|Patriots, Saints not expecting to fight like Cowboys and Rams: ‘Competitive level is very high’||08.19.15 at 1:33 pm ET|
The video of Dez Bryant getting sucker punched in the face was likely all anyone on the Greenbrier resort football field in West Virginia had to see to learn an important lesson. Compete but don’t fight.
That’s what the Patriots and Saints began doing Wednesday morning when they began joint practices in White Sulphur Springs.
Patriots and Saints coaches and players were asked about the now-infamous brawl between the Cowboys and Rams Tuesday that spilled into a spectator’s area at the Cowboys’ facility in Oxnard, California.
“Obviously, when you go against a new opponent, adrenaline kicks in and the competitive level is very high,” Matthew Slater said. “It’s a very good football team we’re going against. The intensity was definitely up and I think it was good for our football team to get some good work today.”
Is there a conscious effort to stay away from the brawl situations that seem to escalate quickly?
“I’m not going to comment on those situations, but I know that Coach [Bill Belichick] has always stressed that we’re here to work and just play football, and that’s what we try to do is just try to play football and not let all that other stuff come into the picture,” Slater added.
Chandler Jones joked Saturday about how no one has ever challenged him in a football fight. He took a more serious tone Wednesday after practice.
“You understand that practice is going to be very competitive,” Jones said. “We’re out here to get better. That’s what we’re doing. Our job is to get better. The Saints are trying to get better. The Patriots are trying to get better. And that’s our main goal; that’s what we’re coming out here to do every day.”
Both Jones and Slater said they were happy to get on the practice field against another team Wednesday.
“I think it’s huge,” Slater said. “I think it’s very challenging; it’s a chance to work on your craft. I know for me, I get a lot out of these things, so I think it’s huge to be able to do this and simulate as best we can game speed in practice.
Added Jones, “It felt good to get out here and compete against a different team. You get a lot of different looks, and it’s good for our team.”
Jones said the tempo is similar to what he’s seen in the last two weeks in Foxboro.
“I feel like the coaches do a good job of getting on the same page and merging the practices together, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Jones said.
|Matthew Slater on D&H: Tom Brady is ‘the ultimate professional’||08.18.15 at 6:00 am ET|
Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Patriots Monday. Slater talked about Tom Brady and the leaders of the 2015 squad. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
The biggest storyline of the offseason, which has continued into training camp, is the lingering potential four-game suspension for Tom Brady. Fortunately, the team doesn’t need to worry about it negatively effecting Brady.
“I think Tom is the ultimate professional,” Slater said. “His focus is laser-like. He loves the game of football. He’s always going to do whatever he can to put the team first and to be a great teammate and have himself prepared. You really appreciate playing with a guy like Tom. You really appreciate his body of work he’s been able to put together over the course of his career. I know he’ll handle this like a professional and it’s up to the other 89 guys on this team to get themselves better, to continue to prepare and to continue to make steps in the right direction.”
As a captain, Slater knows what it takes to be a leader. The Patriots lost one of their biggest in the offseason when Wilfork departed for the Texans. When asked who are the two biggest leaders on the team this year, Slater named Brady, as well as Jerod Mayo.
“You look at this football team and two guys come to mind — obviously Tom [Brady] for what he’s done here. His body of work speaks for itself and the way he’s stepped up time and time again. And I think Jerod Mayo is a guy who really can relate to every guy in that locker room,” Slater said. “He’s able to touch every guy in that locker room and you’re able to appreciate having those two guys in that locker room and what they mean to this football team.”
Here are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Special teams captain Matthew Slater happy to be back on field||08.11.15 at 7:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — Suffice to say, red isn’t Matthew Slater‘s favorite color.
The Patriots special teams captain returned to the practice field for the first time this summer, but he was in a red non-contact jersey, the result of offseason shoulder surgery. That meant he was on the field for the initial series of stretches, warmups and drills, but sat for the contact work
While it was nice just to be back out there with his teammates, Slater wasn’t happy about not being a full go after being unable to put on pads for the first nine practices of camp.
“Not fun. Red means stop,” he said with a smile after his first on-field work of the summer. “It’s not something that I’m used to doing, but the medical staff knows what’s best for me, so you just have to listen to the doctor’s orders and take it one day at a time.
“It’s my job to be obedient, listen to the staff,” he added. “They have a plan. They’ve done this before, so I’m just trying to do everything that they want to have me do and take it one day at a time — and hopefully come back and be a contributing member of this team.”
The four-time Pro Bowler confessed to having some butterflies in advance of his return to the practice field.
|Bill Belichick feels special transition from Scott O’Brien to Joe Judge: ‘I think he’s a great young coach’||08.01.15 at 3:32 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It takes a lot for Bill Belichick to feel comfortable handing over his special teams unit after it’s been coached by one of the best assistants he’s ever had.
But in Joe Judge, Belichick feels as though he has someone who can begin to fill the shoes of Scotty O’Brien, who walked away from his special teams job after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale.
What has the transition been like so far in OTAs and minicamp?
“Smooth,” Belichick said. “Scott was a great coach, as good a coach as anybody I’ve ever been with and around, did a tremendous job. I learned a ton from Scott. I know Joe did, too, or has. But Joe is a great coach in his own right. Each of us have our own style.
“Joe has his own style, but very well prepared, very thorough, has great experience in the kicking game and all of the situations and techniques, both with the specialists and all the other positions on the field. Joe and I spend a lot of time together. I think he’s a great young coach.”
|Matthew Slater calls Tom Brady ‘heartbeat’ of Patriots||07.29.15 at 2:02 pm ET|
On Wednesday, the special teams captain made it clear how much he supports the signal-caller he’s known since he was drafted out of UCLA in 2008.
