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Julian Edelman: ‘We have to be more consistent’ 09.21.14 at 5:47 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Julian Edelman is off to a terrific start to the 2014 season, but like the rest of the Patriots offense, he is anything but satisfied.

“We have to be more consistent,”€ Edelman said following Sunday’€™s 16-9 win over the Raiders. “One play I don’€™t run a good route we don’€™t connect, one play something else goes wrong. We have to tighten up the bolts, adjust and be more consistent. I’€™m sure we’€™ll be working on that a lot this week.”

Edelman led the Patriots receiving corps once again with 10 catches for 84 yards on 12 targets. Through three games Edelman has caught 22 of the 28 passes thrown in his direction and has totaled 260 yards in the three games, by far the most among Patriots receivers.

Although he’€™s been productive, he’€™s taken a lot of big hits after plays, forcing him to be limited in practice this week and listed as probable on the injury report with a back injury. Edelman knows it’€™s a long season and he needs to be more cautious when he can.

“I have to play a little smarter, protecting myself a little better with the ball in my hands,”€ he said. “Ball security is No. 1 and you can’€™t get caught up in making a play sometimes. You have to be there for 16 games. Of course it’€™s a rough game, but I definitely have to play a little smarter.”

The sixth-year receiver has now had at least six receptions in his last nine regular season games. It is the longest current streak in the NFL and the longest streak for a Patriots player since Wes Welker had a streak of 10 such games in 2012. Sunday was the fourth regular season game Edelman has finished with 10 or more catches in his career and he’€™s on pace to finish the season with 117 receptions.

Even with the impressive personal accolades, Edelman knows he, as well as the rest of the offense can be better.

“My job is to get open and catch the ball,”€ said Edelman. “Work hard in the run game, make blocks in the run game. There were a few times I didn’€™t do my job. I have to go out this week and try and do my job better. If everyone does their job better, the collective unit will do better. That is what I have to do.”

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Read More: Julian Edelman, Patriots, Patriots offense, Tom Brady
Patriots looking forward to Sunday’s home opener vs. Raiders 09.20.14 at 8:00 am ET
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The Patriots enter Sunday 11-1 in home openers at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/

The Patriots enter Sunday 11-1 in home openers at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/

FOXBORO — It’€™s no secret the Patriots are one of the most dominant teams in the NFL at home.

Since 2002 New England is 81-15 in the regular season at Gillette Stadium — the best winning percentage (.844) by almost 100 points to the second best team in the NFL — the Ravens at .755. Home openers have also gone in the Patriots favor as since the stadium opened in 2002, they are 11-1 in home openers, winning by an average of 9.2 points.

To no one’€™s surprise, the team is looking forward to Sunday’€™s first game of the season at Gillette Stadium when it hosts the Raiders.

“Honestly, personally I can’€™t wait,” defensive end Chandler Jones said. “I really can’€™t wait to run out of the helmet here at Gillette Stadium — just the feeling that we have playing here at Gillette Stadium is a feeling you can’€™t explain and I can’€™t wait for it.”

Sunday’€™s game will be a special one for running back Stevan Ridley whose dad’€™s favorite team was the Raiders and he has 14 family members coming to town for the game.

“€œMy mom’€™s very excited about it — the family is going to be here so it’€™s going to be an exciting atmosphere coming back to Foxboro and getting in the home stadium,” said Ridley. “€œWe’€™re looking forward to it not being on the road — coming back to New England and playing Patriots football.”

Ridley had a strong game the last time the Patriots faced the Raiders in 2011 when he ran for 97 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries in a 31-19 Patriots victory. The game was played at the Coliseum.

After playing the first two games on the road this season, the team is ready to open its home portion of the schedule.

“€œIt’€™s good when you’€™re at home playing in front of your own fans,”€ Ridley said. “We go to away stadiums and our fans are way up top in the nosebleeds somewhere and you don’€™t really hear them. There is nothing like being here. We know they love the Patriots here. We love playing at home. It’€™s going to be exciting and we just have to start a streak here this year. It doesn’€™t matter what we’€™ve done in the past, let’s get off to 1-0 right here at home.”

Oakland comes into Sunday’€™s game 0-2 — traveling back to the East Coast for a second time in three weeks before going to London after the game for their Week 4 matchup with Miami. Even with the struggles Oakland has had, being outscored 49-28 in the two games, the Patriots are focused on opening the year with a win at home.

“That will be a great statement to get in a win in front of our home crowd and that is our goal, just to get a win,” Jones said.

Read More: chandler jones, Gillette Stadium, Patriots, Stevan Ridley
Stevan Ridley sees ‘drastic’ improvement in Patriots rushing attack 09.17.14 at 4:54 pm ET
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Stevan Ridley

Stevan Ridley

FOXBORO — Sometimes one week can make all the difference in the world.

