|09.17.14 at 6:25 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The two buzzwords flying around Gillette Stadium this week are “balance” and “trust.” Balance in play-calling and distribution, according to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, will lead to a more efficient and productive offense.
Trust in the receiving corps will lead to Brady looking over all of his passing options and not zeroing in on just one or two targets.
Balance, as we saw on Sunday, can be found by tweaking play-calling from week to week. Earning Brady’s Trust, as Rob Gronkowski pointed out Wednesday can be something altogether different.
“It’s takes a long time,” Gronkowski said. “I’ve been here a few years now. You just have to go out there every practice, work hard, work overtime, stay after practice, get the same chemistry down. It’s just the chemistry with Tom, it’s the chemistry with the other wide receivers, with the timing. Chemistry with the offensive linemen. It’s just overall working together as a whole, as a unit.”
Gronkowski has earned Brady’s trust by becoming the most dependable red-zone target while also getting himself open many times in key third-down situations and holding onto the ball in traffic. But Gronkowski, who has caught eight passes on a season-high 17 targets over the first two games, knows he and Julian Edelman (15 targets) can’t do it all. Tom Brady acknowledged Wednesday that distribution starts with the quarterback and goes from there. If the Patriots are to be the offense everyone expects, then contributions need to come from receivers such as Aaron Dobson, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola and Tim Wright.
“Definitely,” Gronkowski said when asked if balance would make his life easier. “It will open up holes for everyone on the offense. That’s why you want to click as a whole on offense. You want everyone to be on the same tempo. You want everyone to be on the same page so everyone has equal opportunity when their number is called to make that play. If you’re working together, you know the sky’s the limit if everyone’s clicking. That all starts in practice. You have to keep working hard, keep doing reps in practice and we have to be all on the same page and go out there and be a unit.”
|09.17.14 at 5:59 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Jerod Mayo‘s absence from Wednesday practice was not injury related, according to the team.
The veteran linebacker was not spotted during the media portion of practice on Wednesday, and was identified as missing the session — however, the team noted on the injury report that it was not the result of an injury issue. In addition to Mayo’s absence, the only other player who was noted as out from today’s practice was safety Don Jones, who reportedly has a hamstring issue.
The Patriots also listed nine players as limited, including tight end Rob Gronkowski (knee), linebacker Jamie Collins (thigh) and offensive lineman Ryan Wendell.
Here’s a look at the complete report:
Did Not Practice
LB Jerod Mayo (not injury related)
S Don Jones (hamstring)
DE Michael Buchanan (ankle)
LB Jamie Collins (thigh)
OL Dan Connolly (knee)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder)
WR Julian Edelman (back)
TE Rob Gronkowski (knee)
DT Sealver Siliga (hand)
RB Shane Vereen (shoulder)
OL Ryan Wendell (knee)
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|09.17.14 at 5:57 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Winning the turnover battle is one of the biggest keys to winning each week in the NFL, regardless of the opponent.
Since 2000, the Patriots are 116-12 when winning the turnover battle, compared to 27-37 when they don’t. Even further, New England is 97-5 since 2003 when having a plus turnover margin.
The Patriots have won the turnover battle in each of the first two games this season and are tied for the lead the AFC with a plus five turnover differential. They are also tied for second in the entire NFL, with only the Panthers having a better differential at plus six.
“We try and emphasize on just getting the ball,” defensive end Chandler Jones said. “Turnover differential, turnover margin, we just have to win always. We try and get the ball back into our offenses hands and whenever you can get the ball into Tom’s hands good things will happen.”
Although Jones didn’t have any of the four Patriots turnovers against the Vikings, he did have a monster game. Jones blocked a 48-yard field goal attempt and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown to give New England a 24-7 halftime lead. He also finished the game with eight total tackles and his fifth career two-sack game. For his performance he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
“Our defense played very well, but there is always room for improvement,” said Jones. “As far as the Player of the Week thing, that’s our defense. It’s a defensive effort, it’s all 11 men on the field. We play hard out there and the biggest thing is moving forward to Oakland.”
The defense enters Sunday’s home opener against the Raiders ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense. They will have a chance to build even more confidence as the Raiders come into the game with the second-worst ranked offense in the entire league.
After allowing 33 points in Week 1, the defense rebounded nicely only allowing seven last week against the Vikings, partly because of the team’s preparation leading up to the game – something they are already hard at work on getting ready for Week 3 and the Raiders.
“I feel like we went out there and we saw the results of buying into what the coaches said and doing our job — executing, paying attention to detail, the little things that coach said trying to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” Jones said. “It definitely showed out there when we go out and execute.”
|09.17.14 at 4:54 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Sometimes one week can make all the difference in the world.
In Week 1 against the Dolphins the Patriots ran for just 89 yards, only 28 of them coming in the second half as they ran just seven running plays the final 30 minutes of the game. Week 2 against the Vikings was a different story as the team ran for 150 total yards, 96 of them coming in the second half.
