|09.15.11 at 5:03 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After trying on his Patriots Hall of Fame jacket (46 XXL) for the first time, Drew Bledsoe took a trip down memory lane on Thursday, two days before he becomes the first Patriots’ Super Bowl-winning player to enter the franchise’s hall of fame.
He gave it up for Tom Brady‘s 517 yards, the Robert Kraft family and even the old Foxboro Stadium. He actually liked it! Bledsoe will be inducted into the Patriots hall of fame on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Gillette Stadium. It’s free and open to the public.
What are your favorite Bledsoe memories?
Here are his two:
“Coming back in in that AFC Championship game against the Steelers,” Bledsoe said of his relief appearance of the injured Tom Brady in the Jan. 2002 game that preceded their epic Super Bowl win over the Rams. “That was a poignant moment for me for a lot of reasons. The magnitude of the game, having not been able to play for quite a while and being able to get back on the field for that game. That one stands out.”
Then there’s the greatest Patriots’ passing game before last Monday night. It was Nov. 1994 when the Patriots found themselves trailing the Vikings, 20-3, and standing just 3-6 on the season. Read the rest of this entry »
|09.15.11 at 4:22 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Devin McCourty figures it won’t be easy on Sunday.
He knows Philip Rivers and the Chargers no doubt will remember the last time he saw McCourty and the Patriots.
It was Oct. 24, 2010 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. It was the site of McCourty’s first career interception, a pick of a Rivers pass in the second quarter of New England’s 23-20 win.
That day the Chargers were without a full-strength Antonio Gates, as their all-world tight end was nursing a bad case of turf toe. Still, he caught four balls for 50 yards and touchdown. Vincent Jackson was unavailable because of a contract hold-out. And Malcom Floyd was out with a hamstring injury.
But still the Chargers – behind Rivers – were able to mount a furious comeback from a 20-3 Patriots’ advantage. The Chargers had a chance to tie from 45 yards and appeared to do so but Kris Brown‘s field goal was negated by a false start.
Instead, Brown’s 50-yarder bounced off the right upright and the Patriots escaped.
‘You’ve got to just compete,’ McCourty. ‘This week, with Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd both being the receivers, they’re guys that can get vertical down the field as well. So we’ve got our hands full again. Read the rest of this entry »
|09.15.11 at 11:02 am ET|
FOXBORO — Aaron Hernandez knows he’s unique in the NFL. And he doesn’t mind embracing everything that comes with being a 6-foot-1 tight end who weighs 245 pounds and can serve as a primary target for Tom Brady and also block big defensive ends when the need arises.
Monday night’s aerial performance might have been the best example of how Hernandez can open things up for the Patriots offense to put up “Madden-NFL” numbers.
He caught 10 balls for 103 yards, including a 1-yard TD pass in the 38-24 shootout in Miami. He constantly found open spaces in the soft underbelly of an overmatch Miami defense, that many times looked like they had no idea what was coming next.
That was all part of the grand plan according to Hernandez and coach Bill Belichick. It’s something that they plan on continuing this Sunday against the Chargers.
“Tom is definitely going to find the mismatch. When he gets to the line of scrimmage, and he sees the biggest mismatch, you know he’s coming,” Hernandez said.
“I think that’s the nature of any offense,” Belichick added. “You can’t move your five linemen, you can’t move the quarterback, you usually have a running back in the backfield so the players you move are your receivers or your tight ends and we’ve always done that. Both Aaron and Rob are versatile players, they can do some different things, they have different skills and they’re smart. You can move them around and give them different assignments and they’re able to handle that.”
The Patriots are facing a Chargers defense that led the NFL in 2010 but just lost a big, big piece when stud defensive end Luis Castillo went down Sunday with a broken leg in their win over Minnesota and is likely done for the season. Hernandez would have likely drawn several assignments on Castillo but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have welcomed the challenge.
“I definitely consider myself a tight end,” Hernandez said. “I’m 240 pounds. Not many receivers are 240. Not because people say I’m a receiver [and] I can’t block a 300-pound D-end but there’s not that many athletic tight ends in the league that are receiving tight ends that do block 300-pound D-ends. They just do the blocking jobs and the assignments that the coaches put before them.”
Belichick certainly considers blocking the defensive end part of any great tight end’s responsibility.
