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Belichick not fooling around

08.30.10 at 1:23 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The tone from the outset of his briefing with reporters Monday morning spoke volumes about how much the sloppiness from last Thursday night still bothered Bill Belichick.

“Things that come up in these games, if you don’t get them fixed, they are going to come up again,” Belichick said without batting an eye. “There are certainly a lot of fundamental things that need to be addressed. Hand placement, footwork, leverage. All those type of things that we’ve said them before and we are still in the stage where you need to keep repeating them and make sure that everybody understands.”

For that reason – the coach said – everyone wearing red, white, blue and silver should be ready to play this Thursday. That means No. 12 and all those on the starting unit.

“Any situation can be a little bit different or a different person [can be] involved, that kind of thing,” Belichick said. “There’s always fundamental coaching going on, but certainly at this time of year, you don’t want to gloss over it. Sometimes later on you get into a short week or other circumstances during the year, [and] you don’t get to go through the film as thoroughly or sometimes not at all. In a lot of cases those corrections for the most part have been made.

“Those types of weeks, sometimes you’ll pull out a dozen players that are a little different, a little new. First time that situation has ever happened or something is unique about it, and you can go over it with them. During the season, a lot of times the things you go over at that point, you’ve already gone over multiple times. I think that’s really the case now.”

Like getting the defense off the field on third down. Like not taking unnecessary and undisciplined penalties as was the case with three roughing-the-passer calls last Thursday against the Rams. Like holding onto the ball more than 16 minutes for the game so that their defense doesn’t wear down like it did against St. Louis.

In other words, whether or not this Thursday’s game game counts or not is not the issue. How they play is.

The Patriots boss took a no-nonsense stand Monday in addressing whether or not he would play starters in the preseason finale against the Giants this Thursday night at New Meadowlands Stadium.

“I tell everybody to be ready to play every week,” Belichick said. “That’s what we do. Coaches control control playing time but players should be ready to play every week, regardless of the score, situation, field conditions or anything else. That’s their job, that’s their responsibility and that’s what it is every week and that’s not going to change.”

Belichick was speaking just hours after Tom Brady told Dennis and Callahan on Patriots Monday on WEEI that Belichick let the players ‘have it pretty good’ following a sloppy 36-35 preseason loss at home to the St. Louis Rams last Thursday.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, New Meadowlands Stadium, New York Giants

Brady on D&C: Belichick served humble pie

08.30.10 at 11:23 am ET
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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning and talked about coach Bill Belichick’s reaction to Thursday’s 36-35 preseason loss to the Rams.

“He gave it to us pretty good on Friday after the game and then again yesterday,” Brady said. “There’s always a running joke with our team [about] the humble pie. He was serving it on Friday. It was just what we needed. We didn’t go out and play very well. Hopefully, we can learn from it and move on.”

Brady, who went to Saturday’s Ultimate Fighting Championship event at TD Garden on Saturday night with teammate Stephen Neal (a former collegiate wrestling champion), also talked about what he does in his free time.

Below are the highlights of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Would it have made a difference to you if the Rams didn’t make the field goal at the end of the game on Thursday?

Well, I like winning so it definitely matters, not in the standings obviously, but I think everyone feels a little better when we win, regardless of preseason games or regular season games. I understand where coach is coming from. He gave it to us pretty good on Friday after the game and then again yesterday. There’s always a running joke with our team [about] the humble pie. He was serving it on Friday. It was just what we needed. We didn’t go out and play very well. Hopefully, we can learn from it and move on.

Does the whole team share the humble pie? What is the offense doing when Bill is going over things with the defense?

Well, he gives it to everybody, I don’t think it’s only a defensive thing. I think there are days when offensively we can certainly do a lot of things better, especially Thursday night when we had the ball for 14 minutes so we couldn’t do anything to stay on the field early on. I thought we picked some things up as the game went on but I think we have to be more consistent throughout the course of the game. You really don’t want to put yourself in too much of a hole in any of these games because you get behind, it’s pretty tough to come back. We have to do a better job of scoring points early and getting off to much better starts. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady,

Nuggetpalooza’s Pats schedule preview: Chicago

08.30.10 at 10:39 am ET
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nuggetpalooza-small4The Patriots play the Bears on Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. in Chicago.