Stevan Ridley led the way, rushing for 101 yards on 21 carries.
“We’ve improved each week. I think Miami to Minnesota, I think [the offense and offensive line] made a drastic improvement,” Ridley said. “We all keep leaning on each other and relying on each other. I think we’re going to be OK towards the end of the year.”
On a personal level, the key for Ridley was staying patient as he only rushed for 29 yards in the first half, but was able to pick it up in the second half against a tired and demoralized Minnesota defense.
“Every back goes out there and wants to take it the distance, but there are going to be times that it’s going to be just two yards, three yards and you just have to keep plugging,” said Ridley. “You have stay disciplined as a runner and keep your legs moving and falling forward. That’s what you have to do to get the tough yardage, eventually they are going to break and you’ll get some big runs.”
Overall, the Patriots rank 16th in the NFL in rushing, this after being ranked 21st following Week 1. Like Ridley said, the Patriots are focused on getting better each week, wanting to reach its peak once December and the end of the season hits.
Ridley isn’t the only back who has seen time as Shane Vereen has been a force both in the running game and catching passes out of the backfield. Vereen has 76 yards on 13 carries and has caught six passes for 35 yards. Running the ball effectively and with consistency goes a long way in the Patriots offense as the team is 38-1 when a player runs for 100 yards or more under Bill Belichick.
“It’s only Week 3. The first week we struggled and the second week we got it going. There’s a lot of football left to be played, so I don’t want to jump in front of myself. From week-to-week I see improvement and that’s all we can ask for, especially with the group of guys that we have up there. There are some new faces – I think we all know that – but, like I said we’re just going in week in and week out showing what we can do,” Ridley said. “Eventually, these upcoming weeks, hopefully we will have a balanced attack going into every game and that’s what makes us hard [to stop]. The key word is hard work around here and that’s what we do.”
|09.17.14 at 2:30 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price preview the Patriots’ home opener vs. the Oakland Raiders. The pair talk about how Bill Belichick has adjusted his offensive line to provide a spark to the running attack, Stevan Ridley’s resurgence and the need for Tom Brady to start distributing the ball in the offense.
|09.17.14 at 1:48 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Continuing with a theme that the 0-2 Raiders pose a legitimate threat to the Patriots in New England’s home opener, Bill Belichick explained why he feels Oakland should be taken seriously, starting with their speed and size.
“I think that this team looks like the big, fast team that the Raiders have historically been known for,” Belichick said. “They’re big at every position ‘ their line is big, their receivers are big, backs are big, defensive line is big, secondary is big, kicker is big. They’re fast. I don’t know how many guys they have run under I’d say 4.4, 4.5, but it has to be a dozen, maybe more than that. I don’t know. There’s a lot.
“They’re fast at linebacker, they’re fast ‘ DBs are all fast. Even the safeties are fast. [Usama] Young is fast, obviously Woodson is fast. Tyvon Branch is sub-4.4. These guys can all ‘ they have a big, fast team. You see it in the kicking game. You see it certainly defensively. Teams that try to run outside and bounce the ball out on them, it’s not one guy making the play. It’s like four guys that are out there before the back gets out there. They have very good team speed. Overall, they’re big. I don’t know what their offensive line, I don’t even know what they list them at, but just looking at them, they have to average 340 [pounds]. They’re huge. It looks like the Raiders. Maybe they look bigger in those black uniforms, I don’t know.”
With all the leadership on the Raiders, including Tuck and Charles Woodson, Belichick has warned his team to be aware of a desperate team looking for a win that could turn its season around before it’s too late.
“That’s the first thing I said. I think with the leadership out there, the veterans that they have on that team, guys that are used to winning, guys that they’ve brought in that have been in all those playoff games and Super Bowls and all that, I’m sure that they’re ‘ I mean look, this is where we were a week ago,” Belichick said. “This is the same thing we heard in here last Wednesday or whenever it was, after the Miami game. I’m sure they feel after the Houston game the way we felt after the Miami game. Last week doesn’t mean anything in the NFL. It’s what happens this week. That’s all we can focus on is what we can do to get ready for this game. We have a lot to get ready for. They have a lot of good players, good team, and they have a lot of pride; they have a lot of toughness. It’s going to be hard.”
|09.17.14 at 1:09 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Jamie Collins returned to practice Wednesday but another linebacker was absent as the Patriots began preparations for the Oakland Raiders in the home openers this Sunday.
Jerod Mayo was not spotted at the start of full pads practice as the team worked out on the upper grass fields.
Collins missed practice Thursday and Friday last week with a thigh injury and was inactive for the 30-7 win over the Vikings on Sunday.
Mayo did not play a snap in the preseason but has played in both of the team’s regular season games, as he returns from a torn pectoral muscle that ended his season last October in a win against the Saints.
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