|Bill Belichick sheds little light on Rob Gronkowski: ‘We’ve talked about everything we can talk about here’||12.02.16 at 10:34 am ET|
FOXBORO — When the Patriots and the family of Rob Gronkowski issued a joint statement Thursday night about the status of the star tight end, it was the document that gave Bill Belichick the reference point he needed to answer all questions.
In his weekly Friday morning press conference at Gillette, Belichick made the most of it.
“Obviously, we’re all disappointed,” Belichick noted in his opening remarks before taking questions. “Nobody’s worked harder than Rob and been a better teammate and all that. So hopefully things will work out positively as possible with him. All the information we gave you, really that’s all we have for now. I’m sure there’ll be more coming in as we go through the next few days. Just take it as it comes. It’s an unfortunate situation for him. That being said, we’re turning our attention to the Rams.”
Then the questions began:
Are you fortunate to have Martellus Bennett to help fill the void? “Happy to have all the players we have.”
With the loss of Gronkowski and his contributions, how big a blow is this to the team? “Again, we appreciate all our players.”
But Gronkowski has meant so much: “You want to rank them. They’re all important. They’re all important. Rob’s a great player. They’re all important.”
Might the Patriots look outside the organization for depth? “We’ll always do what we feel is best for the football team.”
|Marcus Cannon: ‘Blessed’ to get new deal from Patriots||11.30.16 at 12:46 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Marcus Cannon said Wednesday he feels “blessed” to have received a contract extension from the Patriots.
“It doesn’t validate anything,” the right tackle said of the new five-year deal he agreed to earlier in the week, a contract that could keep him in New England for the rest of his career. “I still have to come out here and do things better. There are still things I need to work on.
“But like I was saying, I’m very thankful of the opportunity they’ve given me. I’m very blessed.”
The 6-foot-5, 363-pound Cannon is in his sixth season with the Patriots, and while he struggled at times over the course of his career in New England, it appears that the stability that comes with only playing right tackle has agreed with him. The 28-year-old, who has bounced up and down the offensive line over the course of his career, has been the right tackle since the start of the season, and has done well.
“Marcus is having a good season. He’s been a good player for us,” said Bill Belichick. “Marcus has always done a solid job for us whenever he’s played. I’m glad we have him going forward. He works hard. A quiet kid but he’s very dependable, team oriented. He’s done a good job for us in the running game and the passing game. He’s been a good player.”
There are two other possible reasons behind his improvement: one, he was reunited with Dante Scarnecchia, who returned to work as the offensive line coach this past season. And two, it looks like he dropped some weight, and is lighter on his feet. That helps out when it comes to footwork and technique, especially when it comes to defeating pass rushers off the edge.
“Just changed some stuff here and there,” Cannon said when asked about his weight loss. “We have a great strength and conditioning coach; he helped a lot. Just put some good people in my corner. He helped me be the best I can be.”
When it comes to Scarnecchia, he said the return of the veteran coach has been “great” when it comes to his professional development.
“Just doing everything that he tells us to do as an offensive line and trying to get better every day,” he said. “I just love playing with the guys in this unit. Come in every day, work together. We leave together. We’re a tight-knit group.”
In the end, Cannon said the contract doesn’t necessarily provide validation for he level of work he’s put in over the last few years. But he won’t deny that there’s a sense of comfort that comes with the possibility of him being able to finish his career in New England.
“I’m always trying to get better. There are things I have to work on still. Small things, big things. I’m never just happy with where I’m at,” he said. “[But] I’m thankful they’ve given me this opportunity, and they trust me enough to re-sign me.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Bill Belichick sounds ready to send Johnny Hekker to Canton||at 10:59 am ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Parcells famously once said about Curtis Martin, “Let’s not put him in Canton yet.”
Bill Belichick spoke Wednesday like a man throwing that caution to the wind when it comes to Rams punter Johnny Hekker.
In the ultimate pumping of the tires of an opposing player, Belichick spoke in glowing terms about the punter out of Oregon State, who once beat out Patriots punter Ryan Allen, forcing Allen to transfer to Louisiana Tech.
“Start with the kicking game, Hekker is a tremendous weapon,” Belichick beamed. “This guy looks like as good a player as I’ve seen at that position. He’s tremendous weapon in his ability to punt the ball, punt it inside the 20, directional kick it, involved in fake, can throw, can run, very athletic.”
The numbers support Belichick’s respect. Hekker is second in the NFL in average net yards (44.9), punts inside the 20 (35), fair catches (27) and fewest touchbacks (1). In five years in the league, he has averaged 46.3 yards per punt and a net average of 43.0 yards.
Those numbers over his first five years have put him in the highest regard by Belichick and every other coach who values special teams. Belichick thinks Hekker, because of his athletic ability, is much more than just a punter.
“But you’re talking about an athlete with Hekker,” Belichick continued. “He’s a little more athletic than [Sean] Landetta, just to pick a name. Ray Guy, Ray kicked for great average.”
“Look, these guys lead the league in punt coverage. They lead the league in gross punting, lead the league in net punting, lead the league in inside-the-20 and lead the league in punt coverage. If you’re in front in one of those categories, it’s very good. Last year, they led the league in all three. They’re right up there this year. Plus, he’s a threat on fakes and stuff like that.”
Obviously, the hope is that the Patriots see Hekker a lot on Sunday.
FOXBORO — On Tuesday, there was a report of the Patriots extending right tackle Marcus Cannon for five years and although Bill Belichick wouldn’t directly confirm the deal, he all but said it was true while praising the TCU product.
