|Patriots practice Friday: Michael Hoomanawanui absent while Brandon Spikes not in shells||11.22.13 at 11:40 am ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots practiced in sweats and shells in the cold rain on the upper grass fields Friday morning as they made final preparations for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos this Sunday night at Gillette.
Weather could be a factor Sunday night but rain is not expected. Game time temperatures are expected to be in the low 20s and drop into the teens by the end. Wind is expected to be a factor with gusts out of the northwest expected at 25 MPH.
There were two significant absences during the media portion of practice, which including only stretching. Back-up quarterback Ryan Mallett, who has been playing the role of Manning during practice this week, was not seen. Mallett did arrive at practice as the media were escorted off the field
The only confirmed absence was tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. Running back Brandon Bolden was seen on the sidelines while the rest of the team was in running and stretching drills.
Bolden was removed this week from the injury report after dealing with a knee issue for most of the season. Mallett was not on Thursday’s injury report while Hoomanawanui injured his knee against Carolina and hasn’t practiced all week.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes was one of the very last players spotted coming out to practice and he was not in shells, only sweats, spending most of the time during stretching talking with linebackers coach Pepper Johnson. Spikes has been listed all week as limited in practice with a knee injury.
Also in attendance at Friday’s practice was the TV crew from NBC, including Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya, as the game will be on their air at 8:30 p.m.
The team will conduct a walkthrough on Saturday before taking on the Broncos Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
|Tom Brady on D&C: Dolphins’ bullying controversy ‘their issue to deal with’||11.12.13 at 9:40 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning as the team returns from its bye week to prepare for a Monday night matchup against the Panthers.
The Patriots are coming off a 55-point outburst against the Steelers, leading to widespread optimism following a slow offensive start to the season.
“Our expectations have never changed with the way that we perform offensively,” Brady said. “The reason why you score a lot of points is because you execute well. You hit the plays that are there. When you get defenses that you may expect to get and you have a great play call vs that defense, you’ve got to really take advantage of that opportunity.
“Football is about matchups and it’s about execution. When both those things come together, you can have pretty good nights offensively. And if you execute really well offensively, it’s hard for good defenses to stop you. But if you execute poorly, you could call the best play vs. the defense that you’re looking for, and if I make a bad throw, then we’re unproductive.
“We’re trying to be productive on a consistent basis. We talk about it at practice, we talk about it before the games. You always go into the games thinking that you have a really good plan of attack, and then it comes down to how well the players can go out and execute that. The last game, we scored 55 points, that was our best night of execution. We played really well.
“How we fare against Carolina, we’ve got to put the work in in practice, we’ve got to be prepared so that we can go out there and play with anticipation. You can play to 100 percent of your aggressiveness if you’re really confident in what you’re doing. There’s definitely games where you gain confidence in what we’re doing, and you think, ‘OK, man, this is what we’re capable of if it all goes well.’ That’s what we’re going to go try to do this next week.. This week we’re playing one of the best defenses in the league. So, our margin of error will be even less. But we still expect to go out there and play really well. That’s the expectation for the offense.”
The big news in football over the past week is the situation in Miami, where Jonathan Martin left the team after allegedly being harassed by Richie Incognito and other Dolphins teammates. Brady distanced himself from the controversy by noting the Patriots have avoided such issues.
“I’ve been a part of one locker room — or two, really, being in Michigan and being in the Patriot locker room,” Brady said. “We’ve got a great group of guys, we have great respect for one another. It starts with coach [Bill] Belichick and Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Jonathan [Kraft] and the leadership that they bring.
“We don’t want to do anything to misrepresent what’s going on in our locker room, we want to be good role models, we want to win football games. And I think that’s what it comes down to. We show up every day trying to do our job and really not let anything else get in the way of that. Because if there’s issues in your locker room, if there’s issues that are outside of the realm of your own opponent that you’re dealing with, it just takes away from what you’re trying to accomplish. Coach Belichick has always done a great job of keeping the players focused on our opponent, and that’s where our energy needs to go.
