Archive for August 4th, 2010

Training camp report from Wednesday afternoon session

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots just wrapped up their Wednesday afternoon training camp practice. It was their lone practice session of the day, and held in shorts and shells at what could probably best be described as 3/4 speed. The stands were packed on a relatively muggy afternoon, with highs in the mid-80s. Here are a few quick notes:

‘€¢The following players were not present for the workout: wide receiver Matthew Slater, defensive back Bret Lockett, outside linebacker/defensive end Derrick Burgess, inside linebacker Gary Guyton, offensive lineman Logan Mankins, offensive linemen Nick Kaczur and defensive lineman Ty Warren. The following players were on the field, but in t-shirts and shorts: cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, defensive back Terrence Johnson, defensive lineman Myron Pryor, defensive lineman Ron Brace, defensive lineman Mike Wright and running back Thomas Clayton.

‘€¢The highlight of the practice session was on the far practice field, when quarterback Tom Brady and backup Brian Hoyer recreated a drill they went through a few days ago, trying to toss a ball into a garbage can from roughly 40 yards away. Brady came the closest, hitting it once before they moved it to the middle of the field on the goal line, where Brady conked it twice. At the end of the drill, director of player personnel Nick Caserio winged one in the direction of owner Robert Kraft, who was standing behind the garbage can. Caserio didn’€™t hit Kraft, but caused the owner to hit the deck. Both sides enjoyed a good chuckle about it afterward.

‘€¢Wide receiver Buddy Farnham had one of the best catches of the day, reaching back to pull in a pass from quarterback Zac Robinson that was behind him.

‘€¢Operating against what appeared to be a mixture of the No. 1 and No. 2 defense, Brady and wide receiver Randy Moss made a sweet connection down the middle of the field, with Moss beating Devin McCourty (who saw a LOT of reps this afternoon) and Darius Butler to the ball. One of the highlights of the session. Later in the same series, Hoyer made a pair of impressive passes to tight end Rob Gronkowski, moving the chains and reaching the end zone. At the end of the series, the offense successfully hit on a two-point conversion when Hoyer found wide receiver Torry Holt in the corner of the end zone. Holt was so psyched, he got up and tossed the ball toward the other practice field before celebrating with Hoyer.

‘€¢Not everything was positive. Brady was at the helm for a series of misfires, a sequence where rookies Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Tate looked to be out of place and one that culminated when safety Pat Chung picked off Brady. (Brady also appeared to struggle when operating with running back Laurence Maroney ‘€” two straight attempted pass plays for Maroney went incomplete.) The offense soon rallied, however, when Brady found Tate and Hernandez on successive plays, drawing cheers from the crowd.

‘€¢On special teams work, Robinson worked as a punt protector for Zoltan Mesko. Meanwhile, running back Kevin Faulk and wide receiver Julian Edelman were working as returners.

Rodney blasts Favre

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Former Patriots defensive back Rodney Harrison ripped Brett Favre on Wednesday, saying the quarterback ‘€œloves the media attention’€ that comes with his annual decision about whether or not to return to the NFL for another season.

Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, Harrison, who has blasted Favre before, said he’€™s never understood the veteran quarterback, and added that ‘€œguys who really have class’€ like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning would never put their teammates through the drama.

‘€œYou get to a point at 40 years old that you know exactly what you want to do ‘€” if you want to play football or not,’€ Harrison said. ‘€œAnd that’€™s why I’€™ve been critical of this guy. Because it’€™s so unfair to your teammates, it’€™s unfair to your coaches, it’€™s unfair to the city, the organization that you keep leaving people hung out to dry like that.

‘€œI’€™ve never understood Brett Favre. I just think he loves the media attention. At 40 years old, you know if you want to grind through an 18-week season.

‘€œIf I was a teammate of his, I’€™d probably be a little ticked off he’€™s not in training camp.’€

Bill Belichick Q&A, 8/4

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

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

BB: We have one roster move to announce this morning. We released John Wise and signed Eric Ghiaciuc. Eric has got some flexibility. He has played the inside positions. He’€™s been in the league so he’€™s got a little more experience there. We decided to back off practice this morning. It gives us a little time to catch up on film and some meetings and just clean up a few things. I feel like the players are working hard and we’€™ve had a lot of contact, and we felt like this was probably the best thing we could do for our team this morning. We’€™ll be back at it this afternoon as we move into the end of the week here. More team work, more group drills, some situational things. We’€™ve been doing red area and two-minute and third down, so we’€™ll continue to expand on some of that situational type periods in practice and then by the end of the week we should have a pretty good base on all of those things. Then we can move into next week with our preparations for New Orleans. That’€™s kind of where we’€™re at here.

