Archive for August 14th, 2013

Bill Belichick: Matthew Slater is ‘one of the best in the league’ on special teams

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick likes to remind everyone that football is a game of three phases – offense, defense and special teams.

And in Matthew Slater, the Patriots coach believe he has one of the best in special teams.

Belichick was asked Wednesday just how Slater valuable is to the unit, a unit he has captained for the past two seasons.

“Matt is one of the best in the league,” Belichick beamed Wednesday. “I think he has a lot of the qualities that we were talking about. Sure, any time they have to double somebody, that makes it one less guy they can use somewhere else in the return. He almost always draws two guys out there unless they’€™re in an eight-man rush.

“Most of the time there’€™s two guys out there ‘€“ fourth-and-short, where they’€™re trying to protect the box ‘€“ but he draws a lot of double teams and deservedly so. He does an outstanding job of covering punts and as I said, it’€™s a tough position to play but he’€™s got all the qualities that we talked about to be good. He does a good job for us.”

Belichick outlined what he sees as some of the traits he looks for in a gunner like Slater.

“Well, some combination of speed, strength and quickness,” Belichick said. “The more the better of all three, but that’€™s a tough position to play. You have to deal with two guys. You have to be strong enough to deal with them or quick enough to deal with them or fast enough to deal with them and then there’€™s all the techniques of not only dealing with the double team but also the punts, the returns, the rushes, the wind conditions, knowing where the ball is, trying to defeat two blockers and then locate the ball and the returner and the different returns and so forth. There’€™s a lot of technique and skill that’€™s involved beyond just the physical part of it. I think you need some combination of those three elements to deal with consistent double teams out there.”

And the mentality?

“Be aggressive,” Belichick said without hesitating. “It’€™s a tough spot to play. As I said, if you’€™re good, you have two guys out there a lot. Two guys get you at the line of scrimmage and are trying to keep you from getting downfield ‘€“ it gets pretty physical. It’€™s a physical battle out there. You definitely have to have a high level of aggressiveness to deal with that.

“Statistically there are definitely fewer kickoff returns on a percentage basis and total numbers than what there were before they moved the kickoff restraining line back to the 35-yard line, which was what they said was their attempt to have fewer returns, which there definitely are but there are still plenty of them. I think as the season goes on, particularly in places like this, where the weather is cooler and wind conditions become more of a factor, that there are fewer touchbacks in the second half of the season than there are in the first half of the season. It becomes more of a factor later on in the season, but there are fewer of them, no question about that, absolutely.”

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Wednesday afternoon practice notes: Brandon Spikes returns as Pats and Bucs meet for second session

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

FOXBORO — The Patriots and Buccaneers wrapped up the second of three joint practices Wednesday afternoon on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. While the big news of the day was the fact that quarterback Tom Brady left practice early after suffering some sort of left knee or leg injury when he got tangled up with left tackle Nate Solder, here are a few more notes from the workout, which was held in full pads and ran roughly two hours:

‘€¢The following players were not in attendance: tight ends Daniel Fells and Rob Gronkowski and defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham and Armond Armstead. In addition, wide receiver Mark Harrison was watching practice (and Gronkowski was spotted on the field midway through the session in t-shirt and shorts), while defensive back Devin McCourty was again wearing the red noncontact jersey.

‘€¢With Alfonzo Dennard and Ras-I Dowling on field but limited, Marquice Cole again got a lot of reps with what appeared to be a reasonable facsimile of the starting defense. The veteran corner/special teamer was competitive, and made some nice plays, with the highlight of his afternoon likely coming when he picked off Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman during 7-on-7 drills. In addition, later in practice rookie defensive back Logan Ryan had a nice pick of Freeman in 11-on-11 drills, and could have taken the ball all the way back for a pick six of it was game action.

‘€¢Before he went down, Brady was having a really crisp afternoon. As was the case last week against Philly, he was regularly having his way with opposing corners. On one three-pass sequence, he hit Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Kamar Aiken on nice pass plays. Thompkins again had a nice afternoon, and continues to string together impressive practices. Perhaps the best part of his game is his ability to compete for balls in the air, and he did it again on multiple occasions on Wednesday.

‘€¢After Brady went down, backups Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow ran the show, with the bulk of the snaps going to Mallett. Both were a mixed bag, but one thing that stood out with Tebow was the fact that he had a nice sequence with a touchdown pass to Julian Edelman and sharp passes to Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld.

‘€¢Rough afternoon for the punters, as Ryan Allen had a punt blocked and Zoltan Mesko and Danny Aiken botched a snap as well.

‘€¢Robert Kraft was in attendance, as well as the Fox broadcasting crew of Kenny Albert, Darryl “Moose” Johnston and Tony “The Goose” Siragusa, who will be handling Friday night’s game.

Reports: Tom Brady has ‘sprain’ of left knee, considered not serious

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

FOXBORO — An exam performed on Tom Brady Wednesday afternoon revealed a sprain of his left knee but the injury is not considered serious, according to a report by WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche, who also serves as the team’s preseason TV announcer.

Brady injured the knee in Wednesday’s joint practice with Tampa Bay when Buccaneers right defensive end Adrian Clayborn bull rushed Nate Solder into the the left leg of Brady. Clayborn said he forced Solder into Brady, causing Solder to trip over the quarterback.

Solder said he’ll have to look more closely at film to see what happened.

On the play, Brady threw a sideline pass to Aaron Dobson. As Brady grabbed his left knee, several teammates and coach Bill Belichick stood over him, waiting for him to get up.

