|A brief look at new Patriots TE Tim Wright||08.26.14 at 3:48 pm ET|
Wright, who played at Rutgers as a receiver, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buccaneers following last year’s draft.
While at Rutgers he played for head coach Greg Schiano in 2011 and also last year in Tampa. (It should be noted Schiano has been around Bill Belichick and the Patriots quite a bit this year, including at the combine and at a few training camp practices.)
In his two seasons at Rutgers, Wright caught 50 passes for 596 yards and four touchdowns, including 39 catches for 449 yards as a senior in 2012. After going undrafted, he signed with the Buccaneers roughly 30 minutes after the 2013 draft.
This will be a reunion for Wright on two fronts. He played with current Patriots safety Duron Harmon at Rutgers and he played with Darrelle Revis at Tampa Bay in 2013.
“Well, it was a little different because he was a receiver at the time,” Harmon told WEEI.com. “So the work we got going against another was limited, with him being a receiver but I can tell you he works hard, works his craft every day and wants to get better. That’s definitely a plus, and I think it really helped him last year when he made the switch to tight end. Really his hard work allowed him to have some success last year.
“He has good speed and he’s quick as well. He definitely will be a mismatch on some players.”
There’s one other skill Wright possesses.
“He was a team barber at one point,” Harmon recalled. “I don’t have to worry about going all the way to Rhode Island to get a hair cut. Just go to him.”
Revis isn’t looking forward to a trim but rather being reunited with an undrafted free agent of 2013 who showed serious skill as a tight end.
“We were teammates last year in Tampa and he’s great,” Revis said. “He started for us down in Tampa Bay when I was there last year and we’re getting a solid player who can catch and who can run and run great routes. He was a wide receiver coming in and they switched him to tight end so he has a lot of speed at the tight end position.”
|Vince Wilfork on D&H: ‘This is as strong as I have ever been in my career’||08.25.14 at 5:57 pm ET|
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork checked in with Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss how he feels physically coming off his season-ending Achillies injury last season and what it’s like to see some of his fellow defensive linemen get cut. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Wilfork was placed on season-ending injured reserve after Week 4 of last season with an Achilles injury. Making his rehab even harder was his weight and age, as being 32 years old and 325 pounds doesn’t make it easy recovering from any injury — yet alone a foot injury.
The 10-year veteran said it was all hard work as he was determined to come back better than ever.
“Playing football at any level, I think this is the strongest I have been,” Wilfork said. “I worked my tail off with the training staff — strength and conditioning, you name it, we worked. There were times where I was on vacation, it wasn’t vacation because I was getting up at five in the morning taking advantage of three days of running on the beach, walking in the water to get the healing, going in the pool, swimming, walking four miles a day and then walking again at night.
“I was hitting it — all day it was something me and my wife were constantly doing just to make sure this thing had the strength to be able to move around. There were some things that we changed around and we said, ‘You know what, I want to make this one of my best year’s that I played football and I don’t know what the future my hold with that, but so far so good.’ I’m happy and I’m healthy and I hope I can stay that way.”
Being in the league as long as he has, Wilfork knows cuts are bound to happen, but it is especially tough to see players he became so close with lose their jobs — which was what happened with veteran defensive linemen Tommy Kelly and Will Smith on Monday as the Patriots let them both go.
“It is tough. We all worked together this offseason — rehabbing our injuries and getting back — the amount of time that we put in together at the facility, with the staff, the rehab and all that stuff,” Wilfork said. “You kind of build a whole different bond and it’s always sad to see people get cut, especially people that have been around for awhile — guys you’ve been playing with forever. But, times do come and changes always happen at this level. Nothing surprises me. It’s always something going on.
“Everyone has different ways of dealing with it. Me personally it’s just sad because you know the majority of these guys won’t have a job, at least not here. And you’ve been through OTAs, offseason programs with these guys, you’ve been through mini-camp, you’ve been through training camp with these guys. It’s sad to see some guys go, but that’s the nature of the business and we have to deal with it. I respect everybody, but at the same time it is a business.”
|Bill Belichick on D&H: Jimmy Garoppolo starting Thursday to get ‘experience that he needs’||08.25.14 at 4:45 pm ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined the Dale & Holley show on Monday with Steve DeOssie filling in for Michael Holley for his weekly interview touching on a number of subjects, including the quarterback situation in Thursday’s final preseason game, the releasing of a few veteran players on Monday and some of the league’s rule changes put in place during the preseason.
