|08.17.13 at 12:53 am ET|
|08.16.13 at 11:14 pm ET|
FOXBORO — No concerns about Tom Brady‘s knee, as the quarterback started Friday night against the Buccaneers and looked very sharp leading the Patriots past Tampa, 25-21, in the second preseason game for both teams.
Brady went 11-for-12 for 107 yards and a touchdown, while Shane Vereen was the leading offensive option for the Patriots, ending the night with four carries for 29 yards and four catches for 46 yards. In addition, Danny Amendola had six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. On the other side of the ball, the Bucs got a relatively nice night from rookie Mike Glennon, who played the bulk of the game after coming in relief for starter Josh Freeman. Glennon went 12-for-22 for 121 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception.
There will be a temptation to look too much into this game. Don’t do it. These two teams play again in five weeks for real — no one was interesting in tipping their hand too much Friday night, at least from a personnel/scheme perspective. With that being said, here are a few quick notes on the game:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
‘¢In the end, there were absolutely zero questions left when it came to the state of Brady’s left knee. As was the case last week against the Eagles, the quarterback was astoundingly accurate: In his two series against the Bucs, the Patriots came away with two scores, a touchdown on the first sequence, an artfully executed series that ended with a perfectly delivered 26-yard strike to Amendola where he found the receiver over the middle. (His best pass of the night likely came when he gently floated one to massive rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld in the far corner of the end zone that allowed New England to pick up their first two-point conversion of the night.) In his two preseason games, he’s a combined 18-for-20 for 172 yards, two touchdowns and no picks, and has played 39 snaps.
‘¢Ryan Mallett was mostly on the good side, including a nice sequence at the end of the first half that would have resulted in at least three points if New England weren’t flagged for a pair of penalties that turned a 35-yard field goal attempt into a 50-yarder that was missed by Stephen Gostkowski. (Vereen had a drop on the drive that could have gotten the Patriots even closer.) He ended the game 12-for-20 for 137 yards and a touchdown (on 24 total snaps), and while it won’t completely silence his critics, it was an improvement on his final stat line from the preseason opener against the Eagles.
‘¢The Patriots front four had a good start, coming away with four sacks in the first quarter-plus and dominating the Tampa offensive line. Brandon Spikes (two sacks), Chandler Jones (two) and Rob Ninkovich (one) all had sacks in the first half, and all played a major role in limiting the Tampa Bay offense to -1 yards of total offense through the first 1 1/2 quarters.
‘¢Rookie cornerback Logan Ryan got a lot of time in the first half and into the second, and came away with one of the best defensive plays of the night when he took an interception back for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. After dropping what would have been a sure pick last week against the Eagles, Ryan has started to show up more and more on the radar in a positive fashion — he had a similarly nice read on a ball that he picked off in practice on Wednesday. He’s not a starter, but he’s certainly pushing his way up the depth chart.
WHAT WENT WRONG
‘¢Another rough night for special teams, including a sequence at the end of the half where two penalties (holding and false start) turned a 35-yard field goal into a 50-yard attempt. Gostkowski knocked it off the upright — the Bucs made them pay, as they turned it around quickly for a 37-yard field goal right before the first half. There was a shanked punt, four penalties in all, and to cap it all off, New England also allowed a 63-yard kickoff return. Bad night for Scott O’Brien‘s special teamers.
‘¢It didn’t come back to bite them, but the Patriots’ offensive line took a pair of penalties on the opening drive — a personal foul on Logan Mankins and a false start for Ryan Wendell. It didn’t come back to haunt them, but that’s not the kind of thing you want to see from two key members of your offensive line at any time.
‘¢On the injury front, offensive lineman R.J. Mattes went down with an ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return.
‘¢The Patriots second-team defense (or most of them, anyway) had a bad series late in the second quarter when Glennon put together a nice nine-play, 65-yard drive that took 4:09 and culminated with a 13-yard pass to Kevin Ogletree over the middle that looked like it was the result of missed communication between cornerback Marquice Cole and a New England linebacker.
