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Report: Tom Brady expects to play Friday against Bucs

08.15.13 at 8:45 am ET
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Despite suffering a left knee injury in Wednesday’s joint practice with Tampa Bay, quarterback Tom Brady expects to play in Friday’s preseason contest against the Bucs, according to a report from Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Brady went down roughly halfway through practice Wednesday after getting tangled up with left tackle Nate Solder after Solder was bull rushed into Brady by Tampa defensive end Adrian Clayborn. On the play, Brady threw a sideline pass to Aaron Dobson, and as Brady went down, he grabbed his left knee. Brady left practice for one play, but returned to action for roughly five more snaps before leaving the workout prematurely with trainer Jim Whalen.

Multiple reports on Thursday afternoon and evening indicated that Brady’s injury wasn’t serious, with no significant ligament damage.

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Forbes: Patriots second-most valuable franchise

08.15.13 at 7:29 am ET
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According to the annual Forbes Magazine survey of NFL team values, the Patriots are the second-most valuable franchise in the NFL, with a value of $1.8 billion. New England trails only the Cowboys in value, with Dallas — thanks to $539 million in revenue in 2012, along with $250.7 million in operating income — claiming a valuation of $2.3 billion.

The Patriots, according to the magazine, had $408 million in revenue in 2012 and $139.2 million in operating income. The survey noted that New England has sold out every home game since 1994 even though the team has the second highest ticket prices in the league.

According to Forbes, the average NFL team is worth $1.17 billion, up 5 percent from a year ago.

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Five thoughts on Tom Brady, Adrian Clayborn and a strange day in Foxboro

08.15.13 at 12:46 am ET
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1. We know that at this point, the prognosis on Tom Brady‘€™s knee is a good one, with one report from ESPN’€™s Adam Schefter indicating that he is likely to practice on Thursday if the diagnosis remains unchanged from the one that leaked Wednesday evening. While it’€™s important to remember that Thursday will essentially be a walkthrough for both teams in advance of Friday’€™s preseason contest, the sight of Brady on the field in even a limited basis would be an encouraging one for the team. (Thursday’€™s session — the last official practice of camp for the team — is set to kick off at 2 p.m.) Nevertheless, the few frantic hours after the quarterback went down served as a reminder that few individuals can have the sort of seismic impact on the game like he can. Every one of Brady’€™s actions creates some sort of a ripple in the NFL pond — less than an hour after the news broke that the quarterback went down, the Las Vegas Super Book took all Patriots bets off the board, and Bovada suspended all Super Bowl and AFC playoff odds.

2. Regardless of how severe the injury is, Brady needs to be on the field with the young receivers as often as possible. This is not a year where the quarterback can miss out on an opportunity to get reps with his pass catchers, especially with so many of them in the system for the first time. Rookies like Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Zach Sudfeld have impressed to this point, but going forward, they need the quarterback on the field on a consistent basis. While there’€™s no sense of just how much he can play over the next few weeks (and any benefit would have to outweigh a potential aggravation of the injury), the youngsters are at a key point in their evolution, and for them to continue to succeed, they need Brady throwing to them as often as possible, preferably in game situations.

3. If Brady is out for any stretch — a practice today, this week’s game . . . whatever it may be — this presents Ryan Mallett and the Patriots with a real opportunity. If Brady is indeed out, Mallett should get the chance to work with the No. 1 offense, and that could provide some real insight into whether or not the Arkansas product can succeed in the NFL. Entering his third season with the Patriots, when he’€™s been given the reps in the past, the signal-caller has yet to display the sort of consistency that’€™s needed to run the New England offense. If he does get a week with the starters and gets the opportunity to command a reasonable facsimile of the starting offense in a game situation — even in a preseason contest — it would give the Patriots some idea as to whether or not he could do it if called upon for a more significant assignment. (And it would also prove to the rest of the league that Mallett could potentially be worth a second- or third-round pick if New England does try and deal him between now and the 2014 draft.)

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Bill Belichick: Matthew Slater is ‘one of the best in the league’ on special teams

08.14.13 at 11:29 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick likes to remind everyone that football is a game of three phases – offense, defense and special teams.

And in Matthew Slater, the Patriots coach believe he has one of the best in special teams.

Belichick was asked Wednesday just how Slater valuable is to the unit, a unit he has captained for the past two seasons.

“Matt is one of the best in the league,” Belichick beamed Wednesday. “I think he has a lot of the qualities that we were talking about. Sure, any time they have to double somebody, that makes it one less guy they can use somewhere else in the return. He almost always draws two guys out there unless they’€™re in an eight-man rush.

“Most of the time there’€™s two guys out there ‘€“ fourth-and-short, where they’€™re trying to protect the box ‘€“ but he draws a lot of double teams and deservedly so. He does an outstanding job of covering punts and as I said, it’€™s a tough position to play but he’€™s got all the qualities that we talked about to be good. He does a good job for us.”

Belichick outlined what he sees as some of the traits he looks for in a gunner like Slater.

“Well, some combination of speed, strength and quickness,” Belichick said. “The more the better of all three, but that’€™s a tough position to play. You have to deal with two guys. You have to be strong enough to deal with them or quick enough to deal with them or fast enough to deal with them and then there’€™s all the techniques of not only dealing with the double team but also the punts, the returns, the rushes, the wind conditions, knowing where the ball is, trying to defeat two blockers and then locate the ball and the returner and the different returns and so forth. There’€™s a lot of technique and skill that’€™s involved beyond just the physical part of it. I think you need some combination of those three elements to deal with consistent double teams out there.”

And the mentality?

