Tag Archives: Donald Brown

Wednesday Daily Rundown 8/24: New England Patriots News and Notes

Ian Logue
August 24, 2016 at 5:00 am ET

Brady Back, Maintaining the Same Approach – It’s been a different preseason for Tom Brady, who thanks to his suspension finds himself somewhat on the back-burner as the coaching staff continues to try and bring Jimmy Garoppolo up to speed in preparation for the 2016 season.

Brady hasn’t played in the preseason thus far and missed his most recent opportunity last Thursday night thanks to a mishap with scissors that knocked him out of action after reports prior to the contest had said the veteran was expected to start.  Instead, he left the stadium as the Patriots went on to beat Chicago 23-22 to improve to 2-0 in the preseason.

Brady was back in Foxboro Tuesday after two excused absences on Sunday and Monday for what Belichick called a “personal” situation and returned to practice as the team begins getting ready to take on the Panthers this week.  Normally this is the “dress rehearsal” where the starters see plenty of action to get some final work in before the season starts.  For Brady, despite knowing what’s in his future to begin 2016, he said it hasn’t affected his approach and he’s been trying to stay in the same routine.

“I try to approach it the same way,” said Brady.  “I think that has been successful for me. I don’t try to change a whole bunch of things up, I try to work hard every day and I try to do what I need to do on the practice field to prepare myself. That’s just kind of what the routine is, so we’ll deal with those four weeks when they come.”

“In the meantime, I’m just trying to prepare this week like I would have last year and the year before, and try to just prepare the best I can so I can be the best quarterback that I can for this team.”

For now, all he can do is continue working hard.  While he won’t be the player who will be under center to start the year, he knows that his time will come and the hard work will eventually pay off.  It always has, and his team will need him to be at his best when the time does finally come.

“I think it’s just putting in effort, as much effort as you can in each day to try to be prepared,” said Brady.  “I try to treat it no different because I always try to do the best I can to do to prepare and be ready to go. That’s the kind of mode that I’ve got to get into and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”

Belichick Admitted Brown’s Release Stemmed From Injury – When Bill Belichick spoke to the media on Tuesday he was asked about the release of running back Donald Brown, who the team reached an injury settlement with before releasing him.

Brown hadn’t practiced during training camp and just wasn’t able to get healthy, which Belichick admitted is disappointing when it comes to trying to evaluate players with such a limited window as they try and build their roster.

“Yeah, he hasn’t been available for a while,” Belichick told the media of Brown on Tuesday.  “Yeah, it’s unfortunate. He worked hard; he’s a really good kid. We just never really got the chance to see him.”

“You don’t have anything to go on. Yeah, that’s hard.”


Brady wasn’t able to play Thursday night and left the stadium before the game. (USA TODAY Images)

On Injured Players at Games, Belichick Said “It depends” – According to Brady, Belichick was the one who decided he’d sit the game out following his mishap with scissors last Thursday night, which saw him leave the stadium as his teammates battled the Bears.

Belichick was asked about whether or not injured players are in the stadium during games, and the head coach offered a bit of insight but didn’t go into too much detail.

“Some are, some aren’t, but what difference does it make? It doesn’t make any difference,” said Belichick  .”The guys that are out there playing are playing. The guys that aren’t playing, they’re doing something else, whatever that happens to be. They could be doing treatment, they could be at home, they could be here, they could be – you’ve seen them up in the press box – so it depends on what their situation is, what they need to do.”

Sheard Returns to Practice – One notable defensive player who has been battling an injury has been Jabaal Sheard, who, according to the Boston Herald, has been dealing with an MCL sprain he suffered during the team’s preseason opener against the Saints.  It kept him out of action all of last week, as well as the team’s match-up with Chicago Thursday night.

The injury is expected to take about 4-weeks to recover, but Sheard was spotted on the practice field Tuesday, which is encouraging news as the team continues getting ready for the 2016 regular season.