“It’s an unfortunate thing. There’s been a lot of awareness brought to the situation, based on what’s happened down in Miami. But that’s their issue to deal with. It’s certainly not an issue that any of us Patriots want to deal with. We’re not really concerned with that, to tell you the truth. We’re concerned with how we’re going to do our best to prepare to prepare for the biggest challenge of our year this week.”
|Who’s next: 10 looming contractual questions for Patriots||09.23.13 at 8:43 pm ET|
With Rob Ninkovich in the fold — the defensive end signed a three-year extension with the Patriots over the weekend — here are 10 contractual questions facing New England over the next year-plus that have to be addressed.
Contract up after 2013
Cornerback Aqib Talib In a depressed free agent market for corners, Talib took $5 million to return to New England on a show-me deal last offseason. That deal was a win-win for both sides: the Patriots got a player motivated by a one-year contract, while Talib will get a chance to hit the market again after the 2013 season. He’s off to a terrific start (three picks in three games), and could be in line for a big deal when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes — A huge question. One of the league’s best run-stoppers, he remains a force in the middle of New England’s run defense. But at the same time, he hasn’t shown an ability to evolve much beyond that into a fully formed three-down linebacker. If he’s looking for a big deal, his struggles in coverage could limit him, but if he stays healthy over the course of the 2013 season, he should also command a big contract when he hits the open market.
Center Ryan Wendell — Wendell has done a very good job of holding down the middle of New England’s offensive line since he moved into the full-time gig at the start of the 2012 season. Last year, Pro Football Focus rated him as the best run-blocking center in the league, and his durability was unmatched — his 1,379 snaps were the most among all New England players. The Patriots have never been shy about doling out big deals to their offensive linemen, and Wendell could be the next in line for a tidy payday.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman — The slot receiver was a free agent afterthought this offseason, signing a deal to return to New England after visiting with the Giants. But Edelman’s familiarity with the system and the quarterback has paid off over the first three games of the year to the tune of 27 catches — only one other pass catcher over the last decade has had a better start to his season than Edelman (Wes Welker, who had 31 catches in the first three games of the 2011 season). If Edelman stays healthy, he could be rewarded with a big payday next offseason — bigger than the $765,000 deal he got last offseason, anyway.
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|Ryan Mallett shows ‘command’ but looks for more consistency as Tom Brady’s backup||08.30.13 at 1:15 am ET|
Often in the fourth and final preseason game, players show some things perhaps not showcased at any other point in the preseason, or their careers, since for some it is their last game action for quite some time.
This wasn’t the case for Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Giants. He once again showed flashes of being capable of starting NFL games, while at times not being able to complete a basic pass.
Mallett, entering his third season as a professional, played the entire first half, giving Tom Brady some extra rest before Week 1 against Buffalo. His overall numbers were pretty good, but within those numbers were the inconsistencies he’s displayed since being drafted out of Arkansas in the third round in 2011.
He finished the game 10-for-16 for 117 yards while throwing a touchdown and an interception, departing the game with the Patriots leading 14-10 at the half. The touchdown was his most impressive play of the night, a 40-yard pass to rookie Josh Boyce on which Mallett led the speedy Boyce perfectly into the end zone, showcasing one of the strongest arms in the league.
“Mallett threw a great ball so I just tried to go out there and make a play,” Boyce said. “He threw it pretty deep.”
Earlier in the game, a positive turned into a negative for Mallett as on the third drive of the night he completed 4-of-5 passes to lead the Patriots to the 4-yard line. Once down by the goal line, rookie wideout Aaron Dobson found himself free in the back of the end zone where Mallett needed to loft the ball over the defender, but the QB underthrew the pass and Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara reeled in the jump ball for what looked like an interception.
|Tom Brady again nearly perfect in second preseason contest||08.16.13 at 8:59 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady did play Friday night and show absolutely no ill effects from the hit he took to the left knee on Wednesday in practice.
