|Bill Belichick doesn’t change on Tom Brady: ‘I made the decision. I don’t really have anything else to add’||08.19.16 at 4:52 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Nearly 24 hours later, Bill Belichick isn’t changing his approach on the way the Tom Brady matter was held before Thursday’s preseason game with the Bears.
About 60 minutes before Thursday’s game, Belichick told the team’s pregame radio broadcast that the quarterback would be making his preseason debut and that “all three” quarterback would see playing against Chicago. Then, during warmups, only Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett appeared. Brady had left the building with what was reported as a scissors cut to his thumb.
After the game, Belichick did not acknowledge the report of Brady cutting his finger with scissors before the game. He only said that he “made a decision before the game to play just Jimmy and Jacoby.”
On Friday, he reiterated that position during his traditional day-after conference call with reporters.
“As I said [after the game], I made the decision. I don’t really have anything else to add,” Belichick said at the end of the call.
After warmups, Brady was spotted leaving the Gillette Stadium facility in street clothes. Garoppolo started the game and Brady missed his second straight game.
Belichick would only address the story as it pertained to how Garoppolo, (16-for-21 for 181 yards and a touchdown pass to AJ Debry) handled himself filling in at the last moment.
“That’s part of football,” Belichick said. “Things happen that are unexpected and he’s been prepared for that the day he got here. I think all of our players are. Sometimes things happen and they change and you have to adjust to them. On offense and for the quarterbacks, we refer to that as an audible.”
FOXBORO — Even Jimmy Garoppolo was caught off guard.
The credo of every quarterback in the NFL — and especially under Bill Belichick — is be ready to enter the game at all times.
The thinking of the Patriots coach Thursday reportedly was to start Tom Brady in his final home game before Oct. 16 vs. Cincinnati. Then, reportedly, the star quarterback cut his throwing thumb using a pair of scissors to clean his spikes before the game.
When did Garoppolo find out he’d be starting the game and how did he handle the whole situation?
“Pretty suddenly before the game,” Garoppolo said. “I haven’t even got a chance to yet. I found out literally right before the game, so it was pretty sudden. I didn’t think I was going to [start], but then some stuff came up and I got tossed in there. It was a good test, I guess, it always keeps you on your toes. Coach [Belichick] always preaches, you never know when you’re going to go in or when your number is going to get called. You just have to be ready for it.”
For the second straight week, the start wasn’t great. He went three-and-out in the opening series. The offense was shutout in the opening quarter. Then Garoppolo caught fire. He led the Patriots to 17 second-quarter points, and it could’ve been 24 if Brandon Bolden didn’t fumble at the Bears 5.
“It was still not our best start. We started with another three-and-out which is never good, but after that, I think we got into a nice rhythm offensively. Obviously, the defense playing good always helps us. It’s just complementary football.”
|‘Ferocious’ Anthony Johnson ready to fight like ‘a silverback gorilla’ to earn spot on Patriots D||at 12:55 am ET|
FOXBORO — Anthony Johnson made himself quite the name in Thursday night’s 23-22 win over the Bears at Gillette Stadium.
The nose tackle out of LSU has had to remake his image from a 325-pound space-eater to a 280-pound up-the-field force as a defensive lineman.
The undrafted lineman came into the NFL in 2014 and played parts of two seasons with the Dolphins and Redskins. Then, the same tackle who set a Louisiana high school record with 67.5 sacks in four seasons realized he had to change.
The Patriots, after Bill Belichick checked him out in the offseason, gave him that chance this year. But not before Belichick wondered if the trimmed-down Johnson was the same tackle he saw at LSU.
“I said, ‘Do we have the right guy here?’ ” Belichick recalled after Thursday’s game in which Johnson played most of the first half with the first unit and into the second half with the second- and third-team defense.
“A lot different than when we saw him at LSU. Honestly, I didn’t even recognize him when we brought him in for a workout. Yeah, he’s kind of gone in the other direction from being a big guy and really trimming down and his skills are different. He’s faster, he’s quicker, he’s obviously lighter, doesn’t have as much power but he was an interesting guy.
“He was a good player coming out of college, an interesting workout, and a guy that’s a lot different than most of our other interior defensive lineman, so we thought in signing him that his skills might complement some of the other players that we have, so we’ll just see how that plays out.”
|Scene-Setting from Foxboro: Tom Brady expected to start in final Gillette appearance before Oct. 16||08.18.16 at 5:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The weather should be ideal as Tom Brady is expected to start in the second preseason game as he makes his final Gillette Stadium appearance before Week 6 against Cincinnati.
The forecast is calling for clear skies and 79 degrees for the 8 p.m. kickoff at Gillette. There’s no rain in the forecast with only a slight breeze out of the south at 5 MPH.