“That’s part of the nature of the tight end position I think,” Belichick said. “Whether you’re talking about [Antonio] Gates or [Anthony] Fasano or whoever we play next, that’s what most teams do. It is part of the formation, in a lot of cases, you set your defensive front based on a tight end’s location, you set your secondary rotation based on the tight end’s location so maneuvering those guys around, putting them in different positions, having them do different things, that’s what creates problems for the defense. I think all teams do that to some degree.
Do teams treat Hernandez as a tight end when they’re setting their defense?
“You have to ask them how they treat him, I don’t know,” Belichick said. “It depends on who we have on the field, who they have on the field, who else is in there but you’d have to talk to other teams about how they treat him, I don’t know the answer to that question.”
|09.14.11 at 11:44 pm ET|
Former Patriots Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison both hammered Chad Ochocinco this week, with Bruschi saying that Ochocinco needs to stop being in awe of Tom Brady and get in his playbook, while Harrison said Ochocinco’s numbers thus far are unacceptable. Do you think they were too harsh on Ochocinco? Tell us what you think.
|09.14.11 at 11:25 pm ET|
FOXBORO — While it was a memorable season opener for the Patriots for several reasons, the Monday night win over the Dolphins held some extra significance for veteran cornerback Leigh Bodden.
Bodden, who was on the shelf for the entire 2010 season with a shoulder injury, was seeing his first regular-season action in 21 months. He ended the game with three tackles and one pass defensed, and while it was a fairly routine game for him statistically, just the opportunity to be back out on the field again was a blessing for the Duquesne product.
‘It was just good to be out there — I’m just thankful,’ Bodden said. ‘I thank God that He helped me get back through this injury and the hard work that I put in to get back, that’s all you really can do and hope for.’
Bodden played 66 of the 77 defensive snaps on Monday, despite the fact that he has been hobbled throughout camp and the preseason, fighting through thumb and back injuries, the latter of which left him out of Wednesday’s practice.
‘I’m doing pretty good,’ added the 29-year-old. ‘Not as good as I want to be, but that’s Week One for everybody, I feel like you’re going to need improvement. I’m just working week to week.’
Bodden’s role has changed since he was last on the field on a regular basis. First and foremost, there were plenty of personnel moves for New England at the corner position: As a rookie, fellow Devin McCourty stepped forward to become a star, while Kyle Arrington became a regular part of the rotation and Darius Butler was released before the start of the 2011 season. And in this year’s draft, they added Ras-I Dowling, as well as Antuwan Molden shortly before the start of the season.
The moves also meant changes for Bodden. At the conclusion of the 2009 season, he spent more time on the outside, but on Monday night against the Dolphins, he was in the slot for much of the evening covering Miami’s Davone Bess. When it comes to Bodden (and the rest of the Patriots’) defense of Bess on Monday, the numbers are a bit deceiving — he had five catches for 92 yards, but most of that came in garbage time (he had two catches for 37 yards through the first three quarters).
Read the rest of this entry »
|09.14.11 at 7:47 pm ET|
One day after Bruschi ripped into Ochocinco on WEEI, saying the wide receiver shouldn’t be in ‘awe,’ and ‘stop tweeting and get into your playbook,’ the former New England safety told ESPN Radio in Chicago that Ochocinco’s stats in the regular-season opener — one catch for 14 yards — were ‘unacceptable,’ and that he should ‘be an asset and not a liability.’
‘You got to understand. Bruschi is an old school Patriot guy,’ Harrison told the Waddle & Silvy Show. ‘I mean the guy went to three or four, four Super Bowls, won 3 there. And he’s an old school Patriot guy, I mean he’s a die hard guy. No one out-prepares Tedy Bruschi, no one outworks Tedy Bruschi. When I was there I was never in awe, of anything. Because you expect greatness, when you prepare, when you work hard, and when you do the things you’re supposed to do. You expect to have success.
‘When we stopped Peyton Manning in the playoffs, and we’d intercept him, we weren’t in awe of Payton Manning. We knew we could go out there and stop him, because that’s what we prepared for. So you look at a guy like Chad Ochoinco, you know that becomes a distraction when you’re tweeting and you’re bringing the fans into the mix. And [Bill] Belichick would always tell us, there’s always something else you can do improve this team, to improve your play. Study more, work harder. Be an asset, don’t be a liability.