The veteran is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, finishing with 8  sacks, the most he’s had since 2011 when he finished with 8.5.  He also forced four fumbles and had two passes defensed as he ended up becoming a disruptive presence in New England’s defense.

It’s a big year for Sheard, who will be a free agent after this season if the Patriots can’t extend him.  The veteran defensive lineman said earlier this offseason that his contract isn’t on his mind, and he’s just focused on helping the team win.

“I’m not even thinking about that,” Sheard told NESN’s Doug Kyed at a PLAY 60 event at Slater Park in Pawtucket, R.I back in June. “I’m just focused on this season and going out there to take care of business and win as many games as we can possibly win.”

Patriots Roster Coming Into Focus, Team Releases Three Veterans

Steve Balestrieri
August 23, 2016 at 9:43 am ET

The Patriots have released three more veterans today as they cut ties to CB E.J. Biggers, RB Donald Brown and DE Frank Kearse according to sources. Bill Belichick has always favored cutting loose veterans as early as possible if they don’t fit into the team’s plans, to give them a better chance of latching on with other teams. This seems to be the case here as none of the three appeared close to landing a roster spot.

Brown seemed to have a good shot at making a roster spot. LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis were coming off of serious injuries, Tyler Gaffney is unproven and Brandon Bolden is mainly a ST’s player. That left James White and a bunch of question marks.

Brown takes a breather after running some drills

Brown takes a breather after running some drills

But Brown, got hurt early and camp and struggled to get back on the field. Both Gaffney and Blount had solid preseason outings in back-to-back weeks so the team will probably roll with them, White and Bolden to at least initially start the season.

Kearse was a DE in Washington and projected to be an interior player here. He didn’t stand out much during training camp and with others playing at a higher standard, he wasn’t projected to make the team.

Biggers came from Philadelphia as a free agent and signed a 1-year, $840,000 contract with a modest $25,000 signing bonus. With a lack of depth from 2015 in the Patriots secondary, he was thought to be at least in the mix for a veteran presence at cornerback.

Hogan,-Biggers

But undrafted rookies Jonathan Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc as well as 2nd-year player Darryl Roberts have all outplayed him this summer. Not that Biggers play was poor, but the younger, faster and more athletic players were standing out daily. That forced the team to release V’Angelo Bentley and now Biggers.

With his release, the corner position now has Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Justin Coleman, Cyrus Jones, LeBlanc and Roberts as their six top players. They may only opt to keep five so the competition will heat up in the final two weeks.

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.

Dion Lewis to Undergo “Clean Up” Surgery, Out Indefinitely

Steve Balestrieri
August 21, 2016 at 2:07 pm ET

Pats will likely try to swing a deal now

So much for good news, just a short time after he walked thru the locker room with no noticeable limp, it was learned that Patriots’ running back Dion Lewis will undergo “clean-up” surgery and be shelved indefinitely.

Adam Schefter from ESPN broke the story that Lewis will undergo a second surgery.

Lewis who hadn’t been seen since the last day of minicamp was seen by the media strutting thru the locker room during the open phase on Sunday. Since he’s been MIA since June, it was seen as a positive sign. Now he’s going to ….at a minimum begin the season on PUP and perhaps even wind up on IR.

This latest setback is expected to last 8-10 weeks which would put Lewis on the cusp of PUP and possibly landing on IR if he isn’t ready by then.

So what do the Patriots do in the meanwhile? Well, it immediately opens a spot on the 53-man roster. We had already projected Lewis to start the season on PUP so that part is no surprise. That opens a roster spot that we believe will go to…right now Tyler Gaffney. It could also open the door for someone like Donald Brown or D.J. Foster to make the roster, but both have missed a ton of time.

One thing is for sure now, and that is James White’s spot now appears locked as he’s now the best pass catching RB on the team. The Patriots depth chart currently consists of: LeGarrette Blount James White Brandon Bolden Tyler Gaffney Donald Brown Joey Iosefa and D.J. Foster.

