Category Archives: 2017 Patriots PreSeason

New England Patriots News 12-24, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
December 24, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 12-24, & AFC East Notes.

RIP to Dick Enberg, one of the best announcers we’ve had the pleasure of listening to. He had a style all of his own and was universally lauded as one of the great guys in the game. We miss his signature “Oh My!” during the games.

The Patriots and Bills are playing in a playoff game today. The Pats need this game to keep their hold on the #1 seed for the AFC. The Bills are trying to hold off Baltimore et al that are chasing them for the 6th and final playoff spot. A Buffalo win could … conceivably set up a third meeting of these two teams down the road in a few weeks.

However, one thing to keep in mind today is that Buffalo has only defeated Brady once in Foxboro. That was in the season finale of 2014. The Patriots rested most of their starters and Brady, whose primary target that day was Brian Tyms, played only the first half of the game.

Brady, Belichick, and Guerrero Aren’t (IMHO) The Big Story It is Being Portrayed:
We got a few messages this week and asking why we haven’t had more about the ongoing saga which we feel is way overblown on the Alex Guerrero story. Look, I don’t blame the bigger site Pats beat writers, they have editors and they’re being told to ask the questions, and that’s what they get paid for. But to us… there isn’t enough information to accurately come up with enough of a narrative to publish anything that isn’t all conjecture. And for me personally, it isn’t that big of a story. But it won’t go away so, here’s our two cents.

We do know that Tom Brady swears by Alex Guerrero and his training methods and says publicly that Guerrero is the reason that his career has stayed so productive at an age where he should be retired. Now Rob Gronkowski and several other players are going to Guerrero as well. No harm, no foul there.

Here’s the one issue. Guerrero’s methods differ from the Patriots training staff, there was a blurb last week where the team’s training staff told a player to do squats and while meeting with Guerrero he advised against it. The player refused to do them. Now, the training staff is hired by the team and there certainly has to be a bit of jealousy there. And… they are being evaluated for their own jobs on how they produce with the players. Something has to give. Belichick can’t allow Guerrero on the sidelines because it opens the door for other players to want “their guy” on the sidelines as well. For Belichick, there can be only one voice on the sideline, the team’s and so he nipped it in the bud.

Players aren’t forbidden to see Guerrero or seek his advice right next door at the TB12 Clinic in Patriots Place. But while they are in the building, they’ll take their direction, all of it from the team. End of story.

I wasn’t in the room on Friday but watched it live on the Pats’ website, while I wouldn’t characterize Brady’s reaction as testy, I bow to the guys who were. I took it as being a bit frustrated. Testy was the Deflategate BS.

My concern with this… not someone per se in the Boston media but we all know that other media markets (a few hours south of here) will try to take this in a different direction. And if the Patriots are successful in the next four weeks, seeing a story come out say January 21 around 9 p.m. that Guerrero’s secret with Brady and Gronkowski is centered around PEDs. It isn’t a stretch to foresee that happening.

That’s why T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s take on Colin Cowherd’s show was so important. Houshmandzadeh stated he went to Guerrero while a very young player in college when his trainers couldn’t figure out what his muscle problems were. He spent about four sessions with Guerrero and poof, issues gone. Cowherd right away asked if it was anything pill or medicine related and he said no. Guerrero’s method was strictly working directly on the muscles with stretching etc.

You can see the entire clip here:

But to finish this off, [it is already too long] all of these national pundits writing about how this “rift” between Belichick and Brady could affect him in the games or already has? Please. This is the same guy who has the stones of iron and brought his team back from 25 in the Super Bowl and he’s going to wilt because Alex isn’t there to prop him up? Really? Are we really going to use that as the “hot take” of the week?

Tom Brady Gets Kurt Warner’s Son’s Vote for the G.O.A.T.:
Tom Brady got some love for being the Greatest QB of all time from some different households this week including one from a Hall of Fame quarterback.

Kurt Warner told a funny story this week of walking in on his son doing a homework project and had a story of Brady up on his computer.

Warner asked, “You doing a story on Brady? His son replied, “No, I’m doing one on the Greatest QB of All-Time.” Warner got some great responses on social media when he posted these Tweets up about the humorous episode.

Pittsburgh Sideline Wilts During Review:
One of the more intriguing parts of the aftermath of the win over the Steelers was watching the Pittsburgh sideline during the Jesse James TD/Drop Review. There was obviously a difference of opinions on how they should proceed but they didn’t take the time that was afforded during the review to come up with a probable course of action if the play was reversed. Instead it looked like a Chinese Fire Drill. That isn’t an indictment of the players, but the coaching staff. Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley looked lost out there when they had plenty of time to call two plays in case the play was reversed, which it was. Tomlin, who was calling for this matchup for nine months looked out in left field.

Ben Roethlisberger compounded things by promptly throwing his coaches under the bus. If the play wasn’t there [it wasn’t there were four Patriots defenders in the area], throw the ball away, kick the field goal and go to overtime. For a guy who’ll reside in Canton one day, it’s a bad look to not take responsibility for his own actions.

Those situational football scenarios are why the Patriots always seem to win these type of games and their opponents do not. We always here about the “luck” of New England. That luck is forged on the practice fields by constant drilling starting back in July. It is unfathomable to think Josh McDaniels and Brady wouldn’t have a plan in place given that much time.

And on the subject of the other “The NFL Favors NE Nonsense”, watch Week 1 against KC. Gronk hauls in a pass in the end zone against the Chiefs that would make the score 14-0. It is overturned on the same going to the ground rule. Gillislee is stuffed on 4th and 1. You think that game might have turned out differently? Where was the “catch rule needs to be changed”  then? Reminiscent of the Tuck Rule, the Patriots were hurt by it before they benefited from it.

Tomlin, said after the game the league, “needs to look at the rule” after the season. They did in 2015, he should know. He was on the Rules Committee and voted in favor of keeping the current one in place. File it under Sour Grapes.

James Develin Takes An Unlikely Path to the Pro Bowl:
Kudos to Patriots fullback James Develin who was named to his first Pro Bowl as the lone fullback named to the AFC roster this season. It is a great story in that Develin took a roundabout path to be acknowledged around the league but he’s had great respect of his coaches and teammates as he makes the running game go with his tremendous blocking skills in the Patriots “21 Personnel” package.

Develin played defensive line in college at Brown and went undrafted. He switched to fullback and played in the Arena Football League before landing on the Bengals practice squad in 2010. The Patriots picked him up in 2012 and Develin has never looked back.

He was really missed in the running game when he broke his leg in preseason in 2015 and was lost for the season. Now, he’s being acknowledged around the league but told the media, he’d just as soon skip the Pro Bowl if New England is gainfully employed during the SB this year.

