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Read between the lines…

08.19.08 at 11:07 am ET
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That’s an easy thing to do and also a prerequisite of work covering your New England Patriots.

So, with that in mind, I’ll take the leap off a not-so long limb and say that it’s almost certain based on what Tom Brady said yesterday on Patriots Monday on WEEI, this morning’s comments from Bill Belichick at his press briefing and the comments of Matt Cassel and his teammates that Matt Cassel will once again get the starting nod this Friday when the Pats take on the Philadelphia Eagles in what usually is regarded as the most important regular season tune-up for all the regulars.

But what’s more fascinating are the comments from Matt Cassel, heretofore a mellow understudy to Tom Brady and Heisman winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC. It appears the criticism of the QB on the NFL Network during Sunday’s night broadcast fired him up.

“I don’t watch that stuff,” Cassel said of the comments of analysts Marshall Faulk and Sterling Sharpe. “I don’t know why they’re particularly harsh,” “A lot those guys are ex-players and they understand how difficult this game is and how hard you prepare, week-in and week-out, and so when they’re so critical it’s interesting to me because those guys were in the same shoes at one point in their career. They should understand how hard it is to go out there and perform each and every week. We go out there and work to put a 100 percent effort out there. That’s just how it goes and some people are going to be like that.”

Matt Cassel on The NFL Network Criticism

WOW! Maybe that’s what was missing. The fire in the belly. It will be fascinating to see how No. 16 comes out this week for the ailing No. 12 on many different levels. First, the Patriots need to know once and for all if he can handle the system if need be. Second, if this motivation is what was needed to bring his focus to another level.

Cassel is 7-for-14 in two games this preseason, with no touchdowns and one interception and a quarterback rating of 34.2.

Patriots release Marcus Pollard

08.19.08 at 8:28 am ET
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A bit a of a stunner in Foxboro as Patriots release veteran tight end Marcus Pollard

‘€œAll the players that are here we’€™re comfortable with to a certain degree,’€ Bill Belichick said of the 36-year-old who has played with the Colts, Lions and Seahawks. ‘€œWith Marcus, we just felt that it didn’€™t work out the way we had hoped and he had hoped. There’€™s two weeks remaining in camp and some teams could be looking. I have a lot of respect for what he’€™s done in his career. He’€™s had a great career so we did this out of respect for him.’€

Taking his place on the roster is 23-year-old Tyson DeVree, originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 5 and was released by the Patriots on June 11. He finished his college career at the University of Colorado (2006-07) after transferring from Western Michigan (2003-04) after his sophomore year. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound tight end played in 44 collegiate games, making 96 receptions for 987 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Bill Belichick explains Pollard release

The team will go with Ben Watson and David Thomas as the lead options at tight end.

Belichick on Brady’€™s situation:

‘€œWith Tom’€™s situation, everything he would be doing he’€™s done before,” Belichick said. “It’€™s just fine tuning.’€

No commitment yet on whether he will play Friday.

Belichick explains Brady situation

As far as Brady and Moss working together’€¦ ‘€œAll of things they do, they’€™ve done before,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œTo a certain extent, we’€™re ahead of that. We’€™ve still got to execute it this year.’€

Quiet For Now…

08.19.08 at 7:30 am ET
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In the Patriots media room for the first time since mini-camps in the spring and it’s all quiet as I join a couple of other scribes in waiting for Bill Belichick to address us at 11:30 on the status of his team.

It’s not likely that we’ll get a lot of detail on either Tom Brady’s right foot or Brandon Meriweather’s leg. But the moment we do, I’ll let you know.

Say what you will, the world could be coming down on the Patriots and they STILL wouldn’t have the gall or nerve to bring back Chris Henry. Was listening to 700 WLW on satellite radio this morning and Bengaldom is not taking the news well that a multiple-offender of the law and common decency is getting another chance with Mike Brown’s Bengals. I know, I know, this is about the New England Patriots but it shows you just how different the two franchises are and how polar opposite they are when it comes to handling character in and out of the locker room. Maybe Mike Brown is trying to make working conditions so bad he is encouraging people to quit instead of firing them, read: Marvin Lewis.

