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Tom Brady: These Patriots still trying to figure out how to be great

09.07.11 at 2:37 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady won three Super Bowls in four years by the time he was 25.

It would be only natural to assume he thought he and the Patriots had figured out what it took to be great, year-in and year-out.

If it were only that easy. Brady reminded everyone on Wednesday, five days before the season opener, that he doesn’t even know yet what will make this team succeed in 2011 and whether it will respond to the challenge of getting back to the sport’s pinnacle.

“Well, there’€™s only one team every year that has a good season and we haven’€™t been that team in a long time. How this team takes to that challenge ‘€“ we’€™ll see, I don’€™t know,” Brady admitted. “This team has never been together in this current state with that opportunity, so how the other teams did and measured up ‘€” this is not those teams. This team will have its own identity and it’€™s all going to be based upon the work we put in ‘€“ the toughness that we play with, the way that we play under pressure. So yeah, I mean, it sucks to lose at the end of the year ‘€“ there’€™s no doubt about that. But we’€™ve got a great opportunity to be on this team with opportunities this year and we’€™ll see if we can take advantage of them.”

The team began the preseason outscoring the Jaguars and Buccaneers, 78-26 before coming back to earth with losses to the Lions and Giants. The first-team offense, led of course by No. 12, showed flashes of brilliance but stumbled a bit in the final two games, putting together just two TD drives, not including a one-yard TD run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis following a turnover against the Giants.

“I think we’€™ve been a little bit inconsistent over the course of the preseason and we’€™re trying to get a lot of things straightened out,” Brady said. “We’€™re trying to do the things that we’€™ve consistently done well, whether it’€™s in training camp, in practices or in games. We haven’€™t had a ton of practices, so that’€™s where the inconsistencies come up. That’€™s why we’€™re going out to work on these things.

“We’€™re a long way from figuring out where we’€™re going to be. I’€™m sure every week we’€™re going to improve and keep working hard at it, but we’€™ve only been together for five or six weeks. I’€™m sure [some] things are going to be good and [there’€™re] going to be things we need to correct. Hopefully we do enough to win.”

Brady, who is expected to be the captain of the offense once again, had a message for Chad Ochocinco, Shaun Ellis, Albert Haynesworth and everyone else who comes to New England in search of the brass [championship] ring.

“Look, it’€™s hard to win games,” Brady said. “You can’€™t come here and think, ‘€˜Oh just because now I’€™m on this team we’€™re going to [win]. Boy, it’€™s going to be easy.’€™ Everyone starts at the same point every year. Look, we’€™ve added new guys [and] other teams have added new guys. We have new coaches and some other teams have new coaches. We’€™re trying new things on offense [and] so are other teams, so like I said, how it all comes together, that’€™s why we’€™re playing the games.
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Read More: Albert Haynesworth, bill belchick, Chad Ochocinco, Miami Dolphins

New cornerback Antwaun Molden in a rush to pick up Patriots defense

09.07.11 at 2:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It’€™s been a busy week for cornerback Antwaun Molden.

Last Wednesday, the Patriots claimed Molden off waivers from Houston, and he was on a plane to New England that night. He landed shortly after midnight on Sept. 1, and less than 18 hours later, he was on the field for the Patriots playing significant snaps at cornerback in the preseason finale against the Giants.

‘€œIt was a crazy experience — I’€™ve never experienced anything like it,’€ the 26-year-old Molden said. ‘€œThat’€™s my first time being on waivers. But at the end of the day, it was a blessing. I was prepared. I was in shape. Again, it was definitely a blessing for me in that I still had a chance to come out here and compete. Especially being picked off the waiver wire that quick.’€

‘€œHe’€™s a big corner,’€ Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game, when asked what the Patriots liked in Molden. ‘€œHe’€™s an athletic guy who can run, and he plays in the kicking game.’€

A veteran of three NFL seasons with Houston, he originally joined the Texans as a third round (79th overall) pick out of Eastern Kentucky in 2008. Molden has played in 31 NFL games, mainly on special teams, and struggled with injuries over the course of his career with Houston. He has registered 26 special teams, including 19 special teams as a rookie in 2008.

