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Patriots add James and Mastrud to the practice squad

09.06.10 at 4:11 pm ET
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The Patriots have just announced they have added running back Javarris James and tight end Jerod Mastrud to the practice squad. Here’s the text of the complete announcement that was just made by the team:
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Wheatley, Ojinnaka and Kaczur only three missing from start of practice

09.06.10 at 3:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO – Just got back from the media availability portion of Patriots practice. The following players were not on the field: cornerback Terrence Wheatley, offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka and offensive lineman Nick Kaczur. The following players were on the field but in sweats: wide receiver Julian Edelman, cornerback Kyle Arrington, running back Laurence Maroney, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, defensive lineman Ron Brace and offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger.

In addition, there was a “mystery player” wearing No. 84 and working with the receivers. He looks like a tight end — we’ll try and get more information on him as the day progresses.

The practice was on the lower fields behind Gillette Stadium and was in full pads.

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Pats, Belichick prepare for ‘uncertainty’

09.06.10 at 1:37 pm ET
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FOXBORO — On the surface, it would seem mildly alarming that Bill Belichick admitted Monday that he has a lot of unanswered questions about his 2010 Patriots heading into Sunday’s opener with the Cincinnati Bengals.

That is before he followed up with the disclaimer that EVERY team in the NFL has questions heading into a season.

He was asked about a few of them on Monday as well as some questions following a weekend of roster-molding moves that saw linebacker Shawn Crable return to the Patriots on the practice squad while waving bye-bye to veteran linebacker Derrick Burgess.

“It’s a busy time,” Belichick said of preparing for Week 1. “There’s a lot of answered questions. There’s a lot of guesswork. You prepare, do the best you can and then you have to be ready to adjust on Sunday. I’m sure there’ll be some things we haven’t seen or players line up in spots that we haven’t seen them in before.

“It’s no different for us or anyone else. It’s more uncertainty than after that first regular season game when you can see how the cards are being played.”

The cards the Patriots will be playing at linebacker consist of Tully Banta-Cain, Jermaine Cunningham, Marques Murrell, Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. Burgess, looking for his second year with the Patriots, was a roster casualty after missing the first week of training camp with a personal issue.

“We had to reduce our roster and we kept the players that we felt were the best players for our team going forward,” Belichick said. “That’s pretty much what it comes down to. Derrick came in and he worked hard. He got off to a late start this year, but he came in and really worked hard. We just went with different players.

Belichick made it clear that as far as Murrell and Cunningham are concerned, their versatility on special teams helped them secure a spot.

“We’ll just see how it goes for that whole group – Jerod, Marques, Jermaine, Tully. I think those players all do some of the same things. They also do some different things. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration there: all three downs on defense, which can have some variety to them, and the kicking game. When you look at all four downs and the players that play at those positions, they contribute in different ways. That’s kind of the whole decision at that position: how to keep the right players, the best players, the best fit players that can help the team the most.

“Again, I think those players have different skills but they also have to do some of the same things, so it’s a combination of that kind of conversation or decision on the roster, and then also as it relates to their ability to play on special teams and contribute on special teams.

And another linebacker returned after clearing waivers over the weekend when Crable was added to the Patriots practice squad.

“We put him out there,” Belichick said. “He had to pass a physical and just normal procedures, so we’ll practice him. He really didn’t get a chance to do much here in training camp, but hopefully he’ll have an opportunity to do that on the practice squad.”

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Highlights from Bill Belichick’s Q&A, 9/6

09.06.10 at 1:08 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are a few highlights from Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media this morning at Gillette Stadium:

Q: Was the trade for Jarrad Page related to Brandon McGowan going on IR? Does he do some of the same kinds of things McGowan can?
BB: We’ll see. We’ll see. We haven’t had Page, but he’s played in the league. We’ve played against him. He’s been a productive player and we’ll see exactly how he fits in. I’m glad we got him. I think he will be a good addition to the group. I think he will help us. Looks like he’s been able to do some different things in the past and we’ll see how all that fits in with us.

Q: Can you talk about the decision to cut ties with Derrick Burgess at this point?
BB: We had to reduce our roster and we kept the players that we felt were the best players for our team going forward. That’s pretty much what it comes down to. Derrick came in and he worked hard. He got off to a late start this year, but he came in and really worked hard. We just went with different players.

Q: Does this move with Burgess and having Jermaine Cunningham mean you’re comfortable with Marques Murrell playing outside linebacker? And can you talk about Cunningham a little bit going forward now that Burgess is gone?
BB: We’ll just see how it goes for that whole group – Jerod [Mayo], Marques, Jermaine, Tully [Banta-Cain]. I think those players all do some of the same things. They also do some different things. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration there: all three downs on defense, which can have some variety to them, and the kicking game. When you look at all four downs and the players that play at those positions, they contribute in different ways. That’s kind of the whole decision at that position: how to keep the right players, the best players, the best fit players that can help the team the most. Again, I think those players have different skills but they also have to do some of the same things, so it’s a combination of that kind of conversation or decision on the roster, and then also as it relates to their ability to play on special teams and contribute on special teams.
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Belichick not on ‘Revis Island’ with Mankins

09.06.10 at 12:47 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Apparently, Bill Belichick is on an island of his own when it comes to following the contract situation of the player many consider the most valuable of a shutdown Jets defense.

