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The Patriots' (still-in-flux) 51-man roster

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 31, 2013 06:56 PM

Here is the Patriots' roster as of now. Since they are at 51 players, they obviously have left themselves space to add and tinker with this list in the coming days (last year they made a dozen moves between cutdown day and the regular-season opener, not including practice-squad signings).

QUARTERBACK (2)
Tom Brady
Ryan Mallett

RUNNING BACK (5)
LeGarrette Blount
Brandon Bolden
Stevan Ridley
Shane Vereen
Leon Washington

FULLBACK (10)
James Develin

WIDE RECEIVER (6)
Danny Amendola
Josh Boyce*
Aaron Dobson*
Julian Edelman
Matthew Slater
Kenbrell Thompkins*

TIGHT END (3)
Rob Gronkowski
Michael Hoomanawanui
Zach Sudfeld*

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
Marcus Cannon
Dan Connolly
Josh Kline*
Logan Mankins
Nate Solder
Will Svitek
Sebastian Vollmer
Ryan Wendell

DEFENSIVE LINE (7)
Jake Bequette
Michael Buchanan*
Chandler Jones
Tommy Kelly
Rob Ninkovich
Joe Vellano*
Vince Wilfork

LINEBACKER (6)
Steve Beauharnais*
Jamie Collins*
Dane Fletcher
Dont'a Hightower
Jerod Mayo
Brandon Spikes

DEFENSIVE BACK (10)
Kyle Arrington
Marquice Cole
Alfonzo Dennard
Nate Ebner
Steve Gregory
Duron Harmon*
Devin McCourty
Logan Ryan*
Aqib Talib
Tavon Wilson

SPECIALISTS (3)
K Stephen Gostkowski
P Ryan Allen*
LB Danny Aiken

* - rookie

Patriots announce 14 moves, including placing Adrian Wilson on IR

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 31, 2013 06:26 PM
The Patriots have announced a series of roster moves, some that had already been reported, and others that had not, and currently have a roster of 51 players, two below the NFL limit of 53.

One surprise move: veteran safety Adrian Wilson was placed on injured reserve. Wilson played into the second half of Thursday night's game against the Giants and he was believed to be on the roster bubble. It is not known at this time if Wilson is on season-ending injured reserve or if he will be the Patriots' "designated to return" injured player.

The full list of players released, by alphabetical order (* - indicates rookie):

DL Jermaine Cunningham
LB Ja'Garad Davis*
S Kanorris Davis*
DL Marcus Forston
DL Justin Francis
DB Justin Green*
OL Chris McDonald*
P Zoltan Mesko
DB Stephon Morris*
WR Quentin Sims*
QB Tim Tebow
LB Jeff Tarpinian
RB George Winn*

Of those players, all of the rookies plus Forston and Tarpinian have practice-squad eligibility. Teams can begin making waiver claims at noon on Sunday.

Tim Tebow thanks Patriots on Twitter

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 31, 2013 03:57 PM

Tim Tebow, who was cut by the Patriots Saturday, commented via Twitter to thank the team and express what he intends to do next.

I would like to thank Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick, Coach McDaniels and the entire Patriots organization for giving me the opportunity...

— Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) August 31, 2013

...to be a part of such a classy organization. I pray for nothing but the best for you all. I will remain in relentless pursuit...

— Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) August 31, 2013

...of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback. 2 Corinthians 12:9: And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient...

— Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) August 31, 2013

...for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather...

— Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) August 31, 2013

...boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

— Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) August 31, 2013

Meanwhile, the CEO and president of Rugby operations for USA Rugby, Nigel Melville, offered another option for Tebow.

One door closes, an Olympic Rugby door opens for @TimTebow - we should talk about our global game! @USARugby

— Nigel Melville (@NigelMelville) August 31, 2013

(H/T @benvolin on rugby item)

Patriots release Tim Tebow

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 31, 2013 10:45 AM
Saturday is one of the toughest, if not the most difficult, days on the NFL calendar – cutdown day.

The Patriots have begun making their cuts in advance of Saturday’s 6 p.m. deadline to trim the roster to 53, and among the players league sources have confirmed are not making the team is quarterback Tim Tebow.

The Patriots are also releasing punter Zoltan Mesko. That the Patriots kept undrafted rookie Ryan Allen around for as long as they had indicated there was a true competition between Mesko and the Louisiana Tech product.

Tebow is a former first-round draft pick who has become a fascinating figure during his relatively brief time in the NFL. He is beloved by Florida fans and many college football fans in general for his national title and Heisman Trophy-winning time with the Gators, but there was debate even before he was drafted as to whether or not Tebow had the skills required to play quarterback as a professional.

He did start 11 regular-season games for the Broncos in 2011, going 7-4 and leading Denver to a thrilling overtime postseason win against Pittsburgh before getting blown out the next week in New England.

Through training camp and the four preseason games, it appeared Mesko had an edge on Allen, so the deciding factor was likely cost: Mesko was slated to make $1.323 million this season, with Allen on the books for the rookie minimum of $405,000.

In 2012, after the Broncos acquired Peyton Manning, Tebow was traded to the Jets, and he made little to no impact with New York, used in Wildcat formations and on special teams.

Cut by the Jets earlier this year, Tebow was on the market for more than five weeks before signing with the Patriots, where the man who drafted him in Denver, Josh McDaniels, is now offensive coordinator.

Throughout training camp and in his three preseason appearances, the number of head-scratching plays from Tebow far outnumbered the standout ones, as it became clear that he lacks the two things Bill Belichick has said over and over are the top requirements for good quarterback play: accuracy and decision-making.

Tebow was 11-for-30 (36.7 percent) for 145 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and seven sacks in the preseason. He had his best outing in the finale against the Giants, when he threw both touchdown passes, to Quentin Sims.

This could spell the end of the road for Tebow in the NFL.

Defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham and Marcus Forston were also among the Patriots cut Saturday, league sources confirmed to the Globe.

According to a report, running back George Winn would not make the 53-man roster.

Follow the latest Patriots cut news in our live blog here.

Enter Boston.com's predict the season contest

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 30, 2013 03:12 PM

contest.jpgWe've launched our predictions contest for the 2013 season.

Go to our New England Fan Prediction Contest page to make your choices on the outcome of each game this season and be entered to win.

Overall winner will receive a prize package that includes lunch with Globe sports columnist Chris Gasper, a framed photo of Tom Brady and a $300 gift card to the Patriots Pro Shop.

Second place will receive a $200 gift card to the Pro Shop. Third place gets a $100 gift card for the shop. One entry per person. You have to be 18 years old to enter.

View the complete rules.

Following the Patriots cuts

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 30, 2013 01:01 PM

A live blog of the Patriots roster cuts ahead of the league's 6 p.m. Saturday deadline.

Our story on Friday's cuts can be viewed here. A developing story on Saturday's cuts is here.

Belichick on decisions that go into paring roster

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 30, 2013 10:50 AM

Sounding a bit tired -- understandably so -- Bill Belichick chatted with reporters Friday morning. The topics mostly centered around the process of deciding which players to keep and which to release as the Patriots face the NFL 53-man roster deadline on Saturday evening.

"Today's the first of several big days coming up for our coaching staff and personnel department and how it affects the team," Belichick opened. "We're working through the film this morning, and we'll get to the bottom of the physical conditions of guys after the game, guys coming in and out of practice the last few days. We'll put together everything we have...comments from other teams in the league, and we'll start making some decisions.

"At the same time, we have to turn the page from the Giants game and start with Buffalo preparations."

Belichick said he personally had already reviewed the game film from Thursday night's win over New York, though he didn't give an analysis of the performance of specific players.

"I'm sure we'll go back through some of the evaluations on a lot of guys before it's all over today or tomorrow," he said. "I think it's not just one game, although every game is important, but the body of work - camp, rate of improvement, improvement, ability to do things players are going to be asked to do at their position. Guys who haven't been out there, missed practice and games, we're dealing with less information, and we do the best we can with what we have.

"A lot of our young players played competitively [against the Giants], made some plays, and there were also some plays that were not so good. We'll just try to take a look at everything."

That includes not just individual players but also the whole composition of the roster, like how many players will be kept at each position. He was asked, for example, if keeping just seven offensive linemen might be too few.

"I think anytime you go light at a position, whatever that position is, and there's one or two every year that fall into that category, you have to know where the depth is going to be," Belichick said. "It's not good planning or really good insurance for your team to go light at a position and then have no idea where your depth is going to be at that position.

"You have to have an idea for where you're light, where that depth is going to be, whether it's carrying guys on practice squad, signing free agents, the PUP list, whatever the circumstances are. But I don't think there's any way to not have that somewhere on your team; realistically that's very hard to do."

Belichick also indicated that the starters who did not play against New York got the night off in part because the Patriots will play their first two regular-season games in quick succession. He also was happy with the physical condition of players, the work they put in in the spring and in training camp, and in practices against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.

"We pushed players pretty hard in practice this week," he said. "We wanted to give guys a chance to catch their breath."

5 takeaways from Patriots-Giants

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 30, 2013 10:48 AM

FOXBOROUGH – The preseason has finally come to a close and the Patriots can now make their final decisions on the 53-man roster.

After beating the New York Giants 28-20, jobs were both secured and lost. In these takeaways, we keep the upcoming roster cuts in mind.

1. Are we looking too deeply into Adrian Wilson's extended play? -- Through the third quarter of Thursday night's game, safety Adrian Wilson was prominent on the field, an aberration considering the snaps played by other suspected starters. His extensive play versus, say, Steve Gregory's lack of snaps, could lend to the idea that Wilson's job is on the line. We'll know with certainty on Saturday.

2. Leon Washington's mixed performance -- On the one hand, Washington's 43-yard punt return was electrifying. On the other, his fumble was anticlimactic. As a player trying to prove his worth as a specialist, the last thing he needed was a turnover. And while Washington was prominently featured in Thursday's game with the second, third and fourth string, direct competitors LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden were withheld from the game, a sign that they need to be protected for the season.

3. Jake Bequette on the bubble -- Despite getting the start, Jake Bequette was on his way to yet another unremarkable outing. And then, in the dead of a miserable fourth quarter, he blew up a running play in the backfield, recording a tackle for a loss. He had three combined tackles. Despite being a third-round draft pick in 2012, Bequette is still on the bubble. It didn't help that this year's seventh round draft pick, Michael Buchanan, outplayed him with 2.5 sacks and forced fumble Thursday.

4. Tavon Wilson showed improvement -- It was a quiet night for Tavon Wilson, which is saying something considering his porous preseason. He had five combined tackles and, most importantly, kept plays in front of him. There weren't the egregious mental mistakes that we had become used to and there wasn't the obvious miscommunication that had become the norm. Instead, it was a relatively smooth outing for the second-year player. I can't help but think that's a boost for his stock on the team.

5. Tim Tebow, Quentin Sims make one last push -- Tim Tebow, finishing 6 of 11 passing with two touchdowns and an interception, completed three of his passes to Quentin Sims for 72 yards, including both of his touchdowns. They both showed chemistry in the team's final preseason. Obviously Tebow is trying to make the 53-man roster. But for Sims, this was his last audition for a possible slot on the team's practice squad. The team has usually kept at least one wide receiver the practice squad, making this game more pivotal for Sims probably than Tebow.

"It was our last chance to show the coaches that we could do something and just try and go out and perform," Sims said. "I felt like I did pretty well."

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Watch: Bill Belichick postgame interview

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 30, 2013 08:18 AM
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Watch Patriots coach Bill Belichick's full postgame news conference after last night's final preseason game.

Michael Buchanan impressive in Patriots' preseason finale

Posted by Staff August 30, 2013 12:11 AM

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FOXBOROUGH -- With the last preseason game in the books, the Patriots' coaching staff has less than two days to figure out who they want to keep for the regular season, and who they are going to cut.

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, all teams must cut their rosters to 53 players, meaning that 22 of the players that avoided being cut when the team got down to 75 on Tuesday will be looking for employment come Saturday evening.

“This is the toughest part of the job,” said coach Bill Belichick. “We go to camp with 90 guys and we go to 53, so we know that we’re going to have to tell 37 people that they can’t be on this team ... It’s always hard when guys work hard, do everything you ask them to do, train hard, put forth all the effort they can put forth, and you still have to tell 37 guys that they can’t be a part of the team this year. It’s always a tough thing.”

One rookie who made a strong case on Thursday, however, was defensive end Michael Buchanan.

“I definitely felt comfortable out there tonight,” Buchanan said. “I did a lot more preparing, getting ready for this game, so I would definitely say that’s the most comfortable I’ve felt.”

The Patriots’ seventh-round draft pick played almost the entire game against the Giants, and recorded four tackles, 2.5 sacks, and one forced fumble.

“It’s been a while,” Buchanan said, when asked if he could remember the last time he had 2.5 sacks in a game. “[I think] my junior year in college. It’s been a long time, though.”

Buchanan played in all four games, recording 12 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and the forced fumble. He feels he made great strides.

“I think I’ve made a lot of improvements,” he said. “I think I have a good grasp for my job on this defense and some of what my role on this team may be. I think technique-wise and just overall, I think I made some improvements, but I still have a long way to go.”

Buchanan said that preparing more for this game helped his performance.

“[I attribute it to] my studying habits, trying to pick up different things on guys,” he said. “I knew I was going to see a number of different [offensive] tackles tonight … [I was] trying to study them all and be prepared for whatever guys are in the game.”

Knowing that this was the final action before the Patriots get down to 53 players, however, didn’t change how he approached the game.

“I think everybody thinks about it,” Buchanan said. “Every game you have to take it as if it’s the cut game, so I don’t think there was any added pressure to this one.”

Buchanan improved his overall technique against the Giants, establishing a rhythm against opposing tackles, and then changing his strategy to catch them off guard.

“That’s actually one thing my coaches have told me I need to work on as far as in the games,” he said. “I would do it in practice. I would make different moves, set guys up, but that’s really what it’s all about.”

“These tackles in the NFL are so good, you really have to work to set them up. You know, show them one thing, and then when they’re guessing on that you beat them with something else.”

Belichick and his staff now have some difficult decisions to make, but Buchanan believes he has done everything he can to earn a spot, and is willing to do whatever the coaches believe would help the team going forward.

“[I will do] whatever they ask me to do, whether it's special teams, whether it's pass rushing,” Buchanan said. “Whatever they ask me to do I am prepared and I am ready to do.”

“I think I’ve made a pretty good case for myself. I think I’ve played as hard as I could, and I just tried to do whatever I could to help my team win.”

In final preseason game, Tebow throws two touchdown strikes

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 29, 2013 11:57 PM




FOXBOROUGH -- This preseason has been an up and down ride for third-string quarterback Tim Tebow.

He started with an iffy opening against the Eagles, finishing 4 of 12 passing for 55 yards and three sacks. He followed it up with an outing to forget against the Buccaneers (1 for 7, minus-1 yard, interception). And then he was forced to watch from the sideline as his team went through what was widely considered a dress rehearsal for the regular season against the Lions.

Should the Patriots keep or cut Tim Tebow? On Thursday, he provided a bit more of a mixed performance against the Giants. While the starters sat, Tebow watched as Ryan Mallett directed the second-team offense in the first half before getting his opportunity in the second half.

Right away fans got to see a bit of the good Tebow that won games for the Broncos in 2011, completing short, quick passes and burying his head behind blockers with runs up the middle.

