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Reports: Ryan Mallett will start Thursday night for Patriots

08.07.14 at 11:05 am ET
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Ryan Mallett will start Thursday’s game for the Patriots, according to several media reports.

If he does indeed get the call to start, it means Mallett is likely being showcased for a potential trade. The Arkansas product, a third-round pick in 2011, has not played a significant snap in his time with New England. Thursday would mark the first start of his career with the Patriots, either in the regular season or preseason.

As for starter Tom Brady, this would mark the third time he has not started a preseason opener for New England since 2007 — he sat in the 2008 and 2011 preseason openers.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald was the first to report the news.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Ryan Mallett, Tom Brady,

Eagles CB Cary Williams stands by ‘cheaters’ comment about Patriots

08.07.14 at 8:39 am ET
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Cary Williams received some flak after calling the Patriots “cheaters” last week in reference to the Spygate scandal, but the Eagles cornerback isn’t backtracking.

“I give them all the credit in the world, but one fact remains: They haven’t won a Super Bowl since they got caught,” Williams said last week.

Said Williams on Tuesday (via The News Journal of Delaware): “Did I say the wrong thing? No. I stand firm on what my beliefs are, and that’s just that. I didn’t tell a lie. At the end of the day, that did happen. It’s in the history books. As far as I’m concerned, I made a comment about it and that’s that.”

The Eagles and Patriots will have joint practices next week, but Williams — who was kicked out of one of the teams’ joint practices last year after a dust-up with receiver Aaron Dobson — isn’t concerned that he’ll be a target.

“I don’t care,” said Williams, a former Raven. “That’s the whole point. I don’t care if they come after me or not. That doesn’t scare me. My mentality is I’ve never been a punk, never been a sissy, never been a guy that’s going to be a scared guy. I don’t play this game in fear at all. I don’t fear no man. As far as I’m concerned, you put your pants on as well as I put my pants on. We’re going to man up when we get there.”

Read More: Cary Williams,

What to watch for Thursday night in Patriots-Redskins preseason opener

08.07.14 at 7:00 am ET
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Here are seven things we’€™ll be looking for Thursday night when the Patriots meet the Redskins in the preseason opener for both teams:

1. The interior of the offensive line: For a position that prides itself on consistency, continuity and stability, it’€™s been an interesting few months for the offensive line. While the tackle position figures to be pretty stable from here on out with left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and the left tackle spot remains the domain of veteran Logan Mankins, the rest of the interior has become a comparatively fluid situation. Rookie center Bryan Stork has missed a handful of practices with an undisclosed injury and is not expected to play against the Redskins, so incumbent Ryan Wendell should get the bulk of the snaps in his place. In addition, right guard Dan Connolly has seen some time at center, and while that’€™s happened, Marcus Cannon and Jon Halapio have taken some reps at the right guard spot. Meanwhile, Cannon has also seen some time at both guard and tackle, and could be in the mix to serve as the backup swing tackle behind Vollmer and Solder. (Rookie Cameron Fleming could be in line for some snaps at that position as well.) Expect lots of different personnel combinations as the Patriots — and new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo — try and find the right mix.

2. Quarterback play: If Thursday’€™s game is anything like preseason openers of the past, expect starter Tom Brady to play between 20 and 30 snaps (like two or more series) in hopes of knocking some of the rust off and getting back to game action. We took a look at these numbers Wednesday, but they’€™re worth revisiting as the opener looms — a look at his workload in preseason openers the last six years (the snap counts include penalties):

2013: 19 snaps against Philadelphia –€” 7-for-8, 65 yards, 1 TD

2012: 19 snaps against New Orleans — 4-for-7, 30 yards, 1 sack

2011: DNP against Jacksonville (Brady was not injured, but the opener came roughly two weeks after the end of the lockout. It what was likely a preventive measure to guard against starters being injured, most of the No. 1 offense and defense had the night off.)

2010: 17 snaps vs. New Orleans — 5-for-8, 67 yards

2009: 24 snaps vs. Philadelphia — 10-for-15, 100 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

2008: DNP against Baltimore

In addition, expect backup Ryan Mallett to get a heavy workload — likely the bulk of the second and third quarter — while rookie Jimmy Garoppolo figures to be in line to close things out.