“I think it’s safe to say that Tom is the heartbeat of this team,” Slater said. “He’s been here longer than any player. He set the standard. He’s earned everything he’s accomplished in this league. You respect the way he approaches his craft. With that, you have 89 other guys that try to do the same thing and really try to buy into what we’re doing here. We realize that we have to work hard in order for us to have success. Nobody is going to give us anything. Nobody cares what we did last year. It’s all about taking it year to year and I think Tom is a great example of that.
“All of us in here are part of a family. We come from a family and the guys in this locker room, we feel as those we’re family in there. Good or bad, things happen in life and you stick with your family, no matter what the outcome. I think that’s the way we’re going to approach it.”
Slater also threw his complete support behind the comments from team owner Robert Kraft and appreciated the owner speaking up hours earlier, taking some of the heat off players and coaches.
“Look, Mr. Kraft is the captain of this ship,” Slater said. “He’s the captain of this organization so he speaks for all of us when he speaks. I think he said everything that needed to be said.
“In the meantime, we’re just going to focus on playing football. We’re going to focus on improving ourselves through training camp and take it one day at a time.”
|Patriots’ White House trip signifies turning page on 2014, shifting focus towards 2015||04.23.15 at 9:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — Thursday afternoon the 2014 Patriots will get together for one final time, as they will be honored by President Obama at the White House.
There have been numerous appearances over the last two-plus months that have come with being Super Bowl champions, but after Thursday the Patriots will moving on.
“I think from a team aspect standpoint, it really puts everything in the past,” safety Devin McCourty said. “I think it will helps focus on 2015 now and everything we want to do for 2015 is still out there, but we also understand we have to put the work in now.”
Many, if not all, of the departed free agents — including Darrelle Revis are scheduled to be in attendance, but after Thursday they will no longer be teammates, they will be division rivals.
“I think this kind of closes the book on 2014 and as I said, our focus needs to shift, because the other teams in this league, their focus has already shifted and they’re hungry to do what we were able to do last year,” special teams Matthew Slater said.
Even though it signifies the end of the 2014 season, the team is definitely looking forward to the experience, which for many will be the first time they will visit the White House, 2014 was their first Super Bowl win.
“I think that’s a tremendous experience, to be able to go to the White House and meet the President,” said Slater. “I know we’re all excited about it, and we’re going to enjoy it. I think we should. We’re excited.”
As the focus shifts towards the 2015 and a new season, the team is coming off a Super Bowl winning season, so they obviously did a lot of things right over the course of the year. Part of defending a championship is staying hungry and trying to get better everyday, but at the same time also realizing which things worked well last season and trying to keep them going.
“That’s a very good question. I think we’ll find out. I think it’s important, as you do every offseason, to take time, reflect on the season, look at what you did, good or bad, whether you ended up winning the Super Bowl or not,” Slater said. “It’s important to do that, reflect on it, and then at some point you have to close the door. I think there are some things that can carry over as far as what we did well, but I think we have to understand this is a different football team with different players, and it’s a new season, so we have to focus on the here and now.”
The Patriots will begin their OTAs on May 26 with mandatory mini camp a few weeks later June 16-18.
|Matthew Slater: Scott O’Brien ‘earned his retirement,’ but ‘excited to play for’ Joe Judge, Ray Ventrone||04.22.15 at 11:31 am ET|
FOXBORO — There’s no question the Patriots’ special teams played a large role in the Super Bowl winning season last year.
Whether it was blocking a field goal and returning it for a touchdown, blocking a punt, or even just a huge flip in field position, the Patriots’ special teams unit seemingly made a big play every single week.
Just two days after winning the Super Bowl, their leader, coach Scott O’Brien announced his retirement after 24 seasons in the NFL, including the last six in New England. O’Brien will remain with the organization in some capacity.
In the same release, the team announced assistant special teams coach Joe Judge would take over for O’Brien and then later the team signed former player Ray Ventrone to serve as Judge’s assistant.
“I know that the game comes to an end for all of us and I know Scott had jokingly mentioned it over the years, and I certainly didn’t want him to retire because he definitely means a lot to me personally and I know to a lot of guys around here, but he’s earned his retirement,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said.
“He’s given a lot to this game, and I know he’s excited about the next chapter. That being said, we’re excited about having Ray [Ventrone] here and Joe Judge, them starting their legacy, we’re excited to play for those guys.”
Ventrone actually played for the Patriots and Bill Belichick from 2006-08. In all he played nine seasons in the NFL, primarily used as a special teams player, registering 57 total tackles.
Slater was actually a teammate of Ventrone, and he always had a feeling one day he would become a coach.
“Certainly,” Slater said. “I think Ray was just a pro’s pro, the way he played the game and the way he prepared, he had a better understanding of the game than most guys I’ve ever played with. The way he competed, I had so much respect for him as a competitor and the passion that he played with and he’s already bringing that to the meeting room and we’re excited about it. Like I said, I’m not surprised that he’s doing what he’s doing now.”
Having a former teammate now be his coach, Slater said there was one thing he needed to be made clear before getting started.
“The big thing that I wanted to get clear with Ray was, ‘Should I call you Ray or should I call you coach Ventrone?’” Slater joked. “So it’s going to be great. Coach Ventrone is a very intelligent guy and he played this game at a high level for a long time and he really understands the game, so I’m excited to work with him, to learn from him, and I think he’s going to bring a lot to the table.”
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