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Amid impromptu press conference Bill Belichick offers high praise for players: ‘I’m proud of this team’

01.24.15 at 8:50 pm ET
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Bill Belichick said he was proud of his team during Saturday's press conference. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick said he was proud of his team during Saturday’s press conference. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — This was a Bill Belichick no one had ever seen before.

The coach with over 40 years of coaching experience rarely ever gets as fired up and passionate about something as he did Saturday afternoon in an impromptu press conference to put an end to the Deflategate story this week — at least for the time being.

It was in that 25 or so minute press conference that he went off course a bit and discussed this year’s team and how hard they work when referencing the footballs the team uses in practice, as they are often messed with (ie. pouring water on them) to prepare the team for the toughest of playing conditions.

“Anyone who has seen us practice knows that we make it harder, not easier, to handle the football,” Belichick said. “Our players train in conditions that a lot of people would recommend that we not drive in. That’€™s what they do. They’€™re a physically and mentally tough team that works hard, that trains hard, that prepares hard and have met every challenge that I put in front of them. And I know that because I work them every day.”

“This team was the best team in the AFC in the regular season. We won two games in the playoffs against two good football teams. The best team in the postseason, that’€™s what this team is,” he added. “I know that because I’€™ve been with them every day and I’€™m proud of this team.”

Despite all the distractions this week, the team still has their biggest task of the season ahead — Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks Feb. 1 in Glendale. The team is looking to avoid losing three straight Super Bowl games and give Belichick his fourth title as a head coach.

He sent a strong message — he is moving on. Moving on to more important things like preparing his team, which he genuinely likes and believes in, for the Seahawks and next week’s Super Bowl.

“This is the end of this subject for me for a long time, OK? We have a huge game, a huge challenge for our football team and that’€™s where that focus is going to go,” said Belichick.

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Super Bowl XLIX,

Bill Belichick: Patriots have ‘absolutely followed every rule to the letter’

01.24.15 at 3:38 pm ET
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Bill Belichick said the Patriots followed every rule to the letter. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images).

Bill Belichick said the Patriots followed every rule to the letter. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images).

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick spoke Saturday afternoon for over 23 minutes on the Deflategate situation, maintaining the team didn’t do anything wrong and followed “every rule to the letter” after conducting an internal investigation.

Here is his partial opening statement:

“I want to take this opportunity to share this information. I’ve spent a significant amount of time this past week learning what I could learn, more than I could ever imagine to tell you the truth about ladders, air gauges, stitching, pressure, game day ball preparation, rub downs, so forth.

“I’m trying to be as helpful as I can here with everything I have learned. Having coached for 40 years in the National Football League, played for several years, growing up in a football family, being around this game my entire life, it’s clear that I don’t know very much about this area.

“Over the last few days I have learned a lot more than I ever knew, exceptionally more. I feel like this is important because there have been questions raised and I believe now 100 percent that I have personally, and we as an organization have absolutely followed every rule to the letter. I feel on behalf on everyone in the organization, everyone that is involved in the organization that I needed to say something.”

Belichick said he talked to people outside the organization and conducted their own internal study of the process. He said the Patriots’ process raises PSI approximately one pound. He also maintained the feel of the football is the most important part for the quarterbacks. The coach also stated the balls were never prepared in a heated environment and never were prepared outside or near the team’s locker room.

“In no time was the ball ever put in any type of a heated environment,” he said. “We rub it to get the ball to the proper texture. I don’t know what is vigorous, what isn’t vigorous — I mean we’re not polishing fine china here. We’re trying to get a football to the proper texture that the quarterback wants to grip it. Does that stimulate something inside the ball to raise the PSI? I would say yes it does.”

Belichick added: “In this case I can say that we are as far as I know and everything that I can do, we did everything as right as we could do it. We welcome the league’s investigation into this matter. I think there are a number of things that need to be looked into, on a number of levels, but that is not for this conversation. I am sure that will be taken up at another point in time.

“This is the end of this subject for me for a long time. We have a huge game, a huge challenge for our football team and that is where that focus is going to go. I’ve spent more than enough time on this and I am happy to share the information with you to try to tell you some of the things that I have learned over the last week, which I have learned way more than I have ever thought I would learn — the process, the whole thing is much more complex. There are a lot of variables that I was unaware of.”