3. The combinations at backup linebacker: The Patriots have to be encouraged about the state of their starting linebackers. It’€™s the backups that might give them some concerns. New veteran James Anderson has held up well in camp as the backup middle linebacker, and done well when running with tight ends and running backs in coverage. Steve Beauharnais will look to build off a mostly positive rookie year where he was one of the primary special teamers and transition to a more regular spot on defense. Meanwhile, newcomer Darius Fleming will also be fighting for a spot, and could make a strong statement if he has a good preseason opener against Washington Thursday night.

4. Who is playing strong safety: For what it’€™s worth, in the first depth chart of the preseason, the Patriots had second-year defensive back Duron Harmon listed as the starting safety opposite Devin McCourty, with Patrick Chung and Kanorris Davis listed as the second- and third-stringers behind Harmon. While the position is up in the air at this point, it certainly appears that Harmon has the inside track: He’€™s been the one at the spot next to McCourty when the bulk of the No. 1 defense has appeared together on the field. In addition, he frequently serves as the fourth when the three other de facto starters (McCourty, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner) are gathered together talking before, during or after practice.

5. Kick returner: There have been a variety of players vying for the job that was left open after LeGarrette Blount left for Pittsburgh in the offseason as a free agent. Josh Boyce, Shane Vereen and Matthew Slater are all veterans who have handled the job at the NFL level, while Roy Finch and Travis Hawkins have also seen time at the spot this summer. At this point, Boyce figures to have first dibs on the position, but that could change between now and the start of the regular season. Look for some of the rookies to get a chance to show what they can do at the NFL level Thursday against the Redskins.

6. Tight end: Rob Gronkowski didn’€™t make the trip to D.C., and back D.J. Williams didn’€™t practice on Wednesday. That means that Patriots fans will get a real opportunity to see what youngsters Justin Jones and Asa Watson can do. Jones is a massive presence at tight end, and the 6-foot-8, 275-pounder out of East Carolina certainly presents a massive catch radius. (More often than not, when the ball has been sent in his direction, he’€™s managed to come away with it.) He’€™s not the fastest guy in the world, but his bulk certainly makes for a tough cover for opposing defenders. In addition, Watson has had a fair camp to this point, but with ostensibly the two primary tight ends on the shelf, the younger brother of former New England tight end Ben Watson will almost certainly get an extended look against Washington.

7. How do the referees handle things when it comes to the renewed emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding: The Patriots have yet to have referees work their practices — that will come next week when the Eagles come to Foxboro — and so there’€™s not much of a feeling as to how things are going to work out with the New England defensive backs and the emphasis on the rules regarding what defensive backs can and can’€™t do when it comes to pass defense. Browner, who comes from a physical background in Seattle, has been very hands-on with receivers over the course of the summer (both his own teammates and the Redskins), and he will certainly be a player to watch when it comes to whether or not officials will truly crack down with the new approach and how much they’€™ll allow defensive players to get away with.

Week 9 showdown between Patriots-Broncos already toughest ticket in league

08.07.14 at 6:15 am ET
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Let’s just get to Nov. 2 already.

The 2014 regular-season hasn’t begun yet, but the most expensive game of the year is shaping up to be the November showdown between the Patriots and Broncos at Gillette Stadium. According to the ticket site VividSeats — which sells NFL tickets online — the median ticket price for the game is $495.

Overall, Vivid estimates the Patriots currently have the fourth-hottest ticket in the NFL, with an average ticket price of $376. New England’€™s most expensive home game is when the Broncos visit Week 9, which has an average price of $575.

On the road, the Patriots rank as the sixth-most popular road team, increasing median ticket prices on average by 37.7 percent as the visiting opponent.

Danny Amendola ‘all good’ with Tom Brady calling receivers ‘pygmies’

08.06.14 at 3:49 pm ET
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RICHMOND, Va. — Don’t worry Patriots fans. Danny Amendola says his feelings weren’t hurt by Tom Brady making fun of his lack of height and the similar stature of fellow receiver Julian Edelman.

After practice Tuesday, Tom Brady was asked if he appreciates throwing to 6-foot-3 Brandon LaFell.

