Rook­ies ready for play­off test

Jack­son, Michel get first taste of post­sea­son play

Woonsocket Call - - SPORTS - By BREN­DAN McGAIR bm­c­[email protected]­tuck­et­

FOXBORO – One rookie is a feel-good story, some­one who rose from un­drafted sta­tus to be­come the No. 2 cor­ner­back on the Pa­tri­ots’ depth chart.

The other rookie came to New Eng­land with a lot of fan­fare, the kind that goes with be­ing se­lected in the first round. In train­ing camp, he found him­self part of a crowded back­field. Now, he takes the lion’s share of the hand­offs from Tom Brady.

This af­ter­noon at Gil­lette Sta­dium, de­fen­sive back J.C. Jack­son and run­ning back Sony Michel will each make their NFL play­off de­but as New Eng­land wel­comes the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers for a game that will de­ter­mine one­half of the AFC Cham­pi­onship Game field. Two play­ers who a year ago at this time were tak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to reach the NFL will take part in what vet­eran safety Devin McCourty dubbed “a one-game sea­son.”

The last time the Pa­tri­ots did not have a bye to the sec­ond round was the 2009 sea­son. Back then, Jack­son and Michel were a pair of 14-yearolds who were prob­a­bly scratch­ing the true po­ten­tial of their foot­ball prow­ess. For each of them, the NFL’s play­off stage must have seemed like it was eons away.

Now, the op­por­tu­nity to sur­vive and ad­vance stands be­fore them. As Michel and Jack­son prime them­selves for their first play­off rodeo, Brady is get­ting set for his 38th post­sea­son start.

Photo by Louri­ann Mardo-Zayat / lmzart­

Af­ter rush­ing for 931 yards and six touch­downs dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, Pa­tri­ots rookie run­ning back Sony Michel (26) is likely to play a big role in his first play­off game to­day against the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers at Gil­lette Sta­dium.

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