|12.12.13 at 12:52 pm ET|
Tackle Nate Solder was back on the field for practice Thursday morning, while wide receiver Aaron Dobson was the only one absent as the Patriots continue preparation for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins in Miami.
Solder, who was listed on the Patriots practice report Wednesday with a concussion, is part of a relatively thin group of players New England have at the tackle position — with starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer on IR, the team has pressed Marcus Cannon into a starting role, but Cannon has been hobbled as of late because of an ankle issue. In addition, veteran tackle Will Svitek has seen lots of time at tackle with the recent run of injury.
The team was in sweats and shells for the session, which was held inside the practice bubble.
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|12.12.13 at 9:21 am ET|
Pouncey, who played with Hernandez at the University of Florida and remained close friends with the former Patriots tight end, was issued a subpoena at Gillette Stadium when the Dolphins played the Patriots on Oct. 27.
Authorities are believed to have interest in Pouncey’s knowledge about Hernandez’s alleged involvement in interstate gun trafficking.
Pouncey is expected to play Sunday when the Patriots visit Miami.
|12.11.13 at 6:31 pm ET|
FOXBORO ‘ Nate Solder did not practice Wednesday due to a concussion suffered in Sunday’s win over the Browns while Tom Brady was limited with a right shoulder issue. It was the first time since Week 8 that Brady was officially limited due to his right shoulder. In all, 11 Patriots were listed as limited.
Marcus Cannon (ankle) returned to practice for the first time in three weeks and was limited.
Here is Wednesday’s complete report:
Did Not Practice
WR Aaron Dobson (foot)
LT Nate Solder (concussion)
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee)
LB Brandon Spikes (knee)
CB Marquice Cole (shin)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee)
S Steve Gregory (finger)
RT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
CB Aqib Talib (hip)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
OT Will Svitek (ankle)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
|12.11.13 at 2:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — If things don’t work out for him as Rob Gronkowski‘s replacement, Patriots tight end D.J. Williams might want to try the stand-up circuit.
He was en fuego Wednesday as he compared picking up the Patriots offense to charming an attractive woman of Hispanic descent.
“It’s just the terminology,” Williams said. “The concepts are pretty much the same. It’s just called different. It’s like trying to pick up Spanish. This offense is very attractive and if you found a very attractive Hispanic lady, you’d pick it up pretty quick.
“I’ll get in trouble for that. Just have a good time. That’s all it is.”
The good time for Williams in New England began on Nov. 27 when the Patriots signed him as insurance when Michael Hoomanawanui went down with a knee injury. When Hooman came back from injury, Williams was released. Then Gronkowski went down for the season on Sunday with a right knee injury and the Patriots went back to Williams.
“It’s huge. Being here before, getting a little head start, now I’m able to break the huddle and know if I need to go right or left,” Williams said tongue-in-cheek. “So, that’s a big start. I’m glad I’ve got that down. I guess I could go back down and mess that up but no where but up from here.”
Williams, 25, played in seven games with one start for Jacksonville this season before being released by the Jaguars on Nov. 4. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick (101st overall) by Green Bay out of Arkansas in 2011. Williams was waived by Green Bay on Aug. 31, and claimed off waivers and awarded to Jacksonville on Sept. 1. He has played in 34 NFL games with three starts and has nine receptions for 70 yards. Williams has yet to be active for a Patriots game.
“The carryover sometimes hits me,” Williams continued. “Even today [Wednesday] in the meeting room, we were going over one play and I was having a hard time understanding it. Matt Mulligan, he was with me at Green Bay, he said, ‘It’s like so-and-so this play.’ I was like, ‘Oh, makes sense now.’ It’s good having him here too to help me figure out the similarities between two different offenses.”
What really helps Williams is the way Tom Brady approaches all players in the meeting rooms and on the field.
“The way he approaches us in the huddle,” Williams said. “In the meeting rooms, he’ll say, ‘I need you to do this.’ Usually, he’s talking to Rob when he’s doing that. Nothing’s changed and he expects us to be able to step up and play. And we expect it from ourselves, too. So, it’s good to know that our quarterback can have trust in us to get out there and make plays.”
Williams said he gave some thought to hanging around New England the first time he was released on Dec. 4 but decided to spend some time with the family.
“I thought about it just to see what was going to happen,” Williams said. “But I didn’t have my car or anything here and I was going to get bored. So, I figured I’d go home and enjoy the good weather and got caught in an ice storm in Arkansas. I had a lot of time to spend with my mom. She enjoyed it a lot.”
|12.11.13 at 2:51 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Don’t expect a lot of stoppages in play Sunday.