Q: Can you elaborate on Ghiaciuc ‘€“ just his background, your connection with him and what kind of player he is?
BB: He’€™s played inside and just has a little more experience than John did, obviously. Although I think John did a good job, we just felt like with the preseason games coming up and where our team is, that he’€™d have a little more opportunity.

Q: I’€™m curious on your thoughts at the competition this far at inside linebacker, particularly the new and younger players.
BB: I think all of them have done well. I think Jerod [Mayo] is doing well. Gary [Guyton] got off to a good start, definitely ahead of last year. Eric, also.  Tyrone [McKenzie], it’€™s really his first chance and Brandon [Spikes], Thomas Williams, The new guys have been with us a little bit ‘€“ Dane [Fletcher] ‘€“ but the new guys have come in and I think they’€™ve all done well. A big part of that evaluation will be in the kicking game, as well as on defense. Some of those linebackers are a little more first and second down, some of them are a little more third down. Some of them are probably a little more of the kicking game. Some might have a combination of all three. So I think players have different values and probably different strengths [in] what they can bring to the team. But [they’€™re] all competitive in their respective areas. And then just how it all fits together and how, of course, they perform when we get into the preseason games and continue to evaluate here through these practices. But I think it’€™s a pretty solid unit, good depth and they bring a number of different skills to the position.
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Belichick not biting on Schobel

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

FOXBORO ‘€” No active player has more sacks of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady than Aaron Schobel. So if Buffalo does indeed plan on releasing Schobel ‘€” as ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted Wednesday morning ‘€” would New England be interested? The Patriots do have a history of going after guys who have killed them in the past (Wes Welker), and Schobel would certainly fit that description.

But Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn’t biting when asked about the two-time Pro Bowl end in his Wednesday morning press conference, saying only that Schobel, who has 12 career sacks on Brady, ‘€œhas given us great competition’€ in the past.

‘€œRight now, I’€™m really just focused on our team,’€ Belichick said when asked about the 6-foot-4, 243-pounder out of TCU. ‘€œI’€™m really just focused on our team. I couldn’€™t comment. He’€™s still under contract with Buffalo.

‘€œBut obviously, he’€™s a good player. He’€™s given us great competition on the field.’€

While Schobel joining the Patriots would seem to be a good fit on paper, two noted football numbers men aren’t so sure. In this story I did this morning, Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders and Neil Hornsby of Pro Football Focus say that while the 33-year-old Schobel still has the skills to compete in the NFL, he wouldn’€™t necessarily work in the Patriots’ 3-4 defensive scheme.

‘€œHe had a fine season last year ‘€” we have him credited with 30 Defeats, which are stops for no gain, a loss, or short of a first down on third down), which is a high number for a defensive end. His average tackle came 0.2 yards downfield, best in the NFL,’€ Tanier said of Schobel, who has 78 sacks in nine seasons. ‘€œHe’€™s really not a 3-4 player though. He’€™s not quick enough for outside linebacker, and would get hammered playing as a five-technique end for play after play.’€

In other Patriots news, the team released rookie offensive tackle John Wise this morning and signed center Eric Ghiaciuc, who worked out for the team on Wednesday.

Cannizzaro on D&C: Pats-Jets a toss-up

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Mark Cannizzaro, who covers the Jets for the New York Post, joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the upcoming NFL season. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Cannizzaro said he doesn’t believe the hype that the Jets are the clear favorite to surpass the Patriots in the AFC East. “I don’t discount the Patriots at all,” Cannizzaro said. “I’m a believer in what [Bill] Belichick brings to the table in a big way. … I look at the Jets and Patriots as a toss-up. I don’t see either team having any kind of crazy advantage. I see a lot of things that equal each other out.”

Cannizzaro said cornerback Darrelle Revis‘ holdout isn’t hurting the Jets so much now, noting that Revis likely is home watching more film and working out harder than he would at camp. However, New York’s prospects for long-term success will be affected if the contract dispute is not resolved. “They will not go deep in the playoffs without Revis playing for them,” Cannizzaro said, adding, “I think it’s going to end up getting done, but the sides are miles apart.”

Cannizzaro said he spent some time with running back LaDanian Tomlinson this week and predicts the former Charger will play a key role for the Jets this season. “I think he’s going to be a big factor,” Cannizzaro said. “I think he’s going to have a pretty productive year,” especially catching passes out of the backfield. Added Cannizzaro: “LaDanian Tomlinson wants to rock, there’s no doubt about it. … I think he’s determined to make it hard for [offensive coordinator Brian] Schottenheimer not to have him in the backfield.”

No morning practice for Patriots

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

The Patriots have announced they will hold just one practice today, a 3 p.m. single-session workout that will be open to the public. Today is the first day since camp opened almost a week ago that the Patriots have not had two scheduled practices.