|06.17.15 at 6:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss backup quarterback Matt Flynn, his role behind Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo, the maturation of Brian Tyms, the role of Danny Amendola going forward and the closing of Patriots minicamp on Wednesday.
|06.17.15 at 6:29 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Even though the Patriots won the Super Bowl last season, it was a year to forget for running back Tyler Gaffney.
A 2014 sixth-round pick out of Stanford University by the Panthers, Gaffney tore his meniscus during training camp. The Panthers tried to sneak him through waivers, but the Patriots put in a claim and Gaffney was now not only out for the season, but with a new team.
“Pretty frustrating,” Gaffney said of suffering the injury. “I had never been injured before. Never had any sideline — maybe a sprain, but definitely an eye-opening experience, but I had a bunch of guys kind of help guide me through once I was here standing on the sidelines.”
“A little different, somewhat unexpected,” he added of being claimed by the Patriots. “Nonetheless, you take the cards you’re dealt with and I am happy to be here.”
Even though he missed the entire season after being placed on injured-reserve, Gaffney did everything a player normally does, except practice and play in games. The Stanford grad sat in meetings, watched film, studied the playbook, etc.
With the team losing running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen via free agency, there are available spots at the running back position. Currently battling with Gaffney are Jonas Gray, LeGarrette Blount, James White, Brandon Bolden, Dion Lewis and Travaris Cadet.
The running back will now lean on his experiences from last year.
“Anybody who gets a head start we’ll say on the playbook on any team in the NFL is going to benefited from it,” Gaffney said.
The Patriots rotate their backs in and out arguably more than any team in the NFL, not being a team known as having one feature back. One week it could be one player getting a lot of action and the next week it can be someone completely different.
Gaffney said all he can do during OTAs and minicamp is show the coaches what he can bring to the table.
“You put your best effort out here, and it’s up to the coaches,” he said. “Whatever you can bring to the table you’d like to bring, and from there it’s on them.”
With OTAs and minicamp now wrapped up, next on the Patriots’ offseason schedule is training camp and being another step closer to actual football. With Gaffney missing all of last season, he more than anyone can’t wait.
“Man, I am excited,” Gaffney said. “Last year was a little different than this year, so I am real excited.”
|06.17.15 at 5:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick sounds like a man who’s ready for some R & R.
After coaching his team to a Super Bowl win in early February, then preparing for free agency and the the draft on a very compressed schedule (albeit very happily) and then getting to know his new personnel through offseason workouts and OTAs, the Patriots coach decided Wednesday that two days of minicamp was enough.
He called off the final day of minicamp on Thursday and decided that the next time he needs to see his team on the field will be for training camp in July. As WEEI.com’s Chris Price detailed, it was another full day of work for both Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Does Belichick feel the team has accomplished what he wanted to over the course of OTAs and mini-camp?
“Well you can see, we’ve got a lot of stuff in,” Belichick said. “We’ve done a lot of things. We’ve gotten into more situational football each day. We’ll just keep building on that. It’s good to expose it to them once and then the next time around hopefully it will come a little bit quicker.”
On Wednesday, there were some moments when players on opposite sides seemed to get into it, jostling and getting hands up in the non-contact teaching practice.
“Yeah, we don’t really need that. We’re just trying to teach things,” Belichick said. “The competition will start in training camp. There will be plenty of it there. If these guys want to get after it and hit somebody, there will be plenty of chances in training camp ‘ more than they want.”
What has Belichick taken away from the two minicamp practices?
“I think it just gives us a little better evaluation of how the players are handling things mentally, their assignments, there’s more things they have to worry about and the communication, their communication as a team from the signal callers on out to each of the different groups of players,” he said. “It’s not an evaluation of the physical part, but it’s an evaluation of the mental part and their ability to think quickly, process information, handle different situations and communicate individually and as a group.”
As for letting his team go, which he announced after meeting with reporters on Wednesday, even Belichick knows proper perspective.
“We’re not going to conquer the world this week,” Belichick pronounced. “But, we can just keep pushing forward on all the basic situations and then as many of those extra ones as we can get to just puts us that much further ahead down the road.”
|06.17.15 at 5:33 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For wide receiver Brian Tyms, it was an interesting summer last year.
He was signed by the Patriots on July 27, despite being suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. But, that may have actually helped him make the team out of training camp and then he was added to the roster once the first four games of the season passed.
This year was different for Tyms as he was able to have a full offseason in New England.
“It’s tremendous,” Tyms said. “Last year I came in and was just catching on as I went. Now I actually know the stuff so you actually pay attention to more detail, more things that have to do with route depth, certain situations. It’s big.”
The 26-year-old finished last season playing in 11 games, but only catching five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, which occurred in Week 6 in Buffalo, a 43-yard hook up with Tom Brady — a great over the shoulder catch, which he showcased his speed on.
