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Archive for the ‘ Daily Links ’ Category

Patriots Huddle: Friday’s News, Notes and Links 7/25


Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski got some additional work in during the team’s first training camp practice on Thursday. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Here are some news and notes for this morning:

BRADY APPRECIATING ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY:

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has already had football taken away from him once after suffering a knee injury in the home opener back in 2008.  Otherwise, he’s started and played in every game since taking over as the starter back in 2001 and on Thursday he told reporters that he doesn’t take anything for granted.

“It goes pretty fast so I think you just appreciate it and there’s very few people that have the opportunity that I have and I’m very appreciative of it,” Brady said. “You never know when the last one’s going to be, so you just appreciate the moments that you have.

“Every year is something different and this could be your last training camp. You never know. So you’ve got to make it count and you can’t take anything for granted in the NFL. So I try to do the best I can for this team and, hopefully, it leads to a great year.”

Brady had his ups and downs during the team’s first public practice, including spending quite a bit of time working with tight end Rob Gronkowski on Thursday.  The two got in a little extra work after Brady and Gronkowski went over to the team’s second practice field and the two continued working as Gronkowski ran a variety of pass routes.

Brady acknowledged that there’s going to need to be some additional work needed as they continue trying to improve.

“It’s a long training camp. It’s going to be a lot of effort and a lot of work, ” said Brady.  “There is no easy way about it. You just have to grind and put the work in and listen to the coaches, try to make the improvements. Hopefully when we start the season, we’ll be a lot better team than we are now.”

DEGUGLIELMO TRYING TO CONTINUE SCARNECCHIA’S SYSTEM:

A lot of talk this offseason centered on how the Patriots could keep their success with offensive linemen going after what now-retired former o-line coach Dante Scarnecchia had been able to accomplish.  His replacement, Dave DeGuglielmo, told the media on Thursday that he’s not worried about following Scarnecchia and is just taking advantage of the system that was already in place.

“Following him? You know, I have a job to do, and I’m trying to do the best I can every day,” DeGulglielmo said.  “I think the system is in place, so it’s not like we’re reinventing anything here.

“I’m trying to teach the system. I might use different coaching phrases, but it’s the same stuff. Same technique, generally the same offense. I’m not changing anything, that’s for sure.”

KENBRELL THOMPKINS SHINES IN DAY ONE:

For the second straight year Kenbrell Thompkins has been impressive and on Thursday he caught the attention of fans who were on hand for the team’s first public session.

During 7-on-7 work, Thompkins hauled in a couple of touchdown receptions and both were ones where he had to catch the ball over his head in the back corner of the end zone.   He also joined a group that included Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola on the other field while working on fade routes without a defense.

WILFORK HAS NO LIMITATIONS ON DAY ONE:

Coming off of a ruptured Achilles that he suffered back on September 29th last season, Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork appeared a little lighter when he took the field on Thursday and was a full participant during the team’s first practice.

Wilfork said that so far he’s feeling good.

“If I had limitations, I wouldn’t be practicing. Right now, I’m on the field and I’m healthy,” Wilfork said via ESPN BOSTON after the two-hour session. “I’m pretty sure there’s going to still be some stuff that I may need to do, so ‘so far, so good.’ I’m not looking back. I’m looking forward.”

The veteran tackle also said his goal now is to just prove that he can continue being a key part of the defense.

“I just have to prove I can come out and give my team what they need,” said Wilfork.  “Me as a person, I’ve never been a selfish player; I was a team player. If I wanted to be selfish, I could have been a shot putter. I’ve done that. I was a state champion shot putter, but it wasn’t my thing. My thing was to be with teammates, a good group of guys, and we’re all working toward one goal and that’s to be able to win and push one another. That’s why I chose football.

“For me to prove anything, no; I have to prove to my teammates they can trust me when the [game] is on the line. They have to do the same thing with me. It starts now. Camp is, that’s the platform for everything. If you can [become] a better football team in camp, you’ll be pretty decent.”


OBSERVATION LINKS FROM THURSDAY:
(To try and make things a little easier, here’s a quick rundown of the links from the media with observations from Thursday’s session:)
PATFANS.COM:
Thursday’s Training Camp Observations 7/24 – Derek Havens

BOSTON.COM:
Patriots Training Camp Notes: Kenbrell Thompkins Shines On Opening Day – Erik Frenz

ESPN BOSTON:
Observations from Patriots camp: Day 1 - Mike Reiss & Lee Schechter

BOSTON HERALD:
Practice observations: Rob Gronkowski limited in first workout of training camp – Jeff Howe

WEEI:
Thursday Training Camp Notes: Rob Gronkowski Returns to the Field, Kenbrell Thompkins Looks Impressive - Christopher Price


 

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

BOSTON GLOBE:

Tom Brady brings fresh perspective to his 15th season – Ben Volin: Volin has an article on Brady who despite being in his 15th season still treats the experience like he’s a rookie.

Notes: Dave DeGuglielmo ‘not reinventing’ Patriots offensive line - Michael Whitmer: Whitmer files his notebook this morning which leads off with comments from new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, who is just trying to carry on Dante Scarnecchia’s system.

BOSTON.COM:

Patriots Training Camp: Day 2 of Practice, Schedule – Zuri Berry: Berry has today’s practice schedule, with the team set to hold another session beginning at 9:15am.

BOSTON HERALD:

Patriots Notebook: Progress for Aaron Dobson – Jeff Howe: Howe files his notebook this morning, which leads off with some positive news on Dobson.

Josh McDaniels thrilled to start again – Adam Kurkjian: Kurkjian has notes from offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who said “it’s great to get started” after the team’s opening session.

