|08.21.14 at 6:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As far as Tom Brady is concerned, go ahead and bring the heat, even in the preseason.
And certainly, with the Carolina Panthers coming to town Friday, the opponent certainly has the wherewithal to execute a blitz or two.
But usually, in the preseason, defensive coordinators like to hold off on showing too much on film when it comes to exotic or advanced defensive approaches. And offensive coordinators, similarly, do the same.
However, usual and customary are not two words commonly used to describe Rex Ryan. The Jets coach watched last Saturday as his defense was torched by Andy Dalton for 144 yards on 8-for-8 passing and a touchdown. His response? Start blitzing the Bengals second and third stringers along the offensive line.
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander took some offense.
But if the Panthers want to do the same from the start against Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback says he’d have no problem with it, since there is no “wrong” defense to play, even in the third preseason game.
“They can blitz, they can do whatever they want to do,” Brady said. “Every defense is right. Like every call, there is risk and reward to everything. If they’re going to blitz, then you’ve got to figure out a way to beat the blitz. If you don’t fix the blitz, they’re just going to keep running them. It’s the same thing on offense.”
Then Brady got to the heart of the matter and revealed what competition is all about, even in games that don’t count.
“If you see a weakness, you’re just going to keep going to it, and that’s what separates pro-caliber players from guys who aren’t. There are guys who can fix problems and know that this is what a team is trying to do, and then you figure out how to solve the problem, and then they’ve got to work on something else. But if you know there are weaknesses, that’s what you go after. That’s what pro football is all about.
“We’ve got two games left, and they’re both very important for our season, for our preparation leading up to the opener. Coach told us we’re going to get a lot of work, and what that means I don’t know. I don’t think anyone ever knows with him. But we’ll be prepared and ready to go for 60 minutes, and hopefully it’s a good 60 minutes. We’ve had a couple doozies in the third preseason game lately, and it’d be nice to have a good one.”
Brady also took some time to talk about the other Ohio team, which named its starting quarterback this week, old friend and teammate Brian Hoyer, Brady’s back-up between 2009 and 2011. Hoyer was chosen as the Browns starting QB over Johnny Manziel this week by Cleveland coach Mike Pettine.
“I love Brian. He’s just such a great guy, person and friend. We’ve always kept in touch,” Brady said. “I’m proud of him. He’s fought through some tough circumstances over the years, being released here, going to Arizona, getting a little bit of an opportunity there, and then really taking advantage of his opportunity in Cleveland. It’s great for him, and he’s a great player, so I’m very happy for him.”
|08.21.14 at 4:49 pm ET|
The Patriots released defensive lineman Marcus Forston and tight end D.J. Williams on Thursday. Here’s a portion of the statement issued by the team on the moves:
Forston, 24, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 10, 2012, out of Miami. The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder made the 53-man roster of training camp as a rookie but was released early in the season and brought back to the practice squad, where he spent the majority of the season. He eventually re-joined the 53-man roster prior to the AFC Championship Game but was inactive for the contest. He spent the majority of the 2013 season on the practice squad but had two stints on the 53-man roster, appearing in three games and registering three total tackles. Forston has played in four NFL games and has registered three total tackles.
Williams, 25, appeared in two regular-season games during two separate stints with the Patriots late last season. He first signed with the Patriots on Nov. 27, 2013, and then was re-signed on Dec. 9, 2014 after being released. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick (101st overall) by Green Bay out of Arkansas in 2011. Williams was waived by Green Bay on Aug. 31, 2013, and claimed off waivers and awarded to Jacksonville on Sept. 1, 2013. He was released by the Jaguars on Nov. 4, 2013. Williams has played in 35 NFL games with three starts and has nine receptions for 70 yards.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|08.21.14 at 12:29 pm ET|
Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo, who has yet to play a game this preseason, joined Middays with MFB on Thursday as the team prepares to play the Panthers on Friday night. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Mayo, who suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle last Oct. 13, would not share information about the reason why he was held out of last week’s joint practices with the Eagles and ensuing preseason game, saying only, “I’m fine.” He’s practiced with the team this week but said he’s not sure if he’ll be playing in Friday’s game.
“Whenever I get back out there I’m sure I’ll hopefully have a good time getting out there with the guys and competing against another team,” he said.
Mayo explained that he’s bought in to Bill Belichick‘s approach of avoiding sharing details with the media.
“Obviously everyone has their own personality and everyone has their own flavor that they want to put on answers,” Mayo said. “But at the same time, you don’t want to give the opposition too much information. It’s the radio. Everybody’s listening to this station.”
One of the big stories of the preseason has been the officials’ strict adherence to the rules, as the flags have been flying with high frequency.
“That’s where the league is trending, to [calling] the illegal contact,” Mayo said. “It’s not a new rule. It’s just a point of emphasis. We just have to abide by the rules and hopefully go out there and play good football.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
|08.21.14 at 12:00 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots are giving offensive lineman Jordan Devey a long, hard look this preseason.
Following the second week of preseason games, Devey was the only player in the entire NFL to go wire-to-wire in both games, as the 26-year-old has played all 148 offensive snaps for the Patriots through the first two games.
“It’s camp. We’re all fighting for a position and we’re all trying to do our job to our best and that is what I am trying to do — get better everyday,” Devey said.
After spending last season on the Patriots practice squad, Devey entered training camp as a long-shot to make the team, but he’s given himself a chance. The Patriots drafted three offensive linemen — Bryan Stork, Cameron Fleming, and Jon Halapio — and also have plenty of veterans at the position, but even with the crowd, Devey has stood out in Bill Belichick‘s mind.