Brady was brilliant in the opening drive, completing all seven passes, including four to Danny Amendola for 46 yards. Brady capped off a 15-play scoring drive to open the game by hitting Amendola on a 26-yard route to the end zone.
With so much speculation on whether he would play at all, Brady finished the night 11-for-12 for 107 yards and the one touchdown. In two games this preseason, covering a total of four series, Brady is 18-for-20 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Brady completed his first 11 passes before his third-down pass for Amendola fell incomplete to force a punt on his second series.
Brady came out after the first quarter and, like last week in Philadelphia, was replaced by Ryan Mallett to begin the second quarter.
|Bill Belichick looking forward to working with Greg Schiano again||08.12.13 at 3:06 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As they did with the Eagles, the Patriots will scrimmage and practice with the Buccaneers before Friday’s preseason opener at Gillette Stadium. The big different this week will be the fact that the Patriots face Tampa Bay in just over a month when it counts – in Week 3 of the regular season – at Gillette Stadium.
Bill Belichick does have a lot of familiarity with Greg Schiano, as the two held joint practices last year in Tampa before their preseason game. And, of course, Schiano was a long time head coach of Rutgers, where Belichick’s son played as long snapper and several current Patriots played in college.
“Well, we know we play them again,” Belichick said. “Schiano and I talked about it and think there’s a couple of things we feel like we’ve just assumed to not work with, work on. But there’s plenty of other things we need to work on, so we’ll do that.”
Belichick said he embraces another chance to go against a team in practice with a different look, noting the Bucs used a base four-man front defensively while the Eagles primarily use three down linemen.
“The schedule we’re on is what we have so we’ll use to the best we can,” Belichick said. “The following week, when we have the whole week to work just here with ourselves, we’ll try to get the most out of that too.”
The Patriots play in Detroit Aug. 22 before finishing up six days later against the Giants at Gillette Stadium.
Quarterback Ryan Mallett, who sustained a head injury when taking a blow to the face from Eagles defensive lineman Damion Square, was back on the field Monday afternoon for practice. He was joined by defensive backs Ras-I Dowling and Alfonzo Dennard, both of whom missed Friday night’s game in Philadelphia.
|Tim Tebow on Aaron Hernandez: “It was heartbreaking and it was sad’||07.26.13 at 1:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tim Tebow made his training camp debut Friday outside Gillette Stadium.
The former teammate of Aaron Hernandez at Florida was asked his reaction to the murder charge against the former Patriots tight end.
“It was heartbreaking and it was sad. We’ve been advised not to comment, as I’m sure you’ve all heard a bunch of times, not to comment on an ongoing legal investigation so I’m not going to comment further. But it’s just heartbreaking and sad and all my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families involved.
“I understand why you have to ask all the questions and that’s part of doing your job,” Tebow said. “Part of mine is listening to instruction and we’ve been told not to talk about.”
Asked if he had spoken to Hernandez since the story broke in late June, Tebow repeated the team’s no-talk policy on the case.
“We’ve been asked not to talk about it,” he said.
As far as on the field, Tebow struggled at times reading defense during the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, getting intercepted once by Chandler Jones and getting a sideline reaction from the defense during 7-on-7 drills when he was taking a long time in the pocket.
But all of that said, Tebow said he is simply focused on what Bill Belichick is asking him to do.
“I just do what I’m told and work as hard as I possibly can to do the best job I can with whatever I’m asked to do,” Tebow said.
Tebow did catch one pass from Ryan Mallett during agility drills between the cones but nothing in formation. Will he see time at tight end?
“I’m going to do what coach asks me to do,” Tebow replied. “I’m just doing what I’m asked but so far I’ve been strictly in the QB room.
“It was fun, it was a lot of fun to get out here and really start practicing,” he said. “It was our fourth practice [with quarterbacks] and every one, I feel, has gotten better. This is the first one with everybody out here and it was lot of fun. You have a great coaching staff and great players, and getting to watch one of the best ever to play the game in [Tom Brady], so it was a lot of fun.”
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