Category Archives: 2017 Patriots Training Camp

What Does the Marquis Flowers Trade Mean for the Patriots

Steve Balestrieri
August 30, 2017 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.

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.

MUST SEE: Bill Belichick Takes Subtle Dig At Jets During Press Conference

Robert Alvarez
August 16, 2017 at 8:36 pm ET

Every so often, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will break his “all business” character, whether its joking about “SnapFace” or what he does during summer vacation, even one of the most serious members of the National Football league has had his share of quotes that have caught many reporting on him off guard.

On Wednesday while speaking to the media at The Greenbrier, another such “did he just say that?” instance occurred when Belichick was discussing his lengthy relationship with Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.

https://twitter.com/JoeGiza/status/897834628861636608

“Another team” of course is actually the New York Jets, where Belichick spent three seasons (1997-1999) as Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator under Bill Parcells, to go along with one day as Head Coach during his infamous surprise resignation in 1999. Crennel worked under Belichick as his defensive line coach during that timeframe.

The abrupt resignation and hiring with the Patriots triggered a tampering charge by the NFL that forced the team to send the Jets a first round pick in exchange for Belichick. Throughout the Belichick tenure in New England, the relationship with the Jets has continued to be rocky, reaching a new high after Eric Mangini kicked off Spygate following a report to the league office about the Patriots videotaping methods.

While the majority of Belichick press conferences provide little color or detail, this seemingly intentional removal of the Jets period of his NFL career during this presser is about the closest one will get to understanding how the coach really feels about how the way things ended there and how his resentment towards the franchise still remains with him after all these years.

PHOTO: Bill Belichick Enjoying Training Camp In West Virginia

Robert Alvarez
at 8:35 pm ET

Over the course of Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England, it’s a common public perception thatt he future Hall of Fame head coach is often times viewed as a guy who’s “always serious” with a “business first” attitude, especially during the grind of training camp.

However this week the Patriots have been participating in joint practices with the Houston Texans in a far more relaxed setting at The Greenbrier luxury resort in rural West Virgina and with it came some rare smiles from the coach alongside his girlfriend Linda Holliday.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BX1P5T8lmvK/?taken-by=lindaholliday_

Belichick and Holliday also posed for a happy group photo with former Major League Baseball Manager Tony LaRussa, a close friend of the Belichick family.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BX3Vn7sFy2K/?taken-by=lindaholliday_

As with other recent meetings with the Texans, the matchup also provided the Patriots with a reunion of many former players and coaches that previously worked in New England.

Some ex Patriots include Head Coach Bill O’Brien, Assistant Head Coach Romeo Crennel, Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel, Special Teams Coordinator Larry Izzo, and Special Teams Assistant Wes Welker.

Edelman: Joint Practices Helps with “The Brother Syndrome” of Camp

Ian Logue
at 6:00 am ET

Working against your own players day after day can become a grind and it’s obviously something the Patriots have been battling with since training camp started.

That’s one of the joys of joint practices, where players get to start working against opposing players from other clubs.  Given the competitive nature of camp and the fact that players on both sides of the ball are battling for jobs, it tends to spark frustration where tempers sometimes flare, adding another layer to the necessary evil that is this time of year.

With the Patriots holding joint sessions against the Texans this week, Julian Edelman talked about it on Tuesday, pointing out that it’s an important part of the process, but he’s thankful to have the opportunity to change things up.

“100 percent, 100 percent,” said Edelman when asked about if it’s irritating working against his own teammates.  “It’s the brother syndrome. You go out and your mom’s not around, you’re with your brother and all day you guys hang out and you guys just end up beating each other up. When you get to go out and play with someone else, it’s a little different.”

“You get to have fun and you take pride on that and you’re actually closer with your brother who is there with you and you work harder together as a family. That’s what the great thing about coming out here to West Virginia really is. We get to see and develop the development of our team away from home. There’s nothing really out here other than beautiful hillsides, this beautiful facility that we get to be on. You get a sense of bonding and you get to learn each other. It’s a cool experience and I look forward to taking advantage of it tomorrow and having another practice.”

The Patriots are currently getting ready for their second preseason game against the Texans this Saturday night at 8pm.

Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection 3.0 – More Questions Emerge

Steve Balestrieri
August 15, 2017 at 6:30 am ET

Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection 3.0 – More Questions Emerge

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 in September. There is still plenty of time, joint practices, and three preseason games to go before their hand is forced.

With some injuries cropping up and some uninspired play at some spots, there are a few more questions that are emerging, as it is always is, when dealing with training camp. Thru the first several weeks, we’ve seen some very good competition and some players are going to make Bill Belichick’s decision a very tough one.

So we’ll take our third crack at the roster here on Sunday night with time to digest and re-watch the Jaguars game.

