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How Richard Seymour sold Gerard Warren on Pats

08.16.10 at 2:20 pm ET
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FOXBORO — While it’s clear that Richard Seymour was hurt by being traded from the Patriots to the Raiders before opening week last season, the defensive lineman painted a good picture of the franchise to someone who wound up signing in New England this summer.

Gerard Warren, a 4-3 down lineman in Oakland’s system in 2009, said he was sold on coming to the Patriots and making the transition to a 3-4 scheme, in part, by the high recommendations of Seymour when the two played together last season.

“Just the organization in whole and talking to Richard, when he came out to Oakland, it was like if I ever had the opportunity to come out to New England, it sounded like a place I wanted to be from talking to someone who came from the inside,” Warren said after Monday’s practice.

“He [Seymour] didn’t leave on the best of terms but he didn’t have anything negative to say about the way things were [run].”

Warren, listed at 6-4, 330 pounds, was a gap-shooting pass rusher in Oakland’s scheme but with the Patriots sticking to a 3-4 system, he will be another big body called upon to help stop the run.

And the man who will be helping him the most just so happens to be Seymour’s closest friend on the defensive line in his time with the Patriots – Vince Wilfork.

“Just with his experience and his defense and the productivity he’s had, it’s awesome to have guy to be able correspond with on the field and have a guy like Vince who’s up on his game, to be able to kind of give you a few pointers here and there,” Warren said of Wilfork.

What has Wilfork told him?

“Technique, that’s pretty much it,” Warren said. “He’s a big preacher of technique. That’s what he harps on and thrives on. Just make sure you have your base technique down, and everything else will take care of itself.”

And Warren, who signed a one-year deal worth $900,000 on April 24, certainly figures to see an increased role this season after starting defensive lineman Ty Warren was lost for the season after being placed on injured reserve over the weekend.

“I operate the same but I call it, ‘step-your-game-up time,’” Gerard said of Ty. “You’re thrust in the forefront now and it’s time to go at it, produce and do what it is I was brought in for.”

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Hoyer learning from the best

08.16.10 at 2:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Though New England is on the edge of its proverbial seat as it awaits word on just how big Tom Brady’s extension will be worth, it’s important to remember that the Patriots haven’t had to invest too much recently when it comes to acquiring their quarterbacks.

Brady, a sixth-round pick and Matt Cassel, a seventh-rounder, have obviously had success in their careers, and with current backup Brian Hoyer entering his second season, it appears he, an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State, could be the next value under center.

Hoyer played sparingly in five games as a rookie last season, and as the No. 2 quarterback prepares to serve as security should anything happen to Brady, his comfort on the field is quite apparent. He’s certainly outshone rookie Zac Robinson and has developed a sense of familiarity with the receivers on the roster.

“For me, it’s just that I can go in there and rattle off a play this year, whereas last year I was just trying to spit it out word-by-word,” Hoyer said Monday. “Now, it’s just I hear it and it automatically means something to me, whereas last year I had to kind of think about it a little bit.”

Things weren’t always so cool for Hoyer, who can still recall the first time he met Brady. Introducing himself to one of the game’s all-time greats and his future mentor wasn’t easy to do.

“I was in the room and he just walked in and was like, ‘Hi, I’m Tom,’” Hoyer recalled. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I know.’”

Now that they’ve had over a year to get to know one another, Brady and Hoyer seemed to have developed quite the rapport, something director of player personnel Nick Caserio has noticed. The two even have an ongoing competition in what they refer to as the “bucket drill,” which consists of the quarterbacks trying to sink passes into an empty barrel from varying distances.

“He’s been huge for my development just by watching him and asking questions and learning from him. He’s really helped me out and he really hasn’t even had to do anything,” Hoyer said. “He’s just been a good teammate, a good mentor. I watch him practice and I ask him questions. I’ve learned a lot just by doing that.”

Surprisingly, Hoyer has actually had Brady’s number when it comes to the bucket drill, sinking three passes to Brady’s goose egg. For someone with such a high level of comfort on the field and a player that has looked very strong in camp — let alone the fact that he came from a pro-style offense — it’s surprising that he was passed over by every team in the draft.

