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This will be no ordinary week for Patriots, and Giants for that matter

08.29.11 at 9:44 pm ET
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Well, at least the Patriots aren’t going to be playing preseason games three apart.

But getting an extra three days of rest went out the window with Hurricane Irene, as they lost power, along with thousands of others, at Gillette Stadium, forcing them to an off-site location on Monday to catch up on film and paper work.

They did manage to cut 11 on Monday, add three players and now are trying to settle into a more normal workflow, beginning with moving back into Gillette on Tuesday.

“Quick turnaround here with the Giants — not as quick as theirs, but still pretty quick,” Bill Belichick said Monday, referring to the fact that the Giants hosted the Jets Monday night at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands. “We’€™ve got to get the film from Detroit out of the way and get ready for the Giants and be ready to go Thursday night.

“So hopefully we’€™ll be able to get the people that were out there practicing last week and maybe add a few more to that and increase our numbers of participants on the roster. So we’€™ll see how that goes tomorrow and hopefully that will be the case. That’€™s about it. We weathered the storm and we should get back hopefully into a normal flow of things here tomorrow.”

With Gillette unavailable, how were Belichick and his staff affected on Monday?

“We shuffled down a little bit here,” he said. “We’€™re working outside of the stadium, but we should be back there in a little while and it sounds like we’€™ll be back to normal.”

Belichick actually pointed to the two West Coast road trips of 2009 as good experience for handling things on the fly.

“We’€™ve been on the road before ‘€“ been away for weeks, a week at a time, whether it was the west coast trips a couple of years ago, the London trip, or whatever it happened to be, so we’€™re managing,” Belichick said. “We’€™re okay.”

Deion Branch said he weathered the storm fairly well once he got back to his North Attleboro home early Sunday morning after the 34-10 loss Saturday night in Detroit.

“I’€™m pretty good,” Branch said of his home. ” [In] North Attleboro, everything has been pretty cool. I don’€™t know about everybody in the area. My family is just now getting back, so they were stuck in Detroit. That may be the only scare that I really had. Other than that, the wind was blowing pretty good, like they said, like they predicted, high winds. Other than that, it was pretty smooth. [Monday was] a beautiful day. Hopefully we can get out and clean up some of the mess that [Hurricane] Irene caused and left behind.”

How disruptive was it to move work operations away from the stadium on Monday? Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Deion Branch, New England Patriots, New York Giants

Patriots ‘have all the respect in the world’ for James Sanders

08.29.11 at 8:45 pm ET
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Safe to say, James Sanders wasn’t the only one in the Patriots locker room stunned by his release on Monday. But veterans and rookies alike know that the unpredictable is the norm in the NFL and while Sanders was likable and respected by everyone in the locker room, he was given his walking papers primarily because he was scheduled to make $2.8 million in 2011, a lot to pay your third or fourth safety on the roster.

On Monday, shortly after Sanders got his walking papers from the Pats, word quickly spread to his teammates that he was looking elsewhere for work.

Linebacker Jerod Mayo played with Sanders for the last two seasons and got to know Sanders and appreciated his leadership on and off the field.

“James is a great player,” Mayo said Monday after getting the news. “It’€™s not really my job to evaluate guys and how they do on the field. Coach Belichick made the decision, and did what he thought was the best decision for the team. I have all the respect in the world for James.”

As for coach Bill Belichick, he agreed with Mayo’s assessment on the safety whom he selected in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

“Tough release there with James Sanders,” Belichick said. “James has been a good guy to have on this team. A hard-working kid. He really has developed from the time he came to us as a draft choice from Fresno [State] and he’€™s been a really solid team player for us but we just, part of the move, needed to release people. But he was a tough one.”

Any regrets?

“Well, we just did what we felt was best for the football team at this time,” Belichick said. “That’€™s the best way I can answer it. Not a lot of negatives with James, but we have to select the players that we feel like are best for our team.”

As for Sanders, he did what any savvy professional athlete would do given Monday’s circumstances; he took to twitter to thank New England fans and teammates, and ask anyone if they knew of anyone needing a safety.

Odds are, given his reputation he won’t be unemployed long. He certainly has good references in New England.

Read More: Bill Belichick, James Sanders, Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots

NFL Network will air two-part Bill Belichick documentary next month

08.29.11 at 6:55 pm ET
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For those of you bemoaning the fact the lockout derived everyone of another behind-the-scenes “Hard Knocks” look at the NFL, the crew at NFL Films has you covered. They announced on Monday that they would be airing “Bill Belichick: A Football Life” this fall on the NFL Network. Belichick was mic’d up for the entire 2009 season, and the results will be presented in a two-part documentary that begins on Sept. 15 at 9 p.m. (The second part airs Sept. 22 at 10 p.m.) Click here for a preview.