First up is the offense…

OFFENSE (25)
QUARTERBACK (3): Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

Bubble: None
New England has first world problems at QB, do they keep two or three. All three have won games for the franchise and the feeling here is they continue with the same trio.

The Patriots are set at QB with Tom Brady and Jimmy G. Jacoby Brissett is the insurance. (SBalestrieri photo)

Brady has had a typical Brady summer, that is, he’s been excellent. He’s sharp, always has laser focus and shows no sign of falling off that cliff everyone else in the NFL keeps predicting since 2008 and keeps praying for. His arm strength is still there and he has hummed in a few fastballs into tight coverage. No worries with #12.

Jimmy Garoppolo has had a typical Jimmy G. summer as well. Very inconsistent practices and a very solid, if not spectacular game performance against Jacksonville. He didn’t push Brady as some envisioned this summer, but the team is in good hands if disaster should befall Brady during the season. Brissett is a different story. He’s been a disappointment this summer. I expected a much bigger jump and despite what some of the media wrote about on Thursday, I thought his performance, going against many of the Jags who won’t make their team, was subpar. Could the Pats go with two QBs and save a guy like Carr? Maybe, but I think Brissett stays.

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

Bubble: D.J. Foster, Brandon Bolden, Glenn Gronkowski, LeShun Daniels
No changes here, I really love the way the offense looks with the top four backs with White, Lewis, Gillislee, and Burkhead. Burkhead has been exciting to watch and with the additions at wide receiver, the Patriots will have lots of acreage for the backs to operate out of the backfield. There are a few minor injuries, Gillislee with a balky hamstring but it should be fine by the opener.

Brandon Bolden is on the bubble but has had a nice summer. (SBalestrieri photo)

Bolden has stepped in, in his absence and played well. He’s a core STs guy so, Belichick could make a cut somewhere else and keep him around. Ditto for D.J. Foster, a guy I really like. Daniels and Baby Gronk are practice squad candidates.

TIGHT END (3): Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister

Bubble: Matt Lengel, Sam Cotton, James O’Shaughnessy
Just when you thought that Gronk may be hurting a little, he puts on a demonstration, like he did against Jax during joint practices. He was vintage Gronkowski and lit them up to the tune of seven TDs during practice.

Allen is an established veteran and the talk of his being cut earlier this summer, ….sorry I wasn’t buying it then or now. He’s an excellent blocker and can threaten the seams, he’s not a Gronkowski, but then again, who is?

Hollister steps up to the big table after a very impressive performance against the Jaguars. He’s not a big bodied blocker but as a move tight end, he showed he can go deep down the seams, has outstanding hands and can make plays even when taking some hits. He also needs to be better as a blocker but is getting a lot of STs reps. O’Shaughnessy and Lengel are by no means out by any means, and they’ll have to step up their game.

One thing to keep in mind, the two above players are more big blockers than receivers. Do the Patriots want another big body with the weapons they already have or another big target in the passing game? They could always keep a guy like LaAdrian Waddle around and let Hollister play more of a move-TE, in the mold of he who shall not be named.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola, Austin Carr

Bubble: Devin Lucien,Cody Hollister, Tony Washington, K.J. Maye
For the record, I love the job Austin Carr is doing so far in training camp. He’s done everything that they’ve asked from him and has outstanding hands. He doesn’t look like a rookie trying to earn his way onto the roster. But the problem is once again, do they keep a 6th WR plus Matthew Slater and make a cut elsewhere? As much as I like Lucien, he hasn’t done enough to unseat any of the veterans.

The only way I can see him being on the roster in September is if injuries occur. Slater is banged up right now, if he ends up on IR (who knows?), then it may open the door for these guys.

Julian Edelman has had an excellent training camp. (SBalestrieri photo)

But this WR group is going to be fun to watch. With this group, Gronkowski at TE and the backs in the passing game it will be a pick your poison type of game plan.

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

Center David Andrews and guards Mason and Thuney were all starters last year, are locked and playing well. Karras has outplayed Ferentz …so far but not by a lot. He may end up as being a primary practice squad candidate.

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

Bubble: LaAdrian Waddle, Conor McDermott, Cole Croston, Max Rich, Andrew Jelks
Here’s where things get interesting. Solder has been hurt, and nobody filling in for him has done the job particularly well. And now Garcia is hurting. This will be something to monitor in the next two weeks to see if the injuries persist, then the team could make a move for a veteran.

But for now, I’m sticking with the same group. If the team decides to cut from elsewhere, Waddle could find his way onto the roster for sure. McDermott is a prime candidate for the practice squad. He’s done well in practice. But in the joint practices with the Jaguars and the preseason game, he didn’t fare well. It will be a big week for him in Houston.