There was also the bad. He took four sacks, some of which were because of poor blocking. And he had trouble connecting with his receivers, under throwing a pass to Aaron Dobson that was picked off.

But when people look back at this game, they'll see he came back and made some tremendous passes, including a 52-yard touchdown strike to Quentin Sims in the fourth quarter, that led the Patriots to a 28-20 win.

"I felt pretty good," Tebow said. "I'll have to look at the film. [There's] one or two passes I'd like back: the interception, just a little bit of miscommunication, my fault, led him too far inside, so you definitely want that back. You don't want to have a turnover in that point of the game.

"But I felt like I was on a pretty good rhythm and pace with the receivers and I feel like we've been getting better every week."

Tebow had particular rhythm with Quentin Sims, who caught three of his passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns, the other of which was a 9-yard fade in the back of the end zone before time expired.

"Yeah, all training camp me and Tim have connected on that," Sims said. "Coach put a big emphasis on wanting to be able to do that. So it was good thing that we connected on the [opportunity] we had."

Tebow finished the game 6 of 11 passing for 91 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and four sacks. He had an 83.7 quarterback rating, higher than Ryan Mallett (79.4). He also had 30 rushing yards on six carries.

By 6 p.m. Saturday, the Patriots will have determined if the Tebow is here to stay. It's not something that he's going to worry about.

"Nope," he said. "I'm blessed because of my faith that I don't have to worry about the future because I know who holds my future. I don't want to use that as a cliche, but it's something that I try to live by. And it really gives you a lot of peace in whatever circumstances that you're in."

Jonathan Kraft responds to Rolling Stone article

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 29, 2013 07:55 PM

The Patriots remained silent on Wednesday after Rolling Stone magazine released an article with several startling revelations about Aaron Hernandez and how the team helped him deal with his off-field problems.

But team president Jonathan Kraft finally spoke out on Thursday during the team’s pregame radio show on 98.5 FM The Sports Hub, and lashed out at the article for having at least four inaccuracies, which he pointed out during the interview.

“Reading the article, there were two, three, four things in particular that I saw that are completely, factually inaccurate,” Kraft said. “I don’t know the facts around the other pieces of the story, but it really makes me question it.”

Among the things Kraft pointed out:

* He said one of the juiciest revelations – that Hernandez flew to Indianapolis this past April to tell Bill Belichick that his life was in danger, and that Belichick recommended that Hernandez rent a second apartment as a safe house – is completely false.

“I saw Bill today, and asked, ‘Did Aaron ever tell you his life was in danger?’ He’s like, ‘Absolutely not,’” Kraft said. “If a player had told Bill that his life was in danger, Bill would say, ‘We’re calling (security chief) Mark Briggs, we’re calling the authorities.’ His response wouldn’t be, ‘We’re going to get a safe house and you’re going to lie low.’ I know Bill, that’s not what he would say.”

* Kraft also said that Belichick never threatened to cut Hernandez at the end of the 2013 season if he had slipped up one more time, as the story said.

Hernandez had a contract that guaranteed him another $4.3 million in 2014, and the team would have taken significant salary cap penalties (as it is, Hernandez counts $7.5 million next year even after being cut).

“I guess it’s theoretically possible. Financially, you wouldn’t do it,” Kraft said. ”If we had known what people seem to think what we know about Aaron Hernandez, we would not have done that deal, and Bill would never threaten a player with being cut 12 months down the road. It makes no sense both in terms of how you’re interacting with the player and in terms of the cap.”

* Kraft pointed out that former security officer Frank Mendes was not the team’s chief of security, as was portrayed in the story. He also defended Mark Briggs, the current director of security who came on the job in January 2001 after running security at the Sydney Olympics.

The story intimated that Briggs didn’t have ties to the local police authorities and wasn’t able to find inside information on Hernandez.

“Mark spends a tremendous amount of time talking to police forces, the FBI, the CIA, because I see them in here,” Kraft said. “He understands crowds and he understands terrorism and he’s been in combat and in difficult situations. He’s the right guy to run a venue in today’s world.”

* Kraft said the story was wrong in stating that Hernandez skipped offseason workouts to be in California. In the process, he addressed the $82,000 workout bonus that the team is refusing to pay Hernandez, prompting the NFL Players Association to file a grievance against the team this week.

Kraft said Hernandez attended 25 of the Patriots’ 33 organized team activities between April and June, but that the threshold for Hernandez to collect the bonus was 90 percent of practices (30 of 33).

“You have to hit 90 percent in our contract, and Aaron didn’t hit 90 percent, in our view,” Kraft said.

Patriots work out two quarterbacks

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 29, 2013 05:03 PM

The Patriots worked out six players, including two quarterbacks and two interior offensive linemen.

Quarterbacks Cley Belton and Nathan Stanley tried out for the team, possibly auditioning for a spot on the team's practice squad. But their tryouts also could spell the end for popular third-string quarterback Tim Tebow, who has struggled this preseason.

The team also worked out OG Chandler Burden, WR Jerrell Jackson, RB Robbie Rouse, and OG Desmond Wynn.

Cornerback Ras-I Dowling, whom the team cut Wednesday, cleared waivers and is a free agent.

Reports: Brady, others to sit for final preseason game

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 29, 2013 04:35 PM

Tom Brady and a select group of his Patriots teammates will not play Thursday night against the New York Giants in the team's preseason finale, instead resting and reserving the team's star players for the regular season, according to multiple reports.

Brady has played in the final preseason game of the last two seasons, but has only done so one other time in the last 10 years.

The Herald was first to report Brady and others would not play.

Projecting the Patriots' final 53 No. 3

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 29, 2013 12:16 PM

Before the Patriots' final preseason game Thursday night against the New York Giants, I have revised my projections for the team's final 53-man roster, which is based partly on my player power rankings.

This takes into account roster cuts and some change of thought. For those changes, I've bolded the name of the players in question.

Quarterbacks (3)
Tom Brady
Ryan Mallett
Tim Tebow

Once again, there is no change here. Here's what I wrote last time: I still believe, despite not playing on Thursday, that Tim Tebow has a roster spot reserved for him. Bill Belichick has given no indication otherwise. But I wouldn't be surprised if he's cut either.

Running backs (5)
Stevan Ridley
Shane Vereen
Brandon Bolden
LeGarrette Blount
James Develin

While I contend that there is no reason the Patriots cannot keep five running backs, I have changed whom I think the team will keep in that group, removing veteran kick returner Leon Washington and replacing him with fullback and tight end James Develin. Washington didn't record one kickoff return in the team's third preseason game, widely seen as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Meanwhile, Develin has been showcased more and more.

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FULL ENTRY

Preseason Game 4: Giants at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 29, 2013 10:00 AM

The NFL will kick off its regular season in exactly one week, but the Patriots still have one more exhibition to complete before the games are meaningful again.

New England will host the New York Giants in the two teams' ninth straight meeting in the preseason and 23d overall. The Giants hold the edge in their preseason history, leading the series 14-8. New York has won the last three games, including last season's snoozer, a 6-3 loss for the Patriots.

Both franchises are expected to give their starters some playing time ahead of their regular season openers.

The Patriots are coming off an embarrassing 40-9 defeat to the Detroit Lions and will likely be looking for a chance for a more productive tuneup before facing the Buffalo Bills in Week 1.

The Giants are coming off a 24-21 loss to the New York Jets.

Here are the details for Thursday night’s game:

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Preseason records: Patriots 2-1; Giants 1-2.

TV/radio: WBZ-TV/Patriots Preseason Television Network/NFL Network (Dan Roche, Christian Fauria, Matt Chatham, Steve Burton, Paul Perillo, Andy Hart); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Will Svitek, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Jake Ballard, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Zach Sudfeld.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Adrian Wilson.

Giants offense: WR Hakeem Nicks, LT Will Beatty, LG Kevin Boothe, C Jim Cordle, RG Chris Snee, RT Justin Pugh, TE Brandon Myers, WR Louis Murphy, QB Eli Manning, FB Bear Pascoe.

Giants defense: DE Justin Tuck, DT Linval Joseph, DT Cullen Jenkins, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, SLB Keith Rivers, MLB Dan Connor, WLB Spencer Paysinger, LCB Corey Webster, SS Antrel Rolle, FS Ryan Mundy, RCB Prince Amukamara.

Read this, watch that

- Ben Volin has five things to watch in tonight's game.

- Patriots, Giants could get meaningful snaps.

- Watch: Volin on whether Tim Tebow makes the roster and tonight's game

- Boston.com's live game blog will feature updates, photos and your chance to discuss the game. It kicks off around 6 p.m.

Mobile users unable to see the video, click here.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Patriots cut CB Ras-I Dowling

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 28, 2013 04:46 PM

The Patriots have parted ways with oft-injured cornerback Ras-I Dowling, the third year defensive back out of Virginia.

Dowling, the 33d overall pick in the 2011 draft, couldn't stay on the field for long stretches. He played a total of 9 games over his first two seasons, and was placed on injured reserve twice. He came into training camp after this offseason healthy and ready to compete, earning one of the team's offseason awards. But an undisclosed injury kept him out of practices and out of the team's first three preseason games.

In cutting Dowling, the cornerback now counts as $1.53 million against the cap because of guarantees in his contract. Had he stayed on the roster, he would've counted as $1.45 million, the money owed to him this year.

The Patriots also claimed linebacker Ja'Gared Davis off waivers from the Houston Texans.

In Rolling Stone piece, Belichick and Kraft are shown in poor light

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 28, 2013 02:59 PM

Rolling Stone contributing editor Paul Solotaroff, who wrote the magazine's investigative story on Aaron Hernandez with Herald columnist Ron Borges, paints a rather unflattering picture of the Patriots brass.

While the most explosive details in the piece are Hernandez's use of angel dust, his increasing paranoia, and threats that the Patriots would cut the star tight end well before his arrest, it also is at times scathing toward Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whom Solotaroff calls largely responsible for Hernandez's care, and owner Bob Kraft, whom he labels in the following interview as "guilty by omission" at best.

A key detail reported in the article is that the Patriots' security team, TeamOps, no longer has the same connections to local law enforcement since the team replaced its security chief, former Massachusetts State Police officer Frank Mendes, with former Wembley Stadium security chief Mark Briggs in 2003. With Briggs at the helm, the article contends, the Patriots lost a broad network of eyes on players from local law enforcement.

"I'd have known within a half-hour if Hernandez had gotten in trouble with police," Mendes says in the article, "and told Belichick and he'd do whatever."

Mendes's firing, the article states, was Belichick's call.

In an interview with Boston.com Wednesday, Solotaroff elaborated on some of these topics and others.

How long did the reporting process take?

I did most of the stuff down here. Bristol was my beat. Ron did the lion's share of Boston. I went up there several times. Met with Odin Lloyd's people, friends, extended family.

But Ron did most of the heavy reporting on the Pats, on the interactions between Hernandez and Belichick this last offseason, the details about what happened out there in California when he was allegedly rehabbing but really just smoking a bunch of angel dust.

Belichick threatened to cut him after the 2013 season. Why after 2013?

I think it was probably financial. Also, let's remember, [Rob Gronkowski] has been essentially a medical patient for the last six-seven months. And who else is going to play the position? Ironically if Hernandez hadn't shot himself metaphorically -- and certainly a bunch of other people -- he would have had the season of his life. He would have been Brady's first, second, and third option.

From what you've gathered, talking to family friends and associates, can you pinpoint his paranoia to strictly drugs, specifically angel dust?

I think so. Here's a guy who for all his gangster implications was nonetheless, or more or less, an honest citizen up until about 13-14 months ago, which is when everybody pegs his angel dust use beginning. And it sure explains a lot. It explains what happened outside club Cure 13 months ago, it explains the strip club incident in Rhode Island, it explains the shooting outside the strip club in Miami, it explains just this incredible recklessness with which he had been living and carrying himself away from the practice facility.

You wrote that it was utter nonsense that Robert Kraft was "duped," as he told reporters after Hernandez was arrested. Is it nonsense because he should have known, or he did know and was not being forthcoming?

I left that a little vague deliberately. People have told me close to the team that Kraft has been stepping back, increasingly letting his son (Jonathan Kraft) but most particularly, most meaningfully, Belichick make all the football decisions, including what goes upstairs. What information is passed along to the guy who runs the team. If Kraft did not know just how damaged a character Hernandez was coming out of college, he certainly needs to hold Belichick's feet to the fire for that because everybody else knew. And if he knew but trusted Belichick to police Hernandez, much like he was delegated to police the other thugs he has been drafting and trading for, then it seems to me that he is guilty by omission.

In another interview, you said Bill Belichick was responsible for all of this. Can you elaborate on that?

From my reporting and Ron's reporting especially, what's come across is that Belichick has been the decider on that team for many years now. Either through attrition or through his own machinations, he has really become the kind of final say on personnel matters. So we hear all of this nonsense about the Patriot Way -- even Hernandez himself was giving it great lip service when he re-ups for $40 million -- but there doesn't seem to be any evidence of it actually being put in practice. And certainly not in the case of Hernandez, who is allowed to do whatever the hell he wanted to do -- not going to OTAs, go out to California to work out on his own, or to drop in on Tom Brady's pitch-and-catch camp out there at Patriots West.

So I think the extent that the Patriots were uninformed or underinformed, that falls squarely in Belichick's lap in large part because of the sabotage he wound up doing to the team's security crew by phasing out Frank Mendes and bringing in the British guy (Mark Briggs) to take over team surveillance. What he lost was a very powerful and very broad-based network of state cops and Boston city cops who would call up a guy like Mendes and whisper into his ear. That all went away with Briggs.

What do you think of Hernandez's fate in court, given the circumstantial evidence you point to in your article?

Was it the dumbest crime in recent American criminal history? Probably. But Aaron Hernandez has been getting away with everything for a very long time now. If he winds up getting away with this, his chief accomplice will be the Massachusetts prosecutor who brought charges in the first place. To my mind, and to the thinking of a lot of people close to the case, they probably over-charged him. We'll be asking a jury of 12 to send a 24-year-old man away for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole, without a murder weapon, a direct eyewitness, and a plausible motive. That will be very interesting to see unfold.

What could the Patriots have done to prevent this situation?

It depends on when we're talking about it. I certainly think that they were within their rights to draft the guy. Even though that no one else was racing to beat them to that fourth-round pick. But I think once they did so, it was really incumbent upon them to assign him a big brother. To put somebody on him like Urban Meyer did at Florida -- not that that was brilliantly effective, but at least he had some kind of monitoring system with the Pouncey twins and [Tim] Tebow. With the Patriots, the idea that he was going to be big brothered by a veteran -- if that in fact was ever the intent -- was never carried out.

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Kraft rooting for Tebow, but knows best 53 make roster

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 27, 2013 09:12 PM

FOXBOROUGH - Though he projects to be the Patriots’ third-string quarterback if he remains on the roster, there continues to be a great deal of discussion about Tim Tebow.

Tebow has a fan in Robert Kraft, but the owner deferred to Bill Belichick on the decision of whether or not Tebow sticks.

“I know week to week you’re going to be asking the questions if we don’t perform up to standard why we didn’t,” Kraft said before Tuesday night's Patriots Premiere charity event. “I think you want to make sure you have the 53 best people to help us win games during this year. I’m rooting for him and I’m in his corner, but I have the privilege of letting Bill make those decisions.

“He’s got a pretty good record.”

Kraft reiterated his belief that Tebow is “a very special young man” and “he’s been a real joy to have around here.” However, he also made sure to mention his team’s other quarterbacks.