“Absolutely. I’ve got some of the little pygmies out there like Julian and Danny and it’€™s nice to have a little bigger guy out there from time to time who has a bigger catch radius,” Brady joked. “Hopefully Danny and Julian don’€™t get mad at me for saying that. They won’€™t. They know I’€™m joking.”

Amendola confirmed Brady’s instinct after Wednesday’s walkthrough.

“I did hear that,” Amendola said with a good-natured smile. “I don’t know. It’s all good. I don’t even know what [a pygmy] is.”

That’s why we’re here. A Wikipedia search revealed the following:

A pygmy is a member of an ethnic group whose average height is unusually short; many anthropologists define pygmy as a member of any group where adult men are on average less than 150 cm tall.

For the record, Amendola (180 cm) and Edelman (178 cm) are well above the cutoff. So, how are Edelman, Amendola, LaFell and Thompkins all getting along?

“We’re all boys, we’re all really good friends,” Amendola said. “We work well together and we’re just trying to get better every day.”

Only time will tell if “The Pygmies” will join the ranks of “The Smurfs” and “The Fun Bunch” as other great diminutive receiving corps in NFL lore.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman

Ryan Mallett on his future: ‘You can’t control what you can’t control’

08.06.14 at 2:52 pm ET
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RICHMOND, Va. — Ryan Mallett knows the clock is ticking.

Bill Belichick announced Tuesday that his back-up quarterback will get a lot of playing time this preseason. Mike Mayock believes he is a starting quarterback in the NFL and has been “popping” in practice.

“I haven’t [heard the praise] but I’ve always felt that way about myself because I’m confident in myself. I appreciate his nice words but I’ve always felt that way,” Mallett said.

There are many who feel Mallett is at a key crossroads of his young career, entering the final year of his four-year rookie deal. Mallett is not one of them.

“I don’t [think about the future]. I live day to day, man. I’m happy where I’m at right now,” he insisted. “I’m having a blast. I’m on a great team. I’ve got a great organization around me. My teammates are awesome. That doesn’t cross my mind. I’m just doing whatever I can to help my team every day.

“€œYou can’€™t control what you can’€™t control. It’€™s the uncontrollable. You have to deal with it. I was dealt the hand I was dealt, so I’€™m playing cards.”

Now comes the fun part for Mallett. He actually gets a legitimate chance to show it in game competition. Mallett has played in just four regular season games in his three years behind Tom Brady. He’s attempted four passes. But Thursday night, after Brady comes out (likely after one or two series), Mallett gets to show that he can reach a consistent level of play that critics say he has yet to achieve.

“€œI’€™m very excited about the opportunity to be able to play a lot,”€ said Mallett, who has totaled just four pass attempts in the regular season over the last three years, coming in at the end of four games. “€œI haven’€™t really gotten too many chances during the regular season because I have a pretty good guy in front of me. Any time I get to play, I look forward to it.

“I’m just trying to get better every day. We’re out here working, especially against these guys. It’s good for us to see another team. Going against our defense, they see the same stuff a lot of times so they start cheating a little bit so it’s good to get out here against a different team and see where we’re at.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2014 training camp, Arizona Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald, New England Patriots

Reports: Sealver Siliga returns to Boston for tests on left hand, will miss time

08.06.14 at 2:07 pm ET
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RICHMOND, Va. — The news is not encouraging regarding one of the younger and more promising members of the Patriots’ defensive line.

Both the Boston Globe and ESPN Boston report that the team is concerned about the severity of the injury to the left hand of Sealver Siliga. The 24-year-old out of Utah injured the hand in Tuesday’s practice and left early. He returned to the practice field without his shoulder pads with about 15 minutes left in practice and did not participate at all on Wednesday.

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston reports that Siliga returned to Boston to have further tests on the left hand while Ben Volin of the Boston Globe also confirmed the team’s concern about the injury.

Chris Jones took several snaps with the first team defensive line unit on Wednesday, playing with Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly in a 3-4 base.

The Patriots signed Siliga to their practice squad on Oct. 23, 2013. On Nov. 27, 2013, Siliga was added to the active roster and played the final five games and both playoff games. He recorded three sacks and 23 tackles in his five regular season games and was projected as one of the up and coming talents on the defensive front.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Chris Jones, New England Patriots, nfl
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