|10 questions for Patriots as summer begins||06.14.16 at 3:51 pm ET|
With the spring OTAs coming to an end this week and minicamp done, here are 10 questions — in no particular order — we still have about the Patriots as the countdown to late July and training camp begins.
1. How soon can Julian Edelman return to full strength?
If you spend time obsessively monitoring social media, it appears there is some progress when it comes to the health of Edelman. He was healthy, he was in a walking boot (for some sort of procedure on the same foot he injured late last season) and now, it appears he’s out of the boot. He wasn’t on the field all spring, at least in the workouts the media got to see. It’s not like he needs a ton of reps to get up to speed with Tom Brady, but from this perspective, getting him on the field sooner rather than later would eliminate some of the uncertainty around his situation.
2. Was Aaron Dobson’s performance a tease, or something he can build on?
There were a ton of familiar faces on the offensive side of the ball missing from minicamp, but Dobson was the guy who did the best to take advantage of the opportunities he was given. He pretty much caught everything that was thrown in his direction over the course of the three days, but what impressed us the most was his compete level when going against cornerbacks. He consistently won the one-on-one battles, and flashed some moments of real talent. For a guy who has been a non-factor the last two years, the question is now whether or not he can build on that going forward into training camp as he continues to fight an uphill battle for a roster spot at the back end of the receivers’ depth chart.
3. Is Rob Gronkowski right when it comes to Jimmy Garoppolo?
We spend a lot of time talking to people like Gronkowski and Jeff Christiansen who know more than we do about Garoppolo and his development, and they all seem to believe that he’s ready to step in to start the year if Brady is sidelined because of Deflategate. And he certainly looked the part over the course of the spring workouts — while the Patriots’ didn’t necessarily increase his workload, he looked confident and polished, at least in the sessions that were open to the media. But the truth of the matter is that there’s no way of knowing what sort of quarterback Garoppolo will be when asked to take significant snaps. As Christiansen said, the opener on the road against the Cardinals would be a challenge for any signal-caller, but at the same time, three consecutive home games would appear to set up relatively nicely for the Eastern Illinois product. Ultimately, it’s a great unknown. Like Christiansen said, that’s why we buy the tickets, right?
4. Will we get some closure on Deflategate?
We are still waiting for the other shoe to drop when it comes to the en banc hearing, which means — as of this writing — there’s still uncertainly around the quarterback position for the first four games of the regular season. Short answer? The Patriots would love some clarity at quarterback sooner rather than later. For what it’s worth, they didn’t appear to deviate from the norm when it came to quarterback reps over the course of the spring workouts that were attended by the media, as it went Brady, Garoppolo and rookie Jacoby Brissett.
5. Can Cyrus Jones step in and start at nickel corner?
Over the course of the spring workouts — both minicamp and OTAs — it was hard not to notice how comfortable the rookie out of Alabama looked while playing alongside starting defensive backs like Malcolm Butler and Devin McCourty. At this stage of the offseason, when it comes to first-year players, all you’re looking for is that they aren’t consistent error-repeaters. And while it was hard to judge defense because there were no pads on, Jones looked to have no issues when it came to keeping up with the veterans. He’ll certainly bear watching when training camp comes around, but at this point, he appears to be headed in the right direction as a third/nickel corner. In addition, with no Edelman or Danny Amendola on the field, he had plenty of chances to work as a punt returner. While he bobbled a few, he looks like he’s certainly going to be part of the conversation at that position in 2016.
|Even Bill Belichick impressed with the receivers: ‘They’ve all showed up and made plays down the field’||06.09.16 at 4:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — This week in minicamp has been a chance for the receivers behind Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola to step up.
According to Bill Belichick after the final mini-camp practice on Thursday, that’s exactly what they’ve done.
The quintet of Aaron Dobson, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Keshawn Martin and Nate Washington have looked good without the pads on.
All five of those receivers made big plays over the three days, including Dobson and Mitchell, both of whom made acrobatic catches in the end zone for touchdowns. Belichick was taking note.
“Our receivers have been good. We have good competition at that position and they’ve all showed up and made plays down the field, caught the ball well. It’s been good,” Belichick said.
And while Washington is new to the team he’s not new to the type of offense the Patriots run. His experience with former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien in Houston showed up this week, as he looked like a receiver comfortable with the routes.
“[With] Nate, they played it in Houston, so he’s kind of familiar with it,” Belichick said. “Those guys have done a good job. I think our receiver group overall has done well – gotten open, caught the ball. Nate and Keshawn have both done a good job.”
Belichick, meanwhile, surprised no one when he didn’t offer an update on the status of tight end/tackle Michael Williams. The Globe’s Jim McBride reported Thursday that Williams suffered an ACL tear on Wednesday and might be headed to injured reserve.
“I don’t think we’re doing injury reports here,” Belichick said. “Maybe the league will require us to do those.”
One of those who might step forward with Williams out is newcomer Clay Harbor.
“Professional. Works hard. He’s a versatile guy,” Belichick said of Harbor. “He’s done a lot of different things. Philadelphia and Jacksonville, he did the same thing, special teams and offense. Hopefully a number of roles if he can do them and get an opportunity to do them.”
|Bill Belichick on absence of Rob Gronkowski, others: ‘They were doing other things’||06.07.16 at 2:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick is doing his best not to feed into the mystery surrounding Rob Gronkowski.
