New England Patriots News 5-21, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
May 21, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 5-21, & AFC East Notes.

We hope that anyone out in Central Mass today will join us for the 16th Annual HMEA IncredABLE 5K to support children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Every year about 2500 people attend for either the 5K Road Race or the family walk, run or stroll. Boston 25 news anchor Gene Lavanchy hosts it with Patriots great Steve Nelson.

It is located at the EMC/Dell Franklin campus at 50 Constitution Blvd. in Franklin, Mass. And this year it will feature American strongman Bear, who will be pulling a semi-tractor trailer or a ladder truck from the fire department…maybe both.

Belichick Popular with Military: I’ve been out of the loop for the past week, spending time in Tampa Bay at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC). It was an intriguing week as the nation’s best arms deals and equipment makers were making their pitches at selling their wares to the US Special Operations Command. Some of the new equipment out there as well as virtual reality training tools is just impressive. The joint HQs in Tampa houses the Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Air Force Special Operations, and the Marine Special Operations operators under one roof.

Bill Belichick 2016 minicamp (SBalestrieri photo)

It was great meeting new faces and getting reacquainted with some old friends. Of course, everyone wanted to talk football as well as Special Ops and it is amazing the level of respect that Bill Belichick gets with the military community.

His job focus, the ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment and be an effective leader that can teach and lead by example resonates with the officers and men who do the same thing in a different profession.

Latest Tomase Piece Takes a Leap at Comparing Brady to Tom Cruise:
According to the latest piece by WEEI’s John Tomase, everything that Tom Brady does off the field for the Patriots is a disgrace. He can do nothing right and surrounds himself with snake-oil salesmen, charlatans, and thieves.

As if he couldn’t seek a lower common denominator, then Tomase has to sink to the even lower road by mentioning Deflategate with the “but he destroyed his phone, in case you forgot.”

Yeah, we get it. Tomase doesn’t even try to hide his obvious bias and he goes on a rant about Donald Trump. One must wonder if any of this drivel would’ve have been posted had Brady displayed a Hillary Clinton hat in his locker instead of the Donald’s. Probably not as in his mind, Trump is already impeached.

But the kicker is when he tries to equate Brady with the Tom Cruise Scientology bit. Saying that Brady radiates the “same creepy, culty vibe” is low even for someone who has his own crosses to bear. Tomase was the one who published the false bit about the Patriots filming the Rams walkthrough at Super Bowl XXXVI, “in case you forgot.”

It is amazing that WEEI would let a talented football writer and author like Chris Price go and keep other folks around, but maybe those writers are the ones who resonate with the creepy segments of our society.

Brady Concussion Flap, Bound to Generate Mileage With Park Ave:
A lot of talks have been centered around Gisele Bundchen’s interview this week with Charlie Rose on CBS where she said her husband, Tom Brady suffered a concussion in 2016. Bundchen set the tongues wagging with this state.

“I just have to say, as a wife, I’m a little bit — as you know, it’s not the most, like — let’s say, (it’s) an aggressive sport,” Bundchen said. “Right? Football, like, he had a concussion last year. He has concussions, pretty much. I mean, we don’t talk about it,” Bundchen added.

Tom Brady’s agent says that he suffered no concussions in 2016 despite comments from his wife. (SBalestrieri photo)

“But he does have concussions. And I don’t really think it’s a healthy thing for your body to go through that kind of aggression, like, all the time. That cannot be healthy for you, right? And I’m planning on having him be healthy and do a lot of fun things we when are like 100 (years old), I hope.”

Brady’s agent Don Yee has denied that Brady ever suffered a concussion in 2016 which the NFL has confirmed…sort of.

“We have reviewed all reports relating to Tom Brady from the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants and certified athletic trainer spotters who worked at Patriots’ home and away 2016 season games as well as club injury reports that were sent to the league office,” the league said. “There are no records that indicate that Mr. Brady suffered a head injury or concussion, or exhibited or complained of concussion symptoms.

Ah but the last statement should be interesting to Patriots fans.

“We have been in contact with the NFLPA and will work together to gather more information from the club’s medical staff and Mr. Brady. The health and safety of our players is our foremost priority and we want to ensure that all our players have and continue to receive the best care possible.”

Does this sound suspiciously like another Ted Wells fiasco? Maybe, maybe not but no one in New England wants to hear that the league is investigating anything to do with the Patriots.

Pats Add Another TE, Cut One Loose:
The Patriots released TE Rob Housler after a failed injury designation. The veteran of five NFL seasons pulled his hamstring and could be brought back once he’s healthy enough to compete this spring.

Housler has played in 65 NFL games with 27 starts and has 109 receptions for 1,166 yards with a touchdown. He spent 2016 out of football but the Patriots signed him to a futures’ contract this winter.

Michael Williams was cut loose earlier last week leaving the team with Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, James O’Shaughnessy, Matt Lengel, and Jacob Hollister on the roster. The team then added TE Sam Cotton from Nebraska.  Cotton, 6’4, 250-pounds, played in 13 games, (11 starts) as a senior in 2016 and had eight catches for 87 yards.