Next up in the defense.

DEFENSE (22):
DEFENSIVE TACKLE (4): Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Vincent Valentine, Lawrence Guy,

Bubble: Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo, Josh Augusta, Adam Butler
With Alan Branch on PUP and probably coming off of that after this week, Lawrence Guy has stepped up and played very well. He’s an established veteran who is versatile and tough. He’s going to be a solid addition.

Butler has stepped up and played very well this summer showing good penetration and toughness on the inside. He’s a great candidate for the practice squad if he’s cut and for the 53 if someone were to go down with an injury. Hamilton and Kilgo have always played well but not enough to unseat anyone.

EDGE RUSHER (4): Kony Ealy, Trey Flowers, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise,

Bubble: Geneo Grissom, Caleb Kidder, Keionta Davis
Depth has become an issue here. Wise was stepping up and playing some outstanding football the first two weeks but now has a concussion. He’ll be out for the next week and we’ll see if this sets back his progression. Rivers started slowly but has picked up his game as he’s adjusted to NFL speed.

The Patriots will rely on young guys, such as Deatrich Wise and Kyle Van Noy to supply pressure from the edge. (SBalestrieri photo)

So what’s up with Ealy? Nearly everyone has him being cut. I don’t. And I’ll tell you why. Has he been disappointing so far? Yes. But the team has asked him to do a lot of different things, things he was never asked to do in Carolina. He’s by no means a lock but I don’t see them cutting him. Especially since Grissom, who is very athletic and a very good STs player can’t seem to make an impression at the edge.

I really liked Davis during the pre-draft process and had him to NE in one of our Mock Drafts. If he’s healthy I like him to compete for a practice squad spot.

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

Bubble: Jonathan Freeny, Trevor Bates, Brooks Ellis
I’ve been intrigued with Langi who the team has moved around and asked to do a bunch of different things. So far, I’ve been very impressed and think he’s approaching a lock status. There are no worries about the top unless an injury crops up.

Roberts to me is firmly on the bubble and it is neck and neck between him and Freeny. I know fans are enamored with his downhill “thumper” style but he’s a liability in coverage and as shown as Jacksonville, frequently guesses the wrong gap or overplays the run and is out of position. See those big holes (79-yard TD run) the other night? That is from the Mike being out of position.

CORNERBACK (5): Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones

Bubble: Justin Coleman, DJ Killings, William Likely, Kenny Moore
The top four are locked and cocked and ready for the season. Gilmore and Butler are a dynamic and intriguing duo. Rowe and Jones (Jonathan) have split the duties for the slot corner and all four have played very solidly this summer. No worries there. If someone goes down, would they trust Jones (Cyrus) back there? Not so much.

Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore have been excellent for the the team this summer. (SBalestrieri photo)

He’s hanging on to his roster slot by a sliver right now over Coleman and Moore who has been outstanding at times this camp. Jones only saving grace is the fact that he looks like the Patriots #1 return man right now. But he didn’t look good on Thursday night doing that either. Bill Belichick has never cut a guy before season 2 with his draft position. But the ice is getting mighty thin ….

SAFETY (3): Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon

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 and will be carried down there.

Very disappointing summer for David Jones. When the team signed him, I thought he had a good chance to make an impact. His limited play in minicamp magnified that. But he’s yet to take the field. Jordan Richards? After a nice start to summer, he’s reverted to what he’s done in the first two years. His lack of top end speed and stiffness makes him a liability. His performance on Thursday was a harbinger of things to come. He’s not long for the roster.

Jordan Richards? After a nice start to summer, he’s reverted to what he’s done in the first two years. His lack of top end speed and stiffness makes him a liability. His performance on Thursday was a harbinger of things to come. He’s not long for the roster.

SPECIAL TEAMS (6): Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona, Brandon King, Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner

Out: None
A good solid group who have had a good camp thus far. Gostkowski still seems a tad shaky me on his field goals/extra points but his kickoffs are outstanding at getting the team great field position on defense. Allen has had a very strong camp. Slater is dinged up right now but the other three of Cardona, King and Ebner are outstanding STs performers.

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 8-13, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
August 13, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 8-13, & AFC East Notes.

The Patriots signed former defensive lineman Vince Wilfork to a one-day contract so that he could retire as a Patriot. Or as Robert Kraft put it in his remarks, “A Patriot for Life.” The respect he has around these parts is off the charts, both on and off the field.

Wilfork and his wife Bianca (AKA Mrs 75) were great representatives not only for the team but for the region with their charitable endeavors and the interaction with the fans. The most emotional part of his retirement ceremony was his mention of his parents, who both passed away before they could see him live his dream of playing in the NFL. We hope to see lots of them around here in the future. Red and gold jackets await in the future…we’re calling it early.

