|5 most important Patriots not named Tom Brady||08.26.14 at 12:00 am ET|
There’s no need to debate who is the most important member of the Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady has been the single most integral part of New England’s football success on a week-in, week-out basis for the last decade-plus. But who makes up the rest of the nucleus? With the 2014 regular season looming, here are the five most important Patriots not named Brady — in no particular order.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman — Edelman has emerged as Brady’s go-to target of choice over the last year-plus. The former college quarterback topped the 100-catch mark last season, becoming just the third pass-catcher of the Brady era to come away with at least 100 catches in a season (Troy Brown and Wes Welker are the other two.) Over the course of the summer, he displayed an almost creepy level of chemistry with the quarterback. In two preseason games, Edelman has showed that regardless of what happens with Rob Gronkowski‘s health in 2014, he will be one of the fundamental elements of the New England passing game. In two preseason games Brady targeted Edelman 10 times, and the receiver caught all 10 passes.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski — Gronkowski is the difference-maker, the sort of offensive option who can help New England get to its ultimately goal. The only question is his health — the big tight end played in his first 46 straight games in the NFL, but since his forearm snapped blocking on an extra point against the Colts in 2012, he’s only played in nine of a possible 26 games. It’s important to note that the Patriots looked like they learned to survive without him down the stretch and into the postseason last year. According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots averaged 32 points per game and 5.94 yards per play with Gronkowski in the lineup from Weeks 7-14. Without Gronkowski (from Week 15 through the end of their postseason run), New England averaged 30.8 points per game and 5.82 yards per play. It was a drop-off, but not the dramatic dip that some may have anticipated. At the same time, the real struggles in other areas (red zone presence, blocking) have created an environment where it’s simply not sustainable to think the Patriots could hope to win a Super Bowl without him.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis — Revis has only been a part of the New England roster for a few months, but he already figures to be a vital part of any success the Patriots have in 2014. Even for a future Hall of Famer it can be an occasionally dicey proposition joining a new team, but he’s managed to fit in seamlessly. As a new face, he has managed to walk a fine line between being deferential to the established veterans who were already on the roster, but at the same time he’s managed to carve out a leadership position of his own. He was the guy who led a group of defensive backs out to Arizona for offseason workouts with his trainer, and the younger defensive backs (including Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon) have confessed to picking his brain on more than one occasion. He hasn’t played a ton in the preseason (we had him at 36 snaps — with penalties — through the first three games of the preseason, and has one pass completed in his direction in that time), but it certainly appears he’s not hampered by any of the knee woes that managed to keep him sidelined for almost the entire duration of the 2012 season.
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|Chandler Jones on MFB: ‘I take every game seriously’||08.25.14 at 1:03 pm ET|
Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones and wide receiver Julian Edelman stopped by the WEEI studio at Gillette Stadium on Monday for a visit with Middays with MFB’s Christian Fauria and guest host Danny Picard. To hear the interviews, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Patriots are coming off a strong effort in their third preseason game, a rout of the Panthers. But Bill Belichick is known for not allowing the team to accentuate the positives very long.
“Coach is very consistent with his coaching. He’s going to coach you the same way if we win or if we lose. And that’s what makes him such a great coach,” Jones said. “He’s going to pick out the things we did wrong, and he’s going to tell you about the things you did right. A lot of that is being a professional athlete — you know when you did good or you did bad. You’ve been playing the sport for this long, you know.”
Many people look at the third preseason game as the most important, but Jones insists that he doesn’t value one more than another.
“See, I don’t look at it that way,” he said. “A lot of different people look at it differently. I take every game seriously, like it will be the last game of the season. I know some people say, ‘It’s just preseason,’ but this is an opportunity for our team to go out there and get better week in and week out. I’m excited. I’m excited for this team to go forth into Week 1.
“As far as the preseason games, some people call it the dress rehearsal, but I take every game seriously.”
Neither play knew what to expect in terms of participation in the final preseason game against the Giants.
“Around here they keep you on your toes with everything,” Edelman said. “They don’t tell you how long you’re going to play, this, that. It’s like everything’s a test. Every week you don’t know how much you’re going to be playing, this, that, and you kind of have to just prepare every day, every week, even in the preseason you’re going to be playing a lot. Because they might say you’re not playing one week or something, and they throw you in there at the last minute, probably just to try to get a test of your mental toughness or something like that. That’s huge over here with the situational and the mental aspect of the game.”
Edelman, coming off a 105-catch season last year, acknowledged he’s reached a new comfort level with Tom Brady, but he’s wary of what can happen once the real games begin.
“Yeah, it’s probably the most confident I’ve ever been. With that said, it’s a lot different circumstances from the years in the past with how things are going and how things are now,” he said. “We’ve had some good plays and we’ve had some bad plays. There’s a lot of things that we have to work on that will get exposed in the regular season. We still have a week, two weeks, to try to get that done.
