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Can the Pats take anything out of their experience with the Saints and apply it to the Falcons?

08.17.10 at 9:29 am ET
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i1While he stressed that it was a positive experience, Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t seem to think there would be a whole lot of carryover from last week’s joint practices with the Saints in Foxboro that would be useful — at least from a logistics standpoint — when it comes to this week’s joint practice sessions with the Falcons in Georgia.

“No, not really,” Belichick said when he was asked if there was anything the Patriots could take from this experience with New Orleans that would help them get the most they could out of their experience this week with Atlanta.

“I think just the big thing for us is to work on what we’re working on, but now it’s against a team that we’re going to play, so the practice is really a preparation for the game,” Belichick added. “Really, it’s just playing another game or getting more snaps. We can set up some situations on third down, in the red area or things like that [or] in kicking situations that we did with New Orleans that may or may not come up in the game.

“We had situations that came up in the game but not in practice and vice versa, so it kind of doubles the experience and the education of not only the players, but also of the coaches — or, as I said, getting back into the mode of calling plays and thinking about situational football and using timeouts and all of those things.”

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Patriots Tuesday practice schedule

08.17.10 at 8:29 am ET
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The Patriots will be holding joint practices with the Falcons Tuesday in Flowery Branch, GA. Here is the schedule:

8:30 a.m.-10:55 a.m. — Morning practice
3:45 p.m. – 5:35 p.m. — Afternoon practice

Both sessions are open to the public.

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Belichick on The Big Show: ‘Wouldn’t rule out’ Welker in the preseason

08.16.10 at 10:50 pm ET
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Bill Belichick (AP)

For Patriots Monday on The Big Show, the Big O welcomed coach Bill Belichick for the first of his weekly chats during the football season. Belichick was wrapping up practice for the day, as the Patriots plans on flying to Atlanta to scrimmage against the Falcons before their preseason game on Thursday. With Belichick all ears, the guys asked him questions about the way the team gets ready for the season as well as updates on various players.

“I’m just working on the guys here, who are getting on the plane going to play at Atlanta,” Belichick said curtly about holdout Logan Mankins. When asked about the possibility of seeing Wes Welker step onto the field before the season, Belichick was a little more open.

“We’ll see how that goes. I wouldn’t rule it out, but I wouldn’t say it’s a definite either. We’ll just take it day by day, just like with everybody else.”

Below are highlights of the interview. To listen to the interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.

On playing another team during training camp because constantly playing teammates can get boring:

I just think it worked out, the way the schedule worked and the teams and the situation. It just worked out where we felt like it was a good thing to do. There are a lot of factors that go into it, definitely one of which is being on a Thursday game schedule all the way through the preseason. Those things are really hard to do, when you’re playing Thursday night one week and Monday night the next and stuff like that. The schedule worked out, the teams worked out and I just thought it would be a good experience. Mike Smith with Atlanta and Sean Payton with New Orleans and I thought [about it] in the past and the schedule hit this year, so it worked out.

On why he chose to do this kind of practice with this team this year:

Again, I think it was more of the way it fell. I think it went well last week with New Orleans so we’re hoping for another good week this week against Atlanta.

On what stood out to him so far in practices:

It was just great. I thought the way the two teams played together was outstanding. There was no chippiness or attitude or anything. Both teams were out there to just play football and I think that we got a lot better. We saw a lot of things in New Orleans that we don’t see from ourselves and that was a good experience. Some of the things we [did] see was against different players or maybe a little bit different schemes, so it just helps our awareness and work on things that we’re going to have to work on over the course of the season that are outside some of the things in our system, both offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. We covered a lot of kicking game situations that filled our awareness and situation football in those areas, so that was good to do them against another team instead of just the way that we do them.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Logan Mankins, Patriots, training camp

How Richard Seymour sold Gerard Warren on Pats

08.16.10 at 2:20 pm ET
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FOXBORO — While it’s clear that Richard Seymour was hurt by being traded from the Patriots to the Raiders before opening week last season, the defensive lineman painted a good picture of the franchise to someone who wound up signing in New England this summer.

Gerard Warren, a 4-3 down lineman in Oakland’s system in 2009, said he was sold on coming to the Patriots and making the transition to a 3-4 scheme, in part, by the high recommendations of Seymour when the two played together last season.

“Just the organization in whole and talking to Richard, when he came out to Oakland, it was like if I ever had the opportunity to come out to New England, it sounded like a place I wanted to be from talking to someone who came from the inside,” Warren said after Monday’s practice.

“He [Seymour] didn’t leave on the best of terms but he didn’t have anything negative to say about the way things were [run].”

Warren, listed at 6-4, 330 pounds, was a gap-shooting pass rusher in Oakland’s scheme but with the Patriots sticking to a 3-4 system, he will be another big body called upon to help stop the run.