Kenny Britt Likens the Patriots to Rutgers:
It is still very early in Kenny Britt’s tenure with the Patriots, but so far, he’s all smiles and seems to be truly happy to be in New England. What a difference a week makes, he was cut loose from the winless Cleveland Browns and now he’s a member of the AFC’s #1 seed entering Week 16.

It wasn’t lost on Britt who has almost ended up in New England before but said financial decisions kept him away. Now he’s here for a football decision and couldn’t be happier. “I always had my sights on here and playing with the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. And a head coach we have, and how they run the organization.”

Britt had some off-field issues early in his career but he chalks that up to youth and inexperience. Now he’s focusing on learning the playbook as quickly as he can and become a member of Tom Brady’s “Circle of Trust” in the passing game. With his size, 6’3, 225-pounds, he could become a big red zone target with Rob Gronkowski.

Matthew Slater a HOF Bid? It Could Happen:
Among the other Patriots selected to the Pro Bowl this week was Special Teams standout Matthew Slater, who made a very nice play in Pittsburgh downing the ball inside the five-yard line on a Ryan Allen punt.

Former Patriots ST standout Matt Chatham made the point and case for Slater to be considered for Canton and the NFL Hall of Fame this week and it deserves to be mentioned. While he probably won’t be a first-ballot guy, and we know special teams guys just don’t get the love that they should by the voters in Canton, Slater has really stood out among his peers both on and off the field. So, how do we feel about Matthew Slater going to the NFL Hall of Fame?

<blockquote class=”twitter-video” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>&quot;How do we feel about being 10-2?&quot;<br><br>A look inside the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Patriots?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Patriots</a> locker room after Sunday&#39;s victory in Buffalo: <a href=”https://t.co/t6moHl2zub”>pic.twitter.com/t6moHl2zub</a></p>&mdash; New England Patriots (@Patriots) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Patriots/status/938153024089817088?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>December 5, 2017</a></blockquote>

<script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Who Do You Like This Week NFL Week 14:
Last week 14-2 mark. Season Total: 157-77.

This week’s Saturday games I went with Baltimore over Indy. And the Vikings over Green Bay.  Now for the rest of the slate:
Rams at Titans – Los Angeles
Bills at Patriots – New England
Browns at Bears – Cleveland (gotta win one)
Falcons at Saints – New Orleans
Lions at Bengals – Detroit
Buccaneers at Panthers – Carolina
Dolphins at Chiefs – KC
Broncos at Redskins – Washington
Chargers at Jets – Los Angeles
Jaguars at 49ers – Jacksonville
Seahawks at Cowboys – Dallas
Giants at Cardinals – Arizona
Christmas Day Steelers at Texans – Pittsburgh
MNF Raiders at Eagles – Philadelphia

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Incognito Goes Against the Grain with the Bills “Retribution at Gronk” Talk:
The Buffalo Bills Richie Incognito is no stranger to talk about dirty play. He’s been known and voted on, by his peers as one of the dirtiest players in the NFL. So when he talks about players getting even on Rob Gronkowski after his cheap shot in the last Bills – Patriots game, people will listen.

“Gronkowski took his shot,” Incognito said. “Now it’s our defense’s chance to take their shots on him.

“When you do dumb stuff like he did, you open the door. The referees are a little more lenient because they know you got it coming. You’ve just got to be prepared to take it.”

However, Incognito was quick to point out, he likes Gronkowski and doesn’t believe him to be a dirty player.

“Gronk’s a good kid. I know Rob. I’ve hung with him. I’ve partied with him,” Incognito said. “He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s not mean-spirited.

“You can’t judge a man by that one action. You’ve got to look at Rob over his whole career. This is out of character for him.” So we’ll see how this plays out. Gronkowski on Friday said that he expects to prepare for a hard-nosed football game and downplayed any talk of revenge.
Cutler Returns to Form in Ugly Dolphins Loss in Buffalo:
The Miami Dolphins made a $10-million dollar investment in Jay Cutler this summer after Ryan Tannehill went down and … they’ve gotten exactly what they bargained for. Cutler has always had the reputation, a well-deserved one that he’s great one week and awful the next. Despite an incredible arm that can make any of the throws, he’s always been a guy with sloppy footwork and makes bad decisions. His career numbers play that out and why no one was beating down his door to sign him this summer.

Last week was a prime example. On Monday Night Football he torched the Patriots for three TDs and no interceptions as the Dolphins won 27-20 and South Beach fans and players were celebrating like it was 1972 again.

But the awful Jay Cutler quickly reappeared on the scene in Buffalo on Sunday as he had a brutal game throwing three interceptions and fumbling the ball four times as Miami’s hopes for a playoff spot took a left-hook to the jaw. What a difference six days makes. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. That’s Jay Cutler. Today in KC, I’m expecting the Buffalo version of Cutler to play with a vengeance. Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware) Miami.  

How Will the Jets, Spend More Than $90 Million In Cap Space? Start with a QB:
The New York Jets will enter the offseason with about $81 million dollars in cap space. They are sure to cut loose DL Muhammad Wilkerson which will add about $11 million more to the Jets coffers. So how should they spend their money?

Start at QB, a couple of guys are going to be available this spring and rather than take a chance on an untested rookie, the Jets could entice a guy like Kurt Cousins or possibly an Alex Smith to New York. They could sweeten the pie by enticing a high priced free agent WR to boot.

The Jets also have needs along the offensive line and secondary at corner but may opt to build those from the draft. But they’ll have plenty of cash to be players in the free agency market. But until they find an answer at quarterback, they aren’t going anywhere. A big free-agent signing at QB would certainly set tongues wagging around the fan base and the AFC East.

Merry Christmas!

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.

Patriots – Bills  Part II Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge

Steve Balestrieri
December 22, 2017 at 9:44 am ET

The Patriots return home for the final two regular-season games of the 2017 NFL Season. They’ve been on the road for five of the last six weeks and finished that difficult part of their schedule 5-1 and although injuries have ravaged the team, are in prime position to win the top seed in the AFC. If the Patriots take care of business the right way, they won’t have to leave Gillette Stadium again unless they travel to Minneapolis.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, December 24 at 1:05 p.m. and can be seen on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Tony Romo as the color analyst. Tracy Wolfson will work from the sidelines.The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (11-3) are coming off a stunning 27-24 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. The Patriots scored the final 11 points of the game and then had to make a stand inside the 10-yard line where Duron Harmon intercepted Ben Roethlisberger to seal away the win.