“We’re also privileged to have Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett, so…I like our position. If you look around the league and see what’s happening, and with two of the teams in our division [Buffalo and the Jets], I just give thanks for the position we’re in.”

Matthew Slater wins 2013 Ron Burton Community Service Award

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 27, 2013 07:58 PM

The Patriots have announced Matthew Slater as this year's recipient of the team's Ron Burton Community Service Award during their annual Patriots Premiere (formerly known as the Kickoff Gala).

"He's always generous with his time, he's great with kids, he continually participates in Community Tuesday initiatives ... he was a regular ambassador for our Celebrate Volunteerism campaign," said team owner Robert Kraft. "We knew the day we drafted him he was going to be special. He has played on offense, defense, and now is two-time captain of our special teams."

Slater, a fifth-round pick in 2008, said the honor was totally unexpected.

"I'm very humbled and very thankful to the Kraft family and our organization for taking a chance on a kid that had a tough career at best there and helped fulfill a childhood dream of playing in the NFL," Slater said. "It's truly an honor."

Slater also thanked his teammates and his parents, Annie and Jackie, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman, for teaching him from a young age that to whom much is given, much is required.

"I appreciate my parents instilling that in me," he said. "I hope to continue to represent this community, my teammates and this organization in a positive way."

Slater is the 11th recipient of the Burton Award, following Zoltan Mesko (2012), Jerod Mayo ('11), Vince Wilfork ('10), Kevin Faulk ('09), Larry Izzo ('08), Ty Warren ('07), Jarvis Green ('06), Matt Light ('05), Troy Brown ('04) and Joe Andruzzi ('03).

Patriots claim DT Gilbert Pena

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 27, 2013 06:43 PM


The Patriots announced the release of two players earlier Tuesday, but they weren't done making moves for the day: They were awarded DT Gilbert Pena off waivers from the Packers.

Pena, listed at 6 feet 2 inches, 330 pounds, played at Ole Miss. Though a rookie, he is already 26 years old, having initially put off college to care for his ailing mother. At 23, he accepted a scholarship to a junior college in New York, and played so well there he received a scholarship to Mississippi, where he played nose tackle.

Here's a story on Pena.

To make room for Pena on the roster, the Patriots waived OL Brice Schwab.

Patriots cut two to get down to 75

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 27, 2013 02:00 PM


The Patriots released TE Evan Landi and DL Anthony Rashad White on Tuesday.

They are at the 75-man roster limit all teams must be at by 4 p.m. today.

Landi is a rookie free agent out of the University of South Florida who was signed Aug. 13; White, a rookie free agent out of Michigan State, was signed July 22.

Tuesday Patriots practice peek

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 27, 2013 01:53 PM


The Patriots are in full pads as they go through their last full practice as a 75-man roster; on Wednesday, they'll have a walkthrough, and Thursday night is the exhibition finale against the Giants.

On Saturday, New England must trim its roster to 53 players before the 6 p.m. league-mandated deadline.

Rob Gronkowski was the only player on the active roster not in uniform during the media-access window, and Gronkowski was not spotted going through rehab work on a side field as he was Monday.

Tom Brady was still wearing the hinged black brace on his left knee. Although Brady said last week that owner Robert Kraft wants him to wear the brace in practice (he's only worn it in games since returning from his 2008 knee injury), it sounded as though he preferred to practice without it.

Bill Belichick gets testy over questions about Rob Gronkowski

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff August 27, 2013 01:19 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick responded testily Tuesday to queries about the status of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has spent training camp on the active physically unable to perform list while recovering from back surgery.

On Monday, Gronkowski worked out with the Patriots strength and conditioning staff on the lower field behind Gillette Stadium along with cornerback Ras-I Dowling, wide receiver Mark Harrison, and defensive end Jermaine Cunningham.

"He's been out here every day, he's been in camp the whole [time], he hasn't missed a day in camp,'' said Belichick, responding to a question about how Gronkowski looked after he appeared to run hard during Monday's workout in a short-cone drill while making several catches.

"He was here the first day in camp. He's been doing the same thing every day.''

While Belichick insisted that nothing had changed with regard to Gronkowski's regimen, the tight end did conduct a workout in full view of the media for the first time in training camp.

"The same thing every day,'' Belichick said. "For those of us who have been here, he's been doing the same thing every day.''

Belichick did not say whether this represented any progress on Gronkowski's part.

The coach's testy exchange followed questions about the decision-making involved in holding a spot open on the 53-man roster for a player who might not be available for three or four weeks.

"Every decision we make on a player comes down to two things,'' Belichick said. "What's best for the player and what's best for the team. When they're the same, it's easy. When they're not, then something has to give and you have to make a call one way or another.

"That's the way it is with everything."

In Gronkowski's case, if the team were to transfer him to the reserve/PUP list, he would not be eligible to return to the active roster for six weeks, meaning he would not be eligible to begin practice until after Oct. 13 and not be available to play until the Oct. 20 road game vs. the New York Jets.

Asked if was difficult to hold a roster spot for a player who might not be ready for the first couple of weeks of the season, Belichick replied, "I think it's just what I said it was: Each situation is independent. It depends on the situation and it depends on what your other options are, what the injury is, how long you're talking about, what the expectations are, what kind of depth we have at that position. You could go on and on.''

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Patriots players with practice squad eligibility

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 26, 2013 01:49 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- With cuts still looming for the Patriots before Saturday's 53-man roster deadline, there are some tough decisions for the team to make.

Among those, the Patriots will have to determine which, if any, of the current players would fit on the eight-member practice squad after cuts have been completed and players have gone through the waiver wire.

Some players, despite their eligibility, make less sense than others because they would quickly be snatched up by opposing teams. That includes top draft choices and sought-after rookies. But for the purpose of clarity, here are all of the Patriots players who are eligible:

P Ryan Allen
FB Ben Bartholomew
LB Steve Beauharnais
DL Jake Bequette
WR Josh Boyce
DL Michael Buchanan
LB Jamie Collins
WR Aaron Dobson
DL Marcus Forston
CB Justin Green
WR Johnathan Haggerty
S Duron Harmon
OL Josh Kline
TE Evan Landi
OL Chris McDonald
CB Stephon Morris
OL Luke Patterson
CB Logan Ryan
OL Brice Schwab
WR Quentin Sims
OL Matt Stankiewitch
TE Zach Sudfeld
LB Jeff Tarpinian
WR Kenbrell Thompkins
DL Scott Vallone
DL Joe Vellano
DL Anthony Rashad White
RB George Winn

You can be sure that the top draft choices and free agent pickups -- Collins, Dobson, Boyce, Ryan, Harmon, Sudfeld, and Thompkins -- will not sniff the practice squad. Others like Beauharnais and Buchanan have a greater chance of sneaking through the waiver wire, but there is still significant risk of losing them. The Patriots are not likely to let that happen.

Of the players the Patriots released Monday, WR Kamar Aiken, CB Brandon Jones, CB LeQuan Lewis, and LS Mike Zupancic are all practice squad-eligible.

Patriots trim roster, with more cuts to come

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 26, 2013 12:38 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- With a little more than a day until the NFL's mandatory deadline to trim rosters to 75 players, the Patriots made a series of roster moves to come closer to that limit.

The Patriots cut WR Kamar Aiken, CB Brandon Jones, LB Niko Koutouvides, CB LeQuan Lewis, and LS Mike Zupancic.

The team also placed DL Cory Grissom and OT Markus Zusevics on injured reserve, while adding defensive lineman Armond Armstead and WR Mark Harrison to the reserve/non football injury list.

The team also re-signed CB Stephon Morris and DL Scott Vallone, both of whom had previously been released by the team during training camp.

The team currently has 77 players on the active roster.

Brady, Belichick using Lions loss as a learning moment for team

Posted by Staff August 26, 2013 10:37 AM

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During his weekly interview on WEEI Monday morning, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke about the Patriots' efforts in their loss to the Lions on Thursday and what they took away from the team's 40-9 defeat in Detroit.

Brady, speaking on the “Dennis & Callahan Morning Show,” emphasized how head coach Bill Belichick used the loss as a learning moment that the team can take away to prove they need to go into every game expecting a battle, no matter who the opponent.

“He does a good job with that, whomever we play,” Brady said. “Even when we played Philly, when we played Tampa, there were things we did very well, and there’s things that we didn't do very well, and there’s things against Detroit I would say mostly we didn't do well. And those are the things [Coach Belichick] constantly tries to coach off of.”

Brady used the loss as a moment he could use to teach his younger teammates about falling behind in games and how to stay focused and work back into the game one possession at a time.

“There’s games where we are going to be down, you know, 21-3 at some point, and how do you respond?” he said. “Last year we were down to the 49ers 31-3 and we came back to tie it 31-31 in the second half. We didn't end up winning the game, but nothing is insurmountable, so you have to have the mental toughness to put whatever plays may have happened, the bad ones, put them behind you and vice versa: if you’re up 31-3 you can never let your foot off the accelerating, because the other team, it just takes one or two plays for them to feel like they can win the game again.”

“Every game we play has lessons to be learned, and wins, losses, practices, practices against other teams … you learn from every experience over the course of a season … hopefully you’re arching at a point in December where were playing our best, but that’s so far from now, there’s so much improvement that must be made now in the meantime that that’s where we need to focus our energy on.”

Brady said he did not think the Lions were going to be an easy win.

“They’re a very hard-nosed team,” he said. “They play a very particular style. We played them on Thanksgiving Day a few years ago in the regular season and it was a battle for about three quarters, and then we pulled away at the end. They've made the playoffs once in 14 years. They’re always hungry every year to prove that they’re one of the good teams. … Hopefully what happened in Detroit doesn't happen to us again. But that’s up to us to determine.”

Heading into the final week of preseason games, Brady didn't reveal whether he was going to be playing in the Patriots’ final preseason contest on Thursday at home against the New York Giants.

“I’m not sure [whether I will play],” he said. “[Coach Belichick] tells us always to be ready. I’m going in there, we have practice today, tomorrow, Wednesday, I’m preparing to play like I always play. He’s never one to say, ‘Look, you guys are going to have this week off.’ He just says, ‘Be ready to play for 60 minutes, and I’ll make the decision.’ So, that’s what we as players do.”

The Patriots must trim the roster down to 75 players by 4 p.m. on Tuesday and must cut down to a 53-man roster by 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Listen to the full WEEI interview here.

Projecting the Patriots' final 53 No. 2

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 25, 2013 06:13 PM
Patriots safety Tavon Wilson provides some special teams value.
(Michael Dwyer / AP photo)

Decision time is coming up fast for the Patriots, with the deadline to trim the team's roster just days away.

NFL teams will have to be down to 75 players on their rosters by 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27.

Just four days later, teams will need to finalize their 53-man rosters.

For the Patriots, they got another opportunity to evaluate bubble players during Thursday's preseason game against the Detroit Lions. Because of Thursday's game, I've revised my projections for the team's final 53, which is based partly on my player power rankings.

Here's where I stand with any noted changes:

Quarterbacks (3)
Tom Brady
Ryan Mallett
Tim Tebow

There is no change here. I still believe, despite not playing on Thursday, that Tim Tebow has a roster spot reserved for him. Bill Belichick has given no indication otherwise. But I wouldn't be surprised if he's cut either.

FULL ENTRY

Kicking the competition up a notch

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 23, 2013 06:01 PM
Patriots punter Ryan Allen is trying to make a run
at Zoltan Mesko's job. (Barry Chin / Globe Staff)

FOXBOROUGH -- Not every training camp battle is front and center. Take, for instance, the competition at punter, right now a prolonged battle between veteran Zoltan Mesko, an affable and humorous presence in the locker room, and Ryan Allen, a strong-footed rookie out of Louisiana Tech.

Arguing the merits of one punter over the other can sail right past the casual fan, but on a team so invested in doing special teams right, it’s imperative to explore this position battle.

Through three preseason games, Mesko and Allen have gone back and forth with their opportunities, with Mesko getting the majority of punt attempts.

Mesko, born in Romania and raised in Ohio, was picked by the Patriots in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. He has the second-highest punting average in Patriots history (44.2 yards). In three preseason games, he has managed to pin two of 10 punts inside the 20.

FULL ENTRY

Belichick: 'It just wasn't a very good performance'

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 23, 2013 04:43 PM


Bill Belichick did not sound any better Friday afternoon, after dissecting film from the Patriots' 40-9 preseason loss in Detroit the night before. True to form, Belichick included everyone in his assessment.

"It just wasn’t a very good performance on the part of our entire football team," he said in a conference call. "We just have to get back to work and do better than that in every area of the game.

"I don’t think there’s anything different than what the picture was last night. There were a few good individual plays here and there, but overall just ... we can’t play like that and expect to do well against a good team."

Matthew Slater and Devin McCourty said after the game that this is a time for veterans to step up and help the younger players bounce back. Asked if this was a chance to see what type of resiliency this team has, Belichick spun things forward.

"We just need to go out and have a good week of practice and do things a lot better than we did them last night, that’s all," he said. "Nobody is going to do it for us; we’re going to have to go out there. Nobody but us can make things any better than what they were last night. We have to go out there and do something about it."

Zach Sudfeld, Brandon Bolden, and Shane Vereen all fumbled against the Lions, and none played again in the first half after losing the ball. Sudfeld and Vereen did get touches in the fourth quarter.

Belichick did not directly affirm that a message was being sent, but he made it clear again that maintaining possession of the football is serious business.

"Our message has been the same here from Day One that ball security is of the highest priority for anybody that handles the ball – that’s a message from Day One," said the coach. "I think that message has been delivered on a daily basis since we started practicing back in May. I don’t think there are any new revelations about that message.

"Ball security is very important to anybody who handles the ball in any situation. There can be no mistake about the importance of it. There can be no mistake about that message. That message has been delivered ad nauseam."

Belichick was at his Belichickian best twice during the call.

On the topic of why Vince Wilfork didn't play (the veteran went through a one-on-one warmup and stretching session with strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash a couple of hours before kickoff and was on the sideline in uniform but did not take the field), Belichick said, "We just didn't put him in. That's why."

Because?

"Because there were other players who played."

The second time was on the last question, when he was asked the difference between running a play with two running backs and one tight end versus one running back and two tight ends; that's when Belichick the Teacher came out:

"Just fundamentally, when you have one back in the backfield and you have four on-the-line receivers, that gives you an ability to get into the defense potentially with four people. Or even if it’s three of them, sometimes the defense isn’t sure which three of them it is. One tight end could be in it and the other guy could be in protection, that type of thing.

"I think you’re able to attack the defense from the line of scrimmage a little bit quicker and with a little less predictability, depending on who those players are, of course. That's certainly a factor.

"But as far as your running gaps, I mean, you can put more width at the formation by having a guy on the line, whether it’s four on one side and two on the other side of the center or three and three. You just have a wider front, which there are some advantages to that. By having them in the backfield, you can create that same four-man surface or three-man surface after the snap so the defense doesn’t know where the four-man surface or three-man surface is. The fullback has to – he can build that from the backfield.

"And then there are also, let’s say, a greater variety of blocking schemes with the fullback in the backfield because he can block different guys and come from different angles. He's not always behind the quarterback. He could be offset one way or the other and create different blocking schemes and angles that it’s harder to get from the line of scrimmage.

