Archive for the ‘ Football ’ Category

Gronkowski is among several key players returning in 2014. (USA TODAY Images)

Despite an AFC Championship appearance, 2013 managed to carve out its own niche in Patriots history and joins another season that fans will have a hard time forgetting.

There was 2008, which was “the Year Tom Brady Was Injured” and will probably forever be remembered for that reason. ¬†Odds are pretty good that 2013 will be there with it and¬†will likely¬†be remembered as “the Season Everyone Was Injured”.

It was ridiculous. ¬†By the time December hit following Rob Gronkowski’s knee taking a hit against Cleveland that more or less derailed his and the Patriots’ season, 20 injuries had been suffered, with Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald pointing out at the time that it cost players a combined 87 games collectively over that span.

They lost three big key players on the defensive side of the football, with Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly as the key names who were wiped off the roster and strangely enough, each one fell right after the other.  Wilfork went first, (gone in week four down in Alanta), followed by Kelly (injured his knee in Week 5 and was inactive for three games before ending up on IR) and then finally, Mayo (Week 6 against the Saints).

The offensive side of the ball was also a mess. ¬†They suffered a big blow when Danny Amendola re-aggravated his groin in Week 1 against the Bills (which cost him the next three games and he never looked the same) followed by a broken wrist by Shane Vereen (given the short-term injured reserve designation, which sidelined him for 8 games), a concussion to Amendola against the Saints in Week 6 that cost him another game, Sebastian Vollmer’s gruesome broken leg in week eight against the Dolphins that ended his season, followed by the foot injury suffered by Aaron Dobson that cost him three games and was re-aggravated in the season finale and has him now on PUP.

Yet somehow, this team was playing in Denver in January and only needed one more win for a Super Bowl berth. ¬†That in itself is a miracle when looking back on what they endured along the way. ¬†It’s actually hard to believe that game only took place six months ago, yet thankfully,¬†the landscape now feels¬†completely different.

Added over the offseason were some key additions, including experienced defensive backs Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, with Revis as the one who could potentially be on defense what Randy Moss was for the offense in 2007. Sprinkle in some other good acquisitions such as Chris White, James Anderson, and Will Smith, along with their draft picks, and this has the opportunity to be one of the more competitive camps in recent memory.

From there Gronkowski’s back and relatively healthy, having even avoided being placed on PUP. ¬†Wilfork appears to be on track and is expected to be out there, while Tommy Kelly is on PUP but hopefully if all goes well, he’ll get the opportunity to play alongside Wilfork for a full season, which was something he had hoped to do last year.

Now that the injuries are behind them, Rob Ninkovich said on Wednesday that he and the rest of his teammates are looking forward to what he feels should be a better year.

“You look at last year, and you definitely put that to bed as far as like what we did last year,” said Ninkovich. ¬†“But you want to take some of the good things that you did out there and improve on those and then you see the things that you need to improve on. As a whole defense, you want to be better this year, this season. I think that, definitely as a defense, we’re going to be a better defense, but we’ve got to put the work in. So that starts today. Again, I think the things that we did last year well, you want to continue to do those and then also improve in some areas.”

On the offensive side of the football, the health of Gronkowski will be the thing most people will be watching this season. ¬†Between his fractured forearm in 2012 followed by his knee injury in 2013, he’s had a rough patch over the past two years that he’s likely hoping to put behind him.

Also in focus will be the health of Dobson along with Amendola, both of whom are two big keys as they’re each players who will benefit greatly with Gronkowski out there. ¬†Amendola and Gronkowski only played together in just over five games in 2013, with Gronkowski getting knocked out of what would have been their sixth. ¬†Gronkowski sat out the first six games and Amendola was sidelined in week seven with a concussion that he suffered against the Saints.

With Dobson, the number of that trio being together drops even further. ¬†The three only took the field as a group in four¬†contests last season after he missed the game before Gronk’s injury when he suffered his foot injury against Denver.