The Bills (8-6) have won two in a row since losing to the Patriots on December 3 and last week beat Miami 24-16. If the playoffs started today, the Bills would be the #6 seed in the playoffs as they hold the tie-breaker with the Ravens.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2017 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Bills history go back to the earliest days of the AFL in 1960. Sunday will mark the 116th meeting between the two franchises. Overall the Patriots hold a 71-43-1 edge, including a 36-21 at Foxboro. The Patriots have dominated in the Bill Belichick era, taking 30 of 34, and since Tom Brady became the QB of the Patriots, the Bills have only beaten NE in Foxboro once, in the season finale in 2014. New England rested many of their starters and Brady played only the first half.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Bills Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game had one its best games of the year against the Bills a few weeks ago, rushing for 191 yards with Dion Lewis leading the way with 92 yards and Rex Burkhead with a pair of touchdowns. Lewis will probably continue to get the lion’s share of the carries with James White and possibly Mike Gillislee getting some work this week. The offensive line did a good job in the running game three weeks ago.

Buffalo’s run defense has been as problematic as the Patriots have. The two teams have nearly the identical yards per game average allowed on the ground. Last week, Miami ran 21 times for 100 yards.

Look for New England to run the ball hard again at the Bills front seven. Lewis is having a fantastic year and has taken over the top back slot in the New England offense. They’ll miss Burkhead who’ll be out until at least the playoffs begin and hopefully have him back by the divisional round. Gillislee, having been a healthy scratch for a month and a half, could play a key role this week.

Patriots WRs vs Bills Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game is banged up at the wide receiver position. Chris Hogan missed last week’s game with a flare-up of his shoulder injury. Hopefully, he’ll be back this week to go along with Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, newcomer Kenny Britt and Phillip Dorsett. But the wildcard is Rob Gronkowski. He torched the Steelers for nine catches for 168 yards last week. Three weeks ago against the Bills, he had nine catches for 147 yards and despite being held on a few plays that went uncalled, was the big “X” factor of the game. James White and Lewis add to the weapons that can be brought to bear in the passing game.

Buffalo’s pass defense has created a ton of turnovers. Last week, they forced four fumbles against Jay Cutler and picked him off three times. Led by Tre’Davious White, they’ve stiffened their pass defense on the perimeter. Safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer have made a tremendous difference in the middle of the field.

Look for Brady to spread them out and look for favorable matchups. Last time Cooks was held to just 17 yards on two catches. That isn’t going to get it done. Look for Brady to get him involved early. Britt could be a factor in the red zone and of course, Gronkowski remains the man the Bills have to stop. Brady will look for him to attack the seams. If Hogan is recovered from his setback which was supposedly related to a bad reaction to meds, it will be a big bonus for the offense.

Next up the Bills offense:

Bills RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Buffalo

The Bills running game goes thru LeSean McCoy and the last time the teams played, he ran for 93 yards on just 15 carries. But once the Bills fell far behind, they had to abandon the running game in an attempt to catch up. Look for McCoy to get a lot of looks early in this one. Buffalo will be taking a page out of the Pittsburgh playbook and try to keep Brady and Co. on the sideline. Tyrod Taylor is always a threat to run and can keep the chains moving with his feet.

The Patriots depleted front seven continues to struggle badly against the run. No Dont’a Hightower, Alan Branch and Kyle Van Noy among others have left them struggling for solutions. Branch is definitely out this week and it remains to be seen if Van Noy will be ready to come back although he was seen practicing…with the secondary this week.

Look for the Bills to test the Patriots at the edge, where they’ve been really struggling. Eric Lee has been targeted by opponents as well as Deatrich Wise. Without Van Noy, the edge has been a sore spot. Linebackers David Harris, Elandon Roberts, and Marquis Flowers have to do a better job at run support.

Bills WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

Buffalo’s passing game (171.2 YPG average) is predicated on getting the running game going and then having Taylor roll out and make plays with his feet. His two biggest targets are McCoy out of the backfield and tight end Charles Clay. The production from Kelvin Benjamin who’s been hurt and Zay Jones has been inconsistent.

The Patriots pass defense, specifically their secondary has been much better the second half of the season. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots opt to defend McCoy this week. Look for Pat Chung to draw Clay. In the last matchup, they held Taylor and Nathan Peterman to 82 yards net passing.

Look for the Patriots to try to contain Taylor in the pocket. Early downs will tell the tale here. If the Bills are in third and long, their offense will struggle big time having to pass for their first downs. They’ll be looking for those third and short where Taylor can run/pass option for short gainers.  

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski is having an excellent 2017 season, his extra point miss last week was the result of a rare bad snap/hold from Joe Cardona and Ryan Allen. But his kickoffs and outstanding coverage have pinned opponents deep all season.

The Bills Special teams have been good, but not great. Stephen Hauschka has had a very solid season Colton Schmidt has a 44.4 yard average with a 40.6-yard net. The punt coverage units are very solid.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

This one has playoff implications for both teams. If the Patriots win this week and next, they’ll have home-field advantage for the playoffs as the AFC’s #1 seed. Buffalo is the #6 seed right now and would break their streak of no playoff years at 17. They are tied with but hold the tiebreaker with Baltimore.

Tom Brady has only lost to the Bills at home once, in the 2014 finale with most of the starters sitting and Brady playing a half. Overall since 2000, the Bills have won in New England only twice, in 2014 and last year against 3rd string QB Jacoby Brissett. That is a huge obstacle standing in front of them.

Look for the Patriots to keep things balanced offensively and running the ball much like they did the last time but attacking the Bills vertically as well. This one will be close for the first half, but New England pulls away and goes to 12-3.  Patriots 31-17

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 I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

ICYMI: Jacoby Brissett Thanks Patriots Following Trade To Colts

Robert Alvarez
September 6, 2017 at 9:54 pm ET

Following the New England Patriots trade of backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, Brissett took to his social media accounts to thank the team that drafted him.

To the Patriots organization thank you for the opportunity. The countless memories will live forever. To that locker and the friends/relationships that I’ve gain in such a short amount of time thank you guys for accepting me. Excited for this new journey in Indy and can’t wait to get started. #BloodBrothers…. Letsssss Gooooo

Brissett will serve as the backup to Scott Tolzien week one following the news from Colts owner Jim Irsay that Andrew Luck’s “odds are most likely he won’t open up against the Rams.”

Tom Brady also responded to the posting with the comment “#wolfpack” which referenced himself, Jimmy Garoppolo and Brissett during their season together and a nod to the comedy movie “The Hangover”.

View post on imgur.com

Patriots Cuts Included a Few Surprises on Saturday

Ian Logue
September 2, 2017 at 11:22 pm ET

The Patriots got down to the 53-man roster limit on Saturday, but there were certainly some names let go who were surprising to see listed.