Goodell Shows Up for the Preseason Opener in a Pre-emptive Strike:
How ‘bout dem apples? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell just took the drama out of his opening night appearance in Gillette Stadium by showing up at the Jaguars preseason game. The Commish then posed for pictures with a couple of surprised Patriots fans who probably seemed as shocked to see him as the rest of us that he was there.

It kinds of renders the entire clown-nose shirt thing moot. However, I’m sure that will still go on as planned but it seems like a day late and a dollar short now. Smart move by Goodell.

The backlash against the three guys who posed with Goodell has gone, predictably over the top with the reaction of many on social media. These guys were surprised as they were walking to their seats by an NFL staffer who asked them to take a picture. Less than 30 seconds later it is all over social media, posted by the league.

They were no doubt lubing up in the pregrame tailgate, got surprised and used as pawns by a slick NFL staffer in this deal and were taken advantage of, Case closed… We’re on to Houston.

Jerry Jones Furious…Over “no evidence” and Suspension of Elliott:
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is fighting mad and he isn’t going to take it anymore…or is he? When the ongoing fiasco with the investigation of Ezekiel Elliott a while back, there were serious questions about whether the alleged abuse ever happened. Jones, the Cowboys owner rushed to his RB’s defense and said there was “no evidence” that anything took place.

Ah, but the workings of the good folks at Park Avenue look at things differently. Evidence, schmevidence. The NFL slapped a six-game ban on Elliott for allegedly abusing his girlfriend. The fact that the same league only suspended Giants kicker Josh Brown for one game last year, when a mountain of evidence, including NFL security personnel who had to separate Brown from his wife at the Pro Bowl speaks volumes about the consistency of their punishments.

Jones won’t get any sympathy in these parts. He was practically giddy about the suspension of Tom Brady and spoke highly about the job Goodell was doing and he supported his decision-making in these matters…OOPS.

Patriots – Texans Joint Practice/Preseason Games to Have Different Vibe:
In a strange scheduling of events this summer, the Patriots and Texans meet in the second preseason game and then will lock horns for real in the third week of the NFL season on September 24 at Gillette Stadium.

As a result, the workouts and the preseason will look a bit different when the two teams meet this week. Expect both teams to be really cagey and play their cards close to their vest as they will have Week 3 in mind.

Defensive End Depth Addressed As Pats SIgn Keionta Davis:
The injury sustained by Deatrich Wise when he got kicked in the head on Thursday night against the Jaguars highlighted the need for some depth at defensive end. Wise suffered a concussion and is expected to miss at least a week. Kony Ealy has struggled somewhat in the early going, so the team went out and signed DE Keionta Davis, the UDFA from Chattanooga. In a corresponding move, the team released DB Dwayne Thomas.

Davis was an All-America defensive end who had 31 sacks in college, including 10.5 in 2016. He was thought to be a mid-to-late round draft selection before he was found to have a bulging disc in his neck that he never knew about or affected his play and went undrafted. We even had him in one of our Mock Drafts this spring.

The 6’3, 271-pound Davis, if healthy, he has good initial explosion, has the ability to shoot the gap inside and influence the play and has quick, violent hands that can free him from the offensive lineman’s grasp. He is still a bit raw but has the size and strength to play on the edge in a 4-3 scheme.

Hollister and Carr Make the Most of Their Opportunities Against Jax:
A couple of the bright spots for the Patriots this week against the Jaguars was the play of both WR Austin Carr and TE Jacob Hollister who took advantage of the starters resting to put forth some very solid efforts in their first NFL action.

Carr led the Big 10 in receiving last season but went undrafted. He’s had some very good moments during the early going of training camp, showing some outstanding hands and good quickness off the line.

We got the chance to interview Hollister in a one-on-one opportunity during the first week of training camp and you can take another look at that here: He’s more of a move tight end than a traditional inline blocker but he has good speed to attack the seams, has good hands and has been a productive player in college.

Both have uphill climbs to make the 53-man roster, the WR position is very deep and there are two tight ends already locked into the roster. Will Hollister have enough to unseat the others for the #3 TE spot? We’ll see but neither did anything to hurt their chances with solid performances on Thursday night.

The sequence of a Great Catch:
We normally look at a big play during practice or a game and watch the video of a player making a great catch or a run. On Monday, Chris Hogan had arguably the play of the day with a great catch down the sideline on a perfectly thrown ball by Tom Brady. Instead of video we had our sequence of still photos that show how Hogan gets just the slightest of separation and then leaps up to come down with the ball.

Just something a little different this week. Check them out.

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills Trade Two of the Best Players Away:

The Buffalo Bills in a stunning move traded star WR Sammy Watkins and CB Ronald Darby in a three team deal with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Rams.

