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Reports: Jimmy Garoppolo to start preseason finale vs. New York Giants

08.25.14 at 11:59 am ET
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FOXBORO — To no one’s surprise, Tom Brady will be getting the night off on Thursday in the preseason finale against the New York Giants.

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.

Ryan Mallett saw action in only one series last Friday against Carolina, filling in for Tom Brady in the first quarter.

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Tim Hasselbeck on D&C: ‘I think Wes [Welker] has had more than 10 concussions’ since 2007

08.25.14 at 10:18 am ET
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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.”

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Read More: Patriots, Ryan Mallett, Tim Hasselbeck, Wes Welker

Tom Brady on D&C: ‘Our expectation is to go out there and be a great offense’

08.25.14 at 9:25 am ET
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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.”

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Read More: Brandon LaFell, Sam Bradford, Tom Brady, Wes Welker

5 thoughts on Patriots’ decision to cut Will Smith, Tommy Kelly, James Anderson

08.24.14 at 9:31 pm ET
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The Patriots cut Will Smith, Tommy Kelly and James Anderson on Sunday. Here are some thoughts on the moves.

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.

Read More: Bill Belichick, James Anderson, Tommy Kelly, Will Smith

Report: Patriots release Tommy Kelly, Will Smith, James Anderson

08.24.14 at 5:34 pm ET
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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.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the team has parted ways with defensive linemen Tommy Kelly, and Will Smith, as well as linebacker James Anderson.

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.

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Read More: James Anderson, Patriots, Tommy Kelly, Will Smith

Bill Belichick, Patriots gearing up for short week, roster cuts

08.24.14 at 5:09 pm ET
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Following the Patriots’€™ impressive, 30-7 win over the Panthers in last Friday’€™s third preseason game, the team has put that behind them and turned its focus to the Giants and Thursday’€™s final preseason game.

“[Sunday] is our day to go through the film with the players and look at the corrections and all the things that happened in the Carolina game and quickly turn the page here and get on to some of the things we need to cover at the end of training camp before we get into the start of the regular season and also get going on the Giants,” Bill Belichick said on Sunday’€™s conference call. “This is a short week, quick turnaround, and really a lot of things we have to tie up here in the next few days and then hopefully we’€™ll be ready to turn out attention next week to the start of the regular season.”

Also coming this week are roster cuts, as rosters have to be cut down to 75 players by Tuesday and the final 53-man roster by next Saturday.

“Obviously roster moves will be coming. That will be part of the whole process too,” Belichick said of the upcoming week. “There could be some before, but I’€™m sure there will be some on Tuesday as well.”

The Patriots will practice Monday, Tuesday and hold a walkthrough on Wednesday before departing for New York/New Jersey for Thursday’€™s preseason finale.

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Bill Belichick: Vince Wilfork has ‘done a solid job’ in getting back from torn Achilles

08.24.14 at 1:35 pm ET
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Coming off a torn Achilles suffered in Week 4 against the Falcons last season — forcing him to go on season-ending injured reserve — Vince Wilfork appears ready for the upcoming season.

Wilfork hasn’t missed a practice this preseason, but like most starters he didn’t play in the first preseason game against the Redskins. He has played in the last two games — including almost the entire first half of last Friday’s game with the Panthers, showing no issues at all with the foot he injured last season.

“Vince has done everything pretty much since the last week or so of OTAs,” Bill Belichick said during Sunday’s conference call. “He’s done everything with the team, no real restrictions. He hasn’t really missed any time or anything. He’s been out there and worked hard. He’s getting himself ready for the season as he should be. He’s done a solid job of getting himself back and getting ready to play football this year. We’ll see how it goes going forward. I have no issues with him, I think he’s worked very hard coming back from the injury he had last year and be ready to go this season.”

With the Patriots playing more of a 3-4 defensive scheme this preseason, Wilfork has been in the middle of the defensive line — drawing a few double-teams — along with Joe Vellano and Tommy Kelly on either side of him. This has allowed Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich to line up in a standing position at the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker spot and get a better jump on getting after the quarterback, or dropping back into pass coverage at times.

With Wilfork and Kelly out last season, the Patriots could not use this scheme as Ninkovich and Jones were forced to line up in a three-point stance on the line with the lack of healthy defensive linemen.

Although Wilfork has looked good in the two joint practice sessions with the Redskins and Eagles as well as in the two preseason games, Belichick is quick to point out it’s only the preseason and the real games have yet to begun, so it is unfair to make clear assertions.

“It’s preseason. Let’s not confuse preseason with regular season,” Belichick said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s been out there and participated. He played in all three preseason games. We’re all getting ready for the regular season, but we’ll see what happens when the regular season starts for all of us — players, coaches, rookies, veterans, everybody. That’s when we’ll really see where everybody is.”

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