Bill Belichick said on Wednesday that while Gronkowski’s health is important, he stressed that the health of everyone is critical as the team tries to avoid an injury bug that took down far too many players last year.

“The health of the team is the most important thing that we have,” said Belichick. ¬†“That‚Äôs for all 90 players now and 53 players once we have our final roster. We always try to do everything we can to help all the players stay healthy and stay on the field. We do that for everybody; every single guy.

“It‚Äôs a consideration for all them. Certainly Rob, but everybody. We don‚Äôt single out ‚Äėthese players‚Äô and ‚Äėthose players‚Äô. It‚Äôs all the players, all of them.”

Hopefully this time around he’ll have more of them for longer than he did in 2013.

Patriots Huddle: Wednesday’s News & Links 7/23

Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots report this morning before Thursday’s public practice session. (USA TODAY Images)

As the players report this morning, here are this morning’s links:


Do Patriots finally have a premier secondary? – Shalise Manza Young: Manza Young has an article on the Patriots secondary, which now may be among the NFL’s best.

Patriots training camp ‚ÄĒ what to watch for – Sean Leahy: Leahy looks at what to keep an eye on as camp begins, including which¬†injured player will be the most important to watch.

Money may dictate Patriots’ roster moves – ¬†Ben Volin: Volin looks at several players who may be in trouble due to their contracts.


Bill Belichick, captains meet with media today to open training camp – Jeff Howe: Howe has a quick entry this morning with Bill Belichick set to meet with the media this morning.

For Patriots new season starts now – Jeff Howe: Howe has his article previewing training camp, with some thoughts on several players and positions.


Patriots’ evolving D keys Super hopes – Mike Reiss: Reiss has a quick article on the defense, which will likely be the biggest key surrounding their success this season.

Wake-up call: Bill Belichick gets it started – Mike Reiss: Reiss notes this morning’s media schedule, with Belichick set to meet with the media, along with several other players.


Patriots report: Will Super Bowl drought end at 10 years? – Lorenzo Reyes: Reyes has a spotlight on the Patriots and wonders if this will be the year they’re finally able to win it all.


Five Areas to Monitor as Camp Opens – Oliver Thomas: Thomas has his thoughts on what to watch for with the players reporting today, including how the linebacker position comes together with the return of Jerod Mayo.


Patriots Offensive Line Preview: Can Stork, Rookies Deliver An Added Boost? – This morning’s position preview focuses on the Patriots’ offensive line, which will hopefully do a better job of keeping Tom Brady upright this season.


Gasper: Is Gronk’s health the biggest concern? – Christopher Gasper: Gasper appeared on CSNNE and wondered about the overall health of the team, which obviously includes Gronkowski.

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:


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.


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.

‚ÄúBill 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,‚ÄĚ Dreamland Foundation executive director Melissa McCarthy told the Boston Herald.


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.


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 РREAD 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 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 Pre-Training Camp Player Spotlight: Sebastian Vollmer

Sebastian Vollmer’s 2013 season didn’t end well after he suffered a leg injury that saw him end up on injured reserve. (USA TODAY Images)

(This is the seventh in a series of individual player spotlights over the next few weeks leading up to training camp. We’ll have several each day, so check back frequently as we go down the roster.  This edition focuses on Patriots tackle Sebastian Vollmer:) 

2013 Summary: 

Sebastian Vollmer’s season ended abruptly in 2013, with the right tackle suffering¬†a gruesome leg injury¬†during the team’s week eight match-up at home against the Dolphins.

It was a moment that was hard to forget.  On the play Vollmer was engaged with Miami defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, who Vollmer had blocked out of the play, opening up a hole behind him for Stevan Ridley to cut through.  However, Dan Connolly, who was lined up next to Vollmer, wasn’t able to keep McDaniel’s teammate, Randy Starks, from cutting inside and taking Ridley down as he made his move behind Vollmer.