“When we go out there — we’ve got the Giants this week, we play Miami, a divisional game, first game of the year. Things always on opening day, as Christian can second, it doesn’t always go the same way, everyone’s kind of new, there’s always a crazy play here or something’s going on, it’s the start of the season. So you’ve really got to get ready for those situations and being able to adjust like that.”
|Tom Brady throws a pair of TDs to Shane Vereen in sharp preseason outing||08.22.14 at 10:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The night didn’t start out smoothly for Tom Brady but by the end, his numbers spoke volumes as the Patriots starting quarterback had a productive night in the dress rehearsal for the regular season.
Brady played five series, finishing 17-of-21 for 204 yards, with a pair of touchdown passes to Shane Vereen as the Patriots built a big lead on their way to a preseason win over the Carolina Panthers. Brady’s quarterback rating was 138.9.
Brady looked a little shaky on his first two series, misfiring with Brandon LaFell on a third down pass and tripping and nearly fumbling a handoff to Shane Vereen on the next series. On the fumble, he appeared to be kneed in the back.
He came out of the game as Ryan Mallett got his only look of the night with the starting unit. Mallett led the Patriots down the field to a field goal.
Brady then played the next three series, including opening up the third quarter. Brady connected with Vereen on a perfectly executed wheel route down the right sideline for a 40-yard touchdown in the second quarter. On his final drive of the night, Brady connected with Julian Edelman on consecutive passes for gains of 18 and 35 yards, with the latter coming on a perfectly thrown ball over Edelman’s right shoulder on a go route.
Brady capped off his drive by finding Vereen in the flat on a red zone route at the Panthers 4. Vereen turned his body and stretched for the pylon for the touchdown.
Brady is likely to sit out next Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
|Julian Edelman on MFB: Patriots ‘going to adjust to how the game’s being called’||08.18.14 at 12:23 pm ET|
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman checked in with Middays with MFB as part of Patriots Monday on WEEI and discussed the high number of penalties being caused in the preseason. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
“If they’re going to call the game like that, we’ve got to get used to it for the regular season,” Edelman said. “Kind of like training a dog, we’ve got to train everyone and throw probably a little more now to get it in guys’ heads to think towards the regular season. We’re just going to play it out. Every team has to deal with it — our defense has to deal with it. That’s the route they want to go, that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
Added Edelman: “As a player, you know the rules and you’re going to go out there and you’re going to play — do business as business is being done. So if you see it’s a tight game, you’re going to tighten it up a little. If it’s not, that’s when you’re going to loosen up, get away with the push-off or something like that. You’re going to adjust to how the game’s being called.”
Edelman is coming off a breakout, 105-catch season that led to a big contract in the offseason. With his spot secure, he acknowledged approaching training camp with a slightly different mindset.
“This year has been a little different,” he said. “Now I get to really focus on my fundamentals, plays that I go out there and not have to think about a bunch of noise, what’s going on, this, that. You really get to brush up route technique. You have the experience from last year to see what guys have done on certain plays, certain techniques, certain head-bobs, all this kind of stuff. It’s good to kind to learn from last year and try to use that as a foundation and go on from there.”
Edelman professed ignorance about the African-derived term for short people but added: “He’s the commander in chief. What he says goes.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
|Danny Amendola ‘all good’ with Tom Brady calling receivers ‘pygmies’||08.06.14 at 3:49 pm ET|
After practice Tuesday, Tom Brady was asked if he appreciates throwing to 6-foot-3 Brandon LaFell.
“Absolutely. I’ve got some of the little pygmies out there like Julian and Danny and it’s nice to have a little bigger guy out there from time to time who has a bigger catch radius,” Brady joked. “Hopefully Danny and Julian don’t get mad at me for saying that. They won’t. They know I’m joking.”
Amendola confirmed Brady’s instinct after Wednesday’s walkthrough.
“I did hear that,” Amendola said with a good-natured smile. “I don’t know. It’s all good. I don’t even know what [a pygmy] is.”
That’s why we’re here. A Wikipedia search revealed the following:
A pygmy is a member of an ethnic group whose average height is unusually short; many anthropologists define pygmy as a member of any group where adult men are on average less than 150 cm tall.
For the record, Amendola (180 cm) and Edelman (178 cm) are well above the cutoff. So, how are Edelman, Amendola, LaFell and Thompkins all getting along?
“We’re all boys, we’re all really good friends,” Amendola said. “We work well together and we’re just trying to get better every day.”
