Archive for August 17th, 2009

Friendly fire

Monday, August 17th, 2009

FOXBOROUGH — Imagine your first day on a new job and you’re competing against someone who was in your wedding just a year ago.

Such a surreal situation has presented itself to Chris Taylor. On Monday, the 25-year-old tailback out of Indiana University said hello again to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Patriots running back — who was recruited to Bloomington by Taylor.

“I actually hosted him on his recruiting visit and we’ve been close ever since,” Taylor said.

So close that Taylor asked Green-Ellis to be in his wedding in 2008.

“It’s a little tough, but we know the business,” Taylor said. “We know we have to come here, work and earn our positions. It’s my first day, so I have to get into the playbook and really catch up on my plays and know the plays well.”

Taylor finished career at Indiana with 1,762 yards on 402 carries and 12 touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. He rushed 740 yards on 156 carries, including a 4.7 yards per carry average as a senior. His best day came in his senior year when he rushed for 176 yards on 17 carries against Kentucky.

He showed so much promise that the Houston Texans signed him as a free agent on May 4, 2006 and then earned a spot on the roster. He also showed resilience as he was cut twice and re-signed three times in that first season.

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Notes from Monday PM Practice

Monday, August 17th, 2009

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots just finished up their afternoon practice in full pads down here at Gillette Stadium:

•The 25th practice of the 2009 training camp was another hot one. No one keeled over this afternoon, but the hot temperatures certainly limited the crowds — one of the smallest crowds of camp witnessed the afternoon session.

•According to my count, the following players were not in attendance: punter Chris Hanson, wide receiver Brandon Tate, running back Sammy Morris, linebacker Paris Lenon, linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, linebacker Tedy Bruschi, offensive lineman Stephen Neal, offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, offensive lineman Mark LeVoir, offensive lineman George Bussey, nose tackle Vince Wilfork, offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, tight end Alex Smith, wide receiver Wes Welker, tight end Benjamin Watson, tight end Tyson DeVree, defensive lineman Myron Pryor, defensive lineman Ty Warren, defensive lineman Jarvis Green and defensive lineman Mike Wright.

Patriots Camp Football

Moss and Brady had a number of impressive connections in Monday's practice session. (AP)

•One of the highlights of the session came when Tom Brady found Randy Moss with a pass on a 7-on-7 drill with a ball that split defenders James Sanders and Leigh Bodden. A nice hookup all around — really well done. It’s hardly a surprise, but the two really seemed to click today, connecting on a few nice passes.  (There was one overthrow between the two of them, a deep ball that came with Terrence Wheatley in coverage.)

•It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops for Brady, however. In the previously mentioned 7-on-7 drill, he was unable to find an open target downfield. Seemingly exasperated, he took off for a few quick steps, and then punted the ball down the field. Brady wasn’t the only one to kick a ball away in anger — toward the end of practice, the quarterback found Joey Galloway with a nice pass on a deep ball in the corner of the end zone. However, the ball went right through Galloway’s hands, drawing a groan from the crowd. The veteran receiver gently booted the ball into the bleachers in disgust.

•The running backs were involved in a blitz pickup drill on linebackers, and there were mixed results. Jerod Mayo absolutely flattened the new guy Chris Taylor, simply pushing him back into the quarterback. (Welcome to Foxborough, new guy.) In the same drill, veteran Kevin Faulk did an impressive job holding off an onrushing Vinny Ciurciu.

•Kevin O’Connell struggled with some situational football later in practice, but had a bright moment about midway through the session when he connected with Galloway on a deep ball down the middle of the field, beating Jamar Love, who was in coverage.

•There was more special teams work, with Julian Edelman, Kevin Faulk and Pat Chung serving as punt returners.

•Toward the end of practice, the Patriots unveiled a new offensive wrinkle. We would love to reveal more, but rules (specifically, rule No. 1 in the “General Media Training Camp Policy” that states, “Please do not report on offensive or defensive strategy. This includes describing formations, personnel groups or non-conventional plays.”) prevent us from saying any more.

