Category Archives: 2018 Patriots Offseason

As Preseason Super Bowl Rematch Nears, Lane Johnson Is Back Talking Patriots

Robert Alvarez
August 13, 2018 at 9:22 pm ET

Don’t tell Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson that Thursday’s matchup with the Patriots is just another preseason game.

Johnson, who’s become notorious this year with outspoken remarks and criticisms about the team he won his first ring against was back at it again on local Philadelphia radio Monday morning.

“I’m ready,” Johnson told KYW Philadelphia. “I’ve been waiting on this ever since the Super Bowl was over with. It’s time.”

Johnson has previously called the Patriots are a “fear-based organization” that is filled with “arrogance” and “no fun”.

The Patriots and Eagles don’t meet in the 2018 regular season for a Super Bowl rematch that counts but Johnson didn’t seem too concerned about his reception at Gillette Stadium regardless of the timing.

“They know who I am on film,” Johnson said. “They know who we are on film. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

New England Patriots News 8-12, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
August 12, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, Here is your Sunday’s Patriots news 8-12, & AFC East Notes. The Patriots are getting to back work this afternoon after their first preseason game on Thursday night. Bill Belichick has been taking a slower approach to training camp, having given the players several days off already. Belichick did say that the long 2017 season and the increased workload on the players definitely have an effect on how they approach the workload for the current training camp.

And lost in all the Malcolm Butler hoopla was this. On the Packers first drive of their preseason game against Tennessee, Brett Hundley completed a 48-yard bomb to Davante Adams who blew by Butler, giving the Packers a first and goal at the two. Maybe it is the conspiracy theorist in me, but if Butler had picked it off and went to the house, what would you think the odds would be that the play would have been all over the sports talk radio world?

Quick Hitters:  
With many missed tackles in the first preseason game and some general sloppy tackling all around, one reason (other than rust) could be the lack of live tackling and physicality in practice. It will be interesting to watch if that ramps up a bit now.

Ralph Webb had a really nice night in his professional debut scoring a pair of touchdowns and two, 2-pt conversions.  The former Vanderbilt running back was called up by Bill Belichick for congratulations after the team’s win and in his post-game press conference, Belichick had several compliments for the rookie. Washington lost very promising rookie RB Derrius Guice to a torn ACL for the season in the game. They stated that for the time being, they were going to stay with the players they have. However, Webb is still a longshot to make the 53-man roster. If the Patriots try to sneak him onto the practice squad in a few weeks, don’t be shocked if the Redskins make a move to bring him to their squad after his game this week.

Tom Brady’s $5 million dollar incentive clause into his contract was a head scratcher earlier this week. If earned, that $5 million will vault Brady up into the Top 10 of QB salaries, tied with Blake Bortles but less than Sam Darnold, who has yet to throw a pass in the NFL yet. Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston called it a band-aid fix and we’re inclined to agree here. A look at the list of QBs making more money than Brady, other than Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers is a Who’s Who? Of QBs having never accomplished a smidgen of what Brady’s done. So his contract, even at 41 is still a bargain. But tying the $5 million to incentives? Really? I don’t get that one.

Terrible setback for Pats LB Harvey Langi who made the roster in 2017 and then was in an awful car wreck last fall while stopped at a red light. Langi returned this year and had been having a good camp thus far until he took a hit to his side and suffered an internal laceration according to Jeff Howe of the Athletic. Because of concerns to his kidney, he will be out 4-5 weeks.

Very sad news about former Patriots LB Jerod Mayo and his 5-year old Bulldog who went missing after supposedly going for a walk with the dog’s trainer. The family and police searched for the dog and after two months the dog’s body was found in plastic bags inside a closet in the trainer’s house outside of Cranston, RI. The trainer, Amelia Ferreira told Wrentham, MA police the dog Knox, disappeared after slipping his leash at a conservation area in Wrentham. Charges are pending. And hopefully will be severe.

Derek Rivers Looks Strong in First Game Back From ACL Tear:
Less than a year removed from his torn ACL surgery, not only was DE Derek Rivers back on the field, he played at a high level showing good physicality and exceptional strength. The 2nd year player got the start at defensive end and had several good plays.

Derek Rivers during 2016 training camp. (SBalestrieri photo)

Perhaps his best was when he bull rushed Redskins tackle, John Kling. Rivers exploded off the snap and had Kling on roller skates. He then gave Kling a big shove pushing him into QB Colt McCoy and getting his hand up trying to knock down the pass attempt. The move against Kling is a total body type of movement from Rivers who when asked about his ACL and repaired knee from Henry McKenna of USA Today said, “It felt awesome,” Rivers said. “No complaints. Praise God.”

Make no mistake, the mental part of getting over an ACL injury is the biggest hurdle. This summer I spoke with UMass Medical Center Dr. Brian Busconi, who has performed hundreds of ACL surgeries on MLB and NFL as well as college and high school athletes. It was rumored he performed the surgery on Julian Edelman. Busconi would neither confirm or deny it, however, a signed picture of Edelman hangs in the office and a source of ours passed Edelman in the office earlier this summer. So take it for what it is worth.

Busconi said the surgery was only 30 percent of the fix for the athlete. The other 70 percent was doing the rehab work, strengthening the muscles that will atrophy because of the injury and the resultant layoff and most importantly, the mental hurdle to test the joint once it is ready. Edelman admitted last week he “doesn’t have his football legs” back under him yet. He looks to be in terrific shape, it is probably more a mental block more than anything.

That’s why it was so important for Rivers (and Edelman) to get out on the field and run and cut and do all the things they did without thinking prior to their injury. Rivers looked good for the most part, he also had his not-so-good moments as well. On one play, he ducked his head and lost the running back, who zipped past his gap for a big gain.

However, for the first preseason game and after a year layoff from the field, Rivers took a great big leap back to being part of the edge player rotation. With Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn expected to be the starters, he and Deatrich Wise could combine and form a much better group at getting after the QB in 2018.

He leaped over the first hurdle. We’ll be watching him next week closely to see if he can continue to improve and produce when the Patriots play the Eagles in Week 2 of the preseason.

