|06.12.13 at 4:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots secondary averages 25 years of age, so when someone like the 33-year-old Adrian Wilson walks into the room, the other players tend to take notice.
The former Cardinals defensive back, who spent 12 seasons in the desert before signing with New England this offseason, has brought an impressive resume to Foxboro. But to this point, the thing that’s impressed most of the Patriots defensive backs are his leadership skills.
“Adrian has done a good job. He’s worked hard [and is] very professional,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “He has a real good attitude [and] has a lot of experience. We’ll see how the rest of it plays out.
“But, I would imagine probably what they were referring to is just the way he carries himself, the way he goes about his job. Works hard, smart guy, he’s experienced. He’s really tried to learn and buy into our program and do everything he can to find a way to contribute. I think he’s very well respected.”
Wilson made his mark on the young defensive backs fairly early in the offseason, when his oversized presence helped earn the nickname “The Incredible Hulk.” But now that he’s had a chance to get out on the field, not much has changed. In the sessions that have been open to the media, while Wilson has been deferential to the coaching staff, he’s also clearly led and worked with the younger players through positional drills, as well as 7-on-7′s and 11-on-11′s.
“I think on the field, the communication is a lot better than it is in the classroom, because you can’t call the calls out in the classroom like you can on the field,” he said. “The field work is a lot different than the class work.
“The classroom stuff is the classroom stuff. But to actually get out on the field and actually run it against live competition, it’s something different.”
Following Wednesday’s minicamp session, Wilson said the transition hasn’t been a big deal.
“It’s been good. Everybody has been out here learning, just trying to get the playbook down. Working hard through OTAs and minicamps. I think everybody is just trying to get a feel for one another,” he said. “Football is football, everywhere. I don’t really have any big transitions as far as coming from West to East. It’s just about coming out here and trying to work hard.”
The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder — who looks more like a linebacker than a safety — has always been known for his physical presence as an in-the-box, strong safety. But over the first two days of New England’s mandatory minicamp, he’s shown an ability to make some nice plays on the ball. On Wednesday, he came up with a nice pass breakup on a Tom Brady pass for wide receiver Michael Jenkins. That came on the heels of a couple of nice plays in coverage on Tuesday.
In fact, Wilson’s work in the passing game could help the Patriots fill an important void — the New England linebackers struggled at times in pass coverage in 2012 (just flip on a tape of the AFC title game and you’ll see), and even though Wilson isn’t necessarily a linebacker, he’s certainly got the build and speed when it comes to running down tight ends and running backs.
Regardless of where he ends up, Wilson said the ease that he’s had transitioning to the New England system has been made easier by the fact that there’s a good group of defensive backs around him.
“I think it’s a good mix. Guys play hard,” he said. “[These] guys have been in the system so they’re making it a lot easier on me. Those guys have already been in the system, they know the system, and just being in the classroom with those guys, being able to sit beside Steve [Gregory], sit beside Devin [McCourty], those guys … they know the playbook.”
He’s been particularly impressed with the versatility and skill set of McCourty, who figures to spend a lot of time alongside Wilson this season.
“He’s a good player,” Wilson said. “He does a lot of different things — he plays a lot of different positions. He’s really smart. He’s been in the system for a while, and so to be able to lean on him, that’s definitely a blessing.”
|06.12.13 at 3:06 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots held their second practice of their mandatory minicamp session on Wednesday on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. The workout ran for just over 90 minutes, and was held in shells, sweats and helmets. There was a slight uptick in intensity in the session, which included the usual 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, as well as some positional drills. Here are a few notes on what happened:
1. The following players were not spotted on the field for the duration of the workout: wide receiver Julian Edelman, offensive lineman Nick McDonald and tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. The only major change in that group was Hernandez, who was limited through previous practices this spring as he continues to work his way back from a shoulder issue. (For what it’s worth, Edelman was spotted on the field inside Gillette on Tuesday working with a member of the support staff and catching passes, free of the walking boot he’d been in over recent weeks.)
2. Two guys who were on the field again were linebacker Brandon Spikes and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. Spikes was limited, but he showed up toward the end of practice, while Dennard spent most of his time with a rehab group while hanging out on the sidelines. Defensive backs Devin McCourty and Nate Ebner were also part of a rehab group that also included wide receivers Josh Boyce and Mark Harrison and offensive linemen Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer.
3. As was the case on Tuesday, the offense had a crisp session, with Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett getting the bulk of the reps at quarterback. (Tim Tebow‘s only time under center outside of the drills was during opportunity time at the end of practice.) There were some glitches in the workout — at one point, Brady had to remind a receiver where to line up, and Mallett overshot a few receivers on some deep pass attempts. But all in all, it was a good morning for the offense. Overall, when it came to quarterback play in the 11-on-11 drills, Brady was 11-for-19 (with Jerod Mayo coming away with a pick off a deflected ball), Mallett was 10-for-14 and Tebow was 6-for-9. (One of Tebow’s incompletes came when he fired the ball at the feet of a defensive back.) The best catch of the day came from veteran special teamer Matthew Slater, who managed to sneak between a pair of defenders to make a grab on a deep ball.