“Obviously, we didn’t draft him either, but it’s just the way it works out sometimes,” Caserio said. “Some players get drafted, some players aren’t drafted. I can’t really tell you why or why he didn’t. We’re just happy he’s here on the club.”

Now that he is in the club and appears to have a stranglehold on the No. 2 job, it isn’t particularly hard to see why. He rarely makes mistakes in practice and is generally with Brady at all times on the field, even when Robinson isn’t.

Caserio spoke highly of Hoyer’s instincts Monday while also complimenting the young quarterbacks ball placement and decision-making. Though Hoyer isn’t the type to rave about his own attributes on the field, he’ll take the praise when it comes to the placement of his passes, especially if they’re headed in the direction of a blue barrel.

“I know it’s killing [Brady] that he hasn’t hit one of those bucket shots yet and I have, so I make sure I remind him every now and then,” Hoyer said with a grin.

At the end of the day, the relationship with Brady — even if it’s in competition (he noted the two have yet to butt heads over their respective schools) — is one that Hoyer views as being incredibly valuable to his progression, and he’s not willing to let it go unnoticed.

“The best thing about being the backup for Tom Brady is learning from Tom Brady, in my opinion the best in the league,” Hoyer said. “Whether it’s us working on our footwork or us doing our bucket drill over there, or watching film or just watching him practice, I think that’s just the most important thing I can get from being his backup.”

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Wilfork on D&H: ‘There are changes everywhere’

08.16.10 at 1:17 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork (AP)

Vince Wilfork (AP)

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork joined the Dale & Holley show on Monday morning to talk about the Ty Warren injury, voluntary workouts and training camp.

“As far as the player, that’s a guy I will miss out there on the field with me but I think the guys that stepped in are doing a good job,” Wilfork said of Warren. “I mean we’ve been working every day, everybody has been doing their thing and hopefully we can get better as a team.”

Wilfork also touched on heading to Atlanta and facing Falcons players in duel practices.

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

What did you think when you heard the news that Ty Warren was going to be out for the season?

That’s a personal friend of mine on and off the field. It’s just sad to hear something like that, sidelined for the season. I talked with him afterwards and everything and he’s in high spirits. It’s something he said he needs to take care of and I support him 100 percent. As far as the player, that’s a guy I will miss out there on the field with me but I think the guys that stepped in are doing a good job. I mean we’ve been working every day, everybody has been doing their thing and hopefully we can get better as a team. As far as Ty, I was just sad to hear that because he’s tough as nails and when he says something is bothering him, something is bothering him. I respect him, I respect him as a player and a person. But it’s just sad for him to go down like that and I’ll always keep him in my prayers and my locker is right next to him so he’ll be with me spiritually throughout the year.

He’s a guy who put his morals and his convictions where his pocketbook was. He passed up on an offseason workout bonus and went back down to Texas A&M to work on his degree. Was he here for all the mandatory stuff he had to be here for?

He was around. I think he even came back a couple days earlier for the minicamps and OTAs and whatever. He’s been around, he’s always worked. Even now with him going in with his injury, he’s watching film still like he’s playing. So I’m sure if I have a question or whatever it may be, I can always call him and say, “Hey, what do you think about this tackle or this guard? How you feel if we do this personnel?” He’s always watching film and always preparing like he’s there. That’s just the professionalism of the guy. Most guys when they get hurt and are done for a good while just put football away and go about their business. But that’s one guy that always keeps football in his pocket and always with the DVDs and playbooks, he’s always calling me asking me what we’re doing. He always wants to stay in tune with the team and that’s every bit of a leader and every bit of respect from a person you can get. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wes Welker provides a dose of reality

08.16.10 at 1:16 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For everyone expecting/hoping/wishing for Wes Welker to make his debut this Thursday night against Atlanta and, more importantly, on Sept. 12 against Cincinnati at Gillette Stadium, the man himself wants people to remember his return by a specific date is by no means guaranteed.