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What The Bears Did Well Last Season:

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* – Good Starting Field Position: Chicago’s average starting field position was the 32.4 yard line last season, tied for the 2nd best in the NFL:

32.5 – Minnesota Vikings
32.4 – Chicago Bears
32.4 – New York Jets

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* – Receivers Made the Catches: Bears’ receivers dropped only 20 balls last season, tied for the fewest in the NFL.  That comes out to a drop percentage of 5.6% of catchable balls, the 4th best mark in the league:

4.8% – Houston Texans
5.3% – New Orleans Saints
5.5% – Arizona Cardinals
5.6% – Chicago Bears

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* – Long Kickoff Returns: Chicago ripped off 9 different kickoff returns for 40+ yards, the most in the NFL:

9 – Chicago Bears
7 – Baltimore Ravens
6 – Cleveland Browns

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* – Fell On Their Fumbles: The Bears fumbled 26 times last year (10th most in the league) but they lost only 7 of them (27%), the 2nd lowest fumble loss percentage in the NFL.

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* – No Return TDs Allowed: Chicago was the only team in the NFL that did not allow any returns for touchdowns last season (kick, interception, fumble, or blocked kick).  Pittsburgh and St. Louis allowed 8 each.

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* – Good Coffin Corner Punting: Bears’ punters put 26 punts inside the 20 yard line last year versus just 2 touchbacks.  That 93% ratio was 2nd best in the league.

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* – Converted Red Zone 3rd Downs: Chicago ranked 4th in the league by going 19-40 (47.5%) on 3rd down plays in the red zone in 2009.

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What The Bears Did Poorly Last Season:

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* – Couldn’t Cash In On Long Drives: The Bears scored on just 12 of 21 drives of 10 or more plays last season (57%), third worst in the NFL.

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* – Couldn’t Stop Third and Long: Chicago allowed an NFL-high 29.5% conversion rate on 3rd and 10 or more yards to go last season.

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* – Struggled To Run For First Downs: The Bears had only 71 rushing first downs last year, the 2nd fewest in the league:

69 – Indianapolis Colts
71 – Chicago Bears
72 – Washington Redskins

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* – Couldn’t Limit Points In Opponent Goal-To-Go Situations: Bears’ opponents had 27 “goal to go” situations last season and scored touchdowns on 23 of them.  The 6.3 average points per GTG drive was 2nd highest in the league:

6.5 – Dallas Cowboys
6.3 – Chicago Bears
6.2 – Tennessee Titans

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* – Struggled Defending Third Down In Red Zone: Chicago allowed their opponents to convert 50.0% of their third downs inside the red zone last season (16-32), tied with Atlanta for the worst percentage in the NFL.

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* – Too Many Offensive Miscues In The Red Zone: The Bears reached the red zone 51 times in 2009 but came away empty on 12 of those trips (24%), the 4th highest percentage in the league.  Their quarterbacks tossed a league high 6 red zone interceptions to go along with four turnovers on downs, a fumble lost, and one instance where time expired.

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Tomorrow’s preview:  The Baltimore Ravens, who the Patriots face on October 17.

Read More: Patriots schedule preview,

This Ventrone getting into the flow of things

08.30.10 at 1:26 am ET
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FOXBORO — His brother is most famous for delivering one of the biggest hits in Super Bowl history while his teammate at Villanova might be one of the best college athletes in America.

But Ross Ventrone is out to make a name for himself as a rookie free agent defensive back/special teams player with the Patriots.

The first thing you notice about Ventrone is not that he’s even shorter than his 5-foot-10 brother Ray, who laid out Domenik Hixon of the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. It’s not his mild-mannered, overly pleasant personality. What is most noticeable about this native of Pittsburgh is … the free-flowing mane that trails behind him as he runs on the practice field.

New England is a team his brother, Ray, played on for parts of three seasons, including last year before moving onto the Browns.

Ross Ventrone was released earlier in camp before being brought back by the Patriots last week. Ventrone comes to New England after winning an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision championship last year with Villanova, the same alma mater of Ray. One of Ross’ teammates was star running back Matt Szczur, a fifth-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in the June MLB draft.

Ventrone was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on April 29 after playing and starting three years for Villanova, following his transfer from Pittsburgh. Ventrone was the leader of a secondary that was one of the best in the FCS in 2009.

Ventrone was in on 73 tackles, including 53 solos. He had 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks and was in on 198 tackles in his three-year career with the Wildcats. Two years ago, Ventrone had a team-best four interceptions for the Wildcats.

Ventrone is someone who knows how to climb a hill. He began his college career as a walk-on at Pittsburgh. After being redshirted as a freshman in 2005, he worked on the scout team in 2006 before earning a scholarship to Villanova.

