|5 thoughts on return of LeGarrette Blount, state of Patriots running game||11.21.14 at 12:12 am ET|
1. In stark contrast to the nasty words that were coming out of the Pittsburgh locker room in the wake of what happened with LeGarrette Blount over the last week, on Thursday, the vibe around the Patriots was all good when it came to the newest Patriot. Special teams captain Matthew Slater called him a “great teammate,” while fullback James Develin said it was “good” to have him back. Meanwhile, Jonas Gray — who likely will see his role shrink some with the addition of Blount — said he had no problem with the move, adding that the veteran is is a “great guy to learn from.” As for what sort of role awaits him, it’s likely he’ll split duties with Gray as the primary between-the-tackles back, as well as serve as some sort of insurance policy if the stage gets too big for the youngster, or if he puts the ball on the ground at some point. It’s also possible he sees time as a part-time kick returner — with the occasional exception of Danny Amendola, no one has really done much to distinguish themselves in the position. With his background last year, it certainly makes sense for the Patriots to give him a shot back there.
2. Few teams have seen the type of turnover at the running back position as New England. With the injury to Ridley, if form holds, the Patriots will have their sixth different back lead the team in rushing in 2014 over the last decade — only four other teams (Saints, Browns, Broncos and Cardinals) have had more. Corey Dillon (2004-2006), Laurence Maroney (2007, 2009), Sammy Morris (2008), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (2010-2011) and Stevan Ridley (2012-2013). And now, with Ridley on the shelf the rest of the year, this season it figures to be either Vereen, Gray or Blount. That could change again next year, as Brandon Bolden, Ridley and Shane Vereen are all in the final year of their contracts, while Blount, Gray and rookie James White are all under contract for 2015. (In addition, Tyler Gaffney, who was claimed by the Patriots this summer but is spending the year on injured reserve because of a knee issue, is still a possibility to be a part of the mix next season.) Regardless, even with all the changes, things could still change between now and the start of next season.
3. As forward thinking as the Patriots offense — and the passing game in particular — has been the last few years, there’s something impressively retro about what New England might be able to do this season. If we operate with the idea that a “running back by committee” includes a team with four backs with at least 40 carries, it appears that for the second straight season, the Patriots will attempt to be the first team to win a Super Bowl using the “running back by committee” approach since the 1987 Redskins, who won Super Bowl. Right now, the Patriots three different backs reach with at least 69 carries (Ridley with 94, Vereen with 70 and Gray with 69). While some of those numbers are borne out of necessarily since Ridley went down, if Blount is able to click down the stretch for New England — and it’s entirely possible he can hit the 40-carry mark, given his experience in the system — he would be a fourth. If the Patriots could take the title, it would represent the greatest cross-section of work for running backs for any Super Bowl champion since that Washington team emerged with a win in Super Bowl XXII. (Of course, that Redskins team could be discounted on a penalty, as that was a strike year and one of the backs was a scab who rushed 80 times in three strike games but never played another down. If you disqualify them on a technicality, them the last true RBBC team to win a Super Bowl in a non-strike year was the 1981 Niners, a team that had five different backs finish with 40 carries or more: Ricky Patton, Earl Cooper, Johnny Davis, Walt Easley and Paul Hofer.)
|Dominique Easley (knee) misses Patriots practice||11.20.14 at 4:42 pm ET|
The Patriots practiced outside in the cold on the grass fields behind Gillette Stadium on Thursday in advance of Sunday’s game with the Lions. Chandler Jones (hip), Dominique Easley (knee) and Cameron Fleming (finger/ankle) all missed the session.
Jones hasn’t practiced since suffering the hip injury in Week 7, while Fleming didn’t practice Wednesday after leaving late in last Sunday’s game against the Colts with an ankle injury. It was Fleming’s first action since suffering a finger injury Week 4 against Kansas City, which he is still said to be dealing with. Easley missed the practice after being limited on Wednesday. It is worth noting that Wednesday’s practice was a walkthrough and Thursday’s was held in full pads.
Offensive lineman Ryan Wendell (knee) was removed from the injury report.
On a side note, Sealver Siliga was spotted at Wednesday’s walkthrough, but his 21-day window of coming off short-term injured reserve has not started yet.
For the Lions, running back Joique Bell was limited in practice after not practicing at all on Wednesday. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive lineman Nick Fairley once again did not practice.