Starks grabbed Ridley from behind and as he twisted to pull down the Patriots running back, he landed right on the legs of Vollmer.  The normally tough right tackle let out a scream that was audible on the television broadcast and was heard by the fans who were on hand to witness it unfold right in front of them.  Over and over he yelled, slamming his fists into the turf as his right leg was visually bent awkwardly.

Moments later with his leg placed in an air cast he was driven off the field, which marked the final time fans saw him in 2013.

Best game of 2013:

It’s hard to quantify it, but for Vollmer, his best performance of 2013 was arguably against the New Orleans Saints in week 6 after a terrific overall showing that afternoon. ¬†He faced a tough Saints defense that afternoon, but of the five sacks allowed that day he was only responsible for one and actually did a good job of giving Tom Brady enough time to help engineer their last-second victory. ¬†He also opened up holes during what ended up being one of Stevan Ridley’s best games of the season running the football. ¬†Of Ridley’s 20 carries, eight of them came to Vollmer’s¬†side of the line (2 over right tackle, 6 around the right end) for 39 yards.

He played a lot of snaps in that game, with the 87 plays matching the second most the team played during the regular season, which came against the Broncos.  But they did enough to win the game, and Vollmer certainly played an important part.

Notable Stat of 2013:

Overall through each of the first seven games running backs had¬†the second¬†highest yards-per-carry average running over right tackle¬†compared to the¬†other positions, gaining 111 yards on 19 carries (5.8 avg). ¬†They also carried 22 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns around the right end, with Ridley and Brandon Bolden each accounting for one. ¬†He also¬†wasn’t called for a single penalty during the eight games he did take part in.

What to Watch For in 2014: 

Vollmer is such an important part of the team’s offense both in terms of his pass blocking and his toughness in opening holes in the running game. ¬†His health will certainly be something to watch during training camp, and despite the fact that Cannon has been serviceable during his time filling in while Vollmer was injured, it’s hard not to appreciate the type of player Vollmer¬†is. ¬†Tackle is certainly not the sexiest position by any means and it’s one of those positions that doesn’t fetch a lot of glory. ¬†But he’s a player whose name isn’t called very often for the wrong reasons, and¬†he’ll likely be an important part of this offense once again this season.

Five Key Questions On Offense For the Patriots Heading into 2014

It was a frustrating season for much of 2013 for quarterback Tom Brady. (USA TODAY Images)

Heading into the 2013 season the Patriots found themselves with plenty of questions on the offensive side of the football, many of which simply required the battle of real NFL competition to work out the kinks in hopes of having everything come together.

One year later, not much has changed.

Most of the newer players at least have a year in the system under their belt, and all of them were given a taste of the excitement of the NFL postseason, while also experiencing the agony of coming up short in their ultimate goal. This is a team that is used to winning football games and each year the expectations are such that they expect to be playing football into January, and potentially even longer.

But getting there isn’t easy, and there were quite a few new players who had up and down seasons last year. The regular season is still a couple of months away and for the second-straight year, the Patriots are in need of some stronger contributions from a group that overall showed plenty of positive things to build on, but not quite enough for this offense to reach their potential.

This is a key season for a few players to establish themselves as the future of this football team as key assets for Tom Brady over his final few seasons. Here’s a look at five of them who have plenty to prove if this team hopes to be playing football in Arizona in February.

Patriots WR Thompkins Trying to Build on an Up-and-Down Rookie Season

When training camp started for the Patriots last year, not many expected very much from wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins.

At the time, most people didn’t know much about him and the expectations weren’t that high. But the rookie free agent came into camp and made a lot of noise, grabbing the attention of everyone during an unbelievable showing in the team’s exhibition games. ¬†In preseason he and quarterback Tom Brady were electric, with the two having plenty of success while connecting on 10-of-12 passes for 116 yards. ¬†They made it look easy and the chemistry seemed to be there, and it was hard not to believe the two might be able to build on that success and have quite a year together.

