|Bill Belichick wants to see if this Patriots team (like several others) can show ‘mental toughness’||08.19.14 at 10:12 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick hasn’t seen much losing in his career as a head coach, especially in New England.
The only sub-.500 season Belichick has endured with the Patriots was his first, when the 2000 team went 5-11. The next season, his team started 0-2 but ended up as Super Bowl champions. He’s been a record-setting winner ever since.
In Cleveland, of course, it was different. He had losing seasons in four of his five seasons by Lake Erie and endured the most arduous end to a season imaginable. So, Belichick does remember what losing was like. And he remembers something else, a bad feeling in training camp and preseason usually is never followed by a successful regular season.
On Tuesday, he explained why.
“I think it’s probably just an overall feeling,” Belichick said. “Just the way that the team works, the way they respond to the things they’re asked to do in camp and how they handle some of the tests that they’re put through. It’s a grind. It’s tough. It’s a very competitive situation. It’s a challenge for the team ‘ not just the players – but the entire organization to handle all the things you have to handle in training camp, without something kind of internally being a problem and being ready to go.”
There was no bigger potential distraction than what the 2013 Patriots had to deal with heading into camp, when star tight end Aaron Hernandez was released after being charged with the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. But that was dealt with on the first day. There was the forearm injury of Rob Gronkowski and whether he would be ready to start the season. That actually became a bigger soap opera but eventually he returned and the team rolled to a second straight 12-4 season and a third straight trip to the AFC championship.
In 2011, owner Robert Kraft lost his wife Myra over the summer after helping negotiate the end of the labor impasse. That year, inspired from the start, the Patriots overcame the Ravens in the AFC championship and nearly overcame Rob Gronkowski‘s bum ankle in a heart-breaking Super Bowl loss to the Giants. The seed of toughness of the 2011 and 2013 teams were sowed in the summer.
“You have to be able to show some mental toughness, some ability to block out distractions and focus on your job and improving individually and as a team and all those things,” Belichick reminded everyone Tuesday. “If you can do those over a training camp period of, call it six weeks, then it’s probably a pretty good indication that you have a chance to do it during the year. If you don’t, then it’s probably an indication that when the pressure really comes on during the season, which the pressure is going to mount for the team as the season goes, I’d say the likelihood of it all just magically coming together without a legitimate foundation, I haven’t had a lot of great experience with that.”
In 2001, the Patriots started 0-2, lost their starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe to a life-threatening injury and had an offensive lineman in Joe Andruzzi, whose brother helped save lives at Ground Zero on 9/11. The Patriots somehow managed to overcome the distractions and play with the right kind of emotion, finishing 11-5 en route to a stunning Super Bowl win that started a dynasty.
Of course, Belichick has seen the flip side when his 1995 Browns were submarined by owner Art Modell‘s mid-season announcement he was moving to Baltimore in 1996. The City of Cleveland was devastated and that Browns team could never recover, finishing 5-11.
|Brandon LaFell was ‘shellshocked’ at first but is ‘way more comfortable’ with Tom Brady now||at 2:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There’s nothing like one of the greatest quarterbacks in history to help you get acclimated to new surroundings.
“From OTAs, if I had to put it on a scale from 0-to-10, it’s like an ’8′ now,” LaFell said when asked about his comfort level with the Patriots offense. “In OTAs, I was shellshocked. I didn’t know what to expect. Everything was all new to me. I was in Carolina for the last four years so I got used to that routine, got used to that playbook. Everything is new here and since the beginning of camp, I feel way more comfortable, just being in the huddle with Brady, hearing him call the plays and stuff like that, I’m way more comfortable.
“For me, it was just language. Everybody in the league pretty much runs the same plays, just terminology, different language.”
“It’s going to be a little weird, just going out there and seeing some of my old teammates and looking at those jerseys and knowing I was just in those jerseys last year. It’s going to be a little weird but I have to do my job.”
LaFell, who signed for three years and $9 million in March, said he’s been paying close attention and that focus has paid off in the last two weeks, including four catches and 45 yards, including a TD grab in the back of the end zone last week from Jimmy Garoppolo.
“He might be able to carve out a role for us, and it might be a big one. We’ll see,” said coach Bill Belichick.
“We’ve been getting better and better, each and every day, each and every week,” LaFell said of working with Brady. “The more and more reps I get with this guy, our timing is better and also, he’s trying to find me more.”
