|5 most important Patriots not named Tom Brady||08.26.14 at 12:00 am ET|
There’s no need to debate who is the most important member of the Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady has been the single most integral part of New England’s football success on a week-in, week-out basis for the last decade-plus. But who makes up the rest of the nucleus? With the 2014 regular season looming, here are the five most important Patriots not named Brady — in no particular order.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman — Edelman has emerged as Brady’s go-to target of choice over the last year-plus. The former college quarterback topped the 100-catch mark last season, becoming just the third pass-catcher of the Brady era to come away with at least 100 catches in a season (Troy Brown and Wes Welker are the other two.) Over the course of the summer, he displayed an almost creepy level of chemistry with the quarterback. In two preseason games, Edelman has showed that regardless of what happens with Rob Gronkowski‘s health in 2014, he will be one of the fundamental elements of the New England passing game. In two preseason games Brady targeted Edelman 10 times, and the receiver caught all 10 passes.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski — Gronkowski is the difference-maker, the sort of offensive option who can help New England get to its ultimately goal. The only question is his health — the big tight end played in his first 46 straight games in the NFL, but since his forearm snapped blocking on an extra point against the Colts in 2012, he’s only played in nine of a possible 26 games. It’s important to note that the Patriots looked like they learned to survive without him down the stretch and into the postseason last year. According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots averaged 32 points per game and 5.94 yards per play with Gronkowski in the lineup from Weeks 7-14. Without Gronkowski (from Week 15 through the end of their postseason run), New England averaged 30.8 points per game and 5.82 yards per play. It was a drop-off, but not the dramatic dip that some may have anticipated. At the same time, the real struggles in other areas (red zone presence, blocking) have created an environment where it’s simply not sustainable to think the Patriots could hope to win a Super Bowl without him.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis — Revis has only been a part of the New England roster for a few months, but he already figures to be a vital part of any success the Patriots have in 2014. Even for a future Hall of Famer it can be an occasionally dicey proposition joining a new team, but he’s managed to fit in seamlessly. As a new face, he has managed to walk a fine line between being deferential to the established veterans who were already on the roster, but at the same time he’s managed to carve out a leadership position of his own. He was the guy who led a group of defensive backs out to Arizona for offseason workouts with his trainer, and the younger defensive backs (including Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon) have confessed to picking his brain on more than one occasion. He hasn’t played a ton in the preseason (we had him at 36 snaps — with penalties — through the first three games of the preseason, and has one pass completed in his direction in that time), but it certainly appears he’s not hampered by any of the knee woes that managed to keep him sidelined for almost the entire duration of the 2012 season.
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|Vince Wilfork on D&H: ‘This is as strong as I have ever been in my career’||08.25.14 at 5:57 pm ET|
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork checked in with Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss how he feels physically coming off his season-ending Achillies injury last season and what it’s like to see some of his fellow defensive linemen get cut. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Wilfork was placed on season-ending injured reserve after Week 4 of last season with an Achilles injury. Making his rehab even harder was his weight and age, as being 32 years old and 325 pounds doesn’t make it easy recovering from any injury — yet alone a foot injury.
The 10-year veteran said it was all hard work as he was determined to come back better than ever.
“Playing football at any level, I think this is the strongest I have been,” Wilfork said. “I worked my tail off with the training staff — strength and conditioning, you name it, we worked. There were times where I was on vacation, it wasn’t vacation because I was getting up at five in the morning taking advantage of three days of running on the beach, walking in the water to get the healing, going in the pool, swimming, walking four miles a day and then walking again at night.
“I was hitting it — all day it was something me and my wife were constantly doing just to make sure this thing had the strength to be able to move around. There were some things that we changed around and we said, ‘You know what, I want to make this one of my best year’s that I played football and I don’t know what the future my hold with that, but so far so good.’ I’m happy and I’m healthy and I hope I can stay that way.”
Being in the league as long as he has, Wilfork knows cuts are bound to happen, but it is especially tough to see players he became so close with lose their jobs — which was what happened with veteran defensive linemen Tommy Kelly and Will Smith on Monday as the Patriots let them both go.
“It is tough. We all worked together this offseason — rehabbing our injuries and getting back — the amount of time that we put in together at the facility, with the staff, the rehab and all that stuff,” Wilfork said. “You kind of build a whole different bond and it’s always sad to see people get cut, especially people that have been around for awhile — guys you’ve been playing with forever. But, times do come and changes always happen at this level. Nothing surprises me. It’s always something going on.