The Patriots coach then took a few questions and Spygate was brought up, when it came to the Patriots “erring on the sign of caution.” Belichick was not pleased with the question.

“That’s a whole different discussion,” Belichick said. “The guy is giving signals in front of 80,000 people. OK, so we filmed them giving signals in front of 80,000 people like there were a lot of other teams doing at that time, too. Look, forget about that. If we were wrong then we’ve been disciplined for that.”

Added Belichick: “The guy is in front of 80,000 people. 80,000 people saw it. Everybody’s sideline saw it. Everyone sees our guy in front of 80,000 people I mean there he is. It was wrong, we were disciplined for it. That’s it. We never did it again. We’re never going to do it again. Any other thing that’s close we’re not going to do it either.”

The Patriots will now attempt to move onto the actual game, next Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Seahawks in Glendale, Arizona.

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Deflategate, Super Bowl XLIX

Danny Amendola ready for Seahawks Legion of Boom secondary: ‘They fly around, they play hard’

01.24.15 at 1:54 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots have shown they can beat some of the top defenses in the league through the air this season, by the way of their seven straight wins from early October to late November.

Seattle’s defense may be their toughest test yet and going up against its Legion of Boom secondary.

“They are good. They fly around, they play hard and we’re going to continue to prepare for them,” wide receiver Danny Amendola said Saturday.

The Seahawks had to earn their way to the Super Bowl as they came from behind to beat the Packers in overtime in the NFC championship game. Seattle didn’t allow a touchdown in the second half — only two field goals — in its 28-22 win.

“They are a good team. They play hard for four quarters and in their case a little longer. It’s going to be a battle for sure,” Amendola said.

Facing their own secondary in Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Devin McCourty among others in practice should prepare the Patriots receivers for whatever is to come next Sunday when they go up against Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and the rest of the Legion of Boom.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Those guys are some of the best to play that position and they play against us every day.”

Amendola caught 27 passes this season for 200 yards and a touchdown, but has picked up his play in the postseason and become a bigger part in the offense. In the two playoff games he’s caught six passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the divisional round game with the Ravens.

This will be Amendola’s first Super Bowl and he said he is trying to do his best to treat it like any other game.

“It’s a game, we’re going to prepare the same way we prepare for every single game,” he said. “Every game is the biggest game because it’s the game of the week, so this is the game of the week for us.”

Scoring points will be hard to come by against the Seattle defense, which allowed an average of 15.9 points per game, the lowest in the NFL. The magic number for the Patriots is 23, as they are 12-0 this season when scoring 23 or more points.

“You just have to make plays. I feel like our coaches are putting us in a position to be successful and we have to play really well, they are a great defense and we have to be ready,” Amendola said.

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Danny Amendola, Super Bowl XLIX,

All Patriots players present at practice Saturday

01.24.15 at 12:46 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots held practice inside the Dana Farber Fieldhouse at Gillette Stadium two days before departing for Arizona and Super Bowl XLIX.

All players were present for the session, which was held in sweats and shells.

It’s worth mentioning rookie center Bryan Stork appeared to be moving well and had a brace and sleeve on his injured knee. He was listed as questionable for the game on the injury report, which came out on Friday night. It was the third straight day he practiced.

The team will hold one more practice (Sunday) before departing for Arizona on Monday.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Super Bowl XLIX,

Vince Wilfork on Deflategate: ‘We can’t let anything take our excitement away’

01.23.15 at 8:44 pm ET
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FOXBORO — If the NFL thinks it can ruin the Super Bowl experience for the Patriots and their players over Deflategate, Vince Wilfork has a message for them.

“We can’€™t let anything take our excitement away,” the Patriots captain and 11-year veteran said Friday. “We worked hard to get here and everybody in that locker room is excited to play this game, and we need to be, we should be. You’€™re not going to take that away from us. You can’€™t take our joy away from us.”

Wilfork, with his trademark smile, answered reporters Friday wondering if the ongoing controversy might take away from the anticipation for the Super Bowl. Is Wilfork still excited for football’s most important game?