As tight end Steve Maneri found out last week, if you run a route a yard off, he can cost the team dearly, when Brady threw a pick-6 to Cary Williams.
|Brian Tyms is enjoying ‘a good connection with everybody’||08.08.14 at 10:58 pm ET|
Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce are 2013 draft picks that are still highly regarded.
But Tyms, who has had tours of duty with the 49ers, Dolphins and Browns since coming into the NFL out of Florida A&M in 2012, says he’s not worried about making the Patriots.
“I don’t need to think about that,” Tyms said after catching five balls on six targets for 119 yards in the 23-6 loss to the Redskins Thursday. “Every time the ball is thrown to me, I’m trying to catch it. It’s part of earning respect, again. If I sit out there and drop every one, everybody is going to look at me like I came here for nothing. I’ve got a lot to prove.”
Tyms has yet to make his first regular season catch. He traveled to New England with the Dolphins for the 2012 finale in Foxboro and was elevated to the active roster with the Browns on Dec. 4, 2013. Ironically, the opponent that week was the Patriots in Foxboro.
It’s one thing to look sharp in practice reps, as Tyms has. But for a guy trying to show he belongs in the NFL, Tyms needs to impress the scouts that turn up at preseason games. He did that on Thursday in Landover, Md. He beat his man off the line of scrimmage on a “go” pattern down the right sideline for 53 yards on a beauty of a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo.
“I feel like I got a good connection with everybody,” Tyms said when asked about his chemistry with the rookie quarterback. “That’s all I really came here to do was earn respect from my teammates and coaches. Everything else really don’t matter to me.”
His best catch of the night didn’t count. In the third quarter, Redskins defensive back Chase Minnifield was draped all over him. The flag was thrown at the Redskins 4. Tyms fought through it and made what appeared to be a spectacular one-handed grab in the end zone as he was falling backwards. TV replays showed that Tyms appeared to have kept the ball off the ground but the pass was ruled incomplete.
Tyms was eventually rewarded in the fourth quarter when he caught a 26-yard pass from Garoppolo in the end zone and lept up in the stands, falling into the first row.
“I was just so excited because that was my first one,” Tyms said. “I haven’t been in the end zone other than practice, so I was just excited. Then, God gave me a second chance at it so I capitalized. It feels pretty good.
“It’s hard work. I’m just trying to show these guys that I belong. The most important thing about a winning team is just earning respect. That’s all that matters to me is winning and earning their respect.”
|Reports: Sealver Siliga returns to Boston for tests on left hand, will miss time||08.06.14 at 2:07 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — The news is not encouraging regarding one of the younger and more promising members of the Patriots’ defensive line.
Both the Boston Globe and ESPN Boston report that the team is concerned about the severity of the injury to the left hand of Sealver Siliga. The 24-year-old out of Utah injured the hand in Tuesday’s practice and left early. He returned to the practice field without his shoulder pads with about 15 minutes left in practice and did not participate at all on Wednesday.
Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston reports that Siliga returned to Boston to have further tests on the left hand while Ben Volin of the Boston Globe also confirmed the team’s concern about the injury.
The Patriots signed Siliga to their practice squad on Oct. 23, 2013. On Nov. 27, 2013, Siliga was added to the active roster and played the final five games and both playoff games. He recorded three sacks and 23 tackles in his five regular season games and was projected as one of the up and coming talents on the defensive front.
Third-year Patriots DT Sealver Siliga has returned to Boston for tests on his injured left hand, which reflects initial concerns on severity
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 6, 2014
Team still awaiting complete test results on Sealver Siliga's injured left hand. But Siliga will almost certainly miss time in coming weeks.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 6, 2014
Bad news, #Patriots fans. While I don’t have specifics, I’m told the outlook on DT Sealver Siliga’s hand injury is ‘not good.’ Hurts depth
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) August 6, 2014
|Tom Brady gets picked by Darrelle Revis and chalks it up to good competition||07.31.14 at 2:28 pm ET|
FOXBORO — What’s a little competition to Tom Brady, even if it comes in training camp?
The Patriots held their third straight day of padded practice Thursday on the grass fields outside Gillette Stadium and it was a big day for the defense.
Darrelle Revis intercepted Brady on a pass over the middle intended for Kenbrell Thompkins as the offense worked on being backed up against their own goal line. Brandon Browner and Devin McCourty broke up a Brady pass intended for Brandon LaFell in the end zone.
