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Ex-Patriots TE Michael Hoomanawanui now part of an exclusive club 08.10.16 at 1:24 pm ET
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Michael Hoomanawanui

Michael Hoomanawanui

FOXBORO — Michael Hoomanawanui knows how lucky a guy he is.

The big tight end is one of a handful of guys who have caught passes from both Tom Brady and Drew Brees. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder spent three-plus years with the Patriots (2012-2015) before joining Brees and the Saints last year, when he caught 11 passes for 76 yards and three touchdowns in New Orleans.

“Not many people can say they’ve played with two of the greatest of all time,” said the 28-year-old following Wednesday’s practice session. “It’s a huge honor. I’ve learned a lot from both of them. I’m happy to be in New Orleans right now with Drew and look forward to the season.”

Asked how the two differ, Hoomanawanui was briefly stumped.

“Tom is a little taller? That’s about it,” he said with a smile. “Obviously, the numbers speak for themselves. I have nothing bad to say about either one of them.”

While the focus remains on the work and improving, the two days of joint practices this week in Foxboro were also a terrific opportunity for him to catch up with some old friends.

“It was good to see familiar faces, and obviously practice against one of the best,” he said. “It’s good to be back.”

Read More: 2016 training camp, Drew Brees, Michael Hoomanawanui, Tom Brady
Drew Brees won’t discuss Deflategate, but says he has a ‘ton of respect’ for Tom Brady at 12:41 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Drew Brees are two of the league's oldest quarterbacks. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Drew Brees are two of the league’s oldest quarterbacks. (Elsa/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Drew Brees is a Tom Brady fan.

Following the second of two joint practices with the Patriots this week, the Saints quarterback took time to acknowledge the greatness of a fellow veteran signal-caller. And while Brees didn’t comment on the Deflategate drama that enveloped Brady for the last year-plus — “I’ve commented on this quite a bit in the past. I think we’re at the point in training camp where I’m really just focused on he season and my team” — he did speak at length about the depth of his relationship with Brady.

“I think we’re both thankful for the opportunities we’ve been given,” the 37-year-old Brees said of the 39-year-old Brady on Wednesday. “Obviously, he’s part of great organization, and has been for a long time. I’m part of a great organization, and have been for a long time.

“I can’t speak for him, but from knowing him and his approach, I think we both understand we have to prove it every time out and that we’re in the business of winning,” he added. “I think we both have high expectations as to how long we can play, but we don’t take it for granted either.”

Brees and Brady first connected in college when Brady was guiding Michigan and Brees was quarterbacking Purdue. They faced off in October 1999, a game where Brady and the Wolverines crushed the Boilermakers, 38-12.

“We played against each other in college — we actually reminisced on that,” Brees said with a smile. “The weather today was the exact same as it was for that game. Tom threw it out there: ‘Remember that game, Michigan vs. Purdue? In the Big House? It’s just like it.’ They kind of smoked us that day, though.

“I certainly have a ton of respect for him and what he’s been able to accomplish. How he’s gone about doing it. Here’s a guy who came into the league as a sixth-round pick and from his first time, having the opportunity to start, that resulted in a Super Bowl year, and he hasn’t slowed down since then. This is going on Year 17 for him, Year 16 or me,”

He added: “I know how thankful I am and how appreciative. I certainly don’t take it for granted. I think he feels the same way.”

Brees said they have talked “a little bit” about how they’ve managed to stay successful well into their 30s, but he wasn’t revealing any secrets on Wednesday.

“He has a philosophy that’s worked for him for a really long time. I have a philosophy that’s worked for me for a long time,” he said. “I think there’s probably some stuff that all of us keep close to the vest, you know? Our own little secret sauce. We’ll just leave it at that.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2016 training camp, Deflategate, Drew Brees, Tom Brady
By the numbers: Tom Brady poised to climb several all-time statistical lists in 2016 06.23.16 at 11:17 am ET
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Tom Brady can climb several all-time statistical lists in 2016. (Winslow Townson/USA Today)

Tom Brady can climb several all-time statistical lists in 2016. (Winslow Townson/USA Today)

When it comes to covering the NFL, one of the greatest single resources is the statistical database at Pro Football Reference. And with a free hour, we decided to take a look at where Tom Brady currently stands — at least statistically — when it comes to measuring his individual numbers against some of the best in the game, and where he might end up before it’s all said and done.

Career passing yards — 58,028, fifth overall
Brady (58,028) and Drew Brees (60,903 yards, fourth overall) should both pass Dan Marino (61,361, third overall) sometime this season. If he stays healthy, it seems likely Brady is ticketed for fourth all-time behind Peyton Manning (71,940), Brett Favre (71,838) and Brees, but could surpass the Saints’ signal-caller.

Career passing touchdowns — 428, tied for third overall with Brees
Brees and Brady both passed Marino last season, and while it all depends on how long they can play, both have a shot at passing Favre (508, second overall) within the next two or three years. Manning retired at the top of the heap with 539. Not unreachable, but it would take at  one more extraordinary season for either Brees or Brady to jump start that conversation.