"Also, depending on who your tight end is, it can be a little bit easier to pass-protect seven men because two of them are in the backfield instead of us having one in the backfield. And then when you start running guys up the middle in the gaps and things like that. I think fundamentally it’s a little easier to pick them up when you a have a guy in the backfield that can step up and block him from the fullback position as opposed to a tight end in the line of scrimmage who probably isn’t going to be able to loop back in and get him, so the line is probably all going to have to gap down or not gap down if the guy drops out and all that.

"It just creates a different – it creates some advantages, I think, and it also creates some things you have to deal with. You just have to decide how you want to deal with them. Obviously when you have a guy in the backfield, it’s harder to get those two receivers vertically into the defense in the passing game. They’re usually running shorter routes to the flat or checking over the ball or those kind of things, short crossing routes – versus having that fourth receiver on the line of scrimmage who can run some downfield routes, again depending on who the individual person is. The skill definitely changes what you can do with that guy.

"So I think those are the things that come into play. Some teams are very settled in one type of offense or another, so all of their plays and their rules or their adjustments come from that particular set. And other teams use multiple looks to, say, run the same plays or the same concepts to try to give the defense a different look. It’s harder for them to zero in on what they’re doing. But they’re able to do similar things from different personnel groups or different formations."

5 takeaways from the Patriots-Lions game

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 23, 2013 01:58 AM




It was an ugly game for the Patriots, losing 40-9 to the Detroit Lions in what was supposed to be a dress rehearsal for the regular season. We could end it right there. But there is more than enough to discuss about the loss, the jobs at stake, and if we’re reading too far into certain aspects of the game.

1) These are young guys -- Zach Sudfeld fumbles. Kenbrell Thompkins drops a key pass on third down. Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden cough it up. These guys are still learning how to win and there is no better venue to do so than in a meaningless preseason game. If anything, after a miserable plane ride home and sure-to-be unpleasant film session, these players will be more conscious of their protection of the ball. Moving on.

2) Thompkins was stellar -- Bouncing back from his first quarter drop, the rookie wide receiver out of Cincinnati finished with eight receptions for 116 yards. He caught passes of 37 and 27 yards, blowing right by his defenders for each grab. He showed tremendous speed and route running. But what’s more, on a throw from Ryan Mallett in the third quarter, he showed off how wide his catch radius is, stretching for a poorly thrown ball to the outside. He continues to look like a steal for the Patriots and should start in Week 1.

3) Fumble comes at a bad time for Bolden -- Bolden, who is fighting for a job on this roster with players across multiple positions, made a critical error fumbling the ball. It’s unfortunate for him because the Patriots may not have the luxury of keeping five running backs if LeGarrette Blount makes the roster, depending on how strongly the team feels at other positions. He needed to have a solid performance to solidify his spot on the team and erase any doubt of his worth.

4) What an awful second half for the secondary -- You thought the first half was ugly, but it just got worse in the second. The play was downright atrocious in stretches and, in my view, spiritless. But it was exemplified by the play of the defensive backs. Safety Duron Harmon and cornerback Justin Green missed at least three tackles between them as Lions Joique Bell and Mikel Leshoure ran wild. (They combined for 84 rushing yards.) Harmon and Green also failed to communicate on a 15-yard touchdown, with Harmon getting caught looking into the backfield. The secondary, with all of its emphasis this offseason at improving via free agency and the draft, is still very much lacking at this juncture.

5) Tim Tebow didn’t play -- And while Tebow didn’t play, safety Adrian Wilson found himself on the field in the second half getting reps with the practice squad hopefuls. What does that say about where each player stands with the team? My gut reaction is that Tebow’s fate has already been decided, whether he is a member of the team’s 53-man roster or not, while Wilson was getting a more extended workout after playing limited snaps in the first two preseason outings. I don’t think it’s possible to look into this further, but I’m sure everyone will anyway.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Tim Tebow "blessed" to be on the Patriots, not upset he didn't play against Detroit Lions

Posted by Ben Volin August 23, 2013 12:29 AM

Tim Tebow didn’t get a chance Thursday night against the Lions to make amends for his poor performance in the Patriots’ previous preseason game against the Buccaneers. He never got off the sidelines in Detroit as Tom Brady played the entire first half and Ryan Mallett the entire second half in the Patriots’ 40-9 loss.

Tebow, though, didn’t bat an eye when asked if he was frustrated by not playing on Thursday.

“I’m a blessed individual,” he said. “Happy to be here, and whatever I’m asked to do, I’m going to do.”

Tebow said he’s not frustrated, either, with his performance in the preseason. His passer rating is 17.7 after two games, with an interception and a completion percentage of 26 (5 of 19).

“You just prepare, and what you are asked to do, you do it 100 percent with everything you have,” he said. “You want everything to go well, but it’s not. There are going to be ups and downs. That’s what life is, and you’ve just got to handle them as best as you possibly can.”

The Detroit fans, though, certainly seemed disappointed that Tebow didn’t play. They began chanting his name in the fourth quarter – “Te-bow! Te-bow!” – before each Patriots drive, and the chants grew louder as the clock dwindled.

“I try not to pay attention,” Tebow said of the chants. “Obviously it was nice whenever you have support, but you just try to stay focused.”

Finally, Tebow was asked if he feels like he has improved over four weeks of training camp.

“No question,” he said.

Final: Lions 40, Patriots 9

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 22, 2013 06:15 PM
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Zuri Berry is the host tonight for our live blog coverage of the Patriots-Lions preseason game. Join the conversation throughout the game by clicking the comment button to weigh in on what is happening.

Projecting the Patriots' 53-man roster

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 22, 2013 09:30 AM

There are 84 players on the Patriots roster and in less than a week, on Aug. 27, the team will have to trim its rank and file down to 75 members.

Just four days after the first cut date, the 53-man roster will have to be set on Aug. 31.

Before the Patriots face the Lions, there are only a few roster spots up for grabs left, especially with the possibility of a third quarterback on the roster – Tim Tebow. Positions of high interest are wide receiver, tight end, defensive end, and safety, with a select number of players in each group battling across positions.

So what's the roster going to look like? Based partly on the number of players the team has kept at each position out of training camp in prior years, this year's current crop of draft selections, and players slated for the physically unable to perform list, here's my projection of who makes the cut.


Quarterbacks (3)
Tom Brady
Ryan Mallett
Tim Tebow

So far, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has given no indication that Tim Tebow will not be on the roster.

Click the full entry to continue reading.

FULL ENTRY

Tom Brady visits Michigan football team

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 22, 2013 09:08 AM

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Photos courtesy University of Michigan athletic department

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The Patriots are in Michigan for a preseason game against the Detroit Lions tonight, and quarterback Tom Brady took time this morning to visit the Michigan football team in nearby Ann Arbor, Mich.

Michigan football's official Twitter account posted the news, saying, "New England Patriots QB Tom Brady visited Schembechler Hall and spoke to #Team134 this morning."

Brady also spent time with Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who introduced him at the team's morning meeting.

"Every man in this room is counting on you," Brady told the players. "And every player that's ever worn this helmet is counting on you, because you guys are the ones that are lucky enough to play for Michigan."

Brady played quarterback for Michigan from 1996 to 1999 before being drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 draft.

"I love Michigan, and I love the history of the school, and I love what the history and the tradition of this school is all about," Brady said. "When I came here almost 19 years ago, it was just important for me to see how many important and special players would come back to this school and program and talk to the younger players. I'm very fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to do that."

Watch a video of Brady's appearance at Michigan here.

Preseason Game 3: Patriots at Lions

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 22, 2013 05:00 AM

In the Patriots' third preseason game, the team is expecting to keep its starters on the field through at least three quarters, a dress rehearsal for what's to come this season.

But the team may very well be without new wide receiver Danny Amendola, who wasn't spotted at practice on Monday and Tuesday -- crucial days during a short week -- before the team traveled to Detroit on Wednesday for their tuneup against the Lions (1-1) Thursday night.

Amendola was hit in the back of the head after catching a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He left the field, but returned two plays later before calling it a night. In the last two seasons, Amendola has missed 20 of 32 regular season games while with the St. Louis Rams.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman will likely take Amendola's snaps as the team's slot receiver if he is unable to play.

Meanwhile, several Patriots will be making last-ditch efforts to make the roster, including quarterback Tim Tebow, who was 1 of 7 for minus-1 yard and an interception against the Buccaneers.

NFL teams will have to trim their rosters to 75 players on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

Here are the details for Thursday night’s game:

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Preseason records: Patriots 2-0; Lions 1-1 preseason.

TV/radio: WBZ-TV/Patriots Preseason Television Network (Dan Roche, Christian Fauria, Matt Chatham, Steve Burton, Paul Perillo, Andy Hart); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Will Svitek, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Jake Ballard, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Zach Sudfeld.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Adrian Wilson.

Lions offense: WR Nate Burleson, LT Riley Reiff, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Dylan Gandy, RT Jason Fox, TE Brandon Pettigrew, TE Tony SCheffler, WR Calvin Johnson, QB Matthew Stafford, RB Reggie Bush.

Lions defense: DE Ezekiel Ansah, DT Nick Fairley, DT Ndamukong Suh, DE Jason Jones, OLB Ashlee Palmer, MLB Stephen Tulloch, OLB Deandre Levy, LCB Chris Houston, RCB Ron Bartell, SS Glover Quin, FS Louis Delmas.

Watch this

- Ben Volin previews Patriots-Lions

- Should Tim Tebow make the roster?

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Watch: Ben Volin previews Patriots-Lions

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 21, 2013 10:30 AM




Watch as Globe NFL reporter Ben Volin and CineSport's Brian Clark discuss which Patriots need to perform against the Lions, whether the team is concerned about Danny Amendola's injury, and which Patriots are in danger of being cut.

Amendola, five others missing from Patriots practice

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 20, 2013 02:31 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- For the second day in a row, the same group of Patriots players were missing from practice.

Wide receiver Danny Amendola, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, cornerback Brandon Jones were all not spotted at Patriots practice.

Also not practicing were tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackle Armond Armstead, and wide receiver Mark Harrison.

A second group of players worked off to the side with the training staff, including cornerback Ras-I Dowling, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, tight end Daniel Fells, defensive end Justin Francis, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, and wide receiver Kamar Aiken.

The Patriots practiced in shells.

Danny Amendola is day-to-day

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 20, 2013 02:02 PM

FOXBOROUGH – A day after Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola missed his first practice of training camp, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he was "day-to-day."

The fifth-year wide receiver was absent from Tuesday's practice as well.

Amendola was hit in the back of the head on his sixth and final reception of Friday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He left the field, but returned two plays later. He was the intended target on what ended up being quarterback Tom Brady’s final pass attempt of the night, a third-and-7 try.

Amendola signed a 5-year, $31 million contract March 14, replacing Wes Welker as the team's slot receiver.

Stephen Gostkowski won't make excuses

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 19, 2013 06:51 PM
Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has struggled in the
preseason. (Matthew J. Lee / Globe file photo)

FOXBOROUGH -- No excuses and no sad faces. Stephen Gostkowski knows the deal.

The Patriots' fourth-most tenured player -- behind only Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, and Logan Mankins -- isn't about to throw a pity party over his struggles during the preseason.

Through two games, Gostkowski is 2 of 5 on field goal attempts, going 1 of 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles and 1 of 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, missing a 50-yard attempt Friday night after two penalties on the offense.

He has fought through tough stretches before, particularly last season when he missed a potential game-winning attempt against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2 and then followed up two weeks later with two more missed attempts against the Buffalo Bills.

It's with this in mind that he vents.

"I mean, every game has its different set of circumstances," he said. "Overall this camp, I came in feeling really good, really confident. I've actually been hitting the ball really well. Day in and day out, I've shown good consistency.

"Unfortunately, it hasn't spilled over into the preseason games, which is very frustrating. Especially for me, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I'm very hard on myself and anytime that I screw up or feel like I've cost the team points or let the team down, it's especially upsetting."

Gostkowski has firm backing from Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who said he expects the eight-year pro to continue to work hard.

"He’s kicked the ball well and hit the ball very solidly and consistently," Belichick told reporters Saturday. "I know that he’ll continue to work hard to do everything that he can, and so will the other people involved in the operation – snapping and holding, however that turns out. I’m confident that he’s one of the best kickers in the league."

But none of that is what Gostkowski listens to, preferring to ignore all the noise and focus on putting in the work. He ended up finishing the 2012 season 29 of 35, tied for the eighth-most field goals in the NFL.

"I'm not the kind of guy to panic or to make excuses or worry too much about things like that," he said. "If you play this game long enough, you're going to go through many ups and downs.

"I've seen the best of the best have struggles before and come back and are still kicking. It's a tough job. It's very easy when it's going good. And it can be tough and lonely when it's going bad. You just gotta pull yourself out of whatever struggles you're in.

"I missed a couple of long kicks. It happens. Should I and could I have made 'em? Of course. But I didn't and you just go back and look at it, refocus, and go back to work. And that's all you can do.

"I feel like I put in 100 percent day in and day out. I'm not ashamed of screwing up when I put that kind of work in. Am I upset and do I get down on myself? Of course. No one feels worse about messing up than I do.

"But when I go back and look at it, I'm doing everything I can. I don't feel like there's many that work as hard as our special teams crew. I don't feel like there's many teams that kick as much as we do. And it'll pay off in the long run, going through some struggles early, if I can turn it around."

The struggles are cyclical, Gostkowski said. He's had them in high school, college, and throughout his career. It's not something he can pinpoint.

"Sometimes there's no explanation," he said. "You'd like to think you know all the answers.

"You know, that 50-yarder, if it's a half a foot inside, it's in. So that's what you're working with and those are the things that come up. So I just keep my head down, I shut up, and I try to do my job."

With a laugh, Gostkowski added, "People only talk to me when I screw up."

Robert Kraft wants Brady wearing brace in practice and games

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 19, 2013 04:40 PM


FOXBOROUGH -- Though he understands why it happened, Tom Brady didn't want all of the fuss surrounding the left knee injury he suffered last Wednesday in practice, downplaying the incident and saying he's endured worse, and his teammates have as well.

"You guys were all there," said Brady. "Things come up in practice a lot of times, it’s certainly a physical game, different guys get knocked around at different times, I got knocked around, and like I said earlier today, we tried to be smart about what we were doing, I had to go and get some treatment and get to work. That’s what I like to do most."

The Patriots quarterback took a tumble when Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn bull-rushed Nate Solder back into him. Brady sat on the grass for several moments holding his left knee, played a few more snaps, then left the field with the head trainer.

"Anytime it’s a little scary when you go down, but that’s the sport," he said. "It happens in the game, it happens in practice, and I’m certainly not the first nor the last to have that happen.

"I’m fortunate that it wasn’t very bad. Like I said, I was able to get treatment and get back on the field with my teammates and get back to work."

Leaving practice early wasn't his call, Brady indicated, but it was the best option.

"I don’t want to make a fuss about it, but at that time, I didn’t have too much of a choice," he said. "It was nice to go out there and play and play against a good team in Tampa. We had a few days of practice and now we come back to our own practices and get focused on Detroit because that’s what we have to do now.

"Everyone’s getting into game mode. It’s been fun to play back-to-back games. We got another one that’s happening quickly, on a short week, and I’m excited to be out there and play."

There were many fans who questioned why Brady was not wearing the hinged black knee brace he's worn in games since returning from the left ACL tear he suffered in 2008, but Brady has never really worn it in practice.

That may be changing now.