It’s Rob Gronkowski time – Jeff Howe: Howe has an article on Gronkowski, focusing on some of the work the veteran did yesterday including spending some time getting in some work on improving his blocking technique.

ESPN BOSTON:

Patriots coverage from national view – Mike Reiss: Reiss has links from national media outlets, which offers a few different perspectives.

Patriots camp report: Day 1 – Mike Reiss: Reiss has additional notes from yesterday, including some notes on Aaron Dobson, Vince Wilfork, and James White.

Wilfork practices without restriction – Mike Reiss: Reiss has an entry on Wilfork, who also said he has a little more appreciation of the game after being out last year.

WEEI:

Tom Brady pumps up Kenbrell Thompkins and pumps the brakes on Rob Gronkowsi – Mike Petraglia: Petraglia has some quick notes followed by the remainder of Brady’s press conference from Thursday.

CSNNE:

DeGuglielmo homecoming brings levity to Pats line – Phil Perry: Perry has an article on offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, who is doing things in his own way.

PATRIOT LEDGER:

No passing of the torch at Patriots’ camp – Glen Farley: Farley has an article on the fact Brady didn’t look like a guy who was ready to hand the football over to Jimmy Garoppolo on Thursday.

Patriots Huddle: Thursday’s News, Notes and Links 7/24


Bill Belichick and the Patriots will hold their first public session Thursday at 9:45am. (USA TODAY Images)

Here are some quick news and notes for this morning as the team will finally hit the field for their first public session at Gillette Stadium.

BELICHICK KICKS THINGS OFF:

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick met with the media on Wednesday for his first media session as the team begins preparation for the 2014 season.

As we know there’s been quite a transition roster-wise this offseason, with the team making quite a few new additions throughout the roster, although most of the attention is obviously on the defense given the addition of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.

There will be changes and adjustments ahead, however, Belichick said they’ve already put in a fair amount of work during the spring and adjusting to roster turnover is simply part of what goes on in the NFL.

“We’re certainly not anywhere near where we need to be or will be, but I’d say we’ve already crossed part of that bridge in the spring,” said Belichick. “We had 13 practices together and at this time of year, as we do in the spring, we work a lot of different people in different combinations and let the competition sort itself out.

“I think that we’ve had good, productive communication at all the positions. There’s always going to be turnover. There’s turnover every year on every team. This is nothing unique. We’ll just see how it plays out. I don’t think that necessarily has to be a problem but it could be. I don’t know.”

ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR GRONKOWSKI:

For the first time in a while Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will hit the field and be able to take part in training camp, giving him the opportunity to hopefully start working on getting himself ready for a better 2014 season.

He’s had a rough couple of years in terms of injuries, but so far everything appears to be going well as he continues coming back from tearing his ACL against the Browns in Week 14.  Offensive captain Logan Mankins met with the media on Wednesday and said that it’s been great having him out there.

“Well, it’s a positive,” said Mankins on Gronkowski being out there working with them.  “We were all hoping Gronk would have a good recovery and so far he has. We’ll just see where he is, how good he is right now. It’s great to have him out there. He’s a dynamic blocker. He does a great job in the blocking and he’s a big target for Tom [Brady] to get the ball to and he gets open. Anytime you can have Gronk on the field, it’s great.”

PATRIOTS MAKE A COUPLE OF ROSTER MOVES:

The Patriots made a couple of roster moves on Wednesday, releasing recently signed receiver Tyler McDonald in favor of first year wideout Greg Orton.

This is the second stint for Orton in New England, having spent time with the team’s practice squad  when he was previously signed back on December 31st, 2013.  The Patriots had previously released him back on May 22, 2014.

As for McDonald, he lasted just five days with the club after signing as a rookie free agent last Friday.  The former South Carolina State standout caught 51 passes for 956 yards along with seven touchdowns as a senior, but unfortunately now he’ll be looking for a new team.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

BOSTON HERALD:

5 things to watch at Patriots camp – Jeff Howe: Howe has five things to watch heading into training camp, including keeping an eye on the front seven.

BOSTON GLOBE:

Notes: Third-down stops a focus of Patriots defense – Shalise Manza Young: Manza Young files her notebook this morning, which leads off with the fact the team spent time this offseason focusing on getting better about getting off the field on third down.

BOSTON.COM:

Patriots Training Camp: Day 1 of Practice, Schedule – Zuri Berry: Berry outlines the schedule for today, with the team set to hit the field at 9:45am.

ESPN BOSTON:

Patriots’ evolving D keys Super hopes – Mike Reiss: Reiss has an article looking at the defense, and feels this is one of the years where the team’s defense has created as much buzz as their offense.

Did Patriots do enough to improve offense? – Mike Reiss: Reiss takes an overall look at some of the team and gives his thoughts on the upcoming season.

MASSLIVE:

New England Patriots training camp position previews: Wide receiver is not a sure thing, but could grow into something great – Nick O’Malley: O’Malley spotlights the receiver position, which he feels could potentially end up being a strength for the team.

WORCESTER TELEGRAM:

Patriots’ Logan Mankins a training camp veteran – Rich Garven: Garven has an article on Logan Mankins, who spoke with the media yesterday and despite being the third longest tenured player on the team, he said not much has changed.

PATRIOTS.COM:

Bill Belichick Press Conference Transcript - In case you missed it, here’s the transcript from Belichick’s press conference on Wednesday.

Rob Ninkovich Press Conference Transcript - Ninkovich spoke to the media yesterday and here’s a transcript of what he had to say.

Logan Mankins Press Conference Transcript – Here’s another for offensive captain Logan Mankins

Devin McCourty Press Conference Transcript - McCourty also met with the media on Wednesday and here’s a recap of what he had to say.