‘¢Second-year defensive back Tavon Wilson had a rough sequence at the start of the fourth quarter when he was beaten on three straight plays at the end of a Tampa Bay scoring drive. Wilson has struggled to maintain consistency over the course of the summer, and has been fighting for a spot at the back end of the depth chart. Not the sort of performance that will help when you are battling for a roster spot.
‘¢Tim Tebow worked for much of the fourth quarter, and while he was greeted by cheers when he arrived in the game, he struggled. There were several bad throws, including a pick with just over 10 minutes to go that sailed over the head of Kenbrell Thompkins on a play over the middle. (The Bucs turned that into a 23-yard field goal a few plays later.) After the turnover, Gillette Stadium started to empty out.
|08.16.13 at 8:59 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady did play Friday night and show absolutely no ill effects from the hit he took to the left knee on Wednesday in practice.
Brady was brilliant in the opening drive, completing all seven passes, including four to Danny Amendola for 46 yards. Brady capped off a 15-play scoring drive to open the game by hitting Amendola on a 26-yard route to the end zone.
With so much speculation on whether he would play at all, Brady finished the night 11-for-12 for 107 yards and the one touchdown. In two games this preseason, covering a total of four series, Brady is 18-for-20 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Brady completed his first 11 passes before his third-down pass for Amendola fell incomplete to force a punt on his second series.
Brady came out after the first quarter and, like last week in Philadelphia, was replaced by Ryan Mallett to begin the second quarter.
|08.16.13 at 7:13 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Whether Tom Brady plays one snap, one quarter or one half against Tampa Bay or the rest of the preseason, Stevan Ridley knows this much – his starting quarterback will be there when it matters the most.
There has been plenty of debate as to whether Brady should play at all against Tampa Bay, just two days after suffering a scare to his left knee in a joint practice with Tampa Bay.
Ridley, the lead back who figures to start this season in Brady’s backfield, believes Brady knows Brady best. And, after getting a clean bill of health, he’s not worried about if or how much his star quarterback plays.
“That’s the coach’s call,” Ridley said after Thursday’s practice. “I know that he’s going to be there when it counts. When the season matters the most, Tom’s going to be out there. So, I just don’t want us to rush him or anything like that. I think Tom will make the right decision and the coaches will too.”
Ridley was amused when asked if it matters if Brady plays in the preseason.
“Absolutely, what do you mean? It’s a whole different ball game when Brady’s in the game,” he said. “So, I think it matters for everybody that’s watching and everybody that’s out there on the field.”
Ridley took the ball from Brady in the first preseason game and, on the first snap, ran for 62 yards.
“For me, I just have to take it take it day-by-day,” Ridley said. “With Brady back out there, for us it’s a great sign. It was a scary moment but really with Tom, I know he’s a competitor and he’s going to do whatever to get out there. I’m just glad they took him out, checked him out and made sure he was good. My heart is at peace, man, knowing that he’s OK and nothing major is going on.”
When did Ridley finally breathe a sigh of relief on Brady’s health?
Right after [Wednesday’s] practice,” he said. “Got the news pretty quick.
“That’s our leader, man. I’ll say that first and foremost. We ride with Tom Brady all the way. Anytime you see somebody go down like that, everything kind of stops in front of you. But for us, we just have to move on and hope for the best, and that’s what we did. We found out later that day in team meetings that he was going to be OK, and that was all the news we needed to know, that our quarterback was going to be with us and not have any major surgeries or anything major go on with him. So, we’re relieved.”
|08.16.13 at 5:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Given what happened to Tom Brady in practice on Wednesday, we want to know how concerned you are about the star quarterback playing in a meaningless preseason game against Tampa Bay.
Brady has reportedly indicated he will play Friday against the Bucs, despite a bruised left knee sustained when Nate Solder tripped over him in practice.
|08.16.13 at 4:54 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The question doesn’t appear to be will he or won’t he, but how much?