Over the last two weeks, the New England secondary has been a constantly fluid situation — on Tuesday, the Patriots cut cornerback Darius Butler, and now, Molden is likely competing with rookie Ras-I Dowling for the role of backup corner. (He could get his chance sooner rather than later if the strain that Kyle Arrington suffered in the preseason finale is serious at all.)

The 6-foot-1, 198-pounder, who will wear No. 27, spent cutdown weekend watching film and trying to pick up as much of the New England defense as possible.

‘€œYeah, most definitely — anytime you come in behind like that, it’€™s definitely a rush to get up to speed, to get acclimated to the system,’€ he said. ‘€œJust handling each and every bit of information that I get, I’€™m just taking my time and trying to study it so nothing does come at me as a surprise. That’€™s the biggest challenge.’€

Read More: Antuwan Molden, Bill Belichick, Darius Butler, Kyle Arrington

Rob Gronkowski talks about his brother joining the Patriots

09.07.11 at 12:56 pm ET
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FOXBORO — When it comes to a scouting report on new Patriots tight end Dan Gronkowski, his brother Rob was straight and to the point.

‘€œHe’€™s a hard worker,’€ said Rob Wednesday morning, shortly after it was announced that the Patriots had signed his older brother. ‘€œWherever he is, he’€™s just always working hard — in the weight room, on the field, off the field, studying. I know he’€™s just coming to be a hard worker, just get down all the plays right away and focus on his job.’€

Dan Gronkowski is 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, and a veteran of two NFL seasons with the Lions (2009) and Broncos (2010). He originally entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick (255th overall) of Detroit in 2009 out of Maryland. He was traded by Detroit to Denver on Sept. 4, 2010, and was released by Denver on Sept. 3. He has played in 14 NFL games with four starts and has nine receptions for 65 yards. Last season with Denver, he played in 12 games with four starts and caught eight passes for 65 yards.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Dan’€™s background with former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (who was in charge in Denver the last two seasons) played more of a role in their acquisition of him as opposed to the fact that he was Rob’€™s brother.

‘€œThat’€™s pretty coincidental. That’€™s not the purpose of it,’€ Belichick said of the connection to his brother. ‘€œDan’€™s done a good job in Detroit and last year in Denver, in Josh’€™s offense so it’€™s easy to see the influence on the things that are similar to what we do. We feel like he’€™s a good addition to our team at that position, both offensively and he’€™s also spent some time in the kicking game.

‘€œHe’€™s been involved. When you’€™re a tight end, you’€™re going to be involved in all facets of the game. He didn’€™t have big receiving numbers, but he can run and catch the ball.’€

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Chris Gronkowski, Dan Gronkowski, Glenn Gronkowski

Bill Belichick on The Big Show: Brian Waters could be ready quickly

09.06.11 at 7:12 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick made his weekly appearance on The Big Show Tuesday with Michael Holley, Glenn Ordway and Tedy Bruschi at Gillette Stadium.

Belichick touched on the safety position after the departures of Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders, while declining to comment on the waiving of cornerback Darius Butler.

“Whatever announcements we have, we’ll put them out there,” Belichick said, adding that the team had “no announcements” to make at the moment.

The Patriots are set to open the season next Monday in Miami as the defending AFC East champs take on the Dolphins. Here are some highlights of Belichick’s interview:

On the Patriots’ group of safeties after the release of Brandon Meriweather:

“I think we have a group of young players there. They’re all involved in the kicking game as well. Patrick Chung has had a solid training camp and is in his third year here. Josh Barrett is a guy we didn’t get to work with last year, but he’s a good solid player as well. Of course, Sergio Brown has just done nothing but improve in the year and a half that he’s been here. James Ihedigbo has played for us defensively, played in the league defensively, and has been a strong kicking game player for the Jets. So that’s what that group is, and I think we feel like that’s the best group for our team.”

On whether Brian Waters could see significant time on the field Monday:

“We’ll see this week in practice. That’s a good question. I’m not sure that we know the answer to that, but Brian’s a smart guy. I think he learns well. Of course, when Charlie Weis went out there last year, and Todd Haley with the background in Charlie’s system from when he was with the Jets and so forth, I think the terminology and a lot of the concepts carry over from Kansas City to here. I mean, there’s obviously differences, but a lot of the core terminology and the concepts are the same, so I think that will help the learning process. But again, Waters is a smart guy. I think that he’ll work hard, he’ll try to learn quickly. We’ll just see how it goes.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, Brian Waters, Josh Barrett,

Patriots reportedly claim Edds off waivers from Miami

09.06.11 at 6:53 pm ET
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The Patriots have claimed linebacker A.J. Edds off waivers from the Dolphins, according to multiple media outlets. The 6-foot-4, 244-pounder played at Iowa, and was a fourth-round pick of Miami last year who spent all of 2010 on injured reserve after tearing his the ACL in his right knee training camp. The 23-year-old Edds led the Dolphins in tackles this preseason with 18 (with one sack), and could also serve as a long snapper in a pinch.