Patriots Huddle: Tuesday’s News, Notes & Links 7/22


Aaron Dobson will start training camp on the PUP list. (USA TODAY Images)

Some news and notes for this morning:

DOBSON, EASLEY AMONG PLAYERS TO START ON PUP:

The names of players who will be starting training camp on PUP came to light on Monday, with receiver Aaron Dobson and rookie Dominique Easley among players who will be under that designation to begin training camp on Thursday.

Other players who will be joining them will be cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, receivers Jeremy Gallon and Matthew Slater, along with running back Roy Finch, linebacker Deontae Skinner and tackle Chris Martin.  Each of those players count toward the team’s roster limit of 90 and any of them are eligible to come off at any time during the preseason.

PATRIOTS COME IN AT NO.4 FOR PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS:

One of the more meaningless stats is where the team is ranked heading into the preseason and ProFootballTalk.com’s Josh Alper has New England coming in at number four as camp looms.

Alper writes that the Patriots had a pretty good defense in 2013 without Darrelle Revis and adding him should make them better.  He also cites the return of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, who should both make a big impact.

As for weaknesses, the receiver position is Alper’s biggest question with a host of young players who have yet to manage any significant production, along with the loss of LeGarrette Blount at running back.

Despite the ranking, Alper still feels the Patriots will be in the conference title game again this season.

PATRIOTS SHUFFLE D-LINEMEN:

The Patriots made a couple of roster moves on Monday, releasing defensive lineman Seali’i Epenesa and replacing him by signing Eathyn Manumaleuna, also a defensive lineman.

Manumaleuna is an interesting signing primarily because the former BYU standout, who had previously been signed as an undrafted free agent earlier by the New York Giants before being released, has a couple of family members who have played professional football.  According to the Boston Globe, Manumaleuna’s uncle (Frank Manumaleuga ) and cousin (Brandon Manumaleuna ) both played in the NFL.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

PATSFANS.COM:

Patriots Training Camp Player Spotlight, Darrelle Revis – Steve Balestrieri: Balestrieri has a pre-camp spotlight on Revis, who will likely be in the spotlight with fans when camp opens on Thursday.

ESPN BOSTON:

Keeping tabs on injured Patriots – Mike Reiss: Reiss has notes on some of the injured players, which includes some updates on each.

BOSTON GLOBE:

Notes: Patriots shuffle roster before camp – The Globe has notes on the team’s roster moves on the defensive line on Monday.

10 Questions Headed into Patriots Training Camp - Zuri Berry: Berry has his questions for camp, including whether or not the tight end position is changing for the Patriots.

BOSTON HERALD:

Good news: Gronk not on Pats’ PUP - Jeff Howe: Howe has an article on Gronkowski, who fortunately won’t start this year on PUP.

CBS BOSTON:

Patriots Tight End Preview: Gronk Determined, But Depth Remains A Concern – Matthew Geagan: Geagan spotlights the tight end position in his preview, with the lack of depth something that remains concerning.

WEEI:

10 things to keep an eye on at Patriots training camp – Christopher Price: Price has his 10 things to watch at camp, which includes how well the relationship continues to develop with the younger receivers.

MASSLIVE: 

New England Patriots Roster Bubble Watch: WRs Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce are in the same boat – Nick O’Malley: O’Malley looks at the two receivers, with both battling for a roster spot when training camp starts.

CSNNE:

Is this Brady’s last chance to win a Super Bowl? - Gary Tanguay: Tanguay has an interesting column this morning pondering whether or not with Revis’ massive option next season if this is their best chance to win it all.

PATRIOTS.COM:

Happy New Year! What to Watch for in Training Camp – John Rooke: Rooke has his column on what to look for in camp this week and wonders if Gronkowski will still be “Gronktastic”.

BLEACHER REPORT:

Patriots Training Camp: 5 Early Storylines to Watch – James Christensen: Christensen has a good column looking at five storylines for camp, including the fact this is a key contract year for several running backs.

BROCKTON ENTERPRISE:

Patriots camp checklist: what to know for your sneak peak in Foxboro – Glen Farley: Farley has some notes on what fans need to know when they arrive in Foxboro Thursday.

WASHINGTON POST:

What you need to know about the AFC East  - Cindy Boren: Boren has a glance at the AFC East which includes a couple of quick thoughts on the Patriots.

Patriots Huddle: Monday’s News, Notes and Links 7/21


Insert Caption Text Here. (USA TODAY Images)

Here are some news and notes on this Monday morning:

FORMER PATRIOTS RB FAULK SPENDS TIME AT CAMP:

Former Patriots RB Kevin Faulk was a counselor at the seventh annual Pro Football Combine Camp at Nicholls State University last Friday and despite constant rain, Faulk reportedly spent time helping 250 campers who were on hand while trying to pass along some of his football knowledge.

The former LSU standout told NOLA.com that the kids are the reasons why he enjoys coming back to the area.

“It means a whole lot,” said Faulk.  “The kids is one of the reasons why I came back home. To get them more involved, get them the notoriety, get them out there, build their confidence level up in what they doing so they can try to move forward.”

Faulk currently holds LSU’s career rushing record of 4,557 yards, which has stood for the last 15 seasons.  However, with LSU freshman running back Leonard Fournette set to come in, Faulk believes that his record may finally fall.  Fournette has reportedly made quite an impression so far and Faulk feels that if anyone has the potential to break his record, Fournette might be that player.

“Not for long, (the record) is not going to be there for long,” said Faulk when asked about it.  “How times are now, kids leaving to go to the NFL, multiple running backs in a system you never know what can happen. But if there’s any person that can do it, he is the guy.”

“I wish him the best of luck. I hope he does it because every record is made to be broken. It’s just a challenge for another kid that’s coming up as a competitor to reach that record. So, I hope he does and good luck doing it.”