Hightower on the Block? Troy Brown Thinks It Could be a Possibility:

The Patriots welcomed back linebacker Dont’a Hightower in his first game action since October after the big man went on IR last season. Hightower played extensively, into the second quarter. At the time, we thought it nothing more than the coaching staff wanting to shake off the rust after not playing for about 10 months. But after the game, former Patriots WR Troy Brown thought the Patriots may be shopping the big LB.

Dont’a Hightower is back and played into the second quarter against Washington. (SBalestrieri photo)

Brown on NBC Sports Boston said, “Sometimes you gotta put people on the market and let people see what they can do.” At first glance, that stance would appear to be ludicrous, no one was more instrumental to the Patriots defense, Hightower was the one player on defense that they could ill afford to lose. While the talk centered around Malcolm Butler after the Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia, the absence of Hightower was a far greater loss overall.

Brown doubled down on his thought by adding, “You have to ask yourself…why is he still out there so long?” Assuming his take is correct, who would they trade Hightower to and what could they get in return that would help the team? Unless they’re making a push to the Raiders with Hightower a piece of a package for Khalil Mack, then it wouldn’t make sense.

From our view, we’re sticking with the “knocking the rust off”  scenario, but we’ve seen stranger things in Foxboro in the past.  

Bentley Makes a Strong Debut at Linebacker:
Ja’Whaun Bentley, the Patriots fifth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft wasn’t highly thought of when he was going thru the draft process, in fact, was considered to be a UDFA and wasn’t even invited to the NFL Combine. But the Patriots liked what they saw from the big Purdue linebacker in his first NFL preseason action.

Bentley had six tackles, two for a loss and QB hit and should have been credited with a forced fumble that the officials ruled forward progress had been stopped. A play Bill Belichick tried to challenge and when told he couldn’t, said it was “F***ing BS.”

Bentley was considered a Brandon Spikes throwback, a two-down run stuffer who couldn’t cover on passing downs. So far, he’s proving the critics wrong. He has had a strong training camp and followed it up with good performance in the opening PS game.

Rookie LB Ja’Whaun Bentley has been impressive thus far thru camp, especially in coverage. (SBalestrieri photo)

“I just wanted to come out and put my best foot forward to do the best I could as far as assignments and just make sure all my guys were ready to go,” Bentley said. “And I feel like we did a good job of that. Of course, we got some kinks to work out, but we did a very good job.”

Bentley also had some time calling the signals with the green dot communication device which is a great learning step for a rookie on the defense to be able to learn his responsibilities but also everyone else’s to call out the signals is a testament to his learning the system quickly.

His best play came in the first half. With the Redskins inside the three-yard line, they tried to pound the ball in the middle for a touchdown. Bentley, at his MLB position, read the play, waited for the right time until the RB committed and flew into the hole, dropping him for no gain.

He still has a long way to go but for now, he’s looking very good and appears to be almost a lock for the 53-man roster.

Jeremy Hill Buys In, And Shows Impressive Burst in Opener:
After a disappointing 2017 from Mike Gillislee, the Patriots drafted Sony Michel this spring and then added veteran Jeremy Hill who had lost his starting gig with the Bengals. Hill is bigger (6’1, 230 pounds) than most of the Patriots running backs, but it is something they need for certain situations, (goal line and short-yardage) with the offense.

Hill, whose snaps and numbers have steadily gone down in Cincinnati, at first glance didn’t seem like a good fit. But Hill had surgery to remove some bone spurs in his ankles. He also bought into the Patriots offseason conditioning system and lost weight in an attempt to add a bit of quickness to his step.

Jeremy Hill had a big game on Thursday night and is looking to turn that into a roster spot. (SBalestrieri photo)

He certainly appeared that way on Thursday night, hitting the holes with authority and showing nice vision cutting back against the grain. He appeared much quicker than Gillislee with the ability to convert those short-yardage situations.

His ability to flash in the passing game helped. Facing a 3rd and 8 from the 30-yard line midway thru the third quarter, Hill caught a short pass from QB Brian Hoyer and then made the first tackler miss and was able to convert the first down by stiff-arming a linebacker and then lowering his head and getting past the sticks.

The Patriots insist all of their running backs pass block as well and Hill had a highlight reel play when he planted LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, giving Hoyer time to hit FB Henry Poggi on a check down out of the backfield.

Again, there is a long way to go, but Hill with his performance didn’t do a thing to hurt his chances to not only make the team but earn some significant snaps. Especially with Sony Michel on the shelf for the time being.

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills Allen Has Buffalo Abuzz After Preseason Debut:
The Buffalo Bills played the Carolina Panthers in their Week 1 preseason opener but it was strictly the Josh Allen show for the fans, and who can blame them? The Bills fans have been waiting for that next franchise QB since Jim Kelly retired. And after moving up to take him in the first round of the NFL Draft this spring, fans are excited.

Head coach Sean McDermott wasted little time in letting Allen uncork his arm which is his strongest asset. He lasered a 60-yard pass downfield on his first snap which was caught by WR Robert Foster but just out of bounds.

Yes, his footwork is inconsistent and his decision making can still be suspect but Allen possesses a cannon for an arm and it as well as his playmaking ability were on full display. He completed 9 of 19 for 119 yards and a touchdown while rushing three times for 29 yards, twice converting third downs with his feet.

For now, he’ll remain the 3rd QB on the depth chart and be the future. But Buffalo fans caught a glimpse of that and can’t wait for him to be the present.

Dolphins Tannehill Aces First Test:
The Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill played his first football since the 2016 season in an albeit short but impressive stint against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tannehill played a series and took the Dolphins into field goal range but the most important feature was that he looked comfortable, cool in the pocket and in control of the offense. The offensive line gave him plenty of time to throw, coach Adam Gase said Tannehill was “back there peeling an orange.” to push home the point.

One thing that the Dolphins seem intent on doing is getting Mike Gesicki the ball in the end zone and that combination with the big rookie TE and Tannehill looks intriguing. We’ll expect to see more of it next week against Carolina.

Jets QBs Shine In Preseason Win Over Atlanta:
The New York Jets unleashed rookie QB Sam Darnold in their preseason opener and the rookie taken with the #3 pick in the draft didn’t disappoint. Darnold shined, completing 13-18 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown in a little over two-quarters worth of work. He received thunderous applause from the Jets fans and didn’t disappoint, hitting on eight of his first 9 throws.

