|Bill Belichick on D&H: Patriots not at point of altering Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo reps||08.24.15 at 4:15 pm ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Monday (with Tom E. Curran in for Michael Holley) to discuss where the team stands getting prepared for the regular season along with the reported acquisition of Reggie Wayne. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
The biggest story of the offseason has carried over into training camp with Tom Brady appealing his four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate. As it stands now, with the case in the hands of Judge Richard Berman, it’s unclear whether or not Brady will be starting Sept. 10 in the season-opener against the Steelers.
Belichick said he and the team will wait for more information to become available before adjusting things when it comes to practices or preseason games.
“Once we start our preparation for the Pittsburgh game, based on whatever information we have — injuries and whatever else — then we’ll prepare the game the best we can in the most competitive way we can,” Belichick said. “We’ll just see what kind of information we have. That can be from a variety of sources, whether it’s Tom’s situation or players that are managing some type of physical condition, then we’ll just have to see where we are when we get to that preparation and play it out during the week. It’s no different than a player who is going to maybe play in the game or maybe isn’t due to injury. We just have to as we get closer to the game see how that unfolds.”
The coach was asked that since Jimmy Garoppolo was the lesser experienced of the two, would he benefit more from more reps? Belichick said the goal is to get everyone ready for Week 1, but he added that could change once more information becomes available.
“Our goal is to get everyone ready,” he said. “We can’t just focus on one player. We have to get the entire team ready and everybody is part of the team. That’s what we’ve been doing. That’s what we’ll continue to do. At some point that will change, but I don’t think we’re there yet.”
|What does Reggie Wayne bring to Patriots passing game?||at 1:41 pm ET|
The addition of wide receiver Reggie Wayne brings an interesting dynamic to the Patriots on two levels.
First, Wayne (who will turn 37 in November) is held in the highest esteem by Bill Belichick, who called him “maybe one of best route-runners in the history of the game” last year, and his technical prowess could serve as a something of a guidepost for younger deep threats like Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson. (He might ultimately supplant them on the roster this season, but that’s a story for another day.) The Patriots have never been shy about reaching out to veterans who are nearing the twilight of their careers, and while some of the late-career signings have worked out better than others (Rodney Harrison, Anthony Pleasant, Brian Waters and Andre Carter all come to mind as positives), Wayne certainly projects to be this year’s model.
In this context, it’s also important to remember that the Patriots have not been shy when it comes to kicking the tires on many of Peyton Manning‘s old offensive options from his days in Indy: Joseph Addai, Anthony Gonzalez, Marcus Pollard, Dallas Clark and Austin Collie all got at least a brief once-over from New England after they departed the Colts. While Collie was the only one who stuck for more than a couple of weeks, Wayne joins that same group of players who can boast of being able to play with both Manning and Tom Brady.
And two, if he is truly healthy, Wayne gives the Patriots a semi-legitimate deep threat, a presence who can stretch the field. He is by no means the same receiver he was a few years ago, but his consistency when it comes to yards per reception is impressive. While his overall numbers have dipped the last five years (going from 1,355 receiving yards in 2010 to 779 yards last year), he’s maintained an average of at least 12 yards per catch in that time. By way of comparison, the Patriots had one wide receiver with at least 50 catches last year average more than 12 yards per catch (Brandon LaFell at 12.9). If LaFell is out for an extended stretch — he has yet to practice this summer after being placed on PUP at the start of camp — Wayne conceivably could step into that role as intermediate and occasional deep threat in the New England passing game.
Ultimately, there still are questions about how he’ll fit in the New England offense, as well as how he’ll be utilized and whether or not he’ll be able to hold up over the course of a 16-game regular season. But at the very least, the Patriots have added an intriguing puzzle piece to their passing game, one who is capable of bringing something new to the table they didn’t have at the start of the summer.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Patriots’ preparations for the season and the team’s decision to have him stay on the sideline during preseason games. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The oft-injured Gronkowski did not play in Saturday’s victory over the Saints in New Orleans, extending his streak of preseason DNPs to 11.
“It’s always up to the coach’s decision,” he said. “I’m ready to play when my number’s called, whenever they want me to go in. I mean, it is preseason, we’ve been practicing hard, we’ve been going vs. each other, we had great practices with the Saints, it’s been going well.”
Added Gronkowski on not playing in the preseason: “It is what it is. I don’t really mind that. … It’s always nice to get one [game in], but also practice is good, too. If you’re going full speed and you’re competing hard in practice, that can get you super ready, too, for Week 1.”
When he does get on the field, Gronkowski acknowledged that even though “I like the hitting, I like the smashing,” there are occasions when it’s wiser for him to avoid taking another blow to his body.