And the man who will be helping him the most just so happens to be Seymour’s closest friend on the defensive line in his time with the Patriots – Vince Wilfork.

“Just with his experience and his defense and the productivity he’s had, it’s awesome to have guy to be able correspond with on the field and have a guy like Vince who’s up on his game, to be able to kind of give you a few pointers here and there,” Warren said of Wilfork.

What has Wilfork told him?

“Technique, that’s pretty much it,” Warren said. “He’s a big preacher of technique. That’s what he harps on and thrives on. Just make sure you have your base technique down, and everything else will take care of itself.”

And Warren, who signed a one-year deal worth $900,000 on April 24, certainly figures to see an increased role this season after starting defensive lineman Ty Warren was lost for the season after being placed on injured reserve over the weekend.

“I operate the same but I call it, ‘step-your-game-up time,’” Gerard said of Ty. “You’re thrust in the forefront now and it’s time to go at it, produce and do what it is I was brought in for.”

Read More: 3-4 defense, 4-3 defense, Gerald Warren, New England Patriots

Hoyer learning from the best

08.16.10 at 2:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Though New England is on the edge of its proverbial seat as it awaits word on just how big Tom Brady’s extension will be worth, it’s important to remember that the Patriots haven’t had to invest too much recently when it comes to acquiring their quarterbacks.

Brady, a sixth-round pick and Matt Cassel, a seventh-rounder, have obviously had success in their careers, and with current backup Brian Hoyer entering his second season, it appears he, an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State, could be the next value under center.

Hoyer played sparingly in five games as a rookie last season, and as the No. 2 quarterback prepares to serve as security should anything happen to Brady, his comfort on the field is quite apparent. He’s certainly outshone rookie Zac Robinson and has developed a sense of familiarity with the receivers on the roster.

“For me, it’s just that I can go in there and rattle off a play this year, whereas last year I was just trying to spit it out word-by-word,” Hoyer said Monday. “Now, it’s just I hear it and it automatically means something to me, whereas last year I had to kind of think about it a little bit.”

Things weren’t always so cool for Hoyer, who can still recall the first time he met Brady. Introducing himself to one of the game’s all-time greats and his future mentor wasn’t easy to do.

“I was in the room and he just walked in and was like, ‘Hi, I’m Tom,’” Hoyer recalled. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I know.’”

Now that they’ve had over a year to get to know one another, Brady and Hoyer seemed to have developed quite the rapport, something director of player personnel Nick Caserio has noticed. The two even have an ongoing competition in what they refer to as the “bucket drill,” which consists of the quarterbacks trying to sink passes into an empty barrel from varying distances.

“He’s been huge for my development just by watching him and asking questions and learning from him. He’s really helped me out and he really hasn’t even had to do anything,” Hoyer said. “He’s just been a good teammate, a good mentor. I watch him practice and I ask him questions. I’ve learned a lot just by doing that.”

Surprisingly, Hoyer has actually had Brady’s number when it comes to the bucket drill, sinking three passes to Brady’s goose egg. For someone with such a high level of comfort on the field and a player that has looked very strong in camp — let alone the fact that he came from a pro-style offense — it’s surprising that he was passed over by every team in the draft.

“Obviously, we didn’t draft him either, but it’s just the way it works out sometimes,” Caserio said. “Some players get drafted, some players aren’t drafted. I can’t really tell you why or why he didn’t. We’re just happy he’s here on the club.”

Now that he is in the club and appears to have a stranglehold on the No. 2 job, it isn’t particularly hard to see why. He rarely makes mistakes in practice and is generally with Brady at all times on the field, even when Robinson isn’t.

Caserio spoke highly of Hoyer’s instincts Monday while also complimenting the young quarterbacks ball placement and decision-making. Though Hoyer isn’t the type to rave about his own attributes on the field, he’ll take the praise when it comes to the placement of his passes, especially if they’re headed in the direction of a blue barrel.

“I know it’s killing [Brady] that he hasn’t hit one of those bucket shots yet and I have, so I make sure I remind him every now and then,” Hoyer said with a grin.

At the end of the day, the relationship with Brady — even if it’s in competition (he noted the two have yet to butt heads over their respective schools) — is one that Hoyer views as being incredibly valuable to his progression, and he’s not willing to let it go unnoticed.

“The best thing about being the backup for Tom Brady is learning from Tom Brady, in my opinion the best in the league,” Hoyer said. “Whether it’s us working on our footwork or us doing our bucket drill over there, or watching film or just watching him practice, I think that’s just the most important thing I can get from being his backup.”

Read More: Brian Hoyer, training camp,

Wilfork on D&H: ‘There are changes everywhere’

08.16.10 at 1:17 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork (AP)

Vince Wilfork (AP)

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork joined the Dale & Holley show on Monday morning to talk about the Ty Warren injury, voluntary workouts and training camp.