In Week 1 against the Dolphins the Patriots ran for just 89 yards, only 28 of them coming in the second half as they ran just seven running plays the final 30 minutes of the game. Week 2 against the Vikings was a different story as the team ran for 150 total yards, 96 of them coming in the second half.

Stevan Ridley led the way, rushing for 101 yards on 21 carries.

“We’€™ve improved each week. I think Miami to Minnesota, I think [the offense and offensive line] made a drastic improvement,” Ridley said. “€œWe all keep leaning on each other and relying on each other. I think we’€™re going to be OK towards the end of the year.”

On a personal level, the key for Ridley was staying patient as he only rushed for 29 yards in the first half, but was able to pick it up in the second half against a tired and demoralized Minnesota defense.

“Every back goes out there and wants to take it the distance, but there are going to be times that it’€™s going to be just two yards, three yards and you just have to keep plugging,”€ said Ridley. “You have stay disciplined as a runner and keep your legs moving and falling forward. That’€™s what you have to do to get the tough yardage, eventually they are going to break and you’€™ll get some big runs.”€

Overall, the Patriots rank 16th in the NFL in rushing, this after being ranked 21st following Week 1. Like Ridley said, the Patriots are focused on getting better each week, wanting to reach its peak once December and the end of the season hits.

Ridley isn’€™t the only back who has seen time as Shane Vereen has been a force both in the running game and catching passes out of the backfield. Vereen has 76 yards on 13 carries and has caught six passes for 35 yards. Running the ball effectively and with consistency goes a long way in the Patriots offense as the team is 38-1 when a player runs for 100 yards or more under Bill Belichick.

“It’€™s only Week 3. The first week we struggled and the second week we got it going. There’€™s a lot of football left to be played, so I don’€™t want to jump in front of myself. From week-to-week I see improvement and that’€™s all we can ask for, especially with the group of guys that we have up there. There are some new faces –€“ I think we all know that –€“ but, like I said we’€™re just going in week in and week out showing what we can do,”€ Ridley said. “Eventually, these upcoming weeks, hopefully we will have a balanced attack going into every game and that’€™s what makes us hard [to stop]. The key word is hard work around here and that’€™s what we do.”

Read More: Brandon Bolden, Patriots, Patriots offense, Shane Vereen
‘No panic’ for Patriots after season-opening loss to Dolphins 09.09.14 at 6:00 am ET
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The Patriots have turned the page on Sunday's loss and are now focused on Minnesota.  (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Patriots have turned the page on Sunday’s loss and are now focused on Minnesota. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The Patriots locker room was a quiet, empty place late Monday afternoon as the players had just wrapped up their day reviewing the ugly game film from Sunday’€™s 33-20 loss to the Dolphins.

Many of the players walked to their lockers, grabbed their belongings and left without much interaction. The Patriots had not lost a season-opener since 2003, so it was an unusual feeling for the players this early in the season as they went 4-0 during the opening month of last season.

“€œIt’€™s never a happy meeting room after a loss,”€ safety Devin McCourty said. “There’€™s no panic — watch the film, correct what we need to correct and try and move on. It’€™s the first game of the season. We can’€™t let that affect the rest of the season. We still have a lot of football left to be played. We have to keep improving and the focus is to go out there and win on Sunday.”

It was the Patriots’€™ first loss by more than one possession in the regular season since Nov. 7, 2010 when they lost 34-14 to the Browns.

Instead of dwelling on the loss and kicking themselves for their mistakes, the sentiment among all the players was they have already turned the page on Sunday and are now focused on correcting the miscues for Week 2 against Minnesota.

“I think the biggest thing for us this week is going back to square one and focusing on the fundamentals,” said special teams captain Matthew Slater. “I think fundamentally we need to do a number of things better and it wasn’€™t for a lack of effort or anything like that. We just need to go back to the basics and try and improve.”

The team is full of veteran players who have won in the league before and know one loss isn’€™t going to make or break the entire season. Therefore, the confidence level among players hasn’€™t changed after one rough game.

“Confidence is fine,” safety Duron Harmon said. “€œWe know it’€™s a long season and we just need to fix it and keep moving in the right direction.”

Read More: Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Matthew Slater, Patriots
Patriots credit Dolphins running attack, but mistakes ‘fixable’ 09.08.14 at 6:37 pm ET
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Knowshon Moreno ran all over the Patriots defense in the second half. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Knowshon Moreno ran all over the Patriots defense in the second half. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The Patriots went into the locker room with their heads held high Sunday as they led the Dolphins 20-10 in Miami, but rather than come home winners of their 11th straight season-opener, the team was outscored 23-0 in the second half and fell to the Dolphins, 33-20.

It was one of the worst second halves the Patriots have played in the Bill Belichick era as they hadn’€™t been outscored by that many points since Nov. 30, 2008 when the Steelers also outscored them 23-0 — a game played at Gillette Stadium and Matt Cassell was the Patriots quarterback.

