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Tom Brady thanks Wes Welker for mentoring Julian Edelman, develops chemistry with Danny Amendola

08.05.14 at 9:34 pm ET
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RICHMOND, Va. — Wes Welker left after the 2012 season for Denver. But Tom Brady hasn’t forgotten what he did in his six seasons with the Patriots.

After a scorching practice against the Redskins Tuesday in Richmond, Brady thanked Welker for helping to develop Julian Edelman, a working relationship that continues to blossom in the Patriots passing game.

Brady was asked Tuesday if he feels he’s getting close to the same chemistry with Edelman that he had with Welker.

“Well, it’€™s hard to compare,” Brady said. “I think Wes was such a special player for our team and I was fortunate enough to play with him for that period. But Julian in his own right has worked his tail off. I think he really had a great mentor in Wes, someone he could really look up to.

“They play a little bit similar; different players, but they both work extremely hard. Football is so important to the both of them and I think that really wore off on Julian. Julian has worked his tail off to get where he’€™s at. I think he’€™s really taken advantage of every opportunity that he’€™s gotten, Julian has. I’€™m really proud of him. He keeps coming out and making plays and he’€™s done such a great job being so dependable and reliable for our team, it’€™s great to have him.”

What has been obvious so far in training camp practices is that Brady’s favorite target not named Rob Gronkowski is Edelman. Brady and Edelman have been clicking. Edelman has made play after play and Brady has rewarded him by looking in his direction time after time.

That doesn’t mean Brady won’t poke a little fun at Edelman and Danny Amendola, who showed flashes of brilliance on Tuesday in the marathon practice in Richmond.

“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 said. “Hopefully, Danny and Julian don’€™t get mad at me for saying that. They won’€™t. They know I’€™m joking.”

That “little bigger guy” Brady refers to is Brandon LaFell, who has been getting a few more looks on the first team when not catching passes from Ryan Mallett.

“He keeps making more plays,” Brady said of LaFell. “He’€™s done a great job. Today he made a lot of plays out there. He’€™s understanding better and better. He’€™s a veteran. He’€™s savvy, knows how to run the routes, big body, big frame, makes a lot of tough catches.”

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Read More: 2014 training camp, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Mike Petraglia on Day 2: Vince Wilfork, Darrelle Revis, Danny Amendola shine in heat

08.05.14 at 6:58 pm ET
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RICHMOND, Va. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia has the details from Day 2 of joint practices between the Patriots and Washington Redskins. Among the highlights, Vince Wilfork intercepted Robert Griffin III, Darrelle Revis knocked away a TD pass from DeSean Jackson and Tom Brady found a groove with Danny Amendola.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Danny Amendola, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots

Tuesday practice report: Tom Brady, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman show off chemistry, Vince Wilfork, Darrelle Revis show off hands

08.05.14 at 5:49 pm ET
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RICHMOND, Va. — In the longest and hottest practice of training camp, the Patriots worked in pads against the Redskins for two hours, 45 minutes before cooling down.

Both teams worked up-tempo offensive drills.

Rob Gronkowski was again absent from the practice. Running back Brandon Bolden, receiver Aaron Dobson and center Bryan Stork were again absent. Matthew Slater took part in receiving drills, including red zone chances. Each offense had approximately 90 reps on the day. Alfonzo Dennard took part in individual drills but later joined Deontae Skinner and James Morris on the back field for conditioning work.

Here are some quick takeaways:

Tom Brady and Julian Edelman have looked good all summer working together but Tuesday may have been their best day yet, connecting on a variety of seam routes and sideline patters as the offense worked specifically on hurry-up and no-huddle execution. Danny Amendola also looked good, including early on when, after a Brady incompletion, Brady found Amendola twice, Shane Vereen once and Kenbrell Thompkins. The series ended with Brady connecting with a wide open Amendola down the left sideline for a touchdown.

Later, Brady fired a timing pass on an in cut to Edelman who made the catch and was popped slightly by Keenan Robinson. Edelman’s response was to get up and yell ‘Whooooo’ in Robinson’s ear hole. Brady and Edelman continue to show chemistry as Brady released the ball before Edelman made his cut. Edelman later caught a touchdown pass from Brady in 11-on-11 drills.

On defense, Vince Wilfork and Darrelle Revis provided the highlights. Early on, Wilfork intercepted a pass from Robert Griffin III, much to the surprise and delight of the several thousand Patriots fans in attendance. For the record, it was the second straight day of over 21,000 attendance at Bon Secours training complex. Later, Griffin attempted to connect with DeSean Jackson but Revis was all over the receiver in coverage and batted the pass away cleanly, though Griffin said later he thought there might have been interference on Revis on the play.