RYAN RYAN SAYS PATRIOTS SHOULD BE WORRIED:

The preseason is a time for optimism and it’s the one time during the year where every team shares the same record and the same hope of a promising season.  For those who have endured rough roads in recent years, it’s the only time where most coaches feel their team might have just as good of a chance as anyone else at competing for a successful season.

Unfortunately some coaches handle that better than others and over the weekend Jets coach Rex Ryan felt the need to make New York’s presence in the AFC East known after telling the New York Post that the Patriots should be worried about his team this season.

“Somebody asked me if we focus on New England. Bull—€”-,” Ryan told the New York Post. “We’re focused on us. We’re focused on us and how are we going to be better. I have to be honest, I don’t worry about them. They need to worry about us. I think that’s really where we’re at now.”

Oh and by the way, he also feels he’s a great coach.

“Do I think that I’m a great coach? I absolutely know I’m a great coach,” Ryan said. “But it’s not just about me. What makes a great coach is the people that surround you, the people that are with you every day.”

The joys of preseason.

GOSTKOWSKI TOPS IN C-USA HISTORY:

In an article ranking the top special teams players in Conference USA’s 20-year history, former Memphis kicker Stephen Gostkowski tops the list among the five best special teams players over the last two decades.

The former Madison central standout is C-USA’s all-time leading scoring with 369 points and has been the Patriots’ kicker since 2006 after the team drafted him to replace Adam Vinatieri.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

ESPN BOSTON:

Top Patriots positional battles in camp – Mike Reiss: Reiss looks at some of the potential position battles, which includes several at the offensive line.

Looking ahead to 2015 Patriots foes – Mike Reiss: Reiss takes a quick look at who the Patriots will face off against in 2015, which will include home games against the Jaguars, Titans, Eagles and Redskins.

NESN:

Patriots’ Training Camp Offensive Position Battles Include QB, Receiver – Doug Kyed: Kyed looks at the potential position battles at the quarterback and receiver position.

CSNNE:

Curran: Pats made ‘seismic shift’ drafting Garoppolo – Tom Curran wonders if the move to grab Jimmy Garoppolo in April might affect Brady’s mindset with his contract.

CBS BOSTON:

Patriots Running Back Preview: How Will Rookie James White Fit In With Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley? – Michael Hurley: Hurley spotlights the running back position, with White poised to battle for playing time among the Patriots’ current group.

WEEI:

Countdown to Camp: Defensive Line – Christopher Price: Price continues his camp position preview seriees and has an article spotlighting the Patriots’ defensive line.

BLEACHER REPORT:

New England Patriots’ Training Camp To-Do List – James Christensen: Christensen looks at the top five things that Belichick needs to check off before everyone watches the preseason unfold.

NFL.COM:

Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski plans to play whole season – Dan Hanzus: Hanzus has an entry on Gronkowski’s hopes of making it through an entire season healthy.

BOSTINNO:

Get Ready For Patriots Training Camp – Hayden Bird: Bird writes that the depressing days of no football are about to come to an end.

Patriots Huddle: Friday’s News, Notes and Links 7/18


Patriots owner Robert Kraft claims Bill Belichick wouldn’t mind multiple Thursday night games. (USA TODAY Images)

Here are some news and notes on this Friday:

KRAFT SAYS BELICHICK ENJOYS THURSDAY NIGHT GAMES:

Despite the belief by some that the addition of a Thursday night game is bad for players since they have to play another game only four days after having previously played another, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spent Thursday talking about the fact the league experienced a “slight decrease” in injury rates.

According to Goodell, who was on hand for CBS’s Thursday Night Football event in Beverly Hills, California, many players have praised the scheduling during the most recent negotiations over the league’s collective bargaining agreement and he believes there isn’t an issue.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was also on hand for the event, agreed and even said that Bill Belichick “likes the Thursday night games and would be happy to have more than one in a season,” and argued that short weeks reward the league’s well-prepared teams while giving the players an extended break on the other side.
The team last experienced a Thursday night game in Week 2 of last season at home against the Jets. Coming off their week one win over the Bills, Belichick talked about the fact that they needed to adapt to fit everything in.

“There’s going to have to be some days combined,” Belichick said via the Boston Herald following their opening day victory. “Today is definitely a finish-up-the-Bills day. That’s part of Monday, and skip Tuesday, so you definitely get into Wednesday today. Start our scouting reports, turn the page and get into the Jets. Tuesday and Wednesday will be some combination of Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”

They ended up winning a tough 13-10 win in a game that wasn’t pretty offensively. Quarterback Tom Brady finished 19-of-39 for 185 yards and one touchdown but was just 6-of-15 on third down.

But coming off the long layoff, the Patriots played well in a 23-3 win over the Buccaneers. Brady was 25-of-36 passing for 225 yards and two touchdowns, including a better performance on third down after finishing 7-of-9. The running backs also had a good outing, piling up 156 yards on 33 carries.

They have one game scheduled on Thursday night this season, which will again be against the Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 16th. From there they’ll have 10 days before they follow it up with another home game against the Bears on October 26th.

FOOTBALL IN 3-D NOT COMING TO THE NFL:

With Thursday night football coming to CBS in the fall, the network apparently isn’t interested in offering these games in 3-D.

According to CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, the reception for the technology has been lukewarm and he doesn’t expect anyone to pursue it, although he believes the new 4K, super high-definition is likely the next step networks will focus on and he said CBS is already planning for it.

“All the networks looked really seriously at 3-D…it looked brilliant for about 15 minutes,” said McManus via Entertainment Weekly. “What we found out was, it’s really not a very good way to watch a sporting event, with the camera moving back and forth quickly. The reception that we got was very lukewarm. ESPN made the decision not to pursue it. We made the decision…not to pursue it. I don’t think you’ll see anybody in the near future or perhaps the distant future really pursuing 3-D coverage.”