“They’re both great players, so when you make a mistake, they make you pay, and I think that’s the mark of a really good corner,” Brady said of Revis and Browner. “As a quarterback, you’re always trying to find the weak link in the defense, and neither of those guys are weak links. Sometimes, we’ve got to go after them, [and] we’ve got to try to see if we can make a play. But like I said, if you miss a little bit, they end making the play. It’s great work for us, and you understand what you’re up against.”
It wasn’t just the secondary showing off. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich helped stop Stevan Ridley for a loss on a red zone run inside the 10, causing Devin McCourty and the rest of the defense to celebrate jubilantly.
Brady says its all part of camp.
“There are a lot of competitions out there, so every drill, a coach pits the offense against the defense, and when we review the film at night there’s one side that’s getting praise and the other side is getting the opposite. You want to be the one who gets praised all the time, but in situations like this, it all kind of balances out. The defense makes a lot of good plays out there and we make our fair share. Hopefully when we play a different opponent, both of us are clicking the way we need to.”
The Patriots will return to practice Friday inside Gillette Stadium for a workout for season ticket holder and residents of South Walpole and Foxboro.
|Bill Belichick says he’s seen ‘a lot’ of improvement from Ryan Wendell||07.29.14 at 9:24 pm ET|
FOXBORO — To many who paid close attention to the Patriots offensive line in 2013, it was not a season to remember for Ryan Wendell. His quarterback – Tom Brady – was sacked 40 times in 2013, one shy of his career high of 41 in his first full season of 2001. Many of those pressures came over center where Wendell is not only responsible for calling out protections but helping to protect the middle of the line.
Even Wendell, a man of few words, acknowledged as much Tuesday when asked about it after the team’s third padded practice this summer.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Wendell said. “There’s more than two things, but I think you need to ask coach Belichick about what I need to improve on.”
Bill Belichick obliged Tuesday.
“I think every year you start all over again,” Belichick said when asked about Wendell’s 2013 season. “We all do. Within any year certainly we all have our moments that are good and we have some that aren’t so good that we’d like to have back. So, I’m sure you could find good and bad plays from all of us that have participated ‘ players, coaches, every position, every year.
“I think when you look at the overall performance, the overall projection of where you think the player is going to be based on whatever ‘ his age, his experience, his work ethic, his training or age, whichever way it’s going, there’s a certain projection there but you wait and let it play out. I think that’s where we are in training camp now for really all the players. They’ve all trained, they’ve all been through the spring. They’ve all worked to put themselves in this position. Now we go out there and let them compete and see how it unfolds. I don’t know how it’s going to happen.
“Certainly if we would have projected Ryan Wendell and Steve Neal their rookie years; none of us would have thought [Tom] Brady for that matter. His rookie year, he didn’t do anything either. None of us would have thought that those guys would be the contributors they ended up being. That’s why we go out there and have training camp. That’s what competition is about. Sometimes you find out things differently.”
|Ty Law explains his sales job to Darrelle Revis: ‘I encouraged’ Revis to come to New England||07.28.14 at 11:25 pm ET|
Just in recent football lore alone, there’s been defensive tackle Sean Gilbert, Law and Revis. In past years, Mike Ditka and Tony Dorsett also hail from the Western Pennsylvania town. In basketball, there’s the late, great “Pistol” Pete Maravich and in baseball, pitcher Doc Medich.
So when Law knew that Revis would be a free agent in the offseason, the two talked and Law was pretty sure that New England would step up to the plate and offer him a deal. Law was also sure he could get more money – and years – elsewhere.
“Sometimes, learning from experience, I think he made an incredible decision to not go and take the money and have a chance to win because winning are the things that are going to be remembered for a long, long time when you get a chance to win a championship. So yeah, I’m glad he made the decision to come here and not go get the money,” Law said.
“I don’t want to say if I was influential or not, because it was ultimately his decision. I just had an opinion. I had to learn even from some of my own decisions I made. Sometimes, when you’re in the heat of battle, I didn’t have a mentor. The only person that I could depend on was me and make the decisions so some decisions I made were great and some decisions I made were not so great. If I can instill that and just tell him what I’ve been through, and same thing with my son, live and learn through me and take my mistakes and use those as a lesson as well. I think Darrelle ultimately did what was best for him but coming here was a great decision and I encouraged that.”
Revis agreed to a one-year, $12 million deal. Prove yourself in New England and millions more will follow. Of course, when Law left after the 2004 season, he had already proven himself to the tune of three Super Bowl titles. But the Patriots couldn’t afford his $12.5 million cap hit for the 2005 season and was released.
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