|What would right tackle look like for Patriots if they lose Sebastian Vollmer?||03.21.13 at 9:39 am ET|
We recently rated right tackle Sebastian Vollmer as one of the best remaining free agents on the market, so it’s logical to ask — like we did in the case of Wes Welker before he signed with the Broncos — what the Patriots might do at the position if he does sign elsewhere.
A second-round pick out of the University of Houston in 2009, Vollmer has established himself as one of the best right tackles in the league. He’s struggled with injury at times over the course of his four-year career in New England – he missed 10 games in 2011 because of a variety of ailments, including back and knee issues – but when healthy, the 6-foot-8, 320-pounder from Germany has managed to carve out an impressive resume that included a second-team All-Pro nod in 2010 and an overall grade of +28.2 from the folks at Pro Football Focus for his work this past season.
But if Vollmer left as a free agent, how would the look of the tackle position change in New England? At this point, the left tackle spot is fairly secure, as Nate Solder is coming off his first full season at the position, and figure to be entrenched there for the near future. While there’s always the possibility the Patriots could draft a tackle next month, if New England was to lose Vollmer, the next man up right now is likely Marcus Cannon.
The TCU product, a 6-foot-5, 340-pounder, has played in 23 games since being drafted by the Patriots in 2011, starting one of them. After undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that year, he returned to the football field, and ended up playing 168 snaps as a rookie while filling in at right tackle. In 2012, he lined up at both right and left tackle over the course of the season, and started one game on the right side (Thanksgiving night in New Jersey against the Jets). Overall, according to PFF, he played 182 snaps over the course of the season, and PFF had him finish the year with a +3.6 grade while being responsible for one sack, one quarterback hit and one quarterback hurry.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke very highly of Cannon — who has some positional versatility in that he can play some guard as well as tackle — and his game at the AFC coaches breakfast earlier this week.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Bill Belichick thankful for his players’ ‘preparation’ and ‘execution’||11.23.12 at 5:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Patriots coach Bill Belichick knew this week would be a challenge. A late afternoon game on Sunday against the upstart Colts and Andrew Luck followed by a night game four days later against their AFC East rival that pushed them to OT in October.
Well, 108 points later, the Patriots went from 6-3 to 8-3 and in complete control of the AFC East, all but assuring their 10th division title in 12 seasons. In the afterglow of Thursday’s 49-19 feast on the Jets at MetLife Stadium, Belichick gave credit to his players for their work on a tight schedule.
“As we talked about [Thursday] night, I think after going through the film that it was really apparent that the preparation that our players put into this game certainly helped us with our overall execution,” Belichick said in a Friday afternoon conference call. ” I thought we had a real good three days, four days of preparation for the game – a lot of concentration, focus, attentiveness, attention to detail and all those things came out in different aspects of the game. So, I’ll give credit to the players, the way they prepared and performed. I thought we had good energy last night.
“Obviously the big plays in the game really tilted the game strongly in our favor so that was important. We’ll try to take the next day or so to kind of get caught up and get re-organized. We never even had a chance to spend much time at all on the Indianapolis game so we’ll need to catch up a little bit on that and of course the Jet game from last night, as quickly as possible and put that behind us and turn the page onto Miami. It’s good to get a couple wins over the Jets and certainly it was good to get the bonus points from the turnovers on defense and the kicking game, not only turnovers but to end up with significant points on the board. Those plays are always especially good to see because it’s hard to count on them. When you get them, it really shifts the game quickly.”
Belichick’s sign of gratitude was to give the players three days off, in essence giving them a second bye weekend in four weeks. The players don’t have to report to Foxboro until midday Monday to get ready for the Dolphins in South Florida on Dec. 2.
“It was good to see us respond very positively to the challenge of going down and playing the Jets on Thanksgiving night. But there’s a new challenge every week,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to respond to future challenges in the same positive way, by using the same methods: working hard, being attentive, putting extra things into it; doing extra things at this time of year can really pay off and make a difference.
