Musket Blasts: Patriots and NFL Draft Links, 9/17

Aaron Hernandez Patriots Titans

Aaron Hernandez will be missed – but for how long? (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: James Christensen

Come back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as I choose my five favorite New England Patriots and NFL Draft links to share. Feel free to submit your own links in the comments.

Why did Patriots CB Ras-I Dowling play zero snaps on Sunday? Former NEPD Editor Doug Kyed takes a look. (NESN)

The Patriots limited Fitzgerald to one reception and four yards with double teams, spearheaded by nickel cornerback Sterling Moore. Moore is a physical player who was used as a safety last season, so perhaps Belichick thought Moore’s physical play would help limit Fitzgerald. Another thought is that since Moore played safety last year for the Patriots, Belichick liked what he saw from Moore in double teams and if the plan all along was to cover Fitzgerald that way, it would be wise to use two players who are very strong in that aspect. Dowling is typically used in single coverage.

Full defensive snap counts from Patriots vs Cardinals. (ESPN Boston)

A change in the Patriots’ sub packages stood out, with CB Ras-I Dowling replaced by CB Sterling Moore in the nickel. One line of thinking was the that Dowling (6-1, 210) would be a good matchup against the size of Larry Fitzgerald (6-3, 218), but the Patriots had more confidence in Moore (5-10, 200) joining top cornerbacks Kyle Arrington (5-10, 195) and Devin McCourty (5-10, 195) in the sub. Arrington moved into the slot, and given the way the Cardinals moved Fitzgerald around, every cornerback matched up against him at one point or another, usually with safety help over the top. Fitzgerald finished with 1 catch for 4 yards, which meant it was a job well done by the defense.

Aaron Hernandez is expected to miss six weeks of action. I’ll be surprised if he is back before week ten. (PFT)

The good news for Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is that there are no broken bones in the ankle he injured in today’s game against the Cardinals. But the bad news is that he may be out a while.

Recap and analysis of the Patriots first loss of the season. (NEPD)

The Patriots (1-1) looked sluggish for most of the game; Tom Brady was under constant pressure from Arizona’s pass rush and lost tight end Aaron Hernandez early in the first quarter. With six seconds remaining, Stephen Gostkowski kicked what would have been a game-winning field goal attempt wide to the left.

Michigan State running back Le’veon Bell might be the best running back in college football. (MLive)

Bell’s versatility in the passing game is also impressive. He is effective running underneath routes out of the backfield, and has even shown the ability to motion to the slot, create separation and pluck the ball on the run. That’s something we might see more of as teams begin to load the box to stop him in the running game.

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