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Pats expected to come down to Earth vs. Dolphins

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Several times this week New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said a key to attacking the newly-productive Miami Dolphins defense will be staying balanced on offense.

Last weekend, the Patriots ignored the ground attack — Brady actually led the team with four carries and 15 yards — against the stout New York Jets front. But the quarterback says the team has plenty of faith in its stable of running backs to get the job done, this or any week.

“I have a lot of confidence in those guys,” Brady said. “I know our line does, too, that they’ll find the holes when they’re there. LeGarrette (Blount) has been a huge impact on our team since we got him. Dion (Lewis) has done a great job this year. James White has done a great job in his role. Brandon Bolden has been here for a long time, and he’s got the confidence of everybody. So we’ve got a really solid group. I love all those guys.

“They really play hard. There’s a lot of attention to detail in what they’re doing, so we’ve got to really rely on those guys at different points in the game. And like I said, I’ve got a lot of confidence in whoever is in there.”

–Linebacker Dont’a Hightower returned from missing a game due to a rib injury to notch 10 solo tackles last Sunday against Chris Ivory and the Jets. This week, the linebacker will lead a charge that will try to hold Lamar Miller and his 6-yard average in check. The Patriots relatively young defensive front is building its identity and Hightower is a big part of that.

“It feels good (to be back), but I know I have 10 other guys depending on me and knowing they’ve got my back, that helps me play even harder, even faster,” Hightower said. “With this defense, we’ve kind of built a brotherhood. Everyone steps up to what everyone expects them to do. They expect me to come out and play hard, and that’s what I’m going to do. Physicality is definitely one of my strong points.”

–Cornerback Justin Coleman arrived in New England after training camp when he was claimed off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks. He was then released and joined the Seattle practice squad, only to return to the Patriots roster on Sept. 9. The undrafted rookie out of Tennessee has seen reserve action on defense in the last four games, including a play in the fourth quarter of Sundays win over the Jets that drew high praise from his head coach.

“One of the biggest plays in the game defensively for us was when we blitzed on third down and (Ryan) Fitzpatrick threw it up to (Devin) Smith and Coleman made the play there,” Bill Belichick offered up unsolicited, “and it’s a play that had Justin not played it properly, it could have easily been pass interference but he turned around and looked for the ball before the ball got there. So, that ended up going as an incomplete pass and we were able to get the ball back and had a real good drive and went down there and made it a two-score game.”

NOTES: Among those not at practice Tuesday were RT Marcus Cannon (toe), LB Rufus Johnson (illness) and DE Jabaal Sheard (ankle). Among those limited at practice Tuesday were RB Brandon Bolden (hamstring), RB Dion Lewis (abdomen), and DL Trey Flowers (knee/shoulder). … G Josh Kline (shoulder) was a full participant in practice, another good signed after starting and playing the whole game last Sunday.


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