|08.25.14 at 1:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Jimmy Garoppolo is pumped up about getting his first NFL start in the Patriots’ preseason finale Thursday night against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
“I’m excited about it,” Garoppolo said in front of his locker Monday after being tabbed the starter by Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “It’s a good opportunity to get out there and get some quality reps. It’s going to be fun.
“I came in with mindset that I’m going to practice and study as if I was the starter. If you want to be a successful player in this league, you have to take the mental reps, the physical reps and take advantage of your opportunities.”
Garoppolo has thrown four touchdown passes in the first three preseason games, including at least one in each of the contests. He said Monday that he’s been able to get into a rhythm with his offensive teammates.
“Just get in a rhythm with the offense,” Garoppolo said. “I have a great group of guys around me who have really made my job a lot easier. So, just week in and week out, just improve and if you do that, it’s makes your job a lot easier.
“You always want to come in with a good attitude and thinking that you’re going to succeed in everything. Having that mindset really helped out a lot.”
“I’m still a rookie so I have a have a long way to go and a lot to learn still,” Garoppolo said. “That playbook is pretty thick so it’s just one of those things that if you keep learning, day in and day out, then you’re on the right track.
“That’s just part of being a rookie. Each day if you keep improving and learning the system that much more, things will just gradually slow down for you.”
|08.25.14 at 1:03 pm ET|
Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones and wide receiver Julian Edelman stopped by the WEEI studio at Gillette Stadium on Monday for a visit with Middays with MFB’s Christian Fauria and guest host Danny Picard. To hear the interviews, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Patriots are coming off a strong effort in their third preseason game, a rout of the Panthers. But Bill Belichick is known for not allowing the team to accentuate the positives very long.
“Coach is very consistent with his coaching. He’s going to coach you the same way if we win or if we lose. And that’s what makes him such a great coach,” Jones said. “He’s going to pick out the things we did wrong, and he’s going to tell you about the things you did right. A lot of that is being a professional athlete — you know when you did good or you did bad. You’ve been playing the sport for this long, you know.”
Many people look at the third preseason game as the most important, but Jones insists that he doesn’t value one more than another.
“See, I don’t look at it that way,” he said. “A lot of different people look at it differently. I take every game seriously, like it will be the last game of the season. I know some people say, ‘It’s just preseason,’ but this is an opportunity for our team to go out there and get better week in and week out. I’m excited. I’m excited for this team to go forth into Week 1.
“As far as the preseason games, some people call it the dress rehearsal, but I take every game seriously.”
Neither play knew what to expect in terms of participation in the final preseason game against the Giants.
“Around here they keep you on your toes with everything,” Edelman said. “They don’t tell you how long you’re going to play, this, that. It’s like everything’s a test. Every week you don’t know how much you’re going to be playing, this, that, and you kind of have to just prepare every day, every week, even in the preseason you’re going to be playing a lot. Because they might say you’re not playing one week or something, and they throw you in there at the last minute, probably just to try to get a test of your mental toughness or something like that. That’s huge over here with the situational and the mental aspect of the game.”
Edelman, coming off a 105-catch season last year, acknowledged he’s reached a new comfort level with Tom Brady, but he’s wary of what can happen once the real games begin.
“Yeah, it’s probably the most confident I’ve ever been. With that said, it’s a lot different circumstances from the years in the past with how things are going and how things are now,” he said. “We’ve had some good plays and we’ve had some bad plays. There’s a lot of things that we have to work on that will get exposed in the regular season. We still have a week, two weeks, to try to get that done.
“When we go out there — we’ve got the Giants this week, we play Miami, a divisional game, first game of the year. Things always on opening day, as Christian can second, it doesn’t always go the same way, everyone’s kind of new, there’s always a crazy play here or something’s going on, it’s the start of the season. So you’ve really got to get ready for those situations and being able to adjust like that.”
|08.25.14 at 11:59 am ET|
But in a bit of an eyebrow raiser, rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will get the starting nod, according to multiple reports.
Garoppolo, the Patriots’ second-round pick out of Eastern Illinois, has played in each of the first three preseason games, and came in for Brady last Friday against the Panthers in the middle of the third quarter. Garoppolo has thrown four touchdown passes so far in the preseason, including at least one in each game so far.
