|Tom Brady isn’t afraid of (preseason) blitzes: ‘You figure out how to solve the problem’||08.21.14 at 6:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As far as Tom Brady is concerned, go ahead and bring the heat, even in the preseason.
And certainly, with the Carolina Panthers coming to town Friday, the opponent certainly has the wherewithal to execute a blitz or two.
But usually, in the preseason, defensive coordinators like to hold off on showing too much on film when it comes to exotic or advanced defensive approaches. And offensive coordinators, similarly, do the same.
However, usual and customary are not two words commonly used to describe Rex Ryan. The Jets coach watched last Saturday as his defense was torched by Andy Dalton for 144 yards on 8-for-8 passing and a touchdown. His response? Start blitzing the Bengals second and third stringers along the offensive line.
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander took some offense.
But if the Panthers want to do the same from the start against Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback says he’d have no problem with it, since there is no “wrong” defense to play, even in the third preseason game.
“They can blitz, they can do whatever they want to do,” Brady said. “Every defense is right. Like every call, there is risk and reward to everything. If they’re going to blitz, then you’ve got to figure out a way to beat the blitz. If you don’t fix the blitz, they’re just going to keep running them. It’s the same thing on offense.”
Then Brady got to the heart of the matter and revealed what competition is all about, even in games that don’t count.
“If you see a weakness, you’re just going to keep going to it, and that’s what separates pro-caliber players from guys who aren’t. There are guys who can fix problems and know that this is what a team is trying to do, and then you figure out how to solve the problem, and then they’ve got to work on something else. But if you know there are weaknesses, that’s what you go after. That’s what pro football is all about.
“We’ve got two games left, and they’re both very important for our season, for our preparation leading up to the opener. Coach told us we’re going to get a lot of work, and what that means I don’t know. I don’t think anyone ever knows with him. But we’ll be prepared and ready to go for 60 minutes, and hopefully it’s a good 60 minutes. We’ve had a couple doozies in the third preseason game lately, and it’d be nice to have a good one.”
Brady also took some time to talk about the other Ohio team, which named its starting quarterback this week, old friend and teammate Brian Hoyer, Brady’s back-up between 2009 and 2011. Hoyer was chosen as the Browns starting QB over Johnny Manziel this week by Cleveland coach Mike Pettine.
“I love Brian. He’s just such a great guy, person and friend. We’ve always kept in touch,” Brady said. “I’m proud of him. He’s fought through some tough circumstances over the years, being released here, going to Arizona, getting a little bit of an opportunity there, and then really taking advantage of his opportunity in Cleveland. It’s great for him, and he’s a great player, so I’m very happy for him.”
FOXBORO — Every once in a while, there’s a player perfectly suited to play with Tom Brady.
But there’s one player who fits into that category, a player who most certainly has flown under the radar since his arrival in New England as an all-purpose player.
Since being released off Cincinnati’s practice squad in the middle of the 2012 season, James Develin has found a home in New England. Develin is the kind of Patriot Bill Belichick, and by extension, Tom Brady, loves having around. He was a defensive end at Brown before switching over to tight end and fullback with the Bengals and the Patriots.
He played in all 16 games last season for the Patriots, carrying the ball four times for 10 yards. But that hardly tells the story for the fullback. Three of those carries were for first downs. The other? his first career touchdown. He was targeted four times in the passing game, catching all four passes for 62 yards and three first downs.
On Wednesday, Brady was asked about Develin’s evolution as a player.
“He’s done such a great job,” Brady said. “He’s such a selfless player, great teammate. I don’t think there is a better fullback in the league, so I’m so happy he’s on our team, and what he’s been able to accomplish for our team has been awesome. He brings so much in terms of his toughness, his attitude. It’s that one position on offense that can really bring a lot of toughness. You get it out of that fullback position. He does whatever the team asks him to do. I can’t say enough good things about him because I think so highly of him.”
|LeGarrette Blount, Le’Veon Bell arrested for possession of 20 grams of marijuana||08.20.14 at 8:59 pm ET|
Apparently the Patriots made the right move not bringing back LeGarrette Blount.
The Patriots’ second-leading rusher of 2013 was arrested Tuesday afternoon, along with fellow Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell, for possession of marijuana after Steelers practice.
Ross Township Police Department detective Brian Kohlhepp told the Associated Press that Pittsburgh’s top two tailbacks were in a car together when they were stopped at about 1:20 p.m. Kohlhepp told AP that motorcycle officer Sean Stafiej smelled marijuana smoke coming from the car and pulled it over. Police subsequently found a container of approximately 20 grams of pot in the vehicle.
Both Bell and Blount are expected to be charged with possession of marijuana. Bell is also expected to be charged with driving under the influence. An unidentified female in the car is also expected to be charged with possession of marijuana. Authorities also say all three persons in the car admitted the marijuana belonged to all three of them.
Blount signed with the Steelers this offseason after rushing for 772 yards and seven touchdowns on 153 carries last season in New England, a performance that earned him a two-year, $3.85 million dollar deal in the Steel City. Blount signed a one-year deal in May 2013 with the Patriots for $680,000.
Instead of re-signing Blount, the Patriots drafted James White and Roy Finch to back-up established veterans in Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and fullback James Develin.
As for Bell, the Steelers took their lead feature back in the second round of the 2013 draft, and he won the starting job as a rookie, totaling 244 carries for 860 yards and eight touchdowns in ’13.
The case will go forward, and likely be resolved, before the NFL steps in and decides on possible discipline for Bell and Blount.
|Tom Brady expects to play a half, ‘hopefully, play a lot more than that’ against Panthers||at 6:16 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady knows what everyone else does about preseason game No. 3 – it’s the real dress rehearsal for the regular season opener on Sept. 7 in South Florida.
