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Bill Belichick wanted Kenbrell Thompkins on Patriots practice squad 10.07.14 at 2:58 pm ET
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Kenbrell Thompkins

Kenbrell Thompkins

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.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Kenbrell Thompkins,
Rodney Harrison on MFB: ‘I think there is a form of bitterness’ from Tom Brady toward Patriots at 12:12 pm ET
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NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Patriots. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The big story of the past week was the reported tension between Tom Brady and the coaching staff. Brady denied the report, but Harrison said he wouldn’t be surprised if there was some frustration there.

“It’s not just Brady. All players talk about — whether it’s to their wives, whether it’s to their buddies, to other players — about maybe moves that have been made, free agents that have been brought in, or guys that have been released, and you might not be happy with it. But unfortunately it’s a situation where you can’t control any of that,” Harrison said.

Tom Brady, he’s human just like the rest of us. If he sees someone gets released or traded or something like that, of course if he’s not happy with it he’s going to discuss it with someone. But I can’t begin to think that after Tom Brady’s been there for 15 years, to think that’s he’s just going to open up to somebody and just completely blast [Bill] Belichick. And Belichick, over the course of all these years he’s done a wonderful job of putting great talent around Tom and building a team.

“Unfortunately every year you can’t have the A-list players. Sometimes you have to go through growing pains. Unfortunately it’s just that Tom is in the latter part of his career and he’s going through those pains right now.”

Harrison acknowledged that Brady sacrificed financially and the team has not done a good job of using that money to surround him with quality talent.

“I think there is a form of bitterness,” Harrison said. “But at the same time, I think it’s still business/professional relationship, where every decision that coach Belichick makes, Tom’s not going to be be in complete agreement with, but at the same time, Tom knows that he can only control his job, be a leader on that team and continue to try to win football games.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Rodney Harrison, Tom Brady,
Bill Belichick: Patriots ‘stuck together as a team and supported each other’ 10.06.14 at 1:20 pm ET
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Emotion can often be a false flag when it comes to forecasting the success or failure of a football team, but it certainly appeared that it played a sizable role for the Patriots on Sunday night.

In the wake of last Monday’s drubbing at the hands of the Chiefs, there was a palpable sense of energy surrounding New England. Whether it was provided by quarterback Tom Brady (who played as if his hair was on fire for much of the early going), the Gillette Stadium crowd (one of the loudest in recent memory) or the collective efforts of a team trying to erase the memory of one of the worst losses in recent franchise history, it was in abundance for the Patriots in the 43-17 win.

Coach Bill Belichick wasn’t surprised to see his team respond like it did.

“When you had the result that we had Monday night as a team, I think everybody rallied around each other. I mean, who else is there to rally around?” he asked on a conference call with the media Monday morning. “That’€™s all we have: guys that can go out there and play and make a difference. Nobody else is going to make any plays unless we go out and make them ourselves.

“Of course they stuck together as a team and supported each other. That’€™s what any team should do.”

To Belichick’s point, there was more fire on Sunday night than the team had all season long. That emotion and energy level manifested itself several ways, including their best start of the year, with touchdowns on the first two scoring drives of the night.

“I thought they played hard. I think we’€™ve played hard a lot this year, but we were able to execute things a little bit better,” Belichick said. “Get off the field on third down, convert some third downs, or fourth downs, as the case may be. So, of course there was more emotion and energy as we were making plays, especially in the first — well, throughout the game, but especially in the first quarter.”

Belichick not only praised the play and preparation up and down the roster, but also had kind words for his coaches for their ability to not only digest the Chiefs’ loss and put it in the rearview quickly, but to create a game plan for a Bengals team that came into the game as only one of two unbeaten teams left in the league.

“I just think it’€™s tough when you play on the road Monday night,” Belichick said when asked about the performance of the coaches. “Get back here at whatever it was, five in the morning and then you go through the tape of the game, which was obviously a painful process. Then get ready for an undefeated team, a team that had given up three points in the first half of their first three games and been pretty dominant. To turn around and get a game plan ready and address some of the problems that we had in Kansas City and all that.

