|Chandler Jones on Patriots D: ‘Without swagger, you’re not anything’||09.02.12 at 4:48 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There’s a very fine line in the NFL between swagger and overconfidence.
In training camp, the Patriots defense showed they might be able to return to the form of the mid-2000s when Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel led a defensive group that knew it had the other team beat before they stepped on the field. Time after time, the defense broke up plays by Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer. There was yelling and back-slapping as defenders like Patrick Chung, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo whooped it up on the field and on the sideline every time a big defensive play was made.
The faces have changed but the team remains the same and these Patriots are determined to be known as much for their big-play ability on defense as they are on offense.
“That’s big for any player,” Devin McCourty said on Sunday of the role swagger plays during an NFL game. “To play in this league and to go against the top players every Sunday, you have to have that confidence, you have to be able to take the field and believe in yourself and your teammates, and I think we have that right now.
“I think what’s important to keep that is to keep getting better each day in practice. Confidence comes from you doing the right things in practice and watching film. We’ll continue to do that and get ready to go.”
Even rookie Chandler Jones understands the importance of the “S” word.
“Swagger? Without swagger, you’re not anything I feel like,” Jones said. “I have to have swagger to play this game.”
Then there’s Bill Belichick‘s take on playing with a healthy dose of confidence. Asked if swagger were among the most important traits of a good defense, the Patriots coach threw out some words that are direct by-products. Read the rest of this entry »
|Patriots begin cuts with release of Deion Branch, Brian Hoyer and Dan Koppen||08.31.12 at 2:25 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Four big-name Patriots were released Friday afternoon before the team’s 4 p.m. practice as the team began its final cutdown to 53 players by the 9 p.m. NFL deadline.
The biggest name is Super Bowl XXXIX MVP Deion Branch, a release first reported by Shalise Manza-Young of The Boston Globe. The 33-year-old Branch has played 10 years in the NFL, including the better part of six seasons with the Patriots. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound Branch had 51 catches for 702 yards and five touchdowns last season.
Branch expressed his appreciation for his time in New England Friday afternoon on his Twitter page. Truly thankful for all the support from everybody. I Love You guys #LovePeaceandHappiness
According to league sources and various reports as of Friday at 1:30 p.m., the Patriots also cut back-up quarterback Brian Hoyer, offensive lineman Dan Koppen and defensive back James Ihedigbo in their attempt to get down to 53 players before the league-mandated deadline of Friday at 9 p.m.
The moves also cleared over $5 million in cap space on the 2012 Patriots roster. The release of Hoyer ($1.927 million), Ihedigbo ($765,000), Koppen ($1.375 million) and Branch ($1.325 million) total of $5.392 million in freed cap space.
Koppen, 32, has been with the Patriots since 2003, when he was drafted out of Boston College. The former Pro Bowler has started 120 regular-season games over the course of his career in New England and was a member of the 2003 and 2004 Super Bowl champions. The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder had struggled over the course of the summer but had played better as of late.
As for Hoyer, he had served as a backup to Tom Brady since he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State in 2009. In limited regular-season action, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder had gone 27-for-43 for 286 yards with one touchdown and one interception over the course of his career in New England.
The 28-year-old Ihedigbo, who tweeted his dismissal on Friday afternoon, played one season with New England, finishing the 2011 campaign with 69 tackles (46 solo) in 16 games, 12 of them starts. Ihedigbo, 6-foot-1 and 214 pounds, is a product of UMass.
|Ryan Mallett: ‘I feel a lot more confident in what I’m doing’||08.30.12 at 12:21 am ET|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The key question coming into camp for Ryan Mallett was just how much improvement could he show in the preseason.
After going 8-for-15 for 40 yards in seven possessions of the first half Wednesday night, the answer might still be up for debate.
“Not bad,” Mallett said after New England’s 6-3 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium. “There’s good things, bad things, stuff like that when we go look at the film, we’ll be like, ‘I could’ve done this better. I could’ve done that better.’ It’s just something you learn from.”
Learning wasn’t something he had a lot of opportunity to do a year ago. His preparation was shortened greatly by the lockout, limiting the number of live game reps he had.