Watkins who is in the final year of his rookie contract and a 6th round draft pick goes to LA for CB E.J. Gaines and a 2nd rounder. Darby the starter at corner goes to the Eagles for WR Jordan Matthews, a versatile, productive WR, also in the final year of his rookie contract.

While these moves may potentially weaken the Bills in the short term, they look to be in better shape down the road, for 2018 and beyond. Matthews has made his living operating out of the slot the past three years and will automatically become the #1 target for QB Tyrod Taylor in the Bills offense.

Tannehill to Cutler Isn’t a Step Up for the Dolphins:
“Just when I thought I was out…they pulled me back in.” Michael Corleone GFIII The Miami Dolphins signed Jay Cutler after QB Ryan Tannehill was injured in a non-contact injury during training camp, in what will probably be an end to his time in Miami. Tannehill hasn’t become the QB that the Dolphins hoped he would, but after surrounding him with a lot of talent this season, the hopes were that he’d make a jump in play this year.

Tannehill has weathered a lot in his time, different offenses and offensive coordinators every year, a sieve of an offensive line at times, and even the barbs of social media from the wife of a teammate. We never thought he’d be the franchise QB there, but in our humble opinion, he’s a better deal than Cutler.

As soon as this deal was made, many in social media were lauding this move as Miami “making a step up” at the QB position. Over who? Matt Moore the backup? I could accept that, but Cutler isn’t a better QB than Tannehill in the Dolphin’s system. I’m not buying that…at all. If so, Miami had plenty of opportunities to make that move back in March and give Cutler (who played for Adam Gase) the benefit of an entire offseason program.

Cutler is the perennial tease. Everywhere he’s gone he’s hailed as a savior upon arriving and shown the door down the road with no one sad to see him go. Miami isn’t going to end any differently. Is he better than the scrappy Matt Moore? Maybe, and then only marginally so. Caveat emptor Miami, (Let the buyer beware). Come on, Rook. Show us that million-dollar arm, ’cause I got a good idea about that five-cent head of yours.” Crash Davis in Bull Durham.

Decker Returns to the Jets Stadium, in a Titans uniform:

The New York Jets released Eric Decker this spring in the Great Purge that hasn’t been seen since the days of Joseph Stalin and the USSR in the 1930s. The Jets cleaned house and let go a plethora of stars for the team. Decker who went thru OTAs with the team was coming off of an injury plagued season in 2016 that eventually landed him on IR requiring shoulder and back surgeries.

He was very productive in 2015 with 80 catches, for 1027 yards and 12 touchdowns as the #2 WR to Brandon Marshall, who was also released. Jace Amaro, the Jets 2nd round bust TE who was released in 2016 will also suit up for Tennessee.

Did the Jets cut Decker too soon? Looking at their current crop of WRs especially after the injury to Quincy Enunwa, it appears so. So we’ll be watching Decker this summer and into the regular season. If he’s healthy, he’ll help resurgent Titans team. And the Jets? They’ll be setting their sights on the #1 pick in the NFL Draft for 2018.

 

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 Drop Preseason Opener to the Jaguars, Quick Impressions

Steve Balestrieri
August 10, 2017 at 11:34 pm ET

The Patriots preseason got off to an uneven start on Thursday night in Foxboro as the Jacksonville Jaguars downed New England 31-24. The story of the game was that the Jags converted several big plays to carry this one making a 97-yard touchdown reception, a 79-yard touchdown run and long pass interference penalty that set up a short Leonard Fournette score.

Things were looking up for the Patriots after they tied the score at 17 but the Jaguars would quickly erase any hopes of a win after Corey Grant scampered 79 yards for the score. To make matters worse, then the defense gave up another 42-yard touchdown catch on a blown coverage.

Despite that, the team got very solid performances from Jimmy Garoppolo, Austin Carr and Jacob Hollister on offense. Harvey Langi played a ton of reps on defense and was moved around quite a bit. Here are quick impressions.

Defense Loses Two To Head Injuries:
Rookie Deatrich Wise who has been stellar thru the first two weeks of training camp appeared to get kicked in the head early in the second quarter. After remaining down on the field for quite some time, he was helped to the sideline and then to the Patriots locker room where he didn’t return. Elandon Roberts also suffered a head injury in the second half and didn’t return.

Starters get the Night Off:
The Patriots didn’t play Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks or any of the starting offensive linemen and the starting defense was also given the night off as well as Bill Belichick wanted to see what his backups could do against Jacksonville’s starters, at least initially.

The starters got plenty of reps during the joint practices and tonight was a night to see what the backups could bring to the table. While overall it was a mixed bag, there were plenty of good and bad for the coaches to sift thru.

