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Bill Belichick: ‘We had our moments’ running the ball against Eagles 08.10.13 at 5:43 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Saturday that when it came to the work of the running game Friday night against the Eagles, while the yardage might have been a “little bit deceptive,” overall, he was satisfied with the outcome.

“I thought we had our moments,” Belichick said of the New England ground game, which accumulated 248 yards against Philadelphia. “We had a lot of yardage running the ball. Some of that was, I’d say, real good blocking. Some of it was real good running. Some of it was that we were fortunate that we caught a good play against a bad defense. There were times when we weren’€™t as consistent blocking, running so forth. I thought the receivers did a good job of handling the secondary. That opened up a couple opportunities for us to get longer runs when the secondary players, the safeties could come up, beat the tackle for short gains at the line of scrimmage and when we had to block them.

“Even though the yardage was high, I think that’s a little bit deceptive. There were some encouraging things. We had a chance to run quite a few of them. We had a lot of snaps, so that gave us an opportunity to repeat some plays and see some things run two, three, four times, either against a  little bit different look on defense or maybe see how a player did after he did it once. The second time, was it better? Did he see it better? Did he read it better? Whatever it was, 30 runs or whatever we had last night, that was a good number to get snapped. I think that was an area that we showed some level of execution and there are still some things we can do better.”

Belichick was asked about the work of LeGarrette Blount, who led all rushers with 101 yards on the ground Friday night.

“LeGarrette ran for[1,007] yards whatever it was, his rookie season — it’€™s not like he hasn’€™t performed well in this league before,” Belichick said. “We traded for a player that we thought was a good player. It’€™s no shock he can run the ball. We all know that. He did a nice job last night.”

Here are some other highlights of his Saturday conference call with the media:
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Bill Belichick: ‘It was a good week for us down here’ at 12:07 am ET
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Bill Belichick watched as his team racked up a 31 points and built a 31-14 lead before holding on for a 31-22 win over the Philadelphia Eagles Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field in the preseason opener for both teams. The game capped a four-day session with Chip Kelly‘s Eagles in Philadelphia, which included three practices at Philly’s practice facility.

Here’s what Belichick had to say afterward:

‘€œI think we gained a lot of experience,” Belichick said in his opening statement. “We’€™ve got a long way to go. I think there was some good things out there, but we’€™ll just have to keep stringing it together here, keep grinding away. We’€™ve got a long way to go and I think if we can keep putting together good practices and solid efforts when we get out there on the field that we’€™ll make the kind of progress that we need to make. It was a good week for us down here, it really was. Coach Kelly and his staff and the Eagles, we got a lot of good work in this week and definitely we’€™re a better football team than we were 5 days ago.’€

On the running game which produced 248 yards on the ground and three touchdown runs:

‘€œI think we got a lot of production out of our running backs, and actually we got good production out of the receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks, running backs, we were able to get good balance on offense so that’€™s great. Anytime you can run the ball that helps everything else. We blocked well, the receivers blocked well, the backs ran well, we had a few good plays.’€

On Ryan Mallett, who left late in the first half after taking a hit to the face from defensive lineman Damion Square:

‘€œI thought he did a solid job in there. I thought all of our quarterbacks were productive. We got production from a lot of guys. It’€™s not perfect out there by anybody, we’€™ve definitely got things we’€™ve got to work on, but I thought we did enough good things to move the ball fairly consistently and be balanced.’€

On the defense:

‘€œA lot of guys played and again, that’€™s an offense that we practiced against but it’€™s still a tough offense to play against and we got a lot of looks on them, I think that will serve us well when we have to go up against that again. We learned about how to play some of their option schemes, they have several different ones. They do a good job, so that was a good experience for us too. There was a lot of no huddle, a lot of pace, not all, but some and that was good for us too. We could evaluate our conditioning and also some of our schemes against that type of offense.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

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Wes Welker: Last days with Bill Belichick were ‘just kind of hard’ 08.07.13 at 12:34 pm ET
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In the latest edition of Sports Illustrated, Wes Welker had some interesting things to say about the Patriots, as well as the end of his time in New England.

The receiver, who signed with Denver as a free agent after six seasons with the Patriots, said that upon reaching free agency last winter, Welker says, ‘€œthere were only two places [Denver and New England] I was going to play.’€

And while Denver and quarterback Peyton Manning spent their time wooing him, Welker was ruminating on how the 2012 season with the Patriots and Bill Belichick. Welker said that toward the end in New England, Belichick got on him in a way he never had before, admonishing him in front of the team

‘€œIt was just kind of hard,’€ Welker said. ‘€œOne of those deals where you have to endure him, put up with him. … But he does it to everybody, it’€™s the way he is.’€

Belichick’€™s ways still affect Welker, according to the receiver.