However, during the season opener out in Buffalo, the trouble having it translate into the regular season was apparent as Brady overall went Thompkins’ way 14 times, while connecting on just four¬†of them¬†for 42 yards. Their problems getting on the same page hurt the offense, which caused them to struggle to get in sync before eventually pulling off the win. ¬†In that game they were already somewhat shorthanded, with Aaron Dobson ending up inactive due to injury, and Danny Amendola was hampered with a groin injury as he gutted out a 10 reception, 104 yard performance, which was a major factor in the win and covered up for Thompkins’ disappointing rookie debut.

The growing pains continued in week two, with Thompkins finding himself targeted seven times with just two receptions. He then had a similar performance the following week after being targeted¬†seven times with just three catches during the team’s win over Tampa Bay.

One of his better games came in week four down in Atlanta when Thompkins caught six passes (he was targeted 11 times) including a touchdown and it seemed as though he was starting to turn a corner. He then caught three passes the following week down in Cincinnati on four attempts, although it seemed like he struggled to get open at times against a very physical Bengals defense.

His biggest moment of the season came the next week in the waning seconds against the Saints, with Thompkins hauling in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Brady with :10 to go in the game, giving them a dramatic 30-27 come-from-behind win.  The bad news is from there what should have been a massive springboard ended up starting a decline for the rookie, with Thompkins catching just two passes the following week in a frustrating loss down in New York against the Jets.

Taking a look at his playing time, the downward trend was pretty obvious.

Week 1 at BUF: 87/91 (96%)
Week 2 vs NYJ: 54/65 (83%)
Week 3 vs TBB: 67/74 (91%)
Week 4 at ATL: 57/66 (86%)
Week 5 at CIN: 61/63 (97%)
Week 6 vs NO: 59/87 (68%)
Week 7 at NYJ: 70/75 (93%)
Week 8 vs MIA: 13/66 (20%)
Week 9 vs PIT: Not Active
Week 11 at CAR: 14/72 (19%)
Week 12 vs DEN: 44/87 (51%)
Week 13 at HOU: 15/70 (21%)
Week 14 vs CLE: Not Active
Week 15 at MIA: Not Active
Week 16 at BAL: Not Active
Week 17 vs BUF: 34/75 (45%)

As a result, the trend from weeks 1-8 is obviously different from 9-17 as well in terms of his production:

Weeks 1-8: 23 receptions, 334 yards, 4 TD’s
Weeks 9-17: 9 receptions, 132 yards

The good news is that it sounds like he’s been working hard this offseason, as most reports so far say he’s bulked up his frame over the 200-pound mark. He talked in May about the fact that with a full season under his belt, his confidence is better than where it was last year at this time.

‚ÄúEvery year we put new things in,‚ÄĚ Thompkins told NESN last month. ‚ÄúEvery year is a learning curve, but I feel a little bit better knowing the guys and some of the plays we did last year. Now we‚Äôre trying to build on the execution of them and build on what we did wrong last year.‚ÄĚ

The second year receiver finds himself in a crowded group heading into training camp (they have 12 receivers total currently on the roster), and there isn’t exactly a guarantee that Thompkins will make the team if he doesn’t play well. For now Edelman and Amendola are the two likely starters, while other top names including Dobson, Brandon LaFell and Josh Boyce are among players fighting with Thompkins for a roster spot. The situation could even become more complicated if someone else emerges in the months ahead.

Thompkins certainly made his fair share of mistakes in 2013, but there were plenty of moments last season where he showed he has the potential to be effective in this offense. This play against the Lions during the preseason was likely one that showed the coaching staff what the future could hold and likely played a part in why he made the roster last year.

But with an entire NFL season now under his belt and a full offseason to build on, it’s now up to him to show if he can now turn those moments into a complete season.