Garoppolo was 9-of-12 for 105 yards and a quarterback rating of 128.8.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 25, 2014
Even with Jimmy Garoppolo starting Thursday night, Patriots have not yet decided who will be their No. 2 QB.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 25, 2014
|08.25.14 at 10:18 am ET|
ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss Wes Welker‘s history of concussions, Ryan Mallett‘s future in the NFL and more. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
While Hasselbeck stands by his view from earlier this month that the Broncos have a leg up on the Patriots in terms of talent, he acknowledged that he is concerned about Welker, who suffered his third diagnosed concussion in 10 months during Denver’s preseason game against the Texans on Saturday.
“I said before, I think Denver has a better roster, if you look at both sides of the ball and the experience they have,” Hasselbeck said. “I’ve heard some people kind of minimize this Welker situation. … It, in some ways, annoys me when people minimize what Wes is able to do. Wes had 73 catches in an offense that’s got a ton of guys that get the football. … Outside of these concussions, the guy has been so reliable, so I think it’s a significant blow.
“Whether or not it swings the balance between New England and Denver, I don’t know. But if he, in fact, is done, and let’s face it: three concussions in 10 months, that’s not a good situation.”
While Welker’s career has been highlighted by his tough play and willingness to go over the middle of the field despite the risk of taking big hits, Hasselbeck said that the wide receiver’s increasing number of head injuries certainly is a cause for concern.
“You don’t know anything about the injuries in New England, so he gets there in 2007 and for the most part, plays in all 16 games with a few missed here and there. You guys saw hits that he took, you saw him get up dazed at times,” Hasselbeck said, adding: “I’m going to tell you right now, if he’s had three [concussions] in 10 months, and I’ve seen the hits that he took in New England … the shots that he took were brutal. So count them up.
“To me, I think Wes has had more than 10 concussions, from 2007 to now. Now, there’s no way to prove it, he would never admit, New England would never say that that’s the case. … I would be concerned.”
|08.25.14 at 9:25 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning and talked about his confidence in the team’s offense, NFL injuries, doing brain exercises and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Patriots offense struggled at times last season as Brady got used to a new group of receivers. There remains concern that this offense has some issues that will limit its effectiveness, but Brady said the Patriots continue to tune out criticism from outside Gillette Stadium.
“Truthfully, we’ve never really paid attention to the external voices that are out there,” he said. “We just try to focus on what we need to do, what our job is. Because the only people that can really affect what we do are the people that are inside that offensive meeting room.
“We have high expectations. We’ve had some great offenses over the years, and our expectation is to go out there and be a great offense, and that’s one that doesn’t turn the ball over, one that plays physical and smart, makes great decisions and plays great situational football. I think we did a great job of that — we’ve always done a great job of that over the years.
“Coaches talk a lot about situational football, making the plays when it really counts. There’s a lot of games that are decided by three points or less, and the teams that are the ones that win those games — the ones that are three points or less — those are the ones that are the ones that you’ve got to look out for. Teams that really find a way to win, teams that find a way to lose — hopefully we’re one of those offenses that finds ways to win when we have the opportunity.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that have made contributions thus far over the course of the OTAs and the preseason games. We’re going to need that over the course of the year, because it’s a long year. All the guys that are active in that skill group are going to need to be performers for us at whatever level, whatever role they make for themselves. Hopefully we can be one of the top offenses in the league. But we’ve got to go out there and earn it. No one’s going to make it easy for us.”
One of the keys to the Patriots offense clicking early is the players staying healthy, something Brady noted has been a positive in the preseason.
“We’ve done a really good job over the course of the preseason. I think one of the most important things we’ve done is that we’ve all been out there practicing. I think there’s guys that have really made a great commitment over the offseason to get ready and prepare themselves to be out there every day to make the improvements,” Brady said.
“All the skill guys, the receivers have all been out there almost every day practicing, had a lot of opportunities over the summer to work, and the spring, and it’s the same thing. Hopefully we can get some other guys who haven’t been out there back in the mix so that they can incorporate themselves into the offense and we can really see where we’re at — guys like [Aaron Dobson] and [Rob Gronkowski].