‘€œWhen I’€™m answering questions from the Denver media, I’€™m not worried about what the Broncos‘€™ people are going to think,’€ Welker says. ‘€œI’€™m worried about what Belichick will think. Isn’€™t that crazy?’€

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Bill Belichick hints at running Wildcat (in practice) and why Patriots have Tim Tebow at 11:58 am ET
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When the Patriots signed Tim Tebow the day before June mini-camp, there was immediate speculation as to the reason why.

Were the Patriots signing him as a quarterback, tight end, receiver, running back or something else?

The speculation did not end there. Would he even make the team? What reason was there for him to be on the roster?

On Wednesday, before the second of three practices with the Eagles, Bill Belichick was asked about the read-option offense that has become quite the sensation among some NFL offense coordinators and defensive coordinators charged with stopping it.

Do the Patriots have to prepare for seeing more of it now?

“I mean we got into the Wildcat,” Belichick said of defending Philadelphia’s version on Tuesday. “It was something we prepared for every week. Some teams did it, some teams didn’€™t. Most every team that we played a couple years ago had at least shown it at some point during the year ‘€“ maybe not necessarily against us but against another opponent, whoever their Wildcat-type player was.

“I think there are a lot of quarterbacks in the league that aren’€™t going to run a read, riding the side or that option type of thing. Then, there are quarterbacks that are capable of running it, whether they do or don’€™t, depending on their scheme, offensive coordinator and coach and all that. We definitely have to run it and be ready for it but I don’€™t know. I don’€™t know how it’€™s going to go.”

What is very possible is that the Patriots acquired Tebow to give their starting defense a different look during practices during the regular season, whether it’s a Wildcat or a read-option, and it’s very much like Belichick to have a player on his roster smart enough and diligent enough to serve that singular role. Belichick has already commended Tebow for his work ethic and his intelligence in meetings.

Both figure to serve him and the Patriots well going forward.

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Riley Cooper returns to Eagles practice, Patriots quiet on issue at 10:44 am ET
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Late last week, wide receiver Riley Cooper took an indefinite leave from the Eagles as he sought sensitivity training following his use of a racist slur being caught on camera.

Tuesday, the Patriots learned ‘€œindefinite’€ meant ‘€œfour days.’€

Cooper returned to practice just in time for the first of the Pats-Eagles three joint sessions preceding the teams’€™ preseason opener against each other Friday night.

In an eight-minute press conference, Cooper was reportedly remorseful, but by all accounts relations with his teammates are being patched up. He said he apologized to each one face to face.

‘€œIt’€™s great to be back doing what I love to do, play football,’€ Cooper told the media. ‘€œI realize being in the NFL you have responsibility to behave on and off the field. I realize that.

‘€œI realize how many people I hurt, how many families I hurt, how many kids I hurt. It’€™s going to be tough. I’€™m going to live with this every day the rest of my life. It’€™s one of those things you can’€™t let affect your play on the field.’€

Cooper caught a pair of touchdown passes Tuesday against the Patriots defense.

The Patriots, of course, stayed mum on the issue. Bill Belichick said he did not address the issue with his defensive backs, and Tim Tebow ‘€” who roomed with Cooper when they both played at the University of Florida ‘€” mostly declined comment.

‘€œI’€™m just going to keep our relationship private, and I think that’€™s where it needs to be,’€ Tebow told media, adding ‘€œBut I was definitely praying for him.”

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Bill Belichick on Philadelphia visit: ‘We’re going to be a better football team when we leave here’ 08.06.13 at 3:07 pm ET
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Bill Belichick watched as his team went through a two-hour practice with the Eagles Tuesday in at the Eagles’ practice facility in South Philadelphia.

What he saw was his team demonstrating the ability to perform with intensity against a different opponent for the first time since losing the AFC championship to the Ravens last January. The two teams will practice and scrimmage again on Wednesday before opening the preseason Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

According to all reports on the scene, Riley Cooper returned from a team-imposed exile for counseling after uttering a racial slur that caused a divide in the Eagle locker room. Cooper burned Alfonzo Dennard for a pair of touchdowns in 11-on-11 drills. On the first one, Jason Avant – an African-American – gave Cooper an aerial hip bump in celebration.

Rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld caught a 20-yard touchdown on a seam pattern from Tom Brady, significant because the seam route has been a trademark of the Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski connection for the past three seasons.

