|Vince Wilfork: ‘I’m holding no type of grudge’ against Patriots||06.19.14 at 2:43 pm ET|
FOXBORO — All is forgiven, if not forgotten, when it comes to Vince Wilfork and the Patriots.
The perennial Pro Bowl nose tackle spoke Thursday after the conclusion of minicamp for the first time since re-working his contract to return to New England.
Wilfork tore his right Achilles last September in Atlanta and was lost for the rest of the season.
Wilfork returned to Gillette Stadium to be around the team during his rehab but that loyalty didn’t immediately earn him the benefit of the doubt with the organization.
According to multiple reports, he felt slighted by the team and asked to be traded, going as far as removing his nameplate from his locker inside the Patriots locker room.
But after agreeing to a complicated, incentive-laden $23 million, three-year extension ($4 million signing bonus) in late March, Wilfork began the process of moving on. A big step in that process came this week when he stepped on the field for minicamp practices on Tuesday. On Thursday, he spoke for the first time about his return, making it clear that business is business and he’s all about football going forward.
“I’m here. That’s a dead issue,” Wilfork said. “I’m here for a reason. If I didn’t believe in the things that were brought to me, I wouldn’t have signed it. I’m here. There’s a reason that I’m here. I’m not upset. I’m not holding no type of grudge. Business is business. Everybody handles business different ways.
FOXBORO — Here we go again.
In the latest edition of Monday Morning Quarterback on SI.com, columnist Greg Bedard reports that new Browns head coach and former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine believes that old copies of the Jets playbook, circa 2011, may have wound up in the hands of the Patriots.
“The initial playbook itself is actually quite thin, and that’s by design,” Pettine told Bedard. “I don’t put a lot of graduate-level information in it. We know in places like New England, it’s only a matter of time that they somehow mysteriously end up with our playbook.”
Pettine told Bedard that there was a story circulating that at Wes Welker‘s wedding in 2012, Tom Brady laughed with Jets outside linebackers coach Mike Smith (Welker’s college roommate at Texas Tech) that the Patriots “may or may not” have had possession of some Jets defensive playbooks.
“It didn’t shock me because Rex would give them out like candy anyway,” Pettine continued. “He gave one out to [Alabama coach Nick] Saban and I was like, ‘Don’t you know Saban and Bill [Belichick] are pretty good friends? I have a feeling it’s going to end up in New England.’ ”
Belichick, who told reporters he was allowing just three questions before leaving for the summer, was asked about the charges after Thursday’s final minicamp session. Belichick was specifically asked if he has ever had the Jets playbook at some point.
“[Go] talk to Mike Pettine. I don’t know,” Belichick offered.
Darrelle Revis played for Mike Pettine as recently as 2012, when he tore his ACL in September in a game against the Dolphins. Revis was also asked about the playbook charges after Thursday’s minicamp. He laughed and was somewhat more insightful when asked if he knew the Patriots may have had the playbook.
“No, I don’t know anything about that,” Revis said. “I don’t know. I don’t even know how to answer that. If they did, they did. If they didn’t, they didn’t. At that point, it really doesn’t matter. You still have to go out there and compete and go out there and win the game.”
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price talk about fire that still burns in Tom Brady, end of Patriots minicamp||06.18.14 at 7:00 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price assess the Patriots during June’s minicamp, look ahead to July training camp and say the competitive fire still burns in Tom Brady after a story this spring detailing the decline of the two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback.
|Tom Brady responds to criticism that he’s declining: ‘My wife [and] mom think I’ve played pretty good’||at 2:45 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Not that he needed it, but Tom Brady was given some inspiration recently when it was written that his game is on the decline and he is no longer among the very elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
On Wednesday, he fired back, sort of.
“I’m always pretty fired up,” Brady said after minicamp practice outside a steamy Gillette Stadium. “I think there’s people who always have opinions about us as athletes. You just try to go out there and do your best and you go home at night realizing you left it all out on the field. Some days you don’t play your best but that’s sports. I try to go out there and be the best I can be this year.
“Who were they? Jets fans or Dolphins fans or Patriots fans, I don’t know. Everyone is a little biased. My wife thinks I’ve played pretty good. My mom thinks I’ve played pretty good. It doesn’t matter.”
Sam Monson, of Pro Football Focus, wrote that Brady’s game has been “in decline” for some time.
At the end of Brady’s 10-minute session with reporters, he summarized his motivation and drive to stay on top of his game, bringing up his past, including his selection in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft.
“You’ve got to do it,” Brady said of his work and work ethic. “You’ve got to put in the time. If you want to be special at this game, then you’ve got to do whatever it takes. Some things come more naturally to certain people. The mental part came pretty naturally for me. I really had to work hard on the physical part [on] what it takes to be an NFL player. There was a reason I was sixth round pick because I didn’t have much ability so I’ve got to try to work hard to improve those things over the years while still keeping my mental game sharp.”
Brady also admitted that his Brazilian supermodel wife, Gisele, will be heading to her homeland to take in the World Cup. His plans are not quite as firm.
“I was watching, yeah. It’s been pretty fun to watch the last week or so,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of good games. We’re pretty focused on the football stuff here but obviously what’s going on in the world in sports is great. I love watching.”
