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Wes Welker provides a dose of reality

08.16.10 at 1:16 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For everyone expecting/hoping/wishing for Wes Welker to make his debut this Thursday night against Atlanta and, more importantly, on Sept. 12 against Cincinnati at Gillette Stadium, the man himself wants people to remember his return by a specific date is by no means guaranteed.

Not that he doesn’t want play starting yesterday.

Sounding a more cautious tone following this week’s final practice of training camp in Foxboro, Welker said he still needs to make more progress in getting his surgically-repaired left knee ready for game action.

“It’s still kind of the same,” Welker said. “We’re making strides but at the same time, there’s good days and bad days so we’re just trying to work through them and keep on getting better each day. It’s good to get out here and get reps with the guys and be not stuck somewhere else rehabbing and doing stuff like that. It’s just good to be out here.”

It’s still hard for many to believe that it was on Jan. 3 in Houston when Welker slipped on a quick cut near midfield after catching a pass from Tom Brady and his left knee buckled, causing damage that required reconstructive surgery. Since the operation, Welker has blown away nearly everyone – not to mention medical checkpoints – on his way to being removed from the PUP list at the beginning of camp.

Welker, who did not play last Thursday against New Orleans, did not indicate whether he would be ready for the second preseason game this Thursday night in Atlanta. He was expected to leave with the team on Monday and travel to Atlanta and participate in practices against the Falcons on Tuesday outside Atlanta.

“I’d like to be out there anytime,” Welker added. “Anytime I can out there is going to be a positive and of course, I want to be out there but we’re going to take it slow and make sure we stay on track and we’ve been good to this point and we’re just going to keep that going.”

Welker admitted he would love to get out on the field on Thursday night in the Georgia Dome to see what his left knee feels like in game conditions.

“Absolutely,” Welker admitted. “You practice so much and rehab and do things like that, to get out there in real game action, with the crowd in the stadium and the adrenaline is kind of going, that’s the atmosphere you want.

“I’m able it to do it. But obviously, I have this knee brace on so it’s not what I want it to be or where I need to be but we’re slowly making strides and slowly getting there.”

Slowly being the operative word there. It was almost as if Welker was trying to send out a subliminal message to himself that while everything looks great and the cheers from the fans in camp are heartfelt, he won’t know anything for sure until take hits in games and make sharp cuts on his routes.

“They didn’t really say anything to me. They said six months is when we’ll have a better idea of kind of where we’re at. So, I kind of had that my head and the season is seven months away and we’re just trying to work towards that.”

And while he may not ever admit it, having Julian Edelman on the roster gives Welker more time to make sure he’s as close to full strength as possible before going all out in a game.

“He’s done a great job, being able to come in like this and really make the plays,” Welker said. “Once he gets the ball in his hands, he’s pretty dangerous, he’s really showed that. He just needs to keep coming along, keep on doing what he’s been doing and keep on making plays for us. It’s good to have and good to see out there.”

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Schobel says he will opt for retirement

08.16.10 at 12:46 pm ET
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Aaron Schobel, seen here terrorizing the Patriots in last year's opener, told the Houston Chronicle that he will retire. (AP)

Defensive end Aaron Schobel has decided to retire, according to a report from John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

The former Buffalo pass rusher, who has 78 sacks over a nine-year career (all with the Bills), was considered one of the premier defensive players on the market after he was released by Buffalo earlier this month. But despite the fact that several teams had shown an interest in the 32-year-old — a group that reportedly included the Patriots and Texans — he told McClain that he has decided to retire.

“Obviously, it would have been a great place to play, but at point of my career, I’m not going to sit here and tell you how I would have performed,” Schobel told the Houston Chronicle when he was asked about possibly playing in Houston. “I’m not saying I could or couldn’t have played at my best, but I’m just not 100 percent sure.

“I want to be done with it. I’m going to leave it as is. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play, anyway. I’m going to be 33 in two weeks, and I’m leaving the game on my terms and nobody else’s. I’m just going to leave it alone and retire.”

