|11.19.11 at 3:30 pm ET|
FOXBORO — This figured to be a very quiet Saturday inside the locker room.
Even by Patriots standards.
Most of the players had their moment with the media during the week and everyone was just wrapping up their belongings following a Saturday practice inside GIllette Stadium.
Then Chad Ochocinco happened.
First, standing in his electric green sweatshirt by his locker, he shouted to Aaron Hernandez and asked if he had yet downloaded Lady Gaga for his listening pleasure.
Hernandez looked back across the way at Ocho with a smile that said, “Sure, Ocho. Whatever.”
The backstory here, of course, is that Ocho – in a team bonding moment – took a busload of teammates to Mohegan Sun for a Kanye West and Jaz-Z concert.
Ocho wouldn’t leave it at that. He said Lady Gaga was “real” music and he should get himself hooked on it.
Then, he addressed reporters in a very informal gathering in the middle of the room. He joked (maybe) about sitting down with a group of us over a meal and catching up on life. He still did not want to talk for the record, just chat and let everyone know that he’s still Ocho.
He ended his chit chat by wishing everyone well and kissing a TV reporter on the cheek.
His kissing didn’t stop there with the cheeky behavior. On his way out, he gave a hug and a smooch to Wes Welker, who could only accept the affection.
WIll this mean a big game for No. 85 on Monday?
He just gave a smile – but no kiss – when I asked.
|11.19.11 at 12:47 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The hits are starting to pile up. So are the games, and the stats.
So too, are the bumps and bruises.
Some of those nagging injuries can even force a star player to miss a practice or two as the season winds its way towards Thanskgiving.
That’s why when Wes Welker missed a practice before the game with the Jets with a rib injury and showed up this week on the injury report with a knee ailment, no one panicked. Welker was also the one who had his helmet spun around on his neck by Troy Polamalu on Oct. 30, leaving him with a strained neck and his availability against the Giants in question.
“I feel all right,” said Welker, who still leads the Pats in receptions (72), yards (1,006) and 99-yard TD catches (1). “I think everybody goes through different things through the season and you just have to manage them and get ready the best you can.”
Welker, of course, played in the game against the Giants and has played in all nine games this season.
Welker was listed as limited in practice on Thursday and Friday with the knee issue but said he’s not worried about it, nor does he feel missing practice time during the week to play it safe will negatively impact him once Monday night rolls around.
“I don’t think so,” Welker said. “I feel I’ve been here for a while and understand what the coaches want and what Tom wants and understand when it comes to [gameday] we have to take care of our business and be there and play well.”
Welker was pressed about his knee issue and predictably, did not want to enlighten the media as to how it feels.
“That’s something that we really don’t talk about around here so, I’m just here getting ready and getting ready for the game this weekend,” he said.
He did admit to one thing – having an extra day this week is a nice luxury at this time of year.
“It helps a lot, especially preparation-wise,” Welker said. “Definitely, give your body an extra day but preparation-wise, it’s about getting ready for Kansas City and making sure we’re doing everything possible to get ready for them and the great defense they have.”
|11.19.11 at 12:03 pm ET|
The Patriots don’t play until Monday night this week. In the meantime, enjoy some random nuggets from around the NFL. But be sure to check back on Monday morning for my preview of the Patriots and Chiefs!
* – Visiting teams have won 10 games in each of the last two weeks, going 20-10 for Weeks 9 and 10 combined, a. 667 winning percentage. It’s just the fourth time since 1970 that road teams have won ‘ of the games over a two week period:
.786 – 1983, Weeks 1 and 2 (22-6)
.733 – 2001, Weeks 10 and 11 (22-8)
.688 – 2008, Weeks 12 and 13 (22-10)
.667 – 2011, Weeks 9 and 10 (20-10)
* – There have already been 54 field goals made from 50+ yards this season, more than in 24 of the 25 full seasons from 1983 through 2007. They’ve tracked the stat since 1983 and the most in any season is 66 (2008). Methinks that record is going down this year. The Browns (Phil Dawson) kicked FIVE such field goals over a three week stretch (Weeks 7, 8, and 9).