“I’m not sure. I haven’t finalized everything. It’s a busy time. I have three kids at home. They take up a lot of time and energy. I know my wife is heading down there, which will be fun for her.”
|Bill Belichick would ‘absolutely’ like to see NFL draft moved back to April||06.17.14 at 9:53 am ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick is someone who likes to prepare.
This year that preparation was disrupted somewhat by the moving of the NFL draft from late April to May 8-10 in New York City. Reportedly, the move was made, at least in part, due to the availability of Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, the stage when the NFL’s newest stars are introduced.
That move all but eliminated rookie minicamp this year for NFL teams, including the Patriots. So coaches like Belichick were forced to scramble and throw the rookies on the field with veterans in mid-May to late May and early June in optional OTA practices to catch up.
There has been some discussion that the league will move the draft back to late April in 2015. Would Belichick like to see that happen?
“Of course. The sooner you have your players the easier it is to start not only getting them integrated into your team but also building your team,” Belichick said Tuesday morning before the opening of mandatory minicamp. “There are certain things you get in the draft and then you have to fill in other areas of the team with veteran players or college free agents. With that process going on, you can see every day when you pick up the transactions there are probably five to 15 transactions on a daily basis. Of course, if you have the draft [earlier], you’d be able to move that whole process up but whatever it is, it is. That’s not my decision. But I would vote for an earlier draft, absolutely.”
Belichick downplayed the effect of the compressed schedule on his rookies and first-year free agents.
“I don’t think it’s really affected the time frame on what we’ve had with them,” Belichick added. “What it’s affected is them knowing they’re with their team on May 8th compared to [late] April. That couple of weeks there, that’s time that was lost from when players could start preparing for their new team and being told what they need to do and what position they were going to play, all those kind of things. Those two weeks got pushed back. Once the draft actually happened, the players came in on May 12th and they’ve been here just like they would’ve been in the past. They would’ve had rookie minicamp and a little bit of a head start. But from May 12th until now is the same as it was last year.”
|Sebastian Vollmer taking it ‘step by step’ in his return to the field||06.12.14 at 10:01 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Sebastian Vollmer is ready to put 2013 behind him. As a matter of fact, he admitted Thursday he’d rather not think about how it ended at all.
Who could blame him?
Anyone watching the Patriots and Dolphins on Oct. 27, 2013 on TV certainly will never forget how his season ended. The Patriots right tackle was moving outside to run block for Stevan Ridley when Dolphins nose tackle Randy Starks rolled up on his right leg. Sideline microphones picked up the yells of the 6-foot-8, 320-pound beast of a lineman who had just suffered a gruesome broken leg.
During Thursday’s OTAs, Vollmer returned and was moving freely with the first team offensive line, looking like a man ready to put the past in the past and leave it there. He even joked about being yelled at by coaches, a sign that he was indeed back and ready to put on the pads next week in mini-camp.
Whether he’ll be ready to take on the full load of a full training camp and be ready for the season opener against Starks and the Dolphins in Miami on Sept. 7 is another matter. And he’s more than ready to accept the reality of that deliberate pace.
“Let’s take it day by day,” Vollmer cautioned. “You work on some stuff every day in the training room, the rehab room, you know, on the field. You’re always working on something so you’re never there.
“Anytime you get hurt it’s not a good thing. You don’t really know what’s happening to yourself and take it step by step. You take it inside, talk to doctors and do what’s necessary and just work your way. It’s a strain. Every day you do rehab, you get better, you get stronger and all that stuff, looking forward. I’m back out here now and it’s a good moment for me.”
Vollmer felt from the moment he began to recover from surgery and begin his rehab program that he would be back on the field this summer, all along never doubting himself.
“No. I don’t think you should have that,” Vollmer said of skepticism and worry. “I trust our medical staff and rehab guys and we know we’re in good hands. You just have to do what they tell you to do. You have to work hard and I think that’s kind of what it comes down to.”
|Report: Patriots start talking new deal for Devin McCourty||06.07.14 at 6:18 pm ET|
Since he came to New England, Devin McCourty has become a leader in the Patriots locker room. Now, the Patriots apparently want him to stick around for the long term.
According to Albert Breer of NFL Media, and later confirmed by Nick Underhill of MassLive.com, the Patriots are looking to pen a new deal for the 26-year-old first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Rutgers.
McCourty, who would be a free agent after this upcoming season, is scheduled to make $3.9 million this season at the end of his five-year, $10 million rookie contract. The real motivation to get a new deal done lies in the financials. The Patriots are likely looking to save money on the cap by renegotiating the 2014 salary and bonus as part of a new deal. McCourty’s cap hit this season is $5.115 million.
McCourty has proven to be one of the most versatile players on the roster, playing both cornerback and safety during his career, and has been named to the Associated Press All-Pro team at both positions (cornerback in 2010, safety in 2013). With the Patriots bringing in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in the offseason, McCourty is now settled as a fixture as safety in the team’s secondary.
Underhill quotes a source as saying there’s “nothing substantial” to come from the “preliminary discussions” between McCourty and the Patriots.
McCourty recorded 69 tackles in 15 games in 2013, on his way to the highest grade of all qualifying safeties from Pro Football Focus. Last season was also McCourty’s first as a full-time safety (15 games) since the Patriots moved him there sparingly in 2012. In four seasons and 63 games, McCourty has recorded 15 interceptions.
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