“Very excited,” said Wilfork, who is about to take the field for his fourth Super Bowl. “This is ‘€“ besides coming to training camp when you’€™re away from football the whole offseason ‘€“ I think this is one of the most exciting times of the year, especially if you have a team that’€™s in it. Our job is to be able to prepare well, and hopefully that’€™s good enough to win this ballgame. Everything we put into it to this point, everything we have, we’€™re going to have to leave on the field, and everything energy-wise we have has got to be geared towards getting that accomplished. That’€™s where I’€™m at right now. Hopefully the team feels the same way. You have a locker room full of guys that are happy and excited, and we should be.”

As for the deflated football controversy, Wilfork insists he’s not giving much time to it, while admitting he is preparing himself for more questions and distractions on the subject in the days leading up to the game.

“Here we are with the biggest game of our career, and that’€™s what it’€™s about,” Wilfork said. “It’€™s about going out and being able to play a game you work so hard for and be in the Super Bowl. That’€™s what it’€™s about. [We’€™ve] got to be able to eliminate all distractions right now, and I’€™m pretty sure we’€™ll have more distractions, but at the same time, I think we’€™ve done a great job around here all year of just being so focused on our opponents and what we have to do to win a ballgame. That’€™s where I’€™m at right now, so nothing different for me. [We’€™re] facing a good football team so we have to do everything we can to be able to play well against them this game.”

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Deflategate, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks

Report: Vince Wilfork fined $8,268 for late hit against Colts

01.23.15 at 6:05 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork was given a 15-yard penalty for a late hit on Andrew Luck in the second quarter of Sunday’ AFC championship game, but that wasn’t the only slap on the wrist.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the defensive tackle was fined $8,268 for the play. It was on a drive that led to the only touchdown of the game.

Fine aside, Wilfork is looking forward to next weekend’s Super Bowl — his fourth as a member of the Patriots.

“Everything you dreamed, it’€™s about to come true,” Wilfork said Friday. “Enjoy this feeling, enjoy this time, [and] feel proud of yourself because we’€™ve battled a lot, we’€™ve played a lot of football, we’€™ve been grinding for a long, long time, and for it to be here is a special moment for us, so we should all cherish that.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Super Bowl XLVI, Vince Wilfork,

Former Patriots FB Dan Klecko: ‘[Deflategate is] really going to lock [Patriots] in on the us against the world mentality’

01.23.15 at 5:51 pm ET
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Dan Klecko. (Getty Images)

Dan Klecko. (Getty Images)

Dan Klecko was a member of the Patriots from 2003-05 before playing for the Colts, Eagles and Falcons the rest of his career. Being around Bill Belichick and Tom Brady for three seasons and winning back-to-back Super Bowls with the team, he can offer a sense of what is going on behind closed doors leading up to the Super Bowl.

Klecko feels the team and Belichick will use this as an “us against the world” motivation mentality.

“[This is] going to make them hyper focused for the game,” Klecko said via phone on Friday. “It’s really going to lock them in on the us against the world mentality, and we all know what happened the last time something like this — got accused, or found — that was Spygate and they almost went undefeated and being the greatest team of all-time. It’s fun to watch on the outside because I know what is going on in that room.”

“You’ve seen it — ‘We’re onto Cincinnati.’ That’s the joke, but that is the truth,” he added. “This is Tom’s whatever year in the league, he can put this stuff out of his mind. I am sure they are thinking right now, the way we rectify this is — first of all we make the balls are what they want and we go out and smoke Seattle and then hand the balls to everyone and go, ‘There’s your answer.’ I think that’s how they rectify this.”

Klecko said he’s upset at all the criticism directed at Brady because a couple PSI really is not a huge advantage in the grand scheme of things, especially with other players in the league such as Aaron Rodgers saying he likes his balls on the heavier side.

“The biggest thing I keep coming back to that I am most pissed about is Tom. This is ridiculous,” said Klecko. “People really aren’t taking a step back and looking at this situation like it’s some big advantage in the game. The guys from ESPN are bashing Tom. The guys that lost to him. The guys that have agendas on TV. Every other quarterback you’re hearing, even active ones playing in the league, why is there no out cry? They know it’s not a big deal. [Colts tight end] Dwayne Allen came out and said they could have came out with soap bars and beat us. What’s the big deal here? I don’t think people are really taking a step back and looking.”

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Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Dan Klecko, Super Bowl XLIX

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