“What we’re all pursuing now is 4K, which is super high-definition,” said McManus. “The camera… suspended over the field will indeed be a 4K camera, for the first time ever.”

KRAFT BELIEVES NFL NEEDS TEAMS IN LONDON AND L.A.:

The idea of an NFL Franchise in London continues to be discussed and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was on hand for the Thursday Night Football panel at the Beverly Hilton in California, told NFL.com he believes a team will be there before the decade is out.

“I can see the kind of reception we got there,” said Kraft, referencing New England’s visit to London back in 2012. “… I would not be disappointed, and I would also believe that we should work hard to try and have a franchise in London before the decade was out.”

Kraft also believes that the league needs to make a move to get one or more teams into Los Angeles, as it’s a market he believes is being hurt by the fact that an entire generation of fans aren’t branded to a team.

“In the end, we want young people here branded to a team,” Kraft said. “I know that Roger and I and a number of the owners who care about the long-term health of the NFL feel it’s very important for our future to have at least one — if not two teams — in downtown L.A.”

WR’S JOHNSON AND WIGGINS RELEASED:

The team made a couple of roster moves on Thursday, releasing receivers Jeremy Johnson and Reese Wiggins. That lightens a group that had eleven receivers heading into training camp, which now drops that number down to nine. With the retirement of Armond Armstead this week, the team’s roster went from 90 to 87 players, although in all likelihood they’ll bring in some additional guys before the team hits the field next Thursday.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

BOSTON GLOBE:

Patriots can provide jolt, rescue summer – Christopher Gasper: Gasper writes that the Patriots represent hope on the horizon for Boston fans who have seen the Red Sox fall into last place in the American League East.

Danny Aiken Has Competition For Long-Snapping Duties – Erik Frenz: Frenz takes a closer look at special teams and writes that Aiken could be in a battle with Tyler Ott, who has a lower cap number.

ESPN BOSTON:

Snapshot: 2014 Patriots media guide cover – Mike Reiss: Reiss takes a look at the team’s media guide and highlights some of the features from this year’s edition.

Picked-up Patriots pieces around Web – Mike Reiss: Reiss has some additional Patriots-related links from around the web in this entry.

Weekly Patriots Chat Recap – Mike Reiss: Reiss also held his weekly chat and as usual it contained some interesting bits of information.

Camp Preview: New England Patriots – Mike Reiss: Reiss has a brief entry with some thoughts heading into training camp as part of ESPN’s NFL Nation.

WEEI:

Countdown to Camp: Quarterback – Christopher Price: Price continues his series looking at each position, with today’s entry focusing on the quarterback spot.

CBS BOSTON:

Patriots Secondary Preview: Darrelle Revis Can Completely Reshape Passing Defense – Michael Hurley: Hurley spotlights the Patriots secondary and writes that the Patriots finally have a game-changer in Darrelle Revis.

PROVIDENCE JOURNAL:

Nearly two dozen Patriots are playing for their next contract – Mark Daniels: Daniels has a good article on the fact there are quite a few players who are counting on a good season to help get their deals extended.

TAUNTON GAZETTE:

FIRST-AND-TEN: Patriots’ hands hope to be helping more than hurting in 2014 – Glen Farley: Farley takes a closer look at the wide receiver position, which was badly riddled with injuries from top to bottom in 2013.

SOUTH COAST TODAY:

Is Brady ready to act his age? – Glen Farley: Farley writes that for years we couldn’t help but wonder if the Patriots were even aware of Tom Brady’s football mortality, while now it’s clear after the drafting of Jimmy Garoppolo they are.

NFL.COM:

Goodell, Kraft talk possibility of teams in L.A., London – Marc Sessler: Sessler has an article on the fact that the NFL feels it’s in their best interest to get teams into both Los Angeles and London,

Patriots Huddle: Thursday’s Media Links 7/17


Michael Hurley of CBS Boston wonders if Ryan Mallett will be on the opening day roster in 2014. (USA TODAY Images)

Here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s links:

BOSTON .COM:

Uncertainty Behind Starters at Linebacker in Patriots 2014 Training Camp Battle – Erik Frenz: Frenz  takes a closer look at the linebacker position heading into training camp.

With Release of Patriots Media Guide, Coaching Positions Become Clear – Zuri Berry: Berry notes who replaced defensive coach Pepper Johnson, noticing that Patrick Graham is the one who filled his shoes after Johnson’s departure this offseason.

FORBES:

New England Patriots Tickets Up 31.1% Since Last Season – Jesse Lawrence: Lawrence cites prices from TiqIQ that show the prices for games at Gillette Stadium puts New England as the fifth most expensive in the NFL.

ESPN BOSTON:

Pats promote Ossenfort to scouting director – Mike Reiss: Reiss Reports that the team has filled the void left by the departure of director of college scouting Jon Robinson by promoting his former assistant, Monti Ossenfort.

Resetting the Patriots’ DT personnel – Mike Reiss: Reiss takes another look at the defensive line following Armond Armstead’s retirement on Wednesday.

D-lineman Armond Armstead retires – Mike Reiss: Reiss has his story on Armstead’s retirement, which he writes likely didn’t come as a surprise to the Patriots.

WEEI:

Countdown to camp: Offensive line – Christopher Price: Price continues his series leading up to training camp, and this morning’s edition focuses on the offensive line.

CBS BOSTON:

Patriots Quarterbacks Preview: Tom Brady To Provide Another Year Of Excellence, But Who’s His Backup? – Michael Hurley: Hurley takes a look at the Patirots’ quarterback situation and wonders whether or not the team will keep three quarterbacks by the time camp comes to an end.