With OTAs in the books for the Patriots and mini camps set to begin,¬†it’s been an interesting stretch¬†recently as the team started working with¬†quite a few new players who will hopefully help this team take the next step heading into the 2014 season.

Coming off of their AFC Championship loss earlier this year, this group seems to have a different feel and a new sense of urgency at this point in the offseason compared to we’ve seen in recent years. ¬†With training camp just over a month away, it will still be a while before most fans will be able to get a look at this group with their own eyes. However, from what’s been reported, it may be one that could also potentially end up making some serious noise this season.

From a personnel standpoint, it’s hard not to feel as though they’ve improved on the defensive side of the football. ¬†Free agent cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis are two of the most notable names having¬†been added into the mix, which should be solid upgrades in a secondary that has already played better and showed encouraging signs of improvement last season.

Despite the free agent defection of cornerback Aqib Talib, the Patriots came out on top by adding Revis and also added a physical presence in Browner that’s been lacking in past seasons. ¬†Some¬†experts still believe the Broncos will come out on top should these two teams meet again in the postseason, but how this team grows from September to December will ultimately determine whether or not they’ve got what it takes to prove they can contend for another championship.

There’s still a long way to go and it’s obviously a little too early to tell at this point what the future holds. ¬†But looking back through OTAs, some players have already set some expectations for themselves. ¬†Some will build on it, while others will end up looking for work in the months ahead. ¬†However, for now, here’s a quick rundown at some things that transpired which should be fun to watch in the weeks and months to come.

In a Contract Year, Ridley Focused On Being Mistake-Free in 2014

After a rough 2013, Stevan Ridley’s knows he’s got his work cut out for him. (USA TODAY Images)

Patriots running back Stevan Ridley has certainly had two very different seasons in recent years.

In 2012 he finished with 290 carries for 1263 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, both ranking him third in the AFC.  It was his best season to that point as a pro, and the stage certainly appeared to be set for him to improve on that in 2013.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out that way. Last season he carried the football 178 times for just 773 yards, having seen his playing time greatly diminished thanks to early season issues holding onto the football. ¬†He fumbled four times total in 2013 and lost all four, including three times over the span of weeks 9-12, with one against Denver being returned 60-yards for a touchdown for the Broncos.

That saw him inactive against Houston in week 13.

When he was given another chance he certainly played better and hasn’t fumbled since, although at that point the offense shifted to LeGarrette Blount getting the lion’s share of the carries.

Blount has since departed via free agency, having signed with Pittsburgh back on March 28th. ¬†That sets up a big opportunity for Ridley to once again reclaim his role as the starting running back and get back to the level he was at two seasons ago. ¬†He’s in the final year of his contract, and his football future and his tenure as a Patriot will likely depend on how he performs this year. ¬†Ridley¬†knows he’ll need to be more careful with the football this time around, which is something he’s focused on doing heading into this season.

“I‚Äôve just got to go out there and play football and hit it hard and run the ball out wide open,” Ridley told the Boston Herald this week.¬†¬†“So I‚Äôve just got to be the same player I‚Äôve been to this point in time and just try to be mistake-free.‚ÄĚ

Ridley was actually better down the stretch after he came back in terms of yards per carry last season.  Through the first 12 games he averaged 4.3 (135 carries for 576 yards), compared to 4.6 (43 carries for 197 yards) over the final four games.  Blount had the better numbers over that same span, finishing the final four games averaging six yards per carry with 59 carries for 354 yards and four touchdowns.

With Blount now wearing black and gold, Ridley at least will no longer have to worry about fighting with the departed running back for playing time this season as he tries to get his job back.

For now he knows that nothing is going to be handed to him and he’ll need to earn his way back into the lead role. ¬†He’s ready to do what it takes, and he’s looking forward to the challenge.

“I fight for my job every day,” Ridley told the Herald. ¬†“I don‚Äôt care who they bring in or the guys that are in the room. I‚Äôm going in there to compete, and I don‚Äôt think that anything is mine or I deserve anything.

