|Time to think: Tom Brady relishes extra time in pocket||10.08.14 at 1:38 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady and the Patriots offense had their best game statistically of the season Sunday night against the Bengals — passing for a season-high 292 yards and the offense racking up 505 total yards in their 43-17 rout.
A big reason why? Brady had more time when dropping back to throw.
As we detailed a few weeks ago, Brady was getting the ball out of his hands faster than ever — averaging 2.21 seconds from snap to release in Weeks 2 and 3 with that number getting even lower against Kansas City as he averaged 1.96 seconds.
Surprisingly, there wasn’t much difference in average time Sunday night — averaging 2.16 seconds — but it was the percentage of plays where he got the ball out quickly that really showed up.
Against Cincinnati, Brady had just 14 of 34 plays (41 percent) where he took less than two seconds to release the ball, compared to 17 of 24 plays (71 percent) against Kansas City — Brady’s worst game in a long time throwing for just 159 yards and two interceptions.
“We have to be as consistent as we can,” Brady said. “Coach [Bill Belichick] talked this morning and as great as last week was, it’s over. We have to start putting in this week and we’ve done that the last two days. … It is just about us going out there and doing our best and playing a lot better than we have on the road this year.”
With two rookie offensive linemen (Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming) making their starting debuts on Monday Night Football at Arrowhead Stadium, it’s possible part of the game plan was to get rid of the ball quick against the Chiefs powerful front-seven, but against Cincinnati it was a different story as the line had its best performance of the season.
Keep in mind a lot of the release time numbers are based on scheme and game planning against certain opponents with quick wide receivers screens, etc. skewing the numbers a bit, but there is no question more time to throw led to big plays for Brady Sunday night.
|Bill Belichick wanted Kenbrell Thompkins on Patriots practice squad||10.07.14 at 2:58 pm ET|
Going into Sunday’s game with the Bengals it was clear the Patriots were short on depth at the linebacker position even before Dont’a Hightower was inactive for the game, so to provide depth at the position they promoted Ja’Gared Davis from the practice squad.
In order to make room for Davis the Patriots needed to release a player, and with the number of wide receivers on the 53-man roster, the Patriots cut Kenbrell Thompkins with the hope of him clearing waivers and being added to the practice squad. That now can’t happen as the second-year wide out was claimed by the Raiders on Monday.
“I’d say almost any player that’s practice squad eligible that’s on our roster that if he wasn’t on our roster we would want to work with him on the practice squad,” Bill Belichick said on a conference call Tuesday. “I’d say that would always be the case. Not 100 percent of the time, but close to it. But yeah, I think KT has a future in the NFL. But we obviously have a depth issue at linebacker and we’re heavy at receiver so something has to give.”
With Thompkins coming off a rookie season where he compiled 32 catches for 466 yards and four touchdowns, it wasn’t an easy decision to make.
“It’s always tough to release a player, especially one like KT who works extremely hard and was really a dedicated athlete and certainly had a lot of good moments of performance for us,” Belichick said. “We have other players at that position that also work hard that are talented. In the end, in order to get a guy on the roster you have to take a guy off. It just came down to that decision. It’s a hard decision to make, you know. We had other ones we had to make relative to the two players that we added yesterday from the reserve list.
“If we could have more players, we would have them. We’re fortunate that we have a lot of the players that we want to work with on the practice squad. But we know that anytime you expose a player, there’s a chance you could lose them. We were prepared for that. Oakland will be getting a young, hardworking player.”
|Raiders claim ex-Patriots WR Kenbrell Thompkins||10.06.14 at 4:26 pm ET|
When the Patriots released second-year wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins on Saturday, there was hope he would clear waivers and the team could bring him back.
That didn’t prove to be the case as Thompkins was claimed by the Oakland Raiders on Monday. The news was first reported by Albert Breer of NFL Media.
The Raiders had one of the first claims in the league as they are winless on the year. Oakland also faced the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Week 3, so they had a first-hand look at Thompkins just a few weeks ago.
Thompkins, 26, was in his second pro season out of the University of Cincinnati and had six catches for 53 yards in two games this season before the Patriots put him on waivers late last week.
“It’s fun to be out there with him. I have a lot of confidence in him, a lot of trust,” Brady said this July. “He’s a great guy. It’s fun to be out there with him.”
“Hard-working kid, one of our hardest workers,” Belichick added at the open of training camp. “He really tries hard to do everything right. Very attentive, very coachable and he’s very hard working.”
|Report: Patriots will activate Brandon Browner, Brian Tyms||10.06.14 at 4:22 pm ET|
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Patriots will activate both cornerback Brandon Browner and wide receiver Brian Tyms on Monday. Both coming off four games suspensions, the Patriots had until Monday at 4 p.m. to officially activate the players.
Browner was suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, while Tyms failed a performance-enhancing drug test back last year while with the Browns.