“Everyone has different ways of dealing with it. Me personally it’s just sad because you know the majority of these guys won’t have a job, at least not here. And you’ve been through OTAs, offseason programs with these guys, you’ve been through mini-camp, you’ve been through training camp with these guys. It’s sad to see some guys go, but that’s the nature of the business and we have to deal with it. I respect everybody, but at the same time it is a business.”
|Bill Belichick: Vince Wilfork has ‘done a solid job’ in getting back from torn Achilles||08.24.14 at 1:35 pm ET|
Coming off a torn Achilles suffered in Week 4 against the Falcons last season — forcing him to go on season-ending injured reserve — Vince Wilfork appears ready for the upcoming season.
Wilfork hasn’t missed a practice this preseason, but like most starters he didn’t play in the first preseason game against the Redskins. He has played in the last two games — including almost the entire first half of last Friday’s game with the Panthers, showing no issues at all with the foot he injured last season.
“Vince has done everything pretty much since the last week or so of OTAs,” Bill Belichick said during Sunday’s conference call. “He’s done everything with the team, no real restrictions. He hasn’t really missed any time or anything. He’s been out there and worked hard. He’s getting himself ready for the season as he should be. He’s done a solid job of getting himself back and getting ready to play football this year. We’ll see how it goes going forward. I have no issues with him, I think he’s worked very hard coming back from the injury he had last year and be ready to go this season.”
With the Patriots playing more of a 3-4 defensive scheme this preseason, Wilfork has been in the middle of the defensive line — drawing a few double-teams — along with Joe Vellano and Tommy Kelly on either side of him. This has allowed Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich to line up in a standing position at the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker spot and get a better jump on getting after the quarterback, or dropping back into pass coverage at times.
With Wilfork and Kelly out last season, the Patriots could not use this scheme as Ninkovich and Jones were forced to line up in a three-point stance on the line with the lack of healthy defensive linemen.
Although Wilfork has looked good in the two joint practice sessions with the Redskins and Eagles as well as in the two preseason games, Belichick is quick to point out it’s only the preseason and the real games have yet to begun, so it is unfair to make clear assertions.
“It’s preseason. Let’s not confuse preseason with regular season,” Belichick said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s been out there and participated. He played in all three preseason games. We’re all getting ready for the regular season, but we’ll see what happens when the regular season starts for all of us — players, coaches, rookies, veterans, everybody. That’s when we’ll really see where everybody is.”
|Vince Wilfork on new points of emphasis enforcement: ‘There were a lot of flags [Tuesday] – it’s kind of different’||08.13.14 at 6:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — For the second time this preseason the Patriots got a first-hand look at how the new league points of emphasis will be called when referees were on hand at Tuesday’s joint practice with the Eagles following last Thursday’s first preseason game with the Redskins.
The referees called drills like they were a game — throwing flags for the penalties they saw. The general theme with the players, coaches, as well as officials is there will be an adjustment period.
“There were a lot of flags today — it’s kind of different, but they are making a point of emphasis of certain things and they are throwing the flags so we had a good look at it today and we have to be better on that end,” defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said.
There were a number of flags thrown at defensive backs for defensive holding and illegal contact during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, which was one of the main points of emphasis for the season. This was clearly evident by the number of these types of penalties called in the first week of the preseason. For players who play in the secondary, they understand it is just part of what the game has evolved into.
“I think it’s just the way the league is,” Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said. “They want to see points scored and if it gets too crazy and they feel like the defense is impeding too much on points being scored then there will be a rule change or point of emphasis on that to try and help the offense score.”
For cornerback Darrelle Revis, he’s just trying to get accustomed to the new rules by the time the regular season hits.
“It’s the beginning. It’s the beginning stages and the only thing we can do is ask questions and learn,” Revis said. “There were a lot of flags out there today, but at the same time, it’s a new rule and we’re just trying to get acclimated and do the best thing we can do by covering receivers in the preseason games and in the regular season.”
|Reports: Sealver Siliga returns to Boston for tests on left hand, will miss time||08.06.14 at 2:07 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — The news is not encouraging regarding one of the younger and more promising members of the Patriots’ defensive line.
