|What to watch for in Thursday’s Patriots-Giants preseason finale||08.28.14 at 7:30 am ET|
Here are seven things we’ll be looking for Thursday night when the Patriots meet the Giants in the preseason finale for both teams.
WHO DOESN’T PLAY
When it comes to the preseason finale, it’s just as important to figure out who doesn’t play as opposed to who does play. As we detailed here, if you’re a starter — or even a veteran — and you find yourself on the field for anything more than 10-15 snaps on Thursday night, it’s a bad sign. (The only area where this might be an exception is along the interior of the offensive line, for reasons we will address shortly.) Based on the work the Patriots were able to put in last week against the Panthers when they looked mostly razor sharp on both sides of the ball, don’t expect many of the starters to see the field against the Giants, despite the fact that we know New York is going to roll out its starters for between 15-18 snaps.
A good chunk of this relates back to the first point — we know quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is going to start and get the bulk of the snaps. But given the fact that history tells us those who don’t play are likely to have a secure roster spot, we’ll be keeping an eye on a few first-year players and monitoring their playing time. Cornerback Malcolm Butler and running back James White have been among the rookies who have played well enough to land a roster spot over the course of the summer — if they end up sitting Thursday night, it’s a good bet they’ve made the roster.
Thursday will be the first professional start for Garoppolo, and he’ll get a chance to show what he can do against a No. 1 defense for the first time in the preseason. The New England coaching staff will be interested in seeing him in as many different situations as possible: two-minute, end-of-half, under pressure from a steady rush, as well as a potential four-minute offense situation. Everything is on the table when it comes to evaluating Garoppolo. From this viewpoint, Ryan Mallett still is the No. 2 quarterback on the roster, but the rookie will get his opportunity to show what he can do come Thursday evening in North Jersey.
|Patrick Chung is really happy to be back: ‘I love it… It’s home’||07.27.14 at 9:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — No one is happier to be camping with the Patriots this summer than Patrick Chung.
The 26-year-old safety was allowed to walk after the 2012 season, his fourth in New England, and took a three-year, $10 million deal with Philadelphia in March 2013.
But after a disappointing first year, a season in which he suffered several injuries, lost his job to rookie Earl Wolff and never connected with new coach Chip Kelly, he was released in March. There were those who wondered who would want a safety who seemed on the outs, or at least out of chances in the NFL.
Enter the Patriots. Bill Belichick, who made the decision to let Steve Gregory walk, knew something about Chung that in his mind earned him another chance. Belichick offered Chung a one-year, $1.1 million deal based on his work ethic alone. Chung has been quietly making a good impression all over agin, working mainly with the second and third teams during the first four practices, with an occasional rep with the first unit and old friend Devin McCourty.
“I love it,” Chung told WEEI.com after Sunday’s rain-shortened practice. “Love it here. Culture is good here. Fans are good here. Coaches are good here. Locker room is good here. Food is good here. I like it here, man. It’s home.”
To McCourty, it’s just good to have a football brother next to him again on the field.
“It’s good because Pat is a true pro,” McCourty told WEEI.com. “He’s a guy that comes in every day ready to work. He understands the defense. I think he’s another model citizen for the younger guys, someone they can look at and model their game, model what he does to get ready for practice and get ready to know what he’s doing. It’s been great. He’s a friend mine who was here the whole time I was here. He experienced something different for a year and now he’s back.”
What specifically does Chung bring back to the Patriots and the secondary?
“Just his work ethic, whether it’s in the weight room and being one of the stronger guys or getting ready for practice, doing different things,” McCourty added. “A younger guy can come see him get in the hot tub, or I’ll do this before practice, just to make sure I’m ready. Not just stretch before practice and go. As you get in this league, you have different aches and pains you that you need to take care of on your own.”
While McCourty has passed Chung on the safety depth chart since his departure in 2012, Chung says not much else has changed since his first four-year tour in Foxboro.
“Absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing,” Chung said. “Just work hard, stay out of trouble and take it day-by-day. Bill knows what he’s doing so pay attention.”
|At this point in offseason, where are Patriots personnel priorities?||04.04.14 at 9:55 pm ET|
With the offseason now one-third of the way done — and most of free agency now complete — the Patriots still have to address a few specific areas of need as part of the team-building process. Here’s a look at four personnel questions that have to be dealt with between now and the start of training camp.