The Patriots will now have to make two roster moves to accommodate Browner and Tyms. Stay tuned.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
The #Patriots are activating CB Brandon Browner today, per source. Had been serving a suspension, wasn’t activated for Sunday
‘ Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 6, 2014
#Patriots WR Brian Tyms, who was also serving a suspension, will be activated, I’m told. Two spots need to be cleared
‘ Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 6, 2014
|Rob Gronkowski ‘good to go’ regarding his health: ‘Probably shouldn’t be a question ever again’||10.06.14 at 3:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski is getting tired of the questions.
For the second time in less than a week, Gronkowski said he was fed up with the questions about his health as the tight end has now played in all five games this season after tearing his ACL last December.
“I’m good to go. Probably shouldn’t be a question ever again,” he said after Sunday’s win. “I’m feeling good. I’m out there playing whenever the coaches call me in — if they want to call me the whole game, if they want to call me half the game — I’m going to go in whenever the coaches call my name.”
And if Sunday night was any indication, based on his play on the field, there shouldn’t be many more questions, as per Pro Football Focus Gronkowski played 68 of a possible 87 snaps, by far the most number of snaps he’s played in a game this season. His previous high was 46 in Week 3 against Oakland.
Also standing out Sunday was the number of plays he was a run blocker on — 31 of his 68 snaps were run blocking. Prior to Sunday, Week 3 against the Raiders was the only other game where he was a run blocker for more than 12 plays as he run blocked on 16 plays, also per Pro Football Focus.
At the beginning of the season, it appeared the Patriots were monitoring the plays he was in on, as it was mostly third downs and passing plays. In Week 1 in Miami, he played 38 snaps with only eight of them having him serve as a run blocker.
Gronkowski is now focused on making sure he will be on the field for the full 16 games in the regular season, something he hasn’t been able to do since 2011.
“I’m just working hard on whatever I can do, whatever the coaches and training staff ask me to do,” said Gronkowski. “I just have to keep on rehabbing, staying strong and work so I can be strong the whole season.”
|Patriots offensive line performs well, protects Tom Brady in win over Bengals||10.06.14 at 11:37 am ET|
FOXBORO — A lot of the focus on the Patriots offense‘s struggles this season has been centered around the play of the offensive line and their inability to protect quarterback Tom Brady, as going into Sunday he was sacked 10 times.
In the 43-17 win over the Bengals they answered their critics and played their best game of the season, leading the way for the Patriots running backs who ran for 220 yards and also protected Brady, as he was sacked just once against a Bengals defense that came into the game totaling seven sacks in three games.
After starting his first career game last week against Kansas City, rookie Cameron Fleming missed Sunday’s game with a finger injury, so once again the Patriots needed to find a different combination up front.
Here is how the offensive line combinations broke down (from left-to-right, doesn’t include kneel down at the end):
Drive 1: Nate Solder-Dan Connolly-Bryan Stork-Ryan Wendell-Sebastian Vollmer (Touchdown)
Drive 2: Solder-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Vollmer (Touchdown)
Drive 3: Solder-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Vollmer (Punt)
Drive 4: Solder-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Vollmer (Punt)
Drive 5: Solder-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Marcus Cannon (Field goal)
Drive 6: Solder-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Vollmer (Field goal)
Drive 7: Solder-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Vollmer (Punt)
Drive 8: Solder-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Vollmer (Touchdown)
Drive 9: Solder-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Vollmer (Field goal)
Drive 10: Cannon-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Vollmer (Field goal)
Drive 11: Solder-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Vollmer (Field goal)
|Devon Still responds to Patriots support for cancer-stricken daughter||10.06.14 at 3:12 am ET|
FOXBORO — As a visitor to Gillette Stadium and his team trailing by 20 points in the second half, Bengals defensive lineman Devon Still took a moment to acknowledge the sellout crowd at Gillette Stadium cheering for him as his face was shown on the video board.
Still’s 4-year-old daughter, Leah, is being treated for cancer.
During a break in the action in third quarter, the Patriots showed a video telling Leah’s story and then panned to the Bengals sideline showing Still. With the crowd standing and showing its support, Still acknowledged the crowd with a nod.
To show their support the Bengals have made special Devon Still jerseys to be sold with a portion of the proceeds going to help raise money for pediatric cancer care and research.
The Patriots support went beyond the video as Patriots cheerleaders wore the No. 75 jerseys under their jackets on the sideline to show their support for Still.
“I was surprised,” Still said after the game. “I didn’t know they had the jerseys on and then they played the video. It definitely made it emotional to see the cheerleaders take off their jackets and to see the jerseys definitely took it over the top for me. We came here to play a football game with an opposing team and I didn’t expect them to show the support that they did today. It was amazing what they did today. It shows this fight is more than about football. Everybody is trying to chip in and step up for the cause.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft also joined the cause donating $25,000 to the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center.
“I didn’t know he gave a donation,” he said. “That’s great. It’s great how everybody has been stepping up, not just from here [Cincinnati], but across the country. It has just been amazing and it is great for the cancer community.”
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