Here’s part of the press release that was sent out Monday by NFL Films:

Belichick is the first subject of a new series by the Emmy Award-winning producers at NFL Films, offering untold stories into the lives of some the NFL’€™s most recognizable icons. Each documentary provides unprecedented access to each featured individual to tell the story of how their legacy is forever intertwined in the fabric of NFL history.

“Bill Belichick doesn’€™t only make history — he studies it; he understands his place in it; and he appreciates our desire to capture it,’€ said NFL Films president Steve Sabol. ‘€œLike Vince Lombardi‘€™s Packers in 1967, Belichick and the Patriots gave us access to his football life and what we created is a portrait of the coach, the father, the taskmaster — and most importantly — the man.’€

In the 2009 season, which marked Belichick’€™s 35th consecutive year in the NFL and the Patriots’€™ 50th Anniversary season, NFL Films documented sides of the three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach few have ever seen. While his unmatched record as a head coach makes him no stranger to the NFL record books, Belichick made history in the production of A Football Life by becoming the only coach to ever be wired for sound for an entire NFL season.

‘€œThis documentary would not have been possible without the support of Robert and Jonathan Kraft and the entire Patriots organization,’€ said Howard Katz, senior vice president NFL Media and COO of NFL Films. ‘€œMr. Kraft is always searching for new ways to bring the fans closer to the game and this project was a perfect collaboration between the Patriots and NFL Films.’€

Actor Josh Charles (CBS’€™ The Good Wife) lends his voice to the two-part documentary that begins with Belichick spending his last day of the offseason in Nantucket before reporting to training camp the following day. The 2009 Patriots, who welcomed the return of QB Tom Brady, faced a number of personnel changes from the front office to the field. ‘Bill Belichick: A Football Life’ chronicles Belichick through the season in a variety of roles and situations including his last trip to Giants Stadium, game planning with quarterback Tom Brady, lighter moments with members of his team and family, and a look inside Belichick’€™s childhood during a visit with mother, Jeannette.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Howard Katz, Josh Charles, Steve Sabol

Vince Wilfork on Big Show: ‘Detroit game wasn’t who we really are’

08.29.11 at 6:28 pm ET
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Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork joined The Big Show as apart of Patriots Monday to discuss Saturday’s game with the Lions, what the team can do better and wanting to play in the fourth preseason game, among other things.

“That New England Patriots team that just played the Detroit Lions, that is not who we are,” Wilfork said. “That is one thing we have to show. We know that is not us, so we have to prove it to ourselves, the coaching staff, the fans. We have to prove who we really are. That Detroit game wasn’t us at all.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

On Saturday’s loss to the Lions: “Any time you lose a ballgame, you’re going to question what happened. I think that was the case all the way around the locker room, what we could have done better and go to Detroit and put out a better effort. We got a chance to sit back and watch film and go over corrections and it was a lot of things that happened in the game that shouldn’t have, a lot of football that was played the way it shouldn’t be played. At the same time there were things that we did well. At this point you have to correct and move forward. Thursday night with the Giants it will be rockin’ again. We have to put one foot forward and keep striding to be the best. We’re going to take another step this week.”

On what the Patriots could have done better: “First of all, it was inconsistent football all the way around. Defensively the screens killed us, at times we had them backed up and we let them off the leash. It was just a lot of inconsistencies. One things we pride ourselves around is being consistent and being able to play on the road, handle the road crowd, all those things. I don’t think we did a pretty good job of that.

“Defensively, giving up big plays played a big factor of what went on. Just little stuff here and there that made plays look even worse. You got to go back to the drawing board. We have one preseason game to go against the Giants and we have to make these corrections and move forward. The last thing we can do is sit back now and say, ‘What if, what if, what if, we should have …’ That’s it. It’s over with. We’ve watched film, and hopefully against the Giants we don’t make those mistakes. Sooner or later those mistakes are going to add up and bite us in the butts.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Vince Wilfork,

Bill Belichick on Big Show: Chad Ochocinco ‘has made a lot of strides with offense’

08.29.11 at 6:24 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined The Big Show on Patriots Monday to discuss what went wrong Saturday in the preseason game against the Lions, the releasing of James Sanders, the offensive line’s play Saturday and the final preseason game, among all other things Patriots related.

