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Ryan Mallett: Two missed practices were ‘maintenance’ days

08.14.14 at 12:45 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Many wondered what was wrong with quarterback Ryan Mallett when he missed both Sunday and Monday’s practices. That was in the wake of last Thursday’s preseason game against the Redskins where he slid awkwardly at one point in the first half on his left knee.

Following Thursday’s walk-through with the Eagles, Mallett cleared the air.

“Just maintenance stuff,” the 26-year-old said when asked about the absences.

Mallett did wear a heavy brace/sleeve on his left leg for the three joint sessions with the Eagles, but insists that wasn’t anything new.

“Same thing — I didn’€™t change anything. Same old, same,” said Mallett.

The quarterback went 5-for-12 passing for 55 yards playing the first half against Washington.

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Thursday practice notes: Patriots, Eagles engage in low-intensity pregame walkthough without Jerod Mayo

08.14.14 at 11:25 am ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots and Eagles finished their third joint practice of the week on Thursday, a low-intensity session that ran for roughly two hours on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. The session was held in shorts and jerseys, and so there was no hitting. Overall, it was the 16th practice of the summer for New England, and the fifth not in pads.

— For the third straight workout, linebacker Jerod Mayo was not present for the session. The veteran was also not part of the Tuesday or Wednesday sessions with the Eagles. Mayo’s absence was not explained, but a report from Mike Garofolo of Fox Sports indicated that the absence was not considered serious. In his place in the drills with Philly, a variety of people wore the green dot on their helmets, including middle/inside linebackers Steve Beauharnais and Chris White.

— In addition to Mayo, the following players were not spotted at start of the walkthrough: running back Tyler Gaffney; tight ends D.J. Williams. Cameron Gordon and Michael Hoomanawanui; linebacker James Anderson; offensive lineman Chris Martin; wide receiver Jeremy Gallon; defensive linemen Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga. Meanwhile, Tavon Wilson, Kanorris Davis, Ja’Gared Davis and Bryan Stork took the field with their teammates, but quickly moved down to the practice field to get in some work with the strength and conditioning coaches.

— Left tackle Nate Solder departed practice roughly 30 minutes early with a member of the team’s medical staff. It didn’t look like Solder was injured, but it’s certainly something worth keeping an eye on. As for the rest of the offensive line, Marcus Cannon appeared to get the majority of reps in Solder’s place, while Jordan Devey also worked extensively with the ones.

Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady got their usual work off to the side together. No Revis this time, though. When it comes to the tight end position, with the release of Ben Hartsock earlier in the day and the injuries to Williams, Hoomanawanui and Gordon, the Patriots have one healthy tight end (Steve Maneri) heading into Friday’s contest against the Eagles. It is worth noting that fullback James Develin has been working extensively with the tight end group over the course of the spring, and lined up there an awful lot on Thursday morning. Look for more of that Friday night.

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Patriots release TE Ben Hartsock

08.14.14 at 10:15 am ET
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The Patriots announced Thursday they release tight end Ben Hartsock. Here’s a portion of the statement issued by the team on the move:

Hartsock, 34, is a veteran of 10 NFL seasons with the Indianapolis Colts (2004-06), Tennessee Titans (2006-07), Atlanta Falcons (2008), New York Jets (2009-10) and Carolina Panthers (2011-13). The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick (68th overall) of Indianapolis in the 2004 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. He has played in 131 NFL games with 49 starts and has 31 receptions for 312 yards and one touchdown. Last season, Hartsock played in 13 games with two starts for the Panthers but did not have any receptions.

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QB Tom Brady talks about butts

08.14.14 at 7:30 am ET
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Tom Brady has a lot of respect for his centers.

The quarterback talked Wednesday about just how much he’s appreciated the work of Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell over the last few seasons and the chemistry he’s enjoyed with them. The result was an out-of-context smirkfest.

“I’€™ve got confidence in those guys,” Brady said. “I love both Dan and Wendy. I love those guys. They work so hard.

“The center-quarterback relationship is a pretty special one. I’€™ve got my hands on their butts probably more than their wives, so it’€™s a pretty unique trust and relationship you have.”