“I hope that we can all see the benefit of doing that, in terms of what the results were and hopefully going forward we can build on this and get that same type of preparation and attention to the little things that will make a difference for us. I hope this will be a good…we always talk about it, it isn’t like we don’t ever do it, I just thought this was doing everything [with] the timeframe and all that we were working with, that it was a very good effort by the players to respond. Hopefully we’ll be able to do it again.”
Here is the remainder of Belichick’s Q and A with reporters on Friday afternoon: Read the rest of this entry »
|Setting the scene: Patriots-Bills||09.30.12 at 10:03 am ET|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 60s are expected for the 1 p.m. ET kickoff between the Patriots and Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Winds should be light out of the northeast between 5-10 mph. Showers are expected to taper off about an hour before kickoff, with an 80 percent chance of rain about an hour into the game.
The Patriots have already ruled out six players, including Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins. The offensive lineman will miss the game with a hip injury that caused him to miss practice all week. Mankins was left behind in New England and did not make the trip to Western New York with the team.
To provide insurance along the offensive line with Mankins out, the Patriots brought back Matt Tennant, signing the free agent on Saturday. Tennant, 25, was originally claimed off waivers by the Patriots from New Orleans on Sept. 1 and was released on Sept. 4, 2012. He is a veteran of two NFL seasons with the Saints. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder was drafted by the Saints in the fifth round (158th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Boston College. He has played in 28 NFL games as the Saints primary backup at center and guard. Last season, he played in 12 regular season games and both postseason games. Tennant was released by the Saints on Aug. 31, 2012. Tennant will wear No. 69.
Donald Thomas, Marcus Cannon Nick McDonald and Tennant are the options for the Patriots to fill the void left by Mankins, with Dan Connolly possibly shifting to left guard and Thomas filling in at right guard, something Thomas did often in training camp and preseason. Cannon played guard in college before the Patriots moved him to right tackle.
Also out are wide receiver Julian Edelman (left hand), defensive linemen Justin Francis (ankle) and Brandon Deaderick (ankle), defensive back Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring) and tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle).
As a result, the Patriots will need to scratch just one more player 90 minutes before kickoff. After making his debut last Sunday night, tight end Kellen Winslow was released for what Bill Belichick said was “personal reasons.” As a result, the Patriots head into today’s game with just three active tight ends.
One of those tight ends, Rob Gronkowski, is nursing a hip injury that showed up on Friday’s injury report as questionable but is expected to play.
For the Bills, running backs Fred Jackson (knee) and C.J. Spiller (shoulder) are listed as questionable for the game. Jackson missed the last two weeks with a knee injury while Spiller injured his shoulder in the first quarter of last week’s win in Cleveland.
Jackson has been cleared to play and Spiller is expected to play, according to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News.
The Bills will be looking to beat the Patriots in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1999-2000.
After last week’s debacle with the replacement officials in Baltimore, this week marks the first weekend back with the regular officials. John Parry will be the lead referee, wearing No. 132. The 47-year-old Parry has 12 years of NFL officiating experience and has been a referee since 2007. He is familiar with the Patriots, having served as the referee of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
Parry will be joined Dan Ferrell (umpire), Derick Bowers (head linesman), Rusty Baynes (line judge), Scott Edwards (field judge), Ron Torbert (side judge) and Perry Paganelli (back judge).
|Bill Belichick on Stevan Ridley: ‘I thought he ran hard’||09.10.12 at 6:11 pm ET|
FOXBORO — On Sunday, Bill Belichick watched Stevan Ridley run the ball 21 times for 125 yards and get rewarded with a one-yard TD run. On Monday, Belichick watched the film and it confirmed what he saw from the sidelines.
“I thought he ran hard, he had some good runs,” Belichick said of Ridley, who had a 17-yard run for his longest of the day. “He had some other runs that we’ve talked about that could have been better. I thought he finished runs, he ran hard, broke a couple tackles in the secondary. Overall, we just need to be more consistent with the running game.
“I think we still left some yards out on the field, plenty of them, for one reason or another, combination of everything. Just keep trying to improve that, but there were some good plays to the outside, we were able to get outside, get to the off-tackle, outside areas. Stevan made some yards after contact and in a couple cases, he made secondary players miss around the line of scrimmage and got some extra yardage.”