Unfortunately with so many needs and only so many spots, some were simply victims of a numbers game that didn’t quite go their way, which tends to be a common theme this time of year.

Here’s a quick rundown:

Veterans Out:

RB Brandon Bolden
OL Jamil Douglas
OL James Ferentz
RB D.J. Foster
LB Jonathan Freeny
DL Geneo Grissom
DL Woodrow Hamilton
OL Ted Karras
DL Darius Kilgo
TE James O’Shaugnessy
WR Tony Washington

Thoughts/Reactions: The obvious surprise here is Bolden, who has been a special teams standout and also looked about as good as he ever had running the football this preseason.  His role as a running back has always been to give them depth and the bad news for Bolden is that this is the year the team is stacked at running back and their needs put him in a numbers game that forced him out.  According to reports, the team hasn’t closed the door on him yet and the possibility still remains for him to return.

Other surprises are Hamilton, Karras and Foster.  Hamilton had some good moments during the preseason and showed some toughness after he got banged up in the final match-up against the Giants and flashed at times, but it just wasn’t quite enough for him to stick.

Meanwhile, Karras had seemingly been a top back-up on the interior offensive line, which now leaves them a little thin heading into this season.  Clearly the team has other areas where they needed a roster spot, and Karras simply seemingly fell victim to that.  Should he clear waivers, one would believe they would immediately count their blessings and bring him back to the practice squad.


D.J. Foster couldn’t quite break onto the roster. (USA TODAY Images)

As for Foster, with Cyrus Jones’ injury, it seemed like he could have been a contender in the return game after he handled those duties in the final game.  But it appears the Patriots have other plans and it apparently left him far enough down the depth chart where there just wasn’t a spot for him.  Foster finished tied with four other players in the NFL for the second-most receptions during the preseason with 13, as well as a touchdown.  He’s also a possibility to return should he clear waivers.

The Rest:

LB Trevor Bates
FB Glenn Gronkowski
WR Devin Lucien
K.J. Maye
DL Josh Augusta
DL Michael Bart
WR Austin Carr
TE Sam Cotton
RB LeShun Daniels Jr.
LB Brooks Ellis
WR Cody Hollister
DB David Jones
D.J. Killings
OL Jason King
DB Will Likely
OL Conor McDermott
DB Kenny Moore II
OL Max Rich
DB Jason Thompson
DB Damarius Travis
LB Nick Usher

The team also announced they’ve placed DL Keionta Davis and OL Andrew Jelks, on the non-football injury/reserve list, while 2017 third round pick OL Antonio Garcia was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list.


Carr’s departure was disappointing. (USA TODAY Images)

Thoughts/Reactions: Carr’s departure is arguably the most disappointing, but his arrival coincided with one of the few years where the Patriots just have too much talent to keep him.  Carr finished tied with New Orleans’ Tommylee Lewis as the NFL’s  reception leader in the preseason with 14, as well as the 9th leading receiver in yardage with 153-yards along with two touchdowns.  The trade of Jacoby Brissett for receiver Phillip Dorsett worsened Carr’s chances, and it appears that anyone who might have been a fan of Carr probably won’t see him back in New England.  Carr would have to clear waivers to end up on the practice squad and it will be interesting to see how that turns out.

Glenn Gronkowski’s departure wasn’t a surprise given that the team obviously has James Develin at fullback, who can fill in at tight end as well as an emergency snapper. But Gronkowski’s fumble the other night probably didn’t help his chances and as a result, for now, the team will start 2017 with only one Gronk on the roster.

Offensive lineman Conor McDermott’s departure was a bit of a surprise as the 2017 sixth round draft pick seemed like a player who might be able to contribute, but the team obviously felt otherwise.

While Devin Lucien not making it wasn’t a shock, he’s a player who you can definitely see has shown an incredible amount of growth since being drafted. It would have been fun to see things work out for him, but he’s here at a time where the team is just too loaded at the position.  He looked great during the preseason, finishing 7th in the AFC in yards per catch at 15.1 after hauling in 9 passes for 136 yards. According to Mike Reiss, the team reportedly gave him an injury designation when he was waived.

ICYMI: Julian Edelman Shares Message To Fans Following Season Ending Injury

Robert Alvarez
August 30, 2017 at 8:59 pm ET

On Tuesday morning, New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman broke his social media silence since the news of his season ending ACL injury with a thank you message to Patriots fans for all their love and support.

Sharing a note from his phone over Instagram and Twitter, Edelman promised to “approach this rehab process the only way I know how, with everything I have, to make sure I come back stronger than ever” and concluded with “tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

What Does the Marquis Flowers Trade Mean for the Patriots

Steve Balestrieri
at 6:30 am ET

The Patriots addressed their depth at linebacker and on special teams on Tuesday morning when it was announced that they traded a 7th round draft pick for LB Marquis Flowers from the Cincinnati Bengals.

Flowers was drafted by the Bengals in the 6th Round (212th Overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Arizona. The 6’3, 245-pound Flowers is an athletic player who is more comfortable outside on the edge than he is inside. He can cover and has the range to run with more athletic players. He’s been used as strictly a special teams’ player for the Bengals, playing only two snaps on defense last year. With their Special Teams’ standouts having been hurt this summer, including Harvey Langi, Shea McClellin, and Geneo Grissom, Flowers will step right into a key role right away. That was apparent in Tuesday’s practice as he stepped into the starting ST’s unit.

Why is this move significant? Well, that depends on your perspective. With many of the special team’s players banged up and facing the Kansas City Chiefs with the dangerous return game with Tyreek Hill, the coaching staff will want their most athletic players on the field. But this may go even deeper than that.

This may be a signal that the Patriots are planning on cutting their ties to two of their more dynamic special teams’ players in Brandon Bolden and Jordan Richards. Bolden has been a standout STs performer for years but is just in a position that is log jammed with talent.

Richards, on the other hand, has been a disappointment. They’ve tried him at different positions on the defense and he hasn’t been able to make a positive impression. This could be a signal that one or the other, perhaps both may be on the block.

But for Flowers, he’s young, athletic and can step into a core special teams’ role immediately. And he’s able to step up and play some defense as well.

While many on social media were thinking that Flowers is a camp body for the 4th preseason game, I disagree. I think he’s pretty much a lock. They need some athleticism on their STs units with KC coming into town. And he’ll give them that and be able to play some defense as well in the team’s sub-packages. The Patriots have made a trade, albeit a minor one but one which will have some impact, at least in the first few weeks of the season.