Clearly, we’ve reached the dog days of training camp.

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Chip Kelly reflects on meeting Bill Belichick for the first time, returning home to New England

08.14.14 at 6:00 am ET
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FOXBORO — It’s been a homecoming week for Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.

The former Oregon and University of New Hampshire coach and a New Hampshire native to this day — returned back to New England this week for the Eagles’ joint practices and Friday’s preseason game with the Patriots. Kelly coached at New Hampshire from 1994-2006 with roles varying from running backs coach, offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. Even though he’s returning home, the 50-year-old isn’t thinking of his return to New England as anything less than a business trip.

“We’€™re here to go to work and it’€™s a little bit of a ways away, but a couple people — a couple former players of mine at New Hampshire I saw yesterday after practice,” Kelly said. “That part was good, but it’€™s really a business trip for us getting ready to prepare against a really good team — giving ourselves an opportunity to test ourselves against an outstanding opponent. We’€™re kind of looking at it from that stand point.”

Kelly’s relationship with Bill Belichick goes back to his time with the Wildcats when the UNH staff would come down to check out Patriots practices. He’s always valued his time spent with Belichick.

“When he was coaching here and I was the coach at New Hampshire I used to come down and visit practice,” Kelly said of the first time he met Belichick. “He was very gracious — he’€™s always been really gracious to the local college coaches —  they were always open for us to come in and watch and visit. In the NFL they start camp a little bit earlier than colleges so you get a chance to come down for that last week of July and first couple days of camp. At that time I think they were down at Bryant [University], but he’€™s been always been very gracious and always great at this time being able to share football knowledge.”

Even though he’s all business this week, Kelly has a soft spot for the place he calls home and where he grew up — Dover, New Hampshire.

‘€œThat’€™s where you grow up, it’€™s your family,” Kelly said. “I think everyone does that — I don’€™t know many people that move away or something like that — there is always a place in your heart where you grew up and that you’€™re a part of. I’€™m fortunate that I get a chance to go home — my family still lives up there and I have a lot of really, really good friends there that I grew up with and I think that’€™s foundations we all built upon.”

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Patriots waive TE Terrence Miller

08.13.14 at 11:07 pm ET
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The Patriots have waived tight end Terrence Miller with an injury designation, according to the NFL’s official transaction wire.

Miller, who was signed on Monday, is a 6-foot-4, 234-pound rookie out of Arizona who was undrafted this past spring. In his career with the Wildcats, he had 95 catches for 1,117 yards and three receiving TDs. He was not present for the Patriots’ joint practice with the Eagles on Wednesday morning.

ESPN is reporting that his roster spot was taken by defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, who was acquired from Green Bay for an undisclosed draft pick.

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Chandler Jones ‘enjoying’ showing off his versatility

08.13.14 at 7:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO — With any Bill Belichick-coached team, there are always a number of moving parts and players in new positions. Training camp is as good of a time as any to give these a look.

Chandler Jones — who usually plays defensive end in a three-point stance — acknowledged Wednesday he has been dropping back into pass coverage on a few occasions. It’s something the third-year player relishes.

“I enjoy it. I really enjoy it — it shows a little bit of versatility,” Jones said after the second joint practice with the Eagles. “It all goes back to whatever Coach Belichick tells me to play, that’€™s where I am going to play.”

Having done it on a few instances last season and in college at Syracuse as well as in high school, the 6-foot-5, 265-pounder says there isn’€™t much difference between defensive end and the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position — just how you line up.

“Believe it or not, it’€™s very similar — that hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end position — it’€™s very similar. I feel like we’€™re doing the same exact thing, it may be difference stances to start off with,” said Jones.

Jones finished last season with 11.5 sacks after totaling six in his rookie campaign in 2012. Now that the Patriots are working with a full complement of defenders after an injury plagued 2013 season, it gives Belichick and Co. a chance to shift some players around to showcase their versatility.

With the team-first and winning attitude — moving around on the field is just an effort to do whatever it takes to win.

“We have one goal and that is to win the Super Bowl so wherever they ask you to play — if you want to win — that’€™s what you have to do for the team,” said cornerback Logan Ryan.

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