Here is the complete Patriots practice report:
Did not practice
DL Dominique Easley (knee)
OL Cameron Fleming (finger/ankle)
DE Chandler Jones (hip)
OL Marcus Cannon (hip)
S Nate Ebner (finger)
WR Julian Edelman (thigh)
QB Tom Brady (ankle)
|Cameron Fleming (ankle/finger) misses Patriots practice, Julian Edelman (thigh) limited||11.19.14 at 4:47 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Some new injuries have appeared on the injury report for the Patriots in advance of Sunday’s meeting with the Lions at Gillette Stadium. This comes following Wednesday’s practice, which was held indoors inside the Dana-Farber Fieldhouse and was a walkthrough.
Julian Edelman (thigh) popped up on the injury report for the first time this season, and was limited in the practice. Edelman landed awkwardly on his side during the first quarter of last Sunday’s game, and has taken a beating all season long, so it really seemed like a matter of time before his name appeared. The injury did not seem to phase Edelman as he missed just a few plays.
Offensive lineman Cameron Fleming (finger/ankle) missed the practice in its entirety. Fleming injured his ankle late in Sunday’s game and did not return, while he suffered the finger injury Week 4 in Kansas City — the injury has been on the injury report since that game. Last Sunday was Fleming’s first action since Week 4.
Finally, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon (hip) was limited. It was the first time he’s appeared on the injury report this season. Cannon saw limited action Sunday as a substitute offensive lineman.
Chandler Jones (hip) once again did not practice and Matthew Slater (shoulder) was removed from the injury report. Defensive lineman Sealver Siliga returned to practice for the first time since being placed on injured reserve designated for return after injuring his foot in Week 3. The Patriots have 21 days to decide whether or not to add him to the active roster or shut him down.
For the Lions, wide receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), defensive lineman Nick Fairley (knee) and running back Joique Bell (ankle) did not practice.
Here is the full Patriots practice report:
|Tom Brady ‘doesn’t have time’ for Julian Edelman’s Kent State highlights||11.13.14 at 6:00 am ET|
But when it comes to Brady looking at Edelman’s college highlights from Kent State from when he was a quarterback, the 37-year-old Brady doesn’t have any time for that.
“I tell him probably three times a day,” Edelman said. “I try to get him to sit and look on my phone at the highlight film, but he usually doesn’t have time for my little videos. He’s a busy guy I guess. That’s what happens when you’re married with three kids and being a quarterback.”
Edelman was Kent State’s quarterback for three seasons, passing for just under 5,000 yards, but also was a very good runner — rushing for 2,483 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Brady has made a few plays with feet this season — saying on multiple occasions it is something he’s worked on — and while it may not be what the quarterback is known for, he’s been able to get the job done when he’s had to.
“If he gets to get around and scramble and get his eyes down field it’s always kind of cool because that’s how explosion plays happen,” Edelman said. “TB, he’s been working hard on all that stuff, but hopefully he just stays right where he has to and doesn’t get out there too much.”
|Tom Brady on D&C: ‘I was kind of fast and loose’ during early part of NFL career||11.10.14 at 7:32 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning and talked about living it up in his early days in the NFL and how his lifestyle habits have changed through the years. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Brady said he enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with his wife and kids during the off week.
“My family and I got away for a couple of days,” he said. “It was really nice to be with our kids. They get, not neglected this time of year, but there’s just not as much time. So it was nice to get a way for two or three days.
“Yes, I did watch football yesterday. Not really the whole day, but bits and pieces, certain games, seeing what happened in our division, which was great for our team, and a little bit of the game last night. It’s a thing to be a spectator. There’s not too many weekends where we’re really spectators — really once a year. It’s fun to just kind of sit back and watch a little bit.”
According to a recent report, teammate Julian Edelman raved about Brady’s worth ethic and noted that the QB goes to bed around 8:30 most nights.
“I do go to bed very early, ’cause I’m up very early,” Brady acknowledged. “I think that the decisions that I make are always, they always probably center around performance-enhancement, if that makes sense. So whether that’s what I eat, or what decisions I make, whether I drink or don’t drink, it’s always football-centric. I want to be the best I can be every day, I want to be the best I can be every week, I want to be the best I can for my teammates.
