|Sebastian Vollmer might be taking it ‘day-to-day’ but Bill Belichick ‘expects’ he’ll play||09.16.11 at 1:33 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick said Friday he expects starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer to be available to play against the Chargers after missing Monday night’s season opener in Miami with a sore back. Belichick suggested that Vollmer, rookie Nate Solder and Matt Light would likely work in a rotating system of tackles as the team continues to find its way along an offensive line that lost its starting center on Monday.
“I would expect all three of those guys to play, Light, Solder and Vollmer,” Belichick said. “I’d think they all play.”
However, Vollmer is playing it cautiously.
“I’ll really have to see about that,” Vollmer said. “So far, I’m limited at practice and I do what I can and try to get better. When it feels right, it feels right.”
Vollmer dismissed concerns over his latest back issues after having similar problems when he was at the University of Houston.
“It feels good getting back out there and doing what I can,” Vollmer said. “I’m only looking forward so it’s day-to-day and we’ll see what happens.”
The team practiced in shorts and shells on the lower grass fields on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s home opener at Gillette at 4:15 p.m., with Vollmer, Solder and Light all at practice.
The news is not as clear on defensive lineman Mike Wright, who missed again Friday with a concussion suffered Monday in Miami. Belichick deferred to his medical staff when asked if last year’s concussion combined with another suffered by Wright on Monday was cause for concern.
“That’s all handled by our medical staff,” Belichick said. “They evaluate that. I’m sure they’ll do what’s in the players’ best interest the way they always do. That’s not really my field.”
|Rodney defends Bruschi’s comments, and adds his two cents on Ochocinco||09.14.11 at 7:47 pm ET|
One day after Bruschi ripped into Ochocinco on WEEI, saying the wide receiver shouldn’t be in ‘awe,’ and ‘stop tweeting and get into your playbook,’ the former New England safety told ESPN Radio in Chicago that Ochocinco’s stats in the regular-season opener — one catch for 14 yards — were ‘unacceptable,’ and that he should ‘be an asset and not a liability.’
‘You got to understand. Bruschi is an old school Patriot guy,’ Harrison told the Waddle & Silvy Show. ‘I mean the guy went to three or four, four Super Bowls, won 3 there. And he’s an old school Patriot guy, I mean he’s a die hard guy. No one out-prepares Tedy Bruschi, no one outworks Tedy Bruschi. When I was there I was never in awe, of anything. Because you expect greatness, when you prepare, when you work hard, and when you do the things you’re supposed to do. You expect to have success.
‘When we stopped Peyton Manning in the playoffs, and we’d intercept him, we weren’t in awe of Payton Manning. We knew we could go out there and stop him, because that’s what we prepared for. So you look at a guy like Chad Ochoinco, you know that becomes a distraction when you’re tweeting and you’re bringing the fans into the mix. And [Bill] Belichick would always tell us, there’s always something else you can do improve this team, to improve your play. Study more, work harder. Be an asset, don’t be a liability.
‘And when you look at Chad Ochocinco’s stats, one catch for 14 yards, that’s unacceptable. And when they were doing all these productive plays, you were on the bench. Tedy’s just like me, and Willie McGinest and all these other guys. Don’t be in awe of the situation, be part of that situation. Make it better. So I think Tedy Bruschi sent a message out to that entire New England Patriot team. This is a different team, they’re a younger team. So Chad Ochocinco, get with the program. He told him exactly right. And it wouldn’t surprise me if Belichick even pulled him to the side.
‘You can’t be in awe of Tom Brady and these guys. You’ve seen this happen in a short training camp. You know, you’ve played against Brady. You played against a lot of these championship teams. Why are you in awe? It just becomes a distraction. Like Tedy said, ‘Hey man, be part of the program.’’
Ochocinco was not available for comment on Wednesday, but Brady defended the wide receiver, saying he has no problems with Ochocinco.
‘Everyone has an opinion on everything, and none of it really means anything,’ Brady said when asked about Bruschi’s comments. ‘The only thing that means anything are the guys in this locker room and what we do every day in practice.’
|Meet the new guy … A.J. Edds||at 3:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — This Monday was something of a surreal experience for new Patriots linebacker A.J. Edds: The Iowa product, who was drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round in 2010 but never played a game for them because of a knee injury, returned to Miami for the first time since he was cut earlier this month by the Dolphins.