“Be aggressive,” Belichick said without hesitating. “It’€™s a tough spot to play. As I said, if you’€™re good, you have two guys out there a lot. Two guys get you at the line of scrimmage and are trying to keep you from getting downfield ‘€“ it gets pretty physical. It’€™s a physical battle out there. You definitely have to have a high level of aggressiveness to deal with that.

“Statistically there are definitely fewer kickoff returns on a percentage basis and total numbers than what there were before they moved the kickoff restraining line back to the 35-yard line, which was what they said was their attempt to have fewer returns, which there definitely are but there are still plenty of them. I think as the season goes on, particularly in places like this, where the weather is cooler and wind conditions become more of a factor, that there are fewer touchbacks in the second half of the season than there are in the first half of the season. It becomes more of a factor later on in the season, but there are fewer of them, no question about that, absolutely.”

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Read More: 2013 training camp, Bill Belichick, Matthew Slater, New England Patriots

Wednesday afternoon practice notes: Brandon Spikes returns as Pats and Bucs meet for second session

08.14.13 at 6:27 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots and Buccaneers wrapped up the second of three joint practices Wednesday afternoon on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. While the big news of the day was the fact that quarterback Tom Brady left practice early after suffering some sort of left knee or leg injury when he got tangled up with left tackle Nate Solder, here are a few more notes from the workout, which was held in full pads and ran roughly two hours:

‘€¢The following players were not in attendance: tight ends Daniel Fells and Rob Gronkowski and defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham and Armond Armstead. In addition, wide receiver Mark Harrison was watching practice (and Gronkowski was spotted on the field midway through the session in t-shirt and shorts), while defensive back Devin McCourty was again wearing the red noncontact jersey.

‘€¢With Alfonzo Dennard and Ras-I Dowling on field but limited, Marquice Cole again got a lot of reps with what appeared to be a reasonable facsimile of the starting defense. The veteran corner/special teamer was competitive, and made some nice plays, with the highlight of his afternoon likely coming when he picked off Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman during 7-on-7 drills. In addition, later in practice rookie defensive back Logan Ryan had a nice pick of Freeman in 11-on-11 drills, and could have taken the ball all the way back for a pick six of it was game action.

‘€¢Before he went down, Brady was having a really crisp afternoon. As was the case last week against Philly, he was regularly having his way with opposing corners. On one three-pass sequence, he hit Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Kamar Aiken on nice pass plays. Thompkins again had a nice afternoon, and continues to string together impressive practices. Perhaps the best part of his game is his ability to compete for balls in the air, and he did it again on multiple occasions on Wednesday.

‘€¢After Brady went down, backups Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow ran the show, with the bulk of the snaps going to Mallett. Both were a mixed bag, but one thing that stood out with Tebow was the fact that he had a nice sequence with a touchdown pass to Julian Edelman and sharp passes to Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld.

‘€¢Rough afternoon for the punters, as Ryan Allen had a punt blocked and Zoltan Mesko and Danny Aiken botched a snap as well.

‘€¢Robert Kraft was in attendance, as well as the Fox broadcasting crew of Kenny Albert, Darryl “Moose” Johnston and Tony “The Goose” Siragusa, who will be handling Friday night’s game.

Reports: Tom Brady has ‘sprain’ of left knee, considered not serious

08.14.13 at 6:21 pm ET
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FOXBORO — An exam performed on Tom Brady Wednesday afternoon revealed a sprain of his left knee but the injury is not considered serious, according to a report by WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche, who also serves as the team’s preseason TV announcer.

Brady injured the knee in Wednesday’s joint practice with Tampa Bay when Buccaneers right defensive end Adrian Clayborn bull rushed Nate Solder into the the left leg of Brady. Clayborn said he forced Solder into Brady, causing Solder to trip over the quarterback.

Solder said he’ll have to look more closely at film to see what happened.

On the play, Brady threw a sideline pass to Aaron Dobson. As Brady grabbed his left knee, several teammates and coach Bill Belichick stood over him, waiting for him to get up.

Brady came out limping and then returned for five plays before leaving practice for good, heading to the adjacent practice bubble, where he was examined by medical staff, including trainer Jim Whalen.

The star quarterback immediately grabbed his left knee, the same knee he had reconstructed after tearing the ACL in the 2008 season opener against Bernard Pollard and the Chiefs.

Here are the multiple accounts on Twitter on Wednesday evening concerning Tom Brady’s injury:





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Read More: 2013 training camp, Adrian Clayborn, Bernard Pollard, Jonathan Kraft

Nate Solder: ‘I’ll have to see what happened on film’

08.14.13 at 5:49 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Nate Solder said after Wednesday’s practice he didn’t know what happened on the play where he collapsed onto Tom Brady, forcing the quarterback to leave the session prematurely with some sort of left knee or leg injury.

The Patriots left tackle, who was apparently blocked into Brady by Tampa Bay defensive end Adrian Clayborn, said he’ll have to take a look at the film before he makes any sort of declarative statement on what happened on the play.

“I don’t know what happened. I’ll have to see what happened on film,” he told reporters after Wednesday’s practice session. “There were a few different things that happened, so I’ll have to see it.

“I’ll have to see exactly what happened,” he added. “That’s a tough question to answer right now.”

Solder, who had been having a pretty good training camp, drew positive reviews from Clayborn, who said the Colorado product is “a very good left tackle.” Entering his third season with New England, the 25-year-old Solder has started 29 of a possible 32 regular season games over the course of his professional career.

“We’re always working to protect and everything, so … you know, I’ll have to see what happened on film,” he said. “I screwed some things up here and there, and we’ll work to improve it.”

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