Slow Start to Camp? Jimmy G. Shines on Gameday:
Much of the talk this week was the slow start that Jimmy G. has gotten off to during training camp in the first two weeks. Well tonight after a slow start, he caught fire and was outstanding down the stretch for his final three series. Garoppolo finished the night 22-28 for 235 yards and two touchdowns. At one point he completed 12 in a row and was making the reads, getting the ball out quickly and was much more consistent than he’s been this summer. His final three drives, 13-14 for 168 yards and a pair of TD passes. A fumble from D.J. Foster may have ruined another scoring drive.

Jacoby Brissett, however, was another story. While he seemed to process things quicker tonight and made much better decisions with the football, his accuracy still leaves much to be desired. He overthrew Devin Lucien to kill one drive, overthrew an open Jacob Hollister in the end zone on fourth down to end another and he sailed two throws out of the end zone at Hail Mary time. You have to give your players a chance to make the play. We all know how strong his arm is, but without touch or accuracy, you won’t last long in the NFL.

Welcome to the NFL Moments for Carr, Hollister:
Two of the UDFA rookies on offense who have had strong camps thus far had big nights for the offense. Austin Carr has turned heads in the early going of training camp and he turned in a very strong performance on Thursday night. He caught five passes for 44 yards including a beautiful grab in the back of the end zone at the end of the first half. It brought the bench to their feet. With the WR position so stacked, it is going to be difficult for Carr to make the roster, but he isn’t hurting his chances at all.

Likewise for Jacob Hollister. The rookie TE isn’t the biggest guy and he’s not going to be an in-line blocker, but he’s got good speed, runs very nice routes and can attack the seams. He did exactly that tonight, catching seven passes for 116 yards, including several in the middle of the field. With the third TE position open, he isn’t hurting his chances either. He’s more of a move tight end but the intriguing rookie looks like he could make some noise.

Matty P. Has Some Work to do With the Backups on Defense:
While all the starters rested on defense, the starting eleven consisted of Deatrich Wise, Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo, Adam Butler, Elandon Roberts, Harvey Langi, Jonathan Freeny, Cyrus Jones, Justin Coleman, Jordan Richards and Damarius Travis. At times the unit looked good but they were consistently gashed by the Jaguars deep stable of running backs all night long.

The big plays were particularly worrisome as the Patriots never give up big play touchdowns. Tonight Cyrus Jones looked absolutely lost on the 97-yarder to rookie Keelan Cole. Then on the 42-yard touchdown, he turned over the WR to …no one Jordan Richards stayed in the middle of the field until it was far too late.  Richards also took a horrible angle on Corey Grant’s long touchdown. Roberts also was out of position and overplayed the run and was caught out of position. After a nice start to camp, Richards is looking a lot like the man who was buried on the depth chart a year ago. That deep ball was a play that Devin McCourty is always in position for.

Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden Get Solid Work In:
The good news for Dion Lewis is that he appears to be all the way back from his ACL injury from 2 years ago. He played a good chunk of the first half and looks like his quick, elusive self again. He had a combined 55 yards on 11 touches.

Brandon Bolden got the start with Mike Gillislee, James White, and Rex Burkhead being given the night off and had a solid game. Bolden runs hard and hits the hole quickly and he also didn’t hurt his chances with his performance tonight.

The team will head down to Houston for next week’s preseason game #2 as well as get more joint practice time in with the Texans.

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 – Jaguars Preseason Opener, What to Watch For

Steve Balestrieri
at 9:45 am ET

The long wait since the Super Bowl is over, the field at Gillette has the goalposts back up, the lines are painted on the turf and the Patriots will once again take the field for a football game. But don’t call it meaningless, because there remains a lot to accomplish.

OK, we get that the final score of tonight’s game is secondary to both Bill Belichick and Doug Marrone but for the 90 players on the roster, many of them are fighting for jobs. And the coaching staffs will attempt to find those depth players and those valuable guys who fill roles on the team that makes such a big difference during the course of a season.

Gillette Stadium is ready for football again. (SBalestrieri Photo)

Many of the Patriots starters won’t play tonight, I don’t expect to see Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Nate Solder or Mike Gillislee on the field for the Pats offense. So what are we looking for tonight from a New England perspective as the Patriots take on the Jaguars in the first game of the 2017 preseason?

The Patriots Pass Rush and Specifically How the Rookies Fit:
This will be a big storyline for the entire preseason and into the regular season. Gone are Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, and Chris Long. Trey Flowers is the elder statesman in terms of time with the team. He, Kony Ealy along with rookies Deatrich Wise, Derek Rivers and Harvey Langi will be watched closely in their first game action this year.

Wise has had a very good start to camp and seems to be much farther along in his development than was expected at this point. He’s shown to be explosive and has had good penetration from the edge and along the interior.

