An interesting day down in Foxboro so far, with Bill Belichick addressing the media on a variety of topics, including the above video where he talks about the fact that now that they’ve signed Dan Gronkowski – the brother of Rob Gronkowski – there are now two Gronk’s in the locker room – and he hopes that they keep the focus on football.
Meanwhile the preparation for Monday night’s game continued on Wednesday, with Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald reporting that seven players returned to practice today, with CB Kyle Arrington (hip), RB Stevan Ridley, WR Taylor Price(leg), RB Shane Vereen, DE Mark Anderson (knee), LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee), and DE Jermaine Cunningham all spotted out on the field. Only Sebastian Vollmer was missing – which is a good sign heading into the opener.
Rapoport points out that the Patriots kept 3 offensive tackles after they knew of Vollmer’s injury, which he feels should mean that Vollmer will be OK.
The first official practice and injury report will reportedly be made available tomorrow – which is one day later than normal due the fact the two teams are playing on Monday night.
Some other notes from today:
– Brady Not Himself Against the Dolphins – Brady may be 12-6 all time against the Dolphins, but he hasn’t always played his best football against them. According to an article by James Walker on ESPN.com, Brady’s passer rating is a relatively modest 88.7 against Miami, which is well below his career numbers (95.2). His completion percentage (59.6) against Miami also is 4 percent lower than his career average (63.6). Brady admitted on Wednesday that Miami is a tough place to play.
“It’s always a tough place to play,” Brady told the media Wednesday. “We’ve had our struggles down there, we’ve had some great wins. We play them at the beginning of the year, the end of the year. It always seems like a tough place to play. It’s a division rival. They put a lot into the game, we put a lot into the game. It’s going to be fun. It’s a fun way to start the year.”
– Brady has praise for Dolphins Davis and Smith – As Brady prepares for what will likely be a tough Miami defense, he had high praise for defensive backs Vonte Davis and Sean Smith – “They’re very good and I think we’ve played them plenty of times to understand that,” said Brady. “Vonte’s really a ballhawk. He’s had some great interceptions against us. He’s very talented, he has all the tools of a great player. Sean Smith’s another . . . He’s long, he’s tall, he’s physical. He covers well. For a big guy he moves very well. They do have two very good corners.”
– Belichick mum on Butler – Belichick was asked by the media on Wednesday about the decision to release Darius Butler yesterday, but he didn’t really elaborate. “Obviously, there are players that aren’t on this team that are good players and they were good players for us and I’m sure they’ll play for somebody else. But we have to make the decisions we feel are best for our football team so that’s what we do.”
In case you missed it, Butler tweeted last night that he spent his final evening in New England having dinner one last time with teammates Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling, Patrick Chung, and Sergio Brown before he headed off to join his new team – the Carolina Panthers.
– Chung emerging as a leader – Listening to quotes by players it’s obvious that New England is looking for Patrick Chung to emerge as a leader with this defense. Chung downplayed the talk on Wednesday, saying he prefers to try to lead by example. ‘”Being able to talk to everybody, ask questions, I’m more of a leader by example,” Chung said. “I don’t have to talk or any of that stuff. I’m a leader by example. But I’m not really worried about that stuff right now. I’m going to play ball, do it smart, do what I have to do for the team, do it to the best of my ability, do what coach needs. That’s all you need in a leader — somebody that works hard, does what he has to do, period.”
His teammate, Devin McCourty, feels like Chung does enough on the field to warrant their respect.
“Chung is a guy that takes control,” McCourty said. “No matter what the situation is, if things are going good or going bad, you’re always going to hear Chung. He’s always going to be that guy motivating you, making the calls out on the field. Even if you’re in the locker room and something happens, Chung is always that guy in the middle trying to get guys doing the right thing. I think that’s big for our team.”
– Miami Worrying About Crowd Noise – On their Field – Generally teams spend time piping in crowd noise during preparation of a tough road game. According to Armando Salguero, the Dolphins did that on Wednesday apparently concerned that it may be a problem Monday night. Ticket sales have been dismal in Miami, and it sounds like they’re worried that there may be a lot of Boston accents screaming from the stands Monday night.
– Manning Not “Healthy Enough” – And finally, some bad news for Peyton Manning on Wednesday afternoon. Manning told NBCSports.com on Wednesday that he’s not ready to go at this point heading into the season. Said Manning, “I simply am not healthy enough to play and I am doing everything I can to get my health back”.
The rumors out of Indy seem to indicate the injury may be serious enough where he may not play that season. We’ll have to keep an eye on this situation, since these two teams are scheduled to battle in Foxboro in a Sunday night game on December 1st.