* – The Lions have allowed only one touchdown this season on a drive of 10 or more plays, and it came way back in Week 1. The Steelers have allowed 11 such touchdowns, at least one in every game but one (Week 2).
* – Atlanta has been the NFL’s worst offense in terms of first down efficiency this season, gaining four or more yards on first down just 40.9% of the time. This would be their third straight season ranked among the worst seven teams in this category.
* – The 49ers have not missed an extra point in 124 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the league. On the flip side, nobody has missed a PAT against the Bills in 148 games, also the league’s longest streak.
—————————————————————————————————- Read the rest of this entry »
|11.18.11 at 8:06 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There is not a single player who knows the ups and downs and ins and outs of being with the Patriots more than safety and special teamer Ross Ventrone.
When you are involved in 21 transactions from the day you were signed as an undrafted free agent out of Villanova in April 2010, you get used to the roller coaster that is being a fringe NFL player.
“To be bounced around like that, it is pretty unique but week to week, I just look at it hopefully, I’m going to play,” Ventrone said Friday. “I’m going to prepare like I’m going to play. I don’t look at it any differently than if I was here the whole time.
“I don’t get discouraged. Just keep working hard. I know things work out the way they do sometimes and the number system and different positions and everything. I just hope they bring me back and so far, so I’m just working every day to get better and better and help the team the best I can.”
But Ventrone, trying to follow in the footsteps of his brother Ray, has not just accepted it, he’s fully embraced it. And in the process, won the football heart of Bill Belichick.
“Great, he’s handled it great,” Belichick raved Friday, two days after Ventrone, who has been involved in 16 transactions in 2011, with his latest coming on Wednesday when he was signed back to the practice squad after being released on Monday. Just last Saturday, he was signed off the practice squad and added to the active roster for the Jets game.
Such is life for the man who calls himself @RustyBenson35 on Twitter. Belichick took Ventrone aside shortly after practice on Aug. 10 for an extended conversation. Hours later he was released. But clearly, part of that conversation was conveying the message that the Patriots and Belichick had every intention of bringing him back on the roster time after time because they liked his work ethic.
“We’ve had other guys along with him that have been on and off the practice squad or the practice squad or the roster but probably none more than him. He might lead the league in transactions. He has to be right up there,” Belichick said. “But he’s handled it great. We have a good line of communication and understanding, myself and Nick [Caserio] and Ross. We’ve talked about the various situations that he has been a part of and involved in. I think he’s handled it great.”
Ventrone says the yo-yo motion hasn’t affected his love or focus for football.
“I never know what’s going to happen. I just hope for the best and just keep working and getting after it,” said Ventrone, who added he’s not worried about another NFL team that might pick him up off waivers, ending his time in New England.
“I don’t really get into that really much. It hasn’t happened. I’m here. This is where I’m at right now. That’s really all I’m focused on at the moment. Just worried about the Chiefs right now.
“Just in the knowledge of the game. Just being around this organization and the players I’m around. The knowledge of football I’ve gained through game-planning and schemes and all that. Week-to-week, just learning about other teams and then our schemes and being able to apply it on the football field so I can become a better football player and able to make plays that way.”
Like Ross, Ray Ventrone played at Villanova and matriculated to the Belichick Patriots. Read the rest of this entry »
|11.18.11 at 5:15 pm ET|
Patriots All Access airs Friday on WBZ-TV at 7 p.m. and immediately following on Patriots.com. Here are some of the highlights of this week’s show:
·Exclusive footage from behind the bench and inside the victorious locker room from the Sunday night win over the Jets.
·A rare visit with Offensive Line Coach Dante Scarnecchia, along with thoughts from his lineman on what it’s like to play for him.
·Scott Zolak chats with Head Coach Bill Belichick about the difficulty of preparing for a team (Kansas City) and a quarterback (Tyler Palko) with whom the Patriots are unfamiliar. And on The Belestrator, Belichick examines the Chiefs’ running game as well as the power and speed of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Here’s a video preview:
|11.18.11 at 3:07 pm ET|
FOXBORO — One of the more surreal scenes from “A Football Life: Bill Belichick” was the Patriots coach intensely studying at his desk and working off his computer while a technician was working on the television in his office. There was also the more humorous moment when he tried to set the clock in his car to Daylight Savings Time back in Oct. 2009.