"I had it today, so everyone was very pleased," said Brady. "Mr. [Robert] Kraft felt pretty strongly about me wearing it. He said, 'What's the problem?' I said, 'I wear it.' I just -- sometimes when you wear the brace a lot, you get used to wearing the brace, and I like to keep a nice strong leg, and if it wasn't strong, something bad would have happened."

Patriots practice report: Amendola, five others not spotted

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 19, 2013 02:32 PM
FOXBOROUGH – The public access portion of Patriots training camp has ended, so media access has been cut down. It was about 30 minutes on Monday.

Not spotted were: WR Danny Amendola, DL Jermaine Cunningham, and CB Brandon Jones, as well as PUP-list players TE Rob Gronkowski, DL Armond Armstead, and WR Mark Harrison.

Players were in full pads.

Grounds crew spent much of the time we were out there soaking down a back corner of one of the fields, so it looked like they were getting ready for the annual rookie mud bath/slip-n-slide.

Belichick: Tim Tebow is improving

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 19, 2013 01:12 PM

FOXBOROUGH – On Friday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, third string quarterback Tim Tebow played the entire second half for the Patriots. His performance wasn't all good and it wasn't all bad either, said Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

Tebow was 1-for-7 passing for minus-1 yard and an interception. He also had 30 yards rushing, second best on the team, as the Patriots beat the Bucs 25-21.

After the game, Tebow said he would continue to fight to get better. On Monday, he got a vote of confidence from Belichick, who said he sees positive steps for the former New York Jet.

"Oh yeah, definitely," Belichick said. "You gotta think if you look at the entire week last week then it would look different than the game did. In some cases the game looked better for some reason, in some cases the game may not look as good as some things during the week. We'll just try to take all that into consideration."

Belichick also added, "In the end it's about production and about doing enough things to be successful."

The team is moving on to preparing to play the Lions. The Patriots will travel to Detroit on Wednesday for Thursday's game. During the week, the Patriots will continue with the installation of the team's offense and gear practices more toward game planning going forward, Belichick said.

The Patriots released three players – LB A.J. Edds, OL R.J. Mattes, and DL Scott Vallone – but the team is not itching to fill those roster spots so close to the first cut-down date, Aug. 27, when teams will have to pare their rosters to 75 players. There are 84 players on the Patriots roster with Monday's moves.

"I mean we don't have like six guys flying in here tonight to be out there tomorrow," Belichick said. "But if something comes up that we feel like there's a player we want to take a look at, or feel like can help us, then we can just put them on the roster without having to do anything. If not, then we're prepared to go with what we have. A week from now we'll be at 75.

"If we bring somebody in, in the next day or two, they'll only be here for a couple of days. I'm not saying it isn't worth it, I'm just saying that's what it would be. We'll do what we think is best. Could fill it, not necessarily."

Patriots release Edds, Mattes, Vallone

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 19, 2013 12:48 PM

FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots announced they have released linebacker A.J. Edds, offensive lineman R.J. Mattes, and defensive lineman Scott Vallone.

Vallone was an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers who played all four years at defensive tackle. He had a hard time breaking into a group of tackles that featured more and more of the team's athletic defensive ends inside.

Mattes, another undrafted rookie, was released for the second time.

Edds first came into the Patriots fold after being claimed off waivers Sept. 7, 2011. He played in two games before being released and then signed to the practice squad. The Indianapolis Colts signed Edds off the team's practice squad, allowing him to play nine games. But he spent all of 2012 on injured reserve.

Tom Brady: Knee injury overblown, and no way he's going to sit out preseason games

Posted by Ben Volin August 19, 2013 07:36 AM

Tom Brady knows there was a lot of debate last week about whether he should play in the preseason, especially following the scare he suffered last Wednesday with his minor left knee injury.

But in Brady’s mind, there was no debate. If he’s healthy enough to play, he’s playing, even in the preseason.

“It’s your only game prep. I haven’t taken a hit in eight months,” Brady said Monday morning on his weekly appearance on WEEI. “It’s just hard to say, ‘Well, let’s just see what happens against Buffalo. You’ve got to put it in and see where you’re at and see the game speed and the reads. One play in a regular season game can cost you, so you’ve got to try to work those kinks out as best you can before the season starts.”

“Look, I hope we win every game by 50 points. But just ‘cause I hope that doesn’t mean that’s going to happen. We’ve got to go out and work at it.”

Brady and said the extent of his injury was overblown. It was the team’s second-to-last practice of the preseason that was open to the public and media. Starting today, practices are closed for the rest of the season.

“If that was a Wednesday or Thursday practice during the regular season, you’d probably never hear anything about it,” Brady said. “I felt bad it caused more of a media story than it actually was worth of. We were just trying to be smart.”

Brady, now 36, also talked more about how his body is holding up better now than it did earlier in his career. He has stated several times this offseason that he wants to play until at least 40, and even floated the idea of playing to 50.

“I’m really efficient in the way I take care of my arm,” he said. “I used to count throws at practice. I used to worry that I was overthrowing at practice, and now I can throw a lot and my arm doesn’t scream at me and go, ‘What are you doing? … As you get older, you don’t have to suck. It doesn’t have to be that way. Now, if you want to cut a lot of corners, yeah it’s going to suck.”

The knee injury certainly didn’t slow Brady down on Friday against the Buccaneers, when he completed his first 11 passes before finally misfiring on his last attempt. Overall in the preseason Brady has completed 18-of-20 passes for 172 yards, with three of his four drives ending in touchdowns. Brady joked that the two incompletions were “both bad reads by the quarterback,” and he downplayed the success of the offense so far.

“I would say that we’re far from where we’re going to be,” he said. “Hopefully by the time we play Buffalo, we’ve done some good things out there. We’ve done some good things out there. Four possessions, three touchdowns – probably should’ve been better on that fourth drive. It’s been good at this point, but it really means zero at this point, also.”

Brady tossed a few complements at Danny Amendola and Zach Sudfeld, who each caught touchdowns on Friday night. Amendola caught six passes for 71 yards and already looks like an experienced veteran in the Patriots’ offense.

“He’s been really fun to work with,” Brady said. “You see it the other night, he’s very aware. He catches balls everywhere, he’s fearless. That’s everything you’re looking for in a great receiver.”

And Sudfeld, who also caught a two-point version from Brady, has impressed his teammates with his work ethic.

“He’s really continued to make improvements, and really impressed everybody because of the way he’s just come out to practice every day, and (been) determined to work harder and get better at the things maybe he wasn’t very good at coming out,” Brady said.

Belichick: Another productive week of practice; shaking things out at safety

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 17, 2013 03:19 PM

The third week of training camp is in the books for the Patriots, after Friday night's 25-21 exhibition win over Tampa Bay. The game came at the end of three days of practices with the Buccaneers, and just as he did after New England's practices and game in Philadelphia a week before, Bill Belichick called the days time well spent for his club.

"Last night was really good end to a good, productive week for our football team," Belichick said during a Saturday afternoon conference call. "Coaches and players got a lot of out of the practices with Tampa; it certainly helped our coaching staff in terms of thinking and reacting in game-type situations, more of those than matching up against somebody that is on our own team.

"The players did that too: a lot of situations came up in the game that were good for us to learn from, so I think that's the most important part of the process and the game, is us moving ahead as a football team, guys making improvements individually, guys that are working together being able to communicate and operate as a team in those groups or units, and ultimately our overall organization as a team - substitutions, different situations that we have to be able to handle or manage as a team we learn from.

"Some we handled better than others. But 10 penalties last night is definitely a lot more than last week against Philadelphia, so we're going to have to tighten that up. In the end, it ended up being a very competitive game, probably the major difference in the game being the interception that Logan (Ryan) returned for a touchdown. But Tampa's got a good football team; a lot of good players, they're well-coached, it's a great situation for us and we learned a lot from it last night."

Ryan, the rookie cornerback from Rutgers selected in the third round, has steadily been making strides.

"I think he's improved in a lot of areas. Obviously he had a good career, was a good player coming out of college," Belichick said, "but working against players at this level is an adjustment. His techniques, his recognition, and of course in the secondary communication is such a big part of the game, no matter who you play for or what you're playing, just being able to communicate with your other teammates back there in the secondary, there's not much margin for error.

"That's important for every player, especially young ones: to understand where their help is, know how to handle different formations, tight receivers, bunch receivers, slot, no slot, whatever it happens to be. But he's worked hard, he's been durable, he's been out there, he's gotten a lot of snaps, and he continues to improve with those repetitions. He's definitely making progress. Showed some position versatility by playing both inside and outside for us over the course of camp, so he's helped himself."

There are several players in the mix at the safety position, and nearly all of them have gotten time together, particularly in the first two preseason games, as Devin McCourty has not played due to his still-recovering shoulder (he has not missed a practice).

Veteran free agent Adrian Wilson, Steve Gregory, Tavon Wilson and rookie Duron Harmon have all worked together in the backfield at different times, which offers some advantages but also disadvantages, Belichick said.

"I think there have been a lot of positives and I still think there's a lot of room for improvement; there's a number of things we need to work on to get better," he said. "We had several good plays back there and made some good adjustments and there was a few that we didn't get that we need to get, so one of the good things about working a lot of people is you get to see a lot of different people and at some point, whenever those combinations come back up again there's a familiarity but at the same time, it's harder for a couple of people to get really good and comfortable with each other as much because of the rotation that's going on.

"So trying to balance that out, we're going to have to make a decision on that here fairly soon down the line, on how those rotations are going to go, but I think it's been a very competitive position and want to make sure we give everybody an opportunity to make the best decision we lock it in."

One of the major factors in settling on who gets the most playing time will likely be communication.

"I think all those positions down the middle: safety, middle linebacker, center, quarterback - a big part of each of those jobs is communication, working with other people beside you, or in some cases in front of you, being able to control things from the middle of the field, by calls or adjustments or whatever decisions that those respective decisions have to make, that's a part of all of those spots," Belichick said. "And absolutely, that comes into play: you really can't play those positions if you aren't able to effectively do those things."

A big part of communication, he added, is confidence and experience, and having the conviction to convince others that the decision or call you're making is the right one.

5 takeaways from the Patriots-Bucs game

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 17, 2013 01:53 AM
Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones sacked Tampa Bay
quarterback Josh Freeman Friday. (Jared Wickerham / Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH -- The second Patriots preseason game was much more interesting than the first.

Prior to the game’s start, we all wondered how many reps Tom Brady would get with that familiar knee brace (23), what he would say about his knee injury (he didn’t speak), and how much Tim Tebow improved (he didn’t).

The Patriots’ 25-21 win was the backdrop to a sideshow teeming with storylines and position battles. It’s fair to say that the Buccaneers provided better competition than the Eagles, but how the actual game played out meant very little. Here’s five takeaways from Friday’s exhibition:

1. Tom Brady is fine ... and then some -- Brady was 11 of 12 passing for 107 yards and a touchdown (a phenomenal strike to Danny Amendola on a post route). He completed his first 11 passes, which is pretty amazing considering we were all wondering how much chemistry he has built with his wide receivers. While he may say that there’s always a need to improve, he seems to be where the rest of the NFL craves to be, in midseason form. That’s a far cry from our worries about his knee, which appeared fine. He wore a brace and it didn’t affect his ability to move in the pocket. He made sure to get rid of the ball quickly and was never in any serious danger, thanks to a clean pocket. The AFC should be concerned. Any talk about the injury now is so passé.

“We’re so far past that,” Belichick said. “We’re way beyond that.”

2. James Develin gets the start at fullback -- Develin’s start sticks out because it comes as a complete surprise. The fullback has been working with the tight ends group, including as recently as the pregame warmup for Friday’s game, before being inserted into the first team. He hadn’t been getting many reps in practice, let alone with the first team group, until the last few days. So when exactly did he know he’d be the starter? The first snap apparently.

“I went in there and the coaches asked me to step up and I tried to do the best I could,” Develin said. “We’ll check the film and see how I did, but it was definitely a blessing to be out there.”

Develin is competing for that swing spot between fullback and tight end that is currently occupied by Michael Hoomanawanui. Hoomanawanui, for his part, said he wasn’t concerned about it. And Belichick said the team wanted to get a better look at Develin, who didn’t really play against the Eagles. So the mystery is solved.

3. Tim Tebow is regressing -- Tim Tebow is not improving. If anything, he is getting worse. Against Philly, he was a mockable 4 of 12 passing for 55 yards, while taking three sacks for 23 yards. He also had 31 yards rushing. But against Tampa Bay, it seemed like he needed a GPS to find his targets, finishing 1 of 7 passing for -1 yard and an interception. While I maintain that Tebow should be viewed as an option quarterback -- with an emphasis on the running portion -- he simply has not evolved enough as a pocket passer to merit the dual threat status that comes with the job.

“I just feel like I’m fighting to get better every day,” Tebow said.

This was one of those performances that forever changes the way you view a player. For Tebow, that means he’ll have a much harder road ahead from the armchair quarterback club. Luckily for him, that doesn’t matter. But it’s also possible that it is becoming harder and harder for his coaches to remember his game-winning performances of 2011 while a member of the Denver Broncos. I couldn’t help but notice that the team decided to have him take a knee late in the fourth quarter rather than let him use those precious reps. With only seven pass attempts in a whole half, it doesn’t look good.

4. Concerning play in the secondary -- It was another rough outing for Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan. Despite a pick-six, he got burned for a 41-yard pass by Tiquan Underwood and he peeled off his coverage of Kevin Ogletree too soon, giving up a 13-yard touchdown. But he wasn’t the only one struggling. Tavon Wilson was having a tough time in coverage, leaving Justin Green on an island at one point with the Buccaneers’ Derek Hagan almost coming down with a 40-yard catch. Their play has been concerning, with each practice and each game having more visible and more treacherous mental mistakes. Ryan definitely needs time to develop, but the worry is that Wilson, a second-year player, is not catching on like he should.

5. Where is the pass rush? -- Fans have been asking that same question the past four seasons, wondering who will fill the gap left by Richard Seymour since 2008. Again and again, it appears Seymour’s role will be filled by many. But if you need to make a bet on any single player to become a star on this Patriots roster, it has to be Chandler Jones. On top of a dominant preseason opening against the Eagles, he came out and wrecked havoc against the Buccaneers. His final stat line (two tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss) belies the totality of pressure he’s providing as well as the resources (usually an extra blocker) to deal with him. Right now, the Patriots look really good on the defensive line.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Final: Patriots 25, Buccaneers 21

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 16, 2013 07:15 PM

Follow live coverage of the Patriots' second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Preseason Game 2: Buccaneers at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 16, 2013 01:39 PM

The Patriots host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their preseason home opener at 8 p.m. Friday, their second of four preseason games before the NFL regular season kicks off in September.

All eyes will be focused on quarterback Tom Brady, who had to leave practice Wednesday after having his knee rolled on by left tackle Nate Solder and Tampa Bay defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Brady returned to practice Thursday sporting a knee brace, which he is expected to wear during the game.

This is the third straight year the Patriots have played the Buccaneers in the preseason. They lost last season, 30-28, and are 2-8 all-time against the Bucs in preseason play.

The Buccaneers will play without new cornerback Darrelle Revis, the former Jet, who has been held out of contact drills. Revis missed most of last season with a torn ACL.

Here are the details for tonight’s game:

Kickoff: 8 p.m.

Preseason records: Patriots 1-0 preseason; Buccaneers 0-1 preseason.

