NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS HEADLINES FOR 8/17

The Patriots are in Atlanta, Georgia this morning, gearing up for two days of joint practices with the Falcons before their exhibition game this Thursday night.  Both teams started at 8:30am this morning, with a second one scheduled for 3:45 this afternoon.  The New Orleans Saints drew big crowds here in New England on day one, we’ll have to see how many Patriots fans there are down there and will try and report the attendence once we hear what the number is.

Now, on to today’s headlines:

Albert Breer of the Boston Globe has an article this morning looking at these workouts, saying that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan may benefit quite a bit by having a chance to practice with and against Tom Brady.

One of the biggest point of emphasis so far through training camp has been improving their red zone offense, which New England saw success in last week.  Practicing against the defense also allowed them to get work in as well, and cornerback Leigh Bodden says it’s something that they’re very focused on.

“[Belichick] talked to us about it and said we weren’t very good in the red zone, that was something we had to work on,’’ cornerback Leigh Bodden said recently. “That’s true because that’s where you get the points . . . that’s where games are won and lost, in the red zone. If you can keep them out, keep them from scoring, you can win. We definitely have to be better in that area to win games.

“So, you know, it’s a point of emphasis that we’re making and it’s helping us along and hopefully it will help us during the season.’’

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com has a story looking at the situation on the defensive line now that Ty Warren is gone.  Reiss writes that the pressure is on Gerard Warren, with Warren telling him that there’s “no room for mistakes or errors now”.

Mark Farinella also has an article on Warren, who acknowledged what his role is, and that New England needs him to perform well this season.

“I have to step it up to another level,” he said Monday before the Patriots departed for a day of joint practices with the Atlanta Falcons. “I was kind of going through a learning pace, but now it’s more rev it up.”

After hearing about “finger-gate” with quarterback Tom Brady over the weekend, Rich Garven of the Worcester Telegram writes that there’s no need to worry, and that Brady’s O.K. 

Brady also spoke to WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Monday and talked about a variety of subjects, including his future.  Rather than link to all the articles speculating about what his quotes mean or other such conjecture, I’ll skip that and here’s the full transcript of his Q & A interview from WEEI.com yesterday.

Garven also has an article on offensive lineman Logan Mankins, who he writes at this point may be a lost cause.

Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe has some comments from wide receiver Wes Welker, who didn’t play last Thursday night against New Orleans and likely won’t play this week either.  According to the veteran the plan is to continue working toward a return to the field for their September 12th opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.  He did travel with the team and is in Atlanta for this week’s joint sessions.

Farinella also has an article on Welker, who says he’s not worrying about when he’ll play, he’s just focused on getting better.

 “I’d like to be out there any time,” Welker said Monday at the end of the Patriots’ last Foxboro-based practice of training camp. “Any time I can get out there is going to be a positive. Of course I want to be out there, but we’re going to take it slow and make sure we stay on track. We’ve been good up to this point, and we’ll see if we can keep that going.”

Glen Farley of the Patriot Ledger writes that Welker admits to having some good and bad days as he continues to rehab his knee.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald has an article on cornerback Terrence Wheatley, who Belichick recently acknowledged has come a long way after making a couple of nice plays against the Saints on Thursday night.

“I probably think too much. That’s what I’ve been told. So I kinda just stopped thinking,” Wheatley said following yesterday’s indoor practice. “Obviously, I go through my presnap reads. But once the play is going on, I shut the brain off a little bit and just play.”

Guregian also has a good article on Patriots backup Brian Hoyer, who keeps beating Brady in the bucket drill – which is the drill where each QB makes a long throw into buckets down the field

And finally should Brady continue to struggle it appears that Vince Wilfork may be poised to make a push to play quarterback, after putting on an impressive performance at the end of yesterday’s morning walkthrough.  There’s always a new player who comes along and reinvents a position – and I only wish I had been able to witness what it was like watching a 300+ pound guy drop back to throw.  I’m sure it would be quite a sight.

That’s it for this morning, but hope all of you have a great day, and we’ll have more updates as they become available.