“I love the game and I want to do it for a long time. But I also know that if I want to do it for a long time I have to do things differently than the way that guys have always done it, because you hear stories of people when they get older this declines or this declines. I don’t really believe those things, so I have to kind of take a different approach, so strength training and conditioning, how I really treat my body, it’s important to me. Because there’s really nothing else that I enjoy like playing football. I want to do it for as long as I can. And that’s what a lot of the decisions that I make that hopefully does affect my teammates, because I know a lot of my teammates have the same goal. And a guy like Jules who’s more dedicated than anybody, he’s very much the same way. Those are the type of guys you love to play with, that are going to do everything they can to help the team, that are going to be their best all the time, in the offseason when the lights aren’t shining, that’s when it matters the most.”
Looking back on when he was just making a name for himself with the Patriots, Brady said he was able to enjoy the experience off the field.
“The 25-year-old Tom Brady had a great time. [Laughing] I probably wouldn’t change much from those days,” he said. “It was a different time than it is now, because there’s so much attention now. I don’t know how these young players do it. I was kind of fast and loose back then. I was still a responsible person. I’ve always had certain responsibilities that I’ve always felt. But I’d say more so now. When you have obviously a wife and kids, your life transitions into other things. So it’s simplified in a lot of ways. Now it’s just football and it’s being with my family, and that’s the most important stuff. I wouldn’t change anything when I was 25. I wish it would have lasted a little longer.”
|Rob Gronkowski talks spectacular catch, being back to full strength, fashion||11.06.14 at 8:28 pm ET|
Before officially taking advantage of the Patriots’ five days off on their bye week, tight end Rob Gronkowski joined the “Dan Patrick Show” answering a wide variety of questions from his play on the football field to fashion in the locker room.
Gronkowski clearly wasn’t officially 100 percent to begin the year as he was still coming back from a torn ACL suffered last December. The tight end had just 14 catches total in the first four weeks, compared to 36 and five touchdowns in the last five weeks. He says he stayed level-headed and never was frustrated because the team had a plan for him all along.
“I wasn’t frustrated at all,” Gronkowski said. “We had a game plan and just going out there doing whatever I could do, I was just happy to be out there on the field with my teammates and doing my job every single week with what I was capable of doing and going out there and playing.”
As for now, he says he is 100 percent and is actually sick of being asked the same question every single week.
“Yeah, I am. I am good to go,” he said. “I am actually kind of sick of everyone asking me every single week if I am 100 percent. It doesn’t matter. When I am out there, I’m out there. I’m giving it all I got every single game if I am out there.”
Everyone is still talking about his spectacular one-handed catch at the 1-yard during the fourth quarter in last Sunday’s win over the Broncos — a catch Tom Brady called one of the best he’s ever seen. Gronkowski has no idea how he made the catch.
|Tom Brady to appear in ‘Ted 2,’ ‘Entourage’ movies||at 9:22 am ET|
It will be a busy summer off the field for some Patriots players as a few are scheduled to appear in two movies scheduled to come out.
“Tom’s in the movie. He plays himself, but he does an amazing job. Funny, funny moment,” Wahlberg said of “Ted 2.”
Wahlberg went onto describe the scene Brady will be in.
“There were moments where I was always improvising when doing the scene with him. There are times when I’m supposed to be a super fan, so I’m trying to calm myself down before I knock on my door,” Wahlberg said. “But I’m pretending that I don’t know who he is. I keep saying he looks like different people.
“Then of course, I’m playing an air conditioning guy, so I’m asking him to sign the paper, and I ask him if he can sign that to me and Ted and put No. 12 there, and can you put Eli Manning sucks. And he put Wes Welker is a traitor, and we keep playing around and I’m staring at his eyes, and I’m like, ‘They’re bluer than Daytona Beach in MTV Spring Break.”
Wahlberg also said the quarterback isn’t the only player who will be appearing on the big screen.
“We got [Rob Gronkowski], we got [Stevan] Ridley and we got [Julian] Edelman all in the ‘Entourage’ movie. And Tom’s in the ‘Entourage’ movie,” Wahlberg said. “So, I got him in two movies. It’s going to be a big summer for those guys.”
Wahlberg, who was born in Boston, is an actor in “Ted 2″ (scheduled to debut June 26, 2015) and is one of the producers for “Entourage” (scheduled to debut June 5, 2015).