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Highlight’s from Bill Belichick’s Wednesday morning Q&A in Tampa

08.22.12 at 11:58 am ET
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Here are some of the highlights of Bill Belichick‘€™s Q&A with the media Wednesday morning in Tampa:

On if there is a limited number of snaps in the preseason he would like to see Tom Brady play:

‘€œWe’€™d rather get everybody up to their full potential. Everybody’€™s got to re-establish himself this year ‘€“ every player, every coach ‘€“ and that’€™s what training camp and the preseason games are for, to work our performance back up as high as we can and build on into the season. We’€™ve all got a long way to go. I don’€™t think anybody’€™s even close to where we need to be, and that includes all of us ‘€“ coaches calling plays; players doing their jobs, working with new teammates, getting new timing; new opponent; different look. We haven’€™t even started the season yet. We have a long way to go.’€

On his relationship with Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano:
‘€œI’€™ve known Coach for a long time, and gotten to know him better since he was at Rutgers. Of course, we would go down and scout their players and work them out, that type of thing. We both have a defensive background, so I think we have a lot in common there. He’€™s coached some of our players, going back to Vince [Wilfork] at Miami, guys like that. So we have a long relationship. My son went to Rutgers; I spent more time there watching him play lacrosse but also being around Coach. He’€™s come up to our practices and spoke to our team and observed us on the field, and vice versa. We’€™ve had a good relationship. I have a lot of respect for him and I think this is a great opportunity for him. I’€™m sure he’€™ll do well.’€

On the benefits of having a controlled practice environment as opposed to a game:
‘€œI don’€™t think there’€™s a whole lot of stopping and running it again. I think it’€™s just you run plays against your own team, and that’€™s great, but at the same time we’€™re going to see different looks besides the ones that we have. In all honesty, there are certain plays that we can recognize. Our offense can recognize certain blitzes that we run, our defense can recognize certain formations and motions. They start to anticipate and play the plays, and things like that. We kind of know who are go-to guys are. When you play against a different team, you don’€™t recognize those things as quickly. You have to learn who the go-to players are on the other team and that type of thing. It changes the whole dynamic of the game really, the matchups and the recognition, the anticipation, the communication. It just puts more stress on those areas. And that’€™s the way it is in game conditions. This is really good for us because we just played Monday night and we went through the film yesterday on our game with Philadelphia, so we don’€™t really have much of a scouting report. We haven’€™t watched any film on Tampa. We just know some of the basics and we’€™re going to have to figure it out as we go. But that’€™s good because that’€™s a realistic situation in games: How they’€™re using a particular player, what adjustments we have to make, what looks they gave us, how we would identify and handle those different looks the next time we go out there. This will be a real good learning experience for us on the field in practice, just like it is in a game. We’€™ll do some other stuff tomorrow, other situations, but all those things, they’€™re game experiences without all the game contact and all that. Mentally, technique-wise, communication, coaches having to coach ‘€“ again, [that’€™s] something we haven’€™t had a lot of time to prepare for. That’€™s good for us, too. It sharpens our skills.’€

On if he has to make allowances for players who played in the game on Monday:
‘€œLook, it’€™s training camp. The coaches are tired, the players are tired, but we’€™re going to have a short week during the season. We’€™ve got a Sunday-Thursday game during the season. That’€™s what training camp is for, to suck it up. It’€™s to be mentally tough and whatever situations you have ‘€“ you’€™re tired, you’€™re sore, you didn’€™t get enough sleep, you travel, whatever it is ‘€“ you block that out and you focus on what you can control, which is your performance and your effort. You go out there and you work through it, as a team and individually. That’€™s the way it’€™s going to be during the season. There’€™s going to be plenty of weeks during the season that somebody’€™s going to be tired or somebody’€™s going to be sore or some positions going to be a little short on numbers or whatever it is. You build your toughness and your resiliency and those types of things through training camp and it serves you well during the season. Then you look back during the season and say, ‘€˜You know what? Maybe this alright. We went through a lot tougher stretch than this in camp.’€™ You have the confidence you can do it. I’€™m not really worried about that. These guys came to camp in good condition, we’€™ve had a good camp, they’€™ve worked hard. We’€™re going to put a challenge in front of them and I expect them to meet it.’€
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Report: Pats interested in recouping portion of Jonathan Fanene’s signing bonus

08.22.12 at 9:35 am ET
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The Patriots cut defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene under the “failure to disclose physical condition designation” according to ESPN’s Ross Tucker, which would indicate they are interested in recouping part or all of the $3.85 signing bonus Fanene received.