He thought, you have all these buttons on the dash and there isn’t a simple way to fix a clock radio in a car?
When asked about signals being called into the helmets of offensive and defensive players on the field, Belichick has often said he doesn’t worry about the technology since he couldn’t even figure out all the wires in the back of his computer.
On Friday, Belichick was reminded that teams like the Ravens have turned to installing portions of their playbook on the iPad. Has he thought of doing it with the Patriots?
“There’s so much technology out there, you could go to whatever you want. I’m sure we have enough technological equipment in here to put the whole team on the moon,” he said with his typically wry smile.
So – he was asked – are the Patriots sticking with good old-fashioned ring binders for their game plan?
“In the end, it comes down to ‘ you’re at all the games ‘ it comes down to blocking and tackling and running and throwing and catching and kicking and solid fundamentals and all that. You could put the iPad on the super-duper wizard computer and whatever you want. You could throw all that crap on there and I’m sure it would come out great. I’m sure you could get some statistical analysis that would provide 28 theses for MIT. In the end, you have to go out there and play football.” Read the rest of this entry »
|11.18.11 at 2:33 pm ET|
FOXBORO — With a sincere smile on his face, Brian Waters on Friday – in front of his locker – was quick to dispel the notion that his 11-year career in Kansas City would be of any real benefit on Monday night when his Patriots take on the Chiefs.
“It’s a different football team than the team I played [on],” the 34-year-old right guard said. “Every year every team is different. I’m not in their locker room, I’m not in their meeting rooms. I have no idea of the plays that are going to be called and have no idea. The players have changed, some guys have gotten a lot better, the techniques, some of those things are different. I’m really not of a great value in that aspect. That stuff is overrated. It really is. I’ve read other things from other players and other teams, that stuff is really overrated. Unless you’re in that locker room, unless you’re there preparing with them, you have no earthly idea what they’re going to call and what they’re going to do from play to play.”
As for revenge, don’t look for Waters to be playing angrily.
“There’s no revenge-factor here, there’s not one of those things where there’s anger or things of that matter, it’s just, I have a great amount for respect for those guys, I love a lot of those guys personally, but I’m a Patriot now,” he added. “I’m here to try to win football games and be a product part of this football team, and that’s something I’m going to take pride in, I always try to take pride in the job I do, and this will be no different.”
He was a Pro Bowl lineman five times and an all-pro twice in Kansas City but he maintained Friday that is all out the window now.
“Again, I’m not there,” he said. “If those guys learned anything from me in my time there, they’re going to learn all my little tricks that I’ve played over my time so if they learn anything from me, they’re probably going to use that to their advantage. Stuff like that, I think what it does is it causes you to focus on stuff they’re probably not going to do, and you end up tricking yourself. Nah, this team does a great enough job and has great enough coaches to prepare, and the players do a great job in preparation, they don’t need my help, they don’t need my help in that way.”
With the Chiefs ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing at 141.3 yards a game and with Waters former offensive line coach Bill Muir now calling the plays, Waters says one thing will stay the same – a commitment to the running game.
“I think that’s always going to be an emphasis,” Waters said. “I know that offensive coordinator, he was my offensive line coach. I know the emphasis is going to be running the football but more than that, they’re going to do whatever they have to do to try and score points and move the ball. I know there’s going to be a lot of stuff made about the quarterback situation but that’s not going to stop them. They’re going to run their game plan. They’re not going to deviate from what they think is the best thing for their team.”
“Some ways and some ways not,” Waters said of Haley, who came to Kansas City after helping the Cardinals reach Super Bowl XLIII as Arizona’s offensive coordinator. “You have to remember the head coach is from Arizona and other places so, he has a lot of influences on the things that go on there but there are some structural and operational things that are similar. Read the rest of this entry »