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Joe Thuney sees himself ‘more of an interior guy’ on Patriots O-Line, looks forward to Dante Scarnecchia 04.30.16 at 1:20 am ET
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The Patriots took NC offensive lineman Joe Thuney with pick No. 78. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots took NC offensive lineman Joe Thuney with pick No. 78. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — As the Patriots learned last season, versatility along the offensive line can come in real handy.

In an effort to stockpile depth along the offensive line and to stay younger, the Patriots took one of the more versatile quality offensive linemen available with their second pick of the night on Friday. They selected Joe Thuney out of North Carolina State.

How versatile was the talent worked out by Dante Scarnecchia before the draft? He started four of the five positions on the offensive line, with center being the only position missing from his impressive resume. The Patriots covered that angle by having Thuney snap some balls for Scarnecchia during the workout.

Where does Thuney (silent ‘H’) see himself fitting in?

“I think I see myself as more of an interior guy: more as guard, center. If it gets to a pinch in the game, I can go at tackle but it’s really wherever coach wants me to play. And I have experience at all five so wherever he sees me best, I think that’s the best fit for me,” Thuney said.

“Just on the interior, I feel more comfortable. I don’t have the typical length of a typical NFL tackle but I feel like I move and pull and have the leverage on the interior”

“Throughout college I’ve always been open to whatever position the coaches needed. I’ve never had a set position in mind. As the process has gone on further and further, I’ve kind of realized where my strengths lie as a player and I think that the interior probably is where the coaches see that.”

Thuney, who said he hasn’t been told where he’ll play exactly, enters an environment where he’ll be competing against the likes of Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson for playing time along the interior line.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2016 NFL Draft, Dante Scarnecchia, Joe Thuney, New England Patriots
How do Patriots handle possible pre-draft disconnect between coaches, scouts on college prospects? 04.21.16 at 10:26 am ET
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Nick Caserio

Nick Caserio

FOXBORO — The Patriots have cycled through a handful of positional coaches the last few seasons, including at offensive line, linebackers and safeties. With the great majority of those coaching changes coming in late winter/early spring — the late stages of the pre-draft process — it’s natural to wonder how much if at all those coaching changes might impact their approach heading into draft weekend.

Regardless of how long they’ve been around Foxboro, the coaches enter into the evaluation process much later than the scouts — they’ve been focused on the team all season long while the scouts have focused on the prospects. That’s not to say that the positional coaches aren’t on the pro day trail: Ivan Fears (running backs) and Dante Scarnecchia (offensive line) are just two coaches who have been routinely spotted on campuses in recent years.

But ultimately, when it comes to the pre-draft process, it doesn’t matter how long the coach has been on staff. Patriots personnel guru Nick Caserio said earlier this week that it’s a collaborative effort between scouts, coaches and the front office. And while some prospects are debated more than others, it’s something that involves everyone involved.

“The coaches are involved in the process,” he said earlier this week. “You’re trying to take all the information, put it all together, and then make an assessment of how you feel that player is going to adjust or project what you’re going to ask them to do. Like I said, sometimes it takes players a little bit longer relative to others. There’s a lot of information that goes back and forth. There’s a lot of dialogue.”

One of the things this offseason that has likely helped offset any transitional issues is that the changes that have been made on the coaching staff have been kept mostly in house. Brian Flores moved from coaching the safeties to the linebackers, while Stephen Belichick moved from his previous role as a coaching assistant to the safeties. And after two years in “retirement,” Scarnecchia has returned to coach the offensive line.

While there’s always the possibility of a disconnect between a new coach, the scouting staff and the rest of the front office on a college prospect, when you have assistants who came of age in the New England system, the possibility of philosophical differences arising are minimized.

“In the end we’re trying to get it right the best we can,” Caserio said of the pre-draft evaluation process. “The reality is that the way the draft is designed it doesn’t always work out. I mean honestly, at times, it’s a 50-50 coin flip. That’s just the reality of it. So even if you think it’s going to go a certain way, it may not go and you try to figure out, ‘OK, well what can we do better or how can we adjust it?’

“We’re always trying to look at different ways of doing things, (looking) at our processes — whether that’s playing, whether that’s coaching, whether that’s scouting, whether that’s in the weight room,” he added. “Just (trying) to figure out if there’s something that we can improve how can we improve it and then how do we implement that improvement moving forward.”