Deatrich Wise has looked very impressive in the early days of training camp. (SBalestrieri photo)

Before people pile on Ealy (and there’s been a lot of it), something to keep in mind is that early in camp the team has asked him to do a lot of different things that he was never asked to do in Carolina. He’s played a lot inside and that is a new position for him. Rivers seems to be getting in sync a bit more in the last few days, it will be interesting to see how he fares in his first game action. Langi has been moved around by the coaches. They’re trying to see all the things he can do and look for him to play outside linebacker and down as a defensive end tonight.

Jacksonville’s offensive line has a lot of issues right now. There are at least two starting spots wide open for competition. So this will be a good test for both teams to see how their players are coming along.

How Will Jimmy Garoppolo Fare in Game Action:
We know that Jimmy G. hasn’t had the greatest camp, but he’s never been the best practice player for some reason although he’s fared better during the games. Well at least initially, he’ll be playing with some very good weapons.  I would expect Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan to play a series or two tonight. Coupled with Dwayne Allen at tight end, James White, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead coming out of the backfield, this will be a very good group to work with.

I’d expect to see Garoppolo play most of if not all of the first half. He should be able to lead the Patriots offense and get the unit clicking, especially when the above-named players are taking the field. Things to look for in his play, his decision-making, his processing of what he sees in front of him and his ability to get the ball out quickly and accurately.

Many people thought that this was the year that he may push Tom Brady a bit for the reins to the offense. That hasn’t come close to happening yet. Brady is still head and shoulders far above him. But he must be ready to take over in a pinch and tonight we’ll be watching how he looks in the starting role.

Look for the Patriots to test the waters deep Thursday night with Chris Hogan and Brandin Cooks. (SBalestrieri photo)

Secondary Looks Strong, But This May Not be the Best Test:
Thus far in camp, the Patriots corners, Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones have been very solid. They bring the physical element to the game and contest everything thrown at them. Rowe probably won’t play as he’s been dinged up a bit but that will still leave the other three to watch for the probably the first quarter.

Jacksonville has some very good wide receivers in Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns with Marcedes Lewis at tight end but the problem with them has been getting them the football. The quarterback play in camp so far has been spotty at best and that’s what we saw in the two days of joint practices. Blake Bortles and Chad Henne were not doing a good enough job of getting their skill players the football during the 11-on-11 team drills. On the first day, they were a combined 8-22, on Day 2 they didn’t fare much better.

With the largely vanilla schemes on defense in the preseason, the time may be right to see Bortles and Henne open things up a bit and see the field a bit better. In which case the Jaguars receivers will provide a solid first test for the Patriots secondary. But after what we’ve seen in the two practices, the Jags quarterback situation may preclude that.

Let’s See Some of the Running Game This Week:
With LeGarrette Blount in Philadelphia now, the Patriots running game will definitely have a different look and feel to it in 2017. Gillislee has been slowed by a balky hamstring so I don’t expect to see him tonight. But the team has a lot of players who could see some significant snaps trying to earn a roster or practice squad slot.

In the early going, I am intrigued to see how Rex Burkhead fares in his Patriots debut. He’s been an intriguing player to watch in camp as he brings the element of both running and catching to the mix. Dion Lewis looks back to full health and I’d expect the team to give him a few reps early in the game along with James White.

But later in the game, D.J. Foster who is very quick out of the backfield is fighting for a roster spot. I’d look for him to get a ton of reps as the receiving back out of the backfield. Brandon Bolden who has gotten a lot of work with Gillislee on the shelf and LeShun Daniels will handle the heavy lifting in the running game between the tackles.

Time for the Young Players to Shine:
Invariably during these preseason games, especially the early ones, a couple of the unheralded undrafted free agent players step to the forefront. It seems every year the Patriots have one UDFA who not only makes the roster but contributes some meaningful snaps during the season.

We’ve already mentioned Langi above but the team has several to keep an eye on this week. Wide receiver Austin Carr has made some nice catches this summer and has struggled to get separation at times as well. He’s a guy to watch tonight. CB Kenny Moore has been around the ball making plays all summer, he and fellow rookie Will Likely are players to watch. TE Jacob Hollister is a move-tight end that has the speed to get separation and attack the seams, this may factor in later.

Some of the players who have been on the team and are on the bubble this summer will bear watching. CB Justin Coleman, WR Devin Lucien who has had a strong camp thus far and CB/KR Cyrus Jones. Jones it should be noted, dropped his first kick of the summer and hasn’t had an issue since. He’ll be watched closely in Year 2 and much will be expected of him in the return game in 2017.

Bonus Note:
It will be interesting to see how Patriots fans respond to Mark Brunell who does the color commentary for the Jaguars radio network tonight. Brunell had the famous crying jag (no pun intended) on ESPN after the news of Deflategate broke.

