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Jerod Mayo on D&C: Brandon Spikes needs to ‘get over it’

09.03.10 at 10:04 am ET
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Jerod Mayo

Jerod Mayo

Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about Thursday’s preseason loss to the Giants and the season outlook as the regular-season opener approaches. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Mayo said the critics of this Patriots defense only serve to inspire the players. “You definitely have to use it as motivation,” Mayo said. “I try not to get into all the media and the callers and stuff like that. At the same time, you still hear the things. You use it as motivation. They said the same thing last year. They kind of bashed our defense. But we still ended up fifth in scoring defense in the league. Even though we had a couple of bad games — you take away a couple of those bad games last year, we would have been up pretty close to the top. At the same time, we have to go out every week and prove the doubters wrong.”

Mayo said one the keys for the defense is to get more pressure on the quarterback. “I think we need to get to the quarterback a little bit more. Put a little more pressure on the quarterback, don’t give him as much time to make all his reads back there,” Mayo said. “I think we’re doing a pretty good job as far as stopping the inside run, even though the ball’s bounced out a couple of times. That’s another thing we need to improve on, the outside. Overall, I think we’re pretty confident in this scheme and ready for Week 1.”

Mayo talked about what it’s like being a leader of the defense at such a young age. “It’s a little awkward going into your third year being a leader,” he admitted. “At the same time, I welcome the challenge. A lot of the guys look up to me as far as communication the field, as far as going out there and getting everybody on the right page. It’s something I enjoy doing. It’s not a problem at all. We still have some good players on the team. We still have some good leaders on the team that have been here longer than I have. Vince Wilfork‘s been here for a long time. We just want to go out and do our job and get it done.”

Fellow linebacker Brandon Spikes made headlines this week when his sex video made its way across the Internet. May discussed how the rookie is dealing with the notoriety. “He came to me, as a matter of fact, before it all came out and talked to me about it and asked me what he should do,” Mayo said. “I told him, ‘Just handle it like a professional. You’re not in college anymore. You’re in the NFL. You have to handle these things and take it in stride and get over it. This week we’re playing the Cincinnati Bengals. That has to be the only thing on your mind going into the game.’ ”

Added Mayo: “He definitely was embarrassed about it. He had a whole lot of remorse as far as the whole situation went. But at the end of the day, you can’t take it back. Hopefully, he’ll get over it and be ready to play.

“It is a lesson. In this day and age, technology is all over the place. There’s always a camera phone, there’s always a camera or whatever. You have to be careful with things. You never know what’s going to happen. Just conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times, especially in the public eye, and you’ll be fine.”

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Postgame notes from Patriots-Giants

09.03.10 at 3:00 am ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are a few postgame notes from Thursday’s preseason finale between the Patriots and Giants:

•The New England first offense and defensive units started the game and played through the majority of the first quarter which accounted for two series each.

•For the fourth straight week first-round pick CB Devin McCourty and second-round pick LB Brandon Spikes started on defense.

•RB Thomas Clayton’s 55-yard kickoff return in the first quarter is the Patriots fourth return of 50 or more yards in the 2010 preseason. Rookie CB Devin McCourty had a 52 yard return and a 50 yard return in the first preseason game vs. New Orleans (8/12).WR Brandon Tate opened the St. Louis game (8/26) with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

•QB Tom Brady started and played the entire first quarter, finishing 4-of-8 for 51 yards with one touchdown and one interception. On his first drive of the game, he led the Patriots on an 8-play, 45-yard drive that was culminated with a 5-yard touchdown pass to TE Rob Gronkowski.
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Belichick on his defense: ‘We’ll find out soon enough’

09.02.10 at 11:16 pm ET
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Beyond discovering that Bill Belichick thinks the world of tight end Alge Crumpler, what do we know about what the field boss of the Patriots thinks about his team just over a week from the opener against Cincinnati at Gillette Stadium?

Well, first of all, he believes his young team is also a well-conditioned team.

“We had our ups and downs,” Belichick said of his team’s 2-2 preseason. “I think the team has worked hard, real hard and is in good condition and I think we’ll be ready to go.”

The Patriots opened the preseason with a pair of wins over New Orleans and Atlanta, both of whom they scrimmaged just days before in the hot summer sun of Foxboro and suburban Atlanta.

