Tag Archives: Bradley Fletcher

Getting Social with Bob Socci – Three Questions For Week Five

Robert Alvarez
October 9, 2015 at 7:30 am ET

In a new weekly column introduced on PatsFans.com entitled “Getting Social with Bob Socci”, I was graciously granted the opportunity to interview 98.5 The Sports Hub Patriots radio play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci for his insight and predictions into this upcoming week five matchup with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Who is your breakout player for either Dallas or NE this week?

“If it sounds too strange to say an eighth-year veteran with two Pro Bowls will be a breakout player, then let’s predict that this Sunday’s game in Dallas will mark the re-emergence of Jerod Mayo.  After very limited reps the first three weeks of the season, coming off injury in 2014 and left off the field in ‘sub’ packages (themselves a misnomer, because the old ‘sub’ defenses are the new norm), I suspect Mayo will have a much more integral role at Dallas.  The Cowboys’ best (maybe their only) chance to succeed on Sunday relies on being able to run the ball.  They’re also limited in personnel in the passing game, due to the injuries they’ve sustained at both receiver and in the backfield.  So I foresee a much greater role for Mayo in this game than in Weeks 1-3.”

Position matchup/battle to look for? 

“Dallas’ offensive line vs. Pats’ front seven.  I’m very curious about the roles that newcomers Akiem Hicks, Khyri Thornton and Jonathan Bostic are going to occupy in the next month and a half.  Naturally, if/when they’re employed defensively, they bear watching (closely).  Overall, it will be extremely important for the Pats to set and hold the edge defensively.  They had some problems toward this end, it seemed, at the outset of the season.  Let’s see how they do that this week, and if they become a bit stouter inside.  Considering that the Jets and Washington await in the next month, it will be imperative to improve against the run.  But they’ll have their work cut out for them against the Cowboys’ offensive line.”

What Patriot players will make the most improvement going into this week? 

So long as he’s on the field, if he gets on the field, there’s only one way to go for Bradley Fletcher – Bob Socci on Fletcher heading into Week 4.

“I’m stretching it a bit, because this player struggled in Weeks 1-2 and was inactive in Week 3.  So long as he’s on the field, if he gets on the field, there’s only one way to go for Bradley Fletcher.  That said, I won’t be surprised if we see him (at 6-0, 205 pounds) back out there against the Cowboys, perhaps involved in their coverage of Whitten.  Unlike in the past, including his struggles against Dallas a year ago, Fletcher won’t be asked to cover Dez Bryant.  Plus, Brandon Weeden has thrown mostly short check-downs underneath.  Maybe we see Fletcher this week utilized the way Brandon Browner was at times a year ago; asked to be more physical at the line with a tight end, with help, combining some man and zone concepts.”

Bob Socci has held the position of Patriots radio broadcaster since the beginning of the 2013 NFL season, taking over for longtime play-by-play man Gil Santos. He has called two AFC Championship games and the Patriots Super Bowl XLIX victory in February 2015.  He can also be heard weekly during football season on Patriots.com.

Patriots TC Report: Preparing for the Saints Vital For CBs, WRs

Steve Balestrieri
August 17, 2015 at 6:30 am ET

Team has questions of health, who steps up for 2nd CB, 4th WR

The Patriots get back to work on Monday after a day off on Sunday and has two days of practice before flying down to West Virginia for joint practices with the New Orleans Saints. The two teams will practice together Wednesday and Thursday prior to meeting in the second preseason game this weekend.

The biggest questions surrounding the Patriots remain health related; with so many players either still on PUP or banged up during practice, it has taken a toll on some of the positional competitions.

There remains uncertainty on who will step up at the right cornerback and the 4th wide receiver positions. Hopefully that will start to play itself out now during the practices with the Saints and after the preseason game with them.

RCB, Injuries, and Uncertainty Remain: At cornerback, the left side position is locked; Malcolm Butler has been a fixture there since Day 1. The coaches haven’t moved him around at all and his performance thru training camp thus far will have done nothing to change their minds. He’s had a very strong summer, showing great technique, physicality and athleticism. But who is going to step up opposite him at right corner.