Not that he doesn’t want play starting yesterday.

Sounding a more cautious tone following this week’s final practice of training camp in Foxboro, Welker said he still needs to make more progress in getting his surgically-repaired left knee ready for game action.

“It’s still kind of the same,” Welker said. “We’re making strides but at the same time, there’s good days and bad days so we’re just trying to work through them and keep on getting better each day. It’s good to get out here and get reps with the guys and be not stuck somewhere else rehabbing and doing stuff like that. It’s just good to be out here.”

It’s still hard for many to believe that it was on Jan. 3 in Houston when Welker slipped on a quick cut near midfield after catching a pass from Tom Brady and his left knee buckled, causing damage that required reconstructive surgery. Since the operation, Welker has blown away nearly everyone – not to mention medical checkpoints – on his way to being removed from the PUP list at the beginning of camp.

Welker, who did not play last Thursday against New Orleans, did not indicate whether he would be ready for the second preseason game this Thursday night in Atlanta. He was expected to leave with the team on Monday and travel to Atlanta and participate in practices against the Falcons on Tuesday outside Atlanta.

“I’d like to be out there anytime,” Welker added. “Anytime I can out there is going to be a positive and of course, I want to be out there but we’re going to take it slow and make sure we stay on track and we’ve been good to this point and we’re just going to keep that going.”

Welker admitted he would love to get out on the field on Thursday night in the Georgia Dome to see what his left knee feels like in game conditions.

“Absolutely,” Welker admitted. “You practice so much and rehab and do things like that, to get out there in real game action, with the crowd in the stadium and the adrenaline is kind of going, that’s the atmosphere you want.

“I’m able it to do it. But obviously, I have this knee brace on so it’s not what I want it to be or where I need to be but we’re slowly making strides and slowly getting there.”

Slowly being the operative word there. It was almost as if Welker was trying to send out a subliminal message to himself that while everything looks great and the cheers from the fans in camp are heartfelt, he won’t know anything for sure until take hits in games and make sharp cuts on his routes.

“They didn’t really say anything to me. They said six months is when we’ll have a better idea of kind of where we’re at. So, I kind of had that my head and the season is seven months away and we’re just trying to work towards that.”

And while he may not ever admit it, having Julian Edelman on the roster gives Welker more time to make sure he’s as close to full strength as possible before going all out in a game.

“He’s done a great job, being able to come in like this and really make the plays,” Welker said. “Once he gets the ball in his hands, he’s pretty dangerous, he’s really showed that. He just needs to keep coming along, keep on doing what he’s been doing and keep on making plays for us. It’s good to have and good to see out there.”

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Schobel says he will opt for retirement

08.16.10 at 12:46 pm ET
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bos_a_schobel_800

Aaron Schobel, seen here terrorizing the Patriots in last year's opener, told the Houston Chronicle that he will retire. (AP)

Defensive end Aaron Schobel has decided to retire, according to a report from John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

The former Buffalo pass rusher, who has 78 sacks over a nine-year career (all with the Bills), was considered one of the premier defensive players on the market after he was released by Buffalo earlier this month. But despite the fact that several teams had shown an interest in the 32-year-old — a group that reportedly included the Patriots and Texans — he told McClain that he has decided to retire.

“Obviously, it would have been a great place to play, but at point of my career, I’m not going to sit here and tell you how I would have performed,” Schobel told the Houston Chronicle when he was asked about possibly playing in Houston. “I’m not saying I could or couldn’t have played at my best, but I’m just not 100 percent sure.

“I want to be done with it. I’m going to leave it as is. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play, anyway. I’m going to be 33 in two weeks, and I’m leaving the game on my terms and nobody else’s. I’m just going to leave it alone and retire.”

