Amid reports that veteran defensive end Andre Carter intends to sign, or already has signed, with the Patriots, neither coach Bill Belichick nor defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was interested in confirming the news Tuesday or even discussing a player who spent the 2011 season in Foxborough.
Carter was a force when he was with the Patriots two seasons ago, when he had 10 sacks and two forced fumbles in 14 regular-season games. He chose not to re-sign with the Patriots for 2012, opting for Oakland, where he appeared in 12 games. Carter has not played for anyone this season.
His addition could help a team that played Sunday without its three best defensive players. Two of them — defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo — are lost for the season. Cornerback Aqib Talib has a hip injury, and it’s not known how many games he might miss.
Not only would Carter, 34, help rush the passer — with Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones as established ends, he likely would fill in for rookie Michael Buchanan in the nickel package — but his leadership presence is also appealing.
NFL.com said Carter had signed a one-year deal.
“We don’t have anything to announce right now,” Belichick said, when asked about it during the team’s weekly coaches’ conference call. “If we do, when we do, then we’ll announce it.”
The move was not listed on Tuesday’s NFL transaction wire.
Two years ago, Carter suffered a season-ending quadriceps injury but was named to the Pro Bowl, but he missed out as the Patriots reached the Super Bowl.
Patricia had no interest going down Memory Lane.
“Obviously, 2011 was 2011. We’re really kind of concentrating on 2013, and moving forward to the Dolphins,” Patricia said, mentioning Sunday’s opponent. “Not really sure anything along those lines, unfortunately that’s a question about the past, so we’re going to try to focus on the present and the future.”
When pressed about how Carter might fit into the Patriots’ defensive plans, perhaps as soon as Sunday, Patricia again wouldn’t offer much.
“I think we’re going to concentrate on everybody that we know is currently here, and work forward from there, so I’m going to move on from that one,” Patricia said.
Carter has played 13 seasons in the NFL, and has 78½ sacks. He’s spent time with four teams: San Francisco (2001-05), Washington (2006-10), New England (2011), and Oakland (2012).
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels pieced together a pretty hefty work load for Rob Gronkowski in the tight end’s first game of the season. He was targeted 17 times, and had eight catches for 114 yards. Both were team highs.
“I think the fact that he was targeted, whatever number of times it was, I think it’s just more of a byproduct of the fact that he maybe had some single coverage and had an opportunity to get open and created some separation, and Tom [Brady] found him,” McDaniels said. “Gronk certainly gave us production and helped us in many ways on Sunday.”
Now that a baseline has been established for 2013 — the Patriots would be thrilled with those numbers from Gronkowski on a weekly basis, as long as it came in wins and not losses — McDaniels is hoping to keep feeding Gronkowski.
“He’s an impact player, and any time you have guys like that that are out and you’re fortunate enough to get back, they certainly make a difference and give your team a boost, and I thought he did that on Sunday,” McDaniels said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to build on that.”
A gentle prod
Word has sprung from Jets land that they knew about the Patriots’ push technique on field goal attempts, and alerted the officials Sunday to watch for it. Sure enough, Patriots rookie Chris Jones was flagged 15 yards in overtime, and a 56-yard field goal try that Nick Folk missed was wiped away by the penalty. Folk eventually nailed a 42-yarder to win the game.
Belichick was asked if he was bothered by the fact the Jets may have spoken up to the officials, and got in a little verbal jab of his own.
“Well, I mean, since they were using the play themselves, I don’t even know about all that,” Belichick said. “But basically we’re just moving on here.”