Teddy Bridgewater on his first action of the season after returning from an injury was also very sharp hitting on 7-9 for 85 yards including a 16-yard touchdown. Coach Todd Bowles said Darnold looked poised out there and it is clear that the Jets organization is going to give Darnold every opportunity to win the starting job over veterans Josh McCown and Bridgewater.

McCown started the game but played only one series and completed the only pass he attempted for four yards. It will be interesting to see how the Jets decide to play this out. While the temptation is there to get Darnold on the field, with two good veterans, there should no attempt to rush him into the starting lineup until he’s ready for it.

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 Ground Game Provides Comeback in 26-17 Win Over Washington

Steve Balestrieri
August 10, 2018 at 7:07 am ET

After the offense looked lost until the final minute and a half of the first half and trailing 17-0, the Patriots offense finally got it going. After Brian Hoyer and Devin Lucien got the air attack going to kick a field goal just before the half, in the second half we saw what the coaches had been having the team practice for most of training camp thus far.

Jeremy Hill and UDFA rookie Ralph Webb keyed a Patriots ground game that pounded the ball relentlessly against the Redskins front seven. There was nothing fancy about it, they just lined up in a two-tight end set and drove the ball down their throat.

With Hoyer under center, the Pats took the second half kick off and ate up over 10 minutes of the clock on an 18-play drive before Hill pushed it in from the one-yard line to make it 17-10. Webb added a pair of touchdowns and two 2-pt conversions as the Pats scored 26 unanswered points to come away with the preseason win.

With Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel not playing in the first preseason tilt, Brian Hoyer started and played into the fourth quarter. He finished with 16 completions in 23 passes for 144 yards. Danny Etling came on in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots defense looked shaky in the first half and Washington and Colt McCoy were gashing them time and again as they were moving seemingly at will. McCoy finished 13-18 for 189 yards with two TDs and 259 yards of offense against a group of ostensibly the Patriots starters.

McCoy found a mismatch with RB Byron Marshall on LB Kyle Van Noy and they converted a third and seven for a 25-yard touchdown that had all of New England having flashbacks to the 2017 season and the Super Bowl.

The timing of the New England offense was really off in the first couple of drives. But give Washington credit. They provided really solid coverage early in the game. Hoyer on several occasions had time to throw but nowhere to throw to.

Hoyer finally got them going late in the half and connected with Lucien to move into Redskins territory where Stephen Gostkowski booted a 52-yard field goal just before the half to get the Pats on the board.

In the second half, it was the running game with Hill and Webb and a chance to see some of the backup defensive players show what they can do. UDFA DE “Tool Box” Trent Harris showed some nice moves getting a tackle for a loss in the backfield and a strip sack. Geneo Grissom alertly picked up the ball and was racing for what appeared to be a touchdown. CB Ryan Lewis began celebrating early and allowed a Redskin player to tackle Grissom at the one-yard line rather than block for him. The film room won’t be kind to Lewis today.

It is their first preseason game so I wouldn’t put too much stock in this one. But here are the Ups and Downs for Week 1.

Players Up:

Jeremy Hill – Hill showed nice burst, vision, and cut-back ability against the grain. Something an established veteran should. He made a nice catch and run in the passing game to convert a third and long. He finished with 51 yards on 11 carries and was impressive in his first outing. Player of the game for New England

Ralph Webb – The rookie running back didn’t do a thing to hurt his chances of sticking with his performance. He ran hard and decisively and made a nice grab of a low throw from Hoyer on the 2-pt try. Two TDs and a pair of 2-pt conversions…good debut.

Devin Lucien – With the Patriots offense looking offensive in the first half, he got them going just before halftime with a couple of catches to put them in position to get some points on the board. Finished with 71 yards on five catches and was easily the best WR on the field for the Pats.

Derek Rivers – Just a year removed from an ACL tear, he started the game at left DE and was moving well. A very encouraging sign. Showed good strength on the edge.

Trent Harris/Keionta Davis – The young players who are longshots to make the roster were playing against the third stringers in the second half, but the important thing was, they were productive. In their first NFL action, each flashed a bit, which is something to build on.

Run blocking OL – The Patriots offensive line in the second half had to have Dante Scarnecchia smiling. They lined up showing run and did just that. When you have a 41-year old QB, a pounding ground game doesn’t hurt.

Ja’Whaun Bentley – The rookie MLB flashed some potential inside to be a guy who could contribute this season. And if he can play, it would free up Dont’a Hightower to move around.

Players Down:

Stephon Gilmore – After an outstanding spring/summer, Gilmore wasn’t the same person on the field Thursday night. He was targeted three times and gave up all three completions.

Mike Gillislee – Slow to the hole, tentative and not productive. In a fight to keep his roster spot with Hill, Gillislee took a big step back tonight. Was stuffed on a couple of 3rd and short runs (sounds familiar?) although he converted a pair of 4th down runs right after.

Riley McCarron – With Etling in the game in the 4th quarter, he felt the pressure from the outside and stepped up in the pocket and delivered a bullet down the seam to McCarron. He let the ball come into his body and the pass bounced off his pads incomplete. Those are drive killers.

Phillip Dorsett – Was the opposite of what we’ve seen thru two weeks of training camp. Was a total non-factor and ran a sloppy route on third down. Not a good start.

Jordan Richards – Out of position (how many times do we say this?) and missed tackles. Was later knocked out with an injury.

PHOTO: Bill Belichick Attends Red Sox Yankees Game

Robert Alvarez
August 6, 2018 at 11:45 pm ET

The united Boston sports scene was on full display Sunday night when ESPN Sunday Njght Baseball cameras caught Patriots head coach Bill Belichick taking in the final game of a four game series between the Red Sox and rival New York Yankees.

Belichick watched the Red Sox dramatic come from behind victory from team general manager Dave Dombrowski’s private box with his girlfriend Linda Holliday and longtime close friend and former MLB manager Tony

The Red Sox would sweep the Yankees by a final score of 5-4 after rallying for 4 runs in the ninth and tenth innings.