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.

Tuesday Patriots Joint Practice With Jax Quick Observations

Steve Balestrieri
August 8, 2017 at 4:24 pm ET

Gronkowski Makes His Presence Known

The Patriots wrapped up their 11th practice of the 2017 training camp and their second joint practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two teams have a walk-thru scheduled for Wednesday and the first preseason game of the year for each team is on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

The teams got some good work in these past two days but the intensity level, while very competitive wasn’t up as high as we pictured it to be.

But the story of the day was Rob Gronkowski, a day after we wrote that it appeared like the Patriots were limiting his workload and had only a single catch, the big man was immense today. He was dominant in the 1-on-1 matchups and during 7s and full team 11-on-11 work, Gronk was uncoverable. He and Tom Brady had their chemistry going full bore Tuesday and the Jaguars were struggling to match up. During the 7s session, Gronk hit the end zone four times and added a pair more in full 11s.

Rob Gronkowski had a monster, Gronk, type of day on Tuesday. (SBalestrieri photo)

Our favorite part of the individual drills, (albeit the most difficult to see) is the linemen during the 1-on-1 matchups. And if today was any indication, the Patriots defense should have a very good night on Thursday.

Trey Flowers was winning every matchup we saw and rookie Deatrich Wise was impressive, beating Jaguars starting left tackle Cam Robinson twice… Harvey Langi was particularly impressive, showing not only speed but power. He deposited backup right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi on his butt which drew some audible chatter from the press area.  Adam Butler continued a solid camp with some impressive work in the drills as well.

Despite having a very deep roster, four rookies have seen significant snaps with the first unit defense and they should see a ton of work on Thursday night. Wise and Derek Rivers, Langi and Butler have all gotten time with the first unit with some of the veterans of the team on the shelf right now.

No Shows: Alan Branch, Dont’a Hightower (PUP) and Andrew Jelks (NFI) didn’t practice but were there in sweats. Matthew Slater, Shea McClellin, Eric Rowe, Trevor Bates and Ton Garcia were absent. Mike Gillislee, Danny Amendola, Nate Solder, James O’Shaughnessy, Cody Hollister, Vincent Valentine and David Jones worked with the training staff of the lower fields.

Stephon Gilmore and Duron teamed up for a nice pass breakup on a deep pass to Allen Robinson. (SBalestrieri photo)

Quick Hitters:

  • Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Brandin Cooks were very impressive during 1-on-1s.
  • A couple of scary moments, Matt Lengel went down hard in the end zone and seemed to be favoring his left hip. But he returned later and appeared fine. Kony Ealy hurt his arm and was getting worked on by the training staff. He too returned and seemed fine.
  • The Patriots had a number of drops again, Sam Cotton had two, Rex Burkhead, Edelman, and Tony Washington each had drops.
  • During “opportunity time” with the third unit, Jacoby Brissett struggled again, throwing a bad interception. When the offense couldn’t get it in the end zone on 4th down during a goal line drill, the entire unit to include Bill Belichick did pushups.
  • The Jaguars QBs were struggling again and completed only around a third of their passes. The Patriots defense got good pressure on them and the secondary play was tight
  • Malcolm Butler had some good battles with Marqise Lee again, he was beaten during the 1-on-1 drills but during full team sessions, he knocked down a pair of passes. And safety Duron Harmon got his hand on one as well.
  • Stephon Gilmore made a nice diving play knocking down a pass that was thrown to Allen Robinson.
  • Brady hooked up nicely with Brandin Cooks on a 15-yard back shoulder throw. Cooks sold the deep route and as soon as he turned, the ball was there.
  • Malcolm Mitchell gave a shake-and-bake move to corner Stanley Jean-Baptiste and left him grabbing air.
  • During 11s, Brady hit Dwayne Allen with a perfect play action pass down the seam where he had the clear separation from coverage.

Play of the Day: Malcolm Butler was covering Marqise Lee during a red zone situation drill. Lee was trying run a quick slant, Butler had good coverage and read the QBs eyes. Blake Bortles stared down Lee and just as he let go of the ball, Butler jumped the route and broke up the play and came up with the ball as he rolled to the ground. The ball may have hit the ground, but it looked like a good interception from our vantage point.

Before practice started Bill Belichick addressed the media on the field and had some very nice things to say about now Hall of Fame Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor.

Mike Mayock was in the house as well as Tom Brady’s parents. After practice the NFL referees who were in attendance the past two days spoke with the media and took a question and answer session about the new rules in place for 2017. Pete Morelli gave the presentation and did a great job of answering a lot of questions. Chip Kelly was on the field as well Willie McGinest addressed the team as practice broke up and then did an interview with Tom Brady for the NFL Network.

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.