|08.12.10 at 7:25 pm ET|
The following Patriots are not in uniform for tonight’s preseason game against the Saints: Matthew Slater, Leigh Bodden, Bret Lockett, Terrence Johnson, Gary Guyton, Logan Mankins, Nick Kaczur, Wes Welker, Torry Holt, Ty Warren, Jermaine Cunningham and Ron Brace.
|08.12.10 at 5:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Just arrived here at Gillette Stadium for tonight’s preseason opener between the Patriots and Saints. It’s a nice, mild evening here in Foxboro — a really good night for football. Here are some things worth looking for, and here are a few quick pregame notes:
•The Patriots are currently honoring this year’s Hall of Fame honoree, San “Bam” Cunningham, so the plaza in front of the Hall is pretty crowded while inside the stadium is pretty quiet. Cunningham also gets the coveted spot on the cover of the “GameDay” program for tonight.
•Looks like it’s going to be a good crowd in the press box. As is usually the case during the preseason, there’s a big group of scouts in attendance, including reps from Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Miami, Minnesota, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Seattle, as well as scouts from the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Not a whole lot of national media are in attendance for the game.
•According to weather.com, it should be cloudy this evening with highs in the high 70s. There’s a chance of rain later in the evening, but things are fairly nice right now.
•Tonight will mark the first preseason meeting between the Patriots and Saints since 2005 when the Saints took a 37-27 win in their first-ever visit to Gillette Stadium. The two teams have met in the preseason eight times and are tied at four wins each. Overall, the Patriots are 37-29 (.561) in the preseason since Robert Kraft first purchased the team in 1994. New England coach Bill Belichick has an overall career record of 34-27 in the preseason, including 23-18 with the Patriots.
•Keep it here for updates throughout the evening. We’ll have pregame and in-game notes, as well as analysis. In addition, there will be plenty of postgame quotes, notes and analysis after things are all done.
|08.12.10 at 1:46 pm ET|
Verizon announced Wednesday that the Patriots-Giants preseason game scheduled for Sept. 2 will be broadcast in 3D, the first NFL game widely distributed in that format. Locally, the game will air on Verizon FiOS 1, and customers will need to have 3D TV sets, 3D glasses and high-definition boxes to receive the 3D broadcast.
“This is the next major step in our development of 3D experiences for our FiOS TV customers,” Verizon executive Terry Denson said in a statement. “Broadcasting the first 3D NFL game delivers on our promise to FiOS customers to provide a superior TV offering, including 3D, HD and VOD programming, as well as interactivity that cable can’t match.”
The NFL produced a Raiders-Chargers game in 3D back in 2008, but the broadcasts were limited to select audiences.
|08.12.10 at 1:15 am ET|
Former Patriots executive Patrick Forte has died at the age of 60, according to the Associated Press. Forte, who worked for the Patriots as vice president of administration in January 1991 and dismissed in May 1995, died on July 28 of a stroke, according to a death certificate filed with the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department.
Forte, who was a member of the front office while Bill Parcells was coach of the Patriots, was responsible for the daily administrative operations of the team’s front office, including contract negotiations. However, he was let go with four years remaining on his five-year contract after Robert Kraft bought the team.
In 1998, Forte pleaded guilty to larceny for taking thousands of dollars in exchange for 1997 Super Bowl tickets and season tickets that were never provided.
|08.11.10 at 6:15 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Without his helmet on Tuesday and Wednesday following practice with the Patriots, it was very, very easy to mistake Jeremy Shockey for a young, powerful tight end on the New Orleans Saints. There stood a neatly-groomed, smiling and calm 6’5″ tight end articulating how lucky he was to be playing for a defending Super Bowl champion.
Then a closer look at the tatoos on his right arm and the No. 88 on his white jersey confirmed that one of the most vocal players in the NFL over the last decade was indeed readying himself for Thursday night’s preseason opener with Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
This was a special treat for Shockey and fellow University of Miami alum Brandon Meriweather to get together in a more relaxed setting than the environment both played under when they met last Nov. 30 at the Superdome.
Shockey repeated what his head coach Sean Payton and others said on Tuesday, that the Patriots are what they want to become – a year-in, year-out success in the NFL.
“I think we’ve definitely gotten better,” Shockey said. “Since coming to New Orleans, coach wanted to emulate this team [Patriots] as much as possible and I think this team does a great job on and off the field. I think our team has definitely proven to everyone we’re as notable as the Patriots.”
