|Tom Brady on D&C: Feelings about Wes Welker’s departure ‘very personal to me’||05.23.13 at 8:00 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about the Patriots’ offseason moves as OTAs begin as well as promote next weekend’s Best Buddies charity event.
The biggest changes on the roster have come at wide receiver.
“There’s quite a few new guys on the roster, certainly at the receiver position, almost the entire group,” Brady said. “So, as many days of practice as we can get, as many opportunities that we can have to actually get out there and throw the ball together in a competitive environment, I think that’s where the improvement comes. We’ve only had two days of practice.
“It’s a very competitive position. I think there’s a lot of positions that are very competitive on our team. I’m excited to see — at this point, the work that we’ve put in, how well it’s paid off.”
The most heralded new receiver is former Ram Danny Amendola, who worked out with Brady in Los Angeles recently.
“Danny, he’s always had a lot of talent,” Brady said. “To watch him out there and play against him — when he was at the Rams he was very productive. It’s been fun to work with him. He’s got the tenacity to him and the drive and the determination and the work ethic. In a short period of time, it’s really easy to see. Like I said, he’s one of those guys where the more we throw, the better we’re going to be. So, we’re trying to always kind of talk and communicate through practice, through OTAs. We threw in the spring a lot, and hopefully as the summer continues leading up to training camp, we’ll get as many reps as we can together so we’re on the same page.”
Amendola has drawn comparisons to departed free agent Wes Welker.
“They’re [at] similar positions, they’re about the same height, they’ve both got very good ability,” Brady said. “Wes was so productive for so long. I think it’s unfair to compare anyone to Wes and what he was able to accomplish in his time here. Danny, he’s just been fun to work with. I think he’s come in really with an open mind and understanding of the way that we as Patriots, the way we need to play.
“Josh [McDaniels] is trying to get everyone on our entire offense up to speed with how we’re going to play offense this year, how we’re going to try to be more consistent than we’ve been the last few years. Danny’s really taken to that; all the receivers have. And all the receivers have really had, like I said, a willingness to come in and work and listen and try to get better.”
Asked his reaction to Welker’s departure, Brady said he understands the business of the league.
“I don’t think anything surprises me any more in the NFL,” he said. “I’ve been around long enough to see things happen at different times with the greatest players of all, whether that’s Wes, or Randy Moss being traded from the Raiders, or Brett Favre playing for the Jets and the Vikings. That’s what happens. Like I said, it’s a very tough, competitive business.
“Nobody appreciated Wes more than I did and what he was able to accomplish for our team. But he’s moved on. He’s in a good situation with another great team and a great quarterback. We’ve always kind of kept in touch, we always will. He’s one of my best friends. I certainly wish him the best.”
Brady has not publicly voiced any displeasure toward management about Welker’s departure, and he explained that there’s a reason for that.
“Of course I have feelings. But those feelings are very personal to me,” he said. “I used to get caught up in anger and frustration and disappointment. But I don’t make the decisions. These things aren’t up to me. At some point you’ve got to realize the things that are out of your control. You’ve just got to let go and focus on my job and what I need to do. Because the game moves on, the team moves on. There’s only so long you can dwell on the past. At some point you’ve got to move forward.
“Like I said, my job for my team is to be the best quarterback, and not the general manager and not the coach and not the owner. It’s to try to go out there and bring my own competitiveness to the field so that those guys that I’m playing with this year can really rely on me and count on me to be the best I can be.”
|Patriots go big at wide receiver this offseason||05.21.13 at 7:15 am ET|
This offseason, the Patriots lost wide receivers Wes Welker (5-foot-9, 185 pounds), Deion Branch (5-9, 195) and Brandon Lloyd (6-0, 200). They also lost Danny Woodhead (5-8, 200), who in 2012 became the first New England running back to finish with at 40 catches and 40 carries since Kevin Faulk turned the trick in 2008. In their place, the Patriots picked up several new faces, most of whom are considerably bigger guys than the ones who departed in the offseason.
Free agent signings
Mike Jenkins (6-4, 214)
Donald Jones (6-0, 208)
Danny Amendola (5-11, 188)
Lavelle Hawkins (5-11, 194)
Aaron Dobson (6-3, 210)
Josh Boyce (5-11, 206)
Rookie/undrafted free agents
Mark Harrison (6-3, 235)
TJ Moe (6-0, 200)
Kenbrell Thompkins (6-0, 196)
This is not to suggest that the Patriots have made a concerted effort to go bigger at the receiver position, but the differentiation in size is interesting contrast, especially if you go back and take a look at the receivers New England has built around over the last decade. Prior to the pickup of Jenkins, the only other 6-foot-4 receiver on the roster the last decade was Randy Moss, who spent three-plus seasons with the Patriots from 2007-2010. (Going back to 2002, Donald Hayes also stood 6-4. In addition, J.J. Stokes, who spent part of the 2003 season in New England, stood 6-4.) And at 6-3, Dobson and P.K. Sam are the two tallest receivers the Patriots have drafted since Bill Belichick took over the team prior to the 2000 season.