Now with the Patriots, Ventrone, like his brother, is making his mark on special teams. He played in the opener against the Saints before getting cut for Week 2. He was brought back last week and made a tackle on special teams against the Rams. Now, in the preseason finale against the Giants at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Thursday, he will try to leave his mark against the same team his brother did during Super Bowl XLII.

And, with a lot of luck, Ross, with long, flowing locks of hair, will make enough of a name for himself to make the team.

Read More: Matt Szczur, New England Patriots, Ray Ventrone, Ross Ventrone

Pats re-sign Johnson, release Simmons

08.29.10 at 5:50 pm ET
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Terrence Johnson

Terrence Johnson

The Patriots announced Sunday they have re-signed defensive back Terrence Johnson and released offensive lineman Brian Simmons. Here’s the announcement from the team on the move:

The New England Patriots re-signed DB Terrence Johnson and released OL Brian Simmons today.

Johnson, 5-9, 190 pounds, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of California University of Pennsylvania on April 20, 2010. He was released by the Patriots on August 23, 2010.

Simmons, 6-4, 318 pounds, is a rookie free agent out of Oklahoma who was signed by the Patriots on August 15, 2010. He first entered the starting lineup for Oklahoma at left guard as a senior in 2009.

Read More: Brian Simmons, Patriots, Terrence Johnson, training camp

Pace injury could pave way for Thomas to sign with Jets

08.29.10 at 3:21 pm ET
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Patriots Upset Thomas Football

Adalius Thomas had 14.5 sacks in three seasons with the Patriots. (AP)

An injury to Jets linebacker Calvin Pace could clear the way for a reunion of Rex Ryan and Adalius Thomas and add even more spice to the Patriots-Jets rivalry.

Pace, who broke his foot in the third quarter of Friday’s game against the Redskins, will reportedly be out a few weeks with the injury. That could leave New York in the market for a free agent linebacker like Thomas, who played for Ryan in Baltimore when he was the defensive coordinator with the Ravens.

While Ryan indicated on Sunday that he had no immediate plans to bring him in for a physical or sign him, he certainly sounded open to the idea.

“I would say it would be a possibility,” Ryan told reporters on Sunday when he was asked about the Jets signing Thomas. “I’m not going to rule that out.”

“If we’re going to do it, we’d rather do it sooner than later,” Ryan added. “But there are still some other things involved, other factors involved, and things like that. Sometimes what really makes sense, might not make sense to the organization, so we’ll see.”

Thomas played for the Patriots the last three seasons, but his time in New England came to a bitter end in April when he was released by the team. It marked the end one of the most eventful three-year careers with the Patriots — Thomas went from moments of brilliance in 2007 where he was New England’s best defensive player over stretches throughout the year to being a healthy scratch last season.

Things reached a nadir between the two sides last December when Thomas was one of four players late for an 8 a.m. meeting. While other players involved expressed contrition, Thomas made light of the incident in a bizarre press conference, saying after he was sent home, he “put [his] toes up in the air” and relaxed.

He added: “That’s one thing about Mother Nature. You can’t control that. You can’t run people over getting to work. … I didn’t try to be late. That’s basically it. I don’t know anything else to say. Cars sitting in the road, you’re sitting there. What can you do? It’s not the Jetsons. I can’t jump up into the sky. What the hell am I supposed to do?”

Asked if the incident could serve as motivation, Thomas scoffed: “Motivation is for kindergarteners. I’m not a kindergartener. Sending somebody home, that’s like ‘Are you expelled? Come back and make good grades.’ Get that [expletive] out of here. That’s ridiculous.”

In all, the 33-year-old has played in 135 NFL games and has accumulated 584 tackles, seven interceptions, 17 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and 79 special teams tackles.

Read More: Adalius Thomas, Jets, Patriots, training camp

No offense: AFC East powerhouses struggle in preseason play

08.28.10 at 12:46 pm ET
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For a division that’s billed as the most competitive in the NFL, it wasn’t the greatest 24 hours for the AFC East.

In the third week of the preseason — the week where the starters play the most and the intensity level most closely resembles the regular season — the Patriots, Dolphins and Jets all struggled while posting losses at home. One night after New England posted a 36-35 preseason loss to St. Louis on Thursday, Miami had issues of their own in a 16-6 defeat to Atlanta. Meanwhile, the New York Jets turned the ball over four times and suffered a 16-11 defeat to Washington on Friday.

In particular, in the final dress rehearsal for each starting offense, all three teams showed some vulnerabilities that must be addressed before the season opens in two weeks:
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: dolphins, Jets, Patriots, training camp
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