It appears “no fun” Bill had an entertaining Sunday night before his team prepares for its first preseason game Thursday night against the Redskins.

Patriots Release Wide Receiver Malcolm Mitchell

Steve Balestrieri
at 3:11 pm ET

The Patriots are releasing wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, according to NFL insider Jason La Canfora.

Knee issues have dogged Mitchell since his playing days at Georgia and are the cause of his release. The Patriots tried unsuccessfully to shop Mitchell around this summer but his inability to get on the field had no interested parties.

Mitchell, who just turned 25, was a key contributor in the Patriots Super Bowl run in 2016. He caught 32 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie, nearly all of it in the second half of the season. He missed part of that season with an elbow injury but came back and earned the trust of Tom Brady. He steadily gained confidence and was a huge part of the 4th quarter comeback against the Falcons in the Super Bowl.

He caught five passes for 63 yards in the second half of the Super Bowl.

His future looked bright, however,  the very same knee issues robbed him of 2017. He never made it onto the field last season and his knee woes held him to just a couple of all-too-brief cameos this spring. That led to the Patriots shopping him unsuccessfully.

The team can either convert him to IR again with an injury settlement or outright release him, depending upon the health of his knee. It is a case of oh-so-close for the talented wide receiver.

So where does this leave the team? In the short term, it immediately opens up a roster spot, despite the fact he hadn’t been practicing. That will be filled quickly. But it was clear before training camp even began that Mitchell wasn’t going to be in the team’s plans for 2018.

With Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Eric Decker, Kenny Britt, and younger players Riley McCarron, Braxton Berrios, Devin Lucien and Paul Turner, they have enough depth to carry them through the season. Although Britt too has missed some valuable time this camp. Julian Edelman will miss the first month of the season due to his suspension.

As we posted in our 53-man roster projection this morning, Mitchell wasn’t on the roster and youngsters Berrios and McCarron were still on the outside looking in for a roster spot.

It is a shame to see a player as talented as Mitchell lose his career on an injury. But the chances of another team taking a flyer on him at this point would remain pretty slim.

Patriots 53-man Roster Projection 2.0, Training Camp Opens

Steve Balestrieri
at 7:30 am ET

With the first week-plus of the Patriots 2018 training camp in the books, it is time to do another look at our New England Patriots 53-man roster projection. So far, without the benefit of an actual game situation of a preseason game, we’ll have to go with what we’ve seen in the practice sessions thus far.

This week’s first tilt against the Redskins ought to be very interesting of how things begin to play out, especially with some players being hurt already.

Offense –
Quarterbacks: (2)
Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer

In our first roster projection, we had them going with three QBs and Etling making the 53 man roster. In this one, he’s going to the practice squad as they’ll need that slot elsewhere. Is there a chance someone swoops in and takes him away? Not really at this point. So he should be safe

Sony Michel is currently on the shelf with a knee injury. (SBalestrieri photo)


Running backs: (6)

Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Jeremy Hill, Brandon Bolden, James Develin

Sony Michel suffered a knee injury on Wednesday that will have him out for a while after having his knee drained of fluid. It is a big setback for his development. But Burkhead, White, and Hill seem poised to be fine for now. Hill could lose his spot if Michel is given a clean bill of health early.  Bolden makes the cut this time for his STs ability. Develin is the fullback and isn’t going anywhere.

Tight ends: (3)
Rob Gronkowski, Jacob Hollister, Dwayne Allen

No changes here. Hollister is having a very solid summer and is working his way into Tom Brady’s “Circle of Trust” which is a very good sign. No one is stepping up to challenge Allen for his blocking TE prowess and he’s looking better in the passing game. Gronkowski looks to be on a pitch count and has been very sharp.

Patterson is working his way into the offense. (SBalestrieri photo)


Wide Receivers: (6)
Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Eric Decker, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kenny Britt, Matthew Slater, (Suspended: Julian Edelman)

Edelman’s suspension is a big loss for the first month but may prove to be a blessing. He was complaining this week, that he’s not feeling in shape yet, or as he termed it, “football shape.” Jordan Matthews’ injury was also a blow and then the team signed Decker, who isn’t a lock yet and has only practiced once. But he’ll have to show he fits in. For now, he’s in.

Dorsett is having a good summer (Ditto for Patterson),  and his move inside is looking like a smart one. Britt is just getting back on the field but has plenty of time to get caught up now. Both Riley McCarron and Braxton Berrios go to the practice squad but are just a step away from active roster because of punt return duties, however, if anyone else gets hurt or stumbles, they could move up. Slater who is a WR in name only makes the cut too.

Offensive line: (8)
Trent Brown, Isaiah Wynn, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Joe Thuney, Brian Schwenke, LaAdrian Waddle

The state of the offensive line is still a bit in flux, but Trent Brown is looking like the left tackle for now. Isaiah Wynn has struggled with his consistency right now, not surprising for a rookie but he’s going to challenge for either the LT or LG position soon. I could see Cole Croston or Ted Karras easily slipping up here as well.

Defense
Defensive line: (8)
Trey Flowers, Malcom Brown, Danny Shelton, Adrian Clayborn, Deatrich Wise, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine, Derek Rivers

No changes here, Adam Butler could easily step into a spot here. Wise has looked outstanding thus far. Flowers and Clayborn have been ok, but are probably pacing themselves. Rivers is coming on again and will be really intriguing to watch. I like what I’ve seen from 2nd-year edge player Keionta Davis in very limited views. He may rate a practice squad role.

Dont’a Hightower’s return is a big key for the Pats defense. (SBalestrieri photo)

Linebacker: (7)

Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Harvey Langi, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Marquis Flowers, Elandon Roberts, Brandon King

Christian Sam has been invisible so far and goes to the practice squad. Both Roberts and Bentley make the roster and each has had good moments. Having a healthy Hightower back this fall is a must. Van Noy and Flowers are having good camps thus far.  King is an ST ace but practices with the LBs.

Cornerback: (6)
Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Eric Rowe, Duke Dawson, J.C. Jackson, Ryan Lewis (PUP: Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones)

Gilmore is having a tremendous offseason. McCourty and Rowe and rounding into form. Dawson has looked mostly good in the slot. But Jackson, who shined in minicamp continues solid play. Lewis, the 2nd year corner from the practice squad, has the size and has played very well this summer. His rise bumps 7th rounder Crossen off the roster as the rookie has had trouble staying on the field with back spasms.

