|08.04.14 at 7:56 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — Redskins coach Jay Gruden knows an aggressive defense when he sees one. As the offensive coordinator of the Bengals and newly minted Andy Dalton, he went up against the Ravens and Steelers twice a year.
On Monday, he complimented the Patriots’ aggressiveness, particularly from the secondary led by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. He called it a “learning experience” for his offense.
“They didn’t have a problem today,” Gruden said. “There’s no referees out there. They have two very physical corners and some of their backups did a nice job as well. It’s a great test for our guys. We’re going to have to work on our releases. I think we got knocked off quite a bit today. I liked the fact that they were physical because teams are going to be physical with our guys until we can fight it off and make them pay.”
Revis had a different perspective but came away with the same feeling.
“We’re getting better every day,” Revis said. “We’re improving every day and this is the time in training camp where we get closer. It’s going well. Everybody is playing at a high level and we just have to continue that high level of playing going into the season.”
But Revis cautioned that he wasn’t focused on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin, or Tom Brady, for that matter.
“I wasn’t really focusing on how they looked,” Revis said. “I’m trying to make sure I do my job and look good out here as well. It’s just competing. That’s all we’re trying to do. Both sides are trying to get each other looks out there and just compete.
“Competition kicks at that time and there might be a couple of words out there at times. It’s all in good [spirit]. We know the Redskins just like they know us. Some of us are friends with each other. It goes back and forth. It’s just competition.”
|08.04.14 at 6:15 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — Vince Wilfork almost dismissed the question out of hand.
He insists that his ruptured Achilles tendon from last September is in the past. He said Monday in the first of three joint practices with the Redskins that he wouldn’t be on the field and wouldn’t have returned to Gillette Stadium work if that weren’t the case.
“I feel fine. To me, that’s in the past. I don’t even think about it,” Wilfork said. “From the first day I stepped on the field with full pads back at Gillette, I knew I could move around and play on it. I really didn’t think much of it after that. It’s an afterthought to me right now.”
Wilfork was the anchor of the odd-man looks the Patriots gave the Redskins on Monday as Bill Belichick worked with plenty of 3-4 defensive looks against the Redskins offensive line. Before the 11-on-11 work against Washington, Wilfork looked impressive and backed up his words by showing agility. He even worked with new teammate and veteran Will Smith in two-on-two rush drills against the Redskins, providing a significant push.
Why was this significant? It was his first work against another team since rupturing his Achilles last Sept. 29 against the Falcons.
The key, said Wilfork Monday, was his offseason work. He may still look big in the midsection, but his movement Monday showed that he can still move his 6-foot-2, 325-pound frame around very well.
“We worked our tails off,” Wilfork said of his work with his trainer and his wife, Bianca. “My training camp began a long time ago — in March. I’ve been working for a long, long time and there’s a reason I feel good and a reason I have the confidence to play. It won’t stop.”
|08.04.14 at 5:46 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia assesses Day 1 of Patriots-Redskins practices, including the absence of tight end Rob Gronkowski and the performance of backup quarterback Ryan Mallett in Monday drills.
|08.04.14 at 2:56 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — The question began as a inquiry on whether Bill Belichick had a long-lasting relationship with new Redskins coach Jay Gruden. It turned into another Belichick stroll down memory lane and how the Redskins were actually tied to his days with the Baltimore Colts in 1975.
“There are a lot of memories that stand out with this organization,” This is kind of the, I’d say, almost second home my first year in the league. When Coach [Ted] Marchibroda came over from the Redskins, he brought the whole Redskins program with him.
I remember just everything we did, one of my jobs was to white out Washington Redskins and type in Baltimore Colts on it and then Xerox it off. It was literally the same — the same offense, and Maxie Baughan was the same defensive coordinator and it was the same defense. I remember there was a couple of pages somehow that snuck into the playbook that Redskins didn’t get whited out and I heard about it on that.”
As Belichick is fond of reminding people, this isn’t 1975 anymore in the NFL. But back then, there was much more emphasis placed on the preseason since offseason organized training was almost non-existent.
“We scrimmaged them three times that year in addition to playing six preseason games in ’75,” Belichick recalled. “So in those scrimmages it was really like an intersquad scrimmage because every call was the same, every play that they ran was our play and every defense that we ran was their defense. We really, I learned a lot about the Redskins organization through the Colts and Coach Allen and his assistants and his staff.”
“That’s kind of — I was brought up with the Colts that first year but it was really the Redskins program over in Baltimore. Of course, growing up in Annapolis, I was kind of a Colts fans but not anti-Redskins. I have a lot of appreciation for them, too. So it was good to have two NFL teams that close to us. This organization has a lot of tradition, great history, and of course when I was with the Giants we had a great rivalry at the Redskins and coach [Joe] Gibbs and playing them twice a year, sometimes three times. Those were some great battles that I’ll never forget. They were just a huge part of my career. That was Redskins, 49ers — those were kind of the biggest games on the schedule each year.”
|08.04.14 at 12:39 pm ET|
Trying to analyze the Patriots depth chart — especially over the course of the preseason with multiple players being shuffled in and out of practice and games — can be something of a fool’s errand. However, the team issued its first game release of the 2014 preseason over the weekend, and with it came a depth chart. While it should be taken with a grain of salt, here are five things we found interesting about the first New England depth chart of the new year.