Then they finished with late-game losses to St. Louis and the New York Giants, the latter of which came at the New Meadowlands Stadium, a venue they will re-visit on Sept. 19 against the stars of “Hard Knocks.”

“It was a good, competitive game tonight,” Belichick said of the 20-17 setback on Thursday. “We ran out defensive linemen there. It’s on to Cincinnati now.”

Then there’s the defense. Thursday was a true test run of what you might expect once the bullets turn live on Sept. 12.

There’s reason to be seeking shelter.

The Pats gave up an opening drive TD to Eli Manning, who needed just over four minutes to march 86 yards in nine plays, capped off with a 13-yard crossing route to a wide open Kevin Boss. Forget the third unit giving up the 60-yard game-winner to Duke Calhoun.

What really has to concern the Patriots is that Ahmad Bradshaw and Manning did what they wanted on the ground and through the air against a first-unit defense. Yes, the Patriots weren’t showing any complexity in their schemes. But they also weren’t showing great ability to tackle or cover either.

“Everything concerns you,” Belichick said. “Everything is really a question mark. We’ll find out where we stand soon enough.”

One player Belichick certainly would not seem to be concerned about is field general Tom Brady. On his first possession of the game, Brady led the team on a well-orchestrated opening drive after the Giants scored, finding Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown for the third time in two weeks. The red zone woes of 2009 seem to have been addressed for now.

“Nice to see us move the ball, a lot better than it was last week,” Belichick said. “I thought the backs ran hard.”

Ah, the much-ballyhooed running game. Will Laurence Maroney, who had 32 yards on nine carries, be part of it? Is Fred Taylor ready? Will the Patriots go running back by committee?

“I think everyone has something to offer. I think we’ll try to do what’s best for team and gives us best chance to win that game, we’ll do,” is all Belichick would let on.

Another highlight was the play of Darnell Jenkins. The speedy second-year player out of Miami may have earned his way back onto the 53-man roster after Saturday’s 4 p.m. cuts with five catches for 93 yards and a 66-yarder from Brian Hoyer that he took to the house.

“He’s had an exciting preseason,” Belichick said. “He’s competitive with the ball in his hands. He made some big plays.”

But apparently the player that impressed Belichick the most is Crumpler, the 6-foot-2 tight end in his 10th NFL season.

“He’s been great, so professional in every way,” Belichick said. “His mental toughness, focus, he’s been awesome. Been good for all of us.”

Now, if Crumpler’s attitude can just carry over to the defense, these 2010 Patriots may really be in business.

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Quick hits: Giants 20, Patriots 17

09.02.10 at 10:01 pm ET
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The Patriots have wrapped up both a 20-17 loss to Giants and their preseason. Notable things included the return of a certain running back, Tom Brady playing, Zoltan Mesko pinning the G-Men deep multiple times, Tyrone McKenzie leading the team in tackles, and Brian Hoyer getting hit hard by the Giants reserves.

Up next is Week 1 against the Bengals on September 12, but first, here some observations from the Pats’ final tuneup:

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE PATRIOTS

- The Giants’ first drive was easier than Jerod Mayo’s pick on the corresponding PAT’s botched snap. Eli Manning threw on the Patriots, but there can’t be much blame placed on Darius Butler or Devin McCourty. Instead of picking on the cornerbacks, the Giants quarterback utilized his checkdown and threw over the middle a ton. With Manning constantly hitting receivers and tight end Kevin Boss underneath the safeties, the Giants were able to move down the field rather quickly.

The good you take from that is that there can’t be any jabber about how the Pats miss Leigh Bodden already. Talking about the linebackers on a night such as Thursday, however, would be completely different.

On two series, Manning completed seven of nine passes for 91 yards and a 13-yard touchdown to Boss. He had a quarterback rating of 145.8.

- Though it was good to see Maroney, not everything involving the Patriots’ running game was encouraging. With what appeared to be a very manageable 1st-and-goal from the 3 yard line late in the third quarter, the Patriots failed to run it into the endzone on four consecutive attempts and turned it over at the 1. Thomas Clayton picked up two yards on first down but the next three attempts between himself and BenJarvus Green-Ellis yielded nothing positive.