Tarel Brown seemed to have the inside track although he’s still recovering from foot injuries from 2014. He’s been the most consistent performer of the corners after Butler. But he probably still isn’t at 100 percent physically and the coaches held him out of the Green Bay preseason game. On Saturday, he left practice early with the training staff and didn’t return, although it was thought to be a heat related issue.

Darryl Roberts got the surprise start on Thursday and acquitted himself very well before being injured (hand/wrist), late in the first quarter. The 7th round draft pick from Marshall has good size (6’0, 190), as well as excellent athleticism. Roberts got off to a slow start the first few days of camp, not surprising being a rookie but has been getting better every day. A big question for him will be how serious his injury is, otherwise look for him to push for more and more reps.

Logan Ryan was expected to compete for the one of the top two CB spots before training camp began. Beginning his third season in New England, he is the most tenured corner on the team. But he’s been mostly unimpressive at camp; he hasn’t stood out and on Thursday was burned badly by the Packers Jeff Janis on a 4th and 1 pass that went 22 yards for a Green Bay touchdown. He did come back for a nice breakup on a later Packer fourth down attempt but Ryan has to be a big question mark at this point.

Robert McClain has had a strong camp after coming over from the Falcons during the offseason. The 5th year vet from UConn is a pretty physical player despite his diminutive 5’9 height. McClain seems to be solidifying Kyle Arrington’s old slot down in the slot. He’s been very good there and he’s a better fit there than outside.

Bradley Fletcher came over from the Eagles after a poor 2014. It was thought that a clean slate and a fresh start with New England may be just what the doctor ordered. But things haven’t played out that way thus far. He too has had an up-and-down camp and seems to glide thru too many reps where he disappears much too easily. On Saturday, with Roberts and Ryan out of practice, rather than trust him with the majority of reps, the coaches moved Devin McCourty down from safety to play corner. That is a subtle way of Bill Belichick putting the veteran on notice. This will be a big week for Fletcher against the Saints. Dax Swanson and Jimmy Jean are strictly backups and depth guys at this point.

Health Biggest Concern at WR: The Patriots return all three starters at WR from 2014, however the biggest worries for now remain their health. Brandon LaFell is still on PUP and Julian Edelman is dealing with an ankle injury. Danny Amendola has had a strong camp, but who steps up after them?

Aaron Dobson and Brian Tyms are both vying for the 4th WR position; Dobson got off to good start and was having a strong camp before health issues again crept up and he’s been missing for most of the past 10 days. Tyms started slowly and then was injured and missed some time. But healthy now, Tyms had arguably his best day at camp on Saturday. He and Dobson are more of the long, fast deep threats in the passing offense.

Brandon Gibson has quietly had a solid camp and followed that up with a good performance in the preseason opener. He can play outside, in the LaFell mode and work the chains or in the slot where he’s most comfortable. He’s been there every day which is a positive sign as well.

Josh Boyce is entering his third season for the Patriots and has yet to make his mark. With the injuries at WR, he’s been getting a lot of reps with the first team offense and after a few good practices, things were looking up. But a poor showing in the Green Bay game followed by a sub-par practice on Saturday has him outside looking in again.

Jonathan Krause and Chris Harper are speedy, young WRs who have been coming on lately. Both got a chance to showcase their talents against the Packers and played well. Harper in particular, albeit against the threes and fours caught seven passes on seven targets in an impressive debut. Both will look to impress the coaches earn some more playing time.

These two practices at Foxboro followed by the joint sessions with the Saints are going to be a big opportunity for the players at both WR and CB to earn some playing time and a roster spot. It is a very important week for many of these guys looking to carve out a niche. Against an unfamiliar opponent, every rep will be watched closely by the coaching staff.

These two positions are still wide open for competition and these types of opportunities don’t last long. The clock is ticking and the time is now for these players to make a big impression on the coaching staff.

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Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast 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.

Winners and Losers From Patriots vs Packers

Ian Logue
August 14, 2015 at 12:27 am ET

Thursday night’s game against Green Bay saw some players have a strong performance, while some others still have some work cut out for them in the weeks ahead as the Patriots preseason continues.