Backup linebacker: Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher departed as free agents this offseason, with Spikes heading to Buffalo and Fletcher signing with Tampa Bay. Neither were starters, but over the last two seasons, both were called upon to play significant snaps for the Patriots. As a result, New England is a little thin when it comes to their linebacker depth. Currently on the roster, the Patriots have a few possibilities when it comes to backing up the expected starting trio of Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, including Steve Beauharnais, who just finished his rookie season. But their pursuit of veteran free agent Wesley Woodyard was likely a sign they believe they need more help when it comes to depth at the spot.
Strong safety: Steve Gregory was cut loose earlier this offseason, and Adrian Wilson was released on Friday. And while the Patriots did bring back Patrick Chung on Thursday, there’s some uncertainty as to what New England plans on doing at the position. Two things to remember: one, the Patriots like their defensive backs to be versatile, and so shuffling DBs from one spot to another wouldn’t be a surprise. And two, on that same vein, there are some possibilities on the roster, including Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan, the latter of whom has been the subject of much speculation this offseason when it comes to a possible move to free safety. In addition, there’s Tavon Wilson, who slid down the depth chart in 2013 to more of a special teams role, one that’s also occupied by fellow safeties Kanorris Davis and Nate Ebner. (And there’s always the possibility that Gregory could return on a reworked deal — he said this week despite the fact that he was cut by New England, “it would definitely be a place I would love to go back to.”) Regardless of whether or not New England decides to address the position in the draft, right now, it’s shaping up to be one of the more intriguing camp battles this spring and summer.
Situational pass rusher: The Patriots were believed to be at least partially in the mix for Jared Allen in free agency before he signed with the Bears, and while New England does currently have youngsters Jake Bequette and Michael Buchanan on the roster as backup defensive ends, it’s a fair dropoff at this point from the starting duo of Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. In terms of free agents who could still be on the market, Will Smith remains a possibility, but his recent injury woes leave him questionable at this stage of his career. When it comes to other in-house possibilities, Andre Carter could return for at least part of the season if New England struggles to find help — he sure sounds open to the possibility of returning. In addition, Armond Armstead could also be in the mix as an interior pass rushing presence at some point if he ever does get healthy. It’s also expected that if veteran Tommy Kelly can stay on the field, he’ll offer some support as another interior pass rushing presence in 2014.
Depth at tight end and running back: While New England appears to be set when it comes to starters at the two positions, it could really use some depth at both spots, and both will likely be addressed in some form or fashion come the second and/or third day of the draft. Despite the fact the Patriots might be more inclined to move away from the two-tight end sets they ran over the last few seasons, another tight end to compliment Rob Gronkowski could be had in this draft, especially given the fact that this year appears to be a pretty good one for tight ends. In addition, the fact that the Patriots made a serious play for veteran free agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew could be taken as a sign they feel like they need someone to replace LeGarrette Blount in the backfield.
One year later, veteran safety Patrick Chung is set to return to the Patriots.
Chung, who was signed as a free agent by the Eagles last season after four seasons in New England, was re-signed by the Patriots on Thursday. The 26-year-old, who was a second-round pick of New England in 2009, said the chance to get back to Foxboro “was like a blessing.”
“I’m glad to be back,” he said Thursday on a conference call with the media. “It’s like family here. It feels like home. I’m glad to be back. I love the fans, love the coaches, love the environment, love the city.”
Chung’s finest season with the Patriots came in 2010 when he played in 14 games (13 starts) and finished the year with 96 tackles (72 solo), nine passes defensed and three interceptions, all career-highs. Following the 2012 season, he ended up signing a three-year, $10 million free agent deal with the Eagles. In Philly last year, he played in 12 games and ended with 59 tackles, but struggled at times playing for his old college coach Chip Kelly with the Eagles.
New England figured to be in the market for some safety help when Steve Gregory was cut loose earlier this offseason, and while he won’t be guaranteed his old roster spot, Chung could provide some depth for the Patriots secondary.
“I don’t feel I’m any different,” Chung said. “I’m just going to continue to keep working, keep getting better, whatever I can do to help the team, whatever role I might have to play. I feel I’m the same. The scheme, I guess, would fit a lot better. I’ve had a lot of conversations so I just feel like this would be the best fit right now. Plus, I’m really glad to be back too. I’ve missed you guys.
