|09.12.14 at 12:53 pm ET|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB to discuss NFL news and the Patriots’ Week 2 game against the Vikings. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Schefter reported Friday that the league and the players association are close on finalizing a new drug policy, and it could have a major affect on players currently under suspension, including standout wide receivers Josh Gordon and Wes Welker.
“Here’s the deal, basically: They’re going to vote this afternoon at some point, by early evening, on a new drug policy,” Schefter said. “The feeling is it’s going to pass. I think there’s a basic, tentative agreement. But each of the player reps will have to vote on it. And once that happens, they can coordinate the vote later today, they get the results, assuming it passes, there’ll be a new drug policy. And part of that agreement will be to have many of the suspensions under the performance-enhancing device policy, the PED policy and the substance-abuse policy, they will wind up being reduced or going away.
“So, everyone will be different, but a case like Wes Welker, I think he’ll be allowed to play. Now, it’s Friday, not in the game plan, tough to imagine he’s going to play this week, but maybe he does. A case like Josh Gordon, facing a yearlong suspension, my understanding is it’s going to be an eight-game suspension. So, there’ll be different circumstances in each player. We’ll have to find out how it affects each one.”
Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner is sitting out the first four games of the season, and Schefter isn’t sure how he’ll be affected.
“I think the violation may have occurred prior to the agreement, so I don’t know how he’s impacted,” Schefter said. “My guess — just a guess, and I haven’t asked anybody this — is that he won’t be impacted by it. But I don’t know it.”
|09.12.14 at 12:07 pm ET|
FOXBORO — A day after popping up on Thursday’s injury report with a thigh issue, Jamie Collins was not spotted during the media availability portion of practice Friday morning.
Collins was the only player on the 53-man roster not accounted for as the Patriots held practice in shorts and shells on the upper grass fields outside Gillette Stadium.
The only other player not present for the start of the session was defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles of the practice squad.
The Patriots continue preparations for Sunday’s contest in Minnesota against the Vikings and will leave on Saturday for the game.
|09.12.14 at 11:11 am ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick knows he could complain until he’s blue in the face about the NFL’s flag-happy approach to hitting the quarterback.
Most watching the Ravens-Steelers game Thursday night couldn’t believe that the Steelers were penalized for a first-half hit on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. But they were.
And part of the reason Belichick might not be as vocal as one would expect is the obvious – the rule is there to protect quarterbacks like Flacco and Tom Brady from taking any undue hits over the course of a game. But it’s when his own defensive players appear to have a clean hit and a flag is thrown for driving a quarterback into the ground that Belichick has to bit his lip.
Last Sunday Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones combined for three roughing the passer penalties, two from Jones. While Jones appeared to get his hands too high, Hightower was called for driving the quarterback into the ground after tackling Ryan Tannehill just as Tannehill was releasing the ball.
“We talk about it a lot. We work on it,” Belichick said. “Obviously, speaking for us, we’ve got to work on it more. We’ve just got to do a better job of coaching it and being disciplined and doing it. The rule is what it is. There’s a strike zone to hit and you’ve got to hit in that strike zone. That’s the rule.”
Belichick wasn’t complaining, rather reminding his team that the Patriots will only hurt themselves in the long run if they continue to hit the quarterback illegally.
“You can’t lead with your head,” he said, before adding what he and his staff teach in practice. “Below the shoulders, above the knees, you can’t lead with the head. You’ve got to find a way to hit the quarterback without doing those things. So that’s what we have. Every team in the league has to do it. That’s what we have to do. We have to do a better job. We have to coach it better. We’ve got to do it better.”
|09.12.14 at 10:59 am ET|
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to discuss news from around the NFL, mainly the fallout from the Ray Rice/Roger Goodell situation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Carroll said earlier in the week that he was deeply affected by the Rice saga.
“I’m just speaking toward just coming to the point of understanding,” he said. “I’ve done some reading, I’ve done some research on it, the whole thing about domestic issues and stuff. My awareness is totally heightened to it, and sensitivity, and I just expressed that. A lot of people kind of seem like they keep saying they have all this opinion about it. Well, I didn’t know enough about it to understand it the way I do now. So I’m different about it. I’m looking at it differently. I’m more aware of the whole scene that follows and the relationship that follows so that you can understand how this happens and how you can be so surprised by individuals that are involved in those kinds of relationships.
“I’m hoping that my own direction of it and making my team aware of it we can all handle this thing better, and we will. Everybody’s going to look at it differently. It’s just become so apparent, and I just said it, that’s all.”
The Seahawks signed cornerback A.J. Jefferson in the offseason (he’s now on injured reserve) despite him having an arrest on his record for domestic assault.
“We did investigate his whole situation and his background and all that, and did what we thought was thoroughly,” Carroll said. “But maybe we would look differently, we would respond differently to understanding the depths of the issue so that we can anticipate how that was going to work out.
“One thing that we’ve got to [understand]: People have a chance to get better. And they have the opportunity to rehabilitate or turn their world around. I would like to think that we’re going to give people an opportunity if they’ve done the hard work and have come through and demonstrated that they can see things differently and they’re going to act differently.
“But I will never see it the same. That was my point.”
Asked if he would considering signing Rice a year from now, Carroll was noncommittal.
“It’s too hard of a question to answer,” he said. “I can’t answer that to you. Right now, no. We wouldn’t know how to find a place for him right now. But everybody gets a chance to get better. We’ll see what happens. I don’t even know what this all means in terms of the courts and all that kind of stuff. I don’t have that background to understand that kind of stuff. But we would be very, very slow to make a decision to take a guy [like that].”
|09.12.14 at 10:59 am ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick remembers last October in Cincinnati very well.