Career passes completed — 4,953, fifth overall
Again, Brady, Marino (4,967, fourth overall) and Brees (5,365, third overall) are all in the same neighborhood. Brady should pass Marino to move into the fourth spot this season. Favre (6,300, first overall) and Manning (6,125, second overall) are way ahead of the rest of the pack.

Career passing attempts — 7,792, fifth overall
Brady will probably remain fifth overall for the next year-plus, as Brees (8,085, fourth) should continue to move in lockstep ahead of him, provided both remain healthy. Favre (10,169), Manning (9,380) and Marino (8,358) are the top three.

Career interceptions — 150, 55th overall
Brady is in the same neighborhood as a few of his contemporaries, including Carson Palmer (166, 45th overall), Ben Roethlisberger (147, 59th overall) and Philip Rivers (135, 72nd overall). By way of comparison, Brady has fewer pass attempts, but also has fewer career picks than Brees (205, 24th overall), Manning (251, ninth overall) and Favre (336, first overall).

Read More: Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning
Drew Brees not trusting any investigation led by Roger Goodell 04.26.16 at 6:49 pm ET
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Drew Brees appears to be in Tom Brady's corner. (Derick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports)

Drew Brees appears to be in Tom Brady’s corner. (Derick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady has another quarterback in his corner — Drew Brees.

Brees spoke to a number of different media outlets on Tuesday for a promotion and naturally Deflategate and Brady’s suspension came up.

“I think we would all agree that he definitely has too much power,” Brees said of Goodell via SI.com. “He is judge, jury and executioner when it comes to all the discipline. I’m not going to trust any league-led investigation, when it comes to anything. It’s not transparent.

“At times, I feel like there is a desired conclusion or agenda that they have in mind and that may prevent the absolute truth from being told or the absolute facts from being presented. At the end of the day, we as the public. We as players don’t ever get to really see that. We don’t get to see those facts, those truths and those things. That’s the unfortunate part of this whole thing.”

Brees, a former member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee, has been passionate about questioning Goodell ever since the Saints were punished in 2012 for Bountygate.

“Forget the issues at hand here with Deflategate or whatever you want to call it,” Brees told The Dan Patrick Show. “I think this was an issue again where the commissioner’s authority was challenged and the league is gonna do whatever they can to make sure they know that he is in position to make these types of unilateral decisions, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it.”

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

Read More: Drew Brees, roger goodell, Tom Brady,
WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Patriots cement hold on top spot, Broncos move up to 3 09.22.15 at 9:42 pm ET
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Tom Brady averaged 1.99 seconds from snap-to-attempt against the Bills. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Following their takedown of the Bills on Sunday, Tom Brady and the Patriots retain their top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

The Bills were supposed to be a serious test for the Patriots offense. Rex Ryan typically gives Tom Brady fits. Such was not the case Sunday, as Brady and the Pats put a divisional whupping on Sexy Rexy and retained their top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. The Packers held strong at No. 2, avenging their NFC championship game loss to the Seahawks. I’m not quite ready to say that Peyton Manning is back, but he certainly looked in control during the Broncos‘ fourth-quarter comeback against the Chiefs.

The biggest surprise in the NFL seems to be the NFC East. No one is poised to win that division, never mind run away with it. The Cowboys have to withstand injuries to their two best players, but they can still make a run late in the season if their backup quarterback — Brandon Weeden or the newly acquired Matt Cassel — can win one out of every three. The AFC East looks better than it has in years, with the Jets and Pats starting off undefeated. The Bills will stick around, but the Dolphins’ loss to the Jaguars is a major cause for concern.

Drew Brees is hurt, leading many to consider the Saints’ 2015 campaign already over. The NFC South, then, becomes a two-team battle between the Panthers and Falcons, both of whom are 2-0. The Colts are 0-2 but still will end up winning the AFC South, because it’s just that bad of a division. We’re only two weeks into the season, but that doesn’t stop us from making rash generalizations that will look foolish at year’s end. On to the rankings!

1. (1 last week) Patriots (2-0) — Tom Brady and the Patriots marched into the Ralph and dominated Rex Ryan and the Bills. Following three touchdown passes from TB12, pundits are comparing this team to the one in 2007. A Week 3 matchup vs. Jacksonville will lead to more stat-padding from the offense.

2. (2) Packers (2-0) — After losing three straight to the Seahawks, the Pack finally got some revenge. Aaron Rodgers continues to spread the ball around, and he was masterful in the fourth quarter. The team’s decision to move LB Clay Matthews into the middle has worked out, as he helped limit Marshawn Lynch to 41 yards on the ground.