“Marcus is having a good season,” Belichick said on Wednesday. “He’s been a good player for us. He’s had to fill in when Sebastian [Vollmer] and Nate [Solder] in previous years. We felt like we’ve had three good tackles and usually two of the three have ended up playing, how ever it went. It’s varied from year-to-year over the last few years, but Marcus has always done a solid job for us whenever he’s played. I’m glad we have him going forward.
“He works hard. Quiet kid, but he’s very dependable. Team-oriented. He’s done a good job for us in the running game, in the passing game. Good player.”
Cannon has started 10 of the 11 games this year, as he missed Week 5 with a calf injury. He’s having his best season as a professional, which is likely due to having offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia back on the staff, but also losing weight in the offseason.
The extension is reportedly worth $32.5 million with $14.5 million guaranteed. This likely means Vollmer is done in New England as the 32-year-old will be a free agent after the season.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|How the beast Aaron Donald has helped Dominique Easley find new life in L.A.||11.29.16 at 9:25 pm ET|
The Los Angeles Rams were the perfect fit for Dominique Easley.
When the Patriots surprised some and released the 6-foot-2, 285-pound defensive lineman on April 13, it didn’t take too long for New England’s 29th overall pick from the 2014 draft to land on his feet. On May 17, Easley signed a one-year, $600,000 contract with the Los Angeles Rams after working out for Jeff Fisher and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Easley showed signs of being a dominant force along the defensive front. Just not enough. And the biggest issue was staying on the field.
On Dec. 17, 2014, the Patriots placed Easley on injured reserve with a knee injury. In 11 games of his rookie season, Easley finished with nine tackles, a sack, one pass defended, and one interception. Easley would earn a Super Bowl ring when the Patriots beat the Seahawks.
When Vince Wilfork left for Houston, Easley began the 2015 season as one of the Patriots’ starting defensive tackles. It was the perfect opportunity for Easley to show his skills. But nearly a year to the day of his initial season-ending injured reserve designation, the Patriots placed Easley on injured reserve once again with a thigh injury. He ended the season with 15 tackles and two sacks.
Now, after being able to stay on the field for all 11 games, he’s become a big piece of the Rams’ defensive front. He’s had six games of at least 30 snaps. He has 2.5 sacks and 24 tackles.
“I think pretty much the player that we saw when he was here,” Bill Belichick said Tuesday during a conference call. “He’s got an explosive first step. When he gains an advantage on that, whether it be power rush or getting to the edge, he can be a disruptive player. He’s very quick off the ball, he’s got an explosive first step, and like I said, when he gains the advantage, it’s hard to get it back.”
But the biggest benefit for Easley is getting the chance to play alongside one of the most dominant defensive linemen in football in Aaron Donald, the 6-foot-1, 284-pound behemoth that anchors the Rams front. Donald has six sacks, 35 tackles and two forced fumbles.
|Tim Tebow: I turned down $1M endorsement deal when I was with Patriots after conversation with Bill Belichick||11.28.16 at 9:00 pm ET|
In an interview to promote his new book “Shaken” with Fox & Friends on Monday, former Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow recounted his brief stint with New England in 2013, a stretch where he said he envisioned himself becoming Tom Brady’s heir apparent and eventually going on to win a bunch of titles alongside Bill Belichick.
He also told another story about Belichick where the quarterback apparently turned down a $1 million endorsement offer, but only after a conversation with the coach. Tebow said he ran the offer past Belichick, who paused for a second before replying, “Timmy, I would really appreciate it if you didn’t.”
Tebow played for the Patriots in the summer of 2013, but was cut before the start of the regular season. The former Heisman Trophy winner is currently trying to make it as a baseball player.
For the complete video of the interview, check out the clip below. And for more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Bill Belichick on D&H reflects on Tom Brady’s win No. 200: ‘I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to coach him’||at 5:09 pm ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ 22-17 win over the Jets on Sunday, which was win No. 200 of Tom Brady’s career, tying him with Peyton Manning for most all-time. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Immediately after the game, Belichick didn’t expand much on Brady’s accomplishment, but a day after, he opened up on the feat and what it means to coach a player like Brady.
“Tom has been a big part of it,” he said. “He’s given us not only a high level of play, but a very consistent high level of play week after week, year after year. Obviously, I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to coach him for my career, the majority of my career here with the Patriots. I still enjoy it. I enjoy coaching him every day of every week. He’s very competitive. He puts the team first. He tries to what we ask him to do to win and we win quite a few games. 200 wins is a lot of wins.”
Belichick said it was the 2003 season, Brady’s second full year as the starter, where he knew he was going to be something special.
“Probably in the ’03 season, somewhere in there,” he said. “I would say the ’03, ’04, ’05 years just we were able to move the ball and score a lot of points on a consistent basis. Able to throw the ball very well against good teams. That wasn’t the case in ’01. That really wasn’t the case in ’02, but by ’03 and even in the Super Bowl against Carolina, which was one of the top defenses in the league that year at that time, we scored points against them. We moved the ball at the end of the game when we had to and I would say other times during the year as well. We were able to put up good yardage, good points and good production offensively with a much more explosive passing attack.
“Then in ’05, ’06, ’07 when Josh [McDaniels] took over for Charlie [Weis], we kind of changed the offense to include I would say a little more diversified passing attack. Less regular people, more two tight ends, more three receivers, things like that. That all coincided with Tom’s higher numbers and I would say our higher output offensively in terms of points per game, yards per game and still keeping the turnovers low. That really wasn’t the case in ’01 and wasn’t really the case in ’02.”
Belichick was also asked if he could pick any all-time quarterback besides Brady to have, who would it be?
“I would put Bert Jones up there. I absolutely would put Bert Jones up there,” Belichick said.
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