MASSLIVE:

New England Patriots Roster Bubble Watch: The price tag for G Dan Connolly presents a problem – Nick O’Malley: O’Malley writes that the high price tag for Connolly could make him a casualty by the time the season starts.

New England Patriots training camp position previews: Linebackers – Nick O’Malley: O’Malley also has his position preview of the linebackers, and feels this year’s group will be better than the 2013 version.

 

PROVIDENCE JOURNAL:

Donaldson: Defensive depth a concern for the Patriots - Jim Donaldson: Donaldson looks at the team’s depth on defense and feels the team lacks good depth up front behind Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly.

ATTLEBORO SUN CHRONICLE:

Training Camp Preview: Patriots roster taking shape – Mark Farinella: Farinella has his thoughts on the team heading into camp and goes through each position.

BOSTINNO:

Armond Armstead’s Retirement Is Sad, but Underscores the Patriots Defensive Depth – Hayden Bird: Bird has his thoughts on Armstead’s retirement and feels it’s sad for fans who were looking forward to seeing him get his shot here in New England.

NFL.COM:

AFC East Training Camp Preview: 3 things to watch – Gregg Rosenthal – Rosenthal takes a look at the AFC East, and feels defensive tackle remains the position with the most problems.

Patriots Huddle: Tuesday’s News, Notes & Links


Bill Belichick and Aaron Hernandez communicated quite a bit prior to his arrest last year. (USA TODAY Images)

Another quiet morning on this Tuesday, but here are some Patriots related news and notes for this morning:

33 PAGES OF TEXTS BETWEEN HERNANDEZ AND BELICHICK OBTAINED:

Very little has been mentioned in this space regarding Aaron Hernandez since his arrest and subsequent release last year and that’s primarily because there was no further relevance to him from a football or Patriots standpoint.  However, the recent report that 33 pages of texts have been obtained regarding texts between Bill Belichick and the former tight end was something that was somewhat of a surprise.

Outside the walls of Gillette Stadium not many people know much about the relationship between the coach and his players, but this latest report by the Hartford Courant shows that off the field, he’s actively involved in the lives of his players.

According to the report, the evidence in the Lloyd case includes 33 pages of text messages between Belichick and Hernandez, from February 2013 to May 2013.  The report also states that for several weeks during that time, Hernandez was staying in Hermosa Beach, California., for offseason training and injury rehabilitation. The court filings do not include the content of the text messages.

It’s hard to say what was in those messages, but it also creates some credence to the Rolling Stone article which indicated that over that span Belichick had advised Hernandez to “lay low” due to concerns that the gangsters Hernandez had befriended “were actually trying to kill him.”  According to that article, those conversations took place between February and May after Hernandez reportedly started confiding in Belichick about his situation.

While Belichick may not have known all the details, it appears he tried to help Hernandez.  Unfortunately, it seems he was too far gone and now will remain a disappointing story in Patriots history in a case that likely will only become more disturbing before it finally comes to a close.

BELICHICK HONORED IN NANTUCKET:

According to the Boston Globe Belichick and actress Sharon Stone were on Nantucket over the weekend being honored by The Nantucket Dreamland Foundation at its annual gala. They were both interviewed about their careers and what led them to pursue their professions.

This was the second year of the annual event, with last year’s honoring Michael Douglas and Robert De Niro.

The event benefited the Nantucket Dreamland Foundation, and tickets for the event started at $500 each.  They also held an online auction of unique experiences and items from the Indy 500 to Paris Fashion Shows to the 50-yd line tickets for the Patriots.

Belichick was also part of a Q&A, and director Melissa McCarthy said he was very “warm and open” during the event.

“Bill was warm and open with the audience. His very genuine character came through as he spoke to the audience about his influences, his challenges and, very humbly, about his successes as a coach,” Dreamland Foundation executive director Melissa McCarthy told the Boston Herald.

TICKETS GO ON SALE THIS MORNING:

The Patriots will release a limited number of single game tickets this morning, which will be available beginning at 10am through Ticketmaster or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets can’t be purchased in person at Gillette Stadium. Call 508-384-9191 for seating that is wheelchair-accessible.   Also be aware that Visa is the only method of purchase for NFL tickets.

The team currently has a streak of 216-games in a row having sold-out, a streak that began back in 1994 and includes preseason, regular-season, and playoff games.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

ESPN Boston has a bit from a recent radio appearance by Mike Reiss on WEEI – READ MORE

Nick O’Malley looks at some of the longshot players heading into training camp – READ MORE

O’Malley also looks at the position battles and feels the quarterback one is simple – READ MORE

Nick Underhill of MASSLIVE says good bye as he moves on to cover the Saints down in New Orleans – READ MORE

Glen Farley ponders whether or not the Patriots tough schedule will weaken them this season – READ MORE

James Christensen looks at some of the top position battles heading into training camp – READ MORE

Yahoo! Sports has their camp preview for the Patriots from the Sports Xchange – READ MORE

Kate Lemasters of Football.com looks at the fact the Patriots have quite a few receivers heading into training camp – READ MORE

Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN has comments from Ron Jaworski who ranked former Patriots QB Matt Cassel as one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL – READ MORE

Patriots Huddle: Monday’s News, Notes and Links


Julian Edelman was part of a NASCAR event on Sunday. (USA TODAY Images)

Another quiet Monday, but here are a couple of quick notes and some links:

EDELMAN MAKES NASCAR DEBUT:

While he wasn’t driving one of the race cars on Sunday, Patriots wide receiver got a feel for what it was like to be out on the track and part of the NASCAR’s Camping World RV Sales 301 Sprint Cup race in Loudon New Hampshire.