TV/radio: Fox (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Will Svitek, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Jake Ballard, WR Aaron Dobson, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Adrian Wilson.

Buccaneers offense: WR Vincent Jackson, LT Donald Penn, LG Carl Nicks, C Jeremy Zuttah, RG Davin Joseph, RT Demar Dotson, TE Luke Stocker, WR Mike Williams, QB Josh Freeman, RB Doug Martin, FB Erik Lorig.

Buccaneers defense: DE Da'Quan Bowers, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Gary Gibson, DE Adrian Clayborn, SLB Dekoda Watson, MLB Mason Foster, WLB Lavonte David, CB Danny Gorrer, CB Leonard Johnson, SS Mark Barron, FS Dashon Goldson.

Read this

- 5 things to watch for in Friday's game by Ben Volin.

- Patscetera: Position battles are alive and well.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Position battles are alive and well

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 16, 2013 09:31 AM
Offensive lineman Will Svitek will play right
guard. (Yoon S. Byun / Globe Staff)

FOXBOROUGH -- Training camp has come to a close with the team more squarely focused on whittling down its roster from a bloated number of 87 than worrying about the health and availability of Tom Brady.

That’s a huge positive since Wednesday’s scare.

And as the Patriots move forward, the team still needs to figure out roles for a number of players going into the 2013 season. The position battles are alive and well. And injuries, while thankfully not connected to Brady, will still affect roster decisions.

In the team’s second preseason game tonight against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there are quite a few offensive players who are competing for positions that deserve more attention. Here are three of high importance:

FULL ENTRY

Training camp report: Brady returns to practice

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 15, 2013 08:18 PM

FOXBOROUGH — The big news of the day, of course, was that Tom Brady returned to practice a day after suffering a minor sprain in his left knee and putting Patriots fans in panic mode. Brady wore a brace on his knee — he wasn’t wearing it Wednesday — and participated fully in practice.

The practice itself, though, wasn’t very exciting. It was a walk-through type in advance of Friday night's preseason game, with many drills done at half-speed.

The Patriots and Buccaneers also practiced a lot of situations — onside kicks, punts backed up against the end zone, tight Red Zone drills, and more.

Other than Brady returning, Thursday’s practice was a bit of a snoozer.

With that, let’s get on with the report:

ATTENDANCE, PLEASE

Physically unable to perform: TE Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red non-contact jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Not participating: TE Daniel Fells, CB Alfonzo Dennard (limited), OL Marcus Cannon (limited), WR Michael Jenkins (limited), CB Ras-I Dowling (limited), OL Dan Connolly (limited), and DE Jermaine Cunningham.

Injured reserve: OL Tyronne Green

Waived: WR Michael Jenkins, OL Kevin Haslam

Returning to practice: DB Nate Ebner

DRESS CODE

Shells, no contact

TOP PLAYS

■ Brady walked on the field and got a loud round of applause from the fans. This was the most important thing to happen at practice.

■ Brady had an amazing lob to WR Danny Amendola in the right corner of the end zone. Amendola caught it over two defenders with his feet just inbounds.

■ Brady had another perfect corner fade to WR Aaron Dobson, who caught it over Bucs CB Leonard Johnson.

■ P Ryan Allen booted one that came to rest millimeters from the right sideline. Impressive.

THREE UP

S Duron Harmon: Rookie third-rounder has been impressing in camp and took a lot of first-team reps this week. Don’t be surprised if he starts in McCourty’s place Friday.

DB Nate Ebner: Finally returned to practice after sitting out a couple of weeks, and now can focus on winning another special teams spot.

Eduardo Martinez: This youngster got to participate in a Make-A-Wish type of event. He took a handoff from Brady and ran into the end zone to end practice, then threw with Tim Tebow for 10 minutes afterward.

THREE DOWN

QB Ryan Mallett: Doesn’t look as if he’ll be getting as much playing time Friday now that Brady is back.

TE Daniel Fells: Missed his second straight practice, and may be losing a grip on a starting spot to Zach Sudfeld and Jake Ballard.

DT Marcus Forston: Appears to be the primary backup at defensive tackle and may be close to locking up a roster spot.

TEBOW TIME

Tebow took a handful of snaps in team drills and skipped a couple of throws. The most interesting thing he did in practice was play on the onside-kick recovery team for three snaps. In addition to throwing with Martinez, he stayed after to sign autographs.

ODDS AND ENDS

■ This was the last practice of camp open to fans and media.

■ The roster is down to 87 players after Thursday’s moves. The cutdown to 75 players is Aug. 27, and the cutdown to 53 is Aug. 31.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Friday: Preseason Game No. 2 vs. Buccaneers, 8 p.m.

Saturday: TBD

Patriots' Ridley on Brady: "We're relieved"

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 15, 2013 05:34 PM


FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots and Buccaneers held a half-speed practice Thursday afternoon, the final training camp session of the year for New England. Tom Brady, who suffered a minor left knee injury Wednesday and did not complete that day's practice, was present and participated, taking reps with the first-team offense per usual.

Just as it was a scary moment for Patriots fans to see Brady go down, his teammates were nervous as well.

"With Brady back out there, for us it’s a great sign," said running back Stevan Ridley. "It was a scary moment, but with Tom, I know he’s a competitor, he’s going to do whatever to get out there. I’m just glad they took him out, checked him out, made sure he was good. My heart’s at peace knowing he’s OK."

Ridley said players knew not long after practice ended Wednesday that Brady's injury was not serious.

The running back acknowledged just how important the quarterback is to the Patriots.

"That’s our leader, man. I’ll say that first and foremost – we ride with Tom Brady all the way," Ridley said. "Anytime you see somebody go down like that, everything stops in front of you, but for us, we just have to move on, hope for the best, and that’s what we did.

"We found out later that day in team meetings that he was OK and that’s all the news we needed to hear – that our quarterback was going to be with us and not have any major surgeries or anything. So we’re relieved."

Asked if he believes Brady will play against Tampa Bay Friday night, Ridley said, "I know he's going to be there when it counts. When the season matters the most, Tom's going to be out there. I just don't want us to rush him or anything like that. I think Tom will make the right decision and the coaches will too."

Is Boston a baseball or football town?

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff August 15, 2013 03:06 PM

This is a fun one, and there's no right answer. Watch Boston Sports Live above, then go with your gut and tell us whether you think Boston is baseball or a football town.


Is Boston more of a baseball or a football town?

Patriots release WR Michael Jenkins, place OL Tyronne Green on injured reserve

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 15, 2013 02:38 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots announced they have released veteran wide receiver Michael Jenkins and placed offensive lineman Tyronne Green on injured reserve.

The team also released offensive lineman Kevin Haslam.

Jenkins, 31, was the most accomplished wide receiver on the Patriots roster, having caught 354 passes over nine seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings. But he had fallen behind in the competition at wide receiver, missing a number of practices because of an undisclosed ailment. He returned to the practice field this week but couldn't get any repetitions with the first or second team.

Jenkins's release is further indication that the team is comfortable with its young group, including rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce.

Green, 27, who had re-signed with the team July 25, had been inserted at right guard for a time as the Patriots worked through some interior line injuries. But for the last two weeks, he had been missing from practice.

Haslam, 26, a three-year veteran who was claimed off waivers May 22, never made an impact on the team.

Training Camp Daily Briefing: Brady watch is on for final camp practice

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff August 15, 2013 09:33 AM

Disaster has been averted, but the Tom Brady Watch is still on for Thursday’s walk-through type practice with the Buccaneers.

Brady's left knee injury isn’t serious -- just a minor sprain, according to two sources -- but we don’t know if he will be back at practice Thursday or if he will play in Friday night’s preseason game against the Buccaneers. ESPN's Ed Werner reported Thursday morning that Brady "intends" to practice and play upon re-examination, but we’ll see if the Patriots are willing to take that risk after the knee-injury scare.

In other news, Thursday is the last practice of training camp, meaning it is the last day for fans and media to watch the full practice. Starting next week, practices will be closed to the public, and media will only get to watch the first 30 minutes. So soak up the beautiful weather and enjoy one last day of practice, because this will be your last chance to watch one until next July.

With that, let's get on with the Patriots Daily Briefing:

TODAY’S GLOBE COVERAGE

Shalise Manza Young: Sources: Tom Brady’s knee injury not serious

Ben Volin: Tom Brady’s knee injury just another bizarre misfortune to befall Patriots this offseason

Fluto Shinzawa: Notebook: LB Dont’a Hightower sets the bar higher for second season

Volin: Wednesday’s practice report

Bob Hohler, Volin: Inside the double life of Aaron Hernandez

WHAT’S ON TAP

Today

Foxborough weather: High of 80, sunny

2-4 p.m.: Practice with Buccaneers

4 p.m.: Player interviews

Friday

Preseason Game No. 2 vs. Tampa Bay, 8 p.m. (Fox)

Saturday

TBA

KEY INJURIES/ROSTER MOVES

Not practicing/limited Monday

TE Daniel Fells

OL Marcus Cannon

CB Ras-I Dowling

CB Alfonzo Dennard

WR Michael Jenkins

OL Dan Connolly

DB Nate Ebner

OL Tyronne Green

OL Kevin Haslam

DE Jermaine Cunningham

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

AROUND THE NFL

Tom Brady wasn’t the only QB to avoid disaster on Wednesday. Matt Schaub almost got run over by a golf cart.

The Bears don’t seem too keen on using Devin Hester on offense anymore.

New Seahawks DE Cliff Avril finally returned to full-contact practice, but won’t play this week.

Vikings FB Jerome Felton had an emergency appendectomy.

The Bills announced that Kevin Kolb will start the next preseason game, even though all signs point to E.J. Manuel winning the job.

Broncos pass rusher Von Miller was arrested for failure to appear in traffic court.

Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin

Tom Brady sustains knee sprain, not seen as serious

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 15, 2013 12:37 AM

FOXBOROUGH — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady left practice early Wednesday, several minutes after suffering a left knee injury at the end of a passing play.

Two league sources said Brady suffered a sprain and the injury is not considered serious.

Team president Jonathan Kraft told reporters about an hour after practice, “I’m under the impression that it’s probably not that serious, but that’s not a definitive answer.”

The injury happened during 11-on-11 work, with the Patriots practicing in full pads against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady was looking to his right, and threw a long pass toward Aaron Dobson, when to his left, tackle Nate Solder was bull-rushed by Tampa Bay defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

Clayborn pushed Solder backward, right into Brady, who went down to the grass. Brady rocked backward and then sat there for a minute holding his left knee.

Brady was not wearing the bulky black brace he has worn in games since coming back from the torn ACL he suffered in that same left knee in the 2008 season opener; he was wearing a gray sleeve over the joint.

Brady sat out one snap, then returned, but he touched the knee in between plays. He completed three passes and made a handoff before consulting with coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and head trainer Jim Whelan. After a brief talk, Brady walked gingerly off the field with Whelan in the direction of the Dana-Farber Fieldhouse.

It is not known if Brady went into the fieldhouse or was transported back into the team facility via golf cart or other means; the access road that runs behind the practice fields is not visible to those watching practice.

Backup quarterback Ryan Mallett handled the first-team snaps for the remainder of the session.

Solder said it is worrisome anytime a teammate goes down with injury. The third-year player had some obvious struggles during the play on which Brady was injured, which he admitted.

“We’re always looking to protect,” Solder said. “I’ll have to see what happened on film. I screwed some things up here and there. We’ll work through that.”

Clayborn, who did nothing wrong or malicious on the play, explained what happened.

“You know you’ve got to stay away from the quarterback,” he said. “But if you’ve got a guy on his heels, my instinct is to keep going. That’s what I did.

“[It was] a bull rush. The tackle backing up, apparently he tripped on Brady and he fell on me.”

Former Buccaneer LeGarrette Blount, now with the Patriots, did not believe his old teammate, Clayborn, deliberately tried to hurt Brady.

“They talk to us about it every day [staying clear of the quarterback as much as possible],” Blount said. “I guess there’s always somebody that makes a mistake and goes into the quarterback. None of it is on purpose. It’s an accident.

“It’s guys practicing hard. They emphasize it a lot but accidents happen. I’m sure it wasn’t on purpose.”

The incident immediately prompted several Las Vegas casinos to temporarily take Patriots wagers off the boards.

Before the week began, Belichick and Bucs coach Greg Schiano talked about keeping physicality in check from both sides, just as Belichick did with Eagles coach Chip Kelly last week. Notably, any players involved in a fight were to be benched for the rest of that practice.

There was to be minimal contact with quarterbacks, Schiano said.

“Coach Belichick and I stressed to our teams to let [the quarterbacks] throw the ball — rush the passer but don’t get around him,” Schiano said. “I can’t tell you because I didn’t see what happened. I’ll look at it on tape. I hope he’s OK.”

It isn’t known whether Brady will play in Friday’s preseason game with the Buccaneers, though it is likely the Patriots will take every precaution with their star.

A fan-recorded video of the play ends with a male and then a female saying, “Oh no,” as they watch Brady tumble to the ground, and that sentiment was shared by fans far and wide — as Brady goes, so go the Patriots. But it appears the worst-case scenario has been avoided.

The Globe's Ben Volin contributed to this report.

Training camp report: Practice goes on with Tom Brady hurt

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 15, 2013 12:18 AM

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots returned to the practice field for their second day of joint workouts with the Buccaneers, and the story of the day obviously revolved around injuries. Tom Brady leaving practice with a left knee injury was the big story of the day. Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said in the hallways of Gillette Stadium about an hour after practice, “I’m under the impression that it’s probably not that serious, but that’s not a definitive answer.” Two league sources later said Brady suffered a sprain and the injury is not considered serious.

Two other pieces of injury news: LB Brandon Spikes returned to practice after being absent Tuesday, while TE Daniel Fells was not present Wednesday for an undisclosed reason.

With that, let’s get on with the report:

ATTENDANCE, PLEASE

Physically unable to perform: TE Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red non-contact jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Not participating: TE Daniel Fells, CB Alfonzo Dennard (limited), OL Marcus Cannon (limited), WR Michael Jenkins (limited), CB Ras-I Dowling (limited), OL Dan Connolly (limited), DB Nate Ebner, OL Tyronne Green, OL Kevin Haslam, and DE Jermaine Cunningham.

DRESS CODE

Full pads, full contact.

TOP PLAYS

■ Brady threw a nice middle post to WR Kenbrell Thompkins, placing it perfectly among four defenders in zone coverage.

■ CB Marquice Cole intercepted Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman on a crossing pattern.

■ CB Logan Ryan had a pick-6 against Freeman, stepping in front of a deep out pass and taking it 70 yards the other way for a touchdown.

■ CB Aqib Talib had a pick-6 on Freeman as well, stepping in front of a pass intended for WR Mike Williams.

■ WR Julian Edelman caught a great touchdown over the middle from QB Ryan Mallett on which he first bobbled the ball and then corralled it in front of two defenders.

THREE UP

S Steve Gregory: Fighting for a roster spot, he did drop a certain interception in 11-on-11 drills but also had a really nice jumping breakup on a pass from Freeman to WR Vincent Jackson.

Thompkins: Continues to make tough catches over the middle, and makes it look easy.

Mallett: It’s your time to shine, kid, at least through Friday’s preseason game.

THREE DOWN

Fells: Seems to have fallen behind Zach Sudfeld and perhaps Jake Ballard on the tight end depth chart, and missing Wednesday’s practice doesn’t help matters.

