still not fast enough. Even still now I can get better. So each day, each week is an opportunity for me to really hone in on this offense and just do my job. That's what it really boils down to.''

Newton remains adamant that his struggles aren't tied to any lingering effects from COVID-19. He instead believes the lost continuity was the biggest factor in his throwing seven interceptions in his first five games, and virtually being reduced to a running back in the offense.

''It showed, coming back pretty much dry,'' he said. ''Identifying, communicating with the offensive line, with the receivers, with the running backs - it's my job to do so. Coming back, I just felt behind. The production here of late is nothing to blame; more or less than me just taking ownership and responsibility that I've just got to be better.''

Since New England's 33-6 loss to San Francisco in Week 7, Newton hasn't thrown an interception. His quarterback rating has also increased from a season-low 39.7 against the 49ers toa season-best 114.3 rating last week against Baltimore.

It's been a remarkable resurgence considering Newton has managed to do it without veteran receiver Julian Edelman, who has been on injured reserve since Oct. 31. Stepping up to fill the void have been Meyers and Harris.

Harris has rushed for more than 100 yards twice over the past three games, including a career-high 121 yards against the Ravens.

Meyers was instrumental in the Patriots' win over the Jets on Nov. 9, catching a career-high 12 passes for 169 yards to help them snap a four-game skid. The 2019 undrafted rookie was at it again last week in Sunday's 23-17 win over the Ravens. He not only led his team with five catches for 59 yards, but also showed off his skills as a former high school quarterback, throwing a 24-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass to Rex Burkhead in the second quarter.

It the fulfillment of the ''star'' potential Newton says he saw in then-16-year-old when Meyers participated in the 7-on-7 tournaments Newton's foundation sponsored for players outside of Atlanta. Alums of those camps include Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson as well college players such as Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, Georgia receiver George Pickens and Oklahoma receiver Jadon Haselwood.

It's that same potential that prompted Newton to pull Meyers aside for a pep talk prior the Patriots' Week 6 matchup with Denver. Meyers was inactive for that game and had caught only one pass in his first three appearances of the season.

Newton told him not to be discouraged and reminded him of how far he'd come. Over the past three games Meyers has responded with a team-high 23 receptions.

''It's good to be out there, be able to play, and show what I can do,'' Meyers said. ''Hopefully, everybody trusts me, trusts to keep throwing me the ball and making those plays. I'm definitely trying to build off this momentum and hoping to get better every week.''

He said Newton's past mentorship and leadership this season have parallels.

''Even when people hated on him and talked bad about him, he still came in every day and performed,'' Meyers said. ''It just showed who he was, his personality. Honestly, it's great. He's a guy who gives a lot of us hope. Come in and be ourselves, but still perform like we know we can.''

Player Notes
New York Giants Dec 1 9:50pm ET

The New York Giants placed starting outside linebacker Kyle Fackrell (calf) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday with a calf injury. Fackrell will miss at least the next three games, leaving the Giants very short-handed at the position. He was tied for second on the team with three sacks and was playing close to 100 percent of the defensive snaps before suffering the injury in the Week 12 win over the Bengals. No outside linebacker on the active roster has more than one sack this year. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are also on IR. Jamaal Sheard and rookies Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown could start in Week 13 against the Seahawks, making the New York defense one to avoid for fantasy managers after they were a popular streaming defense against Cincy.

From RotoBaller

Drew Lock Dec 1 9:40pm ET

The Denver Broncos activated quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday after all three had PCR tests come back negative on Monday. They will all be eligible to play in Week 13 against the Chiefs. So barring additional team discipline, the Broncos won't be forced to use a practice-squad wide receiver under center against their division rivals. If Lock returns as the starter for this offense, it'll be excellent news for receivers Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler and tight end Noah Fant. Denver will likely be forced to throw often to keep up with the Chiefs high-octane offense, too, but Lock's inconsistency this season keeps him as a low-end QB2. The 24-year-old was 24-for-40 for 254 yards and two interceptions in the first meeting against KC back in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Olamide Zaccheaus Dec 1 9:30pm ET

The Atlanta Falcons placed wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus (toe) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday after he left the Week 12 win over the Raiders with a toe injury. In a corresponding move, the team activated receiver Laquon Treadwell from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and added him to the 53-man roster. Zaccheaus popped up for a couple decent games this year, but it his production was inconsistent on a weekly basis and he was too far down the team's receiving depth chart to be a viable fantasy option in most leagues. The second-year wideout's best game came in Week 9 against the Broncos when he had four receptions for 103 yards and his first touchdown of the season. If he doesn't make it back this year, he'll finish with 20 receptions (32 targets) for 274 yards and the one touchdown. Christian Blake and Brandon Powell could see some more playing time as the No. 4 wideout with Zaccheaus out.