And Brady will be going up against a very physical and aggressive Panthers team that is thinking along the same lines when the Patriots and Carolina square off Friday night at Gillette Stadium.
For that reason, Brady and his offensive mates have done a lot of game-planning off tape from their game last November in Charlotte and Carolina’s first two preseason games to be ready for what’s ahead Friday.
“We’ve done a bunch of that, and it’s a good game to really gauge where we’re at because we’re playing a really good team, a great defense ‘ one that we played last year and really struggled with at times,” Brady said, referencing the 24-20 loss to the Panthers on the controversial no-call involving Luke Kuechly and Rob Gronkowski in the end zone. “So, this will tell us where we’re at. We’ve got to go out there and execute really well in order to move the ball down the field. They’ve got some of the best linebackers, a very good secondary and one of the best pass rushes in the league. It’s a good challenge, and I think the guys are excited. This is big week that we’ve tried to make some improvements, and we’ll see if it pays off.”
Besides Kuechly, the Panthers feature linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive linemen Greg Kelly and Star Lotulelei who combined to sack Brady twice while recording three tackles for losses in the Panthers’ win. Game planning for this preseason opponent only makes sense.
“Yeah, definitely,” Brady said. “I think this has been a good week of preparation for us. In the last two weeks, we’ve actually had the opportunity to practice against both those teams, which you’re kind of learning on the fly. We didn’t do a lot leading up to those two weeks because we figured the three days of practice would get us familiar enough. This week has been much more like a normal week.
|Aaron Dobson says competition with Kenbrell Thompkins, Brandon LaFell will ‘bring the best out of us’||at 3:18 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Aaron Dobson has been battling his own health. Now he can begin the battle for his job.
Dobson suffered a stress fracture during his rookie season of 2013 and never fully recovered, eventually having surgery on the foot in March and missing OTAs and minicamp.
In the time he spent healing from his surgery and trying to get back up to full speed, the received watched as other downfield threats such as Kenbrell Thompkins and Brandon LaFell passed him on the depth chart, taking valuable reps in practice and the first two preseason games.
Now, since returning this week to practice, he can begin the task of winning back a job that was his before his foot issues.
“Definitely, competition is always a good thing, just all of us being out there, pushing each other, holding each other accountable,” Dobson said. “Competition is good. It’s going to bring the best out of us.
“It’s feels good just to be out there, just practicing and running around a little bit, catching the ball. It just feels good to be back into it.”
When he stayed on the field last year, he was a legitimate downfield threat for Tom Brady, arguably his best. Dobson caught 37 passes for 519 yards, four touchdowns and a 14.0 yards per catch average. To get back to that point, Dobson knows he has to get back into game shape.
|Sebastian Vollmer misses third straight day, Sealver Siliga works on side as Patriots work in shorts, shells||at 12:49 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s looking like Sebastian Vollmer won’t be in the lineup for the team’s most significant preseason game.
For a third straight day, the starting right tackle was not spotted as the Patriots worked in shorts and shells Wednesday on the grass fields outside Gillette Stadium.
Vollmer started and played 22 of 91 snaps on Friday against the Eagles with the starting offensive line, as did starting left guard Logan Mankins. Friday night, starters are expected to play the bulk of the first half against Carolina, meaning the Patriots will have to find some alternate plan for their offensive line protecting Brady.
One option for right tackle could be Nate Solder, who has played both tackle positions in the past, including on Friday when he reported as a tackle-eligible on the right side. Vollmer is coming back from a gruesome broken right leg, suffered against the Dolphins last October.
Teams are not required to disclose medical or injury issues during preseason so it’s not clear why Vollmer has been out the last three days.
If Vollmer is dealing with a significant injury issue, then it’s likely Marcus Cannon, who played some left tackle against the Eagles, could step in and fill the void at right tackle.
One bit of possibly encouraging news was the sighting of defensive tackle Sealver Siliga working out with training staff on the lower practice field. Siliga injured his left hand in the joint practices with the Redskins and has not been cleared for full contact practices since. He missed the first two preseason games and headed back to Boston for an exam.
Other players missing again Wednesday were tight ends D.J. Williams and defensive lineman Chris Jones. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, linebacker Cameron Gordon and offensive lineman Chris Martin were also not spotted during practice, as he did on Monday and Tuesday, Hoomanawanui left after stretching and headed down to the lower practice field to work with trainers.
The Patriots continue to be one of the most valuable commodities in sports.
The Cowboys are surpassed by only the soccer superpower Real Madrid ($3.4 billion) in terms of overall net worth among all global sports franchises. Thanks in part to Cowboys Stadium (a.k.a. “JerryWorld”), Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has seen his value rise by 36 percent over 2013.
The Cowboys top Forbes’ rankings by a healthy margin for an eighth consecutive season, having risen in value by $900 million over the last 12 months to become the only NFL team worth more than $3 billion.
Here’s the top 5 franchises in the NFL:
1. Cowboys $3.2 billion
2. Patriots $2.6B
3. Redskins $2.4B
4. NY Giants $2.1B
5. Texans $1.85B
The Cowboys have the NFL’s highest revenue ($560 million) and operating income ($246 million). This year, Jones added something new and different – partnerships with a worldwide luxury watch and cruise line, an NFL first.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are seven teams are worth less than $1 billion: the Chargers ($995 million), Bengals ($990 million), Raiders ($970 million), Jaguars ($965 million), Lions ($960 million), Bills ($935 million) and the Rams ($930 million).
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