Asked whether he would do what Jets coach Rex Ryan did and travel to Florida to help get star cornerback Darrelle Revis back on the team, the Patriots coach said Monday he wasn’t paying attention.

“Yeah, I’m not really familiar with all that,” Belichick said. “I don’t know what everybody else does. I’m just going to coach the team, do what’s best for our team, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Belichick was asked this in light of the current situation of Logan Mankins, the Patriots starting left guard who is without a contract and did not report to training camp this summer. “I’m going to coach the players and we’ll talk about the players that are here,” Belichick said. “Right now, I’m getting ready for the Bengals with the players that are on our roster.”

Technically, Mankins is not a holdout since he has no contract with the team, as opposed to Revis who was holding out from Jets camp for more guaranteed money.

As for Revis, he and his agent Neil Schwartz hammered out a four-year contract with Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson.

Various reports have the total value at $46 million, including $32 million in various guarantees.

Revis was a holdout who failed to report to Jets camp until he had a new deal in hand. Revis was due to make $21 million over the next three years, all of which was guaranteed until he didn’t show up for training camp, voiding the guarantee.

Revis was assessed in $578,305 in fines before he negotiated $11 million in additional guarantees while committing an extra year to the team.

Belichick held his weekly Monday briefing with reporters and said all of his focus is on preparing for Cincinnati this Sunday at Gillette Stadium and not what the archrival Jets are doing.

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Vince Wilfork on D&H: ‘We hold each other accountable’

09.06.10 at 12:11 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork (AP)

Vince Wilfork (AP)

Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork joined the Dale & Holley show Monday and talked about the Patriots’ preparation for Sunday’s season-opener vs. the Benglas. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Asked if he felt good about the defense heading into the season, Wilfork replied: “The season starts this week, whether you feel good or not. It is what it is. Every day, you try to get better and move forward. That’s where we’re at right now. We have a big game coming up with the Bengals. We’ll see on Sunday where we’re at. I mean, the season’s here. You can’t go back and re-do anything. We’re a week away, days away from opening up on a prime-time game against one of these up-and-coming great teams. That’s where we’re at right now. We have to put the work in now.”

While praising linebacker Jerod Mayo‘s leadership skills, Wilfork said a key for the Patriots is for everyone to stand up for themselves. “We look at everyone as leaders in this locker room,” he said. “Because to win, you have to have everybody owning up to things and being man enough to say they messed up. I think that’s something else that we’ve actually done this year. We don’t have just a couple of leaders. Just because you have a guy that goes out for the coin toss or that’s named a captain, it doesn’t mean everybody else is just a bunch of nobodies. I think we hold each other to a high level. We hold each other accountable.”

Asked if he would partake in any trash-talking with Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, Wilfork said: “No, not at all. Even if you do, it’s all in fun. It’s nothing personal. We know each other personally. … Between these lines, we go to war. That’s how it is. I’m going to try to stay away from him, but who knows if I can or not. Because he might push the wrong button.”

Wilfork was named winner of the Ron Burton Award at last week’s Patriots Kickoff Gala and was emotional in his acceptance speech. “The first people I thought about was my family,” he explained, referring to his late parents. “My mother and father would have been very proud of me. I do things because of them. They taught me the right way to do things. They taught me how to be the person I am today. That’s the first reason why I got emotional.”

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Brandon Meriweather on D&H: ‘Let my pads talk’ vs. Bengals

09.06.10 at 10:54 am ET
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Brandon Meriweather

Brandon Meriweather

Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather joined the Dale & Holley show Monday to talk about Sunday’s season-opener against the Bengals. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Meriweather said he’s looking forward to going up against the duo of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. “Any time you get a chance to play against two of the elite receivers ever to play the game, you get excited,” he said.

Meriweather said he did not plan to join the inevitable war of words with the loud-mouthed receivers. “I’ll say hello to Chad,” Meriweather said with a laugh. “I’m going to let my play talk. I’m not going to be one of those guys who goes out and says everything in the newspaper and to ESPN and all the different radio stations. I’m going to be one of those guys who, when I strap up my pads, I’m going to let my pads talk. I’m not going to do too much yapping.”

Pressed to comment on Ochocinco’s reality TV dating show, Meriweather said, “I tell you what, If he comes out there [talking trash] and the game is getting real good, I’ll mention it for you.”

Told that Ochocinco said he would grab one of the muskets from the Patriots’ minuteman mascots and fire it if he scores a touchdown, Meriweather didn’t seem offended, saying only: “Hey, that’d be funny.”

Meriweather downplayed the Patriots’ defensive struggles in preseason action. “It was the preseason,” he said. “Everybody’s doing something different, trying something new. You’re trying to put people in different places. … I wouldn’t be too worried about that. That was preseason.”

Looking at the youth in the defensive secondary, Meriweather said he isn’t concerned. “There’s a lot of [teams] that had a very young secondary that did big things last year,” he said. “We look at it as the more you know in your playbook, the better you’ll play. It’s not necessarily your age that makes you good, it’s how much of the defense you know and how much of it you can pretty much do on the field.”

The fourth-year safety said there will be some changes in the defense this season. “Bill [Belichick] and the rest of the coaches came in and told us we’re going to switch some things up, do some things different. They were going to let us play a little bit more,” Meriweather said. “Right out of the gate they gave us some more responsibilities, and I feel like we’re old enough now where we can do that.”

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