The Patriots superstar tight end missed the first day of mandatory mini-camp Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. When asked, the Patriots coach hinted that Gronkowski was actually in the building but just not practicing on the field.
“There are a lot of players that were not on the field,” Belichick told reporters in the heat of the sun. “They were doing other things.”
Was Gronkowski expected to be there?
“All of our players are. They’re doing other things,” Belichick said.
What wasn’t clear from the answer was whether Belichick was indicating that all players are expected to be at camp or whether, indeed, they “are” in the building.
Gronkowski has been spotted often recently around Boston, including at the Myra Kraft MVP Community awards last week, where he took a break from working out to make an appearance with Tom Brady at Gillette’s Putnam Club.
Gronkowski was one of several players not spotted Tuesday. Also not on hand were Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, LeGarrette Blount, Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer.
Belichick was also asked if all players reported to mini-camp.
“I don’t know. Whoever is here is here,” the coach said.
There were special guests on hand Tuesday for the start of mini-camp as members of the Navy football coaching staff stood on the side and observed.
“They’re just up here to watch what we’re doing. We have a great relationship with Ken [Niumatalolo],” Belichick said of the head coach of the Midshipmen. “He’s been a good friend and everything I’ve asked, he’s always been there for me.”
Joe Cardona, a graduate of the Naval Academy in 2015, reported to mini-camp on Tuesday. He is beginning his second year with the Patriots.
Belichick said he didn’t know the status of his long-snapper and his availability going forward this summer or whether Naval commitments might take precedence.
“Just keep making progress,” Belichick said. “Each day, just try to build on the day before. A lot of new faces, a lot of new installation, so just grind through it day by day.
“We’re all starting all over. We’re all starting all over, coaches, players, everybody. It’s a new year, we’re all starting over.”
|Patriots teammates support Tom Brady at Best Buddies football game||06.04.16 at 9:52 am ET|
ALLSTON, Mass. — The Patriots were well represented at Tom Brady’s Best Buddies football game Friday night.
Joining Brady were teammates: Julian Edelman, Danny Amenedola, Rob Ninkovich, Dion Lewis and James White. The game raises money for Best Buddies and then Saturday is the Challenge — a walk, run and ride all to benefit Best Buddies International.
“I think it’s awesome,” Edelman said. “Every year the crowd gets bigger. It’s one of those things where you look forward to every year.”
It was Lewis’ first game and he said he’s always up for supporting Brady.
“It’s a great cause,” Lewis said. “I’m always up for a great cause. Tom is a great guy. Any way I can support him I definitely am going to do that.”
Despite rehabbing his knee following ACL surgery last year, Lewis was able to play in the game, although at half speed. Edelman was the only player not to see the field, as he stood on the sidelines with a boot on his injured left foot. He didn’t want to discuss the timetable for a return to the field.
“We’re not here to talk about that, we’re here to talk about Best Buddies,” he said.
Brady was the quarterback for both teams and on one play he was able to show his mobility in the pocket. See the video below.
Tom Brady showing off his tremendous mobility in the pocket pic.twitter.com/9JcB45rsus
— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) June 3, 2016
|Danny Amendola (reported knee, ankle surgeries) plays in Tom Brady’s Best Buddies game||06.03.16 at 9:39 pm ET|
ALLSTON, Mass. — Tom Brady’s Best Buddies game was held Friday night at Harvard Stadium and had two somewhat surprise participants — Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis.
Lewis, who is coming off of ACL surgery last November, participated at half speed, but Amendola who reportedly had offseason ankle and knee surgeries, looked very good for someone who recently went under the knife. Both were not present at last week’s OTA session open to the media.
Amendola agreed to a contract restructure in May that lowered his 2016 cap hit. Another receiver who reportedly has underwent surgery recently in Julian Edelman was present in a walking boot, but didn’t participate in the game.
Below is video of Amendola moving well.
Danny Amendola playing in the game and moving well pic.twitter.com/BrBx2sFbYz
— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) June 3, 2016
|Julian Edelman celebrates 30th birthday with Patriots teammates in walking boot||05.22.16 at 9:31 pm ET|
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman turned 30 years old on Sunday and video courtesy of Danny Amendola on Twitter showed the two receivers celebrating with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and others over the weekend.
From a football standpoint, it’s worth noting Edelman still had a walking boot on his left foot. A few weeks ago he was seen with one on and reported he had surgery on his left foot, but was on track to return for training camp.
It doesn’t seem like the walking boot prohibited Edelman from enjoying his big day.
— Danny Amendola (@DannyAmendola) May 22, 2016
|Julian Edelman at No. 87 on NFL Network’s ‘Top 100′ list||05.11.16 at 8:32 pm ET|
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman came in at No. 87 on the NFL Network’s “Top 100″ countdown on Wednesday night.
The 6-foot, 198-pound Edelman is the first New England player on the list, which is put together through a vote of the players. In the segment, several players were asked about Edelman’s abilities, with former Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings one of the guys who was left gushing about his skill set.
“He takes a lot of hits. He takes a ton of hits,” Jennings said of Edelman. “But he’s going to catch everything that comes in his vicinity.”
He added: “I love watching guys like that because they’re the smaller-statured guys. But their heart is bigger than anyone on the field.”
This is the second appearance on the Top 100 list for Edelman. Last year, he was No. 91.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
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