This weekend’s game between the Patriots and Dolphins in South Florida will feature two of the least-penalized teams in the league. Not including penalties that were declined or offset, New England comes into the contest with 57 penalties — second fewest in the NFL — while the Dolphins are the least-penalized team in the league with 55. In addition, the 534 penalty yards against the Patriots is 30th in the league. Only Miami (502) and Indy (499) have been hit with fewer penalty yards.
Both the Dolphins and Patriots have played two games this season where they didn’t get hit with a single penalty. New England wasn’t flagged once in an October loss to the Bengals, as well as a win over the Texans earlier this month. Meanwhile, Miami wasn’t hit with a single penalty in a September win over Indy, as well as last week against the Steelers.
To put that sort of smart, disciplined play into proper perspective, there are teams like the Buccaneers (106), Seahawks (104) and Rams (100) that already are into triple digits when it comes to total penalties. Tampa Bay leads the league with 1,000 penalty yards, while Seattle is close behind at 966.
In truth, through the first 13 games, it’s been a good season for New England when it comes to penalties. Through 13 games last season, the Patriots had been hit with 79 penalties for a total of 680 yards. In the same span in 2011 (the first 13 games of the year), the Patriots had 74 penalties and 658 yards. While they won’t set the regular-season mark under Bill Belichick for fewest penalties and least penalty yardage — that came in 2008 with 57 penalties and 501 yards — this year’s total represents nearly a 20 percent reduction in penalties and penalty yardage from the previous two seasons.
‘It’s just about playing smart football,’ said defensive lineman Rob Ninkovich, who has been flagged for just one penalty this year and two dating back to the start of the 2012 season. ‘You can’t win football games and expect to win games by having a lot of penalties. It just comes down to basic fundamentals. If you’re a defense, you’re trying to do your best to stay onsides and not jump off — that’s huge for the D-line. Giving up free five-yard plays every time, that hurts eventually.’
The only positional grouping for the Patriots that hasn’t been flagged over the course of the first 13 games of the season is the running backs. In fact, the last two seasons, the running backs consistently have been one of the lowest-penalized positional groupings on the team. In 2012, they were the least-penalized group with two penalties and five yards, and in 2011 they had one penalty for five yards.
At the other end of the spectrum, the cornerbacks have been hit with 128 yards worth of penalties, including a team-high six for Aqib Talib. That high yardage total is no surprise — with pass interference and defensive holding calls coming into play, cornerbacks are the most likely position to rack up higher penalty yardage. (To that point, this year the Patriots have been hit with six defensive holding penalties — four of them against Talib — and four pass interference calls.)
|12.11.13 at 2:02 pm ET|
|12.11.13 at 12:36 pm ET|
The man-to-man coverage skills. The leadership. The fierce competitiveness. And the personality.
As Belichick reminded everyone Wednesday, the 27-year-old corner has drawn the best opposing receiver dating all the way back to training camp, when he drew Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson and Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson. And with the exception of Steve Smith of the Panthers and last week against Josh Gordon, Talib has more than risen to the occasion.
“He’s very competitive. Even from preseason practices, whether it was jumping in line to cover DeSean Jackson or Vincent Jackson or whoever it is, he always wants to compete against the best and feels like it brings out the best in him. He’s a great competitor, he’s a good teammate, he works hard. I think he’s ready to meet any challenge that we’ve given him, whether it be in the kicking game, defensively, run responsibilities, coverage responsibilities, whatever it happens to be. If it helps the team, he’s willing to do it.”
Talib is often seen in the locker room during media availability joking around with fellow defensive backs such as Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington and Marquice Cole. He was the former housemate of running back LeGarrette Blount, whom he knows from his days in Tampa.
“He’s got good energy. He’s a good teammate. He’s very respected in the locker room and liked in the locker room, which is not always the case. I think he has a good rapport with everybody, the offensive players, defensive players, the DBs and the skill players. The linemen. He just has a good way about him. He’s not the class clown but at the same time he has a good personality and he’s serious and competitive. He’s got a nice mixture of all of those things. He kind of goes well in a lot of different settings.”
Steve Gregory is another defensive back who has seen – up close – what Talib brings to the table, on and off the field.
“He brings a lot of confidence to the group. He definitely brings some swagger,” Gregory said. “He’s a fun guy to be around, a good teammate, studies hard, puts in the preparation just as hard as anybody else on this team. He’s a great guy to be around and a guy that we’re glad that’s on our team.
“He definitely brings a good amount of energy to the game, not only on Sundays but every day in practice and in the meeting rooms and things like that. He brings that and it definitely spreads amongst the other guys.”
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