“It’€™s handling the preparation for all the situations ‘€“ with only three games, a lot of that is going back and digging through key games and situations from last year to look at tendencies or look at plays you want to run. Again I just think as a staff they did a good job of doing those things on a short week against a good football team that’€™s well coached that gives you a lot of problems on every down and every situation. I thought they worked hard and they did a good job; as did the players.”

Here are a few other highlights from his Monday Q&A:
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Read More: A.J. Green, Bill Belichick, Bryan Stork, Darrelle Revis
Bill Belichick: ‘Obviously, a satisfying night’ at 2:00 am ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has a way with words, and Sunday night, after his team demolished the previously unbeaten Bengals, 43-17, his words spoke volumes about how good it felt to come out and play a complete game.

“Well, that was obviously a satisfying night tonight,” Belichick said. “I thought our coaching staff really did a good job this week on the short week. You know, really worked hard to get our team ready and I thought the players really went out and played hard tonight.”

The Patriots put up over 500 yards of offense against a defense considered to be of Super Bowl quality. His quarterback looked like the Hall of Famer he certainly will become after he retires, throwing two touchdowns and firing up his team from the get-go.

And the special teams produced a touchdown when Brandon Bolden drilled Brandon Tate and Kyle Arrington scooped it up for the touchdown that put the Patriots up 34-10. Of course, there were 12 penalties for 114 yards.

“It wasn’t perfect — certainly [there are] a lot of things we need to do better, but we played hard; we made a lot of plays against a good football team,” Belichick said. “Cincinnati has a good — that’€™s a good club. Marvin [Lewis] does a good job with that group. Tonight was just kind of our night. A lot of things went in our favor. We made a few things happen and that was good. We just have to really give all the credit to the players for the way they played. They’€™re resilient, they’€™re tough and they worked hard this week and they played hard tonight. I’€™m proud of them for that.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots,
Bill Belichick explains why he has a ‘much closer relationship’ with Mike Brown than Paul Brown 10.05.14 at 6:06 pm ET
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Bill Belichick. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — It’s no secret that Bill Belichick has always admired the teaching methods of Paul Brown.

But what’s not as well known is the personal family connections between the Belichicks and Browns, dating back to World War II.

The connection begins with Bill Edwards, a former player under Paul Brown, who also coached for him. Edwards happens to be Belichick’s godfather.

When Brown came to run the Bengals, Belichick and his father, Navy assistant coach Steve Belichick made the trip to Wilmington (Ohio) College to visit training camp.

“Obviously he remembers a lot, it’€™s his father,” Belichick said Friday when asked about his memories about the Brown family. “But, I talk to Mike about him plenty and have a lot of respect for that family. My dad and that family go way back, back to World War II, post-World War II days. My godfather’€™s relationship with Paul and the Browns and the Bengals and the Browns being at Hiram [College] and my mom graduating from Hiram and my dad coaching at Hiram ‘€“ it goes back a long way.

Paul Brown died in 1991 at the age of 82. Brown’s son Mike, now 79, still owns and runs the Bengals, with his daughter Katie Blackburn.

“I’€™d say most of the relationship with Coach [Paul] Brown was with my dad,” Belichick said. “I met him and gone to practices and those kind of things, but I was young. So, I’€™d say I have a much closer relationship with Mike just because we’€™re a little closer in age, [have] football fathers, Ohio. There are a lot of similarities there.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Cincinnati Bengals, Mike Brown, New England Patriots
Tom Brady reportedly ‘uncomfortable’ with his personnel, leading to ‘tensions’ with coaching staff at 11:32 am ET
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Tamba Hali was able to get to Tom Brady for a strip sack in the second half of Monday's 41-14 loss to the Chiefs. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Tamba Hali was able to get to Tom Brady for a strip sack in the second half of Monday’s 41-14 loss to the Chiefs. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Is Tom Brady quickly approaching a breaking point with the Patriots?

On ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” Chris Mortensen reported that Brady’s role in the offense has been diminished and he’s expressing his frustration within the organization.

“Several players, coaches and former players have rendered an unsettling picture that all does not look well with Tom Brady and the Patriots and there’s a reason for it,” Mortensen said on the show. “Even though Bill Belichick chuckled when asked Monday night about Brady’s status, others close to the team now believe that when the Patriots used that second-round pick (in 2014) on Jimmy Garropolo that they were, in fact, choosing Brady’s successor, perhaps sooner than later.

“Sources say Brady is uncomfortable with the personnel and coaching changes, the consequences have led to tensions between Brady and the coaching staff, with Brady’s input into gameplans, personnel packages, formations, pre-snap adjustments being significantly diminished.”

On Friday, asked Belichick about Brady’s pre-snap reads versus his ability to drop back and make progressions as in years past.

“I think every week you try to do the best on pre-snap reads that you can,” Belichick said. “Some teams disguise things better than others. Some teams have a certain look that they have [and] do three or four things out of. That’€™s their thing. They’€™re going to give you a certain look and then they have multiple combinations off that look. Sometimes formations indicate pre-snap reads. Sometimes defensive alignments indicate pre-snap reads.

“It can be a combination of one or multiple things like that. It’€™s always important. That’€™s something that we absolutely talk about every week in game planning is pre-snap identification. Now, you always have to confirm what they’€™re doing post-snap. Against a good defense, you just can’€™t say, ‘€˜OK, here’€™s what it looks like,’€™ and that’€™s what it is 100 percent of the time. You still have to confirm it.

“But it can certainly indicate what a lot of times it won’€™t be. Like, if it could be one of four things, maybe now it’€™s down to one or two based on a certain key that you have. But I’€™d say that’€™s an important thing every week. It’€™s important this week. But I couldn’€™t sit here ‘€“ I can’€™t imagine sitting here before any game and saying it’€™s not important. I would say it’€™s important every week. It’€™s similar to pass protection, those are two of the most important things you do offensively in preparation.”

Mortensen then wondered aloud if the struggles so far this season have more to do with the personnel around Brady than Brady’s skills diminishing.

“Has the staff lost faith in Brady? Or is it simply the residue of shaky personnel decisions, including the undeniable fact that since 2002, the Patriots have used 11 draft picks on wide receivers and only two — Deion Branch and Julian Edelman — have made any impact.”

Sunday night’s game against the Bengals seems bigger and bigger by the second in answering some of these questions.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
Aaron Dobson grateful that Bill Belichick has his back: ‘It wasn’t awkward at all’ 10.03.14 at 2:32 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Just an hour after Bill Belichick released his statement Friday that reports of a rift between receiver Aaron Dobson and offensive coordinator were “completely false,” Dobson came out and went even further.

“We actually have a great relationship, to tell you the truth,” Dobson said of his work with McDaniels. “It’s always frustrating but I’m just doing what I can do and control what I can control and take advantage of the opportunities I’m getting.”

Dobson says his frustration stems from not being able to get on the field and stay healthy to help the team as opposed to a reported flare-up between he and his coach.

“I’m feeling like I’m doing better,” said Dobson, who has been active just once in the first four games of the season, including inactive in the last two. “I’m just trying to control what I can control and just do what I can during practice, and when I get an opportunity, do what I can do.”

“It wasn’t awkward for me at all. It was a rumor. So, I mean I have no reason to feel awkward with my coaches anyway. I really didn’t realize the story got so big until after practice [Thursday]. I was at work all day so, I didn’t really realize. But I’m good, not awkward at all.”

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Read More: Aaron Dobson, Bill Belichick, Cincinnati Bengals, Josh McDaniels
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