Cyrus Jones could still be the team’s punt returner but he hasn’t been seen on the field yet, still recovering from ACL surgery and begins the year (with Jonathan Jones) on PUP.

Stephon Gilmore, seen here breaking up a pass to Hogan has had a terrific offseason. (SBalestrieri photo)

Safety: (4)
Devin McCourty, Pat Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner

Once again I’m leaving Jordan Richards off the roster but Bill will prove me wrong again. He actually has made some good plays so far in camp but has also been roasted fairly regularly. Eddie Pleasant could easily change the coaches’ minds about his status and has been okay. The position is solid with the top three…but I am still stinging over the Titans signing Kenny Vaccaro this week.

Specialists: (3)
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Ryan Allen, long-snapper Joe Cardona

Allen now noses just above Corey Bojorquez, who has the much stronger leg but still struggles with his consistency. But this battle will go back and forth right until the final roster cuts. Gostkowski and Cardona have no competition in camp and are locks.

 

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 8-05, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
August 5, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, Here is your Sunday’s Patriots news 8-05, & AFC East Notes. The Patriots are getting the day off today from training camp, but we hope to see many of you down there in the coming days as the team gears up for their first preseason game.

Quick Hitters:

Sony Michel who left practice early on Wednesday with an injury to his already damaged knee, had a procedure done to drain the knee. He’s expected to be sidelined for at least 10 days but it could be that we won’t see Michel until the first game of the regular season. It is a waiting game at this point. But that was the drawback of drafting Michel, he’s had knee woes before. Hopefully this won’t be a long-term issue but regardless, it definitely sets back his progression in a big way

With the birthday of Tom Brady on Friday, the Patriots made enough birthday cake for Brady and 5000 of his fans. Shaped in a big #12, the cake consisted of 2000 eggs, 250 pounds of sugar, etc … all of which are usually strictly off-limits for Brady’s diet. He was surprised after practice by his wife and kids on the field. And was serenaded by both fans and teammates as he got a rare off-day in training camp.

Julian Edelman told the media on Friday that recovering from last year’s ACL tear has been a “grind” on the field. Edelman said that “I feel like I got to get my legs under me a lot more. I don’t have my camp legs, I don’t have football legs, and it’s evident out there.”

Training camp he added has been difficult,  “You get tired, you create bad habits, you don’t run your routes right and you get yelled at in meetings for it. I’m expecting to do that because I got to pick it up,” he said. “I wasn’t as good as I want to be today and feeling that’s because I’m not in the best shape right now.”

Riley McCarron is having a pretty good training camp thus far, the 2nd year practice squad player is vying for one of the Patriots WR spots on the roster. McCarron and Braxton Berrios are almost mirror images competing against one another for the slot/PR duties. Both are similarly built can return punts and good in the middle of the field. While there is a long way to go, McCarron may be slightly ahead of the rookie at this point, but this will bear very close watching once the preseason games begin.

Riley McCarron has had a good start to training camp. (SBalestrieri photo)

J.C. Jackson has been having a strong offseason, dating back to OTAs. The UDFA from Maryland has been getting some reps opposite Stephon Gilmore and has competed hard and showed nice flashes of potential. He shook off a rookie mistake against Chris Hogan, not locating the ball in time on a 50+-yard completion by breaking up a pass in the end zone and intercepting a two-point conversion try.

Kenny Britt, Matthew Slater, and Mike Gillislee returned to practice after missing time due to injuries. That is a good sign as injuries, most of the non-serious nature begin to pile up.

Hollister Seems Primed for a Big Year 2 Jump:

The Patriots signed UDFA  TE Jacob Hollister a year ago and he flashed enough athleticism, good hands and toughness to make the team. After playing sparingly in 2017, he set about to improve his all-around game starting with becoming a better blocker in the running game. He looks a tad more chiseled this season after a year in the strength and conditioning program but his pass catching looks right on schedule.

Hollister has made several standout plays during the first week of training camp. Showing good hands and the ability to find the open areas of coverage and attack the seams of the defense, Hollister is a much more fluid receiver than the current #2 Dwayne Allen, but Allen’s blocking skills remain his strong suit.

Bill Belichick was asked about Hollister this week and gave (for him) an almost glowing recommendation. “He’s still got a long way to go. He has a lot of football in front of him. He didn’t have a lot of experience–had some–but has gained a lot and will gain a lot more. I think he’s got a great future, Belichick said.  “He works hard, he’s a tough kid, he plays hard, practices hard and has become much better at his fundamentals and techniques at his position.”

While the highlighted text was my doing, this kind of praise is rare from Belichick. And he’s right, although he says this about everyone, Hollister still has a long way to go. But he’s definitely arcing in the right direction. With the uncertainty at the WR position as it sorts itself out, the Patriots offense could easily lean more on the running game and two tight end sets (12 personnel) in the first month of the season until Edelman returns.

Watching practice at training camp this week, Tom Brady usually throws a side session during Special Teams drills with his “Circle of Trust” receivers, normally Gronkowski, Hogan, and Edelman. Hollister was included in there this week a few times. That in itself is a very encouraging sign, we’ll see how the preseason plays out.

Jacob Hollister is looking much more comfortable in the passing offense in Year 2. (SBalestrieri photo)

Belichick Inserts Fun? Into Patriots Training Camp:

With the abundance of stories from players, some of whom have never stepped foot in the Patriots locker room that the team doesn’t have any fun, this week’s events should effectively put those to rest…well not really but you know what I mean.

On Monday Night, the in-stadium practice for the season ticket holders, Bill Belichick ended practice on an interesting note. He had rookie OL Isaiah Wynn back fielding a Ryan Allen punt. If Wynn catches the ball cleanly, the team was didn’t have night meetings on Monday night and could get a little extra rest.

With the team cheering him on, Wynn dropped the first attempt but caught the second, amid wild cheers from the players and fans and big smiles all around, even from Belichick.

