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Bill Belichick says good to get Reggie Wayne up to (game) speed: ‘Always different in a game’ 08.29.15 at 1:07 pm ET
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Reggie Wayne speaks to reporters at his new Patriots locker at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Reggie Wayne speaks to reporters at his new Patriots locker at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Bill Belichick has seen enough of young and veteran players alike to know that there’s no substitute for game action.

That’s why he decided to throw 15-year veteran receiver Reggie Wayne into Friday game with Tom Brady right from the start.

Wayne played 21 snaps but clearly was still finding his way. He was targeted just once, and dropped the one pass (a bullet through his hands) that was thrown his way – a 5-yard dig or “sit” route over the middle in the first quarter.

How comfortable did Reggie Wayne (sporting his new No. 15) look to Belichick after watching film of the game Saturday?

“Well, you have to ask him that question,” Belichick said before noting that Wayne is not the only one on a cram course in the Patriots playbook. “I’m not sure. There’s a lot to learn in a few days. There’s several players in that situation, Mike Williams, Reggie, Asante Cleveland hasn’t been here very long. Brought [offensive lineman] Chris Martin back, he had been here before so he’s probably a little bit ahead but it’s pretty common around the league. See a lot of teams in that situation, bring in a player at this point in training camp and having to catch them up.”

After each series, Wayne and Brady sat down to one another on the Patriots sideline and chatted. Wayne seemed to appreciate Brady’s concern and his ability to ignore the noise of Deflategate.

“In spite of all of all that stuff, [Brady will] pull me to the side and help me out,” Wayne told reporters after the game.

To Belichick, putting Wayne in Friday’s game was much more about seeing him on film at game speed.

“I think it’s always different in a game,” Belichick noted. “The game speed, timing and communication, not necessarily verbal but the timing and communication with the quarterback, the routes and so forth. Practice is good and that certainly helps but it’s never quite the same as the game. That’s something we can learn from and build on. You go out there in practice and work on that stuff all you want. But it’s always a little bit different in a game. It’s good to start that process. Obviously, it’s got a long way to go but keep working on it.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, nfl, Reggie Wayne
Report: Patriots’ James Develin suffers broken leg at 12:59 am ET
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James Develin

James Develin

The injury to James Develin didn’t look good as he was carted off the field in the fourth quarter Friday night in Charlotte. As it turns out, the news is not good either.

According to the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride, citing a team source, Develin broke his right leg after catching a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo midway through the fourth quarter.

Develin, who gained 10 yards on the play, rolled to his left and caught a pass. But as he was turning, his right foot appeared to stick in the turf. When it released after a tackle from linebacker David Mayo, it crashed into the leg of safety Dean Marlowe. Develin’s lower right leg bent backward and he had to be carted off with 8:01 left in the game.

After a few moments on the field with medical staff, coach Bill Belichick came onto the field and tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hate to see that,” is all Belichick would say after the game.

“He’s one of the hardest workers in the locker room, a real team guy,” added Garoppolo. “It’s tough to see him go down like that, especially when things were going well, had a little bit of momentum with us and it’s unfortunate. All the prayers out to him for sure.”

Tom Brady has often called Develin, a former defensive end at Brown, one of the most dependable players on the team.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brown University, James Develin, Jimmy Garoppolo
Bill Belichick on the Tom Brady offense: ‘We didn’t do much offensively’ 08.28.15 at 11:42 pm ET
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Kony Ealy of the Carolina Panthers sacks Tom Brady Friday night. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Kony Ealy of the Carolina Panthers sacks Tom Brady Friday night. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The first six series of the night looked like the previous five of the season for Tom Brady. Not good.

He was sacked once, threw a pair of interceptions (including one that was more of a fumble than a pick), nearly stumbled into the ground trying to make a tackle after one of the interceptions and didn’t seem to be on the same page with any of his receivers.

There was the overthrow of an open Scott Chandler in the first quarter. The drop by Reggie Wayne in the second quarter.

All in all, Brady was 2-for-7 for 13 yards and two interceptions in his first six drives of the night.

“Obviously, we couldn’t do anything in the first half, couldn’t run, couldn’t throw,” coach Bill Belichick noted after the 17-16 preseason win over the Panthers in Charlotte.

Brady bounced back nicely on his seventh drive of the night, his 13th of the preseason, completing 5-of-6 passes for 71 yards and perfectly placed lob throw of 18 yards to Scott Chandler for touchdown with 50 seconds left before the half. He finished 7-of-13 for 84 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown.

In Brady’s defense, he was playing without his starting center (Bryan Stork), starting tight end (Rob Gronkowski), and two starting receivers (Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell).

Over his first 12 preseason drives, Brady was 5-for-16 for 36 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. Starters or not, that’s ugly.

Belichick was asked specifically to comment on Brady’s play.