He’d like to forget it, of course, but when Bengals shut down the Patriots offense, holding them to just one first down conversion in 13 tries on third down and holding Tom Brady without a touchdown pass for the first time in three seasons, it’s hard not to learn a lesson or two from what then-Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was trying to do.
“A lot of carryover,” Belichick said, anticipating what the Vikings would try to do this Sunday in Minnesota. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they xeroxed the same game plan. We couldn’t do much. One-for-13 on third down, six points, whatever it was, they did a good job. Yeah, we’re certainly prepared for that. If they did the same thing they did last year, it wouldn’t shock me at all, until we can show we can do something about it. We didn’t do much last year.”
Indeed, the Patriots gained just 15 first downs all game, passed for 197 yards, no touchdowns, and gained just 279 yards, all season lows. Zimmer’s Vikings certainly look capable of doing more of the same, using the same 4-3 front to steamroll the undermanned Rams, 34-6, in their season opener last week.
“They can [bring pressure],” Belichick said. “Strong side, weak side, up the middle, bring secondary pressure, linebacker pressure. They do a good job keeping you off balance. I’d say that’s one of the real strengths, they give you not so much different looks but different combinations of similar looks. You have to be ready for everybody. You can’t just say it’s going to be this or it’s going to be that.
“Sometimes it’s strong side, sometimes it weak side, sometimes it’s up the middle, sometimes it’s man, sometimes it’s zone, sometimes it’s blitz-zone. Sometimes it’s all-out blitz, sometimes all max coverage and drop everybody off but off that same look. They do a good job. [Safety] Harrison Smith, [Linebacker Chad] Greenway, [Cornerback Captain] Munnerlyn, those inside guys do a good job disguise, not really letting you know or giving you a great read on what’s going to happen and you have to figure it out after the snap. Your receivers and your quarterback and your line has to make post-snap adjustments. They do a good job of that.”
|09.12.14 at 10:35 am ET|
FOXBORO — Cordarrelle Patterson may not feel the love from Bill Belichick but the Patriots coach gave him his props on Friday as one of the elite kick returners in the game, comparing him to Baltimore’s breakaway threat Jacoby Jones.
“Probably the kid from Baltimore,” Belichick said when asked if Patterson reminds him of anyone he’s prepared for in the past in the kick game. “[Patterson is] big, strong, aggressive, hard to tackle. He’s got good vision, hits seams but even when there’s a lot of times guys get shots at him, they just can’t tackle him or he runs through tackles. And he’s got breakaway speed. So, he’s that type of player, can hit the home run, can go the distance.
“Sometimes it’s there but sometimes it’s really not there and he still makes a lot out of it and that’s a mark of a real good returner, a guy that can take something that doesn’t look like it’s great and turn it into a big play.”
Last year, Patterson returned 43 kicks for an NFL-leading 32.4 yard average. Those numbers also included an NFL-best two touchdowns, including the longest of the season at 109 yards. In other words, no kick-off is safe if it’s in the field of play.
But Belichick reminded everyone Friday that Minnesota’s punt return game can be just as dangerous. Marcus Sherels returned one punt for a touchdown in 2013 as part of his best season yet as a punt returner. He returned 22 punts for a 15.2 yard-per-return average. In his first two full-time seasons with the Vikings in 2011 and ’12, he split duties between the punt return game and the kick return side. Last year, with Patterson on board, Sherels was made into an exclusive punt returner.
“I think Sherels is probably as dangerous on punt returns, different type of guy, different style of guy but equally explosive and dangerous so their return game is the best in the league last year, the combination of the two so that will be a big challenge for our special teams units,” Belichick said.
After what happened with the Patriots special teams last week in Miami and the big returns they allowed throughout the preseason, this will be a big challenge indeed for Scott O’Brien and the special teams coverage unit.
|09.12.14 at 10:13 am ET|
NBC Sports NFL analyst and former Patriots defensive back Rodney Harrison joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to discuss the Ray Rice saga and the state of the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan on demand page.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has come under heavy criticism this week for the way he’s handled the Rice situation, and there have been calls for him to be fired.
“I don’t think it’s anything just black and white,” he said. “I just think there’s been so much confusion, I think the public, I think I’m confused, I think everyone is kind of confused with all of the information that’s coming out. I think we’ve got to sit tight and ultimately let everything play out. But I will say this, if the commissioner had seen that video previously, and still only handed out a two-game suspension, I think we would have to take a fierce look at him no longer being the commissioner.”
Some players, such as recently retired linebacker James Harrison, have been enjoying seeing Goodell have to deal with all of the pressure of the last week. Rodney Harrison said that while some players might not like Goodell, everything the commissioner does is under the microscope.
“Anytime you have a position of power and come in and start changing rules, it’s always going to be met with some form of resistance,” he said. “At the same time, that’s something as a commissioner you can’t really allow the outside world to control what you’re trying to do. It’s one of those things where he’s one of the most powerful men in football, so anything that he does is going to be scrutinized. This is a situation where everybody knew, but he only handed out a two-game suspension. He really put himself in a tight position.”
Harrison said he was shocked when the league originally handed just a two-game suspension to Rice.
“We knew that [Rice] knocked her out,” Harrison said. “It’s just one of those things where, two games, I couldn’t believe it was two games. I felt should have been 8-12 games.”
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