‘And when you look at Chad Ochocinco’s stats, one catch for 14 yards, that’s unacceptable. And when they were doing all these productive plays, you were on the bench. Tedy’s just like me, and Willie McGinest and all these other guys. Don’t be in awe of the situation, be part of that situation. Make it better. So I think Tedy Bruschi sent a message out to that entire New England Patriot team. This is a different team, they’re a younger team. So Chad Ochocinco, get with the program. He told him exactly right. And it wouldn’t surprise me if Belichick even pulled him to the side.
‘You can’t be in awe of Tom Brady and these guys. You’ve seen this happen in a short training camp. You know, you’ve played against Brady. You played against a lot of these championship teams. Why are you in awe? It just becomes a distraction. Like Tedy said, ‘Hey man, be part of the program.’’
Ochocinco was not available for comment on Wednesday, but Brady defended the wide receiver, saying he has no problems with Ochocinco.
‘Everyone has an opinion on everything, and none of it really means anything,’ Brady said when asked about Bruschi’s comments. ‘The only thing that means anything are the guys in this locker room and what we do every day in practice.’
|09.14.11 at 3:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — This Monday was something of a surreal experience for new Patriots linebacker A.J. Edds: The Iowa product, who was drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round in 2010 but never played a game for them because of a knee injury, returned to Miami for the first time since he was cut earlier this month by the Dolphins.
‘Yeah, it was definitely an interesting first crack it out there with the Patriots, but obviously great to get the first win, a good team victory,’ said the 6-foot-4, 244-pounder, who was claimed off waivers by the Patriots on Sept. 6.
‘But definitely, it was almost surreal heading back there, going into the visitors’ locker room, those kinds of things. But that’s the business we’re in. You have to take things as they come, and some of those things are out of your control a little bit and you have to make the most of it when you have your opportunities.’
The linebacker, who did not play in the regular-season opener against the Dolphins, spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve after tearing the ACL in his right knee during training camp. This summer, the 23-year-old had a good preseason — he led the Dolphins in tackles this preseason with 18 (with one sack) — but was cut loose by Miami.
Being that he was picked up only days before the Dolphins game, it wasn’t surprising to Edds that he found himself the focus of a few conversations with his new teammates prior to the game in hopes of finding out more about Miami.
‘(There was) a little bit, but I think that stuff can kind of be overrated,’ he said of pregame talk involving his old team. ‘Obviously, Miami knew I was up here, so they’re probably going to change some stuff up, but there were a few times when guys came to be and asked … moreso for personnel than anything else.
‘Just some matchup stuff: ‘What’s this guy going to play like? What’s his MO?’ Techniques, responsibilities, that kind of thing. Not, I wouldn’t say, overly ‘What’s the playbook?’ kind of stuff, but when there was some questions, I was able to answer them.’
Going forward, Edds figures to compete for a role as an inside/middle linebacker and on special teams. He says his label as someone who excels as a third-down specialist in pass coverage might be a bit overblown because of what he showed as a senior at Iowa, but he quickly added that he does have other strengths.
‘It was kind of stuff I did in college: playing over tight ends, being able to play in space, being able to turn and run. Those kinds of things,’ he said. ‘I’m just trying to work that out and see where that is. I’ve only been here for a week. Just trying to find my niche a little bit and get into it and hit the ground running.’
‘[He] played outside linebacker at Iowa, went down to Miami last year and played inside linebacker,’ said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. ‘[He] looked like he was having a pretty good training camp, pretty good preseason, injured his knee, missed the year and then came back this year and played inside linebacker down there so I think he has a little bit of inside-outside flexibility, kicking game, has long snapped.’
One of the things that helps him out is the fact that he says there are ‘absolutely’ similarities to the system that he was a part of at Iowa and what the Patriots run. (Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is a former Belichick assistant.)
‘I haven’t been exposed to the wide range of everything that goes on yet, but from what I have been here for, in the quick week, it’s been a lot of carryover, a lot of similarities, which helps the transition. It definitely does,’ said Edds. ‘You know, terminology and those kind of things, things that are the same to what you’ve seen in the past, it always makes it a little bit easier, mentally and physically, because you don’t have to think as much.’