“I said we didn’t do much offensively,” Belichick reiterated.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Carolina Panthers, James Develin, New England Patriots
Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo throw TDs, James Develin hurt in Patriots’ win at 10:30 pm ET
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Scott Chandler beats Thomas Davis of the Panthers to haul in a  touchdown pass from Tom Brady Friday night. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Scott Chandler beats Thomas Davis of the Panthers to haul in a touchdown pass from Tom Brady Friday night. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo each threw a touchdown pass and Stephen Gostkowski hit another long field goal as the Patriots won their second preseason game with a 17-16 win over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Newly-signed Reggie Wayne played most of the first quarter. He was targeted once by Brady, dropping a short pass over the middle, and did not catch a pass.

Brady played all seven series in the first half, leading the Patriots to just 45 total yards on the first six. Brady was flushed out of the pocket twice, leading to a pair of runs for 18 yards. He was sacked once.

But on the seventh, and in the two minute drill, Brady finally turned it on, completing 5-of-6 passes for 71 yards. The final drive just before the half was capped off when Brady threw a perfect 18-yard touch pass to Chandler down the left sideline. The new Patriots tight end hauled it in for Brady’s first touchdown pass in three preseason games with 50 seconds left in the first half.

Before that pass, Brady was just 2-for-7 for 13 yards and two interceptions. Both interceptions came on passes intended for Aaron Dobson. On the first pass, Brady threw down the middle and the pass hit Dobson in the hands. As Dobson fell to the ground, he was stripped by 13-year veteran Charles Tillman.

On the next series of the first quarter, Brady threw over the middle for Dobson and was picked off by Kurt Coleman, who undercut the route. Brady finished 7-of-13 for 84 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

[For the full box, click here.]

Jimmy Garoppolo, who finished 13-of-17 yards for 126 yards, came on to start the second half for the Patriots after Cam Newton opened the third quarter with a nine-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 3-yard TD pass in the flat to Mike Tolbert.

Garoppolo looked shaky on his first series, nearly getting intercepted for a sure pick-6 by corner Bene Benwikere. One play later, Garoppolo threw to the other side of the field and was nearly intercepted again. Both reprieves were the result of Carolina drops.

The Patriots defense was outstanding in situation football in the first half, again coming up with two big red area stops. The Patriots defense was given a reprieve late in the second quarter when Corey Brown dropped a sure touchdown from Newton from the Patriots 30. Several plays later, the Brown dropped a sure first down at the Patriots 5. The two drops led to a 30-yard Graham Gano field goal that put the Panthers up, 6-0.

The Patriots defensive line showed very strong in the first half, with rookie Malcom Brown and Chandler Jones getting good push and pressure on Newton. Jerod Mayo made his first start of the preseason and combined with fellow linebacker Jamie Collins (wearing green dot) to stop the Panthers on the first drive on third and fourth down runs.

After a 39-yard field goal from Gano grew the Panthers lead to 16-7, Garoppolo had his best series of the night. He connected on a 40-yard pass down the right side to Dobson to the Panthers 9. On the very next play, Garoppolo fired a crisp pass to Dion Lewis on a slant in the end zone to cut the lead to 16-14.

LeGarrette Blount did not start but played almost exclusively as the feature back in the second half.

With 8:01 left in the fourth quarter, the Patriots sustained what could be a significant loss to their offense when one of Tom Brady‘s most dependable fullbacks James Develin was carted off the field. His right foot appeared to stick in the grass and then when it let go, it crashed into oncoming safety Dean Marlowe. Medical staff looked closely at Develin’s right ankle.

Moments later, Stephen Gostkowski connected on yet another long field goal, hitting from 53 yards to give the Patriots a 17-16 lead.

The Patriots conclude the preseason next Thursday night at Gillette Stadium with their annual preseason battle against the Giants at 7:30 p.m.

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Read More: Carolina Panthers, James Develin, Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots
Jonathan Kraft denies apologizing to Chris Mortensen: ‘We haven’t and we have no need to’ at 7:22 pm ET
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It gets worse and worse for Chris Mortensen.

Less than 24 hours after going on an Arizona radio station and claiming that the Kraft family had apologized to him for implicating him as the man responsible for starting “Deflategate,” Jonathan Kraft flatly denied an apology was part of any such conversation.

“We haven’t and we have no need to,” the team president told the Patriots pregame radio show Friday night before the preseason game in Charlotte against the Panthers.

Kraft did acknowledge that the team’s biggest beef is still with leaks, presumably in the NFL offices, that are providing bad information to “respected” reporters around the country.

“In the ordinary course, we have talked to some of those reporters,” Kraft said. “We’ve let them know we don’t blame them for the misinformation. We blame their sources for using them. And we’ve asked the league on numerous occasions… to please correct the misinformation. And still, it hasn’t been corrected publicly.”

But an apology?

“We haven’t and we have no need to,” Kraft said. “Our issue is with the people who were leaking misinformation. That’s where our issue is, because a lot of misinformation was leaked.”

The irony of Mortensen’s ill-timed doubling-down on his now-deleted tweet of Jan. 20 that 11 of 12 Patriots balls used in the AFC championship were found to be two full PSI under the 12.5 minimum is that it comes just a month after he said he learned his lesson about double-checking facts before tweeting them out and deleting them sooner if found to be incorrect, as the Wells report itself proved.