Tom Brady emphasized after the win how important a strong running game was to a tough, physical team and thought Ridley established that. Belichick agreed, adding there are still some areas where Ridley can improve even more. In 2006, Laurence Maroney had a breakout game against the Bengals on Monday night football in Cincinnati when he ran for 125 yards on 15 carries. It was his only 100-yard game of the season and he reached the century mark just six more times in his career, which ended in 2010.
So, what’s the key to consistency and not leaving “yards on the field”?
“A combination of things,” Belichick said. “Running game involves a lot in terms of footwork, technique, setting up blocks, reading the hole properly – any of those things can put the linemen at a disadvantage or not take advantage of an opportunity that’s there.”
Of course, at the end of last season, Ridley was benched in the AFC Championship and Super Bowl after fumbling in the Denver playoff game.
Belichick was asked Monday if he has stressed that this year to Ridley.
“We stress it every week,” Belichick said. “I’ve never not stressed it since I’ve coached. It’ll always be stressed; that will never be not stressed.
“With everybody specifically, doesn’t matter – anybody that touches the ball. Anybody that touches the ball, there’s nothing more important than possession of the ball. Anybody that handles it, that’s their number one job – take care of it.”
The rest of Belichick presser from Monday touched on a number of things – Tom Brady’s nose, Dan Connolly, who appeared to get injured blocking for Ridley’s TD run in the third quarter, and Marcus Cannon debuting at right guard midway through the game.
|Bill Belichick on Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon: ‘They did a pretty good job’ against Eagles||08.21.12 at 9:13 pm ET|
The two Patriots starting tackles — Nate Solder on the left side and Marcus Cannon on the right side — appeared to struggle at times on Monday against the Eagles. They were both victimized on a strip-sack when Phillip Hunt blew past Cannon and Darryl Tapp flew past Solder. To compound the problems, Cannon was flagged for holding. It was the second penalty of the preseason for Cannon and the fourth for the offensive line through two games.
On Tuesday afternoon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised the work of Solder and Cannon, saying “those guys handled their situations” against a difficult Philadelphia pass rush.
“They did a pretty good job,” Belichick said of Solder and Cannon. “It’s a very good front that the Eagles have and they have some depth in it too. They rotate guys through — they have good depth up front. I thought those guys did a pretty good job. Not perfect obviously, there are certainly things that they need to improve on too; there were a couple plays that they can learn from. But overall, I thought they did a pretty solid job.”
The Patriots offensive line is really worth keeping an eye on this week. After two weeks, it figures to get some help this week with the return of two veterans: After spending spring and the first part of summer on the sidelines because of offseason knee surgery, left guard Logan Mankins is set to continue his second week of practice in pads. Meanwhile, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is also reportedly set to come off PUP, and while it’s unlikely he’ll play against the Bucs on Friday, his return should further stabilize the offensive line and create some continuity for a group that has had problems with consistency over the last month.
|Rating the Roster, Part 1||02.10.12 at 1:02 am ET|
With the 2011 season in the rear-view mirror — and the Patriots facing a number of key personnel decisions — it seems like a good time to break down the current 53-man roster, taking a look at who might be the most valuable members of the franchise.
We arrived at this list by considering a combination of factors, including overall ability, positional versatility, expectations, contract situation and place on the depth chart. We also looked at what might be best described as intangibles — loosely defined as a mixture of clubhouse character and willingness to work. In all, it helped us determine the overall value of each player within the Patriots system.
A quick note: The 53 players were taken straight from New England’s postseason media guide, the most up-to-date listing available. That means injured players such as Andre Carter, Mike Wright, Jermaine Cunningham, Dan Koppen and Ras-I Dowling, as well as practice squadders are not included for purposes of this exercise.
We start with No. 53 through No. 26.
53. Safety Sergio Brown: Fewer players slid down the depth chart as precipitously as Brown, who opened the season in a regular rotation at safety (he played every snap of a Week 3 loss to Buffalo) but saw virtually zero meaningful snaps after the Week 12 win over Philadelphia. His low point was a costly pass interference penalty in the regular-season loss to the Giants that set up the game-winning score.