Wilfork participated in the early and later 11-on-11 drills while Zach Moore filled in for him during up-tempo and hurry-up situations. Another good sign that Wilfork is ready to go this season and recovered from his Achilles injury came when he rushed upfield later in practice and slipped to the ground. He immediately got up and ran to the sideline as part of a scheduled substitution and return several plays later as part of his regular rotation.

Despite the intense heat and humidity, there were no significant dustups or scuffles on the long day.

Patriots defensive lineman Sealver Siliga left early on with an apparent left hand injury. He returned to the field without his shoulder pads in the final 15 minutes.

The two teams will likely take it down a notch on Wednesday morning, with a walkthrough taking the place of a full scrimmage. The two teams will open the preseason Thursday in Landover, Md. at FedEx Field.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Danny Amendola, Darrelle Revis, Julian Edelman

Catching up with … the Jets

08.05.14 at 1:38 pm ET
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With the preseason looming, we’re going to take a look at what the three other teams in the AFC East have been up to since the season ended. We kick things off with the Jets:

The Jets finished the 2013 season with an 8-8 mark, good enough to give Rex Ryan at least one more year at the helm in North Jersey. The New York actually finished fairly strong, winning three of their last four to go into the offseason on an up note. (Granted, the wins were against Oakland, Cleveland and Miami, but wins are wins.) The Jets still have plenty of questions on the offensive side of the ball: Can Geno Smith become a reliable NFL quarterback? Will Smith be pushed by Michael Vick? How much does veteran running back Chris Johnson have left in the tank? And can new receiver Eric Decker help deliver a jolt to the passing game? New York may not be able to challenge the Patriots quite yet for divisional supremacy, but if they stay healthy, the fact that the Jets maintain one of the best front sevens in football with guys like Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson along the line will be enough to make them competitive most of the year.

Who they added: The biggest pickup of the offseason was  Decker, but he’ll be hard-pressed to replicate his 172 catches over the last two years, as it will be either Smith or Vick passing him the ball instead of Peyton Manning. The Vick acquisition will also be interesting — he figures to push Smith for the starting job sooner rather than later. New York also picked up Johnson, who likely has more boom-bust potential than any new face in the AFC East this year — regardless, he should be good for at least 1,000 rushing yards. Veteran cornerback Dmitri Patterson was signed to replace Antonio Cromartie. And Bay State native and right tackle Breno Giacomini joins the Jets after helping the Seahawks win the Super Bowl.

In addition, New York selected safety Calvin Pryor in the first round as well as tight end Jace Amaro in the second round, the latter of whom has struggled in his first couple weeks of training camp.

Who’€™s gone: The Jets separated themselves from quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes. They also made the curious move of allowing right tackle Austin Howard to walk out the door — one of their better young offensive linemen, he signed with the Raiders. And Cromartie is now with the Cardinals.

How they feel about the Patriots: “We don’€™t like Tom [Brady] at all. When I first came here, that was one of the first things I heard about: We hate the Patriots, and we hate the Giants. That’€™s what everybody was telling me. We hate those guys, and I look forward to playing them this season.”€ — Jets rookie safety Calvin Pryor on the Patriots.

Analysis: If there are no health issues, the Jets will continue to have one of the best defensive fronts in the game. On defense, there are questions on the back end — and as a result, they might be exceptionally vulnerable when it comes to the passing game — but they figure to be pretty tough again when it comes to stopping the run. New York was third-best against the run in 2013, allowing an average of just 88.3 rushing yards per game, but was 22nd against the pass, yielding 246.7 passing yards per game. On the other side of the ball, there were some improvements (especially with the addition of Decker), but it remains to be seen if New York has done enough to create a sense of balance. The Jets were 29th in the league last year in scoring, averaging 18.1 points per game. If they can’t find a way to bring more oomph on offense and put more points on the board, they don’t figure to take too many steps forward in 2014.

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Tyler Ott embraces his ‘blessed opportunity’ with Patriots

08.05.14 at 12:42 pm ET
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RICHMOND, Va. — Tyler Ott knows he has the chance of a lifetime as an undrafted long snapper out of Harvard. He also knows it won’t be easy.

This explains his extra time after practice working with punter Ryan Allen, making sure his mechanics are as close to perfect as humanly possible. He was brought in to compete with Danny Aiken for the long snapping job on the Patriots, a job Aiken has held since the beginning of the 2011 season.