LT Nate Solder: Forget the fact he tripped up Brady, which led to the injury. The fact he was so badly bull-rushed by DE Adrian Clayborn is not a good sign.

Cunningham: Can’t get back on the field, and might not be long for the Patriots with DE Marcus Benard having a solid camp.

TEBOW TIME

Tim Tebow took a few more snaps because of Brady’s injury but still was mostly an observer during team drills. He had a really nice throw to Sudfeld over the middle among three defenders, fired a bullet to Thompkins over the middle to bring the offense into the red zone, threw a touchdown to Edelman, had a pass dropped by RB Brandon Bolden, and threw a corner fade too far for Edelman. Tebow also fumbled a snap.

ODDS AND ENDS

■ Rookie Ryan Allen, battling Zoltan Mesko for the punting job, had a punt blocked. Mesko fumbled a snap.

■ CB Kyle Arrington and S Steve Gregory had a much better day against Jackson, keeping him out of the end zone in team drills.

■ Two small fights broke out, though the participants were not identified.

■ Spent some time watching the one-on-one OL/DL drills. The results:

Sebastian Vollmer did a nice job slowing down Clayborn.

Solder was able to stop DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim.

C Matt Stankiewitch stonewalled DT Matthew Masifilo.

DE Jake Bequette absolutely destroyed T Demar Dotson.

G R.J. Mattes did a nice job slowing down DE Markus White.

DE Chandler Jones was stopped by OT Donald Penn.

Benard easily beat G Adam Smith.

DT Marcus Forston was stonewalled by OL Jace Daniels.

LB Rob Ninkovich easily got through G Gabe Carimi.

Great inside move by Benard to get past G Jeremy Zuttah.

Clayborn got around Vollmer with a nice speed rush.

Bequette was stopped in his tracks by T Jamon Meredith.

DE Michael Buchanan had a nice bull rush to get through Carimi.

■ Mallett wasn’t particularly sharp, and had a few awful-looking throws to WR Aaron Dobson during team drills. He was also intercepted by LB Mason Foster.

■ Freeman was just as bad as Mallett, though, and that’s not a good sign for the Buccaneers. In two days of practice, Freeman has had some beautiful throws, and a lot of bad ones that make you shake your head.

■ Not only does Sudfeld continue to take a ton of reps with the first-team offense, he was also split out wide at wide receiver for a handful of snaps.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Thursday: Joint practice with Buccaneers (walk-through), 2 p.m.

Friday: Preseason Game No. 2 vs. Buccaneers, 8 p.m.

Saturday: TBD

Jonathan Kraft under impression Brady injury not serious

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 14, 2013 05:54 PM

Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft spoke briefly with reporters a short time ago and said this about Tom Brady's left leg:

"I’m under the impression that it’s probably not that serious, but that’s not a definitive answer."

Brady limped off the practice field today after getting rolled up on by left tackle Nate Solder and Tampa Bay defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

Brady clutches leg, leaves practice

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff August 14, 2013 03:56 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Tom Brady walked off the field under his own power after suffering an apparent injury in practice Wednesday afternoon.

During 11-on-11 drills vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady threw a sideline pass to Aaron Dobson that was incomplete. Bucs defensive end Adrian Clayborn appeared to push Patriots tackle Nate Solder into Brady. After the play, Brady remained down on the ground holding his left knee or leg. Clayborn confirmed what happened after the practice session.

"When you've got a guy on his heels, my instinct is to keep going and that's what I did," he said.

Brady got up gingerly and returned to practice, completing three passes before speaking with head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. After consulting with his coaches, Brady left the field, walking in the direction of the Dana Farber Fieldhouse.

Mobile users unable to see the video, click here.

Belichick touches on Schiano's positives, what he looks for in a gunner

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 14, 2013 02:27 PM

FOXBOROUGH - The weather concerns that forced the Patriots and Buccaneers to move up their Tuesday practice were nowhere to be found Wednesday afternoon, as the teams took to the fields behind Gillette Stadium under bright blue skies, though there were some wind gusts.

Bill Belichick was pleased with what his team got out of the first session.

"We had a good day with the Bucs yesterday, looking forward to getting back out there again today," Belichick said. "We'll keep working on some situational things as well as normal things, one-on-ones, things like that, things that give you an opportunity to see some matchups, but the team work and the situational stuff [Tuesday] was really good, and we’ll get another dose of it today."

As is well-known by now, Belichick and second-year Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano are fairly tight, with Belichick endorsing the former Rutgers head coach for the job in Tampa Bay last year.

Belichick detailed some of the things he likes about Schiano as a coach:

"I’ve always had a lot of respect for Greg, I think he’s done a great job when he was in Chicago [where he was a defensive assistant/defensive backs coach from 1996-98], when he was at Miami [as Hurricanes defensive coordinator 1999-2000], during his whole career at Rutgers.

"He brought that program up and made it one of the top programs in the country, he did a great job with the student-athletes there, he had a long record of success with those guys, and he took a program that wasn’t used to being at that level and took it to national prominence on a consistent basis."

Special teams was one of the day's topics, specifically what makes a good gunner on the punt team and Matthew Slater's ability to play that role.

"Well, some combination of speed, strength and quickness, the more the better of all three," Belichick said. "That’s a tough position to play; you’ve got to deal with two guys, so you’ve got to be strong enough to deal with them or fast enough to deal with them or quick enough to deal with them, and then there’s all the techniques of not only dealing with the double-team but also the punts, the returns, the rushes, the wind conditions, knowing where the ball is, trying to defeat two blockers and then locate the ball and the returner, he different returns and so forth. There’s a lot of technique and skill that involved beyond just the physical part of it."

Of Slater, a two-time Pro Bowler, he said, "Matt’s one of the best in the league, and I think he has a lot of the qualities that we were talking about.

"Anytime they have to double somebody, that makes one less guy they can use somewhere else in the return. He almost always draws two guys out there unless they’re in a 10-man, 8-man rush, but most of the time there’s two guys out there. He draws a lot of double-teams and deservedly so – he does an outstanding job of covering punts. Like I said, it’s a tough position to play, but he’s got a lot of the qualities that we talked about to be good and he does a good job for us."

Training Camp Daily Briefing: Patriots look to bounce back from sloppy day

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff August 14, 2013 09:19 AM

Bill Belichick said he was pleased with outcome of Friday’s preseason game, and not just because the Patriots beat the Eagles. His players were able to work on several scenarios that played out in the game -- the two-minute drill, being backed up on their own goal line, fourth-down defense -- that will help them prepare for the regular season.

Wednesday’s joint practice with the Buccaneers also should provide a valuable teaching lesson -- how to bounce back after a subpar day.

Tuesday’s practice with Tampa Bay was not very crisp, with players slipping all over the field because of the rain and dropping several catchable passes. As precise as the Patriots were practicing against the Eagles last week, they were equally sloppy on Tuesday.

But the weather on Wednesday should be perfect, and the Patriots will have a chance to correct their mistakes. Wednesday is also Tim Tebow’s 26th birthday if you want to wish him well at practice.

With that, let’s get on with the Patriots Daily Briefing:

TODAY’S GLOBE COVERAGE

Fluto Shinzawa: Rookie safety Duron Harmon having a good training camp

Shalise Manza Young: Notebook: Vince Wilfork has high praise for new DT Tommy Kelly

Ben Volin: On Football: Patriots, Revis on friendlier terms now that he’s with the Bucs

Volin: Tuesday’s practice report

WHAT’S ON TAP

Today

Foxborough weather: High of 74, sunny

1:45 p.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

2-4:30 p.m.: Practice with Buccaneers

4:30 p.m.: Player interviews

Thursday

2-4:00 p.m.: Joint practice with Tampa Bay

4:00 p.m.: Player interviews

Friday

Preseason Game No. 2 vs. Tampa Bay, 8 p.m. (Fox)

KEY INJURIES/ROSTER MOVES

Not practicing/limited Monday

LB Brandon Spikes

OL Marcus Cannon

CB Ras-I Dowling

CB Alfonzo Dennard

WR Michael Jenkins

OL Dan Connolly

DB Nate Ebner

OL Tyronne Green

OL Kevin Haslam

DE Jermaine Cunningham

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

Roster Move

Waived: DL Jason Vega

Signed: TE Evan Landi

AROUND THE NFL

Ravens are holding out hope that TE Dennis Pitta (hip) could return this year

Robert Griffin III says there is no rift between him and Mike Shanahan

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski isn’t ready to name QB Brandon Weeden the starter yet

The 1972 Dolphins are finally getting their visit to the White House

Recap of Tuesday’s second episode of “Hard Knocks” with the Bengals

Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin

Patriots sign TE Landi, release Brockton native Vega

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 13, 2013 05:26 PM



The Patriots on Tuesday signed tight end Evan Landi; to make room, they released defensive lineman Jason Vega.

Landi, an undrafted rookie out of South Florida, was initially signed by Tampa Bay on April 29, but was released June 4. He is listed at 6 feet 3 inches, 236 pounds, and played in 46 games with the Bulls (26 starts). He recorded 72 receptions for 846 yards and three touchdowns at USF, seeing time at quarterback and receiver.

Vega, 26, was signed by the Patriots earlier this year after spending two seasons with the CFL's Winnipeg team. A Brockton native who went on to play at Northeastern, Vega was credited with three tackles in Friday's game against the Eagles.

Practice report: Patriots, Buccaneers look sloppy

Posted by Robert Burgess August 13, 2013 05:23 PM

FOXBOROUGH — Tuesday’s joint practice between the Patriots and Buccaneers was certainly very physical, and the starting units on both teams got a ton of work; 95 percent of the work in team drills was starting offense vs. starting defense.

What the practice wasn’t, though, was crisp or well-executed. Perhaps the constant rain had something to do with it, but players were slipping all over the field, receivers were dropping footballs, and Tom Brady’s throws seemed to be more off the mark than usual.

The only big news of the day was that ILB Brandon Spikes was not present, because of an undisclosed reason. And the Patriots also signed a new tight end to give them a fifth healthy body at the position.

Let’s get on with the report:

ATTENDANCE, PLEASE

Physically unable to perform: Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red non-contact jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Missing: CB Alfonzo Dennard (limited), OL Marcus Cannon (limited), WR Michael Jenkins (limited), CB Ras-I Dowling (limited), OL Dan Connolly (limited), ILB Brandon Spikes, DB Nate Ebner, OL Tyronne Green, OL Kevin Haslam, and DE Jermaine Cunningham.

Roster moves: TE Evan Landi signed; DL Jason Vega waived.

DRESS CODE

Full pads, full contact.

TOP PLAYS

■ WR Kenbrell Thompkins made a ridiculous one-handed catch on an underthrown ball, using Tampa Bay CB Rashaan Melvin’s body to help corral the pass.

■ WR Danny Amendola absolutely destroyed S Dashon Goldson on a double move. Goldson bit hard on Amendola’s cut to the sideline, and Amendola was open by 10 yards when he cut back to the middle of the field for an easy catch from Brady.

■ WR Johnathan Haggerty had a great leaping catch over S Keith Tandy on a fade pass from Ryan Mallett.

■ QB Tim Tebow had a really nice back-shoulder throw on a wheel route to RB Shane Vereen in seven-on-seven drills.

■ Amendola also had a really nice fingertip catch on a deep post pass from Brady in seven-on-seven drills, catching the ball just past the outstretched arms of the linebacker.

■ Brady and WR Aaron Dobson hooked up for a really nice 30-yard fade catch over rookie CB Johnthan Banks.

THREE UP

TE Zach Sudfeld: Trying not to write about him every day, but Sudfeld took a majority of the first-team work at tight end during team drills while Daniel Fells and Jake Ballard sat on the sideline.

DT Marcus Forston: The Patriots are a little thin on the interior defensive line, and Forston took several reps with the starting defense.

S Tavon Wilson: Fighting for a roster spot, he had a really nice interception of QB Josh Freeman on the goal line, batting a slant pass up in the air, then corraling the ball and heading upfield.

THREE DOWN

TE Daniel Fells: It appeared that the veteran was the clear No. 1 tight end at the start of camp, but he seems to have fallen behind Sudfeld and could be battling with Ballard for a roster spot.

WR Kamar Aiken: Opened training camp with the starting offense, but clearly has fallen behind all of the kids (Thompkins, Dobson, Josh Boyce) and may be on the outside of the roster bubble.

ILB Brandon Spikes: Not a good sign to be missing practice — even if it’s just a minor injury — when you need to be impressing the coaching staff and proving that you can be an every-down player.

TEBOW TIME

Tim Tebow spent a lot of his time standing on the sideline and watching before he and Mallett got a few snaps at the end of practice. Tebow worked with running backs and tight ends in some one-on-one drills early, and actually looked really comfortable throwing from the pocket, with several nice passes that had perfect accuracy. In 11-on-11 drills, he bounced a couple of quick throws to FB Ben Bartholomew and TE Evan Landi, had a nice play-action comeback throw to Haggerty, made a decent medium out-pass to Haggerty on the next throw, and ended the drill with a coverage sack. Tebow spent about 30 minutes on the field after practice working on his throws, then spoke to the media afterward.

ODDS AND ENDS

■ Fascinating to watch how much time the Bucs spend on fundamentals early in practice — tackling high and low, ball protection, etc. The coaches set up a circuit of five drills, the players are split into groups, and they spend a few minutes rotating between each drill.

■ Dowling, Dennard, Cannon, Jenkins, and Connolly were all in uniform and went through warmups with the team, then left practice to do conditioning drills with trainers. It is unclear whether any of them will be ready to play Friday.

■ Contact definitely seemed encouraged, although there were no fights. WR Julian Edelman caught a pass over the middle and after the play gave a nice thump to Bucs S Ahmad Black with his shoulder.

■ Each team spent a decent amount of time working on kickoff, punt, and field goal drills, especially hurry-up field goals. Steven Gostkowski was perfect in this drill, with each kick coming from 40-50 yards, while Bucs K Derek Dimke doinked a 42-yarder off the right upright.

■ Can anyone stop Bucs WR Vincent Jackson? The answer Tuesday was a resounding “No.” Jackson, listed at 6 feet 5 inches and 230 pounds, had little trouble getting open against Kyle Arrington, Aqib Talib, Logan Ryan, and even Devin McCourty, who played a lot of cornerback. Jackson was mostly lined up in the slot and was feasting on slants and posts over the middle.

■ Patriots owner Robert Kraft was at practice, and spent time speaking with both Bucs coach Greg Schiano and CB Darrelle Revis, who participated in individual drills but didn’t do any team work.

■ Freeman had some beautiful throws, particularly in the Red Zone to Jackson and WR Mike Williams, but struggled a bit with consistency, throwing interceptions to Talib and Wilson. Still, there’s little doubt that Freeman will be the Opening Day starter, with rookie Mike Glennon the backup.

■ In addition to missing on more than a few throws, Brady also fumbled a snap in a hurry-up situation in the two-minute drill.

■ The price of success: DL Tommy Kelly was shaken up for a moment after blocking a field goal.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Wednesday: Joint practice with Buccaneers, 2 p.m.

Thursday: Joint practice with Buccaneers (walk-through), 2 p.m.

Friday: Preseason Game No. 2 vs. Buccaneers, 7:30 p.m.

Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin

Belichick, Patriots set to start joint practices with Buccaneers

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 13, 2013 11:19 AM

FOXBOROUGH - With unfavorable weather in the forecast for Tuesday afternoon, Bill Belichick and Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano decided to move the start of the day's practice up three hours.