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 I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Final New England Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection 4.0

Steve Balestrieri
August 28, 2017 at 6:30 am ET

As we’ve been saying all summer, the New England Patriots will have many difficult decisions to make when the final 53-man cut down is due after the Giants game. The hour glass is running out and if players are going to make a move, they have a week remaining to convince the coaches that they’re worth keeping.

With some serious injuries to Derek Rivers and Julian Edelman, that will open up two spots that we had as locks. Ditto for the release of Kony Ealy. So, despite that, we can expect that the Patriots initial 53-man roster will change rather quickly as they’ll probably pick up a player or two via the waiver wire. I wouldn’t rule out a trade for an edge player either as they are really thin there right now.

With that in mind, we’ll take our final crack at the roster here on Sunday night with time to digest and re-watch the Lions game.

First up is the offense…

OFFENSE (24)
QUARTERBACK (3): Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

Out: None
New England has traditionally kept two QBs on their roster. Last year they kept three because of the crazy Brady suspension. I didn’t expect Brissett to push Garoppolo for the #2 slot this season, but his play has been really disappointing. He holds the ball far too long and his arm, though cannon-like has the accuracy of an old smooth-bore musket and not where it should be.

But I just don’t see them cutting bait with Brissett yet. Is it possible? You betcha, but not this year. I think they will stick with three but Brissett isn’t a lock by any means.

RUNNING BACK (5): James White, Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, James Develin

Out: D.J. Foster, Brandon Bolden, Glenn Gronkowski, LeShun Daniels
No changes here, I really wanted to find a way to keep both Foster and Bolden. Foster is going to be on a roster somewhere on Opening Weekend. If it isn’t here, it will be somewhere else. I thought of keeping only two TEs and utilizing him in an RB/Slot receiver mode where Devlin and an extra tackle can help in the blocking. And they still may do that.

Bolden is a superb STs performer but with Gillislee back and looking healthy, I don’t see how they keep him without cutting from somewhere else.

TIGHT END (3): Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, James O’Shaughnessy

Out: Matt Lengel, Sam Cotton, Jacob Hollister
While he’s played well the past few weeks, O’Shaughnessy’s slot is still tenuous at best. He’s a better blocker but not as good as a receiver as Hollister. The UDFA rookie from Wyoming had a big game against Jax and then was barely used after that. It is obvious the team likes O’Shaughnessy and wants to keep him. Lengel, who is banged up didn’t show enough to warrant keeping him around.

WIDE RECEIVER (5): Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola, Austin Carr

Out: Julian Edelman (IR), Matthew Slater (IR), Devin Lucien, Cody Hollister, Tony Washington, K.J. Maye
Julian Edelman’s injury opens the door for the Patriots to keep Austin Carr, who to me has just barely edged out Devin Lucien for the final spot at the position. Both Edelman and Slater go to IR, Slater will return later this season, which will make for another interesting decision. The top four are locks and will be needed to step up a bit more.

INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE (4): David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, Ted Karras
Out: Jason King, James Ferentz, Chase Farris

No changes here. Center David Andrews and guards Mason and Thuney were all starters last year, are locked and have played well this summer. Karras gets the nod over Ferentz who will be a primary practice squad candidate

OFFENSIVE TACKLE (4):  Nate Solder, Antonio Garcia, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming

Out: LaAdrian Waddle, Conor McDermott, Cole Croston, Max Rich, Andrew Jelks (IR)
The good news is that Nate Solder is back at practice and although he didn’t make the trip to Detroit, he should be ready for the Chiefs game on Opening Night. Garcia has been banged up, does his injury preclude him from making the roster and going on IR? That may open the door a crack for Conor McDermott or LaAdrian Waddle (also banged up) to step in. But it appears that Solder, Cannon, and Fleming are locked in right now.

Next up in the defense.

DEFENSE (25):
DEFENSIVE TACKLE (5): Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine, Adam Butler

Out: Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo, Josh Augusta,
With the lack of enough edge players and the release of Kony Ealy, this opens the door for another player to step up inside and that is Adam Butler who has had a very solid camp. He’s shown the ability to penetrate inside and disrupt things in the running game. Branch, Brown, and Lawrence Guy are locked. Guy had a solid camp and with Butler, the team may opt for more of a 3-4 look with the bigger bodies inside.

Hamilton, Kilgo, and Augusta played well this summer and are victims of numbers more than anything else.

EDGE RUSHER (3): Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Geneo Grissom,

Out: Derek Rivers (IR), Caleb Kidder, Keionta Davis
Ealy was released early…which means that he was in no way in their plans for 2017 after an up and down training camp. Depth has become a serious issue here. Wise will be looked to now, to provide the pressure with Trey Flowers. Grissom right now is my 53rd player on the roster. He could be replaced somewhere else but sticks around for his STs play. But he’s been virtually invisible on defense and that isn’t a good sign.

Look for the linebackers to provide help in this realm. Dont’a Hightower, Van Noy, and Langi will all be utilized as edge rushers as well. This is an area they may cherry pick off of the waiver wire and/or swing a trade. I think Davis will go to the practice squad and possibly play a factor down the road sometime in the future.

LINEBACKER (6): Dont’a Hightower, David Harris, Kyle Van Noy, Shea McClellin, Harvey Langi, Trevor Bates

Out: Elandon Roberts (IR), Jonathan Freeny, Brooks Ellis
I had the team keeping just five linebackers all summer but with the dearth of edge players, they keep an extra LB and those guys will help out on the edge as well. David Harris is an early-down inside run stuffer who is a liability in coverage (see Roberts). But the difference is, he’s a guy who is an established, smart veteran and will be rarely out of position. Hightower is a guy who can play inside or on the edge as a rusher, as well as Van Noy.

Langi and Bates, the last addition to the linebacking crew both had a good summer and training camp. Langi was a bit overaggressive at times as a pass rusher, but he’ll learn to temper those tendencies. Bates noses out Belichick favorite and STs standout Freeny and Roberts goes to IR.

CORNERBACK (6): Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Kenny Moore, Cyrus Jones

Out: Justin Coleman, DJ Killings, William Likely
The top four are locked and ready for the season. Gilmore had, in my opinion, a terrific summer. He’s adapted extremely well to the Patriots system and should be an outstanding addition. He and Butler promise to be a dynamic pair of corners on the edge. Rowe and Jonathan Jones have split the nickel corner duties and will continue to do so, depending on the matchups. Both played well this summer. Kenny More displayed a nose for the ball all summer and just beats out the veteran Justin Coleman. Cyrus Jones, for now, is a corner in name only. He’s the primary Kick returner but the team may ultimately decide to go with Dion Lewis/Amendola, in which case he’d be expendable.

