Nov 29, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots saftey Adrian Phillips (21) reacts after intercepting a pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots S Adrian Phillips departs with injury

New England Patriots safety Adrian Phillips exited Sunday’s game late in the first half against the Miami Dolphins and went to the locker room after sustaining what appeared to be a back injury.

Phillips tackled wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. with 18 second remaining in the second quarter but stayed down on the field and grabbed at the back of his left rib cage. Members of the team’s medical staff tended to him on the ground before he walked off the field under his own power.

Phillips was not on the field as the second half began.

Last season, Phillips appeared in all 17 games, making 13 starts. He recorded 92 tackles and four interceptions while also picking up nine pass defenses. In eight seasons with the Patriots and Chargers franchise, Phillips has 453 tackles with 11 interceptions and three forced fumbles in 97 games (53 starts).

Jabrill Peppers and Cody Davis could see more time in the New England secondary.

–Field Level Media

Jun 7, 2021; Costa Mesa, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers tight end Matt Sokol (48) during organized team activities at the Hoag Performance Center.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots claim TE Matt Sokol off waivers from Lions

The New England Patriots on Wednesday claimed tight end Matt Sokol off waivers from the Detroit Lions.

After going undrafted out of Michigan State, the 26-year-old played in two games with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020, seeing action on 15 plays. He was originally signed to a futures contract by the Lions’ in 2019 before finding his way to the practice squad of the Chargers, who waived him in 2021.

Sokol was on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad last season before signing a future contract with the Lions in January. Detroit released him Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants free safety Jabrill Peppers (21) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Patriots signing S Jabrill Peppers

The New England Patriots have agreed to a one-year deal with former New York Giants safety Jabrill Peppers, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Peppers, 26, tore his right ACL in Week 7 last season but is expected to be ready for training camp.

He finished the 2021 season with 29 tackles and one sack in six games (five starts). He also returned nine punts for an average of 6.4 yards per return.

Peppers has four interceptions in 61 career games (59 starts) with the Cleveland Browns (2017-18) and Giants. The Browns drafted him No. 25 overall in 2017 and traded him to the Giants in March 19 as part of the deal to acquire wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Peppers will be reunited with former Giants head coach Joe Judge, who is now an offensive assistant on Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s staff.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) runs after intercepting a pass against the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Patriots CB J.C. Jackson headed to free agency

New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson, who was named to his first Pro Bowl this past season, is headed toward free agency since the team is not expected to use the franchise tag on him, NFL Network reported Friday.

Jackson, 26, led the NFL with 23 passes defended this past season. He also had eight interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, forced a fumble and had a career-best 58 tackles.

The eight interceptions were second in the NFL behind Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs (11). Jackson has 17 of his career 25 interceptions over the last two seasons.

The franchise tag for cornerbacks is expected to be just above $17 million. Instead, Jackson now will become one of the top cornerbacks available in free agency after he was named second-team All-Pro.

Undrafted out of Maryland, Jackson has started 39 of his 62 career games over four seasons, all with the Patriots. He started all 17 games for New England in 2021.

–Field Level Media

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge on the sideline in the second half. The Giants lose to Washington, 22-7, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022.

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Report: Pats hiring Joe Judge as offensive assistant

The New England Patriots plan to hire former New York Giants head coach Joe Judge as an offensive assistant, The MMQB reported Tuesday.

Judge, 40, previously worked on Bill Belichick’s staff for eight seasons as a special teams assistant (2012-14) and special teams coordinator (2015-19). He also coached the wide receivers in his last season with the Patriots.

New England won three Super Bowls during his tenure with the club.

Judge was fired last month after compiling a 10-23 record in two seasons with the Giants.

Judge reportedly was wooed by former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, now the head coach in Las Vegas, to coach the Raiders’ special teams.

–Field Level Media

May 4, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Offensive tackle Drew Desjarlais (71) stretches during New York Giants rookie minicamp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Sarah Stier-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots sign CFL OL Drew Desjarlais to future contract

The New England Patriots signed Canadian Football League offensive lineman Drew Desjarlais to a futures contract on Friday.

Desjarlais, 24, earned West Division All-Star honors and helped the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win the 2021 Grey Cup.

He was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 CFL Draft out of the University of Windsor in Ontario.

The 6-foot-2, 313-pounder attended rookie minicamps with the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sideline as they take on the Buffalo Bills in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots’ Bill Belichick says he plans to coach in 2022

Bill Belichick says he plans to coach the New England Patriots in 2022.