1. The depth chart appears to be one way to make sure rookies know the pecking order. The only rookie listed above the third spot at their respective position on the depth chart is long snapper Tyler Ott, and that’s only because the Patriots only have two long snappers in camp. Of course, that’s pretty much the way it’s always worked — a look back at preseason depth charts over the last decade or so indicate the same thing. (By way of comparison, the only rookies who are listed above third string at this time last year were punter Ryan Allen, linebacker Jamie Collins and wide receiver Josh Boyce.)
2. Center has Ryan Wendell as the starter, with Chris Barker as the backup, Braxston Cave as the third stringer and rookie Bryan Stork as fourth string. Nothing against Barker and Cave, but as we wrote here, it would be a surprise if Stork didn’t push Wendell over the course of the summer. In addition, Dan Connolly — who has gotten some extended run at center to this point in the spring, and has some experience at the position over the course of his career in New England — isn’t on the center depth chart at all. Instead, he’s listed only as the starting right guard. (For what it’s worth, the Patriots have several players listed at multiple spots on the depth chart. Connolly isn’t one of them.) One more offensive line note — Marcus Cannon is listed as both the backup left tackle and right tackle. If the TCU product can solidify the backup swing tackle position, it will be one fewer personnel question mark for the team going into the 2014 season.
3. The Patriots feature a four-man defensive front — no surprise there — with Vince Wilfork at one defensive tackle and Tommy Kelly at the other spot. Sealver Siliga and Chris Jones are listed as the backup defensive tackles to Wilfork and Kelly, with Joe Vellano working as the third-stringer behind Siliga. The reps to this point in the summer have reflected that, and could speak to the fact that the back end of the depth chart at defensive tackle could get a little tricky. (One more thing about the defensive line — rookie first-round pick Dominique Easley is listed as a fourth-stringer at left defensive end and defensive tackle. Easley and offensive lineman Jon Halapio are the only two rookies listed at multiple spots — the Patriots have Halapio as a third-stringer at right guard and left guard.)
4. The biggest question mark on defense at this point appears to be strong safety. The Patriots listed second-year man Duron Harmon alongside incumbent Devin McCourty, who is expected to be free safety. Patrick Chung and Kanorris Davis are listed as the second- and third-stringers behind Harmon. At McCourty’s position, the Patriots have Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner as the primary backups. From this viewpoint, the depth at the linebacker spot appears to be the biggest concern with the Patriots defense, but other than McCourty, the depth at safety could also be an issue. It will be interesting to see how the snaps break down as the preseason games get underway this week.
5. It appears to be a wide-open field at this point for the role of kick returner, but one guy who appears to have taken most of the reps at the spot is second-year man Josh Boyce. The TCU product is listed as the primary kick returner, with Matthew Slater as the backup and Shane Vereen as the third stringer. Rookies Roy Finch and Travis Hawkins, both of whom also have worked back there, aren’t listed on the depth chart.
|08.04.14 at 12:18 pm ET|
Looks like the Patriots coach has a place to eat when he’s Richmond for the joint practices with the Redskins.
‘ Scott Allen (@ScottSAllen) August 4, 2014
|08.04.14 at 11:59 am ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — The Patriots and Redskins began their 2 1/2-hour initial scrimmage Monday morning under cloudy skies but by the time the haze burned off, it was a sunny, warm day with temperatures in the upper 70s.
The conditions expect to be much more intense Tuesday as the two teams will scrimmage again in the heat of the mid-afternoon here in Richmond.
Rob Gronkowski was not on the field as he continues to work his way back into full practice mode. To this point, the tight end has only been taking part in walk-through reps and individual passing drills in full pads.
Other Patriots players not taking part in the practice were special teams captain Matthew Slater, receiver Aaron Dobson, running back Brandon Bolden and center Bryan Stork.
Here are some quick observations from practice:
Tom Brady overthrew Kenbrell Thompkins on the first play of full 11-on-11 scrimmage. The pass was a route over the middle and Thompkins attempted to climb the ladder and would’ve been hit hard by the cornerback if it were in game conditions. Brady then was nearly perfect on the next three passes, two to Julian Edelman and one to Danny Amendola, as Edelman worked on D’Angelo Hall.
Brady felt heavy pressure in the pocket on the next series and stepped up and threw a bomb to wide-open Thompkins, who ran a post pattern.
Ryan Mallett continued to struggle badly with consistency. He made one sharp touch pass on a sideline pattern to Shane Vereen and an accurate pass over the middle to Justin Jones, but he threw two interceptions and overthrew Brandon LaFell on two other passes.
Rookie Jimmy Garoppolo also saw time against Redskins backups as he ran the second-team offense. He connected with D.J. Williams on one pass over the middle and found Brian Tyms down the right sideline in 7-on-7 drills.
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