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Read More: Chris Mortensen, New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
7 things we’re looking for in Friday’s Patriots-Panthers preseason game at 12:23 am ET
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How should the Patriots split the reps at QB Friday night?  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

How should the Patriots split the reps at QB Friday night? (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Here are seven things we’ll be looking for Friday night when the Patriots meet the Panthers in the third preseason game for both teams:

1. How the reps are split at quarterback:

Nine of the last 10 times the Patriots took the field for the third preseason game of the summer, Tom Brady was at quarterback deep into the contest. (He sat out the third preseason game in 2008 entirely.) For the record, over those nine appearances, he finished with an average line of 15-for-22, 179 yards, 1.4 TDs, .33 INT and 40.5 snaps, with the bulk of the work coming over the first two-plus quarters. But with Brady’s status for the regular-season opener still unclear, there has to be some thought given to the idea of having Jimmy Garoppolo get more snaps than usual Friday with an eye toward making sure he’s ready for opening night against the Steelers if need be. From this viewpoint, the cautious play would be to have Brady start the game, but yield at roughly the 30-snap mark, depending on the offensive rhythm at that point in the evening. That way, Brady still gets in his needed work, but Garoppolo gets a little more activity than usual in advance of the regular-season opener.

For the record, here’s Brady’s workload and production in the third preseason game over the last 10 years:

2014: 17-for-21, 204 yards, two touchdowns, 42 snaps vs. Panthers
2013: 16-for-24, 185 yards, one interception, two sacks, 46 snaps vs. Lions
2012: 13-for-20, 127 yards, one touchdown, one interception, two sacks, 45 snaps vs. Bucs
2011: 12-for-22, 145 yards, one touchdown, one interception, two sacks, 37 snaps vs. Lions
2010: 18-for-22, 273 yards, three touchdowns, 30 snaps vs. Rams
2009: 12-for-19 for 150 yards, two touchdowns, one sack, 29 snaps vs. Redskins
2008: DNP
2007: 17-for-22, 167 yards, two touchdowns, 47 snaps vs. Panthers
2006: 17-for-30, 231 yards, one touchdown, 49 snaps vs. Redskins
2005: 12-for-21, 127 yards, one touchdown, one sack, 40 snaps vs. Packers

2. The third-down back competition:

This has been one of the best summer positional battles the Patriots have had in the last decade or so. Over the course of camp, the smart money appeared to be on Travaris Cadet, but he suffered an injury before the preseason schedule opened, and wasn’t heard from for a couple weeks. With that void, after Week 1 of the preseason, James White appeared to have the best shot at the job with a really nice outing against the Packers. But last week against the Saints, Dion Lewis really flashed positively, so much so that he looked to be in command. Now, who knows? Cadet needs to stay healthy if he wants to stay in the race, but it was hard not to look at the White/Lewis duo over the first two weeks of the preseason and imagine a combo role while White grows into the job on a full-time basis a year or two down the road, a la Shane Vereen.

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Read More: Brandon LaFell, Cam Newton, Devin McCourty, Dion Lewis
3 is the magic number: Patriots’ third preseason games of late have been interesting 08.27.15 at 12:38 pm ET
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Tom Brady and the Patriots have played some eventful preseason games the last dozen years or so.  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the Patriots have played some eventful preseason games the last dozen years or so. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

In addition to the fact that the regulars usually play deep into the contest, as of late, the third preseason game of the year for the Patriots has almost always been … interesting. Here are a few stories involving New England and its third preseason game of the summer over the last dozen or so years.

2004: The Patriots faced the Panthers in a rematch of a bitterly contested Super Bowl XXXVIII. New England is looking at it like, well, a third preseason game. Meanwhile, Carolina is viewing the matchup a little differently — namely, a chance for revenge for its loss to the Patriots the previous February.

“It’s going to be Super Bowl 2, Round 2,” said Carolina safety Mike Minter. “We’re going to be jacked. I can tell you that right now.”

“If you think this is just a preseason game, you’re mistaken,” added Carolina defensive lineman Brentson Buckner. “It’s going to be a war.”

In the end, the Panthers eked out a 20-17 win over the Patriots. The finale produced very different reactions.

“As much as you want to downgrade it, and say that it was preseason, they were still the guys who beat us in the Super Bowl,” said Carolina quarterback Rodney Peete, “So it feels pretty good to beat them.”

“That meant nothing to us,” Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest said of the Super Bowl rematch. “We don’t really care. We won the Super Bowl. That’s over. There’s nothing to talk about.”

The Patriots would go on to win Super Bowl XXXIX. The Panthers would finish 7-9.

2007: Another third preseason contest against the Panthers, but this one was precluded by far less trash talk. Tom Brady missed a couple of days of practice leading up to the contest because he was in Los Angeles for the birth of his son, but the quarterback stepped off the plane and was impressive against Carolina, leading New England to a touchdown on an 80-yard, 18-play first quarter drive that consumed 9:43. He finished 17-of-22 for 167 yards and two touchdowns.

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