NEIL CORNRICH & NC SPORTS: MANAGING THE CAREERS OF PROFESSIONALS IN THE SPORTS INDUSTRY

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Vrabel coming off a big week



BY MARK FARINELLA

November 1, 2007

FOXBORO - Mike Vrabel may have saved his best moves last Sunday for after the game, eluding media members who wanted to talk to him after one of the best days of his career on either side of the ball.

But the Patriots' couldn't escape the onrushing hordes Wednesday at Gillette Stadium.

"I think we're looking at it pretty realistically, that it's going to be a heck of a matchup and it's a big game," Vrabel said of Sunday's game against the also-undefeated Indianapolis Colts at the RCA Dome (4:15 p.m.; Ch. 4, 12). "We're going to have to put a lot into it this week to try to get the upper leg up in the preparation and then go over there and play, play in a place that we haven't won in a little bit and play well."

Vrabel won his first AFC Defensive Player of the Week award in the wake of a fearsome performance in the Patriots' 52-7 whitewashing of the Washington Redskins. He was credited with 11 solo hits, 15 total tackles (up from an original total of 13 after coaches' films were reviewed) and three sacks, all three of them forcing lost fumbles by Washington quarterback Jason Campbell.

"Any time that somebody makes a play, more times than not other guys are involved," Vrabel said. "So certainly, anytime you get a sack, unless you're pretty much free to the quarterback, there has to be some sort of coverage element.
"On the third one, I think Junior (Seau) and I were trying to work a little game," he said. "He came in there and drew a lot of the attention and I was able to come by there … and also with the strip sacks, it just gives you another opportunity to get the ball."

Vrabel also scored the 10th receiving touchdown of his career (on 10 catches), scoring on a 2-yard pass from Tom Brady when he lined up as an extra tight end, went in motion and slipped into the end zone totally uncovered. It's as if the Redskins paid him no mind at all, despite his growing goal-line reputation.

"Sometimes they do (pay attention) and sometimes they don't," Vrabel said. "When they do, I don't get the ball. And when they don't cover me, I get the ball.

"You can only stop so much down there," he said. "It's either drop everybody off and play the pass, or let us walk it in. So I'm not running out there every time thinking I'm going to score."

Vrabel hopes he and his teammates will play much better Sunday against the Colts than they did in the second half of the AFC Championship Game back in January.

"It was disappointing to finish our season that way," he said, "but moving forward, we've all worked out in the offseason and we've all started training camp and we've all began this season with that really not in our mind, just wanting to get better and be a better football team.

"To start the offseason, it was tough to deal with," he said. "But I think we've all moved past and moved on. They're trying to do the same thing they did last year and we're trying to get where they are."

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