Patriots notebook

No avoiding another fine mess

FOXBOROUGH - For the second time this season, defensive end Andre Carter was hit with a $15,000 fine. This time it was for roughing Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman in the Patriots’ win in Washington last week.

The team was assessed a 15-yard penalty for a personal foul.

Carter questioned the call after the game, saying he had no intention of hitting Grossman low.


“I thought it was a good hit,’’ Carter said. “The league has definitely been involved in protecting quarterbacks, which I understand. That was my fault, and I will try better to not put our defense in that situation.’’

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Carter was fined $15,000 in September for leading with his head when he hit Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Knowing he’ll be chasing Tim Tebow tomorrow, Carter said he must be cautious.

“It’s very important, because if you’re not disciplined as you know they can get additional yardage,’’ Carter said. “Whether it’s Tebow or a running back or anyone in general that can set those edges around and gain additional yardage. It’s not just the ends, but it’s everybody being real disciplined.’’

Prepared for onside

It’s not just the Tebow-led comebacks that the Broncos have used to string six straight wins together. It’s the little things - freak and coincidental - that have somehow made them possible.


One is the magic Broncos kicker Matt Prater can work with onside kicks. Tracy White, one of the Patriots’ special teams captains, called Prater one of the best kickers he’s seen this season.

“He’s very dangerous,’’ White said. “So you’ve got to be alert for it with him. He can kick it left, right, middle. He’s got a strong leg, so he’s very dangerous.’’

The Patriots have highlighted onside kicks this week, Wes Welker said, in case it comes up in crunch time.

“You definitely spend extra time on it, and make sure you’re getting ready for it and make sure you understand what a good kicker he is period, but especially an onside kicker,’’ said Welker, who’s on the Patriots’ hands team for onside kicks. “He does a perfect kick just about every single time, so you’ve got to make sure you’re ready for it and really focused on making the play when those situations come up.’’

One play that helped the Broncos dig themselves out of a 15-0 hole in their 18-15 win over the Miami Dolphins Oct. 23 was Prater’s onside kick with 2:44 left, recovered by Broncos tight end Virgil Green. It set up the scoring drive that sent the game into overtime.


Last week against the Bears, he kicked another one that the Broncos came close to recovering. They won in overtime after not coming up with it.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is paying attention.

“He does a great job of spiking it, putting it up there, giving them a chance to get under it,’’ Belichick said. “Even though you’re blocking those guys, you can’t get them all and the ball comes down to right there in that dead spot. He just does a real good job with it - he’s got a great touch on those kicks, kind of like [Olindo] Mare did.

The Patriots have been studying film from the end of games when the Broncos are in “got-to-have-it’’ situations.

The onside kick becomes a jump ball and the Patriots use the people with the closest resemblance to an NBA center to win it, putting Rob Gronkowski on one side and Aaron Hernandez on the other.

“They can jump a little bit. Definitely getting up there at the high point of the ball and getting down with it and making sure we have possession,’’ Welker said.

At its simplest, the concept is to put bodies on the kicking team’s most dangerous players and allow the hands man on the return team to snag it, but every kick is different, Belichick said.

“It’s just another thing to prepare for,’’ said Belichick. “It’s a critical play if it comes up. It doesn’t come up every week. You might never know when it’s going to come up, but when it does, it’s a key play so you’ve got to cover it.’’


Asked why he was listed as limited in practice Thursday for reasons not related to injury, Vince Wilfork joked, “Oh, yesterday? That was a long time ago.’’

Both he and Tom Brady popped up on Thursday’s practice report as “non-injury related.’’ Wilfork said his issue wasn’t serious.

“Something personal,’’ he said. “Everything is OK.’’

Patrick Chung (foot) and Sebastian Vollmer (foot, back) both sat out again yesterday. Limited in practice were receivers Deion Branch, Welker, Julian Edelman, and Matthew Slater; cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty; linebackers Dane Fletcher and Brandon Spikes; running backs Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead; centers Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly; and safety James Ihedigbo.

Julian Benbow can be reached at