Blount, White, and Bolden appear to be roster locks. The remaining players will fight it out for the final spot. FB James Develin is a lock and could be listed here or with a separate category.

Work a Trade? The Patriots could be trying to work a trade or will wait and watch the waiver wire for a suitable pickup. This was something Paul Perillo of PFW said during the broadcast of the game on Thursday.

He mentioned the Titans and Bishop Sankey. He’s got good size and is a Patriots type player and would be a good fit. Tennessee is loaded at the position with Derrick Henry, DeMarco Murray, Dexter McCluster, Antonio Andrews, David Cobb, Bishop Sankey and Devid Fluellen. Sankey could possibly be had at a bargain price with their depth.

Other trading partners could be either Dallas or KC. The Cowboys just drafted Ezekiel Elliot, to go along with Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar and sixth-round pick Darius Jackson. McFadden would be the obvious choice to get cut loose. Especially with the way Morris ran this week. Would Dallas and Jerry Jones look to help Kraft and the Patriots out? Hmmm.

A more likely deal could be had with the Chiefs and Andy Reid. Knile Davis seems the odd man out in KC and he had an impressive playoff game against the Patriots a year ago, right up until his fumble.

But regardless, the situation with the Patriots running backs and Lewis went from a wait-and-see to a position of need. It was hoped that Lewis would be back to start the season. Now the earliest that will happen looks to be early November.

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

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

Patriots Training Camp Primer, Running Backs

Steve Balestrieri
July 11, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

Unit Still Has Questions Entering 2016

The Patriots head into training camp in just a few weeks and there should be no shortage of competition at a number of spots. As a lead-in to the beginning of camp, we’ll break down the positions and give our take on who is a lock, a near lock for the 53-man roster and who is on the bubble. We start the week off at the running back position.

Bill Belichick likes to say that the spring’s OTAs and Minicamp is a learning exercise and that the real competition begins in training camp. While that is true to an extent, with 89 players on the current roster,  a minimum of 36 of these will be cut. That doesn’t take into consideration the tweaking that goes on during the season after the initial 53-man roster is completed.

So we’ll start with the running backs. We know Bill Belichick likes a running back by committee, which tends to keep those fantasy numbers down but keeps their legs fresh. The team lost both starters to season-ending injuries a year ago as LaGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis ended up on IR. Although they return in 2016, it isn’t a given both will be ready for the start of camp.

So who’s locked in and who’s on the bubble?

Roster Locks: Dion Lewis
Lewis burst onto the scene a year ago and was absolutely electric once he got his hands on the ball. He proved to be tough to bring down in the open field and was fantastic as a pass receiver out of the backfield.

Among his many highlights arguably his best was a 10-yard touchdown against Dallas. Lewis caught the pass from QB Tom Brady one-handed and proceeded to shake and bake his way into the end zone making no less than three defenders miss.


Dion Lewis was fantastic in 2015 prior to going down with a season-ending injury. (USA TODAY Images)

Lewis was rewarded with a contract extension during the season but ended up tearing his ACL on a non-contact play against the Redskins. He had season-ending surgery and was definitely missed down the stretch and into the playoffs. He did make it onto the field for the last of the spring workouts and was running and cutting without a knee brace so there is room for optimism that he’ll be ready for the beginning of the year.

Near Roster Locks: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, James Develin
While Blount isn’t highly thought of outside of Foxboro circles, he remains a favorite of Belichick. The big (6’0, 250lb) running back is a threat if he can get to the second level of the defense and had decent numbers a year ago.

Blount had 165 carries for 703 yards, for a 4.3-yard average with six touchdowns rushing. He also caught six passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. He’s never been much of a receiving threat out of the backfield but can catch the odd pass occasionally.