The 30-year-old Fanene was initially signed as a free agent in March, inking a three-year, $12 million deal with the team, a package that included the highest signing bonus of any free agent the Patriots added this past offseason. However, he struggled to see the field throughout training camp with a reported knee problem before being released on Tuesday afternoon.

When asked what led to the decision to cut ties with Fanene, Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t go to in-depth.

‘€œIt just didn’€™t work out. I don’€™t really think there’€™s much to add than that; it just didn’€™t work out,’€ Belichick said Tuesday when asked about Fanene on a conference call.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jonathan Fanene, Ross Tucker,

Report: Andre Carter works out for Raiders, has visit scheduled with Rams

08.22.12 at 12:44 am ET
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Former Patriots defensive end Andre Carter is a man in demand.

Carter, an unrestricted free agent and former Cal standout who recorded 10 sacks last season with the Patriots before a calf injury ended his season in December, spent Tuesday afternoon working out for the Raiders, according to this report. And then late Tuesday evening, it was revealed Carter has a visit scheduled with the Rams.

Carter enjoyed a fantastic year in his one season with New England, and his agent told at the combine in February that the veteran would certainly be open to a return to New England. But it certainly appears that the 33-year-old is interested in testing the market.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Carter, ‘€œWe’€™re shaking all the bushes and seeing what falls out, and if we feel like we’€™ve got something that can help us, we’€™re going to do it.’€

‘€œI’€™ve got to stay low key’€ Carter told Bay Area reporters who asked him about his workout with Oakland. ‘€œIf it works out, God willing … ‘€œ

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Bill Belichick on Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon: ‘They did a pretty good job’ against Eagles

08.21.12 at 9:13 pm ET
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The two Patriots starting tackles — Nate Solder on the left side and Marcus Cannon on the right side — appeared to struggle at times on Monday against the Eagles. They were both victimized on a strip-sack when Phillip Hunt blew past Cannon and Darryl Tapp flew past Solder. To compound the problems, Cannon was flagged for holding. It was the second penalty of the preseason for Cannon and the fourth for the offensive line through two games.

On Tuesday afternoon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised the work of Solder and Cannon, saying “those guys handled their situations” against a difficult Philadelphia pass rush.

‘€œThey did a pretty good job,” Belichick said of Solder and Cannon. “It’s a very good front that the Eagles have and they have some depth in it too. They rotate guys through — they have good depth up front. I thought those guys did a pretty good job. Not perfect obviously, there are certainly things that they need to improve on too; there were a couple plays that they can learn from. But overall, I thought they did a pretty solid job.’€

The Patriots offensive line is really worth keeping an eye on this week. After two weeks, it figures to get some help this week with the return of two veterans: After spending spring and the first part of summer on the sidelines because of offseason knee surgery, left guard Logan Mankins is set to continue his second week of practice in pads. Meanwhile, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is also reportedly set to come off PUP, and while it’s unlikely he’ll play against the Bucs on Friday, his return should further stabilize the offensive line and create some continuity for a group that has had problems with consistency over the last month.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Darryl Tapp, Marcus Cannon, Nate Solder

Highlights from Bill Belichick’s Tuesday afternoon conference call

08.21.12 at 6:29 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’€™ PR department, here are a few of the highlights from Bill Belichick‘€™s Tuesday afternoon conference call:

After watching the tape this morning and having some time to digest it, do you have an expanded thoughts on the play of the quarterbacks, both Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett?

‘€œSome good things; other things we can learn from, need to improve on. I thought they both managed their situation well at times and there were other times where they, I’€™m sure there are plays they would like to have back but you can say that about everybody. There were some positive things; some other things that need to be improved on.’€

What are some of the circumstances that led to the decision to release Jonathan Fanene?

‘€œIt just didn’€™t work out. I don’€™t really think there’€™s much to add than that; it just didn’€™t work out.’€

Going back to the two quarterbacks, can the same theory be applied to the two starting tackles last night, both Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon?