Then on Thursday, Day 7 of camp, Belichick ended the practice by switching roles. The defense went on offense and vice versa. Watching Duron Harmon play QB and Tom Brady safety was, as Monty Python once said, “something completely different.”

The defense, especially QBs Harmon and Pat Chung struggled but the players loved it. Devin McCourty broke it down for the media as follows:

“We need a lot of practice,” McCourty said. “We need a little bit more rules. There was no running game. (The offense) dropped like nine into coverage and rushed two. They had a little bit of an advantage because they rushed (380-pound offensive tackle Trent Brown), so that’s like rushing three. It’s tough for us on offense, but hopefully, we do it again and we get another shot at those guys.”

It should be noted here that these are things that Belichick has done frequently in the past and it was not him reacting to the crap that is posted in social media, not that he would anyway. But for the team known as the buttoned-down all business Patriots, it is always good to see them lower the guard a bit.

Young Edge Rushers Look to Improve Pass Rush in 2018:
The front seven of the Patriots defense was beset by injuries in 2017 and that was the cause of many of their struggles. As much as people want to point at the lack of Malcolm Butler as the cause of Super Bowl failures, the absence of Dont’a Hightower was an even bigger factor in their struggles.

But initially, on paper, for now, things are changing for the better. The team added run stuffing DL Danny Shelton and he and returning from IR Vincent Valentine should really help the rotation inside. Hightower and Harvey Langi return from IR which should help the LB core play much better. But at the edge is where the team is looking to play much better in 2018.

 

The team went out and signed DE Adrian Clayborn during free agency. Clayborn isn’t a dynamic “hair on fire” pass rusher, but a very solid, big, veteran presence who should help solidify things. And the trio of young edge players, all just 24 years old should, with Clayborn be much better against the pass and the run.

Trey Flowers is the elder statesman of the DLine, having been there the longest but he’s still just reaching his peak where many predict an All-Pro season for him. Deatrich Wise is having an outstanding camp and is making a big jump in play so far this summer. And Derek Rivers, last year’s top draft choice who missed all of last year with an ACL injury is over that now and beginning to come on in the 2nd week of training camp. These players are the top 4 rotation that should help the defense be much improved in 2018.

Derek Rivers is getting his comfort level back after missing all of 2017 with a torn ACL. (SBalestrieri photo)

Eric Lee who played last year and the under-the-radar Keionta Davis who missed all of his 2017 rookie season with a neck injury and Trent Harris are all still in the mix. The front seven will bear considerable watching in the preseason but the edge players are the ones poised to look vastly different. We’ll keep you updated as camp rolls along.

Van Noy Trade Continues to Be a Steal For New England:

The Patriots traded just a 6th round draft choice for LB Kyle Van Noy in 2016, but the linebacker has worked his way into becoming a key contributor and leader in his second full season in New England.

With Dont’a Hightower injured last year, a lot was forced onto Van Noy’s plate including the mantle of leadership, something he’s embraced. Now with Hightower back, Van Noy can return to do the things he’s better suited for on the outside and is penciled in as a starter for 2018.

Bill Belichick was very complimentary about the level of play and the mentoring he’s shown with the younger players at one of his daily press conferences this week.

“Kyle’s done a really good job for us,” Belichick said. “He’s a player that didn’t start his career here but has come in and really has understood the way that we have tried to do things. He’s embraced it. He’s become very much of a leader in, A, doing his job and doing it the right way, but also helping other guys, particularly guys that transition onto the team as he did. He has a good perspective for that.”

The fact that the Patriots were able to snag the former 2nd round draft pick (40th overall) and a 7th rounder for just a 6th round pick has been an outright steal for Bill Belichick. They found a role for Van Noy and he’s met their expectations and has had more put on his plate. He should be much more effective with Hightower back in the fold this fall.

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills UDFA Phillips Impressive in First Week of Camp:
The Buffalo Bills signed Virginia Tech UDFA WR Cam Phillips to a deal this spring that paid him a signing bonus of just $600. Yep, that isn’t a typo, but the WR has used that slight to motivate him to earn the trust of his QBs and coaches. And the young WR is doing just that.

Phillips has shined in the first week of training camp that has many re-evaluating him as a long shot to make Buffalo’s 53-man roster to a player that now has a really good shot of doing so. Phillips has been making some big plays in practice every day, something that is getting the attention of the coaching staff.

With a WR position that is wide open, Phillips is making a spot for himself at the table. Now he’ll have the chance to do some work once the preseason games begin.

Dolphins Going With Three Safety Look This Season? Not yet says DC:
The Miami Dolphins already had a pair of talented safeties in Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald before drafting the very talented Minkah Fitzpatrick, the glue from the National Champion Alabama defense with the 11th overall pick in this year’s draft.

Now the issue is getting all of the pieces gainfully employed. Dolphins defensive coordinator was asked this week when he “has to” get the three of them on the field together. Burke wasn’t having any of it. “I don’t have to,” he said.

“We’re mixing the groups. What you’re probably not seeing is we’re repping guys at different spots but maybe not all together. So, there may be times where there are only two safeties on the field but one of them is playing a spot that they’d be playing when there are three safeties on the field if we’re going to do something like that.”

The three will eventually see the field in practice at the same time to iron out any potential issues they may encounter with communication. The Patriots use a similar grouping with Duron Harmon joining Devin McCourty and Pat Chung.

For now, it is still early in training camp for the Dolphins and it is a good problem to have as they an abundance of talent at the position.

Jets Tight End Position a Possible Achilles Heel in 2018:
The New York Jets may have made a mistake in letting TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins walk in free agency this spring. As it looks right now, they may struggle at the position in 2018. Jenkins is now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Jets don’t have an answer at this early stage of training camp.

In a piece written by Luis Tirado for the JetPress, Tirado says the Jets haven’t had Jordan Leggett who is injured and thus far Chris Herndon, Eric Tomlinson, Neal Sterling, and Clive Walford haven’t done anything to stand out positively.

Any quarterback’s security blanket is usually their tight end, it may be especially so if the Jets top draft Sam Darnold wins the starting job this summer once the preseason games begin. Without having a credible target at tight end will hurt even an established veteran like Josh McCown, with a young QB like Darnold, it could prove even more so.