- Brady to Moss is a near sure-thing… except when it’s horribly underthrown, which Brady, Moss, and now Antrel Rolle can attest to. Brady wasn’t under much pressure on the first-down play, but he threw an absolute duck down the field that the safety picked off in front of Moss late in the first quarter.

Brady was out on the field for two series, completing four of the eight passes he threw for 51 yards. He had the touchdown to Gronkowski, the Rolle interception, and a quarterback rating of 70.3.

- Hoyer was pressured heavily and left the game late in the fourth quarter to get stitches on his face (he did take a beating, and at one point had his helmet on almost diagonally). Not much concern for injury, but if there is, that’s a big problem for the Patriots. Zac Robinson is nowhere near ready to be a No. 2 (or No. 3, depending on who you ask) quarterback. As was evident when he overthrew Taylor Price twice late in the game (the second pass of which the rookie reeled in for a phenomenal, though out of bounds, catch) his lack of accuracy absolutely cripples his game. Robinson is still young and can develop, but it’s far from unfathomable to suggest he threw his last pass as a Patriot on Thursday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE PATRIOTS

Laurence Maroney played, and even though Bill Belichick said he would, there was still some question as to whether or not he’d be seen Thursday night. His numbers weren’t outstanding, as he went from having seven carries for 32 yards to having, well, nine carries for 32 yards.

Maroney entered into the game in the second quarter, with Fred Taylor getting the start. Assuming there are no issues with injuries or the head coach, Maroney figures to get a lot of carries after a season in which he scored nine touchdowns.

- More praise for Rob Gronkowski, because even though he only had one catch, it put an exclamation point on a very good preseason. Capping the Patriots’ first drive was Gronkowski on a play in which both he and his quarterback had to overcome Giants defenders that were closer than they would have liked. After Gronkowski was handled at the line by New York safety Antrel Rolle, an under-pressure Brady hit Gronkowski over the middle from five yards out for the score, the rookie’s fourth of the preseason.

The tight ends looked pretty good for the Patriots, though their first offensive play of the game wouldn’t have told you that. For a guy who made a great catch while staying in bounds last week against the Rams, Alge Crumpler sure didn’t look good dropping an easy pass in open space thrown in front of him. Carson Butler made two catches on the night for 23 yards.

- On a deep ball that Manning did throw down the sidelines in the first quarter on 3rd-and-8, Devin McCourty was so all over Hakeem Nicks that Manning deserved to be picked off by Brandon Meriweather (which he nearly was) for even throwing the ball. Quarterbacks are going to throw on the youngster, but he’s had flashes that suggest they could regret it.

People may be scared of a rookie starting, but let this be said: McCourty has a way of staying with his receiver so closely that its astonishing no contact is being made. Such was the case with Donnie Avery last week against the Rams and he kept it up tonight.

Buddy Farnham, ladies and gentlemen. The rookie receiver out of Brown was seen playing defensive back in the first half, but he made his first noticeable statement of the game in the third quarter by breaking up a pass in the endzone from Rhett Bomar intended for former Dolphins receiver Derek Hagan.

Farnham was a very unlikely candidate to ever receive a Troy Brown comparison, but with the team thin at cornerback and the rookie fighting to make the team, the versatility could go a long way for Farnham.

The 2009 Ivy League Player of the Year is also capable of contributing in the return game, as he fielded the kick that followed the field goal caused by his nice defensive play. He picked up 15 yards on the return, though he did struggle with handling the ball.

- Speaking of receivers fighting for a spot, Darnell Jenkins was on the recieving end of the easiest touchdown of Brian Hoyer’s career. Jenkins took a screen pass from the backup quarterback and simply teleported into the endzone for a 66-yard score. He led the Patriots with four catches on 87 yards.

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Halftime analysis from Patriots-Giants

09.02.10 at 8:34 pm ET
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The Patriots hold a 10-9 lead on the Giants after two quarters at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Here are a few quick notes:

After some debate, the Patriots did indeed open with their complete group of starters on both sides of the ball, with the majority of each group on the field for two series’ each. Tom Brady, in his first action in a preseason finale since 2003, finished 4-for-8 for 51 yards with one touchdown (to Rob Gronkowski) and one interception (on an underthrown deep ball to Randy Moss).  Among the starters, tight end Alge Crumpler had one catch for 22 yards, Wes Welker added one catch for 14 yards and Randy Moss had one catch for 10 yards.