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Nick Caserio Q&A, 8/16

08.16.10 at 12:36 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of today’s Q&A between Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio and the media at Gillette Stadium:

NC: We had a good practice yesterday and covered a lot of situational things. This morning we’ll have a brief practice – kind of a lighter practice and then we’ll get on the plane to head down to Atlanta. This will be another good test for our team this week. There are some different elements we will have to deal with. [This is] the first time on the road, so there are some things that come into play there as far as handling crowd noise and the line of scrimmage operation. And this is another good football team that we’re playing against. [They have a] good offense, good young quarterback, good tight end, good running back, good receivers, so they’ve got the bases covered offensively.  Defensively, they present some problems as well. They have good edge players – John Abraham. They have a good linebacking core and they signed Dante Robinson in the offseason as a free agent, so this will be another good test for our team to just kind of see where we are against another good ball club. We have a lot of respect for the Atlanta Falcons organization, for what Mr. [Arthur] Blank, Coach [Mike] Smith and Thomas Dimitroff have done. I have a personal relationship with Thomas. Actually, my first fall on the road, he and I spent quite a lot of time together. We were able to cultivate a good relationship. He’s still a close friend of mine and a confident, so it will be nice to catch up with him and see how they do some different things down there in Atlanta. We’re excited about the trip. It will be a good three, four days there and then we’ll see how it goes. We’re excited to head down there and face Atlanta.
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Training camp report from Monday morning practice

08.16.10 at 12:21 pm ET
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FOXBORO — All good things must come to an end, and such can now be said for training camp sessions in Foxboro. The Patriots held an indoor session on Monday morning due to rainy conditions, the final practice before the team heads to Atlanta to their second preseason game. The Patriots practiced in shells and shorts and did so in relaxed fashion. Position drills and 11-on-11 play was common, though it was the unusual and quirky aspects of Monday that made it stand out. Here are some notes:

- The following players were missing: receivers Darnell Jenkins and Matthew Slater, defensive backs Leigh Bodden and Bret Lockett, offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur, and defensive linemen Damione Lewis and Jermaine Cunningham.

Defensive back Terrence Johnson and linebacker Dane Fletcher were present but were in shorts and t-shirts.

- As was mentioned above, the Patriots had a little more fun than in typical training camp sessions. One drill that yielded laughter from players was a positional drill that consists of the quarterback dropping back with ball boys, another quarterback, and assistant coaches jogging towards him while jumping with both hands in the air. The quarterback then lobs a pass over the “defenders” and to a stationary target, generally another ball boy. Monday, Randy Moss joined those jumping up and down, making it a bit more entertaining for Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer.

- While Brady and Hoyer had their fun with the aforementioned drill (Zac Robinson was not a part of it), the most popular quarterback of the day had to be none other than No. 75, Vince Wilfork. Head coach Bill Belichick cleared most of the players to the sidelines about halfway through the practice so they could watch as the offense faced the defense in a red zone situation — as the defense. This meant Wilfork was a quarterback, Moss was a safety, Rob Gronkowski an outside linebacker, and Patrick Chung an outside receiver. Aaron Hernandez, Jonathan Wilhite, Wes Welker, Brandon Tate, Sammy Morris, and Sam Aiken were among the other players to participate in the strange but entertaining showdowm.

Belichick instructed the two sides to play to three, with each side getting the edge for either scoring or breaking up the play.  After Moss’ “defense” took the first point, Wilfork hit Chung deep in the end zone on an out to tie it up. The offense (playing defense) ended up winning, 3-1, as onlooking players laughed. Hoyer said after practice that Wilfork was only productive as a quarterback because he had “eight seconds” to throw the ball.

- To round out the trifecta of things one wouldn’t think they would see in a Patriots’ practice, Wilfork dropped into coverage on an 11-on-11 drill and swatted down a Brady pass over the middle. Upon making the play, Wilfork sprinted around in celebration like a defensive back and jumped around with safety Brandon Meriweather.

- There wasn’t too much of substance that could actually be taken from the day as far as how players looked (nose tackles playing quarterback generally won’t get you much), but Robinson ended training camp in just as up-and-down fashion as he began it. The third-string quarterback threw a pick over the middle to Jerod Mayo but later made a nice throw through traffic to receiver Buddy Farnham.