Brady came out limping and then returned for five plays before leaving practice for good, heading to the adjacent practice bubble, where he was examined by medical staff, including trainer Jim Whalen.

The star quarterback immediately grabbed his left knee, the same knee he had reconstructed after tearing the ACL in the 2008 season opener against Bernard Pollard and the Chiefs.

Here are the multiple accounts on Twitter on Wednesday evening concerning Tom Brady’s injury:

 

 

 

 

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Nate Solder: ‘I’ll have to see what happened on film’

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

FOXBORO — Nate Solder said after Wednesday’s practice he didn’t know what happened on the play where he collapsed onto Tom Brady, forcing the quarterback to leave the session prematurely with some sort of left knee or leg injury.

The Patriots left tackle, who was apparently blocked into Brady by Tampa Bay defensive end Adrian Clayborn, said he’ll have to take a look at the film before he makes any sort of declarative statement on what happened on the play.

“I don’t know what happened. I’ll have to see what happened on film,” he told reporters after Wednesday’s practice session. “There were a few different things that happened, so I’ll have to see it.

“I’ll have to see exactly what happened,” he added. “That’s a tough question to answer right now.”

Solder, who had been having a pretty good training camp, drew positive reviews from Clayborn, who said the Colorado product is “a very good left tackle.” Entering his third season with New England, the 25-year-old Solder has started 29 of a possible 32 regular season games over the course of his professional career.

“We’re always working to protect and everything, so … you know, I’ll have to see what happened on film,” he said. “I screwed some things up here and there, and we’ll work to improve it.”

For more Patriots news, check weei.com/patriots.

Tampa’s Adrian Clayborn says his bull rush made Nate Solder ‘trip’ on Tom Brady

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

FOXBORO — Tampa Bay right defensive end Adrian Clayborn said after Wednesday’s joint practice with the Patriots that he and New England left tackle Nate Solder got tangled up, and in the ensuing scrum, Solder was the one who collapsed into quarterback Tom Brady.

“I bull rushed the tackle and apparently he tripped on Brady and fell on him,” Clayborn said.

“You always have to stay away from the quarterback, but if you get a guy on his heels, my instinct is to keep going. And that’s what I did.”

The Patriots quarterback was leading an 11-on-11 drill roughly midway through the practice session when he went down after attempting a pass to receiver Aaron Dobson against the Tampa Bay defense. Brady lay on the ground for a few seconds before slowly walking off. He spent a few moments on the sidelines, flexing his knee, and returned to practice for a few more snaps before disappearing from the sideline ‘€” Brady and New England trainer Jim Whalen appeared to duck into the Dana-Farber Fieldhouse, next to the practice field.

Asked what he’s thinking when he sees a quarterback go down like that, Clayborn offered a simple answer.

“Hopefully, he gets back up,” he said.

“Coach Belichick and I, we stress to our teams ‘Let them throw the football — rush the passer, but go by them. Don’t get [near] them.’ I cant tell you (what happened) because I didn’t see what happened, but I’ll look at it on tape,” said Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano. “I hope he’s OK.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Tom Brady limps off field, leaves practice

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

FOXBORO — Tom Brady left practice early on Wednesday afternoon after appearing to suffer some sort of left knee or left leg injury.

The Patriots quarterback was leading an 11-on-11 drill roughly midway through the practice session when he went down after attempting a pass to receiver Aaron Dobson against the Tampa Bay defense. Brady lay on the ground for a few seconds before slowly walking off. He spent a few moments on the sidelines, flexing his knee, and returned to practice for a few more snaps before disappearing from the sideline — Brady and New England trainer Jim Whalen appeared to duck into the Dana-Farber Fieldhouse, next to the practice field.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Here is video of the play courtesy of Chad Kopcak (@ChadKopcak), who was filming from the stands.

Pats outline new NFL bag policy for fans at Gillette Stadium

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

FOXBORO — The Patriots want their fans to be prepared for the new NFL stadium bag policy just as well as they would be prepared for winter weather in December – plan accordingly. The team outlined the new NFL policy which goes into effect this Friday when the Patriots open their preseason home schedule against Tampa Bay.

In short, All bags must be clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and no larger than 12′€x 6′€ x 12′€.

During the offseason, the NFL Committee on Stadium Security unanimously recommended the implementation of an NFL Stadium Bag Policy that limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into all stadiums for NFL games.

Gillette Stadium senior vice president of operations, Jim Nolan, went over the policy Wednesday afternoon.

The Patriots have communicated directly with season ticket holders on the implementation process and have distributed complimentary bags to each account holder. In addition, clear plastic freezer bags will be distributed to all vehicles that arrive at Gillette Stadium for the first couple of games. In the parking lots, there will be eight different locations where fans can purchase NFL compliant clear plastic bags as well.

Fans arriving for Patriots games at Gillette Stadium gates, plaza areas, or other areas where fans queue for entry into the stadium must have bags that are in compliance with the new policy. Bags that are not in compliance will not be stored and must be returned to the patron’€™s vehicle. A description of the style and size of the bags that will be allowed is described below:

  • Bags that are clear (see through) plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12′€ x 6′€ x 12.’€
  • One-gallon clear (see through) plastic freezer bag or similar.
  • Small clutch bags, not to exceed 7′€ x 4′€ x 2′€ (approximately the size of a hand), with or without a handle or strap, may be carried into the stadium along with one of the clear bag options.
  • Prohibited items include, but are not limited to: non see-through purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, luggage of any kind, seat cushions, computer bags and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size.

    The policy was announced by the NFL in June and implemented for the first time at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 4.