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Agent: Brace has MRI on ankle

08.27.10 at 12:40 pm ET
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The agent for Patriots defensive lineman Ron Brace indicated that the player was having an MRI on his ankle Friday, according to a Boston Herald report. Brace, a Bay State native and Boston College product in his second NFL season, had seven tackles (four solo) in Thursday night’s preseason loss to the Rams.

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Neal on D&H: ‘Lot of work to do’

08.27.10 at 10:56 am ET
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Stephen Neal

Stephen Neal

Patriots offensive lineman Stephen Neal joined the Dale & Holley show Friday morning to talk about the Patriots’ disappointing performance in their 36-35 preseason loss to the Rams on Thursday night. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Asked what the message was from the Patriots coaches following the game, Neal said: “Pretty much we’ve got a lot of work to do. And they’re right. We’ll look at film today and see how we can improve and just get back after it. Luckily, that was a preseason game. We were really trying to win that thing. We just couldn’t pull it out.”

Added Neal: “We have another week to work out the kinks. Hopefully, we can be a little more smooth in the next game and have a good feel going into the regular season.”

A former collegiate wrestling standout, Neal discussed mixed martial arts fighting, with the UFC making a stop in Boston this weekend. Neal said he knows a number of UFC competitors but isn’t likely to take up the activity after his NFL career is over. “My wife told me that I’m not alllowed to,” the 33-year-old said with a laugh. “No, I enjoy the gig I’m doing, and those guys are pretty tough out there. And I don’t know if my body could hang out there with the age I’m at and the trauma I’ve been through. Probably not.”

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Mayo on D&C: ‘We played dumb football’

08.27.10 at 10:27 am ET
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Jerod Mayo

Jerod Mayo

Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Friday morning following the 36-35 loss to the Rams in the third preseason game on Thursday night. Mayo talked about the defensive struggle against rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, establishing a legitimate pass rush going into the season and personally mentoring the younger linebackers.

“They just came out and executed better than we did,” Mayo said of St. Louis. “We played dumb football last night with too many penalties and couldn’t get off the field. You definitely don’t see that coming leading into the week, especially with the way we’ve performed the previous weeks, but we just get back to the drawing table today and try to get better for next week.”

Mayo was also asked about Tom Brady’s recent comments on the Jets and whether or not he watches Hard Knocks.

Below are the highlights of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

What did we see last night on defense?

They just came out and executed better than we did. We played dumb football last night with too many penalties and couldn’t get off the field. You definitely don’t see that coming leading into the week, especially with the way we’ve performed the previous weeks, but we just get back to the drawing table today and try to get better for next week.

Was the ability to prepare for the Rams different than getting ready for Atlanta and New Orleans?

I wouldn’t say that. We go in with a certain amount of plays each and every week. The coaches expect us to go out and execute it and we just didn’t get it done last night. Read the rest of this entry »

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A roundup of our coverage from Thursday night at Gillette

08.27.10 at 9:33 am ET
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The Patriots locker room is never a really boisterous place, but it was exceptionally quiet in the wake of Thursday night’s 36-35 preseason loss to the Rams. That tone was likely set by coach Bill Belichick, who was clearly not the happiest guy in the world when he approached the podium after the game. (Cornerback Darius Butler was asked about Belichick’s postgame demeanor in the locker room. He smiled ruefully and said, “I’m not going to talk about that.”) Here’s a quick sampling of the Q&A he had with reporters:

Q: Laurence Maroney didn’t register any carries. Should we read anything into that?
BB: Yeah, we never had the ball.

Q: So would he have played more in the second half possibly if you had the ball?
BB: We never had the ball. We didn’t have any plays to run on offense.

Q: So your plan was to play him tonight if you had the ball?
BB: We would have played everybody.

Q: Is that why you kept Tom Brady in so long — to get him enough plays?
BB: We didn’t run any plays. We never had the ball. In a game of no defense, we played less.

Q: How disappointed are you in your defense?
BB: We didn’t do well on anything. We didn’t have a good night.

In the wake of the loss, WEEI.com has you covered. I’ve got the 10 Things We Learned Thursday Night, which includes the question that’s been hanging over the running back position all summer: What’s up with Laurence Maroney? (There’s also the complete postgame Q&A with New England’s latest folk hero and one of the few bright spots from Thutsday night’s game, Rob Gronkowski.)

Kirk Minihane hits on Stephen Gostkowski’s contract extension, as well as a look at the defensive performance against the Rams and rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. DJ Bean has three things that went right and three things that went wrong for the Patriots. And Mike Petraglia looks at Brandon Tate’s night, which started with a 97-yard kick return and ended with some good-natured ribbing from his teammates about being caught by a kicker.