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Nick Caserio Q&A, 8/16

08.16.10 at 12:36 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of today’s Q&A between Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio and the media at Gillette Stadium:

NC: We had a good practice yesterday and covered a lot of situational things. This morning we’ll have a brief practice – kind of a lighter practice and then we’ll get on the plane to head down to Atlanta. This will be another good test for our team this week. There are some different elements we will have to deal with. [This is] the first time on the road, so there are some things that come into play there as far as handling crowd noise and the line of scrimmage operation. And this is another good football team that we’re playing against. [They have a] good offense, good young quarterback, good tight end, good running back, good receivers, so they’ve got the bases covered offensively.  Defensively, they present some problems as well. They have good edge players – John Abraham. They have a good linebacking core and they signed Dante Robinson in the offseason as a free agent, so this will be another good test for our team to just kind of see where we are against another good ball club. We have a lot of respect for the Atlanta Falcons organization, for what Mr. [Arthur] Blank, Coach [Mike] Smith and Thomas Dimitroff have done. I have a personal relationship with Thomas. Actually, my first fall on the road, he and I spent quite a lot of time together. We were able to cultivate a good relationship. He’s still a close friend of mine and a confident, so it will be nice to catch up with him and see how they do some different things down there in Atlanta. We’re excited about the trip. It will be a good three, four days there and then we’ll see how it goes. We’re excited to head down there and face Atlanta.
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Training camp report from Monday morning practice

08.16.10 at 12:21 pm ET
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FOXBORO — All good things must come to an end, and such can now be said for training camp sessions in Foxboro. The Patriots held an indoor session on Monday morning due to rainy conditions, the final practice before the team heads to Atlanta to their second preseason game. The Patriots practiced in shells and shorts and did so in relaxed fashion. Position drills and 11-on-11 play was common, though it was the unusual and quirky aspects of Monday that made it stand out. Here are some notes:

- The following players were missing: receivers Darnell Jenkins and Matthew Slater, defensive backs Leigh Bodden and Bret Lockett, offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur, and defensive linemen Damione Lewis and Jermaine Cunningham.

Defensive back Terrence Johnson and linebacker Dane Fletcher were present but were in shorts and t-shirts.

- As was mentioned above, the Patriots had a little more fun than in typical training camp sessions. One drill that yielded laughter from players was a positional drill that consists of the quarterback dropping back with ball boys, another quarterback, and assistant coaches jogging towards him while jumping with both hands in the air. The quarterback then lobs a pass over the “defenders” and to a stationary target, generally another ball boy. Monday, Randy Moss joined those jumping up and down, making it a bit more entertaining for Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer.

- While Brady and Hoyer had their fun with the aforementioned drill (Zac Robinson was not a part of it), the most popular quarterback of the day had to be none other than No. 75, Vince Wilfork. Head coach Bill Belichick cleared most of the players to the sidelines about halfway through the practice so they could watch as the offense faced the defense in a red zone situation — as the defense. This meant Wilfork was a quarterback, Moss was a safety, Rob Gronkowski an outside linebacker, and Patrick Chung an outside receiver. Aaron Hernandez, Jonathan Wilhite, Wes Welker, Brandon Tate, Sammy Morris, and Sam Aiken were among the other players to participate in the strange but entertaining showdowm.

Belichick instructed the two sides to play to three, with each side getting the edge for either scoring or breaking up the play.  After Moss’ “defense” took the first point, Wilfork hit Chung deep in the end zone on an out to tie it up. The offense (playing defense) ended up winning, 3-1, as onlooking players laughed. Hoyer said after practice that Wilfork was only productive as a quarterback because he had “eight seconds” to throw the ball.

- To round out the trifecta of things one wouldn’t think they would see in a Patriots’ practice, Wilfork dropped into coverage on an 11-on-11 drill and swatted down a Brady pass over the middle. Upon making the play, Wilfork sprinted around in celebration like a defensive back and jumped around with safety Brandon Meriweather.

- There wasn’t too much of substance that could actually be taken from the day as far as how players looked (nose tackles playing quarterback generally won’t get you much), but Robinson ended training camp in just as up-and-down fashion as he began it. The third-string quarterback threw a pick over the middle to Jerod Mayo but later made a nice throw through traffic to receiver Buddy Farnham.

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