“I think he’s improved a lot from last year,” Belichick said. “He’s had a good offseason. He’s worked really hard. He’s a smart guy. His fundamentals have improved. His strength is better. His offseason program was very productive. … He really was able to take advantage of that and put himself in a very competitive position.”
After being an undrafted free agent by the way of Snow College and the University of Memphis and linking up with the Patriots following a stint with the Ravens last year, Devey acknowledged the offseason work he put in is starting to show in his play.
“I feel like I am able to sit lower in my stance and come off with a little bit more power,” Devey said. “I still feel like I have a long way to go, I haven’t peaked in the weight room yet. Everyday I still feel like I can get stronger.”
A number of the current Patriots starting linemen have spent time on a practice squad at one time or another, including Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell. Seeing them get to where they are today, gives him some added confidence in getting to his goal of one day being a starting offensive lineman.
|08.21.14 at 9:49 am ET|
FOXBORO — Every once in a while, there’s a player perfectly suited to play with Tom Brady.
But there’s one player who fits into that category, a player who most certainly has flown under the radar since his arrival in New England as an all-purpose player.
Since being released off Cincinnati’s practice squad in the middle of the 2012 season, James Develin has found a home in New England. Develin is the kind of Patriot Bill Belichick, and by extension, Tom Brady, loves having around. He was a defensive end at Brown before switching over to tight end and fullback with the Bengals and the Patriots.
He played in all 16 games last season for the Patriots, carrying the ball four times for 10 yards. But that hardly tells the story for the fullback. Three of those carries were for first downs. The other? his first career touchdown. He was targeted four times in the passing game, catching all four passes for 62 yards and three first downs.
On Wednesday, Brady was asked about Develin’s evolution as a player.
“He’s done such a great job,” Brady said. “He’s such a selfless player, great teammate. I don’t think there is a better fullback in the league, so I’m so happy he’s on our team, and what he’s been able to accomplish for our team has been awesome. He brings so much in terms of his toughness, his attitude. It’s that one position on offense that can really bring a lot of toughness. You get it out of that fullback position. He does whatever the team asks him to do. I can’t say enough good things about him because I think so highly of him.”
|08.20.14 at 8:59 pm ET|
Apparently the Patriots made the right move not bringing back LeGarrette Blount.
The Patriots’ second-leading rusher of 2013 was arrested Tuesday afternoon, along with fellow Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell, for possession of marijuana after Steelers practice.
Ross Township Police Department detective Brian Kohlhepp told the Associated Press that Pittsburgh’s top two tailbacks were in a car together when they were stopped at about 1:20 p.m. Kohlhepp told AP that motorcycle officer Sean Stafiej smelled marijuana smoke coming from the car and pulled it over. Police subsequently found a container of approximately 20 grams of pot in the vehicle.
Both Bell and Blount are expected to be charged with possession of marijuana. Bell is also expected to be charged with driving under the influence. An unidentified female in the car is also expected to be charged with possession of marijuana. Authorities also say all three persons in the car admitted the marijuana belonged to all three of them.
Blount signed with the Steelers this offseason after rushing for 772 yards and seven touchdowns on 153 carries last season in New England, a performance that earned him a two-year, $3.85 million dollar deal in the Steel City. Blount signed a one-year deal in May 2013 with the Patriots for $680,000.
Instead of re-signing Blount, the Patriots drafted James White and Roy Finch to back-up established veterans in Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and fullback James Develin.
As for Bell, the Steelers took their lead feature back in the second round of the 2013 draft, and he won the starting job as a rookie, totaling 244 carries for 860 yards and eight touchdowns in ’13.
The case will go forward, and likely be resolved, before the NFL steps in and decides on possible discipline for Bell and Blount.
|08.20.14 at 6:48 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For second-year wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, he could be riding high following his touchdown catch in last Friday’s second preseason game against the Eagles and then the high praise he received from Tom Brady following the game.
But, that isn’t the attitude Thompkins has — as he doesn’t look too much into things such as that.
“I see Tom everyday. It doesn’t make me feel any different — that’s my quarterback, we have other quarterbacks as well and we all learn,” Thompkins said. “We’re all teammates and we try and push each other to try and get better.”
The wide receiver position is one of the most competitive on the team as besides sure locks Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, there is Thompkins, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Brian Tyms. Of that bunch, it is likely the team will carry five on their final 53-man roster, so the competition is heating up for the final two preseason games.
Thompkins may have an inside track to one of those spots as besides the confidence from Brady, he showed flashes in his rookie season when he caught 70 passes for 466 yards and four touchdowns, including the thrilling game-winner against the Saints. Even with all that going for him, Thompkins is just worried about controlling the things he can control.
“I’m out there trying to do the best I can and doing the best for my team trying to be on top of things I need to be on top of,” said Thompkins.
With the third preseason game this Friday against Carolina, many say the third preseason game is a dress rehearsal for the regular season. For Thompkins, like how he views everything else, he is just treating it like any other game.
“I think we all come in each and everyday making sure we’re all on top of our game,” he said. “I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t think there is any pressure. It’s another football game, another week of practice and another week to get better.”
Thompkins did admit he is looking forward to the regular season, but is still treating the rest of the preseason like he treats most other things — focusing on the task at hand and not looking too far into things.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Thompkins said. “In the preseason we have a lot of these games to see where we are right now and the regular season is approaching, but we’re trying to focus on Carolina now. When the regular season and Game 1 comes we’ll prepare for that week and let things take care of themselves.”
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