The Patriots get to enjoy a day off on Monday after four strong days of practice, and here’s a quick rundown with some news and notes from this morning.
Dobson off to a strong start:
After returning an already talented receiving core in 2015, the Patriots have seen noticeable improvement from Aaron Dobson, who has impressed so far during training camp. He’s been one of the players who have stood out early on, including a play on Sunday where he out-leaped Malcolm Butler on a deep pass play when it appeared that Butler might have a shot at picking it off.
Those are the types of plays New England needs out of their third year receiver, and Dobson sounds like he’s starting to gain some confidence, which if he continues to shine could give Tom Brady another strong option in the offense.
“It’s always fun just to make plays like that,” Dobson told the Boston Herald. “He threw the ball up for me, and I’ve got to make a play. He’s trusting me to be consistent.”
At 6’3″, Dobson joins Brandon LaFell and Brian Tyms as the biggest receivers on the team. LaFell obviously had a strong performance last season and is expected to be a big contributor again this season, and Dobson working his way back into the mix will only make this group better.
“I owe it to myself,” Dobson said. “I’m just trying to come out here and make every single play I can. Every ball that comes my way, I’m just trying to grab it. However it is, bad throw, good throw, uncatchable, catchable. I’m just trying to make plays.”
Butler Looking Good So Far:
Patriots’ cornerback Malcolm Butler has looked good so far during camp, although he’s had some tough battles that have included some one-on-one match-ups against Julian Edelman. On Sunday the two went at it on several occasions, and while Butler got the best of him at times, the veteran receiver had moments of his own including one where he made a terrific catch over Butler, spinning the ball at his feet as Tom Brady came over to celebrate.
Those are the types of battles that are fun to see, and Butler has enjoyed the in-team rivalry that goes along with his role at this time of year.
“When we’re at practice, I tell Tom, ‘Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw at me,’ ” Butler told the Boston Globe. “But when he gets me, he’s going to let me know he threw it. So he let me know he threw it.”
One interesting tidbit pointed out by the Herald was the fact that Butler practiced one day earlier in camp iwth his fingers taped together. The apparent reason was to work on trying to avoid drawing a penalty. “Holding, it hurts you,” Butler said. “Trying to prevent that from happening.”
He and Brady have gone back and forth, adding a little intensity to the workouts. Butler enjoys the competitive banter, and enjoys the fire the veteran quarterback brings to the team.
“It makes us feel good,” Butler said. “He lets us know he wants to come after us and get us better. At the same time he’s getting his players better.”
Edelman also had some encouraging words about his teammate, telling the newspaper of Butler, “Most people talk and can’t back it up. That’s one of the guys that can back it up. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
Mason and Jackson Getting Some Important Reps:
One interesting note is the fact that the Patriots obviously have confidence in rookie guards Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson, with the two getting a lot of reps with the first team offensive line. Mason has been at left guard, while Jackson has been at right guard.
Ryan Wendell remains on PUP while Dan Connolly has retired, and that’s allowed the two to earn an opportunity for themselves so far during camp, and so far it appears they’re both playing well. It’s early, but definitely something to keep an eye on if they continue to improve.
Rookie long-snapper Joe Cardona is settling in well so far.
Cardona Adjusting Well:
As a member of the Navy long-snapper Joe Cardona has had an interesting offseason, with Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe writing a good piece about him this morning. Cardona has had a tough road to get to this point, having to balance his responsibilities and the military during this offseason, which was difficult. However, Cardona said that the team has been flexibile and they’ve been supportive, which has made the transition easier and so far things are going well.
“As of right now, there’s a lot of people supporting me. My command in Newport is super supportive of me, the Patriots are supportive of being flexible, and it’s been evident through OTAs and everything,” Cardona said. “So as far as I can tell, everything seems smooth and I just have to show up and do what I’m told, do my job, and we’ll see what comes of it.”
Cardona has also earned the respect of teammate Steve Gostkowski and so far the chemistry has been great, which is good news as the two are certainly two key components that need to work well together heading into 2015.
“He’s come in and worked hard and done well with us, and that’s what training camp is for, to go through the ups and downs, the bumps,” Gostkowski said. “They try to tire you out and wear you out mentally and the coaches are doing a good job of doing that to him. He’s handling it well so far and we’re just excited to form a lot of chemistry and make a lot of kicks and keep special teams doing really well.”
Manza-Young Gives an Inside Look:
Speaking of Manza-Young, there was an interesting article on SI.com about women in sports, and she was highlighted for what it’s been like to be a pregnant female reporter covering the team.
The Boston Globe reporter spent the 2015 season pregnant with their third daughter and she’s just a couple of weeks away from her due date. She was also pregnant for the entire 2013 season, which is a challenge for a female reporter but one that brought some fun moments.
She provided some insight into what it’s been like for her, and pointed out some encounters with players that have made it enjoyable.
“Two moments stick out from that season: in September, when I wasn’t quite to the halfway point but starting to show, defensive end Chandler Jones says to me, “Hey, Shalise—you’re starting to look big. Can I say that?” I assured him that yes, in that situation, I was OK with him saying that.”
“In December, Tom Brady remarked that I looked good. Now, when you’re around 30 weeks pregnant, you don’t always feel like you look great. But to have a man who’s married to Gisele Bundchen, one of the most beautiful women in the world, remark that I looked good, well, I gladly put that little feather in my cap!”
Manza-Young said that Jones has had some additional fun with her this time around.
“Chandler is having even more fun with my pregnancy this time. Twice over the opening days of training camp he’s mocked my waddle, spreading his feet, pushing his belly out and trying to imitate my walk. Running backs coach Ivan Fears has offered to come to my aid if I go into labor while I’m at practice sometime in the coming days.”
Patriots Make A Couple of Roster Moves:
New England released defensive backs Justin Green and Derek Cox on Saturday night, with Green opting for retirement and that ultimately lead to his release.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates the team claimed offensive lineman Harland Gunn off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. With Gunn listed as a guard, he’ll add some additional depth as the team continues evaluating that position. They currently have two open roster spots to start the week.