52. Linebacker Gary Guyton: Guyton began the year as a starter, but like Brown, slid quickly down the depth chart. A solid locker room presence and good buddy of Jerod Mayo, he will almost certainly be elsewhere next season.
51. Safety Malcolm Williams: A defensive back who was a seventh-round pick of the Patriots last April, he saw limited action this season as a special teamer, getting into a December win over the Redskins.
50. Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco: The Patriots preach value, and there have been few instances of them getting less value for a player than New England got for Ochocinco in 2011. The wide receiver was the recipient of a $6 million base salary, and had just 15 catches on the season. Needless to say, if he does return, it will be with a reworked deal.
49. Defensive end Alex Silvestro: He will always be known to the world as The Guy Who Took Tiquan Underwood’s Spot The Day Before The Super Bowl, he’s someone the organization likes, but still needs more seasoning.
48. Defensive back Nathan Jones: A late-season pickup who bounced around the league before landing with the Patriots, he was thrown right into the action as soon as he showed up — four days after he was signed, he started at corner against the Colts. A veteran, if he is back next season, it will be to provide depth in the secondary.
47. Long snapper Danny Aiken: No problems this season from Aiken at the long snapper spot, as the New England specialists had a good season.
46. Offensive lineman Donald Thomas: A youngster out of UConn, he was used sparingly for a snap here or there throughout the course of the regular season until the regular-season finale. A youngster who provides good depth along the offensive line.
45. Linebacker Niko Koutouvides: A good complementary player, Koutouvides provided depth on special teams and the occasional snap on defense. (The sight of him split wide in coverage late in the year against the Colts was one of the more interesting images of the season.)
44. Fullback Lousaka Polite: A solid locker room presence in his relatively short time with the Patriots, he played just 24 snaps in his four games with New England, including 14 in the postseason. It will be interesting to see what the Patriots do with Polite going forward, as they haven’t had a full-time, traditional fullback on the roster for a full season since Heath Evans in 2008.
43. Running back Shane Vereen: The rookie never seemed to recover after an early hamstring issue kept him on the shelf for an extended stretch (he was only involved in three games this past season), but it will be interesting to see what he can do with a full offseason in the facility. There may be some shuffling at the running back position this offseason (veteran Kevin Faulk could retire, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a free agent), and as a result, there could be some opportunities there for Vereen in 2012.
42. Quarterback Ryan Mallett: The rookie didn’t play at all in the regular season, but was a good teammate who, by all accounts, kept his eyes and ears open and his mouth shut. As has always been the case, it’s curious what the endgame will be between Mallett and the Patriots. Is he trade bait? Or is he in New England’s future plans?
|A closer look at the inactives for the Super Bowl: No Kevin Faulk, but Chad Ochocinco dressed and ready to go||02.05.12 at 5:08 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — The following Patriots are inactive for Sunday’s game against the Giants: Ryan Mallett, Kevin Faulk, Shane Vereen, Gary Guyton, Donald Thomas, Nick McDonald and Ron Brace.
No colossal surprises on the list, but the biggest name might be Faulk, a veteran who might have played his last game with the Patriots. With Faulk on the sideline, the Patriots will try their hand with rookie running back Stevan Ridley, who had been a healthy scratch previously, ostensibly because of a fumbling problem. Look for Ridley to serve as the backup on Sunday to BenJarvus Green-Ellis when it comes to working as the traditional, between-the-tackles runner.
One intriguing name who wasn’t on the list was wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who was a healthy scratch for the AFC championship game, but now figures to be dressed and ready to go for his first career Super Bowl. This also marks the first time in several weeks that right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is active.
Meanwhile, Thomas and McDonald are likely the victims of a numbers game (both have been inactive more often than not in recent weeks), and rookie Marcus Cannon and Ryan Wendell will likely stand to benefit when it comes to playing time. Mallett and Vereen are rookies who have been more inactive than most over the course of the season, while Guyton has dramatically slipped off the depth chart and Brace has failed to break through over the course of the regular season.
2013 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2013 NFL DRAFT
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