Here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s top stories:
Brady Not Taking Anything For Granted – Tom Brady’s return was downplayed on Monday by Bill Belichick coming off of Sunday’s loss to Buffalo, with the message being pretty obvious.
They did quite a bit wrong on Sunday, and it’s going to take more than just Brady to fix it.
When asked whether having him back would change anything, Belichick replied, “I can’t answer the question. I mean I haven’t seen it. It’d just be pure speculation. It’s good to have them back. I’m not going to speculate on what will and won’t happen on anything going forward because that’s all it would be – it would just be speculation.”
Speculation. That was certainly an odd word to use given that he’s been around Brady and seen him in the locker room for the last 16-years. However, the message seems to simply be that this is now a new start and while Belichick said from the beginning that Brady will remain the starter, that doesn’t change the fact it’s going to require the same level of focus and preparation for them to continue what had otherwise been a pretty good beginning to the 2016 season.
Brady hasn’t played a meaningful NFL snap since January, so Wednesday will begin the process of trying to get the timing down with the receivers and the other players in the offense. His teammates have already played four games, so he’s got a bit of catching up to do as he looks to get up to speed with the rest of the football team. It will be a first for the veteran, who prior to this season had never had to come back from an absence mid-season.
It should be a good challenge for Brady and for now, he’s not taking anything for granted, although he’s excited to get started.
“It’s not as easy as just flipping a switch,” said Brady during his interview with Westwood One Monday night. “There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it and I know they’ve been putting in the hard work and like I said before, I’ve got an opportunity now to start doing that myself.”
“Being on the practice field on Wednesday will be a lot of fun for me. It’s been a while since I’ve been out there with 21 other guys and getting used to the speed of things, but that’s what I’m going to need to do in order to be prepared for this weekend’s game.”
Ninkovich’s Return should help the defense – Rob Ninkovich will be back on the practice field on Wednesday after being away from the team over the last month during his own suspension after reportedly testing positive for a banned substance, but it sounds like the time away may have done him well. All indications seem to be that he’s seemingly recovered from the triceps injury he suffered during the preseason, which should give the Patriots a boost with their pass rush.
The defense has had some difficulty getting consistent pressure, totaling 7 sacks through four games, tying them for the 9th highest total in the league. The impressive part is that despite their struggles, they’re still 4th in the league in points given up per game with 15.3.
With Ninkovich now set to work his way back into the line-up, the Patriots will hopefully get just the boost they need, which is something defensive coordinator Matt Patricia believes should definitely help them.
“I think Rob [Ninkovich] has had some really good productive years here through his career,” said Patricia. “He’s done a great job for us just from being a guy that’s come in the building as a true professional and a guy that really kind of embodies everything that we’re looking for from a point of work ethic and trying to improve, trying to get better and trying to do his job out on the field.”
“It’s always good to have everybody in the room, ready to go as much as they can be, so I’m excited to have all of those guys.”
Clay Harbor ended up being the odd man out at the tight end position.
Harbor Lands in Detroit – After his recent release by the Patriots, it didn’t take long for tight end Clay Harbor to catch on with a new team.
According to MLive out of Detroit, Harbor will be joining the Lions after the team released Orson Charles to make room for the jettisoned veteran.
Harbor played well during his limited time in the offense, with the veteran garnering some praise thanks to his blocking ability in the running game as well as his contributions on special teams. He was inactive in the opener in Arizona and saw his highest number of offensive snaps against Miami with 22 before playing in just 3 the following week against the Texans. He didn’t have any plays on offense Sunday against the Bills, while playing in just 8 snaps on special teams.
With Rob Gronkowski dealing with a hamstring injury during the early part of the season, it left the Patriots relatively thin at the position, which is likely why they opted to begin the year with four tight ends. Martellus Bennett has been the primary target among the group, with the veteran finishing with 15-catches for 247 yards and a touchdown, which is second-most on the team behind Julian Edelman, who has 19.
But with Brady coming back it appears the offense will focus on Bennett and Gronkowski, along with A.J. Derby as the third tight end.
Meanwhile, the timing of Harbor’s signing should give him an opportunity to play a bigger role with the Lions, who reportedly saw Eric Ebron suffer knee and ankle injuries during Detroit’s 17-14 loss in Chicago.
Brady seemingly dealing with Cancer Situation – One of the topics that came up Monday night with Brady was the fact the quarterback may be dealing with a personal matter, with Gray mentioning the fact that this is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, while inferring that it’s a subject apparently hitting close to home with the Patriots quarterback.
Gray talked about it with Brady seemingly trying to get him to talk about it, but Brady kept the topic pretty general.
“Tom, on a very serious matter, this is now Breast Cancer Awareness month, the NFL does it’s part, you’ll see a lot of pink this coming month, and I know this is touching home very closely to you now,” said Gray to Brady during his interview with the quarterback Monday night.”
“Yeah, it is,” said Brady. “We’re all touched by it in one form or another. Everybody has different challenging experiences. I’ve dealt with it in my own family and [I’m] dealing with it now. It’s a great cause, great that the NFL recognizes this. Hopefully, it brings a lot of awareness and raises a lot of money to do a lot of great things.”
Brady missed two-straight practices back in August, with the two absences being excused by the team where he told reporters he “had to take care of something”, but the topic wasn’t discussed. The mention by Gray potentially explains why he might have been away from the team, something that is certainly very unusual for a player who is one of the first ones in as well as among the last to leave.
While Brady deflected the topic, Gray must be aware of whatever the situation is that caused him to try discussing it with him, and offered up his well-wishes to Brady and his family.
“Tom, our hearts go out and our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and all of those who are suffering with this disease,” said Gray.
Gray then offered up to fans an opportunity to support the cause, telling people who would like more information or would like to contribute, they can log onto NFL.com/pink.
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