The biggest issue for the Patriots in the second half was stopping the Dolphins rushing attack as they ran for 126 yards in the second half alone, including 91 from Knowshon Moreno.

“They did a great job running the ball and we didn’€™t do a great job in stopping the run,” defensive lineman Sealver Siliga said Monday. “€œI give it up to them, they came out and ran the ball in the second half.”€

Moreno has had the Patriots’€™ number of late as he ran for 224 yards when he played against the Patriots last year with Denver during the regular season. He and the Dolphins controlled the line of scrimmage and were able to take control of the game in the second half with 191 of their 360 total yards of offense in the game coming on the ground.

“We just have to stop it,” safety Devin McCourty said. “There’€™s some technique things we’€™ll fix, but it comes down to fundamentals –€“ being up there, defeating blockers, tackling guys and that’€™s what it’s about stopping the run.”

Being outscored by 23 points in the second half, there are bound to be questions raised about the team’€™s effort, but McCourty said that absolutely wasn’€™t the case and pointed to the final Miami possession of the game before their kneel down, where the Dolphins started at the Patriots’€™ 14-yard line and they held them to a field goal.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty, dolphins, Duron Harmon
Catching on: Tom Brady, Patriots wide receivers primed for big year 09.03.14 at 10:30 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Julian Edelman aren't the only two with good chemistry this season. (Getty Images)

Returning 97 percent of the pass completions from last year, Tom Brady and Julian Edelman aren’t the only two with good chemistry this season. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Going into last season much of the talk surrounding the Patriots offense was how would the chemistry between Tom Brady and the wide receivers be, as without Rob Gronkowski to open the season, Brady was missing 87 percent of his pass completions from 2012.

This year it is an entirely different tune, as Brady returns 97 percent of his pass completions from 2013 with the only departures being Austin Collie, Matthew Mulligan and LeGarrette Blount.

With a year under their belts, Brady and his receiving core have much more continuity than they did a year ago, just because of the pure amount of time they have spent on the field working with one another.

“The more we’€™re on the same page, the better we’€™re going to be,”€ Brady said. “Offensive football is about anticipation and about having a lot of trust and confidence in one another. I think we built on that. We’€™re always going to make mistakes out there because football is really not a game of perfect, but we’€™re going to try to do it as perfectly as we can. Every week, you hope it’€™s good enough to win the game.

“I hope we’€™re at a better place than we were last year because we started pretty fresh last year. We certainly have some new players, some new additions who are doing different things. Different guys are playing some different spots. But everyone’€™s kind of got to find a role for themselves, and then we go out there and let it rip and see where we’€™re at. And if it doesn’€™t work, then we reevaluate, and if it works, then we keep doing it.”

Receiver Julian Edelman has spent the most time out of any wide out working with Brady as he’s been his quarterback for all five of his seasons in the league. Edelman says the biggest key for building chemistry with Brady, and any quarterback for that matter, is consistency.

“To earn any quarterbacks trust, not just Tom’€™s you have to be consistent and that is going out there in drills — little things, routes, routes on air drills, 7-on-7s, 1-on-1s — showing him that you can consistently do your job and that is getting open and catching the ball,” Edelman said.

Building chemistry with a quarterback doesn’€™t happen overnight. A lot of time and hard work goes into it, which is something Edelman has noticed from his fellow wide receivers — second-year players Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, veteran Danny Amendola and especially Brandon LaFell, the lone newcomer to the group after being signed by the Patriots this past March.

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Read More: Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman, Patriots, Tom Brady
Patriots name 6 captains for 2014 season at 9:40 am ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots have named their captains for the 2014 season, and for the first time they include offensive lineman Dan Connolly — an eight-year veteran, with six of those seasons coming with the Patriots.

In addition to Connolly, Tom Brady, Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Devin McCourty, and Matthew Slater will also serve as captains this season.

“It’€™s very flattering for my teammates, and I try to represent them the best I can in whatever fashion the team asks me to do things and wants me to convey messages to the coach,” Brady said Wednesday during his weekly briefing at Gillette Stadium.

“We’€™ve got a great group of young men who have really committed themselves to being the best teammate they can be. I hope I do a great job. I work hard at it. We’€™ve got a lot of other great captains, guys that I’€™ve always been able to rely on and depend on. It’€™s a big responsibility, so I accept it.”

The news was first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates.

Offensive lineman Logan Mankins was a captain since 2011, so it would appear Connolly will take over the leadership role on the offensive line with Mankins now a member of the Buccaneers.

“Dan has had a real good year,” Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “He’s had a real good spring. Good training camp. He’s been out there everyday. He’s been been a versatile guy as he’s always [been]. He’s ready to play all three spots and contribute in the kicking game. He’s a sharp guy and works hard. He had a good offseason and was able to train throughout the bulk of the offseason. He’s done a solid job for us at a number of positions.”

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