James White – Finished with 4 receptions for 52 yards and made some nifty moves catching the ball out of the backfield but he did get banged up.  Hopefully it’s not serious, because he showed a lot of promise as the Patriots continue looking for someone to replace Shane Vereen in that role this season.

Jonas Gray – Gray stepped up and ran well Thursday night, including a terrific 55-yard touchdown run.  He showed some good burst as well as the ability to shed tacklers and gain yards after contact.  He seems to be running with a chip on his shoulder, and if it keeps up he could end up being a great compliment to LeGarrette Blount in the offense.

Malcolm Butler – Butler was outstanding, looking comfortable and smooth in coverage including making a big pass break-up on a fade route that helped keep the Packers from scoring early in the game.  He’s looked like a guy focused on making a statement this season, and so far fans should be encouraged with what we’ve seen.

Darryl Roberts – Played fairly well, making some good plays in the open field and showed flashes at times. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t a bad start.

Trey Flowers – Had a tremendous sack on Rodgers that saw him streak across the left hand side, beat the left tackle and then leap at the Packers quarterback, taking him down.  Overall when he was locked up he drove his man back and had some great moments.  The bad news is Flowers went down with just over a minute to go in the first quarter after a tackle on a running play in a collision against James Starks. Flowers walked off the field under his own power and then went to the locker room.

Bradley Fletcher – Made a few plays including laying out a big hit on one play during the game.  Not a bad night for the new number 24, and he definitely showed some good things to build off of.

Jabaal Sheard – Sheard played well, getting penetration and doing a good job of being disruptive.  One of his more notable moments came after he stopped the Packers on a fourth down play in the first quarter, getting in the backfield and making the tackle and ending Green Bay’s drive.  The reviews have been positive so far on Sheard and Thursday night was the first glimpse we’ve had to see how he might fit in with this defense.  So far, so good.

Stephen Gostkowski – Nailed a 56-yard kick in the closing seconds of the first half to give the Patriots an 11-9 lead, showing why he deserved the extension he received this offseason.

Robert McClain – McLain made some plays Thursday night, and was around the football quite a bit.  He was aggressive and looked pretty comfortable out there, playing with a lot of fire and attitude.  He’ll definitely be a guy to keep an eye on.

Chandler Jones – Made some noise early on and put pressure on Aaron Rodgers on the very first offensive play of the game for the Packers, notching his first sack of the preseason.


Logan Ryan – Got beat on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Scott Tolzien to Jeff Janis, which gave Green Bay the lead at 9-8, but he also did make a couple of plays that were bright spots during the contest.  Hopefully he’ll begin to settle in now that he’s getting some live game reps and we’ll see some growth from him in the weeks ahead.

Josh Boyce – Boyce showed signs he can play, but also had other times that were just frustrating.  It’s pretty obvious that the chemistry between he and Jimmy Garoppolo is better than between he and Brady, as he struggled to get in sync with the Super Bowl MVP early in the contest.  Brady overthrew him on his first attempt and then on the second Boyce failed to come down with a high throw on a third own play, which forced an early punt.  However, with Garoppolo, all wasn’t perfect after Boyce had an opportunity to prevent an interception but lost a battle with a defensive back on a throw that was thrown a little behind him.  He’s a player with a lot of speed and plenty of potential, but it’s going to be a tough a battle for one of the final receiving spots and he needs to play better if he’d like to finally earn a role with this football team.

Jonathan Freeney – Had a couple of plays where he missed a tackle and while he was around the football, he seemed like he was late on a few plays.  However, it shouldn’t be overlooked either that he made a nice play on Green Bay’s fourth down attempt in the first quarter where he was the guy in coverage that batted the ball away.

Anotonio Johnson – Struggled on a couple of plays to shed his blocker and make a play, allowing a couple of sizeable gains in the running game by the Packers.

Malcom Brown – Got manhandled on a couple of plays and struggled in his first outing. This is one of those games a player like him needs to go through to get better, and hopefully it was a good learning experience for him to grow from.