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Bill Belichick: Deion Branch is ‘ready to have a good year’

09.06.11 at 4:36 pm ET
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If you’re worried about Deion Branch‘s lack of production in the preseason, don’t be, says Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Belichick acknowledges the veteran wide receiver didn’t catch a single pass in the preseason, but Belichick said the 32-year-old has had a “pretty good camp,” and hinted that part of it could be age.

“We had to manage him a little bit in practice but he was, I think, in good condition,” Belichick said of Branch, who had 61 total catches between Seattle and New England last season. “He took certainly his share of reps out there in training camp and I thought he looked good doing it. I think he’€™s in position, based on what I’€™ve seen so far and what he has done in training camp and preseason, I think he’€™s ready to have a good year.

“[He] works hard, gives us good leadership at that position, very smart player, instinctive player, knows what to do, does the right thing and is very dependable. I think everybody in the organization feels good about counting on Deion. He’€™s a very consistent guy every day. Every time the ball is snapped he almost always does the right thing, does it the way you want him to do it.”

Once reason for Branch’s reduced role in the preseason could be because the Patriots are being proactive about getting younger receivers (like Julian Edelman, Taylor Price and Matthew Slater) and newcomers (like Chad Ochocinco) more acclimated to the New England passing game with more in-game action.

Asked about Branch’s preseason production, Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien didn’t sound concerned.

“There has been production with each guy, each day with maybe one more than the other on a certain day or [in] a certain game,” O’Brien said. “But as we go forward here Deion will be ‘€“ as with all the receivers on the roster: Deion, Wes, [Chad Ochocinco], Slater, Julian, Taylor, those guys are all going to be looked to, to contribute to the game on a weekly basis.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch

Looks like Patriots could be adding another Gronkowski

09.06.11 at 1:44 pm ET
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It appears that the Patriots have either signed or about to sign the brother of New England’s Rob Grokowski, Dan Gronkowski.

According to multiple tweets from the Gronkowski brothers, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Dan will join the Patriots. An initial Tuesday afternoon tweet from younger brother Glenn Gronkowski (who plays at Kansas State) wrote that Dan was officially a New England Patriot! Gronkk bros tearing up NE! However, that was quickly deleted. Minutes later, that was followed up by a tweet from brother Chris Gronkowski that echoed the same theme: There will now be two gronks in new England!

Dan is a 26-year-old tight end out of Maryland who was originally taken in the seventh round of the 2009 draft by the Lions, and was traded to Denver in September 2010. Last year with the Broncos, he had eight catches for 65 yards, but was part of Denver’s final cuts last weekend.

Rob admitted on Monday that this was a very difficult weekend for his family, as two of the three were cut by other teams, with Chris picked up by the Colts. There’s no official word that Dan has signed with the Patriots, but it would be an added bonus for brother Rob.

“Yeah, they’re my brothers,” Rob said. “I was just talking to them the whole time. My one brother got picked up on waivers by the Colts. I’m glad for him. I’m definitely always cheering for my brothers. The other one is still out there. He’s definitely a good tight end and I believe he’s going to be picked up somewhere, too, and we’ll all be playing somewhere this whole season.

“It’s definitely a tough time, you see your friends go, your family go. You just have to stay positive.”

Asked if it will be strange to have brother Chris playing for an AFC rival in the Colts, Rob said it just adds to the fun.

“As long as he’s playing, I don’t care what team he’s on. It makes it more fun playing versus him,” Rob Gronkowski said.

The Patriots came out of cutdown weekend with just two tight ends — Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez — and so the acquisition would certainly make sense from a personnel standpoint.

Mike Petraglia contributed to this report.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Chris Gronkowski, Dan Gronkowski, Glenn Gronkowski
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