|09.09.11 at 4:05 pm ET|
Patriots Friday afternoon practice report:
DE Mark Anderson (knee)
CB Kyle Arrington (hip)
OL Dan Connolly (foot)
LB Jermaine Cunningham (groin)
LB Dane Fletcher (thumb)
WR Taylor Price (hamstring)
RB Stevan Ridley (ankle)
LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee)
RB Shane Vereen (hamstring)
OL Ryan Wendell (calf)
Did Not Practice
OL Sebastian Vollmer (back)
|09.09.11 at 3:42 pm ET|
Patriots’ offensive lineman Matt Light joined The Big Show on Friday and said that he was physically ready to play wherever, and for however long, he needs to in the opener Monday night in Miami.
“I’m going to play wherever they tell me to play to be quite honest with you,” Light said. “There’s a comfortable position obviously, but look, we’ve asked a lot of guys to do a lot of things over the years. Whether it’s playing on both sides of the ball, being able to play all three interior spots, really we’ve had guys that have been able to play any position up front. Really, that’s kind of the M.O. for our offense. You’ve got to be able to versatile and you have be able to do whatever they need you to do and whatever makes the most sense.”
Asked if he was ready to play the full game, especially if Sebastian Vollmer is unable to go, Light said there was no doubt. “I’d hope so, man. You know how it goes. You’ve never seen an offensive lineman — at least not in this system — you’ve never seen one of tap our helmets [to come out of the game],” he said. “I mean, that’s not going to happen. When we start the game we’re out there for the duration.”
Light also expressed confidence in Brian Waters, who joined the team last week after a long, productive career in Kansas City.
“There’s a couple of things going for Brian,” Light said. “Obviously he’s been in this league for a long time. Secondarily, he’s been in this offense. Terminology, snap count and all those things being pretty similar it makes things a lot easier. And, whenever you start game-planning and breaking down your offense it’s not as complicated I’ll say as it sometimes in camp when you basically install everything all at once and then start fine-tuning it from there.”
|09.09.11 at 3:32 pm ET|
FOXBORO — This Sunday, millions of Americans will reflect on the events of 10 years ago.
“I was on a bridge going to the [Student Athletic Center],” Branch said. “Just seeing all the students talking about downtown and planes and everything. I was trying to get to the television to trying to see what’s what. It was real scary looking at that. And your heart goes out to those individuals who were in those buildings, and also the families who suffer from that, the firefighters, everybody. I’m pretty sure, somehow, someway, everybody was affected by that.”
Branch and the Patriots will be on a plane this Sunday on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. He admitted that as a public figure and sports celebrity, there isn’t a day that goes by without thinking of security.
“Always. We know it’s our job but we also have families and friends, guys in the military, close relatives and everything like that. It’s always a thought,” Branch said.
It’s become somewhat of an informal tradition for the Patriots to keep at least one player on their military reserve roster, as allowed by the NFL. Wide receiver Shun White – from Navy – is on that role for the Patriots. Meanwhile, in camp this summer, another wide receiver and former member of the team’s military reserve list – Tyree Barnes – made headlines for his military service by fighting pirates off the coast of Somalia for the U.S. Navy.
|09.09.11 at 2:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Dan Gronkowski says he’s ready to show he’s not just Rob Gronkowski‘s older brother.
The Patriots picked up the 26-year-old tight end off waivers from Denver on Tuesday and added him officially to the roster on Wednesday, giving him a chance to team with Rob and giving the Patriots another big tight end on the edge to help in the run-blocking game and another big body in the kicking game.
“There’s no celebrating or anything right now,” Gronkowski said in his first formal session with the New England media on Friday at Gillette Stadium. “It’s all business. It’s not like I came in the offseason where I could have some fun or something with him. It’s just straight business and all we’re thinking about is football.
“It’s been all business right now. Everything we’ve done is talking football and getting ready for this game.”
There was lots of joking and kidding last week when Aaron Hernandez made reference to Rob Gronkowski doing all the talking in the tight ends’ meetings with coach Brian Ferentz. There was light-hearted speculation that the two “Gronks” would be dominating those meetings now – that is until Bill Belichick Wednesday offered a subtle reminder that both brothers better keep their focus on football during those meetings.
|09.09.11 at 1:17 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni Friday morning to discuss issues around the NFL as teams prepare for their season-openers this weekend. One of the topics King talked about was the status of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and his injured neck.
King said he talked to a spine expert on Thursday and was told that the expected recovery period for Manning from spinal fusion surgery will be 2-3 months and that he may play again this year, considering Manning’s physical health and drive.
“His career absolutely isn’t in jeopardy,” King said, based on the discussion with the spine expert. “Most people live very, very normal lives, even athletes, after having this surgery.”
King also spoke with Colts vice chairman Bill Polian, who told King that Manning’s prognosis is still unknown. That includes whether Manning will be able to play against the Patriots when Indianapolis visits New England on Dec. 4.
“Even though this is probably a very selfish question for all Patriots fans, the thing I’m sure a lot of people in New England are concerned about is: OK, the Colts come in here on Dec. 4, is there any chance that Manning could be ready to play that day? I wouldn’t rule it out,” King said. “I don’t think he’ll be able to do anything of great activity at least until six or eight weeks out, like running or starting to throw or getting back into shape.
“I think it’s unlikely [that he faces New England], because that’s right at the beginning of this three-month period. … I just think so much depends on how he reacts and how the Colts are playing at the time.”
|09.09.11 at 12:34 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In a likely sign that he won’t be available for Monday night’s season opener in Miami, starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer missed his third straight practice on Friday as the Patriots worked out in shorts and shells on the lower grass field outside Gillette Stadium. The team had practiced in full pads inside Gillette Stadium the previous two days.
The team plays on natural grass on Monday night at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida. For the second straight day, Vollmer – who was listed with a back issue on Thursday’s injury report – was the only Patriots player not in attendance for the beginning of practice.
The team does have one more practice on Saturday, again on the lower practice fields, before leaving for South Florida on Sunday.
|09.09.11 at 11:37 am ET|
Patriots defensive back Patrick Chung joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning for his weekly conversation.
“We’re not worried about that,” he said. “We’ve got the guys we have here, and it’s just going to get better as the season goes along. We’ll be able to communicate a lot better, and it’s just going to get better as the time goes, with experience. We’ll be fine with the guys we’ve got.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
On Dolphins running back Reggie Bush, whom Chung faced in college: “He’s good, he’s a good player. He’s fast, he’s explosive. He can catch the ball, he can run. He’s overall a very good player. We have to bring our ‘A’ game and everybody has to be on the same page and take care of him.”
On Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall: “He’s a very good player. He can make plays. We’ve got to keep them to a minimum. Just play the game and play football. It’s go-time now.”
On being able to play either safety position and if it was a difficult transition coming out of college: “It’s not difficult. It’s whatever coach wants you to do, period. You have to play down, you have to play deep, you have to cover, you have to tackle, you’ve got to do everything that you need to do to make yourself a good player in the back here. You’ve got to do all those things. And regardless of where you are at any given time or on any play, you have to do it to the best of your ability.”