“I’d say that would be accurate,” Belichick said Sunday when asked about returning for a 23rd season with New England.

Belichick, who turns 70 in April, has coached the Patriots since 2000, winning six Super Bowl championships.

New England’s season ended Saturday with a 47-17 wild-card loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Including his tenure with the Cleveland Browns (1991-95), Belichick has won 290 regular-season games. He ranks third all-time behind Don Shula (328) and George Halas (318).

–Field Level Media

Oct 24, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Josh Uche (55) reacts after recovering a fumble against the New York Jets during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots activate LB Josh Uche off injured reserve

The New England Patriots activated linebacker Josh Uche off injured reserve on Saturday one day before a key home game against the Buffalo Bills.

Uche, 23, was sidelined with a foot injury after a 45-7 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 14. He was originally expected to be lost for the season. The second-round pick in 2020 out of Michigan had 10 tackles and a fumble recovery in nine games this season.

New England also activated defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale, defensive back D’Angelo Ross and wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson to the active roster.

The AFC East lead is on the line Sunday when the 9-5 Patriots face the 8-6 Bills. The Patriots can clinch the AFC East title with a victory and a loss by the Miami Dolphins on Monday against the New Orleans Saints.

The Patriots can also clinch a playoff berth with a victory and number of other loss/tie scenarios that involve the Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers or Cleveland Browns.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) and New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) in the third quarter at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

AFC East lead on line when Patriots, Bills meet

Quarterback Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills will be looking to avenge their Week 13 loss and retake control of the AFC East when they visit the rival New England Patriots in a crucial divisional matchup Sunday at Foxborough, Mass.

Buffalo (8-6) came up short in a 14-10 loss to New England on a snowy and windy night on Dec. 6 at Orchard Park, N.Y. But following the Bills’ 31-14 win over Carolina, and New England’s 27-17 loss at Indianapolis last weekend, the division is back in play this Sunday.

A win over the Patriots would return the Bills to the top of the AFC East standings entering the final two weeks of the regular season. A victory would give Buffalo a superior division record over New England.

“We know what’s at stake,” Allen said. “We’re not trying to make it the biggest game, but it is because it is the next (one). … Every game from here on out is a playoff game. The type of (playoff) atmosphere (is) gonna be there.”

Buffalo will be without prominent wide receiver Cole Beasley, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week. Beasley wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday that he was “feeling fine with mild symptoms.”

“Just to be clear Covid is not keeping me out of this game,” wrote Beasley, who has been an outspoken critic of COVID-19 vaccines. “The rules are.”

Said Allen: “He’s one of our best players. Whether he was vaccinated or not and caught it, he’d still be out, so that’s kind of my stance on that.”

Buffalo added tight end Quintin Morris on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday, raising the team’s current total to eight players, with three of those from the practice squad.

Wideout Emmanuel Sanders is a question mark for Sunday as he was limited at Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury. Running back Taiwan Jones (knee) did not practice while safety Micah Hyde (back) and defensive end Jerry Hughes (neck) were limited.

New England (9-5) will look to bounce back from its first loss in over two months after a setback against the Colts ended the team’s seven-game winning streak. The post-bye week loss dropped the Patriots to the No. 2 seed in the AFC, behind the Kansas City Chiefs.

Even after emerging with a hard-fought win three weeks ago at Buffalo, the Patriots know they can’t take the Bills lightly.

“One thing that’s evident is that the Bills are really good at a lot of things, and they don’t have a lot of weaknesses,” rookie quarterback Mac Jones said. “It will be a great battle for us on Sunday.”

Jones attempted a franchise-low three passes — completing two for 19 yards — in the Patriots’ win over the Bills. Against Indianapolis, the rookie went 26 of 45 for 299 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.

Meanwhile, the Patriots are preparing to face a confident Allen after he turned in one of his best games as a pro during last season’s trip to New England. Allen torched the Patriots’ defense for 320 yards and four TDs on 27-of-36 passing in Buffalo’s 38-9 rout last Dec. 28.

“He’s really hard to stop. He does a good job at everything,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s the guy that makes them go and he’s become one of the top quarterbacks in the league.”

New England could be down a couple of key offensive players as wide receiver Nelson Agholor (concussion) and rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson (illness) both missed Wednesday’s practice.

No. 1 running back Damien Harris (hamstring), center David Andrews (shoulder) and safety Adrian Phillips (knee) were among nine Patriots players listed as limited.

–Field Level Media