|08.30.13 at 12:44 am ET|
FOXBORO — Just before the Patriots kicked off against the Giants in the preseason finale, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft came out swinging at the Rolling Stone story on Aaron Hernandez entitled “Gangster in the Huddle” and the implication that his father and team owner, Robert Kraft, and coach Bill Belichick enabled their former tight end.
After the game, Belichick was not as willing to elaborate.
As was the case on Tuesday, when he was grilled about Rob Gronkowski on the practice field, Belichick was asked several times in a row by NFL Network reporter Albert Breer if he had any reaction to the story.
Here was how the exchange went:
Breer: There was a story in Rolling Stone about Aaron Hernandez …
Belichick: I don’t have anything to add.
Breer: Have you read it?
Belichick: I don’t have anything to add.
Breer: It said in there that …
Belichick: I don’t have anything to add.
Breer: Jonathan Kraft addressed it …
Belichick: Next question.
|08.30.13 at 12:32 am ET|
|08.29.13 at 10:42 pm ET|
For the Patriots, Tom Brady didn’t start — instead, it was Ryan Mallett, and he went 10-for-16 for 117 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Meanwhile, rookie running back George Winn added a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and third-string quarterback Tim Tebow added a 52-yard touchdown pass to Quentin Sims in the fourth quarter, and a nine-yard scoring strike to Sims at the end of the contest.
New England finishes the preseason at 3-1, and open the regular season on Sept. 8 against the Bills in Buffalo.
Here are a few quick notes on what happened:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
‘¢Rookie wide receiver Josh Boyce showed some great speed with a deftly executed reverse midway through the first quarter which ended with an 18-yard gain. He was also on the receiving end of the nicest play of the evening for the New England offense when — after an impressive 43-yard punt return from Leon Washington — Mallett reared back and found Boyce on a 40-yard touchdown strike (the longest pass play of the preseason for New England) to make it 14-7 midway through the second quarter.
‘¢Marquice Cole had a nice pass breakup midway through the second quarter on a deep ball from New York backup quarterback Ryan Nassib and another at the end of the game against Eternal Manning Backup Curtis Painter. And rookie defensive end Michael Buchanan had a forced fumble, a sack and knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage from York backup David Carr shortly before halftime. (He added a second-half sack of Painter in the fourth quarter.) A good night for the seventh-round pick out of Illinois.
‘¢With Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount all sidelined, Winn saw a lot of work, and the undrafted free agent out of Cincinnati — who would made a nice practice squad addition, in my opinion — ended the night with 14 carries for 54 yards to lead New England.
‘¢If this was his farewell to Foxboro, Tebow had a good night, with his highlight coming when he hit his buddy Sims with a 52-yard scoring strike to help give the Patriots a 21-20 fourth-quarter lead, and added to that with a 9-yard TD pass to Sims with six seconds left. This summer, it was really something extraordinary to see — almost every time Tebow completed a nice pass, it was Sims on the other end of the delivery. (Almost predictably, Tebow followed up his first touchdown pass with a badly underthrown ball to Aaron Dobson on the next series.)
‘¢Kenbrell Thompkins drew a pair of pass interference penalties early that helped keep the chains moving early, and had another good night, finishing with two catches (on four targets) for 24 yards. No reason to think he won’t be the No. 2 receiver when the opener rolls around next month in Buffalo.
‘¢No one was hurt over the course of the evening, which means New England got out of the preseason without suffering a serious injury.
(This isn’t necessarily right or wrong, but the sight of veterans Adrian Wilson, Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard and Leon Washington playing late in Thursday’s game is certainly … interesting. The sight of rookies and other relative youngsters cooling their heels on the sidelines late in a fourth preseason game is an odd one, especially at the expense of players like Wilson and Fells. With final cuts looming on Saturday, we’re not sure what it means for their futures to be playing so late into a meaningless preseason game.)
WHAT WENT WRONG
‘¢There will be a lot of talk about Tebow’s final line, but his offensive line — with the exception of Marcus Cannon at right tackle, all third-teamers — did him zero favors on the night. Tebow, who got the start to open the third quarter, was on the run on a consistent basis, and sacked four times.
‘¢Mallett missed a connection on the Patriots first drive of the night when he overthrew a wide-open Washington on a wheel route out of the backfield on a third-down pass play that would have almost certainly reached the sticks.
‘¢One of the nice things about Dobson’s game is his ability to go up and get the ball at its highest point — flash some basketball-type skills that allow him to wrestle the ball away from an opposing defender. On a Mallett pass for the end zone midway through the second quarter — at the end of a nice drive for the Patriots — Mallett lofted a jump ball for the end zone. But the ball was underthrown, and when faced with the prospect of having to knock the ball down, he didn’t do enough to prevent the pick. Simply poor execution on both ends of the play. The call was overturned — the Patriots got the ball back and eventually scored on a 1-yard touchdown run from Winn to make it 7-3 with 9:50 left in the second quarter. But Dobson bobbled another first-half pass from Mallett, and while it wasn’t a cleanly thrown pass by any means, it’s still on the receiver to be able to bring in a bad ball. He bobbled it, and the Giants came away with the pick.
|08.29.13 at 8:38 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Patriots president Jonathan Kraft isn’t going to let a national publication roll all over his organization.