From RotoBaller

J.K. Dobbins Dec 1 9:20pm ET

Baltimore Ravens running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II are both eligible to be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the Week 12 game against the Steelers on Wednesday, but it's not a given that either will play. Both players have been isolated since testing positive for the virus on Nov. 22 and aren't allowed to fly on the team plane on Tuesday night. At this point, if you have Dobbins or Ingram on your roster, you've likely benched them for other running backs that already played in Week 12. Even if they both play, Gus Edwards could see the majority of backfield touches and will be the best fantasy play of the trio. Those that picked up Edwards in order to start him this week are hoping that neither Dobbins nor Ingram suit up in the tough matchup against the undefeated Steelers.

From RotoBaller

Brandon Williams Dec 1 9:10pm ET

The Baltimore Ravens activated defensive tackle Brandon Williams, quarterback Trace McSorley, nickelback Tavon Young and cornerback Khalil Dorsey from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. They could activate more players from the list before kickoff against the Steelers on Wednesday. McSorley should be the backup to Robert Griffin III on Wednesday with Lamar Jackson testing positive for COVID-19 and being unavailable this week. The return of Williams will be good news for Baltimore's defensive line, who will again be without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell. The Ravens Defense is more of a gamble in DFS and season-long leagues against the undefeated Steelers, but inclement weather is expected and could make things tougher on both offenses.

From RotoBaller

Dalvin Cook Dec 1 7:53pm ET

Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (ankle) is 'just kind of beat up,' according to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak Tuesday, Dec. 1.

Fantasy Spin: Cook briefly left the Week 12 game against the Carolina Panthers but returned to finish with 83 total yards and 22 touches. He leads the league with 1,385 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns on the season. The Vikings' schedule gets much tougher following the Week 13 home date against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he'll remain a matchup-proof RB1 due to his heavy usage.

From TheHuddle

Jordan Willis Dec 1 7:43pm ET

San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones, DE Jordan Willis and practice squad TE Daniel Helm will be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and practice Thursday, Dec. 3, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Tuesday, Dec. 1.

From TheHuddle

Jaylen Watkins Dec 1 7:13pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers TE Matt Sokol and DB Jaylen Watkins were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.

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Chris Smith Dec 1 7:03pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders LB Vic Beasley, PK Dominik Eberle, DE David Irving and DE Chris Smith were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.

From TheHuddle

Chad Hansen Dec 1 6:53pm ET

Houston Texans WR Chad Hansen, DT Corey Liuget, WR Steven Mitchell Jr. and WR Damion Ratley were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.

From TheHuddle

Aldrick Rosas Dec 1 6:53pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Terry Godwin, DB Josh Nurse, DT Caraun Reid and PK Aldrick Rosas were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.

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Rashard Robinson Dec 1 6:33pm ET

Dallas Cowboys DB Deante Burton, OT Jordan Mills, DB Rashard Robinson and OT William Sweet were named protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.

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Troy Fumagalli Dec 1 6:33pm ET

Denver Broncos RB LeVante Bellamy, TE Troy Fumagalli, DB Alijah Holder and LB Josh Watson were made protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.

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Kyle Lauletta Dec 1 6:23pm ET

Cleveland Browns OT Michael Dunn, QB Kyle Lauletta, PK Matthew McCrane and OT Alex Taylor were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.

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Joe Webb Dec 1 6:13pm ET

Free-agent WR Joe Webb (Lions) is visiting the New York Giants Tuesday, Dec. 1.

From TheHuddle

Tyler Bray Dec 1 6:13pm ET

Chicago Bears QB Tyler Bray was designated as a protected practice squad player for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.

From TheHuddle

Kevin Hogan Dec 1 6:13pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals QB Kevin Hogan, WR Stanley Morgan, RB Jacques Patrick and TE Mitchell Wilcox were named as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.

From TheHuddle

Darron Lee Dec 1 6:03pm ET

Buffalo Bills DE Bryan Cox Jr., C Jordan Devey, C Jonotthan Harrison and LB Darron Lee were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

From TheHuddle

Will Fuller Dec 1 5:53pm ET

Houston Texans WR Will Fuller and CB Bradley Roby were officially placed on the Reserve/Suspended list Tuesday, Dec. 1. The Texans also activated DT Andrew Brown from the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list.

From TheHuddle

D.J. Foster Dec 1 5:53pm ET

Arizona Cardinals TE Seth DeValve, DE Michael Dogbe, RB D.J. Foster and WR A.J. Richardson were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

From TheHuddle