One of the best columnists I’ve read is Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Here’s his read (And I don’t have to waste anymore time on this).

Read More: 700 WLW, Bill Belichick, Chris Henry Bengals, Tom Brady

Brady update

08.18.08 at 2:20 pm ET
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Saying he’s trying to be smart with his body, Tom Brady told WEEI’s “Patriots Monday” that he is getting treatment on his right leg.

He did not confirm whether it was a sore foot that was keeping him out but did say that this current injury is not related to the right ankle sprain he sustained in the AFC Championship Game against San Diego. The next day he was photographed in a boot while walking in Manhattan.

“I’m not sure,” Brady told WEEI about his chances of playing this Friday against Philadelphia. “I’m not sure. I’m trying to get treatment this week and I’m feeling better every day. It’s going to be up to coach as to what he wants to do. But I think he’s been coaching long enough to understand that the first game in September is what’s important.”

The Patriots open the season on Sept. 7 at home against Kansas City.

Brady did not make the trip to Tampa Bay for Sunday night’s 27-10 loss to the Buccaneers.

Read More: Brady, Manhattan, right foot, right leg

Not another…

08.18.08 at 11:50 am ET
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It’s not known how severely Brandon Meriweather injured his leg during the first quarter of Sunday night’s 27-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The second-year safety out of the University of Miami limped off the field and did not return.

The Patriots did not practice Monday and there was no conference call with head coach Bill Belichick to update the injury.

“We’ll see how that goes. I’m not sure what the situation is but hopefully that’s not a problem,” Belichick said of Meriweather in his postgame news conference on Sunday night.

Meriweather came into this year with the hope of teamming with Rodney Harrison as safeties in the Patriots defensive backfield.

Meriweather’s injury is the latest to the Patriots defense, which has already lost safety/linebacker Tank Williams for the season to a knee injury while corners Jason Wilhite and Jonathan Wilhite were out with less serious leg injuries. Additionally, Rodney Harrison, James Sanders, Lewis Sanders and Mike Williams were all unvailable Sunday night.

The Patriots head back to the practice field on Tuesday in preparation for their third preseason game on Friday night at Gillette Stadium against the Philadelphia Eagles.

While Waiting on Brady…

08.17.08 at 1:39 pm ET
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Nothing like opening this blog with the biggest potential problem to hit the Patriots since their remarkable run began in 2001.

Tom Brady didn’t make the trip to Tampa Bay for the team’s second exhibition game, reportedly because of an ankle problem. It’s not yet clear which ankle or if this has anything remotely to do with his right ankle/foot problem that put him in a walking boot prior to the Super Bowl loss against the Giants.

Brady said Monday on Patriots Monday on WEEI with Mike Felger and Scott Zolak that it was his right foot that was bothering him and that this should NOT set off any alarms, adding that he will get treatment this week and he’s not sure if he will play this Friday against Philadelphia, usually the most important preseason game for regulars.

While the concern level certainly is NOT there yet, it does give everyone pause in Foxboro because A) Brady has yet to take a snap and B) the backups in camp have a combined 22 completions on 39 attempts, all belonging to Matt Cassel.

This is make or break for Cassel, who comes into the season with 71.8 career rating and a 32.7 rating from last season.

Throw in the fact that Matt Gutierrez and rookie Kevin O’Connell have yet to take a snap in an NFL regular season game and you’re not exactly talking about security at the signal-caller position.

NO ONE should be getting quite nervous yet because all it takes for Brady to get ready for Sept. 7 against Kansas City is a couple of series behind center in the preseason and the ability to stand upright.

Brady has been kept out of several practices this camp and while most observers have pointed out that it was to save the burden on his shoulder and keep him fresh, the latest news sheds new light and perspective.

Meanwhile, making all of these observations from the third row of the Fenway Park press box as the Blue Jays lay a football-like 14-3 (make that 15-3) pounding on the Red Sox don’t mean much until the Patriots confirm or deny any problems with No. 12.

And we may not have that answer until Sept. 7.

Read More: Brady, Cassel, Patriots,


08.15.08 at 9:35 pm ET
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