SAFETY (5): Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Brandon King, Nate Ebner

Out:  Jordan Richards, David Jones, Damarius Travis, Jason Thompson
The top three of Chung, McCourty, and Harmon have been solid and are locked. The team has depth for those two with Nate Ebner and Brandon King who are mainly special teamers, neither of whom plays much defense although Ebner has played in spots in the past.

Jordan Richards is a favorite of Belichick and the team is trying every way of keeping him around. They switched him to the linebacker position in the “Big Nickel” look, the Pat Chung role and he was as inconsistent as he’s been elsewhere. Too slow, too stiff with a penchant for taking bad angles. Jones was hurt all summer, Travis played well in spots. Both may be candidates for the practice squad.

SPECIAL TEAMS (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona,

Out: None
A good solid group who have had a good camp thus far. Gostkowski still seems to have a mental block for extra points. But is solid on his field goal attempts and his kickoffs which are outstanding at getting the team great field position on defense. Allen has had a very strong camp. We haven’t mentioned Cardona much at all….which tells you his snaps have been right on the money.

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 I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots News 8-27, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
August 27, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning and welcome to your Sunday Patriots news 8-27 and AFC East notes.  

Patriots Lose Edelman for the Season, What it Means:
The Patriots worst fears were realized on Saturday afternoon when it was revealed that Julian Edelman’s right knee injury was an ACL tear and the valuable, versatile and hard-working cog of the Patriots’ offense will be gone for the 2017 season.

Edelman went down on a non-contact play against the Lions as he was cutting through the secondary on the Patriots first drive of the game. He caught three passes for 52 yards on the Patriots opening drive.

Julian Edelman was having a terrific summer before injuring his knee on Friday night. (SBalestrieri photo)

The normal mantra is for Patriots fans to call the old standby “next man up” and truthfully, as long as Tom Brady is under center, this team should be fine. But Edelman is Brady’s go-to guy on third down and you just don’t replace 90 or so catches and a 1000 yards at the drop of a hat. Look back at 2015, with Edelman, the Patriots were 9-0 and converting over 40 percent of their third downs. Edelman missed the last seven games and the Patriots went 3-4 and their 3rd down conversion rate plummeted to 32 percent. That wasn’t a coincidence.

This will put the onus of Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski to stay healthy this year. Amendola can pick up some of the slack in the slot with Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan rotating thru there as well depending on the matchups. It will also affect the punt return game. Malcolm Mitchell’s role will increase as well.

Edelman has always been money at returning punts in big games. If Cyrus Jones falters this season, the team could have easily turned to Danny Amendola, but now his role will change, and the team may be forced to cut back on his snaps in that realm. That backup, perhaps primary kick returner may fall to Dion Lewis. If Jones should stumble.

There’s no beating around the bush here. Can they work thru this? Yes. But the idea that it is no problem, despite how deep and versatile they are is ridiculous. This is a huge loss for the Patriots offense. He’s Brady’s best friend as well as his most trusted wide receiver. Those two frequently can see something and react wordlessly at the line of scrimmage and run the correct play. We saw that on Friday night.

Patriots Release Kony Ealy:
The Patriots released DL Kony Ealy who they acquired in a trade with the Carolina Panthers just five months ago. They traded back eight spots in the 2017 NFL Draft sending their 2nd round draft pick for Ealy and Carolina’s 3rd round pick.

Ealy, 25, struggled to fit in the Patriots system from the beginning of training camp and struggled, although he seemed to pick up his play lately. He had a QB hit and three hurries in Detroit but also lost his containment on a few others.

Kony Ealy struggled to fit in the Patriots scheme. (PatsFans.com photo)

It was widely reported on Friday that the Patriots were actively shopping Ealy to see if that was any interest in the talented defensive lineman. But his commitment and work ethic have been called into question. If Ealy clears waivers, he will become a free agent.

The Patriots tried to find a fit for Ealy but he was either unable or unwilling to do what they required of him. One thing that stood out which may mean nothing but now is a curious question is, was he a malcontent in the locker room? We watched him walk out alone for practice on most days. Coincidence or not?

The timing is also curious too, do the Patriots wait and pluck someone off the waiver wire or make a trade?  Or is a trade partner already out there? It is not like Belichick to jettison a guy without a plan in place. Or was it just a case of not wanting to keep a player around that they have no plans on keeping.

Adam Butler Making a Push for the Roster:
Rookie defensive lineman Adam Butler has been making the most of his opportunities and now appears to have a good chance of sticking with the 53-man roster. He came on as training camp progressed and had a solid game against the Lions on Friday night.

The 6’5, 300-pound defensive lineman has exhibited some explosion off the snap and has shown the ability to disrupt plays in the backfield. With that kind of penetration and the ability to stuff the running game, his chances of making the roster are increasing.

With the release of Ealy on Saturday, Butler may find himself on the inside now. He’ll be a player to watch this week, both during practice and against the Giants in the preseason finale in Foxboro.

Gillislee Impresses in First Opportunity With the Patriots:
Patriots running back Mike Gillislee got into his first game action as a member of the team on Friday night after missing most of the training camp with a balky hamstring. Now declaring himself, “100% percent healthy” Gillislee had eight carries for 38 yards and a touchdown in Detroit. He also added a two-point conversion.

Gillislee is a one-cut, hard nosed runner who is expected to take up the slack for the departed LeGarrette Blount who is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. His touchdown run was an easy one, with James O’Shaughnessy and James Devlin both putting excellent blocks on the right side. Gillislee waltzed in.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a game, last December, so I was just anxious to get out there and get that first hit,” Gillislee said after the game. “After that, I was good.”

First World Problems…Patriots Do Construction to Fit Super Bowl Banners:
The Patriots had a problem this summer that other teams would love to have. They had nowhere to hang their fifth Super Bowl banner. According to Mike Reiss in his Saturday column:

After internal meetings, the Patriots ultimately chose to have parts of Gillette Stadium undergo construction to make room for the new banner. That construction is close to its conclusion and the club tweeted out a sneak preview of where the banners will hang.

The Gillette Stadium sign was raised in the South end zone, creating room for the five banners — and possibly more in the future.

As owner Robert Kraft said on SiriusXM NFL Radio, “We’ve had to change the construction around. We have a little surprise for our fans [opening night], which should be very cool.


President Trump Gets a Super Bowl Ring From the Team:

Patriots owner Robert Kraft gave President Donald Trump a commemorative Super Bowl ring after the team’s visit to the White House in April. It seems that the Patriots who already came bearing gifts on their official visit felt that more was called for after the reception they received on visiting the Trump White House was the best they received in their five visits according to Kraft.