“Last year, I didn’t really know too much, coming in late didn’t help,” Mallett said. “Having the spring and then the camp now was crucial for me, and I feel a lot more confident in what I’m doing.
“We’ve been practicing together for three or four weeks now. I wasn’t thinking about that. I just wanted to go out there and play.”
Mallett led the Patriots offense on it’s only scoring drive, leading them 51 yards in 12 plays during a four-minute, 58-second drive in the second quarter. Brandon Bolden finished it up by running three times into the line to set up Stephen Gostkowski‘s 20-yard field goal.
“As a quarterback, I don’t like the [term] game manager. You want to go out there and make plays when they present themselves. You don’t want to force anything but I don’t know about managing the game. You have to stay within yourself when you’re playing the game.
“It doesn’t change anything for me. I’m just going to go out there like I’m preparing to start every week and get the game plan down, get the opponent down, and keep moving along.”
With Wednesday night in the books and Friday’s two late TD passes at Tampa Bay, has Mallett shown enough to overtake Brian Hoyer as the No. 2 QB on the Patriots behind Tom Brady? Only head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels know for sure. But Mallett was the only Patriots quarterback not to get strip-sacked in the preseason. Brady was victimized twice and Hoyer was stripped late in the fourth quarter Wednesday, leading to the game-winning Giants field goal. Read the rest of this entry »
|Preseason stat check of Patriots quarterbacks||08.21.12 at 2:09 pm ET|
A quick look at where the Patriots quarterbacks stand statistically after two weeks of the preseason:
Tom Brady: 19 total snaps (all in the preseason opener)
4-for-7 for 30 yards, 1 sack.
Brian Hoyer: 41 total snaps (9 in the preseason opener, 32 on Monday)
13-for-32 for 100 yards, 1 touchdown pass, 2 sacks.
Ryan Mallett: 48 total snaps (14 in the preseason opener, 34 on Monday)
18-for-39 for 194 yards, 1 touchdown pass, 1 interception.
Three things worth passing along this Tuesday morning:
1) He didn’t make the cut when it came to “10 Things We Learned,” but Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski had a heck of a night against the Eagles. Gostkowski was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts, including dead on connections from 51, 35 and 55 yards. (In the regular season, Gostkowski is 5-for-8 from 50 yards or more in his career, including a career-best 53-yard field goal at Denver on Nov. 11, 2009. His only 50-plus field goal at Gillette Stadium in the regular season was a 51-yarder vs. Chicago on Nov. 26, 2006.) Working with backup kicker Chris Koepplin, the Patriots put four of their five kickoffs into the end zone, and finished with three touchbacks. All in all, a very good night for the New England kicking game.
2) From the press box, here are a few final snaps counts from Monday night, per Stephen Hewitt:
QB Ryan Mallett: 34
QB Brian Hoyer: 32
RB Stevan Ridley: 19 (plus two on kick return)
RB Shane Vereen: (28 (plus three on kick return)
RB Brandon Bolden: 15 (plus one on kick return and one on punt return)
DE Chandler Jones: 11
LB Dont’a Hightower: 11
3) Good read here on the contract for new Patriots running back Jeff Demps from Brian McIntyre of NFL.com. According to McIntyre, Demps received a signing bonus of $11,000. In addition to the signing bonus, the Patriots have fully guaranteed $200,000 of the $390,000 base salary Demps would earn if he makes the 53-man roster. According to McIntyre, the total of $211,000 in guaranteed money is the second-largest sum given to a 2012 undrafted free agent, exceeded only by the $214,000 the Cowboys guaranteed offensive lineman Ronald Leary.
|10 things we learned Tuesday from Patriots training camp||08.14.12 at 11:22 pm ET|
FOXBORO – The Patriots held their second straight day of practice in full pads on the upper practice fields Tuesday. The team announced that it will practice from 1:30-4 Wednesday through Friday. The team likely will be off Saturday, the same day Bruce Springsteen plays Gillette Stadium. Camp will break as the team likely will have a walkthrough on Sunday before hosting the Eagles Monday night at Gillette.