Read More: Dante Scarnecchia, Ivan Fears, Nick Caserio,
Depth of relationship between Florida State coach and Patriots on display at FSU pro day 03.30.16 at 2:42 pm ET
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When it comes to the Patriots, it’s safe to say that Rick Trickett is a fan.

The Florida State offensive line coach — who has a longtime friendship with veteran New England offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia — was photographed wearing a Patriots shirt at FSU pro day earlier this week. Trickett was the college coach of current New England offensive linemen Tre’ Jackson and Bryan Stork.

Read More: because it's the offseason, Bryan Stork, Dante Scarnecchia, Rick Trickett
Bill Belichick discusses 2016 coaching changes, including promotion of son Steve 03.22.16 at 11:08 am ET
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Steve Belichick was promoted to safeties coach last week. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Steve Belichick was promoted to safeties coach last week. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Not only have the Patriots made a number of moves to their team on the field this offseason, the team has also seen some changes to its coaching staff.

With the departures of offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and linebackers coach Patrick Graham, as expected Dante Scarnecchia takes over on the offensive line and then Brian Flores will take over as linebackers coach, having previously coached the safeties. Then, Steve Belichick, Bill’s son, will take over the safeties. He was a coaching assistant the last three seasons. Finally, Moses Cabrera takes over as the head strength and conditioning coach. James Hardy will be his assistant with Harold Nash departing.

“We had some changes to the coaching staff and the front office,” Belichick told reporters at the annual AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday morning in Florida. “Great opportunities for Bob [Quinn], Harold [Nash], Patrick [Graham]. The organization certainly wishes them well — [Dave DeGuglielmo] — for the contributions that they made. The success that we had with them, a championship season in 2014. Most of those positions were filled from within so those people have worked hard and earned that opportunity. Obviously, Dante, a little different situation, but kind of the same thing there too.”

Personally, Belichick likely had a lot of pride in promoting his eldest son Steve to the safeties coach position, but he didn’t show it Tuesday.

“I’m proud of all my kids,” he said.

Belichick did expand on Scarnecchia, as he’s worked with him for quite a long time, including in 1996 when Belichick was the defensive backs coach for the Patriots under Bill Parcells.

“It’s great to have Dante,” he said. “I’ve had a great opportunity to coach with him going back to ’96. He was on our defensive staff with myself, Romeo [Crennel] and Al [Groh]. I have tremendous respect for Dante and the work he does and his career whether it’s been on offense, defense or special teams. He’s a great offensive line coach.”

He also had positive things to say about Flores, who seems to be following the same path as current defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

“Brian has done a great job,” Belichick said. “I have a ton of respect for him. He’s excelled in many different capacities in the organization.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brian Flores, Dante Scarnecchia, Steve Belichick
Patriots announce 2016 coaches, includes Steve Belichick as new safeties coach 03.18.16 at 2:29 pm ET
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Steven Belichick

Steven Belichick

The Patriots announced their 2016 coaching staff Friday afternoon.

There have been a few changes with the departures of offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and linebackers coach Patrick Graham. As expected, Dante Scarnecchia takes over on the offensive line. Then, Brian Flores takes over as linebackers coach, having previously coached the safeties and Steve Belichick, Bill’s son, will take over the safeties. He was a coaching assistant the last three seasons.

Also as expected, Moses Cabrera takes over as the head strength and conditioning coach. James Hardy will be his assistant.

Here is the complete list of coaches:

Bill Belichick — head coach

Josh McDaniels — offensive coordinator, quarterbacks

Matt Patricia — defensive coordinator

Dante Scarnecchia — offensive coordinator

Joe Judge — special teams

Josh Boyer — cornerbacks

Ivan Fears — running backs

Brian Flores — linebackers

Chad O’Shea — wide receivers

Moses Cabrera — head strength and conditioning

Brian Daboll — tight ends

Brendan Daly — defensive line

Steve Belichick — safeties

Jerry Schuplinski — assistant quarterbacks

Ray Ventrone — assistant special teams

James Hardy — assistant strength and conditioning

Read More: Brian Flores, Dante Scarnecchia, Steve Belichick,
Jonathan Cooper out to show his ‘nasty’ side with Dante Scarnecchia, Patriots O-Line 03.17.16 at 4:01 pm ET
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Jonathan Cooper (61) is out to prove he belongs in New England. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Jonathan Cooper (61) is out to prove he belongs in New England. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Jonathan Cooper is out to prove he is not just a thinking man’s offensive lineman – he’s a nasty one, too.

The 6-foot-2, 312-pounder came into the NFL with high expectations as a first-round (seventh overall) selection of the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 out of North Carolina.