While there will be a relative humidity of 50 percent, it will be far more comfortable than this week’s joint practices of Monday and Tuesday and last Thursday night against the Saints.
Brady, who will be suspended for the first four games of the season by the NFL, did not play a single snap against the Saints in the preseason opener last Thursday against the Saints.
Brady has looked sharp in training camp, getting the most out of reps with both the first and second-team offensive line groups.
What’s more uncertain is how much, if at all, Julian Edelman will play. Edelman tweaked his foot on Aug. 8 but returned to full pads practice this week and looked sharp undressing Bears linebackers and defensive backs in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills in the red area.
Rob Gronkowski is nearly certain to miss his 15th straight preseason game dating back to 2012, as he appeared to tweak something in his lower body on Monday and did not participate in joint practices the rest of the week.
Chris Price has more on what to look for from tonight’s second preseason game.
The Bears, who engaged in lots of yelling and hits after the whistle this week in the joint practices, are looking to rebound from last week’s 22-0 humiliation at home at the hands of the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos. Unlike Brady, Jay Cutler did see time in last week’s preseason opener, going 3-for-4 for 18 yards but was sacked twice behind a porous offensive line.
|Can Cre’von LeBlanc become the next Malcolm Butler?||08.16.16 at 6:57 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots appear to mastering the art of finding defensive back talent at small schools.
The well-documented case of Malcolm Butler out of West Alabama produced a Super Bowl title when he picked off Russell Wilson at the 1 at the end of Super Bowl XLIX.
Butler was in his rookie season and was undrafted out of college.
Fast forward two years and the Patriots might have done it again with Cre’von LeBlanc. The corner out of Florida Atlantic certainly showed the potential, making a one-handed interception of Luke McCown in the end zone to stop the Saints. The play was one that everyone remembers from last Thursday night because he caught it with his left hand against his shoulder as he was spinning around to find the ball.
“It kind of found me, and I found it. It was like love at first sight,” LeBlanc joked Tuesday after practice.
Certainly, that play caught the eye of Bill Belichick and the staff. But it’s been LeBlanc’s play from the moment he arrived in Foxboro as an undrafted free agent that has made the biggest impression. LeBlanc is in a group that includes Butler, Logan Ryan, two veterans that figure to start the season on the corners. There’s second-round pick Cyrus Jones, who figures to get some looks in the slot. Then there’s E.J. Biggers, Jonathan Jones, Justin Coleman and Darryl Roberts. That’s a lot of competition.
But Belichick says he’s noticed that LeBlanc has welcomed that competition so far in camp.
“He’s been really competitive. I think he’s played well. Obviously, the play he had against the Saints was a pretty special play but day in and day out he’s been pretty consistent for us going all the way back to the spring,” Belichick said Tuesday. “I’d say his instinctiveness, his ability to be around the ball, his anticipation and ability to recognize routes maybe offset some of the testing numbers that aren’t elite. They’re good but I wouldn’t say they’re elite, but all of it kind of together and knowing how to play, he has got some of that. He finds the ball or the ball finds him, however you want to look at it.”
FOXBORO — Another day, another joint practice fight, this time involving Bryan Stork and the Bears. Earlier, it was Bears corner Harold Jones-Quartey putting a late hit on Julian Edelman after a pass completion from Jimmy Garoppolo. Aaron Dobson rushed to Edelman’s defense. That, plus other camp observations from Foxboro. WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable have you covered.
|Bill Belichick says Pats have ‘moved on’ from Monday skirmish, no further discipline for Malcolm Butler||at 10:14 am ET|
FOXBORO — So much for any lingering effect from Monday’s joint practice scuffle between the Patriots and Bears.
Bill Belichick, asked Tuesday before another full pads practice outside Gillette, if there might be any carryover from one day to the next after the confrontation between Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery and Patriots corner Malcolm Butler.
“Nah, we’ve moved on,” Belichick answered. “Thought we handled it pretty quickly. We’ve moved on [Monday], moved onto today.”
The Patriots and Bears were both put through the paces after Monday’s practice, an apparent reminder that fights in practices won’t be tolerated. Both teams ran the hill on the back of the practice field, with the Patriots offensive linemen pushing a blocking sled 100 yards in the heat.
Belichick was reminded that he sat down Aaron Dobson after a run-in with Eagles corner Cary Williams in a joint practice in 2013. Williams said he picked the fight with Dobson to send a message to the Patriots. Belichick indicated that no such discipline would be forthcoming for Butler, who was sent immediately from practice for his involvement in the scuffle.
“I think they’ll all be out there today,” Belichick said.
Later in the press conference Tuesday, Belichick was asked if there might be any positives to come from Monday’s intensity.
“We’re just out there trying to get better,” the coach answered.
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