Edelman drove the pace car for the event, and he said after that after seeing the crowd and the energy he may become more than just a casual fan.

“After coming here today and seeing this and the excitement and energy of the crowd and the people, it’s pretty insane,” Edelman told the Boston Globe. “It was a fun experience, but I’ll definitely be watching a lot more now, because I’m vested.”

Edelman was reportedly told three rules, which was to stay at 47 miles per hour, stay away from the walls and to remain in the middle of the track.  Edelman admitted that he was allowed to “open it up” and drove 90-100 miles per hour at one point.  To the veteran receiver that seemed fast enough, and the thought of each of these drivers going twice as fast for three hours gave him a new appreciation for what they do and felt they deserved to be called athletes.

“They’re, for sure, athletes,” said Edelman, who was introduced at the drivers’ meeting along with Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “It’s an endurance thing and they’re sitting in the car for three hours, going 200 miles per hour, you’ve got to be focused.”

FORMER PATRIOTS HOYER NOT FOCUSED ON MANZIEL’S ANTICS:

Lost in the Manziel Mania going on out in Cleveland is former Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer, who is going to be facing a lot of critics who will likely be looking for any reason for Johnny Manziel to see game action at some point this season.

Hoyer, for now, is considered the starter for the Browns heading into 2014, but he’s still keeping the same mindset that he’s always had and a Tweet over the weekend was one that caught the attention of many after it was retweeted over 4,000 times.

After reading the article published about LeBron James in Sports Illustrated, Hoyer appreciated the fact that James noted that “in Northeast Ohio, nothing is given, everything is earned.”

That will likely remain the case as he tries to keep Manziel behind him on the depth chart, and having spent time in New England he’s handling the questions about his teammate quite well.  When asked recently about if he’s been paying attention to the news surrounding Manziel that keeps appearing, Hoyer said he’s only focused on getting ready for training camp.

“Not really,” Hoyer said. “I’m not really focused on my teammates, what they do in their off life so that’s none of my business.  They can make those decisions on their own. All that matters is that we come back ready to go for the season.”

Hoyer said when asked if he should pull Manziel aside, he said he feels the best way for him to be a leader is to do it by example.

” Like I’ve always said, the best way for me to be a mentor and a leader is to go about my business and lead by example,” said Hoyer.  “We’ll go from there and it’s going to be a fun time and it’s going to be fun so [fans] come out to training camp because it’s going to be a fun time.”

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Nick Underhill of MASSLIVE.com finishes up his “Ranking the Patriots” series, with Tom Brady topping the list. READ MORE

Oliver Thomas of NEPatriotsDraft.com has a good article as he revisits Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins’ rookie seasons. READ MORE

Christopher Price has his “countdown to camp” series, and looks at the reciever position in today’s edition. – READ MORE

James Christensen has a good read on five players he believes will surprise people during training camp – READ MORE

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston goes through some of the developments that happened while he was away on vacation, including some news around the division. – READ MORE

Erik Frenz of Boston.com continues going through the positional groupings and takes a closer look at the offensive line in today’s entry. – READ MORE

Frenz also has a good read on how the addition of Will Smith adds a missing veteran presence to the team heading into training camp. – READ MORE

Patriots Huddle: Friday’s News and Notes 7/11


Bill Belichick making a move for receiver Andre Johnson seems unlikely. (USA TODAY Images)

Another quiet morning, but here are some news and notes on this Friday:

DON’T COUNT ON ANDRE JOHNSON IN NEW ENGLAND:

There are plenty of fans who would love to see Andre Johnson catching passes from Tom Brady, but as it currently stands, the Patriots would have to be considered a long shot to acquire him.

Johnson has told the Texans that he no longer wants to be there and wants to be traded, which reportedly stemmed from an earlier situation where the star receiver missed the early portion of the offseason workouts and cost him a $1 million bonus.  According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Johnson requested the opportunity to workout extra to make up for the time he missed, but the team told him no.

That sets up where he is now, which has the two sides in a standoff and Johnson at the center of trade rumors.

Looking at the implications of him coming to New England, the numbers don’t really work out too well.  As our colleague Miguel Benzan points out, Per the CBA, the Patriots would have to be under the cap by $10,580,000 in order to take on Andre Johnson’s 10 million salary and 1 million roster bonus.  According to Benzan, the team is currently below the salary cap by $6.4 million, which would require a series of moves to squeeze Johnson under and he goes over a series of moves to shave off the additional $4.2 million that might make it work.  Some of those moves would involve extensions for Devin McCourty along releasing Dan Connolly or even Logan Mankins, among other necessary transactions.

That’s a lot of work for one player and doesn’t exactly fit how the Patriots have previously done business.  Not to mention the fact that it leaves them without any breathing room or the ability to adjust in the event of disaster from an injury standpoint, and puts them in tough shape cap-wise heading into 2015 unless Johnson would be willing to take a pay-cut in order to make it work.  Rapoport reports that Johnson is willing to restructure, but it doesn’t sound like lowering his salary is something he’s willing to do.

Needless to say it seems unlikely that he may end up in a Patriots uniform.  Granted stranger things have happened, but the numbers don’t add up and that’s one of the bigger reasons why he’ll probably end up elsewhere if Johnson and the Texans can’t work out their issues.

CHUNG HOLDING A PEP RALLY:

According to the Boston Herald, Patrick Chung and his wife Cecelia recently threw a pep rally with JAM’N 94.5’s Maverik, crooner Louie Bello, and hip-hop dancers Phunk Phenomenon and Fame or Juliet to kick off his free summer music academy, SMART, at the Josiah Quincy School.

