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New England Patriots News 8-16 and Notes Around the AFC East

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
8 years ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

New England Patriots News 8-16 and Notes Around the AFC EastSteve Balestrieri -

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division:

Roberts, Flowers Have Great Starts Before Being Injured: In Thursday’s preseason opener the Patriots had a surprise starter at right corner, rookie 7th round draft pick Darryl Roberts. The 6’0, 190 Marshall product has been coming on in training camp in recent days and was off to a good start against the Packers before injuring his wrist or hand at the end of the first quarter.

Fellow rookie DE Trey Flowers has had a very impressive training camp and has been getting a lot of reps as an edge rusher but has done a good job of setting the edge in the running game. He too had a nice start that included a sack of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers before being injured in the opening quarter.

It brings into focus that draft position means little to Bill Belichick, that performance and production on the field is how he judges talent. Roberts and Flowers (4th round pick), played key roles in the early part of the Green Bay game against the top performers of the Packer offense. Hopefully their injuries are minor and we’ll get to see more of them both in the near future.

Brady’s Case Gets a Nastier Tone: With the briefs filed by each side taking on an even more confrontational tone, the chances of a settlement now seems even more remote than before.

The NFLPA’s brief filed with the court calls the NFL’s case a “Smear Campaign”, and basically Commissioner Roger Goodell a liar; stating that his mischaracterization of Brady’s testimony was a “propaganda piece written for the public.”

Goodell and the NFL struck back stating that Brady’s guilt goes beyond the Wells Report of being “generally aware” of a rule violation. Now stating, Brady was punished for worse infractions; Brady allegedly approved of, consented to, and produced inducements in support of …a scheme to tamper with NFL game balls as well as “willfully obstructed” the league’s “independent” investigation.

So this mess continues and gets deeper in the court system.

Patriots STs Focus, A Key TC Observation: One of my favorite areas to watch every day at the Patriots training camp was the Special Teams’ work.  One of the reasons why the Patriots always have some of the better STs play in the league is because they put so much time and effort into them.

Bill Belichick started off as a STs coach and his units under Scott O’Brien were always stellar. New STs coach Joe Judge has been fascinating to watch in his first training camp, as he is giving a lot of one of one instruction daily right in front of the media section. He’s also incorporated some new drills for the STs players

He’s worked a lot with rookie UDFA Brandon King, the big safety from Auburn on a punt blocking drill. On Saturday he was working on the opposite, the punt protection team with DE Jabaal Sheard, along with King.

Check out our short video clip with Judge, Sheard and King. It speaks volumes about Belichick the coach and the value he places on STs as he is putting one of his biggest free agent signings on the protection team.


Patriots Health the Biggest Question So Far: After Thursday night’s game, the team was off on Friday and was back at practice on Saturday morning. There were still a lot of missing names who weren’t able to answer the bell Saturday morning.

Players on PUP still include: OL Ryan Wendell, WR Brandon LaFell, LB Dane Fletcher, DT Chris Jones, OL Caylin Hauptmann remains on NFI.

Other players not spotted at practice included: CB Darryl Roberts, CB Logan Ryan, DE Trey Flowers, T RB James White, TE Jake Bequette , RB Travaris Cadet, LB Dekota Watson,  DE Rufus Johnson

Players limited in practice included: WR Julian Edelman, WR Aaron Dobson, OL Marcus Cannon, OL Nate Solder, TE Scott Chandler, C Bryan Stork, RB Dion Lewis and LB Eric Martin. After initial warm-ups these players moved to the lower practice fields and worked out with the training staff.

The good news was that LaGarrette Blount and Brian Tyms returned to full participation and that Dont’a Hightower jettisoned his red non-contact jersey for his blue one Saturday.

With joint practices and another game on tap with the Saints next week, the team really needs to regain its health as they attempt to put the best possible team on the field.

East Bound and Down…Notes Around the AFC East:

Geno Smith Incident, Not the Start Bowles Was Looking For: The big news out of the Jets camp to start the season was not the kind of story new coach Todd Bowles was wanting to deal with.

LB IK Enemkpali got into a dispute with QB Geno Smith over a $600 plane ticket and an appearance at a football camp, which led to finger-pointing and the next thing you know, Smith’s jaw is broken and he’s expected to miss 6-10 weeks. Enemkpali was cut, signed by Rex Ryan and the Bills and the resultant media fallout has been massive.

It’s a shame because the Jets have had a very solid off-season and instead of Bowles instilling a new regime and attitude in the Meadowlands, we’re hearing about racing in the streets by players and now this.

Bills QBs Cassel, Taylor Perform Well In PS Opener: The Bills opened their preseason with a game against the Carolina Panthers and QBs Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor both had good outings.

With a roster that is talented and deep, Buffalo’s main weakness is at the QB position. But against the Panthers both stepped up. Cassel was 7-8 for 45 in two offensive series. Cassel’s only incompletion was a drop by WR Chris Hogan.

Taylor came over from Baltimore this offseason and he displayed his athleticism as well as his arm. Taylor played in three offensive series and completed 5-8 for 49 yards and added 47 yards on six carries.

If Rex Ryan can get even decent QB play out of those two or E.J. Manuel in 2015, the Bills could morph into a playoff contender. They have added a bunch of pieces on the offensive side of the ball to go along with an already tough defense.

Dolphins Already Thin At LB Lose Two in Opener: One of the Miami Dolphins biggest weaknesses this season was the thinness of their linebacking core. Starting MLB Koa Misi missed the game with a calf injury and Kelvin Sheppard started in his place.

But during the game against the Chicago Bears, they lost their other two linebackers, starter Chris McCain and Jordan Tripp, both to ankle injuries. That leaves them with rookie Zach Virgil to fill in.

If Miami wants to challenge New England for the crown in the AFC East, they’re going to need some help both at the guard and linebacker position.  With joint practices looming this week with the Carolina Panthers, these positions will definitely bear watching.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2015 Patriots Training Camp Bill Belichick Brandon Gibson Chandler Jones Danny Amendola Foxboro Stadium Geneo Grissom Jabaal Sheard Jordan Richards Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Patriots Training Camp Photos Tom Brady Trey Flowers

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