One way to approach that is by accomplishing what the Patriots did in 2003 and 2004, repeating as Super Bowl champs, the last NFL franchise of the seven to do it. [The Steelers are the only franchise to accomplish it twice]
“There’s only been [seven] teams to win back-to-back and history tells you it’s very hard to do,” Shockey said. “We’re just focused on every day at practice and each and every single time to get better. That’s probably one of the things our team is very good at, concentrating, coming out here to practice against the Patriots, which has been good for us, and I think we’ve definitely gotten something out of it.
“It’s a month away and we still have some work to do. Obviously, it’s early in the preseason and you just have to get better every day, grind it out. It’s something you have to go through.
In answering questions about soreness in his knees, whether that is bothering his him and whether his team is up to the challenge of repeating as Super Bowl champs, Shockey looked to be growing tired of the repetition – much like training camp itself.
“I’m fine,” the 29-year-old Shockey said. “It’s football. You’re going to be sore, you’re going to have knicks and bruises and stuff. I’m not really concerned about that. I’m just concerned about getting better and I think our football has gotten better.”
|08.11.10 at 2:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There was plenty of jewelry to be shown off on Tuesday night when Patriots owner Robert Kraft sat down with Saints owner Tom Benson.
Kraft’s Pats won Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX while Benson’s Saints are the defending NFL champs having conquered the league in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.
“You can be very proud of what you’ve done down there in New Orleans,” Kraft told Benson.
Then Kraft shared a little bit more of his dinner talk with Benson.
“I was trying to pick his brain to learn how to sell automobiles and run banks and build a Super Bowl team in this decade,” Kraft said. “So it was very good. He said he hoped we could both play each other again this year, and there’s only one way that can happen, and that would be in your neighboring state of Texas. I hope he’s prescient.”
Super Bowl XLV will be at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX on Feb. 6, 2011.
As for the here and now, Kraft said Wednesday he is liking a lot of what he is seeing in camp so far this summer.
“This is great. Seeing the crowd here,” Kraft raved. “I know it was great for our guys to go up against another great team here. It tested our offense, defense and special teams to go against the Super Bowl champs. We got a lot more out of this practice than we would have if we had not done something like this, and I hope it’s something we continue over the next few years.”
After two days of practices against each other and scrimmages, the Patriots and Saints kick-off the preseason on Thursday night at Gillette with the game scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, On the eve of his induction to the Patriots Hall of Fame, Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham was again recognized for his work beyond the gridiron on Wednesday. Kraft recalled a dinner at his Brookline home in 2009 when John Hannah paid tribute to Cunningham as a man who opened up football to African Americans in the deep south of Alabama.
“What will always stick out to me about him was what he did for integration in the South,” Kraft said. “At our 50th anniversary ceremony, it was very poignant and he hadn’t been back here since he left and we had a party in our backyard and John Hannah and he are there and John Hannah said, ‘Sam Cunningham did more for integration than Dr. Martin Luther King in that area’ because when Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant brought him into the locker room after they had been beaten by USC and said, ‘This is what a real football player is.’ That made it appropriate for all people of color in that neighborhood to start playing football.”
WEEI.com’s Christopher Price has more on what Cunningham can offer Laurence Maroney besides just his Patriots No. 39.
Hannah was an All-American at Alabama under Bear Bryant while Sam Cunningham ran for USC in the years immediately following O.J. Simpson. Cunningham was elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame on June 14 and will be inducted as part of ceremonies prior to Thursday’s game with the New Orleans Saints.
|08.11.10 at 12:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When the Patriots selected Devin McCourty with the 27th overall pick of April’s NFL draft, one of the first questions that sprung up across the minds of New England fans everywhere was just how long it would be before Terrence Wheatley was sent packing.
A second-round pick back in 2008, Wheatley never emerged as a top cornerback in either of his first two seasons in the NFL, but not necessarily due to ability. The Colorado product battled injuries as a rookie and after healing from problems with his wrist, dressed for just five games last season in totaling two tackles.
Wheatley isn’t the most physical guy, but he has the quickness that would suggest he would be an interesting option for teams should he get cut by the Pats.
Yet as the chatter continues that Wheatley, like Jonathan Wilhite, could be destined to be a castoff, the now third-year man has played well in training camp and has certainly shown a side to him that hid from onlookers in years past. For starters, he’s looked good in coverage and made a nice reading Drew Brees Tuesday and picking off a pass intended for receiver Courtney Roby.
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