“We’re excited to welcome music students from all levels and backgrounds to join us once again for SMART,” Patrick Chung said in a recent press release. “Both of my parents were music professionals – my mother a singer and my father a producer. Because they followed their passions, they were able to give me the opportunities I’ve had to succeed. I’m thrilled we can offer the same opportunity for music students to follow their passions.”

The academy is designed for music students between the ages of 12-15 and from the Greater Boston area.  The program is currently taking place from July 7 through August 15th, but the application process is closed.

GRONK SPENDS TIME AT THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL:

It’s probably only a matter of time before photos appear of Rob Gronkowski at a recent Katy Perry concert, but for now it’s nice to see him giving back to the community, which is something he’s spent a lot of time this offseason doing and those things don’t tend to get enough press.

Gronk recently visited the Boston Children’s Hospital and brought some ice cream to some of the patients there, and the Hospital tweeted a photo of him:

Good stuff.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Our friend James Christensen has a good article on how the Patriots defense will be better without Brandon Spikes – READ MORE

Nick Underhill of MassLive continues his series of ranking the Patriots, will Darrelle Revis coming in at number two – READ MORE

Erik Frenz of Boston.com looks at the battle potentially looming between Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce for the final roster spot at the receiver position heading into training camp - READ MORE

Frenz has another article on the back-up tight end position and the upcoming competition heading into training camp. – READ MORE

Have to love this title of an article on Gisele in the Daily Mail “Gisele Bundchen shows lean legs in skin-tight faded skinny jeans while shooting commercial for Falabella in Miami”.  Purely for clicks, but it obviously worked – READ MORE

 

Patriots Huddle: Thursday News and Notes 7/10


The offseason criticism of Tom Brady continues, with critics doubting whether or not he’s still one of the best in the NFL. (USA TODAY Images)

A quiet morning on this Thursday, but here are some quick news and notes from this morning:

CRITICISM OF BRADY CONTINUES:

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA TODAY apparently isn’t happy with how the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2014 turned out, especially when it came to where Patriots quarterback Tom Brady fell in the rankings:

Tom Brady’s ranking would be disputed no matter what, given his tumultuous season. But the Patriots quarterback finished No. 3 on this year’s list, behind Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. It’s clear players who voted found some explanation for Brady’s struggles at the start of the year.

Whether it was on Brady or not, the Patriots’ early offensive woes were evident. A thin receiving corps contributed to an eight-game slump for Brady, which he then seemed to break out of. But he still finished with a pedestrian 6.9 yards per attempt (easily his lowest in a full season since 2006) and unremarkable numbers both downfield and on third down.

USA TODAY’s Nate Davis pegged Brady as the No. 3 QB and No. 12 overall player two weeks ago. The Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg went further by claiming the Patriots’ star doesn’t belong as one of the league’s top-five signal-callers. That’s probably a step too far; Brady’s entire season didn’t definitively indicate a fall from the elite.

Peyton Manning actually came in at number one overall, while Brady came in at number three.

There has been plenty of criticism surrounding Brady’s play this past season from those who didn’t watch every game and were purely looking at numbers on paper.  The offense evolved over the course of last season before injuries, once again, simply set them back and made it too much for them to overcome.  That’s something that most critics seem to overlook, and that appears to be the case, once again, with this piece as well.

LOOKING AT THE TITLE WINDOWS FOR THE NFL’S ELITE:

Field Yates has a good piece in ESPN’s Insider looking at the title window for some of the older elite quarterbacks in the NFL, which included Brady along with Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

Yates feels that a regression in 2014 is unlikely, but that it’s fathomable that his play will slide at some point before he reaches 40, but either way if Bill Belichick remains as head coach, he still believes they’ll remain a contender.

As stated, a Brady regression is far from a guarantee. He’s under contract for four more seasons, and while there’s little precedent for quarterbacks playing into their 40s, he’s a rare player.

Moreover, while the sample size is small, we’ve seen the Patriots without Brady in 2008, and they won 11 games. Even if it was against a watered-down schedule, that’s hard to do in the NFL. Belichick is the preeminent coach of his generation (perhaps of all time), and the organization is strong in all the foundational positions. (Their front office ranked seventh overall in our FPR, and the coaching staff ranked first.) Few teams adapt to change better than New England, and if Belichick stays in it for the long haul, the Patriots cannot be counted out.

As for the Broncos and Steelers, he believes Denver is in tough shape without any real answers in the post-Manning era, while he also feels Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is “underrated”.

FORMER PATRIOT SEYMOUR MAKING RUN AT WORLD SERIES OF POKER:

After retiring in 2012 from the Oakland Raiders, it appears that former Patriot, Richard Seymour, is looking for a new challenge and has decided to focus his competitive energy playing poker.

“Now that I’m done playing football I realize that poker is competitive,” Seymour told Pokerlistings.com. “A lot of the qualities I had on the field I can use on the poker table.”

According to SilverAndBlackPride.com, Seymour survived day one and is currently still alive on day two in the tournament. There were 2,571 players still left at the beginning of the day, which may seem like a lot but considering the Main Event had 6,683 entries and the entire tournament began with a record 82,360 entries.

Seymour has reportedly played poker his whole life, so this isn’t new to him as he often played with his teammates in Oakland on plane trips.

For now it appears he’s trying to compete in something with much higher stakes, with the big prize being $10 million should he be able to survive and win it all.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Mike Reiss continues his “Checking the locks” series, with this morning’s edition focusing on the cornerbacks – READ MORE

Nick Underhill of MASSLIVE continues his series ranking the Patriots players, with Rob Gronkowski coming in at number three in this entry – READ MORE

Erik Frenz of Boston.com has a piece this morning on Bleacher report pondering whether or not Ryan Mallett has become a forgotten man in New England – READ MORE

James Christensen also has an article looking at a lot of the recent buzz surrounding the team – READ MORE