“I want to work for everything I get. That‚Äôs the way of the world. Nobody is going to hand you anything. I don‚Äôt mind doing that. I‚Äôm just a country boy from the South. I enjoy hard work. So if that‚Äôs what it takes, that‚Äôs what I‚Äôm going to do.‚ÄĚ

“I never back down from any challenge” – Darrelle Revis. (USA TODAY Images)

Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis spoke to the media last Friday, and posted a video of his interview with reporters. ¬†Here’s a transcript of what he had to say for anyone who hasn’t seen/heard it:


“You know, it feels great. ¬†I’m just taking my time, taking it one day at a time, and just working. ¬†That’s basically it.”


“No. ¬†No. ¬†This is a new adventure for me and I’m just happy to be a part of the Patriots organization. ¬†I’ve known them from playing in New York for six years and it’s good man. ¬†This is something in my journey and like I said, I’m just happy to be here.


“From inside out, it’s totally different. ¬†There’s things that you didn’t expect, how this organization is run from top to bottom. ¬†You’ve got to crown your hat off ¬†to Mr. Kraft for how this organization operates. ¬†They’re going to be a winning organization and I’m happy those guys gave¬†me an opportunity to come in here and be a part of it.”


“One, is to get in shape. ¬†Also, is to, you know, learn the defense. ¬†It’s different terminology, the program is run differently and I’m just trying to adjust to coach Belichick’s program. ¬†You’ve got to take step back. ¬†That’s all I’m trying to do is learn and enjoy it as much as I can and just try to get better.”


“It’s always a defensive¬†and offensive competition going on and I think both sides, I think what we’re really trying to do is just get better at the end of the day. ¬†You know, it’s good to have the same jersey on as Tom and everybody else on this team from just the past and being across the sideline from each other. ¬†Like I said, it’s an offensive and defensive type of thing and it’s competition but at the same time, we’re just all trying to get better here.”


“It could take a while. ¬†You just…as of right now we’re in OTA’s and this is the time where we can glue together, not just as a secondary, but also as a defense and also as a team as well. ¬†We’re all in this together and everybody’s working hard, and that’s what we’re all trying to do. ¬†Trying to get prepared for the season and use these OTA’s as something for us to build towards the season.”


“I love competition. ¬†I think that’s why we play this game is to compete every Sunday and to go out there and execute your job and try to win games. ¬†Like I said, I love competition and I never back down from any challenge. ¬†It’s just going out there and competing and doing your job and help your team win.”


“As of right now, I don’t know. ¬†Like I said, I’m just trying to take this time to get to know the guys and for them to know me as well. ¬†I’m not trying to come in here and step on anybody’s toes. ¬†I’m just trying to come in here and learn as much as I can and improve and get this defensive scheme down and just keep on working.”


“I don’t know man, I’m too busy with having so much stuff on my plate. ¬†You’ve got¬†to speak to Brandon about that. ¬†Because I’ve been trying to focus on what I need to focus on and just trying to worry about the things I can control.”


“It’s fine. You know,¬†it’s great.”


“Like I said, I’m not trying to come in here and step on anybody’s toes. ¬†You’ve got to take a step back. There are guys who have been here for many years. ¬†Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan is a very smart guy. ¬†So you know, they’ve been in this system a little bit so I’m just trying to sit back and get feedback from those guys and go from there.”


“I mean, there’s conversations all the time. ¬†We see each other every day. ¬†We’re at work, there’s always talks about the issue of if I have any questions, I know I can go to those guys ¬†and ask them.”


“Every defense has their kinks and they do things differently and have different schemes. ¬†Right now, for me, this is my third team and I’m just trying to observe everything right now and just trying to take a step back and learn everything I can to get prepared¬†for the season.”