The biggest news came off the field as the team confirmed that linebacker Dane Fletcher cleared injury waivers and was immediately placed on season-ending injured reserve. The team also confirmed that wide receiver Britt Davis was released outright after an injury settlement, meaning he is not eligible to rejoin the team on injured reserve. Tuesday’s moves leaves the active roster at 88 players.
Among the remaining players, nine were not seen on Monday, most notably tight end Aaron Hernandez. Also missing were fullback Eric Kettani,, fullback Spencer Larsen, linebacker Tracy White, offensive lineman Matt Kopa, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, tight end Jake Ballard, and defensive linemen Gerard Warren and Jonathan Fanene.
Safeties Malcolm Williams, safety James Ihedigboreturned.
There was again a lengthy list of players in shorts, including Rob Gronkowski defensive linemen Myron Pryor, Daniel Fells, receiver Brandon Lloyd for a second straight day, defensive back Alfonzo Dennard, offensive tackle Markus Zusevics, and offensive linemen Kyle Hix and Sebastian Vollmer.
Here are nine other things we learned from camp Tuesday.
MANKINS STILL HELD BACK
Logan Mankins was in padded pants on Tuesday, but again he was in only shells. The hope is he might be able to finally fully participate on Wednesday in full 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. Mankins was again primarily an observer on the sidelines, only taking part in agility and technique drills.
Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett were all victimized by a very aggressive Patriots secondary on Tuesday. All three quarterbacks were intercepted. The secondary forced a number of turnovers, getting their hands on the ball and making good on opportunities to intercept passes. Steve Gregory, Patrick Chung and Kyle Arrington were all able to corral picks, and the defense was especially strong overall during situational work. Read the rest of this entry »
|Tom House pitches in at Patriots camp||08.06.12 at 12:46 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom House is most famous for catching Hank Aaron‘s 715th home run in the Braves bullpen on April 8, 1974. On Monday morning, the former Atlanta pitcher and MLB pitching coach was in Foxboro to work with Patriots quarterback on a key fundamental to the position – good footwork.
Get your feet under you properly before you fling the ball.
House has worked with several NFL quarterbacks, including Tom Brady, Tim Tebow, Drew Brees, Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, and Matt Cassel, with Palmer and Cassel having direct ties to USC, where House serves as a pitching coach for the Trojans.
After his big league career with the Braves and Mariners, House has also worked as a coach for the Astros, Padres, and Chiba Lotte Marines. He is an advisor with the American Sports Medicine Institute, and is the co-founder of the National Pitching Association. Through the NPA, he runs a series of camps and clinics for athletes, and markets a series of instructional videos for young baseball players. House has also written or co-written 19 instructional books on baseball, as well as an autobiography.
In 1998, the American Baseball Coaches Association presented House with a lifetime achievement award.
In addition to starting at Michigan State as a star quarterback, Brian Hoyer was quite the baseball pitcher when he was younger. Hoyer was a pitcher, infielder and outfielder at Cleveland (OH) St. Ignatius high school. In 2002, he was 8-1 with a 1.99 ERA as a sophomore. He was the winning pitcher in the 2002 Ohio Division I State Championship game allowing two earned runs in six innings.
“I think there’s some similarities but there’s also some things that are a little bit different,” Hoyer said Monday after his workout with House. “In football, you want to have a quicker release point. In baseball, there’s no one rushing down on you. There’s definitely some things that have helped in terms of stride, rotation, things like that. For me, it’s not something I need to go think about when I’m out there playing. We do the drills and I try to take it to the team drills but when there are guys coming after you, you have to be able to throw the ball and it’s not going to be perfect every time.
“I just met him today and it’s pretty interesting to hear a different take on things and implement it in your own game.”
Hoyer said the footwork drills are what really helped him out.
“Just as far as the stride and trying to keep your feet on the ground,” Hoyer said. “Pitchers, they get to throw off a mound and it gives them a little extra energy and you’re higher up and you’re throwing downwards and we’re throwing on a flat surface out here so you really have to make sure your feet are in the right position to throw.”
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