He made that much perfectly clear Thursday when he responded to the Aaron Hernandez story in the latest issue of the Rolling Stone.
The Patriots’ team president went on the Patriots radio network pregame show before Thursday’s preseason finale with the Giants and gave his thoughts on the way the organization was portrayed in the lengthy 8,000-word Hernandez expose.
“There were two, three or four things that are completely factually inaccurate,” Kraft said.
Kraft denied the allegation that Hernandez confessed to Belichick that his life was in danger. He also refuted that Bill Belichick responded by telling him to “lay low” and rent a safe house. Kraft said he spoke with Belichick and asked him about the charge.
“Absolutely not. Aaron never told me his life was in danger,” Belichick said, according to Kraft.
Kraft said Belichick never threatened to cut Hernandez, adding “he would never threaten to cut a player one year after an extension.”
As for Mark Briggs replacing Frank Mendes as the team’s head of security, Kraft said that decision is not in Belichick’s domain and not his decision.
[Read Mike Petraglia’s column on the Patriots, Rolling Stone and Aaron Hernandez]
Kraft also said he cancelled his longtime Rolling Stone subscription after the magazine put the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover earlier this summer.
As for the NFLPA grievance filed against the Patriots this week, looking for $82,000 in workout bonuses it claims the player is owne, Kraft said Hernandez participated in just 25 of 33 offseason workouts, less than the 90 percent required in his contact for the money to be paid.
|08.29.13 at 6:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It appears Tom Brady has played his last game of the preseason.
According to the Boston Herald and ESPNBoston.com, Brady will not play against the Giants in Thursday’s preseason finale. Brady would finish the preseason completing 34-of-44 passes for 357 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and a quarterback rating of 106.0 in three games. His next game would be the season opener on Sept. 8 in Buffalo.
An indication that this indeed would be the case was the unusual sight of Brady coming out for early stretch just under two hours before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Brady did come out and warm up in full uniform about an hour before the game and threw passes to Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman.
ESPNBoston.com, quoting a league source, reports that many regulars will also dress but not play.
This is hardly uncommon for Brady, who has played only four of 11 preseason finales since becoming the Patriots’ full-time starter in 2001.
With Brady likely out, the focus shifts to Ryan Mallett, expected to get the start. There could be even more spotlight on backup Tim Tebow. Tebow figures to be fighting for the last of 53 spots on the roster come Saturday night at the NFL cut deadline of 6 p.m. ET. Mallett has looked good for the most part in three preseason games, completing 32-of-60 passes for 330 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He has an 80.6 QB rating. Tebow, on the other hand, has not. He is 5-for-19 for 54 yards, one interception and a 17.7 rating.
As for the Giants, head coach Tom Coughlin said earlier this week his starters will play just 12-15 snaps.
|08.29.13 at 5:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For the ninth straight year, the Patriots and Giants will conclude their respective preseason schedules against one another. This is the 23rd time the two teams are meeting in the preseason.
It will be a damp, cool and occasionally windy night, pleasant and comfortable night with a stiff breeze out of the north at about 10 MPH for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Temperatures are expected to hover around 60 degrees with a slight chance of rain early before giving way to mostly clear skies for most of the game.
Their are several areas for Patriots fans to keep a watch out for as Chris Price outlined. How much, if at all, will Tom Brady play? It’s likely that he starts the game if for no other reason than to build up his rhythm with Danny Amendola, who missed the game in Detroit with an unspecified injury.
While there has been much concern over the Patriots passing game coming into preseason, two of the main components have been among the NFL’s best this August.
Brady has a rating of 106.0 and has passed for 357 yards. He started the preseason by completing 18-of-20 passes over the first two games, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He and his numbers took a hit in Detroit as he was 16-of-24 with no touchdowns and an interception.
Standout rookie Kenbrell Thompkins has been clutch throughout the preseason. Last week, he was second among all NFL receivers in preseason receiving yards with 116 on eight catches. He has caught 13 passes for 142 yards in three preseason games, good for a 10.9 yards per catch average.
For the Giants, David Wilson was fourth among all rushers last week, going for 92 yards on five carries against the Jets in the “Snoopy Bowl” – including an 84-yard gallop to the house.
|08.29.13 at 1:14 pm ET|
The NFL agreed to settle a lawsuit with more than 4,500 former players concerning long-term effects of concussions they suffered playing in the league, a federal judge in Philadelphia announced Thursday. Senior U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody still must approve of the deal, which comes after months of court-ordered mediation.
The resolution calls for a $765 million settlement that would fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research.
A number of Hall of Famers as well as the family of former Patriots linebacker Junior Seau — who committed suicide last year — are plaintiffs in the case, accusing the league of hiding known risks of concussions for decades. The league has denied the charges and claimed that safety is its primary concern.
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