4. Bill Belichick talked a little about chemistry during his Wednesday morning press conference, and it’s clear that there is a burgeoning relationship between Brady and new receiver Danny Amendola. The two were again able to make a handful of nice connections over the middle (there were several underneath routes) and one really impressive one on a deep ball down the sidelines. And when they weren’t on the field together, they were seen chatting on the sidelines. In that same vein, veteran receiver Michael Jenkins continues to be a constant presence for the quarterback. This spring, there have been several occasions where Brady has been on the sidelines and Jenkins has spent time picking his brain, or just standing and listening to conversations the quarterback has been having with another pass catcher.
5. With Hernandez and Gronkowski both sidelined, tight ends Zach Sudfeld and Daniel Fells made the most of their chances. Sudfeld — an undrafted rookie tight end — had another impressive outing, and has certainly made his case to be in the mix when training camp opens next month. Fells also saw plenty of action, and made some nice plays while in traffic.
6. The impressive offensive display didn’t necessarily mean that there weren’t any nice moments for the defense, with most of them coming from the secondary. Marquice Cole and Aqib Talib combined for a nice pass breakup on a deep ball from Mallett for Jenkins, and for the second straight day, veteran safety Adrian Wilson came up with a nice pass breakup on a Brady ball for Jenkins. In addition, Kyle Arrington broke up a Brady pass for Amendola. And on the final play of the afternoon, Jerod Mayo came away with a nice pick off a tipped ball from Brady. (The play drew cheers from his defensive counterparts.)
7. While there’s been a lot of punt return work over the course of the spring sessions that have been open to the media, there wasn’t too much to report from the special teams portion of Wednesday’s workout, as punt block appeared to be the primary focus for the day. David Ruffer got in some long field goal work at the end of the session.
8. Because there’s precious little contact, it’s difficult getting a handle on how the offensive and defensive lines have done when it comes to the 11-on-11s. (It’s also difficult because the big guys spend most of their positional drills in the far corner of the field.) But one thing we have noticed is that new defensive lineman Tommy Kelly hasn’t been afraid to speak his mind. The former Raider has been seen talking and working with younger players on a fairly regular basis throughout the spring. It will be interesting to see his impact on the young defensive linemen, as well as the impact of Wilson on the young defensive backs.
9. With the first blush of Tebowmania having worn off, the media contingent was far less than the 80-plus individuals who were on the scene on Tuesday. Tebow did not speak with the media, but Amendola, Wilfork, Wilson, Jenkins, Mallett and Rob Ninkovich were among the players who talked to reporters. And while Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was among the group of visitors at camp on Tuesday, there were no visiting coaches in the house on Wednesday.
|06.12.13 at 12:44 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Without mentioning his name, Bill Belichick addressed the Brandon Spikes situation on Wednesday.
Asked about his reaction when a player chooses to work out on his own away from the team, as was the case with Spikes during OTAs, Belichick offered this:
“It is what it is,” he said “We all know what the rules and the guidelines are and that’s what they are.”
May OTA’s are technically voluntary but every NFL team mandates some form of attendance and/or participation from players under contract in June mini-camp.
Spikes has been in attendance this week, and spoke Tuesday. He said he likes to do things “a little different than everybody else.”
Can it affect a player’s position on the team if he chooses not to be here?
“It is what it is,” Belichick said. “We don’t make the rules.”
|06.12.13 at 12:37 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Day 2 of Patriots mini-camp began much the same way as Day 1, just with many fewer media in attendance.
Bill Belichick was asked Wednesday morning how Tim Tebow looked on his first day in Patriots drills on Tuesday.
“I think everybody out there is pretty much in the same boat: just trying to get better day by day,” Belichick said. “Some guys are starting at different points; he’s obviously starting at a point different than where other players were. They’re all moving along. Guys that are out there are making progress. Guys that aren’t are doing what they can do and they’re falling behind.”
“I don’t think evaluating players on a couple plays is really a good practice. We’ll wait until we have a little bit more information and make our evaluations as a staff, talk about players after a chunk of time, after we’ve had a chance to see things. Any player you put out there, the first day is a learning experience. As you do it the second, third, fourth time, just like when we all do anything multiple times we get better at it hopefully, get more experience, get more comfortable and do it better. I don’t think that’s any different than any football player at any position.”
Belichick again stayed away from answering whether he intends to move him around in the offense.
“Each player is different,” he said. “You have to start somewhere. Where the starting point is, is what it is and then you grow to wherever you grow to.”
