|11.05.13 at 2:11 pm ET|
|11.05.13 at 1:32 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots decision to release veteran wide receiver Austin Collie could mean more opportunities in the passing game for youngsters Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce.
The 27-year-old Collie, who was signed a month ago by New England, appeared to get up to speed quickly in the Patriots offense, and as a result, had a rapid rise up the depth chart: He saw his snaps rise dramatically over the month, going from nine snaps in his first outing in Week 6 against the Saints (with two catches) to 27 snaps the following week against the Jets and 33 snaps two weeks ago against the Dolphins.
As a result, the snaps for Thompkins dipped — he went from 14 snaps against the Dolphins to taking his first healthy scratch Sunday against the Steelers. In addition, while Boyce’s own dip in snaps wasn’t concurrent with the rise of Collie — he’s now been inactive for four consecutive weeks — he was clearly behind both Thompkins and Collie on the depth chart.
This is not to suggest that Thompkins or Boyce will ultimately see a dramatic spike in playing time as a result of Collie’s departure. (It’s also curious to see how much, if at all, newcomer LaQuan Williams figures into the mix as well.) But they should get more of an opportunity now going forward.
|11.05.13 at 1:16 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots held their final practice before the bye on Tuesday in full pads on the upper grass fields outside Gillette.
Steve Gregory, Brandon Bolden and Austin Collie were the only players on the current roster not spotted. Gregory and Bolden were reportedly nursing injuries while Collie was reportedly released after injuring his knee during the win over the Steelers on Sunday.
Gregory suffered a hand injury that reportedly resulted in a broken thumb while Bolden has been nursing a knee injury all season.
|11.05.13 at 1:08 pm ET|
The Patriots released veteran wide receiver Austin Collie on Tuesday, according to ESPN. The 27-year-old Collie, a 6-foot, 204-pound wide receiver, was signed by New England as a free agent last month, and played in four games with the Patriots, finishing with three catches for 34 yards. However, he suffered a knee injury in last Sunday’s win over the Steelers, and didn’t play for the duration of the second half.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|11.05.13 at 12:34 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots have added depth to their corps of running backs by signing free agent Cierre Wood, according to a report from NESN.com.
The running back was spotted at full pads practice on Tuesday morning on the upper practice fields outside Gillette Stadium, one day after working out with the team, according to ESPNBoston.com. Wood was cut by the Texans for violating team rules two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun and Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com, the Patriots also signed former Ravens wide receiver LaQuan Williams. Williams was on the field Tuesday, wearing No. 16.
The team also worked out Justin Francis and Jake Ballard, both of whom were cut at the end of the summer.
Francis was waived/injured, then signed an injury settlement to become a free agent. He suffered an ankle injury during the preseason. Ballard signed with the Cardinals after his workout with the Patriots. The tight end struggled with rehab from ACL surgery during the summer with the Patriots.
He was active for 10 games and had three sacks. The Patriots also brought wide receiver Greg Orton and linebacker Marcus Dowtin for workouts. Orton has most recently spent time with the Broncos. He went undrafted out of Purdue in 2009. Dowtin went undrafted out of North Alabama in 2012. He was previously with the Bills.
|11.05.13 at 12:20 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has often been called a professor in the approach he takes in teaching the intricate details of planning and preparing for each football game.
So, it came as no surprise on Tuesday when he drew an academic analogy when talking about his message to his players before the bye.
“It gives us a chance to clear our mind a little bit,” Belichick said. “We don’t have a game plan, a scouting report and a whole bunch of adjustments to deal with this week. It’s like studying for a test every week. It’s hard mentally. It’s hard physically. So, it’s nice to have a few days where you’re not preparing for a final exam. I think really that’s the situation we’re in. There’s another one coming but at least it’s good to have a couple of days where you don’t have to bear down with that same intensity every single day and get a chance to relax a little bit, get a little bit more rest, get away from football a little bit and then come back to it with more energy and a real purpose for the next seven regular season games. That’s what we need to do.”