The biggest question for him now is his injured hip. Will he be ready to go once training camp begins? And will his hip allow him to return to the same level, movement wise for him to be effective?


LaGarrette Blount, if healthy will be the Patriots big back in the running game. (SBalestrieri/PatsFans image)

Bolden is a proven core special teams’ player who can contribute on occasion both running and catching the ball out of the backfield. I don’t see him going anywhere in the short-term future. Develin was a guy who was missed in the running game last year, especially in short-yardage situations. He’s versatile, and can line up as a fullback, H-back or as a tight end.

As a lead blocker, Develin can really open up some holes for the backs to get to the second level. But his absence a year ago also hurt  in play-action passing situations. Teams didn’t respect the run enough to bite as much on play-action passes, something which should return this year.

On the Bubble: Donald Brown, James White, D.J. Foster
The Patriots could use a back that can backup Blount as the bigger back and carry the ball if he were to go down. Brown is a veteran that can not only carry the ball but catch it effectively out of the backfield and is an excellent back in pass protection. That is something the Patriots demand of their backs.

While he’s not prolific in any one area, having a guy with Brown’s experience and skill set give him a leg up on the competition. With Blount returning from a serious injury, look for Brown to get plenty of reps this summer.

White did a good job of replacing Lewis in the passing game out of the backfield last season. He caught 40 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns in 2015. But his drawback is carrying the ball in the running game.

Jimmy-G,-James-White
James White, here in 2016 minicamp, was effective in the passing game last year but must improve as a runner. (SBalestrieri/PatsFans image)

The Patriots didn’t have the confidence in White to allow him many carries last season. He logged only 22 carries for 56 yards, a paltry 2.5-yard average and two touchdowns in the running game. He too often doesn’t make people miss and goes down on first contact. He’s going to have to improve that aspect of his game this season. The team was too one-dimensional with him in there and opponents didn’t respect the run.

Foster is the wild card here. The undrafted free agent running back from Arizona State was so effective out of the backfield that the team moved him to slot receiver in his final college season. He is undersized but possesses the type of speed and quickness that Lewis has. He’s much taller however at just around 6’0 and has special teams’ versatility. His ability to return punts and kickoffs may be just enough to get him a roster spot. Foster is an intriguing case, keep your eyes on him this summer. Each year a UDFA seems to make the team, he’s a prime candidate.

Outside Looking in…. Longshots: Tyler Gaffney, Joey Iosefa
The Patriots thought enough of Gaffney after he was injured in 2014 to snatch him off the waiver wire from the Panthers. Gaffney was stashed on IR and brought back last year. But just a few days into training camp, Gaffney took a huge hit from Sealver Siliga during a drill and was lost for the season to another injury soon after.

Now entering his third NFL season, Gaffney has yet to take the field and although has the size and quickness needed as the backup “big back”, he’s a long shot. He’ll have to stay healthy and turn some heads during the summer.

Iosefa was brought in to bring some pop to the backfield and against Tennessee, he certainly did. While he only gained 51 yards on 14 carries, (3.6 avg), his day is remembered by one specific play. Iosefa ran over Cody Sensabaugh en route to a 15-yard gain. The 6’0, 245-pound fullback from Pago Pago, Samoa will have a tough time making the roster with Develin back in the fold, but even if he doesn’t, I think the team finds a way to keep him around.
Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

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.

LeGarrette Blount Back in the Fold For Patriots

Ian Logue
April 12, 2016 at 1:39 pm ET

LeGarrette Blount has made a home for himself in New England, and it looks like he’ll have a shot at remaining here for at least another season.

According to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, the veteran back re-signed with the Patriots on Tuesday, adding some depth to a position that for the most part looked pretty thin up until this point.

Blount’s signing adds to a group that just saw Tyler Gaffney get let go on Monday, leaving just Dion Lewis, James White, Brandon Bolden, Joey Ioesefa and Donald Brown, as well as fullback James Develin among the other backs joining Blount heading into training camp.