“I’m never trying to shy away from contact, but there’s definitely times where maybe you want to step out of bounds where it’s just something where you just know you’re going to get hit by three guys or you can just make a little step out of bounds and save your body from that hit,” he said, adding: “Every once in a while you can definitely step out of the way just to save a hit or two on you.”
Off the field, Gronkowski is known for his partying ways. However, when asked about his sex life, he joked that he’s got something in common with Tim Tebow. Said Gronkowski: “I’m a virgin.”
|Browns All-Pro Joe Thomas backs Tom Brady, hammers Roger Goodell over Deflategate||08.23.15 at 9:32 pm ET|
Browns All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas said Sunday that Tom Brady is being unfairly treated for Deflategate, equating Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged role in the football deflating flap to “driving 66 [mph] in a 65-speed zone and getting the death penalty.”
Thomas also ripped commissioner Roger Goodell.
“I’m not sure if he realizes what he’s doing is brilliant, but what he’s doing is brilliant because he’s made the NFL relevant 365 [days] by having these outrageous, ridiculous witch hunts,” Thomas said in an interview with ESPN. “It’s made the game more popular than ever and it’s become so much more of an entertainment business and it’s making so much money.
“That’s why I’m sure there’s plenty of people saying this is embarrassing for the league. But it’s an entertainment business when it comes right down to it. When the game gets eyeballs in newspapers and on TV, that’s what in the end is the goal for everyone. And that’s what this controversy is giving them.”
Thomas doesn’t understand the histrionics around air pressure, pointing to the fact that the league allows the quarterbacks to already pre-treat the footballs prior to the game.
“If you want [quarterbacks] to play with a brand new football that comes out of the box, then make that the rule,” Thomas said. “If you’re going to allow them to break it in because you want more passing yards, then let them do whatever they want.
“Who cares if they throw a football that has no air pressure? What does it matter? Why don’t we let the quarterbacks do whatever they want to the football? I don’t understand why there’s any rules.”
Thomas said Brady isn’t a cheater.
“I think he’s trying to do everything he can to gain a competitive advantage to help him do his job better, which is to throw the football,” Thomas said. “Why should we be punishing a guy that wants to do his job better?
“I’m glad that he’s fighting [it],” Thomas said of Brady. “Because it’s good for the game. It’s an entertainment business. It’s turning into the WWE really. It’s like the Vince McMahon stuff. Basically Goodell is like Vince McMahon.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Jimmy Garoppolo: ‘I felt a lot better than last week’||at 1:12 am ET|
Jimmy Garoppolo was much more comfortable Saturday, in and out of the pocket, and it showed.
The quarterback replaced Tom Brady after the first three series and completed 28-of-33 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once and wasn’t sacked, nine days after taking seven sacks against Green Bay.
For a second straight week, Garoppolo managed to put points on the board in the final 15 seconds before halftime and led a comeback from a 21-0 hole as the Patriots prevailed, 26-24 Saturday night at the Superdome.
There was a lot of encouraging signs to take from Garoppolo’s performance.
“It was good game tonight, guys made some plays and came away with a victory,” Garoppolo said. “Obviously, you get two days of practice against them and have a walkthrough the third day, that’s obviously going to help. You go against these guys, you learn as fast as you can, learn their coverages, their fronts, all their different schemes and try to put it toward the game. Obviously, it’s helpful.”
Maybe most impressive is that Garoppolo took a depleted receiving corps and allowed a group of young players and backups to make plays to win a game. Brandon Gibson caught eight passes on nine targets. Jonathan Krause caught all six passes thrown to him and Chris Harper reeled in five of the eight passes thrown at him. That’s not bad for a team without Rob Gronkowski (rest) and the injured Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Aaron Dobson.
“Not just those three guys, all the guys, the tight ends, everybody, backs,” Garoppolo said. “They were all making plays. The O-line did a tremendous job today. I barely got touched. Felt a lot better than last week. It’s a team effort. We all went out there, made the plays when their number got called. Everyone was doing their job, really.”
|What to watch for in Saturday’s preseason contest between Patriots and Saints||08.21.15 at 10:05 pm ET|
Here are six things we’ll be looking for Saturday night when the Patriots meet the Saints in the second preseason game for both teams:
1. The young receivers and what they do with their opportunity: Last week against the Packers, it was Chris Harper (seven catches on seven targets) as the young pass-catcher who made the most of his opportunity. With Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Aaron Dobson not likely to play (and Brian Tyms reportedly likely to sit), Harper, Brandon Gibson and Josh Boyce should get plenty of run against the Saints. The regular season is creeping closer; keeping in mind the Patriots had five receivers and Matthew Slater on the Week 1 roster last season (Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Kenbrell Thompkins, Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson) and with Edelman, LaFell and Amendola locks this time around, there will be fewer and fewer chances for the youngsters to show what they have between now and the start of the season.