The team also signed free agent OL James Ferentz and 4th Round draft pick Deatrich Wise Jr. Ferentz played the last two seasons with the Broncos, appearing in 21 games before being released on May 10. Wise was selected with the 131st pick overall in the draft.  The 6’5, 271-pounder, appeared in 50 games (10 starts) at Arkansas and tallied 112 tackles, 16½ sacks, six passes defensed and four forced fumbles

Blount “Doesn’t Regret a Second” of his Pats Career:
In a not-so-surprising move, LeGarrette Blount had nothing but good things to say about his time in New England with the Patriots in his introductory press conference in Philadelphia. The Eagles signed Blount to a one-year deal this week after the Patriots placed a 2nd round FA tender on him.

LeGarrette Blount leaves on good terms with the Patriots. (SBalestrieri photo)

“I’ve done everything that I wanted to do. I won two Super Bowls with (New England) and I don’t regret a single second being there because I loved it there. They have some of the best years of football that you could ever remember . . . I’m happy that I was a part of a few of those.”

The Pats had offered Blount a deal but when he balked, they quickly went to Plan B and restricted FA RB Mike Gillislee from Buffalo. Blount joins a Philly stable of backs that have plenty of quickness but needs a big power back to carry the load.

Brady, Aston Martin Sign Partnership:
Tom Brady is bringing his brand to England and endorsing an English luxury car icon. Not just any icon, but the sports car of James Bond, Aston Martin.

Brady appeared on the hood (bonnet in blighty) of a DB-11 that features a V-12 turbo engine that cranks out a healthy 600+ horsepower. And before any of you diehard fans care to plunk down the cash for an a Aston Martin, (they sell only about 1000 cars per year in the US), please note that the DB-11’s list price for a base model is over $214,800.

Tom Brady has signed a deal to endorse Aston Martin, the car of James Bond. (Aston Martin photo)

With this partnership cemented, Barbara Broccoli, the executive producer of the Bond films should ink Mr. Brady to do a cameo in the yet unnamed Bond 25 that is still in the talking stages. “Brady, Tom Brady.”

Vollmer, to No One’s Surprise, Calls it a Career:
Patriots FA right tackle has made it official, he’s retiring from the NFL after eight productive seasons with the Pats. This doesn’t come as a surprise as the German-born offensive lineman has already dropped 75 pounds from his playing weight of 320.

Vollmer was drafted in the 2nd round, 58th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. He appeared in 88 games with 80 starts but missed the entire 2016 season with hip and shoulder injuries.

East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills Go Up Tempo in Practice, Ragland Clears Hurdle, Taylor is the Leader:
The Buffalo Bills have a new regime in place and the first thing new coach Sean McDermott saw when reviewing tape of last year’s practices was that the team needed to pick up the tempo which they’ve been doing, so far in OTAs.

LB Reggie Ragland had reconstructive surgery on his knee last year and has been cleared by the doctors for limited action and he’s happy to be back doing football like drills again. “I feel really rusty. But as the days went on I started to get more comfortable and my knee got more comfortable.” Ragland said to the Bills media.

New Buffalo Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison spent three years with QB Tyrod Taylor in Baltimore and says he’s seen the growth of the veteran QB due to his starting experience in Buffalo. However, Dennison has already pointed out that Taylor must cut down on the number of sacks that Taylor has taken, 42 just last season alone. Dennison also mentioned that the QB must learn to trust his eyes more.

“He has started to,” Dennison says. “But even then, just yesterday, we ran a concept for the first time and he took too long staring the concept down. Now he sees that on tape and says, ‘All right, I’ve got to get off that and just take what the defense gives me.’ “

Parker Healthy and Expecting Big Year in Miami:
The Miami Dolphins’ Devante Parker has missed only three games in his first two seasons in the NFL. But he’s been banged up quite a bit and now fully healthy for seemingly the first time he’s pumped for a big 2017.

“I’m tired of being hurt and not healthy for a full season,” Parker said to the media on Friday.

“Expecting a big season this year.”

The Dolphins brass has been critical of Parker’s work ethic in the past but not anymore. “He is running probably better than I’ve seen him run since I’ve been here — and a hungry DeVante Parker,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said to the Miami Herald.

“I think he has been around a lot more than last year. He is practicing hard.”

“I really think he’ll have a great year — a gigantic year for us. That would be huge,” Christensen added.

Jets Improving Locker Room Issues That “Didn’t Exist” in 2016:  New York Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles has said that the team didn’t have locker room issues in 2016 despite the fight between Brandon Marshall and Sheldon Richardson.  But his actions speak differently.

And now running back Matt Forte has come out publicly stating that they team needs to start acting more as a group than individuals.

“There’s a difference between playing next to somebody and (playing) for them,” Forte said to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “I always say that to guys, like last year, when we were in the middle of the season and things weren’t going well. We were at practice and I was like, ‘Guys, everybody is out here as an individual and we’re just playing next to the guy. Do you really know that guy?’ If I’m playing next to you instead of for you, I really don’t trust you.”

Whether or not he keeps the job, QB Josh McCown has been doing the job that leaders do, building a trust factor with the offensive players and that is a big change from 2016 where incumbent starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was unsigned during the offseason and going thru a prolonged contract battle with the front office.

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

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



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