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Patriots-Rams postgame notes

08.27.10 at 4:12 am ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are a few quick postgame notes from tonight’s contest:

*QB Tom Brady started the game and played through the first series of the fourth quarter. He finished 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) for 273 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 158.0. In his regular season career, Brady has only had a better passer rating once – on Oct. 21, 2007 at Miami, when he posted the only perfect rating of his career (158.3).

*Brady completed a 65-yard touchdown pass to WR Randy Moss in the third quarter. Last season, Brady had three touchdown passes of 60 or more yards, including a season-long of 81 yards to WR Sam Aiken at Miami (12/6/09).

*Moss caught three passes for a team-high 74 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown pass. In 176 career regular season games, Moss has 16 touchdown catches of 60 or more yards and 22 receptions of 60 or more yards. Last season Moss had a 71-yard touchdown vs. Miami (11/8/09) and a 63-yard touchdown at Indianapolis (11/15/09).
Read the rest of this entry »

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Tate proves he has speed to burn

08.27.10 at 1:48 am ET
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FOXBORO — Fans who watched No. 19 for the Patriots do his work during training camp this summer couldn’t help but notice he was fast – very fast.

Sure he looked impressive in workouts and practices against his own teammates. But many wondered, as they looked down on their roster sheets, could Brandon Tate be an impact player for the Patriots this season? Could he produce big plays in the return game and be a game-changer?

On the first play of Thursday night’s preseason loss to the Rams at Gillette Stadium, they got their answer.

Tate was the deep man at the goal line in the south end of the stadium with Sammy Morris, in a mild surprise, serving as the up back and lead blocker. Sure enough, Josh Brown‘s kick came to him at the 3 and Tate did the rest of the work from there. He took off up the middle and then, as Morris cut a path off to his right, Tate read the gap perfectly, shot through it as if fired from a starting gun and was off to the races.

He easily blew past Brown and scored 12 seconds into the game and scored.

“My teammates were the ones blocking so without them it wouldn’t have been possible,” Tate said.

But Tate didn’t stop there. He said he was actually making good on a promise he made to his teammates.

“I kept saying, ‘I’m ready…this is going to be the one,’ so all the credit has to go to my teammates.”

He also knows that head coach Bill Belichick and the coaching staff, starting with special teams coach Steve O’Brien, believe in the talent he first showed at the University of North Carolina before being drafted in 2009.

“Every time I get to go out there and play, I try to put my best foot out there,” he said. “I go out there and compete every play and just play hard.”

He nearly made it two consecutive returns to the house after St. Louis kicked off after tying the game, 7-7, in the first quarter. Josh Brown tripped him up at the Patriots 41 after a 43-yard runback.

“I know, the kicker got me,” Tate said. “Everyone was laughing because the kicker got me but I tried. It’s alright.”

Alright indeed. Tate finished with three kickoff returns and one punt return and a total of 162 return yards.

But Tate’s big night didn’t end there. He played on the first-team offense led by Tom Brady. While the unit struggled in the first half, Tate was lining up on the outside, opposite Randy Moss and with Wes Welker in the slot.

That could be a sign of things to come, starting when the games actually count. Tate was targeted three times, caught two balls for 17 yards, including a long of 10.

“It felt good to play with whoever is out there,” Tate said of lining up with the likes of Brady, Moss and Welker. “It doesn’t matter who it is. I just thank the coach for giving me a chance to play.”

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Gostkowski ‘very appreciative’ of new deal

08.27.10 at 12:51 am ET
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Stephen Gostkowski

Stephen Gostkowski

FOXBORO — Stephen Gostkowski agreed to a four-year, $14 million contract with the Patriots on Wednesday, a deal that locks up the Pro Bowl kicker through 2014. He spoke to the media following Thursday’s preseason game with the Rams.

“It can be scary sometimes, not knowing what was going to happen,” Gostkowski said. “You never know, just one bad injury away from things being completely different, but you just have to work hard and show that you can be consistent.”

Gostkowski, who has totaled at least 100 points in each of his first four seasons, told reporters that his personal goals have not changed with his new contract.

“I want to be the most consistent [kicker],” said Gostkowski, who has connected on 103-of-121 career field goal attempts. “You know, just show up every game and score points and hit some good kickoffs and touchbacks for the team.”

The kicker signed a one-year tender offer in April, a situation that can lead to contention between player and team. But Gostkowski was determined not to let that happen.

“No, the rules were the rules for this year and you just decide to live by them,” said Gostkowski. “I don’t think there are too many kickers that have ever held out. I didn’t want to be one of those guys — even when I signed the tender I was very appreciative of what I had and now I’m very appreciative of what I’ve got.”

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