But this current group not only has size, but speed to go with it. Boyce, Harrison and Moe all popped favorably at the combine when it came to both speed and quickness (Moe and Boyce were both in the top five in the 3-cone drill for all players, while Boyce and Harrison were in the top 12 in the 40 for wide receivers). According to alert Tweeter Mike Loyko, all of the receivers the Patriots picked up with the exception of Jenkins ran sub 4.5 40s as part of the pre-draft process. It appears that finding a combination of size and speed — particularly on the perimeter — was a priority for New England this offseason.
(The acquisitions certainly would be in line with what one opposing scout told us when it came to offseason priorities for the Patriots in late January: “The Patriots need to add a vertical speed player with some size to the offense. … The Patriots do have fast wide receivers, but they are small, and require [Tom] Brady to be more accurate on his deeper throws. And because of their size, they aren’t consistent vertical threats. What they need is a wide receiver who is a vertical threat, but is also big enough to be physical in press coverage.”)
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|Eight things we’re going to be looking for at Patriots OTAs||05.20.13 at 3:18 pm ET|
The Patriots opened organized team activities Monday — NFL-speak for full-squad, low-intensity get-togethers that will give us an opportunity to see the rookies and (many of the) veterans on the field together for the first time. (The media will have access to Tuesday’s workout.)
With the understanding that it will be impossible to make any wide, sweeping judgments of substance on any player because of the slow-speed nature of things (and with the knowledge that, at least according to reports, linebacker Brandon Spikes isn’t there), here are eight things we’re going to be keeping an eye on when we hit Foxboro Tuesday morning.
Tom Brady: The whole thing begins and ends with the quarterback, and while we don’t expect to necessarily be surprised by anything he might be doing, it’s always interesting to see where he is, both physically and mentally. One thing to watch will be how he does when it comes to working with the new faces, particularly at wide receiver. Another will be to keep an eye on his mechanics and any sport of tinkering he’s done with his delivery, something he discussed at great length with Peter King.
The rookies, specifically, Jamie Collins and Josh Boyce: We want to get a look at both of these guys because they’re both such athletic freaks, but Collins intrigues because he may end up playing more of a role in coverage, at least right out of the gate. As for Boyce, he missed rookie minicamp because of a foot issue, and as a result, this should mark his first time on the field with the rest of his teammates in an organized setting.
The tight ends, specifically, Jake Ballard: With Rob Gronkowski expected to be on the shelf at least through the spring, Ballard should certainly get plenty of reps at Gronkowski’s spot in the next month as he works his way back from spending the 2012 season on the sidelines because of a knee issue. It’s important to have a set of realistic expectations for Ballard — he not only spent the entire year on the shelf because of a knee injury he sustained in Super Bowl XLVI, he’s also joining a new system. Regardless, he’ll be interesting to watch. (In that same vein, we’ll also be watching linebacker Dane Fletcher and cornerback Ras-I Dowling, two other players who ended their season on injured reserve.)
Tom Brady told Peter King of SI.com that, “Going into my 14th year, I have never had more confidence in how I am throwing the football. I’ve never felt better throwing the football.”
Speaking with King for this week’s edition of Monday Morning Quarterback, the Patriots quarterback talked about a wide range of topics, including his work with Best Buddies, his feelings in the wake of the loss to the Ravens in the AFC title game and his overall evolution as a signal-caller while working with Tom House. Brady, who previously had worked with Bay Area throwing guru Tom Martinez until Martinez’s death 15 months ago, said that he and the former major league pitcher have quickly developed a great working relationship.
“The same way Tom Martinez was always there to watch and give me corrections, Tom House has told me why certain corrections need to be made,” Brady said. “Look at a baseball swing and a golf swing. It’s all mechanics. Look at how Barry Bonds swings. Look at how Floyd Mayweather punches. Mechanics.
“When you’ve got to fit it into the tightest windows, mechanics are crucial. And to me, the offseason is crucial. If you make a throw within four feet, that’s not going to be good enough. You have to make the throw within four inches of your target. That’s good enough. And that’s why the mechanics you adjust and learn in the offseason are important. You’re going to keep them during the season.
“Tom House, pretty soon after the season, said basically, ‘All right, Tommy. Get to work.’ That’s the one thing that helps me move forward. There’s nothing we can do about losing the championship game to the Ravens. It sucks. You move on. But, with Tom, I think I’ve learned some things this offseason that are really going to help me.”
King asked Brady for one or two of those things.
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|Donald Jones ready to be part of remade receiving corps in Foxboro||05.14.13 at 1:17 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Donald Jones already had a rep by the time he showed up in New England for his free agent visit this offseason. The wide receiver had strung together some impressive stretches with the Bills over the course of his three-year career, including 18 catches for 319 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots.