“I don’t have any expectations,” he added. “Whatever Bill [Belichick] need me to do, this team, I’m going to do it. Regardless if it’s special team or it’s defense, whatever my role is here, I’m OK with that. This is where I want to be, so that’s good for me. I’m not worried about all the distractions, ‘Am I going to be playing, am I going to be doing this?’ Whatever I can do to help the team win, then I’m good.”
Here are more highlights of Chung’s Thursday afternoon Q&A with the media.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Patriots sign S Patrick Chung||04.03.14 at 1:54 pm ET|
The Patriots announced Thursday they have re-signed Patrick Chung. Here’s a portion of the release issued by the team:
Chung, 26, spent four seasons with New England (2009-12) after joining the team as a second-round draft pick (34th overall) out of Oregon in 2009. The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an unrestricted free agent on March 12, 2013. He was released by Philadelphia on March 11.
Chung has played in 62 NFL games with 40 starts and has registered 291 total tackles, seven interceptions, 22 passes defensed and one fumble recovery. He has played in eight postseason games with five starts and has added 23 total tackles.
Chung played in 50 games with 30 starts during his first four seasons with New England and accumulated 235 total tackles, seven interceptions and 19 passes defensed. He blocked a punt and a field goal in the same game at Miami on Oct. 4, 2010, and finished that season with a career-best 89 total tackles.
Last season in Philadelphia, Chung played in 12 games with 10 starts and finished with 56 total tackles, three passes defensed and one fumble recovery. He started in the Eagles postseason game vs. New Orleans on Jan. 4, and finished with four total tackles.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Resetting the depth chart in Patriots secondary||03.17.13 at 1:24 pm ET|
There have been some notable moves so far this offseason for the New England secondary. With free agency continuing and the draft now just over a month away, the Patriots can still add to the defensive back spot. But right now — with the addition of veteran safety Adrian Wilson, the re-signing of cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington and the departure of Patrick Chung — here’s a quick look at how the depth chart for the Patriots’ secondary shakes out at this point:
Talib: The 27-year-old, who will return for his first full season with the Patriots, projects as the No. 1 corner for New England in 2013.
Alfonzo Dennard: The Nebraska product, who played very well as a rookie last season in New England, faces something of a murky future, but if he’s available, he should go into the 2013 season as a starting corner.
Ras-I Dowling: The injury-plagued Dowling enters his third season in New England with a lot to prove. When he’s been healthy, he’s been an important part of the secondary — the problem is he hasn’t been healthy all that often. He’s played just nine games in two years.
Slot cornerbacks/special teamers
Arrington: After the acquisition of Talib, Arrington moved back inside to the slot — his more natural position — and flourished. Should start 2013 as the leader in the clubhouse for this spot once again.
Malcolm Williams: Primarily a special teamer, Williams provides depth at the defensive back position.
Devin McCourty: The lead dog in the secondary. He admitted late last season the transition from young guy to leader took some time, but he goes into 2013 as the No. 1 free safety on the team.
Steve Gregory: Gregory started slow and had issues staying on the field early in the season, but he and McCourty played well together at the end of the season.
Adrian Wilson: A bigger safety who can contribute down in the box, one of the early position battles worth watching could be between Wilson and Gregory. While Gregory and McCourty played well together, Wilson (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) is more of a big, strong safety when it comes to overall body type than Gregory (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) and could swipe some snaps from Gregory as a result, depending on the defensive game plans.
Tavon Wilson: Wilson started strong as a rookie — four interceptions in his first 10 games — but the acquisition of Aqib Talib affected his playing time maybe more than anyone else ‘ the trade for Talib meant the Patriots moved Devin McCourty from corner to safety, and left Wilson on the sidelines. He projects as a backup right now.
Nate Ebner: Ebner did see some significant snaps on defense at the start of the season, but made his niche as a special teamer. Currently figures as someone who can provide depth at the strong safety spot, not unlike Matthew Slater.
|Patrick Chung signs with Eagles||03.12.13 at 8:35 pm ET|
Defensive back Patrick Chung signed with the Eagles on Tuesday, ending a four-year career with the Patriots.
The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder, who will be reunited with his former college coach, Chip Kelly, had issues with injury in his time in New England, struggling to stay on the field and starting 30 out of a possible 64 regular-season games with the Patriots. His best season was 2010, when he started 13 games (a career-high) and finished with 96 tackles (72 solo), three interceptions and nine passes defensed (all career-bests).
Chung is the second member of New England’s draft class to depart — offensive lineman Donald Thomas signed with the Colts earlier in the day.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
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