“It is fun for all of us to go out and execute well. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
|08.24.14 at 9:31 pm ET|
1. Kelly was a bit of a surprise — he’s a terrific locker room guy, and the team had plenty invested in him, as he went on season-ending injured reserve early in 2013, but still managed to rehab diligently and return for camp this summer. In addition, he re-worked his deal in the offseason with an eye toward staying in Foxboro. One thing certainly worth considering is the fact that he will remain on Bill Belichick‘s speed-dial — if the Patriots feel like Jerel Worthy or any of the younger defensive linemen struggle, Kelly could be recalled at a moment’s notice, provided he doesn’t find a home anywhere else around the league. (One template for Kelly could be the overall career arc of Gerard Warren — while the cases aren’t exactly similar, Warren was released by the Patriots on Sept. 7, 2011, but re-signed by New England three weeks later and ended up playing 12 games for the Patriots that season.)
2. It’s easy to take this as a referendum on the younger players along New England’s defensive line. While it appears to be a sign that the Patriots have a strong belief in their younger linemen like Worthy and Joe Vellano (as well as Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga, both of whom are currently working on rehab following injury), there should be a small level of caution, in particular as it relates to Dominique Easley. From this viewpoint, it would be dangerous to look at the moves on Sunday — particularly the release of Kelly — as a sign that Easley is ready to play significant snaps on a regular basis. The first-round pick out of Florida flashed some impressive moves in the first week in pads, but hasn’t seen any game action to this point in the summer. At this stage of his development it would be a mistake to throw him into the deep end of the pool in Week 1 against the Dolphins and have him swim.
3. Smith was occasionally underwhelming in his relatively brief tenure with the Patriots. There were times where he showed the sort of impressive pass rush moves that allowed him to come away with 67.5 sacks over the course of his 10-year career. But at the same time, Smith (as well as the rest of New England’s backup defensive ends) failed to get a consistent push on the quarterback when they saw game action over the course of the preseason. The 33-year-old, who is trying to come back from spending all of 2013 on the shelf because of a torn ACL, is a well-respected player around the league who should get another shot if he desires. Going forward, this will likely create more opportunities for young defensive ends like Zach Moore, Jake Bequette and Michael Buchanan.
4. The release of Anderson was a bit of a surprise — on Sunday’s scale, it ranked below Kelly but ahead of Smith. The veteran, who was acquired as a free agent over the course of the spring as the Patriots tried to bolster their depth at linebacker, did well in coverage in his relatively brief time in New England. One thing that could have factored into the decision to part ways with Anderson was a desire to go with a younger linebacker who had more special teams value. That could likely open the door for someone like Darius Fleming, Steve Beauharnais (who had a nice pick in Friday’s win over the Panthers), James Morris or Ja’Gared Davis to land a spot on the final 53, as they have shown the occasional ability to do both. For what it’s worth, I’d be shocked if Anderson doesn’t find a job somewhere — he’s a great locker-room presence, considered something of a mentor, and is still able to work in coverage. (He led the Bears in tackles last season.)
5. Ultimately, the fact that the three veterans were released this early in the process means a few things, but one of the takeaways is the fact that all three now have a better chance to land somewhere else now than if they were released closer to the final cuts. The Patriots now have nine more cuts to make between now and the Tuesday deadline (4 p.m.) to get down to 75 players. Following that, the finals cuts — to 53 — must take place before Saturday afternoon.
|08.24.14 at 5:34 pm ET|
With Tuesday being the deadline for rosters to be cut down to 75 players, the Patriots got a bit of a head start by releasing a few veterans ahead of time.
Kelly, a 10-year veteran, played in five games last season with the Patriots before being placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL. Smith, who has played nine years in the league, also tore his ACL last year while playing with the Saints, was signed by the Patriots on May 5 of this year. Anderson, 30, led the Bears in tackles last season and was signed by the Patriots on June 4.
The team currently has 84 players on the roster and will need to get it down to 75 by Tuesday afternoon.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
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