“Like I said, I’ve got a lot of stuff on my plate. ¬†The coaches are evaluating guys every day. ¬†That’s really not for me to sit here and really talk about, because I’ve got too much stuff on my plate and the things I’m trying to worry about every day.”


“Well, you can’t put a prediction on it right now. ¬†We’re right in the beginning stages. ¬†We just finished up our third practice and we’ve still got a lot of work to do. ¬†The good¬†thing about it is we still have time to get better and that’s what we’re just trying to focus on. ¬†Just trying to get better every day. ¬†When the preseason comes and all of that, when the season comes, I think we’ll be ready to go.”


“Yeah, I’m being my own guy. ¬†I’m going to be me. ¬†That’s all I can say. ¬†I think coach Belichick lets guys be who they are, and that’s fine. I’m going to be myself and just go with the flow.”


“Well, you know, last year, it was a tough year – when I played in Tampa Bay – it was tough, coming off the ACL and everything. ¬†So it was a long year for me personally, just trying to recover. ¬†So now I’m ready to go and like I said, I’m just trying to sit here and absorb everything in and just trying to enjoy my time and get ready for the season.”


“No, it’s not. ¬†That’s in the past man. ¬†Like I said man, I’m on my career and my journey and right now I’m a New England Patriot, and that’s that. ¬†I’m trying to do the best I can to get better as a player but also¬†help this team win.”

Avoiding hits appears to be a priority this offseason for Tom Brady. (USA TODAY Images)

In today’s NFL, there are quite a few mobile quarterbacks who make life pretty miserable for opposing defenses with their feet.

It’s a challenge that we’ve heard Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talk about when it comes to the team’s defensive preparation, and one that adds another wrinkle that has to be accounted for during the game.

For Tom Brady, he’s not a Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick type of player. ¬†His area of expertise is his ability to read defenses and pick them apart with his arm rather than tear them up with his feet. ¬†According to last season, Brady took off with the football¬†just four times (excluding QB sneaks) compared to Wilson whose total was¬†51.

Half of Brady’s sack total in 2013 came on third down, where he was sacked 20 times, including three down inside the red zone.
(USA TODAY Images)

Meanwhile, Brady had the fifth highest total of drop backs in the league with 671, trailing just Matt Ryan (703), Drew Brees (699), along with Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco (tied with 677).

Being a pocket passer obviously has its advantages, but being able to move around is also a big benefit.  It helps avoid additional hits by opposing defenses by being able to roll away from the pressure.  Brady got hit as he threw quite a bit this past season, and was tied for first in having been hit nine times as he threw the football (Wilson and Kaepernick were only hit as they threw once), as well as having been sacked 40 times, the most since 2001 (41).

As a result it appears one area of focus is moving Brady around and working on throws on the run. ¬†That’s an area that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels spoke about last week, and felt that’s a weakness that needs to be improved.

‚ÄúWe were moving in the pocket and throwing off-schedule throws,” McDaniels told reporters on Friday. “That‚Äôs not necessarily a strength of our quarterbacks in general, and I think that‚Äôs something we‚Äôve identified that could have helped us ‚Äď a time here, a time there ‚Äď and we‚Äôre adamant about trying to make it better.‚ÄĚ

Half of Brady’s sack total last season came on third down, where he was sacked 20 times, including three down inside the red zone.

Needless to say despite being one of the NFL’s elite, there are still areas of improvement and McDaniels said that Brady’s constant desire to get better is something other players can learn from.

‚ÄúYup, I do,” McDaniels told reporters when asked if he thought Brady was still improving. “It‚Äôs hard for me to ever feel like that wouldn‚Äôt be the case. Any time you have a guy that is really focused on working on all of the weaknesses in his game, when there really aren‚Äôt that many, you can see where there would be room for growth.

“He listens as well or better than he ever has in terms of taking coaching and working on things that we‚Äôre trying to get better at. I think that‚Äôs a great example for the rest of the guys.‚ÄĚ