Trump received a customized, personalized ring that mirrored what the Patriots players and staff received. Those rings were crafted in 10-karat white gold and featured 280 diamonds with the words “World Champions” on the front. The inside of the ring includes, “We are all Patriots” and “greatest comeback ever,” a nod to the 31 unanswered points scored against the Falcons in the most dramatic comeback win in Super Bowl history.

The Super Bowl ring given to Trump is expected to be placed in the President’s Library at the end of his presidency. And according to federal watchdogs, he’ll have to claim the gift on his financial statements in 2018 as the gift is greater than $375.

East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:
Bills Hoping for LB Ragland to Get His Burst Back:
Buffalo Bills second-year linebacker Reggie Ragland was supposed to push starting Mike Linebacker Preston Brown for the starting position this summer in the Bills training camp. But it hasn’t materialized and the team is waiting for Ragland to get his noted burst back in his game.

Ragland was taking first team reps a year ago when he tore his ACL on Aug. 5 during last year’s camp. Right now, he’s listed as third on the depth chart leading to some speculation that he’s on the trading block.

But as we’ve frequently seen with ACL injuries, it takes about 18 months for a player to fully get his health and speed back to where it was prior to the injury. The Bills seem to be patient and know that Ragland will keep improving as the season progresses.

Cutler Finding Chemistry with Miami Wide Receivers:
The Dolphins signed QB Jay Cutler after starter Ryan Tannehill went down with an ACL injury and the immediate question was, having never played with any of the Dolphins’ skill position players, could he find chemistry with and thrive in Miami’s offense. Early indications are looking good.

He seems to be developing nice chemistry with Devante Parker and he also connected with Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry. He tossed a touchdown pass to tight end, Julius Thomas, while going 5-8 for 105 yards and a touchdown in their game on Thursday night against Philadelphia. While far from perfect it was a good building block for Cutler as he tries to find his comfort level in the Miami offense.

His best throw of the night was a 72-yarder where Parker won a jump ball. A deep throw to Stills drew a pass interference call in the end zone. It certainly looks like Adam Gase is going to take advantage of Cutler’s arm strength and test the deep parts of the field much more than the Fins were willing to do with Tannehill.

Jets Giving Hackenberg and Petty One More Look at QB:
The New York Jets, seemed like they were poised to go with veteran Josh McCown as the starting QB once the season began. But head coach Todd Bowles took a step back as McCown was relegated to a bystander as Bowles gave Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty split the reps as the team was preparing for their third preseason game.

While McCown remains the favorite to be the starter in two weeks, Bowles claimed late this week that the competition is still wide open and said that Hackenberg gets better the more he plays.

McCown has been getting the star treatment during the preseason, playing only one series in the first preseason game, but with a very limited wide receiver group, he needs to develop a chemistry with whoever is going to be out there.  

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 I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots at Lions: Seven Positives to Take Away From The Game

Ian Logue
August 26, 2017 at 3:08 pm ET

Friday night was a nice breakout performance by the first-team offense, who ran up a 24-0 edge over the Lions in dominant fashion. From there, they turned things back over to the second and third string players who managed just two field goals for the remainder of the game. Fortunately, it was enough for the Patriots to win their first preseason game of 2017 as they beat the Lions 30-28.

Unfortunately, those bright spots were overshadowed by Julian Edelman’s knee injury, with multiple reports stating he suffered a torn ACL in the first quarter following his third reception of the game. It’s hard to pull much positive out of the contest given the gravity of that potential loss, but here’s a list of some positives from players we came away with, which actually includes eight things instead of the seven listed in the title.

1) Tom Brady was sharp Friday night – The veteran quarterback played well and had the team rolling early as they jumped out to a 24-0 edge. He moved the club up the field with tremendous precision, going to the no-huddle on several occasions after New England’s offense had made big plays and kept the pressure on Detroit’s defense. Brady wasn’t perfect, as he had one mistake on the night on an interception that was aided by the fact Chris Hogan quit on his route because he was double-covered, leading to an easy turnover for the Lions. However, considering the lead they had and the fact it was a preseason game, it’s safe to say that it’s probably not a a throw Brady attempts in the regular season.

2) Chris Hogan looks as dynamic as he was in 2016 – Hogan had a terrific night, scoring two touchdowns during his time on the field as he finished with 4 receptions for 70 yards, including a quick 32-yard touchdown strike following a turnover by the Lions on Detroit’s opening drive.


Hogan looked solid during Friday night’s game. (USA TODAY Images)

But the biggest things that stood out were Hogan’s speed and quickness, including one play where he made a tremendous move as he came back on a route toward the sideline and made a great catch as Brady was being flushed out of the pocket. Keeping him healthy will now be even more important, especially with the club’s most productive receiver now likely seeing his season in doubt.

3) Danny Amendola’s roster spot likely a little more secure – Given the amount of opportunity being allotted to Cyrus Jones in the return game, it’s hard not to wonder if given the logjam at the receiver position if Amendola’s future might have been in doubt.

With Jones potentially taking over that role, it might have left Amendola becoming a victim of a numbers game now that it seems the Patriots are starting to shift toward younger players at that position. But given his clutch postseason play, Amendola is arguably the secret weapon that helped this team win both of their Super Bowl in the last three years and it would certainly have been an incredibly difficult decision had the team opted to
part ways.


With Edelman’s loss, Amendola likely joins Hogan as two of the focal points of the offense for 2017. (USA TODAY Images)

However, Edelman’s loss might have secured a roster spot for the veteran wideout for at least another year. He reminded everyone last night of what he’s capable of as he showed up in a big way, making a big grab during the team’s third scoring drive, hauling in a 31-yard reception that helped set up Mike Gillislee’s touchdown run.

4) Mike Gillislee Made Some Noise Friday Night – Fans finally got to catch a glimpse of newcomer Mike Gillislee in game action, and he didn’t disappoint. He scored a touchdown on his first ever carry as a Patriot, taking it in from 1-yard out on the team’s third possession to help put them up 21-0. He also made another big run when the Patriots were deep in their own end at their own 9yd line, and had a 27-yard carry that helped get them almost out to the 40-yard line. Overall he finished the night with 8 carries for 38-yards, as well as his touchdown.

5) Alan Branch was dominant on defense – Branch stood out Friday night, having his way up front and
is looking dominant early in the preseason. One of the most impressive plays he made came early in the third quarter when he sacked Matthew Stafford on Detroit’s opening drive to start the second half, bringing him down with just one arm. That was certainly one of the more memorable plays, and a reminder of what an asset he is on the defensive line.