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.

What Does the Eric Decker Signing Mean for the Patriots?

Steve Balestrieri
August 3, 2018 at 7:30 am ET

With the surprising news that Jordan Matthews’ injury was severe enough for the Patriots to place him on IR, the Patriots lost out on one of the key free agent signings they made this spring. The team ended up releasing Matthews, I’m thinking, at his request as he probably believes that he’ll be ready to go a lot sooner this season.

But back to the situation at hand, with Matthews gone, the Patriots saw this coming and worked Decker out before he was signed on Thursday. After nearly missing all of 2016 with the Jets, Decker signed with Tennessee and put decent but career low numbers since becoming an every-down player. He caught 54 passes for 563 yards (career-low 10.4 yards per reception) with just one touchdown. But he remains reliable, his 65 percent catch percentage was the second highest of his career.

Can he revert to something akin to his last two years with the Broncos or the first two with the Jets or has he permanently lost a step. Part of his stats could stem from the struggles of the Titans offense. Last season they were just 28th in passing attempts and 23rd in yardage. Catching passes from Tom Brady should be more akin to better stats than Marcus Mariota.

The biggest asset Decker brings to the Patriots is versatility. He can play outside as the Z- receiver or in the slot. As a slot guy, he’s much like Matthews, a bigger (6’3, 215 pounds) who relies on his size to box out smaller defenders. So how will the Patriots use Decker?

Without seeing him run yet in practice, I see Decker as the Z-wide receiver, not the X. He will be used to attack the middle depth routes and work the perimeter and the middle of the field. They can move him around to create matchups in the slot where he logged about 50 percent of the Titans’ snaps last year when the opportunity avails itself. Phillip Dorsett has been seeing a lot of reps in the slot this summer and he’s been one for the more impressive players on offense.

Right now, the wide receiver depth has Chris Hogan, Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Decker along with rookies Braxton Berrios and Darren Andrews with 2nd-year player Riley McCarron, and Paul Turner. Veteran Matthew Slater is a wide receiver in name only, he’s a special teamer. Veterans Kenny Britt and Matthew Mitchell are not practicing yet and are considered day to day. Julian Edelman will return to the team Week 5 when his suspension is finished.

Decker isn’t a lock to even make the team but I believe he’ll have enough in the tank to beat out one of the younger slot guys (Berrios/McCarron) but time will tell. He had just a tad of experience with Josh McDaniels in Denver during his rookie season.

While the loss of Matthews is a blow, we thought he’d be an integral member of the offense in 2018, it certainly isn’t a death knell. Why? The Patriots still have plenty of talent at the wide receiver position. They like Britt and he’s only a year removed from a 1000-yard season. Dorsett appears primed to shake off his first season blues and be a bigger contributor. Patterson is the wild card, he’s never been able to produce like he was thought to be when he arrived in the NFL. But the Patriots are intent on finding him a role.

And this team has so many other talented pass catchers at other positions. Rob Gronkowski is the gold standard among NFL tight ends. Jacob Hollister seems poised to make a big jump in production from Year 1 to Year 2 and has caught more passes from Brady this summer than anyone. And the production from Rex Burkhead, James White and Sony Michel at running back shouldn’t have anyone pushing the panic button.

So while I’d temper expectations a bit for Eric Decker right now, I think he’ll be fine here. He’s at the age where his one-year deal comes at a good time for him. He’ll be very visible with the Patriots nationally and could parlay this into one more good payday. I expect him to be a model teammate (unlike the other guy fans were clamoring for) and be “all-in” immediately.

While I have never been a big fan of Decker’s, the timing may be just right for him to come to New England and carve out a nice role for himself. His versatility will be a key facet in him being able to pick up the offense on the fly. Without being here all spring, and the first week of training camp, he’s well behind the rest of the receivers. However, it isn’t anything that can’t be overcome with hard work.

Orchestrating all of this is Tom Brady, who has taken the Patriots deep in the playoffs and to a Super Bowl with far less talent than he has right now with this offense. The loss of Matthews and Edelman (for a month) is a blow but this team will be just fine. They always start off a bit slow anyway. No reason to panic and sound the alarm. In one aspect of this, they were fortunate that the injury happened in the first week of training camp rather than Week 9 or 10.

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.

Deatrich Wise Intent on Making a Big Year 2 Jump in Play

Steve Balestrieri
July 30, 2018 at 8:00 am ET

Last year we were amazed at how mature DE Deatrich Wise looked for a rookie. He carried himself and had the look of a player well beyond his 23 years. Now just 24 and beginning his second season, Wise is relentlessly pursuing his craft with a never-ending search to improve and become a better, all-around, more productive edge defender.

Wise had a decently productive season in 2017 for a rookie and notched five sacks. But there were many times, the rookie found himself on the bench because he wasn’t quite up to snuff on his complete game. The learning curve is steep for all rookies and he was no exception.

Wise isn’t built like most edge rushers, he’s big and powerfully built, listed at 6’5, 275 pounds. While he doesn’t have the athleticism of a Trey Flowers who can drop into short area coverage in the flat at times, Wise would be at a severe disadvantage in a spot like that. But with his size and strength, he’s excellent at setting the edge and can generate the power to bull rush past offensive linemen.

Bill Belichick frequently says players normally make the biggest jump in play between Year 1 and Year 2 of their development.  Wise made a big splash on Day 3 of training camp when the pads came on when he decleated Jeremy Hill on an inside running play and sent the veteran RB flat on his back.

Vincent Valentine and Deatrich Wise get pointers from Coach Bret Bielema. (SBalestrieri photo)

He’s been one of the standout players on the Patriots defense thus far in training camp and after Sunday’s practice session ended around 11 a.m. Wise, Flowers and Derek Rivers stayed on the field working on their pass rush moves.

Flowers, the veteran was showing the two younger players a move, then the younger pair would emulate and they went on and on for about 45 minutes. Flowers then left the two second-year players to work on their own for another 10-15 minutes. Rivers then stopped and enjoyed a few moments with his family. Wise continued on, working on a sled with his hand moves under the watchful eye of his ex-college coach Bret Bielema.