‘Yeah, it was definitely an interesting first crack it out there with the Patriots, but obviously great to get the first win, a good team victory,’ said the 6-foot-4, 244-pounder, who was claimed off waivers by the Patriots on Sept. 6.
‘But definitely, it was almost surreal heading back there, going into the visitors’ locker room, those kinds of things. But that’s the business we’re in. You have to take things as they come, and some of those things are out of your control a little bit and you have to make the most of it when you have your opportunities.’
The linebacker, who did not play in the regular-season opener against the Dolphins, spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve after tearing the ACL in his right knee during training camp. This summer, the 23-year-old had a good preseason — he led the Dolphins in tackles this preseason with 18 (with one sack) — but was cut loose by Miami.
Being that he was picked up only days before the Dolphins game, it wasn’t surprising to Edds that he found himself the focus of a few conversations with his new teammates prior to the game in hopes of finding out more about Miami.
‘(There was) a little bit, but I think that stuff can kind of be overrated,’ he said of pregame talk involving his old team. ‘Obviously, Miami knew I was up here, so they’re probably going to change some stuff up, but there were a few times when guys came to be and asked … moreso for personnel than anything else.
‘Just some matchup stuff: ‘What’s this guy going to play like? What’s his MO?’ Techniques, responsibilities, that kind of thing. Not, I wouldn’t say, overly ‘What’s the playbook?’ kind of stuff, but when there was some questions, I was able to answer them.’
Going forward, Edds figures to compete for a role as an inside/middle linebacker and on special teams. He says his label as someone who excels as a third-down specialist in pass coverage might be a bit overblown because of what he showed as a senior at Iowa, but he quickly added that he does have other strengths.
‘It was kind of stuff I did in college: playing over tight ends, being able to play in space, being able to turn and run. Those kinds of things,’ he said. ‘I’m just trying to work that out and see where that is. I’ve only been here for a week. Just trying to find my niche a little bit and get into it and hit the ground running.’
‘[He] played outside linebacker at Iowa, went down to Miami last year and played inside linebacker,’ said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. ‘[He] looked like he was having a pretty good training camp, pretty good preseason, injured his knee, missed the year and then came back this year and played inside linebacker down there so I think he has a little bit of inside-outside flexibility, kicking game, has long snapped.’
One of the things that helps him out is the fact that he says there are ‘absolutely’ similarities to the system that he was a part of at Iowa and what the Patriots run. (Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is a former Belichick assistant.)
‘I haven’t been exposed to the wide range of everything that goes on yet, but from what I have been here for, in the quick week, it’s been a lot of carryover, a lot of similarities, which helps the transition. It definitely does,’ said Edds. ‘You know, terminology and those kind of things, things that are the same to what you’ve seen in the past, it always makes it a little bit easier, mentally and physically, because you don’t have to think as much.’
FOXBORO — With the report starting center Dan Koppen will be out six to 10 weeks after suffering a broken left ankle in the season-opening win over the Dolphins Monday night in Miami, the Patriots figure to lean heavily on Dan Connolly to be the man in the middle until Koppen returns.
It’s not the first time that Connolly has stepped forward to fill in for a missing offensive lineman: He started the first seven games of the 2010 season at left guard when Logan Mankins was out because of a contract dispute, and then he was called upon to make six starts at right guard when Stephen Neal went down with an ankle injury.
‘Dan’s a guy that obviously has played a lot of football for us at a very important position. So, that’s not something that’s an easy thing to adjust to,’ Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien said. ‘I’m very confident in Dan and what he’s going to be able to do for us.’
And so, the 6-foot-4, 313-pounder will step into the center position. He saw some brief time at the center spot in 2009, and moved from right guard to center for the second half of Monday’s game in Miami.
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|Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: Chad Ochocinco ‘going to be a big part of this offense’||at 9:49 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to analyze Monday’s 38-24 victory over the Dolphins.
Asked if he was going to downplay his 517-yard passing performance, Brady said: “Well, yeah. That was obviously a huge win for us. To start the year like that, from a team standpoint, was great. Miami’s always a tough place for us to play, and we’ve had some pretty miserable performances down there over the years. Due to the Dolphins defense, due to the different conditions, it’s always a tough place to play. For us to come out of there with the win, and to play pretty well on offense. Honestly, there are plenty of things that we can do better and we’ll need to do better, but to get that win under our belt was great for us.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Was there even just a little bit of surprise that it clicked as well as it did in the hurry-up? After all, it was just Week 1.