To hear the full interview, go to the Dale & Holley Audio on Demand page.
Belichick confirmed rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will start in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Giants and play a fair chunk of the game. He’s played in all three preseason games thus far, but will get his first extended work.
“I think in this case it is just an experience that he needs to go through to feel like he is going to start the game – he is going to be in the game for every situation — second down, third down, goal line, red area, two-minute, whatever it is, he needs to be prepared for everything and handle whatever comes up,” Belichick said. “This is also a week that he will have to deal with the media, deal with the production meeting before the game — I’m sure the fans will have a lot of insults for him when he walks on the field, it’s an away game — it’s all the things that a quarterback eventually will do as a starting quarterback.
“Whenever that happens, I have no idea, but whenever it does at least he will have done it once before. I think there is something to be learned here. Ryan [Mallett] has been here 3 ½ years and Tom [Brady] has done it a couple hundred times, so this is an opportunity for Jimmy to get that experience and I am sure he will learn from it.”
The Patriots released veteran defensive linemen Will Smith and Tommy Kelly, linebacker James Anderson along with rookie tight end Justin Jones on Monday. Releasing players ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to get the roster down to 75 players could give them a better chance of hitching on with another team in the league.
“I think that does help them a little bit from that standpoint,” said Belichick. “I think some of those players probably wouldn’t have had a big role in this week’s game anyway. We wanted to make sure we got a good look at some of the younger players that we do want to see that maybe have played a little bit less. In any case, we did what we felt like we needed to do and what is best for the team. The guys that are here will get their opportunity and some of them didn’t play much last week and they will play more this week. We’ll see how it goes.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
|Report: Patriots release Tommy Kelly, Will Smith, James Anderson||08.24.14 at 5:34 pm ET|
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.
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.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Bill Belichick, Patriots gearing up for short week, roster cuts||08.24.14 at 5:09 pm ET|
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.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Bill Belichick: Vince Wilfork has ‘done a solid job’ in getting back from torn Achilles||08.24.14 at 1:35 pm ET|
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.”
|Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich benefiting from strong Patriots secondary||08.23.14 at 1:27 am ET|
FOXBORO — Not only can a very good secondary limit what opposing quarterbacks can do against a defense — it also can help the other members of the defense get after the quarterback.
The Patriots finished with three sacks in their 30-7 win over the Panthers, all in the first quarter against starting quarterback Cam Newton – defensive end Chandler Jones had two and outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich had the other.
“The first play of the game was definitely a coverage sack,” Ninkovich said. “I was just trying to mirror the quarterback and make sure he didn’t get out of the pocket. I was just collapsing and collapsing and I was able to get to [the quarterback]. That goes to the secondary.”
The Patriots secondary now has arguably the best cornerback in the game in Darrelle Revis, as well as Pro-Bowl safety Devin McCourty to go along with rising-star corners Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan — as well as the former member of the Seahawks Legion of Boom secondary, cornerback Brandon Browner. (Although it should be noted, he is suspended for the first four games of the season and didn’t play until the fourth quarter Friday night).
All those players stepped onto the field together for the first time this preseason and were able to give the entire defense some added energy and boost to their games.
“[We] had a tremendous time. Football is fun,” Jones said. “We’re out there in the preseason we get a chance to go against a different team. Whether it is in practice, going against the Redskins or the Eagles. We got an opportunity to go out in our third preseason game and execute and we went out and did a good job.”
The defense played very well, with the starters playing a little over a half, holding the Carolina offense — which made the postseason last year — to just 94 total yards in the first half.
“It’s just working hard throughout camp, and all week, trying to prepare and knowing that we were going against a good team and a good quarterback that was able to scramble around and get out of the pocket,” Ninkovich said. “It was a good game all around.”
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