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Brady on D&C: Finger injury is ‘nothing’

08.16.10 at 11:04 am ET
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Ravens Patriots Football

Tom Brady (AP)

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his first weekly Monday morning appearance of the 2010 season on the Dennis & Callahan show to discuss training camp, his contract negotiations, and how the team will fare in this season. Brady also mentioned that his finger injury is not severe. ”I hit a helmet in the game,” he said. “It’s nothing. It’s one of those things that happens.”

Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Do you have tape on your finger right now, Tom?

Oh, man, I am good.

So it isn’t life-threatening?

No. I think coach [Bill] Belichick had it right.

Have you not been able to get an appointment for a haircut on Newbury Street?

I have been so busy with football it’s been hard to even get over there. Two-a-days for the last three weeks. This is what happens. I passed that uncomfortable stage with it and now I’m like, “Screw it, let’s just keep going.”

So this isn’t like a Justin Bieber tribute, is it?

No, it is not that. I think I am going to just keep changing it up.

Any chance you could get to the ponytail stage?

I don’t know if we are going that far. Maybe until I get sick of it. That could be any day.

Did you see Tim Tebow’s hair?

Yeah that was funny. Actually, [Broncos long snapper] Lonie Paxton sent me a picture of it. I don’t think he did it, but I think he was involved with it. He sent me a picture of it on his phone, which everyone got a kick out of that.

It seemed that Tebow was unable to change his rookie haircut for a while, right?

It is one of those things. We do it here and I think Josh [McDaniels] brought it to Denver, obviously with Lonie and the other Patriots.

Is it possible to assess how the team is doing in training camp or would you have to wait until opening night?

There’s a lot of unknown at this point. There are a lot of things that you learn over the course of the season. There are so many practices that take place and over the course of a year, we’ve been through probably 25 to 30. We probably have 100 to 120, so just a quarter of the way through the practices, obviously. … Injuries play a big part of the season, the roles that guys play, really, things to start to identify themselves, who continues to perform consistently over the course of a long period of time.

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Read More: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Wes Welker,

Why moving Holt to IR was in Patriots’ ‘best interest’

08.16.10 at 10:29 am ET
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FOXBORO — He was brought in to add some veteran depth to a position that needed some several months ago. But with Wes Welker looking more and more healed with every practice and Julian Edelman looking more and more like a first-stringer, it appears the Patriots could play it safe with Torry Holt.

So, while surprising to a few, the decision to place Holt on season-ending injured reserve on Sunday with a reported knee injury doesn’t come as a shock and neither did the explanation from Patriots personnel director Nick Caserio on Monday morning.

“I think the decision with Torry, we just felt that was the best thing for the club at this point in time,” Caserio said. “Torry came in, he worked hard, he did everything we’ve asked him to do, a total professional. He’s been a really good player and had a really productive career but in the end, we have to make decisions that we feel are best for the club so that’s what we did.”

Asked if this injury had been lingering for a while for Holt, who missed some time practice time prior to the team’s preseason opener with New Orleans last Thursday, Caserio reiterated the Patriots wanted to play it safe.

“He may have missed a few days there at the end so we just went with the decision that we felt was best,” he said.

Holt signed a one-year deal on April 20 worth $1.7 million.

The team brought back receiver Buddy Farnham to take Holt’s place and also signed rookie offensive lineman Brian Simmons on Sunday to the roster.

Read More: Jaguars, New England Patriots, nfl, Patriots

Pats place Holt on IR, re-sign Farnham

08.16.10 at 9:20 am ET
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Veteran receiver Torry Holt, who joined the Patriots as a free agent in the offseason, was placed on injured reserve due to a knee injury, putting an end to his season. Holt is scheduled to have surgery this week. The Pats also waived safety Ross Ventrone and re-signed locally bred receiver Buddy Farnham along with offensive lineman Brian Simmons.

Read More: Brian Simmons, Budy Farnham, Ros Ventrone, torry holt
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