Is the message any different for rookies going through their first NFL season?
“I’d say it’s pretty much the same message for everybody; I don’t think they’re in any different category than anybody else. Pretty much what I said [was] we’ve played nine games but seven wins, that’s not enough in this league. You’re not going to win anything with seven wins. You’re going to need more than that.
“We’ve got a lot of football left. There’s a lot of things we can improve in. I think that goes for every position, each player and we’ll try to focus on that. What things can we do better in the last seven games that we didn’t do quite as well in the first nine games. And if we do that collectively, if each player can make a little bit of incremental improvement in his game, and we do it across the board with all 53 players as well as the coaching staff, that’ll raise our game up collectively. That’s really the objective.”
Then, of course, there’s the obvious benefit of rest for a 7-2 team that has lost its fair share of players to various injuries.
“We’ve played 13 games plus weeks of training camp, plus practices against Philadelphia and Tampa,” Belichick said. “We’ve played a lot of football, a lot of consecutive football. There’s nobody in that locker room that’s been playing that’s 100 percent, I’m sure of that.”
|11.05.13 at 10:51 am ET|
This preseason, we debuted the Tom Brady Confidence Index, a by-the-numbers look at the comfort level the quarterback had with the rest of the skill-position players when it came to the passing game. Because of the reaction we got, we decided to make it a semi-regular feature and expand it to include overall offensive touches (receptions and carries, with more weight to carries in clutch situations) and how comfortable the quarterback might appear to be with some of his teammates when it came to trusting them in certain situations.
As always, we rate each of the skill-position players and their relationship/comfort level with Brady on a scale of 0 (Taylor Price) to 100 (Wes Welker) on their body of work to this point in the season.
(Disclaimer: While most aspects of this blog deal in mathematical specifics as it relates to football, this entry is more of a tongue-in-cheek approach to Brady and how he relates to the rest of the New England offense. Bottom line? Don’t take the rating system too seriously.)
TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI: 97 (last week: 93)
Season stats: 19 catches, 32 targets, 284 yards, 1 touchdown
For the first time in a year — probably since the Rams game in London where he had eight catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns last October — this was Gronkowski at his best and most confident. He was able to overwhelm opposing defenders, work confidently as a blocker and display the usual chemistry with the quarterback. He also demanded attention, so much so that it opened things up for his teammates. In the end, he finished with nine catches (on 10 targets) for 143 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Shane Vereen will change the look of the offense when he returns — the dynamic running back has the ability to put pressure on opposing defenses from a variety of spots on the field — but Gronkowski remains without peer when it comes to providing a security blanket for the quarterback.
RUNNING BACK STEVAN RIDLEY: 87 (last week: 85)
Season stats: 118 carries, 514 yards, 4.4 YPC, six touchdowns, nine negative runs, one negative reception, two fumbles lost; nine catches on 10 targets for 60 yards
Ridley apparently has returned to the role of feature back, as he finished with a season-high 26 carries, 115 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was even able to bounce back from a turnover, losing the ball when it was ripped from his hands in the first half by Troy Polamalu. (After the game, Bill Belichick acknowledged that there’s a big difference between putting the ball on the ground and having it taken away by someone like Polamalu.) Ridley ended up with one of the best performances of his career, good enough to see him hit the high 80s on our scale for the first time all season.
WIDE RECEIVER JULIAN EDELMAN: 77 (last week: 82)
Season stats: 49 catches, 74 targets, 473 yards, two touchdowns; two carries, 11 yards
Edelman has cooled slightly off the red-hot pace he was on earlier this season (he was tied for the league in catches after the first three weeks of the season, and had one of the best opening months of any receiver under Brady), but with the return of Gronkowski and Danny Amendola to full strength — as well as the continued emergence of Aaron Dobson — it isn’t that much of a surprise. He will continue to see plenty of reps throughout the second half of the season, as his rapport with Brady, knowledge of the offense and overall toughness make him integral. But expect his numbers to stall a bit in the second half when compared to the stats he was able to post over the first month-plus of the season.
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