With a wide receiver depth chart including Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell and Aaron Dobson, Tyms appears to be battling with Dobson for the final wide out spot on the roster. With LaFell out of all of OTAs and minicamp with an apparent foot injury, Tyms has received a lot of work with Edelman and Amendola and done everything he can to prove he deserves to play alongside them.
Despite his work in earlier sessions, Wednesday wasn’t his best day, although it’s worth noting he spent extra time after the session catching balls from a machine on his own.
“Me personally, I don’t feel I did as best as I could or should have done,” Tyms said. “I hold myself to a really high standard and I feel as though when the ball is thrown my way I have to make a play. So when I don’t make it, it’s whatever, I feel bad. I have a lot of stuff to look at on film. A lot of stuff to work on after this minicamp.”
|06.17.15 at 4:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots announced Wednesday afternoon that they won’t hold a final day of minicamp practice on Thursday, which means the next time they’ll convene will be for the start of training camp, expected to be sometime in late July.
|06.17.15 at 2:44 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots put the wraps on their second minicamp session of the week Wednesday afternoon, going through their paces under sunny skies on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. Here are a few quick notes on what happened:
The following players were not spotted: Scott Chandler, Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Dane Fletcher, Chris White, Matthew Slater, Brandon LaFell, Sebastian Vollmer, Chris Jones, Chandler Jones and Sealver Siliga.
In the first wave of 11-on-11 drills, Brady went 5-for-6 with four handoffs, and the incomplete coming on tipped pass. That sequence was punctuated with a touchdown pass to receiver Aaron Dobson over the middle in traffic. That was followed up by Garoppolo, who went 8-for-9 on a series that included a sweet deep ball for Rob Gronkowski down sideline where the tight end wrestled the ball away from the defender. (It would have gone for a touchdown if Gronkowski had been allowed to finish the play.) Later on practice in 11-on-11s, there was mixing and matching of offensive personnel, and in that series, Brady went 5-for-8 and Garoppolo went 4-for-8.
Matt Flynn worked on his own with a coach off to the side for a stretch, but appeared to get some more work toward the end of the session. He jumped in and got some reps in 11-on-11s at the end of practice, and went 7-for-10 with a touchdown pass.
The Patriots kept the music up and loud throughout much of the 11-on-11s. It started with Green Day (“Welcome to Paradise”) and Kid Rock. Later on, it was Ozzy Osbourne (“Crazy Train”), Metallica (“Enter Sandman”), Bon Jovi, House of Pain and Jay-Z. “Jump Around” was playing while the Patriots were working on some goal-line packages, and when Gronkowski caught touchdown passes from Brady and Garoppolo, he started dancing in the end zone.
We didn’t spot Chandler over the course of the workout, but given how he appeared to be a little shaken up at the end of Tuesday’s workout, it wasn’t a big surprise. Taking Chandler’s place in the side sessions between the tight ends and quarterback was Michael Hoomanawanui. In one of those sessions, Gronkowski made a remarkable, twisting one-handed catch on a pass from coach Brian Daboll.
As good as he has looked over the course of the spring workouts to this point, it appeared to be a bit of an off day for Brian Tyms. The receiver had some drops, and looked frustrated at times. To his credit, he spoke about his session with the media after practice. Rookie center David Andrews took a lap early for what appeared to be a botched center/quarterback exchange. And the entire offense — Brady, as well as the coaching staff — took a lap after a substitution issue later on.
|06.16.15 at 9:56 pm ET|
But Flynn isn’t looking at the situation that way at all. Right now, Flynn is just trying to keep his head above water, and that starts with learning the playbook.
“I don’t look at it as anything,” Flynn said when asked about potential competition. “I look at it right now as I’ve got a big task ahead of me, and that’s learning the playbook. That’s the only thing that I’m thinking about right now, and that’s the only thing that they’re telling me to do right now, learn, learn, learn. Then, we’ll go from there.”
Flynn knew coming to New England would be a challenge but also a tremendous career opportunity.
“When I got the call here, I knew it was some place I didn’t need to think about,” Flynn said. “I knew it was a place that I was excited to go to and I knew it was a place that would be a good fit for me and how I believe the way I play. It was kind of a no-brainer for me.”
“I had never met him before. He’s a professional in every single way,” Flynn said. “He comes in and you can tell he’s the leader of this team. A smart guy who’s been around the block, obviously and another guy in my career that I can look up to and learn a lot from.”
Flynn went out on the field last week for the first time and listened to Brady and Garoppolo run the offense and knew immediately he had a lot to pick up on.
“It’s been such a blur,” Flynn said. “I came in and worked out last week. I was here Friday. I came out here and kind of watched. That was definitely an initiation into this offense. I didn’t know what anyone was saying. It was good to see and after this past weekend, I feel more comfortable.