(In that same vein, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the touches that James White had last week. While he struggled at times in pass blocking, the young running back got more work than any offensive skill position player in the preseason opener against the Packers with 12 touches ‘ 8 carries, 4 catches. But that was with Brandon Bolden, Travaris Cadet, Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount on the sidelines. At least three of them figure to play Saturday against the Saints. As a result, White’s workload against New Orleans should be monitored accordingly.)
2. The young defenders and how they do with their opportunity: Last week against the Packers, the Patriots front seven was able to generate some good pressure early on Aaron Rodgers. Jabaal Sheard (who played 23 snaps) was in the backfield consistently when asked to rush, and drew a holding penalty. In addition, Chandler Jones had a sack, while youngsters Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers, Dominique Easley, Malcolm Brown and Rufus Johnson all had their moments. Based on their practice schedule, don’t expect Flowers or Johnson to play this time around — instead, Grissom (who played 65 snaps against the Packers, second-most among all New England defenders) should get an extended run against the Saints in the race to work as a backup edge defender for Jones and Rob Ninkovich.
3. Jimmy Garoppolo: The youngster was up-and-down in the preseason opener against the Packers, looking very sharp at times and looking overwhelmed at others (seven sacks). While some of his performance against Green Bay should be taken with a grain of salt, as he was behind a patchwork offensive line and had nothing but second- and third-team offensive skill position players working with him, Saturday night should be an opportunity for him to bounce back. He’s shown nice mental toughness in the past, and an ability to rebound when needed. He should have a few more starting linemen and prime skill position guys around him on Saturday in the Superdome. Let’s see if he can answer the bell. (One way he could show some improvement is if rookie Shaq Mason improves as a pass blocker. While fellow rookie guard Tre’ Jackson looks more and more like a polished product every day he’s on the practice field, Mason — who came from a run-based offense at Georgia Tech and appears to be as skilled a run-blocker as we’ve seen in his first year — looked like he struggled at times in pass blocking.)
4. Tom Brady: While it remains to be seen how much he’ll play on Saturday against the Saints, it’s worth noting that he had a sizable workload on Wednesday and Thursday while working against New Orleans in practice. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a shock to see some of his usual workload cut with an eye toward getting Garoppolo as many game reps as possible.
For the record, here’s Brady’s workload and production for the second preseason game of the summer going back the last 10 years. (It averages out to 23 snaps.)
2005: 6-for-11 for 105 yards, 1 INT in 20 snaps vs. Saints
2006: 15-for-20 for 149 yards in 21 snaps vs. Cardinals
2007: 10-for-19 for 145 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs in 35 snaps vs. Titans
2008: DNP vs. Bucs
2009: 4-for-8 for 57 yards in 13 snaps vs. Bengals
2010: 10-for-12 for 85 yards, 1 TD in 24 snaps vs. Falcons
2011: 11-for-19 for 118 yards, 2 TDs in 25 snaps vs. Bucs
2012: DNP vs. Eagles
2013: 11-for-12 for 107 yards, 1 TD in 23 snaps vs. Bucs
2014: 8-for-10 for 81 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT in 22 snaps vs. Eagles
|Report: John Mara declines request to help negotiate settlement with Tom Brady||08.20.15 at 9:51 pm ET|
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Thursday night that Giants co-owner John Mara has declined a request from Roger Goodell and other owners to participate in the talks between the league and NFLPA, citing a competitive conflict of interest arising from the Patriots’ Week 5 game against the Cowboys.
Why would Mara decline to help?
If Brady’s four-game suspension is reduced whatsoever, Brady will play in the post-bye Week 5 game against the Cowboys in Dallas, giving the Patriots a better chance to win.
Mara is considered one of the most influential owners who could have a significant influence on a possible settlement. Less than a week after saying Goodell was just doing his job, Mara told WFAN’s Mike Francesa Monday that he just wants a settlement that allows everyone to move on.
There are apparent inconsistencies in Mara’s stance and his pointing to competitive balance as a reason for backing out. Competitive conflict of interest didn’t keep Mara from having direct involvement in cap penalties imposed on Dallas and Washington in the post-2011 CBA. He followed that up by suggesting to the Cowboys and Redskins that his two NFC East rivals were lucky the cap penalties weren’t worse.
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