Following are highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

On Chad Ochocinco making progress: “Absolutely, without a doubt he has made a lot of strides with the offense with the time he has been here. We’ve thrown a lot at him, and there is still a ways to go. I think getting open, catching the ball, working on timing with the quarterback in the passing game, coordination with the other receivers and so forth — the passing game is so dependent on that and as a unit we have to do a better job. Chad is working hard and getting better. I think our passing game is getting better. It didn’t all show in the game against Detroit, it is hard for anyone to look at that game and see improvement, but I am saying on a day-to-day basis we go out there and practice and some aspects in the game were better. We have to be more consistent than that.”

On what the coaching staff could do better: “Obviously, when you go out and play like that I don’t know how you can like the way the team was prepared and the way they performed. I didn’t go out there and play, but my job is to prepare the team, and based on the way we played there is not much I can take pride in there.”

On what went wrong vs. the Lions: “It is probably a combination of all of it. We didn’t get off to a very good start, obviously. Once we saw that we were a little bit on defensive mode we didn’t turn it around. In some cases we just made it easier for them with turnovers and long-yardage situations and negative plays, sacks, penalties. Then we kept it going defensively with more big plays and let them out of long-yardage situations, not that we had them in a lot of them — screens, scrambles. We didn’t do much in the return game to help ourselves. We were inconstant in a lot of areas and just never got it going back to a competitive game.”

On the release of James Sanders: “It is always tough when you have to release players, especially guys that have played for you and won for you. James certainly has done a lot of that, he has played a lot of good football here. He has been a solid team player, teammate and member of the team. Ultimately. we have to make the decision we feel is best for our team. That is an unfortunate part of this job and we will be doing it later this week. It is a tough part of the business, but one we all enter to with open eyes.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chad Ochocinco, James Sanders,

Full rundown of Monday roster moves from the Patriots

08.29.11 at 5:19 pm ET
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So here’s the complete list of transactions the Patriots have announced Monday afternoon in anticipation of tomorrow’€™s mandatory NFL roster limit of 80 players:

The team released veterans long snapper Matt Katula, tight end Garrett Mills, safety James Sanders, cornerback Jonathan Wilhite and defensive lineman Kade Weston; first-year players wide receiver Tyree Barnes and wide receiver Darnell Jenkins; 2011 seventh-round draft pick defensive back Malcolm Williams and rookie free agents kicker Chris Koepplin, defensive end Clay Nurse and offensive lineman Mark Wetterer.

In addition, the Patriots signed wide receiver Tiquan Underwood and safety Ross Ventrone. Underwood, 6-foot-1, 183 pounds, is a veteran of two NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was released by Jacksonville on August 25. Underwood originally entered the NFL as a seventh round draft choice (253rd overall) by Jacksonville in the 2009 NFL Draft out of Rutgers. After beginning his rookie season on the practice squad, he joined the 53-man roster and appeared in three games, mainly on special teams. Last season, he played in 10 games and caught eight passes for 111 yards and returned 24 kicks for 561 yards, including a career-long of 53 yards in the season-opener vs. Denver (9/12).

“He’€™s a later draft choice ‘€” a player that I think is improving,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Monday. “Obviously he didn’€™t make [the Jaguars’] roster, but we felt like we might have a chance — well we do have a chance now to take a look at him. And so we’€™ll see what that looks like. Good sized receiver. Played with [Kenny] Britt at Rutgers. He hasn’€™t had a lot of playing time and production in the NFL, but he’€™s had some.”

Ventrone, 5-foot-8, 190 pounds, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Villanova on April 29, 2010. He was waived by the Patriots on Sept. 4, 2010 and then signed to the practice squad on Oct. 19, 2010 where he finished the season. Ventrone went to camp with the Patriots in 2011 before being released on August 10.

Read More: Chris Koepplin, Clay Nurse, darnell jenkins, Garrett Mills

Patriots set to sign James Dearth as their new long snapper

08.29.11 at 5:12 pm ET
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The Patriots are set to sign James Dearth as their new long snapper, according to multiple reports.

The 35-year-old out of Tarleton State is a 6-foot-4, 265-pounder who has played for the Jets (nine seasons) and Browns (one season) over the course of his career. He will replace Matt Katula, who was released by the Patriots on Monday. The Patriots also have two other players on their roster ‘€” linebacker Rob Ninkovich and tight end Lee Smith ‘€” who have long-snapping experience.

The news was first reported by Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald.

Read More: James Dearth, Lee Smith, Matt Katula, Rob Ninkovich
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