Aiken was in the position in 2011 that Ott is now, and most long snappers are, an undrafted prospect signed by an NFL team, with the hope of doing enough good things to earn a roster spot, if not with the team that signed him, then another. In Aiken’s case, the Bills signed him at the end of the 2011 draft and released him in August before the Patriots snatched him up before the start of the ’11 season.

Ott is trying to do the same thing.

“It’s really a blessed opportunity. I really didn’t grasp the idea that I was going to play for an NFL team until my junior year at Harvard. Then, my senior year at Harvard, I came out to three games that season for the Patriots and then really once everything got rolling with getting an agent and hearing from coaches and teams, long snapping in the NFL was going to be a real opportunity for me.

I really didn’t have the Patriots anywhere on the map just thinking there’s 32 teams, what are the chances I could end up in Boston with the Patriots? So really, when I got that call that Saturday of the draft, it was a, ‘how did this happen?’ kind of thing but obviously I was very excited. I was with family and friends and it was just a moment you won’t ever forget.”

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Read More: 2014 training camp, Buffalo Bills, Danny Aiken, Harvard

Mike Mayock: ‘Ryan Mallett is a starting quarterback in this league’

08.05.14 at 7:00 am ET
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In the wake of Monday’s joint practices between the Patriots and Redskins, NFL analyst Mike Mayock was impressed by several things he saw from New England. But first and foremost, it was backup quarterback Ryan Mallett who really opened his eyes.

Mayock said Mallett “popped” against the Redskins, and added that he “saw a legitimate NFL starting quarterback today backing up Tom Brady.”

“This was a guy drafted in the third round out of Arkansas with first-round arm talent,” Mayock said of Mallett, who was taken with the 74th overall pick in the 2011 draft. “His issues were off the field. In the last three years, we haven’€™t heard a peep out of him.

“I was blown away today. I saw a legitimate NFL starting quarterback today backing up Tom Brady. As the season progresses and we get closer to draft time and what the Patriots can and can’€™t do with him, I think they drafted [Jimmy] Garoppolo for a reason as an insurance policy. But trust me, Ryan Mallett is a starting quarterback in this league, and he popped today.’€

Mayock also liked when he saw from the New England defense.

“€œLast year they were efficient; they were No. 26 in yards allowed, but No. 10 in points allowed — a much more important statistic. But they’€™re getting better and better,” he said. “Their linebacker group might be as good as anybody in football, but I think the most stark contrast are the corners. When you line up Brandon Browner on one side and Darrelle Revis on the other side, and then slide Kyle Arrington into the slot, they have more quality and depth than at any time in recent memory on the back end. That’€™s kind of been the problem they’€™ve had.

“So if you assume they’€™re going to score a lot of points on offense, I think we’€™re going to see the best Patriots defense that we’€™ve seen in recent memory.”

Read More: Brandon Browner, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Arrington, Mike Mayock

Darrelle Revis: Day 1 vs. Redskins shows ‘physical’ Patriots D ‘getting better every day’

08.04.14 at 7:56 pm ET
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RICHMOND, Va. — Redskins coach Jay Gruden knows an aggressive defense when he sees one. As the offensive coordinator of the Bengals and newly minted Andy Dalton, he went up against the Ravens and Steelers twice a year.

On Monday, he complimented the Patriots’ aggressiveness, particularly from the secondary led by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. He called it a “learning experience” for his offense.

“They didn’t have a problem today,” Gruden said. “There’s no referees out there. They have two very physical corners and some of their backups did a nice job as well. It’s a great test for our guys. We’re going to have to work on our releases. I think we got knocked off quite a bit today. I liked the fact that they were physical because teams are going to be physical with our guys until we can fight it off and make them pay.”

Revis had a different perspective but came away with the same feeling.

“We’re getting better every day,” Revis said. “We’re improving every day and this is the time in training camp where we get closer. It’s going well. Everybody is playing at a high level and we just have to continue that high level of playing going into the season.”

But Revis cautioned that he wasn’t focused on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin, or Tom Brady, for that matter.

“I wasn’t really focusing on how they looked,” Revis said. “I’m trying to make sure I do my job and look good out here as well. It’s just competing. That’s all we’re trying to do. Both sides are trying to get each other looks out there and just compete.

“Competition kicks at that time and there might be a couple of words out there at times. It’s all in good [spirit]. We know the Redskins just like they know us. Some of us are friends with each other. It goes back and forth. It’s just competition.”

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Read More: 2014 training camp, Andy Dalton, Brandon Browner, Cincinnati Bengals
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