Finally, he came over to speak with the assembled media. As big and physical as he is on the field, he’s very polite and soft-spoken off of it. He tried to answer every question thrown his way and gave detailed answers.

Asked what was the big difference he could feel between Year 1 and Year 2, Wise said that during his first training camp he was feeling his way as he went. Now he says,
“It’s about paying attention to detail, the small things, my hand placement, my pad level is correct…stuff like that.”

Wise added, “we, as a group, are just trying to get better every day, work on the small things, like I just said to make us better as a unit. We want to build the chemistry so that the d-line can thrive.”

He was asked about the addition of Adrian Clayborn and what he’s helped the younger players on the roster with. Wise was quick to point out that the addition wasn’t just Clayborn but Danny Shelton as well and the two experienced veterans bring a lot to the table that the younger players may not have. “They bring another part, another integral of the game that we can get better on.”

Wise spoke DL coach Brandon Daly’s philosophy which isn’t just about sacks but about disrupting the offense’s flow. “The coach is always telling us to be disruptive, if its a sack, PBUs (passes broken up), closing the pocket, containing the QB, getting your hand in his face, anything to disrupt the QB.”

What part of his game is he specifically looking to improve? He was asked. All of it he replied. Wise considers himself a student of the game and is always learning and looking to get better.

On Sunday, after a fairly low-key practice, it was go-time. The best battles of the day took place along the goal line, where the offense had done well on Saturday, but Sunday was a different story. Four cracks at the end zone with different alignments and different backs, but the same results. No touchdowns.

For Wise, it is all part about constantly improving and getting better. “Very important on the aspect that we’re getting better,” he said of the unit’s success up front. “Getting better from yesterday and looking to improve from here on out.”

If the Patriots defense is going to be better than 2017, it will have to start up front. The defense was gashed for 4.7 yards per carry a year ago. With the addition of Danny Shelton upfront, the front line has to solidify. It also includes the edge players as well, everyone working in concert on the line will allow the linebackers to fly up and make plays.

Wise will have to be a big part of that. A big edge defender that can kick inside and bring pressure up the interior. From all looks that we’ve seen thus far, he’s looking prepared to do just that. “The 2017 defense was last year, we haven’t had the 2018 season yet. So we’re trying to always get better.”

Click on the link below to see the interview in its entirety.

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 Defense Dominates Again: Sunday Practice Observations

Steve Balestrieri
July 29, 2018 at 3:13 pm ET

Sunday’s Patriots practice session began shortly after 9 a.m. with sunny and clear conditions. The heat and humidity were dialed back a bit this morning and so was the tempo and intensity of practice.

The majority of the fully padded session was conducted in a slower, methodical manner and the hitting was not noteworthy until the end of practice when the Patriots defense absolutely stoned the offense four straight times in goalline.

The same players on PUP were missing, of note today was the absence of both RB Mike Gillislee and CB Keion Crossen, who reportedly has been having back spasms. The offense took another hit when Jordan Matthews tweaked a hamstring and left practice. Trey Flowers returned today after leaving the session yesterday with a towel on his forehead. Flowers had a big bandage in the middle of his forehead so he obviously had a pretty good gash there.

Play of the Day: At the end of practice, the defense stopped the offense three straight times from the goal line. On the fourth attempt, running back Brandon Bolden had nowhere to go and tried to bounce it outside. Elandon Roberts flew over and popped Bolden good, knocking him backward for a loss. It was a superb way to end the practice.

Play of the Day ***Honorable Mention***: Cordarrelle Patterson made a fantastic catch with Eric Rowe draped all over him.  Patterson ran a 12-yard pattern where Brady hit him with a back shoulder throw. Rowe read it perfectly and was in perfect position to knock it away. Patterson used his long reach to get his hands on the ball and as he fell to the ground was able to haul it in.

Patterson continues his strong summer. SBalestrieri photo)

He’s been good thru the first four days of camp. And plays like this and the others he’s doing during the first few days of camp will get him the trust of the quarterback. And building that trust is key for the new guys.

Other observations include:

  • Stephon Gilmore continues his outstanding offseason. During individual drills, he knocked away a pair of passes. He was ignored during the 11-on-11 drills. Not one pass came his way.
  • Nicholas Grigsby was rocking a hooded sweatshirt under his uniform today at practice. While it wasn’t as hot as some days last week, it wasn’t sweatshirt weather. He must like to sweat.
  • Jordan Matthews gave a nice effort, going horizontal and diving for a deep pass from Tom Brady and coming up just short of the ball.
  • Will Tye ran a nice corner route in the end zone and Brady showed a deft touch and lobbed it right in the bucket for a quick score. Tye had a nice day.
  • The Patriots were working on the screen and running games a lot in the session today. During 11-on-11 Brady only attempted seven passes, completing five.
  • Brady attempted two deep passes in a row, the first to Chris Hogan, where the WR was open but Jomal Wiltz got there a second before the ball arrived and the second, Julian Edelman ran a deep cross and was wide open down the right side of the field.
  • Riley McCarron was wide open on a deep pattern but Brian Hoyer was late in seeing it and then getting the ball to him. Recognizing it, Jordan Richards raced over and knocked it away.
  • Hogan got shaken up after running a quick slant and getting into a big collision with Rowe but he shook it off and remained out there on the field.
  • Sony Michel caught a screen pass from Brady and took it to the house. The crowd roared. Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of yet, however.
  • Jacob Hollister continues to impress, he ran a seam route into the end zone where he caught a nice back shoulder throw from Hoyer.
  • Loved what I saw in goalline from Danny Shelton. He’s a load in the middle. It allows the linebackers to fill and make plays. He and Lawrence Guy were really strong, especially late.
  • During a special teams segment, Brady threw on the side with Rob Gronkowski, James White, Hogan, Dorsett, and Hollister. Things that make you go hmm.
  • Tiquan Underwood was present for the third straight day of practice. You can’t mistake that hair anywhere.

After the session, Sony Michel, Hollister and Deatrich Wise were among the players over speaking with the media. We’ll have more on Wise later…check back on PatsFans.com.

***NOTE*** Tomorrow’s practice session will be a night practice in Gillette Stadium open to Patriots season ticket holders and Foxboro residents.

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.