Bill Belichick Q&A, 8/17

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the media today at Gillette Stadium:

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Pats official press release on personnel moves

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Here’s the complete text of the announcement from the Patriots regarding the moves they made earlier today:
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Patriots’ Offensive Line Fights Heat

Monday, August 17th, 2009

FOXBOROUGH — Monday marked yet another hot and humid day at Gillette Stadium. Logan Mankins spoke to reporters after practice just one day after being carted off the field for an undisclosed reason — he explained Monday what happened. Dan Koppen also spoke to reporters about staying cool in the intense heat and also on having Tom Brady back. Click on the audio below to listen to the comments made this morning by both Koppen and Mankins.

Mankins says cramps were the reason why he had to come off the practice field yesterday.

Mankins talks about how the heat effects the offensive linemen.

Dan Koppen speaks on how the players can stay cool during training camp.

Koppen comments on how it feels to have Tom Brady back behind center.

Koppen says the Patriots have a long way to go if they want to be successful and they need to improve in all aspects of the game.

Pats running on reserves

Monday, August 17th, 2009

FOXBOROUGH – While the Patriots were stockpiling running backs like Fred Taylor in the off-season, there was this perception that the Patriots backfield behind Tom Brady was getting crowded.

Bill Belichick reminded on Monday that looks can be deceiving. The Patriots began camp with Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Laurence Maroney, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk all the backfield and all with legitimate hopes of significant playing time once the season begins.

But don’t think for a moment that there are too many running backs to juggle, even with Monday’s addition of Chris Taylor, a free agent who last played for the Houston Texans last season.

“I don’t think we have too many running backs in camp,” Belichick said. “We just signed one that gives us six so I think at five, they were getting quite a few reps.” (more…)

Notes on Monday AM Practice Session

Monday, August 17th, 2009

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots just wrapped up their Monday morning session down here in sweltering Foxborough, and here are a few notes worth passing along:

•The Patriots were in pads for what might have been the hottest practice of camp and the 24th overall. No players suffered heat-related maladies, but it was clear this practice had a more low-key feel that the rest. There was still some hitting, but there wasn’t the same level of intensity we’ve seen in the past.

•By our account, the following players weren’t present for this morning’s practice: punter Chris Hanson, wide receiver Brandon Tate, cornerback Shawn Springs, running back Sammy Morris, linebacker Paris Lenon, linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, offensive tackle Mark LeVoir, offensive lineman George Bussey, wide receiver Randy Moss, wide receiver Wes Welker, tight end Benjamin Watson, tight end Tyson DeVree, tight end Chris Baker, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, linebacker Shawn Crable and defensive lineman Mike Wright.

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Taylor comes to New England by way of the Houston Texans. (AP)

•New running back Chris Taylor was rotated slowly into many of the running back drills. He didn’t take too many reps, standing off to the side for much of the 11 on 11 portion of practice and picking up many of the nuances of the New England offense. He spoke with reporters after practice, and said he knew many of his new teammates already, including running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and defensive back Herana-Daze Jones.

•Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite wore a red, non-contact jersey again this morning.

•There was some extensive work done on kick returns — the Patriots went back to special teams over and over again.

•In passing drills, Kevin O’Connell spent a lot of time working with Tom Brady, while veteran Andrew Walter was working with rookie Brian Hoyer. Hoyer had a nice moment when he rolled out and found Terrence Nunn on a nice connection. Later on in the morning, Walter hit Julian Edelman on a nice crossing pattern over the middle. And my new camp binky Sam Aiken made a nice grab of a Brady pass. (Brady and Joey Galloway later just missed on a deep ball down the middle later on when Brady overshot the veteran wide receiver.)

•One of the highlights of the session came on a Hoyer pass for Nunn down the sidelines. A deep ball, the pass was caught, but was likely reviewable if it was a game situation. (For his part, safety James Sanders — who was in coverage — made no secret about the fact that he believed it was out of bounds.) If it was in bounds, it was a heckuva catch, one of the best in camp thus far.