A broken leg in his rookie year slowed his development but there was something else slowing his growth, at least in the eyes of some NFL talent evaluators. He lacked a nasty side that all interior offensive linemen need to cope in the trenches.

“I do have that. It’s one of those things that you learn when you’re bigger than everybody when you’re younger, that you should be gentle, be nice,” Cooper said in a conference call Thursday. “It’s one of those things that you kind of have to learn that it’s nothing personal, it’s just business. So when you finish somebody at the whistle, at the end of a play, it’s nothing personal. It’s in the rule books. It’s just those little things that show that ‘he’s nasty, you don’t really want to mess with him,’ and I do feel like I have that.”

Helping to foster and channel that nastiness will be returning offensive line guru Dante Scarnecchia.

“I haven’t had too much interaction with him prior to this point,” Cooper said of his 68-year-old line coach. “But what I have heard is nothing but good things from him, even going in training today with other players, they say he’s such a great coach and he’s old school and he’ll get on you a little bit but guys love him, and you won’t have a better teacher.”

Cooper is a self-professed student of the game, taking pride in his classroom and thinking man’s approach to the trenches.

“As a player, I’d my strengths are literally strength. It’s one of my biggest strong points, as well as being a cerebral player and working to become more cerebral,” he said. “Working with the Cardinals, learning the playbook, got it down and now I’m looking to really become even more [cerebral], learning different things that I may not necessarily need to get my job done but it’ll make my life easier in the long run, and just become a better professional. Speed and agility are also strong points that I have, and it’s just a fact of putting it all on display on the field.”

After missing his entire rookie season in 2013 due to the broken leg, Cooper appeared in 10 games with two starts at left guard in 2014.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” Cooper said of the broken leg. “I’m a firm believer that God has a perfect plan for everybody. It happened and now I’m here. It’s one of those things it happened and it was kind of an unfortunate [thing]. But, now I’m here with the Patriots and have a great opportunity to kind of almost transcend that. It’s almost like redemption, kind of turning it all around.”

Last season, Cooper played in 14 games with nine starts at right guard. He was a reserve in both of the Arizona postseason games. Cooper started a school record of 48 games for North Carolina and was a three-time All-ACC selection and earned All-America honors as a senior.

Now a new chapter on Jonathan Cooper’s career begins thanks to the trade of Chandler Jones to the Cardinals.

“My reaction is that I’m excited,” Cooper said. “I’m coming into a great organization, a great situation and I’m just super-excited about the opportunity to play and learn so much from such a great coaching staff. I’m really excited just to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Read More: Arizona Cardinals, chandler jones, Dante Scarnecchia, Jonathan Cooper
Harvard OT Cole Toner already on Patriots’ radar 02.24.16 at 4:23 pm ET
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Harvard OT Cole Toner has met with Dante Scarnecchia twice. (Chuck Cook/USA Today Sports)

Harvard OT Cole Toner has met with Dante Scarnecchia twice. (Chuck Cook/USA Today Sports)

INDIANAPOLIS — Before the Patriots even settled in for the NFL combine in Indianapolis they showed an interested in Harvard offensive tackle Cole Toner.

Granted he had an advantage because he goes to school at Harvard and was on the same flight as some of the Patriots’ staff, but Toner confirmed Wednesday afternoon he has met with Dante Scarnecchia twice — once at the Indianapolis airport and then again Tuesday night.

He wasn’t sure if there would be another formal meeting this week.

Toner was born and raised in the Indianapolis area and grew up a Colts fan, so between going to school in the Boston area and being a fan of the Colts, he knows all about the Patriots’ success.

“Just having seen them play and beat the Colts for so many years, I guess there is a back-and-forth there too,” Toner said. “It’s one of the best, if not the best [organization in the NFL]. That would be a great opportunity if I went to play there.”

Toner when to Gillette Stadium for the Willie McGiniest team Hall of Fame induction ceremony, but still he said Gillette Stadium doesn’t compare to Lucas Oil.

“It’s a nice stadium, not as nice as Lucas Oil,” he said.

As it relates to the Patriots, they may have a need on the offensive line, especially at tackle as following Nate Solder going down for the season against the Cowboys, the unit certainly had its struggles, especially in the AFC title game when Tom Brady was hit upwards of 20 times.

Toner played right tackle at Harvard, but said he could play the left side if needed, as well as in the interior.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2016 NFL combine, Cole Toner, Dante Scarnecchia,

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