That’s the thing about it, it is Week 1. One thing we talked about before the game was fighting through the adversities of the game. I think we have very high expectations for our offense. When we have negative plays, in some ways it’s demoralizing because we don’t think we should make negative plays. So, one thing that I thought we did a good job of was we kind of fought through those adversities when things didn’t go well, when we had three-and-outs. Or when they had scored and we responded to their score on two different occasions. I thought we showed a little bit of mental toughness, playing in a pretty hostile environment with the crowd noise, on “Monday Night Football” with all the different distractions. I thought as a veteran team, we played through some of those. That was another positive to take away from the night.
|Patriots taking lessons from win over Miami and moving forward||09.13.11 at 9:23 pm ET|
Less than 24 hours after their season-opening win over the Dolphins in Miami, the Patriots braintrust stated unequivocally Tuesday afternoon that they have already moved on, shifting their focus from the Dolphins to this week’s opponent, the San Diego Chargers.
The Patriots arrived back at Gillette at 5 a.m. on Tuesday and sent the players home for the day. Subsequently, they hadn’t yet had a chance to look at the game film. But that’s not stopping them, as they’re already on a short week to prepare for Philip Rivers and the Chargers, who will come into Gillette on Sunday afternoon.
‘It’s a quick turnaround — we’re on to San Diego,’ said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. ‘I haven’t had a chance to look at Miami, we’re just trying to get started on San Diego, so we’ll get to [the Miami film] tomorrow — later tonight or tomorrow morning, we’ll see how it goes.
‘Of course it’s good go down there, playing on the road with all the conditions we had to deal with, and come away with the win. It’s great to be 1-0, but we have to put that behind us and turn our attention to the Chargers.’
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|Artistic Bill Belichick: ‘That was no Rembrandt performance’||at 12:39 am ET|
Maybe spending time on Nantucket has brought a cultural depth to Bill Belichick not previously seen.
Following his team’s 38-24 win over the Dolphins, a game in which his team got 517 passing yards from their quarterback but gave up 390 of their own, the Patriots head coach compared his team to a portrait that is still in the early stages.
But he admitted he’ll gladly take the win on the road but his team has a long ways to go to get where they need or even plan to be come the end of the season.
“Football opening night, a lot of energy, the place was lit up tonight and I thought our guys did a real good job of coming down, being focused, doing their job and trying to block out of a lot of distractions,” Belichick said. “Miami played well, They’ve got a good football team. I just thought our guys made a few more plays. I’m proud of the way they played.
“We’ve got a quick turnaround now. Getting ready for San Diego. We’ll enjoy this for a few minutes but we have to get back to work on those Chargers. Obviously, a lot of big plays in the game.”
Fortunate indeed that the Patriots and Tom Brady were able to connect on plays of 46 yards to Matthew Slater, 30 yards to Aaron Hernandez, 24 to Deion Branch, 23 to Rob Gronkowski and, of course, the first 99-yard play in team history to Wes Welker.
That was good enough to counter the Chad Henne passes of 31 yards to Brandon Marshall, 26 yards to Davone Bess and 25 to Anthony Fasano as the Dolphins threatened to get within one touchdown before a 4th-and-1 stop by the Patriots defense set up the Brady-to-Welker seam of dreams.
“I thought we got good contributions out of all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams,” Belichick said. “Hopefully, we can build on that, improve on it. We certainly have a long way to go. That was no Rembrandt performance but fortunately, it was good enough.”
Funny how the Patriots came up with four big plays on the same week that “A Football Life: Bill Belichick” premieres on the NFL Network. In Part I this Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, Belichick chided his team in 2009 before their 59-0 win over Tennessee for not having a single passing play of over 40 yards or a running play over 20 yards. They still have to work on the second half of that equation but safe to say, the passing game seems A-OK.
No doubt Belichick will be reminding his team this week that if they don’t shore up the defensive side of things and cut down on the big plays, the Patriots might not be quite so lucky against Philip Rivers and the Chargers this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.