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nd Patriots Dante Fowler Jersey , it's usually best to approach the game plan each week with adaptive eyes.No one has learned that lesson more this season than receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.When he was traded by Oakland to the Patriots in March, Patterson arrived in New England hoping to land a place on Tom Brady's receiving corps following an offseason shake-up that saw the departures of both Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola.But after a Week 3 neck injury sent veteran running back Rex Burkhead to injured reserve and rookie Sony Michel's knee injury in Week 7 stunted his strong start, it created a void at another position that itself was recovering from the free agency loss of Dion Lewis.The natural solution seemed to be an increased role for veteran James White. Instead the coaching staff chose creativity over predictability.Two productive games at running back later, Patterson has become the latest Patriots player to excel in an unconventional role in New England.Patterson led the Patriots with 61 rushing yards, including a 5-yard touchdown in their 31-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers Sunday night . It was the second straight week he led the team in rushing and came two weeks after he had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Bears.That's just about right for a player called "Flash" early in his career."I said I wanted 25 carries this week," Patterson said. "Whenever my number's called I'm being ready for whatever I need to do on the football field."Using Patterson out of the backfield isn't as much of a stretch as it might seem.Coach Bill Belichick said he noted the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder's ability to make plays from there when studying his 2017 film with the Raider. He rushed 13 times for 121 yards and two scores with Oakland last season, an average of 9.3 yards per carry.Patterson was used by the Patriots on some reverses early in the season, again impressing his new coaches with his speed and power attacking holes."He's worked really hard with the ball handling, the reads, but boy, he runs hard. He runs fast and he's a hard guy to tackle C.J. Anderson Jersey ," Belichick said. "Like a lot of our guys have, they just step in, fill the role that we need for them and help the team win, and that's really what it's all about."That's become the theme for role players under Belichick.Fullback James Develin was an undrafted defensive end out of Brown before finding a home as the Patriots' fullback. Matt Slater arrived in New England as a receiver but became its special teams captain and a seven-time Pro Bowler.White said Patterson's natural skillset and willingness to accept coaching have been his biggest attributes in acclimating to the Patriots' culture."He's a strong, fast, explosive guy," White said. "He can score any time he touches the football and he's been trying to get better and better at it each week. The more he does it, the better he gets."Michel was questionable heading into Sunday's game with Green Bay and could return to action when the Patriots travel to Tennessee this week.For now, Patterson said he's trying to stay humble and hungry in the role he's been given — however long it lasts."I mean it's the next man up. It's the NFL. If you can play, you can play," He said. "We didn't like that the guys weren't ready, but every guy is going to step up because this is our job. This is our life." THOUSAND OAKS Eric Weddle Jersey , Calif. (AP) — Johnny Hekker, Greg Zuerlein and Jake McQuaide have a ritual during the Los Angeles Rams‘ flights home from road victories. While their teammates celebrate up front in the first-class section, the Rams’ punter, kicker and long snapper stay out of the way by retreating to the front row of the coach cabin.The modesty is admirable, but those big guys living it up in the large seats realize what they owe to the specialists in the back — and to the coach whose pursuit of special-teams perfection and trickery has been a huge asset to the Rams on their way to the Super Bowl.John Fassel’s fingerprints were all over the Rams’ NFC championship game victory. From the flawless fake punt to the winning 57-yard overtime field goal, the players coached by Los Angeles’ formidable special teams coordinator made a major impact on that 26-23 win in New Orleans.“It’s a big boost,” coach Sean McVay said. “It enables you to be more aggressive because of the confidence you have.”Fassel, the Rams’ interim head coach for three games in 2016, strives to make sure the entire team is invested in the success of the Rams’ special teams. He is eagerly backed by McVay, who kept Fassel on staff two years ago after replacing him in the top job.“It’s a super-big source of pride for me, because it’s my job, but I also love it Austin Blythe Jersey ,” Fassel said. “I just try to let them know it’s professional football, but it’s still a lot of fun, and you are important.”Fassel doesn’t know whether the Rams have more trick plays in their special-teams repertoire than other teams, or whether they’re simply just better at executing those deceptive game-changers. He smiles, but refuses to say whether the Rams will cook up anything special for the Super Bowl.“Our repertoire of fakes depends on the game, really,” Fassel said. “You could have none in, you could have four in. It depends.”The Rams’ specialists are among the NFL’s best groups, with Zuerlein’s booming leg particularly standing out. Hekker, Zuerlein and McQuaide all made the Pro Bowl last season.But Los Angeles’ capacity for trick plays largely depends on Hekker, a former high school quarterback with a strong passing arm. His ability opens up a world of possibilities for Fassel — and the whole world got a look at that creativity early in the second quarter in New Orleans.Los Angeles was down 13-0 with a stagnant offense at the Superdome before Hekker threw a pass to cornerback Sam Shields for a first down on a perfect fake punt, prolonging the Rams’ first scoring drive.“It’s just our mindset that we have Sean Mannion Jersey ,” Hekker said. “By any means, we’re going to try and get something going. Sean saw an opportunity. We had a great matchup, Sam with a person one-on-one guarding him. Sam can stop on a dime, and we’ve practiced that all year, so it was just a great moment for us to call that.”Hekker is no ordinary punter: He led Bothell High in suburban Seattle to the state championship game before walking on at Oregon State as a punter. He is also Zuerlein’s holder, which means Hekker has been able to sling passes on fake punts or fake kicks since 2012 — the same year Fassel and Zuerlein arrived in St. Louis.Hekker’s career regular-season passing numbers would be a pretty solid half for Jared Goff: He is 11 of 19 for 156 yards and a 102.1 passer rating, including one touchdown. His pass in New Orleans was his first in a playoff game, but his fifth already this season.“If you didn’t know any better, he looks like a quarterback,” McVay said. “He’s got a nice, natural (throwing) stroke. He can make big-time plays. He can do a variety of different things with that athleticism, not exclusive to throwing it Jamon Brown Jersey , but also being able to run.”The Rams’ special teams culture permeates the entire roster and even affects veterans.Cory Littleton first caught the coaches’ eye with strong special teams play, and he has continued to contribute this season even after becoming a starting linebacker. Littleton is the Rams’ leading tackler, but he earned a Pro Bowl selection this season as a special teams performer.Shields, who joined the Rams this season after nearly two years out of football due to concussions, has eagerly accepted roles on special teams. That’s how Shields ended up essentially as a receiver — the position he played in college at Miami before carving out a Pro Bowl career as a cornerback.“A lot of guys in here just want to do anything they can to help this team win,” Shields said. “If that’s on special teams, that’s great. Let’s do it.”Hekker, Zuerlein and McQuaide stuck to their tradition on the flight home from New Orleans. They gathered in the extended-legroom seats in coach, quietly enjoying the success while their teammates lived it up in first class.“We had a lot of great conversations, just reliving the moments together,” Hekker said. “But we ended up dying down and watching movies by the end of it.”

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