The opposition will be the same team and the same right defensive end – Adrian Clayborn – that bull-rushed Nate Solder into the left knee of Brady on Wednesday in full pads practice, causing all of Patriots Nation to gasp for air.
But after the initial panic subsided, it was revealed that Brady escaped with only a bruised left knee and a very mild sprain. He returned to practice on Thursday, when both teams were in shorts and shells and almost no risk was involved.
Last week, Brady played 16 snaps over two series, with the first drive encompassing six runs and no passes. Brady was 7-for-8 in the second drive, with both resulting in touchdowns. Under normal circumstances, the expectation would be for Brady to play three or four and play into the second quarter but that may not be the case in preseason game No. 2. .
As for the conditions, mother nature is certainly cooperating, with mostly clear skies and temperatures expected around 70 degrees for the 8 p.m. kickoff on national TV (FOX-25).
This is the first Patriots home game since the Boston Marathon attacks. There will be a moment of silence for the victims and an on-field tribute to the Marathon first responders before kick-off.
The two teams are meeting in the preseason for the third straight season and the fifth time since 2007. But this is the first time Tampa Bay has ever played a preseason game at Gillette Stadium, with the previous five games being played at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs lead the all-time preseason series, 8-2, while the Patriots have won five of the seven meetings in the regular season, including 2009 when the Pats prevailed, 35-7, in London.
The cover of GAMEDAY magazine continues with a Patriots tradition under coach Bill Belichick. All 10 offseason workout award winners are featured on the cover, led by Brady. Other winners include Rob Ninkovich, Aqib Talib, Solder, Dane Fletcher, Ras-I Dowling, Danny Amendola, Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and Matthew Slater.
WEEI.com’s Christopher Price has a round-up of players fans should expect to see play and those expected to sit this one out.
|08.16.13 at 1:46 pm ET|
Today we take a close look at the tight end position. There are similarities to the quarterbacks in that the depth of the position exceeds the needs of fantasy GMs in standard 12-team leagues. Tight ends are in abundance unless you are looking for a lock stud. In that case, you either take Jimmy Graham early or you opt to take the risks currently associated with Rob Gronkowski or perhaps Vernon Davis.
The good news is that no matter what you do and now matter how long you wait, you can usually find a solid option. In fact, guys like Zach Sudfeld, Rob Housler and Ed Dickson can be had at or around the 200th overall selection. As with the quarterbacks, there is little penalty for those who wait and load up on talent at positions with greater scarcity. If you are looking for more information and an even deeper take on the tight ends, please feel free to join us at Rotobahn.com.
1. Jimmy Graham, Saints
The class of the position by a long margin, Graham has the talent and the quarterback to be an elite option. He also has been able to suit up consistently. Graham has shown an ability to play through pain, having missed only two games in his three year career. The Saints’ number one option is also our number one. Graham is the only tight end that should be selected in one of the first two rounds. He’s Rotobahn’s 12 overall player and our top tight end. His current ADP is 22, and he’s a great value that late.
2. Vernon Davis, 49ers
Davis is our next tight end, and that is due mostly to his upside as the 49ers’ number one option in the passing game. That mantle was previously held by the injured Michael Crabtree, but Davis should be Colin Kaepernick‘s favorite option in 2013 and the hulking speedster has career year potential. That said, we don’t like him as a draft target until the late fourth round. The good news is that you can usually get him there as his current ADP is 52.
3. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Gronkowski would be in a virtual tie with Graham if he had a track record of staying healthy and, more important, if he was healthy now. Gronk is very hard to value right now as we don’t know what his return date will be, nor do we know what level he will be playing at early on. The key right now for Gronk as far as fantasy value goes, is avoiding the regular season PUP list. If he does that, we are comfortable taking him ahead of Davis, perhaps in round three or four. We all know what a monster Gronkowski can be and a healthy Gronk gives fantasy owners a weekly edge at the tight end position. He’s currently being drafted at 40 overall which is about right given his present situation.
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