There was a fight between Patriots rookie receiver Aaron Dobson and Philadelphia corner Cary Williams, with Dobson benched for offensive drills immediately after. Williams appeared to instigate the fight.

Danny Amendola made a nice diving grab of a long Tom Brady pass for a touchdown in 11-on-11 drills. He also dropped a pass on a wide-open pattern to end the day.

Belichick spoke to reporters before practice began.

“Well, I think anytime you go into a new situation, you probably find some things that are a little different than the way you thought they were going to be,” Belichick said. “But, in all honesty, I think we have a real open mind about this. We’€™re here to get better. We’€™re here to compete against a good football team and that’€™s what we’€™re going to do. We’€™re going to be a better football team when we leave here than we are today. So, whatever opportunities those present, we want to take advantage of them. Whichever ones don’€™t come up, then we’€™ll have to get those somewhere else, some other time.”

Belichick will be working against Chip Kelly, the first-year Eagles coach who hails from Manchester, New Hampshire.

“Chip’€™s a New England guy, so we crossed paths from time to time in New England,” Belichick said. “We kept in touch over the past few years, and of course I have a lot of respect for what he’€™s done with the program out in Oregon. I’€™ve had several conversations with him since he’€™s taken over here in Philadelphia ‘€“ owners meetings, Combine, phone conversations, things like that. I just think he’€™s a really solid coach and a solid guy. I’€™ve always had a lot of respect for him and I think he does a great job with his team.

“It’s nice to be here in Philadelphia, it’€™s really a great opportunity for us to come down here and work with the Eagles,” Belichick said. “I have so much respect for Chip [Kelly] and what he’€™s done. We’ve been friends for a while and I know he does a great job with this football team and the program that he’€™s run in Oregon and what he’€™s doing here. I think it will be a good experience for our team to get to see some different people, different scheme. We’€™ll see some different match-ups.

“It will be great for us from a coaching standpoint because we’€™ll certainly have to make some adjustments during practices and as we go. We haven’€™t done any kind of scouting report or anything like that, so a lot of it will be on the run, which will be good for us too, in terms of matchups and communication and all those things. We’re excited to be here and really looking forward to working with the Eagles. This has been an outstanding organization through the years, and I’€™m sure that Chip will have them in a very competitive situation next year.”

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Patriots re-sign Matt Stankiewitch, Mike Zupancic, undecided on Tom Brady, prepare for Philadelphia 08.05.13 at 10:49 am ET
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FOXBORO — In preparation for joint practices this week in Philadelphia with the Eagles, the Patriots re-signed two players to fill their roster back to 90 players.

Bill Belichick announced Monday before the team’s ninth training camp practice that the team had re-signed center Matt Stankiewitch and long snapper Mike Zupancic.

Stankiewitch played for Penn State from 2008 to 2012, including a redshirt season in 2008. He started two games at left guard in 2009. In 2010, Stankiewitch played in six games before missing the rest of the season due to illness. He was able to remain healthy throughout 2011 and 2012, finishing his career having made 15 career starts at guard and 12 career starts at center.

The Patriots signed him as a rookie free agent on April 28, just after the draft.

A week later, on May 3, the team signed Zupancic as another undrafted free agent. Zupancic was released on Friday before the team brought him back on Monday.

The Patriots held practice Monday morning before preparing to leave for Philadelphia later in the day. Devin McCourty, who was back in a normal jersey for the first time during Saturday’s scrimmage, was back in a non-contact red jersey on Monday.

Three players, receiver Michael Jenkins, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon and defensive back Ras-I Dowling were not spotted on the field at the beginning of practice.

Belichick said the team had not decided yet just how much Tom Brady will quarterback the first unit in Friday night’s preseason opener in Philadelphia.

“We haven’t even had those discussions yet,” Belichick said. “We’ll have those discussions as we get closer to the game.”

Belichick also reflected on his trip to Canton, Ohio, Saturday night for the induction of his former boss and head coach, Bill Parcells into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“It was a great experience. I’ve never been there for that before,” Belichick said, referring to the fact that he has coached several times in the game but never been part of the induction ceremony and the gala that goes with it.

“I’€™d never been to that part of it. I’€™ve been through the Hall, although they’€™ve redone it. It was always great but it’€™s even better now. They’€™ve redone it and it’€™s very ‘€“ they have some amazing displays. Then we’€™ve played in the game a couple times or I’€™ve coached in the game I should say, a couple times but again, you’€™re there with your team and you’€™re kind of doing your thing so you’€™re not really part of that. So this is the first time I’€™ve ever been through that.”

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