“As far as the player, that’s a guy I will miss out there on the field with me but I think the guys that stepped in are doing a good job,” Wilfork said of Warren. “I mean we’ve been working every day, everybody has been doing their thing and hopefully we can get better as a team.”

Wilfork also touched on heading to Atlanta and facing Falcons players in duel practices.

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

What did you think when you heard the news that Ty Warren was going to be out for the season?

That’s a personal friend of mine on and off the field. It’s just sad to hear something like that, sidelined for the season. I talked with him afterwards and everything and he’s in high spirits. It’s something he said he needs to take care of and I support him 100 percent. As far as the player, that’s a guy I will miss out there on the field with me but I think the guys that stepped in are doing a good job. I mean we’ve been working every day, everybody has been doing their thing and hopefully we can get better as a team. As far as Ty, I was just sad to hear that because he’s tough as nails and when he says something is bothering him, something is bothering him. I respect him, I respect him as a player and a person. But it’s just sad for him to go down like that and I’ll always keep him in my prayers and my locker is right next to him so he’ll be with me spiritually throughout the year.

He’s a guy who put his morals and his convictions where his pocketbook was. He passed up on an offseason workout bonus and went back down to Texas A&M to work on his degree. Was he here for all the mandatory stuff he had to be here for?

He was around. I think he even came back a couple days earlier for the minicamps and OTAs and whatever. He’s been around, he’s always worked. Even now with him going in with his injury, he’s watching film still like he’s playing. So I’m sure if I have a question or whatever it may be, I can always call him and say, “Hey, what do you think about this tackle or this guard? How you feel if we do this personnel?” He’s always watching film and always preparing like he’s there. That’s just the professionalism of the guy. Most guys when they get hurt and are done for a good while just put football away and go about their business. But that’s one guy that always keeps football in his pocket and always with the DVDs and playbooks, he’s always calling me asking me what we’re doing. He always wants to stay in tune with the team and that’s every bit of a leader and every bit of respect from a person you can get. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork,

Wes Welker provides a dose of reality

08.16.10 at 1:16 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For everyone expecting/hoping/wishing for Wes Welker to make his debut this Thursday night against Atlanta and, more importantly, on Sept. 12 against Cincinnati at Gillette Stadium, the man himself wants people to remember his return by a specific date is by no means guaranteed.

Not that he doesn’t want play starting yesterday.

Sounding a more cautious tone following this week’s final practice of training camp in Foxboro, Welker said he still needs to make more progress in getting his surgically-repaired left knee ready for game action.

“It’s still kind of the same,” Welker said. “We’re making strides but at the same time, there’s good days and bad days so we’re just trying to work through them and keep on getting better each day. It’s good to get out here and get reps with the guys and be not stuck somewhere else rehabbing and doing stuff like that. It’s just good to be out here.”

It’s still hard for many to believe that it was on Jan. 3 in Houston when Welker slipped on a quick cut near midfield after catching a pass from Tom Brady and his left knee buckled, causing damage that required reconstructive surgery. Since the operation, Welker has blown away nearly everyone – not to mention medical checkpoints – on his way to being removed from the PUP list at the beginning of camp.

Welker, who did not play last Thursday against New Orleans, did not indicate whether he would be ready for the second preseason game this Thursday night in Atlanta. He was expected to leave with the team on Monday and travel to Atlanta and participate in practices against the Falcons on Tuesday outside Atlanta.

“I’d like to be out there anytime,” Welker added. “Anytime I can out there is going to be a positive and of course, I want to be out there but we’re going to take it slow and make sure we stay on track and we’ve been good to this point and we’re just going to keep that going.”

Welker admitted he would love to get out on the field on Thursday night in the Georgia Dome to see what his left knee feels like in game conditions.

“Absolutely,” Welker admitted. “You practice so much and rehab and do things like that, to get out there in real game action, with the crowd in the stadium and the adrenaline is kind of going, that’s the atmosphere you want.

“I’m able it to do it. But obviously, I have this knee brace on so it’s not what I want it to be or where I need to be but we’re slowly making strides and slowly getting there.”

Slowly being the operative word there. It was almost as if Welker was trying to send out a subliminal message to himself that while everything looks great and the cheers from the fans in camp are heartfelt, he won’t know anything for sure until take hits in games and make sharp cuts on his routes.

“They didn’t really say anything to me. They said six months is when we’ll have a better idea of kind of where we’re at. So, I kind of had that my head and the season is seven months away and we’re just trying to work towards that.”

And while he may not ever admit it, having Julian Edelman on the roster gives Welker more time to make sure he’s as close to full strength as possible before going all out in a game.

“He’s done a great job, being able to come in like this and really make the plays,” Welker said. “Once he gets the ball in his hands, he’s pretty dangerous, he’s really showed that. He just needs to keep coming along, keep on doing what he’s been doing and keep on making plays for us. It’s good to have and good to see out there.”

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
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