Both the Boston Globe and ESPN Boston report that the team is concerned about the severity of the injury to the left hand of Sealver Siliga. The 24-year-old out of Utah injured the hand in Tuesday’s practice and left early. He returned to the practice field without his shoulder pads with about 15 minutes left in practice and did not participate at all on Wednesday.
Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston reports that Siliga returned to Boston to have further tests on the left hand while Ben Volin of the Boston Globe also confirmed the team’s concern about the injury.
The Patriots signed Siliga to their practice squad on Oct. 23, 2013. On Nov. 27, 2013, Siliga was added to the active roster and played the final five games and both playoff games. He recorded three sacks and 23 tackles in his five regular season games and was projected as one of the up and coming talents on the defensive front.
Third-year Patriots DT Sealver Siliga has returned to Boston for tests on his injured left hand, which reflects initial concerns on severity
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 6, 2014
Team still awaiting complete test results on Sealver Siliga's injured left hand. But Siliga will almost certainly miss time in coming weeks.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 6, 2014
Bad news, #Patriots fans. While I don’t have specifics, I’m told the outlook on DT Sealver Siliga’s hand injury is ‘not good.’ Hurts depth
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) August 6, 2014
|Mike Petraglia on Day 2: Vince Wilfork, Darrelle Revis, Danny Amendola shine in heat||08.05.14 at 6:58 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia has the details from Day 2 of joint practices between the Patriots and Washington Redskins. Among the highlights, Vince Wilfork intercepted Robert Griffin III, Darrelle Revis knocked away a TD pass from DeSean Jackson and Tom Brady found a groove with Danny Amendola.
|Tuesday practice report: Tom Brady, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman show off chemistry, Vince Wilfork, Darrelle Revis show off hands||at 5:49 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — In the longest and hottest practice of training camp, the Patriots worked in pads against the Redskins for two hours, 45 minutes before cooling down.
Both teams worked up-tempo offensive drills.
Rob Gronkowski was again absent from the practice. Running back Brandon Bolden, receiver Aaron Dobson and center Bryan Stork were again absent. Matthew Slater took part in receiving drills, including red zone chances. Each offense had approximately 90 reps on the day. Alfonzo Dennard took part in individual drills but later joined Deontae Skinner and James Morris on the back field for conditioning work.
Here are some quick takeaways:
Tom Brady and Julian Edelman have looked good all summer working together but Tuesday may have been their best day yet, connecting on a variety of seam routes and sideline patters as the offense worked specifically on hurry-up and no-huddle execution. Danny Amendola also looked good, including early on when, after a Brady incompletion, Brady found Amendola twice, Shane Vereen once and Kenbrell Thompkins. The series ended with Brady connecting with a wide open Amendola down the left sideline for a touchdown.
Later, Brady fired a timing pass on an in cut to Edelman who made the catch and was popped slightly by Keenan Robinson. Edelman’s response was to get up and yell ‘Whooooo’ in Robinson’s ear hole. Brady and Edelman continue to show chemistry as Brady released the ball before Edelman made his cut. Edelman later caught a touchdown pass from Brady in 11-on-11 drills.
On defense, Vince Wilfork and Darrelle Revis provided the highlights. Early on, Wilfork intercepted a pass from Robert Griffin III, much to the surprise and delight of the several thousand Patriots fans in attendance. For the record, it was the second straight day of over 21,000 attendance at Bon Secours training complex. Later, Griffin attempted to connect with DeSean Jackson but Revis was all over the receiver in coverage and batted the pass away cleanly, though Griffin said later he thought there might have been interference on Revis on the play.
Wilfork participated in the early and later 11-on-11 drills while Zach Moore filled in for him during up-tempo and hurry-up situations. Another good sign that Wilfork is ready to go this season and recovered from his Achilles injury came when he rushed upfield later in practice and slipped to the ground. He immediately got up and ran to the sideline as part of a scheduled substitution and return several plays later as part of his regular rotation.
Despite the intense heat and humidity, there were no significant dustups or scuffles on the long day.
Patriots defensive lineman Sealver Siliga left early on with an apparent left hand injury. He returned to the field without his shoulder pads in the final 15 minutes.
The two teams will likely take it down a notch on Wednesday morning, with a walkthrough taking the place of a full scrimmage. The two teams will open the preseason Thursday in Landover, Md. at FedEx Field.
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