Belichick was asked if he has seen anything in Tebow’s mechanics or throwing that looks better or different?
“Like I said, we’re not going to get into a minute-by-minute evaluation of a player,” Belichick said. “I don’t think that’s the way to go, especially at this time of year.”
|06.12.13 at 11:40 am ET|
Boston College coach and former Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio joined Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning to talk about new Patriot Tim Tebow.
Addazio, who coached Tebow during his Heisman Trophy-winning season at Florida, said he thinks Tebow can be a successful quarterback in the NFL.
“I would say to you that a lot of pro teams are going to read zone, different styles of play a lot of which we ran at Florida,” Addazio said. “It’s kind of running rampant right now. He has a great ability level with that style. But Tim was a very good overall quarterback — throwing quarterback in the SEC. He went against some of the best corners that were first-round draft picks in the NFL. I mean, that was the most pro-like league at that time.
“So my point would be that it’s not like he didn’t play against great — those are the best defenses in America, in the SEC. He went against the top pass-rushers, the top corners, not only in who he played, but every day in practice. Joe Haden and all those guys and Reggie Nelson, so I have seen him against great competition play great.”
Addazio said he thinks critics judge Tim’s performance on the wrong scale, because Tebow is not a typical pocket passer. Instead, critics should be looking at his ability to win games.
“His game has got a lot to do with the ability to run with the football, throw the football, improvise on the run, so I think he gets measured all the time against pure pocket passers, but as we all know there are a lot of ways to be productive on offense,” Addazio said. “Really, to me, I’ve said this a lot and I’m going to say it again — the measurement for a quarterback is winning. It’s winning and winning championships. Leading your team. It starts there.
“At the end of the day there are a lot of beautiful throwers out there that can’t win. And it’s about winning. I know one thing: That guy right there? He can win. And he can lead and he is tough. And if you pick a guy and you say I want that guy on my team and someone tells me that, I want that guy on my team. I may not be some quarterback guru or expert, but I know that.”
Addazio also responded to a report that Tebow was not adept at diagnosing coverages and pressure before the snap, which led to him getting sacked and concussed at Florida.
“To make a statement that that one play defined where he was in terms of reading defenses — that is ridiculous,” Addazio said. “It’s kind of like the Teddy Roosevelt quote, ‘It’s the man in the arena that counts.’ You’re doing it every snap, you’re doing it every down, are there ever mistakes made? Absolutely. All of a sudden now that means that you no longer can read a [defense] — I just think it’s overevaluated. We are just overgrinding this, overevaluating this. Picking at every little thing. Someone can ask me, I’ll stand by my statement. Pick a guy, and I want him on my team.”
|06.11.13 at 9:25 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Aaron Hernandez was in attendance Tuesday as the Patriots opened mandatory mini-camp and was catching passes from his old college friend and teammate Tim Tebow in the back of the end zone, just like he used to with the Gators.
Hernandez said everything with his shoulder, repaired in the spring, is fine. The fact that he was on the field and participating, though on a limited basis, is a good sign that recovery is indeed full speed ahead.
“Shoulder’s doing great,” said Hernandez. “Better and better each day. Feeling good. Taking it day-by-day and hopefully by [the start of training camp] I’m ready. At the end of the day, you want to be healthy for the season. You don’t want to overdo it now and have it hurt you for the season. Just taking care of it, make sure you limit yourself and take it day-by-day.”
Hernandez is believed to have injured the shoulder late in the 2012 season and it’s not known exactly when he had the surgery.
Hernandez came out of the bubble late in mini-camp drills on Tuesday, joining the rest of the team as they were in full practice mode. Hernandez was among several Patriots to come out later, including Stevan Ridley, Brandon Spikes and Devin McCourty.
Hernandez, entering his fourth NFL season with the Patriots, has caught 175 passes and 18 touchdowns while amassing nearly 2,000 yards. Unlike Rob Gronkowski, Hernandez is expected to be at full strength when the team opens full training camp in late July.
|06.11.13 at 5:02 pm ET|
Ed Reed said Tuesday that a kick from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the AFC title game may have ultimately caused him to suffer an injury and undergo offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip.
Reed hinted to reporters that incident — a play where the quarterback was sliding to avoid a tackle and ended up nailing the veteran safety — led to an injury. Reed said that looking back, there’s only one play where the injury could have happened.
“Only play I can look at is when I got kicked by a certain quarterback, but even, then I played in the Super Bowl and you saw what happened there,” Reed told reporters. “Even then I had two MCL sprains, a second degree one in the left in the Super Bowl in the first quarter and played through that. So if you’ve got any questions about my heart and how I play and how I work (that’s your answer).”
The defensive back, who signed a free-agent deal with the Texans in the offseason, said Brady has since apologized for the slide. Brady was fined $10,000 for the incident.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
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