The veteran had a quiet 2015, carrying 165 times for 703 yards with six touchdowns before suffering a season-ending hip injury on Dec. 13 against the Houston Texans.  Prior to that Blount didn’t look as quick or as powerful as he did in his previous two seasons, which will make him a player to keep an eye on heading into training camp.

Running back is certainly a position that should be considered a need for this football team, so we’ll likely see additional players brought in both during the draft and following roster cuts by the time July gets here.  But for now Blount at least provides some stability and familiarity to the offense, although it should be a competitive camp depending on who else is added in the next couple of months.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Patriots Moves In Free Agency

Russ Goldman
March 24, 2016 at 6:03 am ET

In this episode, we discussed the many moves the Patriots have made since Free Agency opened for the 2016 season.

Possible Patriots Target in the 2016 NFL Draft, RB Kenneth Dixon

Steve Balestrieri
March 19, 2016 at 9:59 am ET

As the 2016 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar that we feel would be a great fit.

The Patriots may still target a running back in the 2016 NFL Draft. Even though they have signed former Colt and Charger Donald Brown, they don’t really have a reliable three-down back at least until Dion Lewis is fully healthy from his ACL tear. Brown has had some degree of success in the passing game, as had Lewis and James White but the Pats need a consistent ground gainer between the tackles. Brandon Bolden is mainly a special teams’ maven and Tyler Gaffney is still looking to get on the field in Year 3.

The Patriots haven’t drafted many running backs in the Belichick era (8 to be exact), but with the apparent need, especially late in the season with the injuries piling up, this may be a time to strike earlier in the draft.

Kenneth Dixon from La. Tech. would be a perfect fit for the Patriots offense and a great possible target in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. Dixon is a true dual-threat running back that can be equally effective running the ball as he is catching it out of the backfield.

Dixon is not the biggest back at 5’10, 215 but he’s not afraid to and is effective running between the tackles. In his four years at La. Tech he had a combined 87 touchdowns, (72 rushing and 15 receiving) and is very effective after first contact. He averaged 3.3 yards after contact despite only averaging 1.7 before contact due to his being keyed on.

He’s elusive at the second level and can make people miss but is a very aggressive north-south type runner who always tries to squeeze out every bit of yardage. Dixon ran a 4.58 in the 40 at the NFL Combine and a 6.97 in the all-important 3-Cone Drill.

Pros:

– Decisive runner who can get up to top speed instantly. Finishes violently north-south

– Great hands and vision for catching the ball out of the backfield

–  Versatile can be a three-down back

– Very productive, a touchdown machine and a reliable target

Cons

– Has good but not breakaway speed, can be caught from behind

– Pass protection needs a lot of work

– Ball security also needs to be addressed.

What his Role Will Be:
His role in the New England offense would be like Dion Lewis as a three-down back. He should be able to run the ball effectively as well as catch it out of the backfield. Especially with Lewis still rehabbing from a torn ACL, he may see more work early in the season if he’s selected.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?
Yes, with improved ball security and pass protection skills, he should see the field more in late-game or clutch situations.

How Many Downs Can He Play?
Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?
Dixon could replace free agent LeGarrette Blount as the lead running back in the ground game.

What is his ST Value?
Minimal

Conclusion:
Dixon would be a nice upgrade for the running back position. He fulfills a need for a back that can not only run the ball effectively between the tackles but catch it out of the backfield as well. He’s a very determined runner with an eye for the end zone that would quickly find a comfort level with Tom Brady in the passing game.

He definitely needs work on his pass blocking where he could be as aggressive as his running and his ball security skills. His style of play and his aggressiveness in finishing his runs may point to injury concerns at the next level.

With the qualities of being a three-down back and coupled with the Patriots pass-first system, Dixon can be a Starter on Day 1.

Dixson’s highlight film can be found here, courtesy of In My Prime Productions:

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

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.