FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots will get their first live look at Josh Allen on Sunday as the Bills quarterback looks to continue to build on an impressive rookie season.
It’s no surprise Allen is Buffalo’s leading passer, but it may catch some by surprise that the 6-foot-5-inch, 237-pounder is also the team’s leading rusher with 506 yards in 10 games.
The first-round draft pick was known for his big arm in college — Allen threw for more than 5,000 yards in two seasons at Wyoming — but Bills coach Sean McDermott acknowledged they were aware of his multi-threat ability.
“Honestly, that did not surprise us,’’ McDermott said Wednesday. “When we went through the film, as you kind of stack up the different quarterbacks that went through the draft this year that they had, that was one of the areas that Josh did bring to the table.’’
It won’t catch the Patriots off guard as Bill Belichick made it a point Wednesday to acknowledge the success Allen has had on both designed runs and scrambles. Allen has averaged 88 yards rushing over the last four games since returning from an elbow injury that cost him a month.
“He’s a hard guy to defend,’’ said Belichick. “I mean, he had almost three quarters of their total offense against the Jets [Dec. 9]. It’s a lot.’’
The Patriots have struggled to stop the run the last three weeks and Allen will try to keep that run going.
“Allen adds a little problem to their offense,’’ said safety Patrick Chung. “He can run the ball. He’s fast. He’s strong, so it’s like a running back back there. So, we’ve got to do our best to kind of contain him a little bit.’’
Allen seems particularly adept at extending plays with his feet, keeping his eyes downfield, and then throwing on the run. It’s a particular skill that another big-bodied quarterback — Ben Roethlisberger — possesses. One of the key plays in last week’s loss to the Steelers was Roethlisberger’s faux scramble and pass to Jaylen Samuels on third down that extended a late drive and forced the Patriots to start using their timeouts.
It’s a tricky play to defend as the quarterback has the option to run or pass and also dupe the defense into thinking he’s doing one before switching to the other. Belichick said preparing for those situations starts early.
“There are scramble rules that we go through from pretty much the first day of training camp, offensively and defensively,’’ said the coach. “And then there are obviously a lot of sub bullet points to general rules based on specific situations and so forth. I’m not trying to overcomplicate it, but some things have application at some times and some don’t, then some when you’re in man coverage or zone coverage, what kind of other things could happen in the play.’’
With a most appropriate choice of DMX’s “Bring Your Whole Crew” blaring through the speakers, the Patriots had full attendance at their first practice of the week on Wednesday.
The Patriots continue to have good luck on the health front, as only special teams ace Brandon King was listed on the injury report. King was limited with a knee ailment.
He’s the tops
Tom Brady was named to his 10th consecutive and record-tying 14th Pro Bowl on Tuesday. Brady joined Tony Gonzalez, Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews, and Merlin Olsen as the only players selected to 14 Pro Bowls.
In addition, cornerback Stephon Gilmore was selected for the all-star game for the second time in his career and first as a Patriot.
“Bill called and told me, ‘Congrats and get ready for this week,’ ’’ said Gilmore, who said he plans on doing just that as he prepares to play his old team.
“It’s a great honor,’’ said Gilmore, who is second in the NFL with 19 pass breakups. “I wouldn’t say it’s not, but I’ve got a big game this week.
“Going to the playoffs, that’s something I like doing, so that’s the one thing we’ve got to [do is] handle our business this week.’’
The Patriots signed undrafted rookie offensive lineman Toby Weathersby to the practice squad. The 6-6, 308-pounder appeared in 31 games with 15 starts during three seasons at LSU. He takes the place of OL Eric Smith, whom the Jets signed on Monday . . . Bills running backs LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Chris Ivory (shoulder) were limited in Wednesday’s practice. “We’re just going to take it one day at a time,’’ said McDermott, when asked about the status of his thinned backfield corps . . . Nathan Peterman, who started two games at quarterback for the Bills this season before being released, was signed to the practice squad by the Raiders on Wednesday.