3. (9) Broncos (2-0) — Peyton Manning still has no velocity, but Thursday night’s comeback win over the Chiefs, in Kansas City, was about as gutsy of a performance you’ll see from the veteran QB. The defense forced five more turnovers and looks primed to carry the load week in and week out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: aaron rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Tony Romo
Bill Belichick explains his approach to Devin McCourty, secondary: ‘Trying to create depth for ourselves’ 08.23.15 at 11:25 am ET
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Bradley Fletcher (24) breaks up a pass intended for Seantavius Jones of the New Orleans Saints in preseason action Saturday night. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Bradley Fletcher (24) breaks up a pass intended for Seantavius Jones of the New Orleans Saints in preseason action Saturday night. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

It was the singular play that seemed to make Devin McCourty feel uncomfortable about his presence on the corner Saturday night.

Speedy receiver Brandin Cooks blew past McCourty at the line of scrimmage and then ran past free safety Duron Harmon before catching a perfect pass from Drew Brees for a 45-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.

Bill Belichick watched the play on film afterward and wasn’t as hard on McCourty.

“It’s a great play by two great players, Brees and Cooks,” Belichick said in a Sunday morning conference call. “Obviously, it could’ve been defended a little bit better. I’ve seen a lot worse defense than on that play but it wasn’t good enough because Brees made a great throw, Cooks ran a great route, ran through [to] to the ball.”

More important to Belichick was the situation. Brees had just completed a pass to Cooks on McCourty to set up a first-and-10 at the Patriots 45.

“It was a good play for us to learn from,” Belichick said. “Sometimes in practice you pull off those plays at the end, avoid the contact, Would you have it? Wouldn’t you have it? Would it have been complete? Would it have been incomplete? But all that shows up in the game. We can definitely learn from that about just the whole situation, the play-action, the first-and-10 in a drive, which is what is kind of an alert for us at that point, anyway. Better pass rush, a long extended play that we obviously could have obviously defended better.”

There has been lots of speculation as to what McCourty playing on the corner in the game and in practice means down the road in the Patriots’ secondary. Perhaps sending a message to McCourty, Belichick cautioned Sunday that the different roles in the secondary is the best way the coaching staff and team can build depth.

“It’s been good for all of us,” Belichick said. “As we move forward, we’ll try to narrow that down but at some point, we may be using different people in different spots and we’ll have to come back to the base that we’re trying to build now and the depth we’re trying to build now, with players playing multiple positions and trying to create depth for ourselves at all positions on the team, not just the secondary.”

Saturday was a teaching point as Harmon continues to learn how to communicate with his cornerbacks.

“Overall, I think our secondary communication has been good,” Belichick added. “We’ve played a lot of people in a lot of different combinations and that’s sort of forced everybody to really work harder on the communication. It’s not always the same two guys with their own way of communication, whether it’s a signal or a nod or however subtle it is. When you work with a lot of people, you’ve got to build that ability to communicate throughout the entire unit, with whichever players you’re paired up with.”

As Belichick noted after the game, there were several competitive plays by the secondary that prevented scores, such as McCourty and Bradley Fletcher each breaking up would-be touchdown receptions in the red zone.

Read More: 2015 Patriots Training Camp, Bill Belichick, Brandin Cooks, Devin McCourty
Devin McCourty hopes move to corner isn’t permanent: ‘I don’t think it looked great’ at 12:15 am ET
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Devin McCourty had his hands full with Brandin Cooks of the Saints all night. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty had his hands full with Brandin Cooks of the Saints all night. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

One look at the highlights Saturday and you could tell Devin McCourty was not exactly happy to be back at starting cornerback.

With Duron Harmon playing McCourty’s old spot of free safety and Patrick Chung starting at strong saftety, McCourty, who has been practicing the last two weeks with the cornerback groups, played exclusively as a corner in Saturday’s 26-24 preseason win over the Saints at the Superdome.

The six-year veteran, who just signed a new five-year, $47.5 million contract two days before free agency was targeted by Drew Brees several times in the first three series.

The results were mixed, and that’s probably being kind even by McCourty’s own admission to reporters after the game.

“It didn’t feel great and I don’t think it looked great,” said McCourty, who also admitted that he hoped the move by the defensive coaching staff was experimental and not permanent.

The results weren’t all bad. McCourty broke up a certain touchdown connection from Drew Brees to Brandon Coleman, forcing the Saints to settle for a field goal on their first drive. Bill Belichick, after the game, gave props to McCourty for his effort on that play. But on the second and third series, Brees appeared to be picking on McCourty just a bit, completing an 18-yard pass to Brandin Cooks to the Patriots’45. The next play, Cooks ran past McCourty and eventually Duron Harmon for a 45-yard touchdown pass on a post route.

McCourty got the start at right corner over the likes of Bradley Fletcher and Tarell Brown, who got some looks at the slot or “star” corner spot on the inside.

Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia began to toy with the idea of McCourty as a free safety in 2012, taking advantage of his ball-hawking and signal-calling skills and taking the pressure off him as a cover man. Then in 2013, they moved McCourty over to free safety full time.

It should be noted that the preseason is a time for experimentation as the Patriots search for ways of filling the void left by Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington in their secondary.

Read More: Brandin Cooks, Devin McCourty, Drew Brees, New England Patriots
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