The Giants opened with a nine-play, 86-yard drive that took just 4:17. It was a bad series for the New England defense, as New York chewed up ground easily, on the ground and in the air, culminating the series with a 13-yard pass play from Eli Manning to tight end Kevin Boss. The Giants did a nice job exploiting some open space underneath — New York’s gains on its pass plays on the opening drive were for 22, 2, 12, 17 and 13 yards, the last being Boss’ score. No big gains, but a steady consistent series of passes that wore down the Patriots’ passing defense.

New England’s best defensive play — and one of the best examples of team defense it has shown all preseason — came on a third and 8 with just over three minutes to go in the first quarter. The Patriots, and Mike Wright in particular, did a good job pressuring Manning. When Manning got the pass off, rookie cornerback Devin McCourty did a nice job in coverage on Hakeem Nicks, and the ball went incomplete.

After the Giants’ first drive went for a touchdown, the Patriots answered with an eight-play drive of their own that went 45 yards (thanks to a nice 56-yard return by Thomas Clayton) and ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski, who ran a sharp route over the middle and hauled in the pass. It was a drive that culminated with a score and featured some nice work in the passing game (with passes to Crumpler and Moss), but unlike the first two games, New England struggled to execute on the ground — the Patriots ended the first half with 137 yards in the air, but just 46 on the ground.

While the Patriots opened with Fred Taylor at running back, Laurence Maroney saw his first action since the preseason opener when he came on with the backup offense on New England’s third offensive series of the night. He had two carries for seven yards on his first series, which ended with a three-and-out, and ended the first half with seven carries for 32 yards, tops among both teams. At the tight end spot, if Week 2 was Aaron Hernandez’s time in the spotlight and Week 3 was Gronkowski’s turn, the first half was Crumpler’s chance. Crumpler was targeted three times, but had one drop and wasn’t on the same page with Brady on another red-zone pass play. He did end up with one catch for 22 yards. Brian Hoyer relieved Brady, and went 7-for-12 for 86 yards. He got knocked around pretty good behind New England’s backup offensive line, with his helmet almost getting knocked clean off at one point.

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Dozen players not on the field for warmups

09.02.10 at 6:42 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, the following Patriots’ players are not on the field for warmups prior to Thursday’s game against the Giants: wide receiver Julian Edelman, wide receiver Matthew Slater, cornerback Terrence Wheatley, cornerback Kyle Arrington, safety Brandon McGowan, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick, offensive lineman Nick Kaczur, tight end Aaron Hernandez, defensive lineman Myron Pryor, outside linebacker/defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and defensive lineman Ron Brace.

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Belichick: Starters will play in preseason finale

09.02.10 at 3:25 pm ET
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Rams Patriots Football

Bill Belichick. (AP)

Patriots coach Bill Belichick told New York’s WFAN Radio Thursday afternoon the New England starters are going to play in Thursday night’s preseason finale.

The fourth and final preseason game is usually the exclusive domain of the backups and other players who might be on the bubble before final cuts are made over the weekend. But in the wake of an uneven performance against St. Louis this week, that thinking may have changed according to Tom Brady. Brady said Belichick ripped into his team pretty good in the wake of the postgame film session.

“I think we’re all playing,” Brady told WEEI on Monday when he was asked about the starters. “[Belichick] told everybody, ‘Get ready to play.’”

It’s not known which starters will play and how many snaps they will see, but seeing some of the Patriots’ starters on the field for the preseason finale wouldn’t be unprecedented. In 2003, Brady and New England’s starting offense got the call in the fourth preseason game and played just over one quarter, finishing 8-for-10 for 63 yards and a touchdown against the Bears.

“I tell everybody to be ready to play every week — that’s what we do,” Belichick said earlier this week when asked about the possibility of the starters playing on Thursday. “Coaches control playing time, but players should be ready to play every week regardless of the score, situation, field conditions, or anything else. That’s their job. That’s their responsibility. That’s what it is every week. And that’s not going to change.”

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