6) David Harris Showed Some Flashes Defensively – The veteran linebacker looked like a defensive back last night in coverage, showing some terrific speed, including a nice play on a 2nd-and-8 where he broke up a pass to tight end Michael Roberts coming across the middle. Harris lead the team with five tackles and seems like he’s continuing to become more comfortable in this defense.


Chung was crushing people all night during the Patriots’ win. (USA TODAY Images)

7) Patrick Chung looks terrific so far – Chung has had a great preseason and he had another great night Friday in Detroit. The veteran absolutely leveled a player on a kickoff return, helping continue setting the tone after the Patriots were already up 24-0 with just over a minute to go in the first quarter. He also made several other big hits, proving that while it might just be preseason, he’s not taking it easy on anyone.


Gostkowski was a perfect 3-of-3 kicking field goals including the game-winner Friday night. (USA TODAY Images)

8) Stephen Gostkowski looks like he’s gaining confidence – After badly hitting a long field goal attempt earlier in the preseason, Gostkowski seems like he’s finally starting to settle in a little more. While he missed an extra point Friday night, he was perfect on all of his field goal attempts, including the 45yd one he hit with the game on the line at the end. It’s just the kind of game to build off of, and it’s great to see the veteran start building some momentum heading toward the regular season.

All-in-all it was one of the best showings we’ve seen so far and it was great to see them get into the win column. Edelman’s loss certainly puts a damper on things, but if there’s anything positive to take away, it’s at least better that it happened now since they’ll have more time to figure out how to adjust, rather than mid-season when the club’s options would have been more limited.

They’ll now return home to get ready to take on the Giants next week in the preseason finale next Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

Are You Ready For Some Football? Patriots Dominate Early In Win Over Detroit

Steve Balestrieri
at 9:15 am ET

Bill Belichick doesn’t like the term dress rehearsals but if this was the Patriots’ in Detroit, then the offense looks more than ready enough to start the season. Tom Brady and Company were clicking on all cylinders in a first quarter that saw them race out to 24 points as they played most of their starters in the first half.

But it was truly a tale of two halves. The Patriots backups struggled on both sides of the ball before they eventually had to come from behind with a last minute field goal to beat the Lions 30-28.

The impressive showing by the starting offense had an ominous cloud hanging over it however, as it is feared that Julian Edelman may have suffered a serious injury and may be lost for the season. Edelman went down on the Patriots first drive after making a cut and grabbing his leg in pain. Initial tests revealed an ACL tear but the team is waiting for a test on Saturday morning to confirm it.

Brady and the Patriots offense came out firing, going to an up-tempo style offense, they marched down the field in just 3:09, before many fans found their seats, scoring a touchdown when Brady hit Chris Hogan for a seven-yard score. The drive covered 75 yards in just 7 plays. Edelman was huge in the drive, up to his injury catching three passes for 52 yards.

Detroit’s Matthew Stafford completed a pass to Golden Tate but Malcolm Butler punched the ball out and with three Patriots around the ball, Jordan Richards fell on it and the Patriots were in business at the Detroit 32.

Brady went for the quick strike, hitting Chris  Hogan streaking down the left side for a 32-yard touchdown pass making it 13-0 just 21 seconds after the first touchdown. On the right side, Brandin Cooks was also open deep as Brady had his pick of where to go. Stephen Gostkowski pulled the extra point wide left.

The Patriots defense held Detroit to a three and out and went right back on the attack. Facing a 3rd and 4, Brady and Danny Amendola had a beautiful 32-yard hook up where Amendola showed great concentration, hauling the ball in between two defenders as he was going to the ground. Then a defensive pass interference call on Rob Gronkowski, (the second he drew in the first quarter), set the team up at the 12-yard line. Three plays later, Mike Gillislee in his first carry in a Patriots uniform powered in from the one-yard line after great blocks by James O’Shaughnessy and James Develin to make it 19-0. The extra point was good, but the Lions were flagged on the play so New England went for two. Gillislee scored on basically the same play, this time cutting it back to the inside and the score was 21-0.

Brady led another scoring drive but this one stalled as Gostkowski nailed a 46-yard field goal to make the score 24-0. Brady was 10-11 for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. The only incompletion was a drop by Cooks on a deep stick route.

Stafford finally got Detroit’s offense clicking and he completed four consecutive passes for 70 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown to Marvin Jones that made it 24-7. The play was another curiously bad one by Butler who gave up a long pass last week. The Patriots starters were done after Brady moved them into Lion’s territory and badly missed a connection with Hogan in the Detroit end zone that resulted in a pick by Glover Quin. It was an uncharacteristic bad decision by Brady, throwing into double coverage.

Stafford was 11-of-17 for 125 yards, a touchdown and a pick against the Pats starting defense. He came out in the third quarter and played a series with the starters against the Patriots backups and shredded them, going 4-of-5 for 65 yards and a touchdown to Dwayne Washington.

Jimmy Garoppolo and the second team offense struggled in the second half until their two final drives where they were able to get field goals from Gostkowski to narrow the Lions’ lead to 28-27 and then finally going back out in front with two seconds to go 30-27. Other observations included:

  • Chris Hogan was dynamic, especially in that pivotal first quarter. He caught five passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Remember the talk when the team traded for Cooks and many thought Hogan’s reps would disappear? That now seems to be firmly in the rear-view mirror.
  • Jordan Richards was moved to a linebacker role in the Patriots “Big Nickel” formation on defense and struggled again. He did recover the fumble but missed some tackles that should have been made. We know Belichick loves this kid, but for them to keep him this season, would be a head scratcher.
  • Veterans David Harris and Kony Ealy saw extensive action, but with the injuries on the defense, it was more out of necessity than anything else. Both had some good and bad. Ealy seems to be at his best as an inside penetrator. Harris is solid in run support but was in a mismatch in the passing game with Ameer Abdullah.
  • Garoppolo and the offense seemed stuck in neutral, although much of that had to do with the play of the offensive line until the final two drives when Josh McDaniels went to the up-tempo offense. It seemed the ball was coming out quicker and with better accuracy.
  • D.J. Foster will be playing somewhere in September. It looked like he was running the ball with some excellent vision this week, he had one drop in the passing game, but it would have been a tough catch.
  • Cooks and Gronkowski each only caught one pass but it wasn’t anything to be concerned with. Gronk drew two pass interference penalties and Cooks, with Edelman out, would have had his role increased had the offense remained out there in the second half.
  • It was a pretty decent night for Cameron Fleming, he played mostly well but whiffed a couple of times on speed rushes off the edge by Anthony Zettel.

The Patriots now have the final tune-up with the Giants before the games begin for real when Kansas City comes into town in just 13 days. The team has plenty of decisions still to make and next week, the fringe players should see plenty of action.

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 I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.