Of course, the New England braintrust also recognized him as being the unlucky fellow on the receiving end of this shot from defensive lineman Vince Wilfork which took place in last September’s Patriots-Bills game in Buffalo.
“It was a middle screen,” Jones said when asked to recall how the play developed. “I don’t even really remember how Vince ended up right there when I caught the ball. He was right there, so … He read it well and he just caught me in the air. I guess that’s something D-linemen always hope for — to catch a wide receiver coming over the middle. So he got his thing that he always hopes for, I guess.”
The shot was one of the biggest hits of the year for the New England defense. As for Jones — who signed a free agent deal with the Patriots in March — it has followed him here to Foxboro.
“I talked to [Wilfork] about it. Guys make jokes about it all the time. They bring it up,” he said during a break from the offseason workout program at Gillette Stadium. “At the same time they’d make a joke and then at the end they’ll try to fix it over by saying, ‘You got up anyway, though, so it’s all good.’
“You know, it actually looked a lot worse than it was. It didn’t hurt. I’m sure if he landed on me it would have hurt a lot more. He caught me in the air, so the hit didn’t hurt or anything. That was not the hardest hit that I’ve taken.”
Of course, Jones is much more than just a speedbump for defensive linemen. The 6-foot, 208-pounder is a Youngstown State product who spent three seasons in the league, all with the Bills, and has 82 career receptions. His best year came in 2012 when he caught 41 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns.
He enters a position that’s in a state of flux for the Patriots — only one guy on the current roster caught a pass from Tom Brady last season (Julian Edelman). Jones competing with new faces like veterans Danny Amendola and Mike Jenkins and rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. Jones welcomes the competition.
“When you get into the NFL, every year is going to be competition,” he said. “Every year in Buffalo we had 10 receivers, 11 receivers, so you have to have a bunch of receivers going into camp because guys get hurt, things like that. As far as the competition, I’ve been competing every year since I got into the NFL, so it’s not going to be any different here. I’m working with the quarterbacks so when we get into OTAs and moving forward into camp and the preseason games, everybody is on one [page].
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|NFC scout on Patriots draft: 4 players could contribute immediately||05.08.13 at 1:49 pm ET|
While the grades are starting to trickle in on how the Patriots fared last month in the NFL draft, one NFC scout said he was impressed by what New England was able to do, saying the Patriots picked up at least four players who will be able to contribute as rookies.
“The Patriots seemed to have a solid draft,” he told WEEI.com on Wednesday. “They went out and picked potential playmakers that have the ability to contribute immediately.”
On offense, the selection of wide receivers — Aaron Dobson in the second round and Josh Boyce in the fourth round — defined New England’s draft, as far as he was concerned. While his team had some questions about Dobson as a collegian, he feels that the Patriots will be able to develop Dobson into a “solid player.”
“Dobson is a size/speed wide receiver that has tools to develop into a solid pro,” he said. “However, he does have some motor and contested-catch inconsistency in college but if Patriots can get it out of him, he can be a solid player. Boyce could also be a solid contributor as a developmental wide receiver and special teams player in his first year in the league.”
While several people have raved about the football IQ of both Dobson and Boyce, the two receivers are unlike most receivers the Patriots have targeted in the draft the last few years in that they are bigger, more physical types: Dobson is a 6-foot-3, 203-pounder out of Marshall (tied with P.K. Sam as the tallest receiver Bill Belichick ever drafted) who ended up with 165 receptions, 2,398 receiving yards and 24 touchdown catches. Meanwhile, the 5-foot-11 Boyce electrified the combine after recording 161 catches for 2,535 yards and 22 touchdowns in his three seasons at TCU.
“The Patriots seem to view wide receivers differently,” the scout said, “as they are willing to take a chance on size/speed guys and are willing to admit mistakes and move on if they don’t fit the bill.”
|Terrell Owens: Playing for Patriots would be ‘no-brainer’||05.06.13 at 12:19 pm ET|
Terrell Owens spent some time this offseason working out with Tom Brady, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be signing with the Patriots anytime soon — although he certainly wouldn’t pass up the chance.
Speaking with BlindsideFootball.com, the occasionally controversial wide receiver talked about his recent sessions with Brady, as well as the possibility of him signing with New England.
“I think that’s a no-brainer,” Owens said. “You look at what they’ve done over the years. Under the tutelage of Tom and Coach [Bill] Belichick, I think the sky would be the limit in terms of what I’d be able to do, considering my body of work and my history of playing the game.”
But Owens said his connection with Brady was more happenstance than the result of an actual planned get-together.
“We happened to be on the same field at the same time and it obviously created a big buzz with the two of us being on the field throwing the football around,” Owens said. “There was really nothing organized about it as far as me trying to get with the Patriots or him pursuing me or anything like that. It just happened to be us being out there on the same field at the same time.”
Owens, 39, last caught a regular-season pass while with the Bengals in 2010, but has 1,078 receptions over the course of his career.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
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