‘€œI thought those guys handled their situations overall, they did a pretty good job against a couple’€¦ Philadelphia was rotating some players out there but against good players and it’€™s a very good front that the Eagles have and they have some depth in it too, they rotate guys through, they have good depth up front. I thought those guys did a pretty good job. Not perfect obviously, there are certainly things that they need to improve on too; there were a couple plays that they can learn from. But overall I thought they did a pretty solid job, [yes].’€

We saw Patrick Chung leave last night’€™s game, which was announced as a shoulder injury. Any update on his status?

‘€œNo, not too much. We’€™ve been really scrambling around here today trying to get caught up with the game and going to Tampa and all that. I’€™ll check in with those guys a little bit later before we leave.’€

It looked like Stephen Gostkowski had a pretty good night last night. Can you address the work of your specialists, particularly Stephen and Zoltan Mesko throughout training camp and the preseason?

‘€œSure. I think first of all, we had some transition at that position over the last, going back to when Steve replaced Adam [Vinatieri] and then we had a little bit of transition there at the punter position and then in the last three years we had a little transition at the snapper spot. This year with all those players returning ‘€“ Danny [Aiken], Zoltan and Steve ‘€“ I think it’€™s a good group that worked well together last year even though we didn’€™t get Danny until the end of preseason but throughout the season and in the offseason and then of course now so far in training camp. I think the continuity between those specialists and the rapport that they have and the time that they work together and the quality of their work is good and I think that it shows up in their performance. Our overall timing and consistency and I’€™d say overall execution on the punt snaps and punts and the snaps and the holds on the field goals and all that has been good, probably better than it was at this time last year; certainly getting Danny and also having the continuity has something to do with that. As it relates to the specialists, Stephen has had a good year, had a real good offseason and came to camp in great shape, has kicked the ball throughout camp and has kicked well throughout camp. Zoltan has built on his first two years and he’€™s certainly become a more consistent punter, his technique is better, his handling of situations with his experience has improved, he’€™s really doesn’€™t just go out there and kick the ball but now he’€™s much more aware of circumstances and situations in the game [and] is able to communicate those to his teammates like the personal protector, or the snapper or the gunners or whatever it may be. He’€™s done well. Hopefully we can continue to work that group together on a consistent basis and let them develop individually but also together with their timing and their execution. It can only get better with more work and attention to the details of getting it perfect.’€
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A closer look at Patriots’ decision to cut Jonathan Fanene

08.21.12 at 4:46 pm ET
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With the release of defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene, young defensive linemen like Brandon Deaderick and Ron Brace will likely be the ones who benefit the most when it comes to playing time.

The duo are now clearly both second on the depth chart behind defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love. Deaderick has had a regular spot in the rotation the last year or so, but he should see an uptick in opportunities. Meanwhile, Brace, who played well in Monday’s preseason loss to the Eagles, and could continue to elbow his way into the rotation on a regular basis if he can build on that success going forward.

As for Fanene, the 30-year-old out of Samoa looked good in the spring, as he was able to bring some pass rushing skills to the interior of New England’s defensive line. (He had 12.5 sacks in his last two full NFL seasons.) However, the 6-foot-4, 285-pounder struggled with a knee injury over the course of training camp, and was never able to see the field on a consistent basis.

Despite that, one of the reasons the move was a still a bit of a surprise was that Fanene was the Patriots’ top free-agent signing of the offseason, inking a three-year, $12 million contract that included a $3.85 million signing bonus. (The contract also featured annual $100,000 workout bonuses, and base salaries that went from $900,000 in 2012 to $1.9 million in 2013 and $2.9 million in 2014.)

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Preseason stat check of Patriots quarterbacks

08.21.12 at 2:09 pm ET
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A quick look at where the Patriots quarterbacks stand statistically after two weeks of the preseason:

Tom Brady: 19 total snaps (all in the preseason opener)
4-for-7 for 30 yards, 1 sack.

Brian Hoyer: 41 total snaps (9 in the preseason opener, 32 on Monday)
13-for-32 for 100 yards, 1 touchdown pass, 2 sacks.

Ryan Mallett: 48 total snaps (14 in the preseason opener, 34 on Monday)
18-for-39 for 194 yards, 1 touchdown pass, 1 interception.

Read More: Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Tom Brady,
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