Only time will tell if “The Pygmies” will join the ranks of “The Smurfs” and “The Fun Bunch” as other great diminutive receiving corps in NFL lore.
|Tom Brady thanks Wes Welker for mentoring Julian Edelman, develops chemistry with Danny Amendola||08.05.14 at 9:34 pm ET|
After a scorching practice against the Redskins Tuesday in Richmond, Brady thanked Welker for helping to develop Julian Edelman, a working relationship that continues to blossom in the Patriots passing game.
Brady was asked Tuesday if he feels he’s getting close to the same chemistry with Edelman that he had with Welker.
“Well, it’s hard to compare,” Brady said. “I think Wes was such a special player for our team and I was fortunate enough to play with him for that period. But Julian in his own right has worked his tail off. I think he really had a great mentor in Wes, someone he could really look up to.
“They play a little bit similar; different players, but they both work extremely hard. Football is so important to the both of them and I think that really wore off on Julian. Julian has worked his tail off to get where he’s at. I think he’s really taken advantage of every opportunity that he’s gotten, Julian has. I’m really proud of him. He keeps coming out and making plays and he’s done such a great job being so dependable and reliable for our team, it’s great to have him.”
What has been obvious so far in training camp practices is that Brady’s favorite target not named Rob Gronkowski is Edelman. Brady and Edelman have been clicking. Edelman has made play after play and Brady has rewarded him by looking in his direction time after time.
That doesn’t mean Brady won’t poke a little fun at Edelman and Danny Amendola, who showed flashes of brilliance on Tuesday in the marathon practice in Richmond.
“I’ve got some of the little pygmies out there like Julian and Danny and it’s nice to have a little bigger guy out there from time to time who has a bigger catch radius,” Brady said. “Hopefully, Danny and Julian don’t get mad at me for saying that. They won’t. They know I’m joking.”
That “little bigger guy” Brady refers to is Brandon LaFell, who has been getting a few more looks on the first team when not catching passes from Ryan Mallett.
“He keeps making more plays,” Brady said of LaFell. “He’s done a great job. Today he made a lot of plays out there. He’s understanding better and better. He’s a veteran. He’s savvy, knows how to run the routes, big body, big frame, makes a lot of tough catches.”
|Tuesday practice report: Tom Brady, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman show off chemistry, Vince Wilfork, Darrelle Revis show off hands||at 5:49 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — In the longest and hottest practice of training camp, the Patriots worked in pads against the Redskins for two hours, 45 minutes before cooling down.
Both teams worked up-tempo offensive drills.
Rob Gronkowski was again absent from the practice. Running back Brandon Bolden, receiver Aaron Dobson and center Bryan Stork were again absent. Matthew Slater took part in receiving drills, including red zone chances. Each offense had approximately 90 reps on the day. Alfonzo Dennard took part in individual drills but later joined Deontae Skinner and James Morris on the back field for conditioning work.
Here are some quick takeaways:
Tom Brady and Julian Edelman have looked good all summer working together but Tuesday may have been their best day yet, connecting on a variety of seam routes and sideline patters as the offense worked specifically on hurry-up and no-huddle execution. Danny Amendola also looked good, including early on when, after a Brady incompletion, Brady found Amendola twice, Shane Vereen once and Kenbrell Thompkins. The series ended with Brady connecting with a wide open Amendola down the left sideline for a touchdown.
Later, Brady fired a timing pass on an in cut to Edelman who made the catch and was popped slightly by Keenan Robinson. Edelman’s response was to get up and yell ‘Whooooo’ in Robinson’s ear hole. Brady and Edelman continue to show chemistry as Brady released the ball before Edelman made his cut. Edelman later caught a touchdown pass from Brady in 11-on-11 drills.
On defense, Vince Wilfork and Darrelle Revis provided the highlights. Early on, Wilfork intercepted a pass from Robert Griffin III, much to the surprise and delight of the several thousand Patriots fans in attendance. For the record, it was the second straight day of over 21,000 attendance at Bon Secours training complex. Later, Griffin attempted to connect with DeSean Jackson but Revis was all over the receiver in coverage and batted the pass away cleanly, though Griffin said later he thought there might have been interference on Revis on the play.
Wilfork participated in the early and later 11-on-11 drills while Zach Moore filled in for him during up-tempo and hurry-up situations. Another good sign that Wilfork is ready to go this season and recovered from his Achilles injury came when he rushed upfield later in practice and slipped to the ground. He immediately got up and ran to the sideline as part of a scheduled substitution and return several plays later as part of his regular rotation.
Despite the intense heat and humidity, there were no significant dustups or scuffles on the long day.
Patriots defensive lineman Sealver Siliga left early on with an apparent left hand injury. He returned to the field without his shoulder pads in the final 15 minutes.
The two teams will likely take it down a notch on Wednesday morning, with a walkthrough taking the place of a full scrimmage. The two teams will open the preseason Thursday in Landover, Md. at FedEx Field.
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