Before heading onto the field, Belichick said again that he's looking forward to the Patriots working with the Buccaneers and making more progress as a team, and everything has been planned to maximize their time together.

"We just try to organize them so we can get the most out of them; understand what we're trying to do in each drill and work cooperatively to have productive practices, similar to what we would do if we were practicing with ourselves and what we did last week with Philadelphia," Belichick said. "We worked with them last year, so I feel like we had a pretty good experience with how things went last year, we had to make a few adjustments last year, hopefully those will be smooth this year, I'm not expecting any problems."

Unlike other teams the Patriots have had joint practices with, New England faces Tampa Bay in the regular season, with the Bucs coming back to Foxborough in Week 3. Belichick said that doesn't change how the teams will approach the coming days.

"I don't think right now that's what we're worried about; we're trying to improve our team," he said. "We've got a lot of work to do and I think we can get better this week working against the Bucs, and that's what we're about. We'll worry about five, six weeks from now whenever that gets here."

New England acquired running back LeGarrette Blount from Tampa Bay on draft weekend, sending Jeff Demps and a seventh-round pick in exchange for Blount.

Belichick said getting a player with Blount's talent was appealing - but it's clear he was OK with unloading Demps, who had told the team he was going to return to track and would not be with the team in training camp. (Demps is in the pool of runners competing for the U.S. in the 4x100 at the World Championships this week and has not yet reported to the Bucs.)

"We just felt like he was a good player, talented player. Big back that can catch and run, and he showed those skills throughout the course of his career," Belichick said of Blount. "The player that we had [Demps], we weren't really able to get on the field, so we'd rather have LeGarrette.

"He's done a good job for us. I don't think there's any question about his skills; they're pretty good, and they have been throughout his career. Tampa's got a great back, I certainly understand their situation - Pro Bowl back as a rookie - I understand that, but I have a lot of respect for LeGarrette and what he's done through his career and he's had a good spring for us and a good training camp for us. I think he helps us."

Belichick was asked if he intends on keeping Tim Tebow on the 53-man roster if the quarterback is healthy, but he wasn't about to tip his hand.

"We're just...that's not anything that we're ready to talk about right now. A lot of competition out there, and we'll see how it all plays out," he said.

Patriots training camp daily briefing: Tuesday, Aug. 13

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff August 13, 2013 09:12 AM

The Patriots have had a relatively light few days of training camp since facing the Eagles on Friday, with no practice on Saturday or Sunday and a walk-through type of practice on Monday afternoon.

Tuesday, though, the intensity will pick up several notches as the Patriots strap on the pads again and begin three days of joint practices with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will also face the Patriots in their second preseason game on Friday night.

The Patriots don’t have too many burning issues right now, other than the potential return of a few veterans. We’re keeping an eye on WR Michael Jenkins and CBs Alfonzo Dennard and Ras-I Dowling, who were in uniform Monday and participated briefly in individual drills, but still essentially sat out of practice. Same with guard Dan Connolly, while fellow guard Marcus Cannon is still nowhere to be found. We will be tracking their progress this week to see if any of them will be able to suit up Friday night against the Bucs.

Two other quick notes: Dennard was supposed to be in a Nebraska court on Monday for a court hearing related to his DUI arrest this summer, but it was postponed until Oct. 8. He has a probation hearing on Aug. 27, but it could take awhile for his case to be resolved. And the Patriots have moved practice up to 11 a.m. Tuesday because of potential bad weather.

With that, let’s get on with today’s Patriots Daily Briefing:

TODAY’S GLOBE COVERAGE

Shalise Manza Young: Patriots on solid ground with veteran offensive line

Fluto Shinzawa: Notebook: CB Aqib Talib hopes for bounce-back game

Ben Volin: Monday’s practice report

WHAT’S ON TAP

Today

Foxborough weather: High of 72, chance of rain 30 percent at noon

10:30 a.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

11-1:30 p.m.: Practice

1:30 p.m.: Player interviews

Wednesday

1:45 p.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

2-4:30 p.m.: Joint practice with Tampa Bay

4:30 p.m.: Player interviews

Down the Road…

Thursday: Practice with Tampa Bay 2 p.m.

Friday: Preseason Game No. 2 vs. Tampa Bay, 8 p.m. (Fox)

KEY INJURIES/ROSTER MOVES

Not practicing/limited Monday

OL Marcus Cannon

CB Ras-I Dowling

CB Alfonzo Dennard

WR Michael Jenkins

OL Dan Connolly

DB Nate Ebner

OL Tyronne Green

OL Kevin Haslam

DE Jermaine Cunningham

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

Roster Move

Waived/Injured: TE Brandon Ford

Signed: CB LeQuan Lewis

AROUND THE NFL

Two major scares avoided in the AFC West: Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles only has a strained foot, and San Diego WR Malcolm Floyd only has a knee strain

Redskins LB Brian Orakpo is bummed that he can’t wear one of those awesome Bain facemasks

Dolphins G Richie Incognito, once voted the NFL’s dirtiest player, has changed his ways for the better

Will the 49ers really cut WR A.J. Jenkins, last year’s first-round pick?

New Houston LB Elliott Coffee was renting cars when the Texans called him

Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin

Patriots move up Tuesday's practice to 11 a.m.

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff August 13, 2013 07:31 AM
Due to the forecast of inclement weather this afternoon, the Patriots joint practice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Gillette Stadium practice fields has been moved up by three hours.

The joint practice session will begin at approximately 11:00 a.m. with player availability scheduled for approximately 1:30 p.m.

Patriots coach bill Belichick will meet with the media at 10:30 a.m.

Bucs coach Schiano will be familiar with a few Patriots

Posted by John Carney August 12, 2013 05:30 PM


FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots have concluded their first day of practice of the week. On Tuesday, they will hold the first of their joint sessions with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The teams will play each other Friday at Gillette Stadium.

Greg Schiano is Tampa’s second-year head coach. Schiano landed in Tampa via Rutgers, where he coached several of the Patriots, including cornerback Logan Ryan.

“It will be great to see him and a lot of the guys,” Ryan said. “He helped take me as a boy when I was 18 and helped me become the player I am today.”

The Patriots will look for a repeat of last week’s practices in Philadelphia. They believe they progressed with their game and practices against the Eagles.

“It’s good to have some competition out there other than the same guys you’re going against every day,” said lineman Rob Ninkovich. “Going out to Philly and going against some different guys, it’s fun. This week it will be fun as well.”

The Patriots will not disclose much of their playbook against the Buccaneers. New England hosts Tampa in the regular season Sept. 22 at Gillette Stadium. Coach Bill Belichick has spoken with Schiano regarding the logistics of the sessions.

“I think there are a couple things we feel like we’d just as soon not work on,” Belichick said. “But there are plenty of other things we need to work on, so we’ll do that.”

Belichick brushes off Cary Williams's comments about dirty play

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 12, 2013 02:18 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick dismissed any talk about Eagles cornerback Cary Williams and his accusations that New England players were dirty in practice, which is why he picked a fight with rookie Aaron Dobson.

"We've moved on," Belichick said.

Williams, who previously played for the Baltimore Ravens, was thrown out of a joint practice between the Patriots and Eagles, along with Dobson, for fighting during 11-on-11 drills.

"It was nothing like this [in Baltimore], I’ll tell you that," Williams told reporters according to Philly.com. “Different organization, different team, different coach, different colors. I can’t expect this team to be the same as Baltimore was.

“Our philosophy was to stop the run, be stout up front, hit people in the mouth, be aggressive, throw the first punch. That was what we were always taught. In the case with the Patriots practice, I felt the same way. They came in here talking. They had a lot of jokes and kikis, and laughs, and a lot of dirty plays that were going on. There was a reason behind [why I got in a fight], a reason behind the madness, but at the end of the day I still have to do things the way coach wants me to do them, and I understand that, but it definitely would have been a different situation if it was in Baltimore. It wouldn’t have been a fun practice for the Patriots, I’ll tell you that.”

Belichick was uninterested in the comments. Asked about his thoughts on Williams initially, Belichick said he didn't even see the fight. When asked about Williams's specific charges of dirty play, the veteran coach was bit more frosty.

"We've moved on," he said. "I mean, we're coming up on Tampa [Friday's opponent].

"Moved on."

Patriots drop rookie TE Brandon Ford, sign CB LeQuan Lewis

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 12, 2013 01:39 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots announced that they signed cornerback LeQuan Lewis and released rookie tight end Brandon Ford.

Lewis, 24, is a second-year pro out of Arizona State. He was signed as an undrafted rookie by the Tennessee Titans in 2011, but didn't make it through training camp. In 2012, he spent three games with the Dallas Cowboys and five games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Lewis spent part of the 2012 offseason with the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets. He spent part of the 2013 offseason with the Chicago Bears before being released May 13.

Ford, a rookie out of Clemson, had fallen behind in the competition at tight end. He didn't practice with the team in Philadelphia and missed Friday's game against the Eagles.

Patriots training camp daily briefing: Monday, Aug. 12

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff August 12, 2013 11:10 AM

The Patriots return to the practice field Monday afternoon after taking two days off to rest and recuperate following Friday’s 31-22 preseason win over the Eagles.

Today figures to be a relatively light practice, as the Patriots gear up for another week of physical practices, this time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will practice with the Patriots in Foxborough from Tuesday to Thursday. Last week’s joint practices with the Eagles were more intense and physical than any other in training camp, and Bill Belichick will likely keep his players from hitting too hard today in anticipation of another tough week.

The biggest issue today will be the status of more than a dozen injured players, including cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and guard Marcus Cannon, potential starters who missed Friday’s game.

With that, let’s get on with today’s Patriots Daily Briefing:

TODAY’S GLOBE COVERAGE

Ben Volin: 5 things we have learned about the Patriots so far

Volin: Tom Brady: Patriots offense still has a long way to go

WHAT’S ON TAP

Today

Foxborough weather: High of 79, sunny

2 p.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

2:20-4:30 p.m.: Practice

4:30 p.m.: Player interviews

Tuesday

1:45 p.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

2-4:30 p.m.: Joint practice with Tampa Bay

4:30 p.m.: Player interviews

Down the Road…

Wednesday: Practice with Tampa Bay 2 p.m.

Thursday: Practice with Tampa Bay 2 p.m.

Friday: Preseason Game No. 2 vs. Tampa Bay, 8 p.m. (FOX)

KEY INJURIES/ROSTER MOVES

Not playing Friday vs. Eagles

OL Marcus Cannon

CB Ras-I Dowling

WR Michael Jenkins

OL Dan Connolly

OL Markus Zusevics

DB Nate Ebner

OL Tyronne Green

OL Kevin Haslam

DE Jermaine Cunningham

TE Brandon Ford

FB James Develin

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

AROUND THE NFL

Former Patriots WR Greg Salas, who scored a TD versus his old team on Friday, is impressing at Eagles camp.

Former Jaguars LB Daryl Smith is impressing his new Ravens teammates as Ray Lewis’ replacement.

Bills rookie WR Marquise Goodwin, the fastest athlete at the NFL Combine and a 2012 Olympic long jumper, had a 107-yard kickoff return touchdown yesterday.

Now Chiefs LT Eric Fisher, the No. 1 pick in the draft, is banged up.

Remember DT Glenn Dorsey? The former Chiefs first-round bust is trying to resurrect his career in San Francisco.

Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin

Belichick has praise for Kelly, Svitek, Vick-to-Jackson TD

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 10, 2013 04:32 PM

After four-plus days in Philadelphia, Bill Belichick and the Patriots returned to Foxborough early Saturday morning and spent time later in the day going over the game film of the team's 31-22 preseason win over the Eagles.

From what he saw, Belichick liked the opportunities the game provided for his players to deal with numerous situations that had been discussed in practice.

"I thought there were a lot of situations that came up in the game, more so than normal – not that there’s a 'normal' amount – but we had a lot of things come up: we were backed up, we had four fourth-down situations on defense, we had two-minute drives, the two-minute at the end of the half where we stopped the field goal and then possibly had a chance to get into field goal range," he said during a midday conference call. "(They) were really good teaching situations for our team, things that we’d gone over in practice and either they came up or they came up close to that. It was a real good teaching experience.

"I think the overall week against Philadelphia was a good work week. We had good, competitive practices without any real problems so that was very productive for us. We had a chance to go out there and play football with all the situations – substitutions, the whole game operations – for the first time in quite awhile and that was good for us as a football team; we also had to go on the road, deal with all the logistics that go along with that. I feel like we made a lot of progress."

Belichick said it is too early to make any definitive decisions on things like roster spots, etc., but he sees progress to this point.

He was asked about the 47-yard Michael Vick-to-DeSean Jackson touchdown in the first quarter, and what coverage the Patriots had called. But Belichick tipped his cap to the execution of the play by the Eagles first and foremost.

"As a defensive coach, there are times where you just have to give credit to the offense. That was a great throw – perfectly thrown, a great route by DeSean and the ball was as on the money as it could possibly be," he said. "Overall, our defense wasn't good enough any time you give up a play like that but it was an exceptional play that we were close on, but obviously not close enough.

"There are things we need to do better – coach better, play better – but that was an excellent, outstanding play. It probably would have been a big play on a lot of different players or calls or anything else. It was just very well executed."

Veteran defensive lineman Tommy Kelly has gotten kudos from his new teammates from both sides of the ball, and also from Belichick, who has long liked the play of the former Raider.

"Tommy had a real good spring for us and he’s had a good training camp," Belichick said. "He's a very experienced player, he has good instincts for the game. He's tall, has long levers inside, but a different build from Vince (Wilfork). Both very good, very effective players, they just have different playing styles, they look a little different but they present different matchup problems for the offensive line. Tommy’s been a really, really solid guy for us all the way through. Works hard, in early, stays late, does a lot of extra things, extra conditioning, things like that to really take care of himself and prepare for the game. I have a lot of respect for Tommy. He's had a good, solid camp."

Will Svitek is another veteran free agent who was brought in; though he played primarily at left tackle for the Falcons in 2011 (he was injured in 2012), Svitek has been forced into duty at right guard over the past week due to injuries to Marcus Cannon and Dan Connolly.

"He’s been a great teammate. I think everybody likes having Will on the team; I certainly do," Belichick said. "He’s a smart guy that works hard, has done whatever we ask him to do. He’s played at both sides at tackle and has also played some guard, which is not uncommon for our linemen. ... We move them around and they work at more than one position. Sometimes that ends up being useful. Sometimes it just kind of helps them understand how the whole thing works together.

"But he made the switch into guard and did some good things in there. It wasn't perfect, but he handled himself well, played competitively. Maybe somewhere along the line he’ll give us some depth at that position if we need it."

Players have Sunday off, and then will be back on the field Monday. On Tuesday, the Buccaneers will be on hand for joint practices before their preseason game on Friday night.

"There are a lot of things we need to work on, we need to continue to stress and get better at. We need to see and be exposed to different things and we’ll certainly get that this week against Tampa," Belichick said. "We’re looking forward to another similar, hopefully, type of week where we can improve and grow as a football team and continue to compete individually against the top players that they have and continue our preparations for the opening game and a 16-game regular season."

5 takeaways from the Patriots-Eagles game

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 10, 2013 12:39 AM

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Patriots rookie Kenbrell Thompkins was solid in his preseason debut. He figures to be a big part of the team's offense. (Elsa / Getty Images)

There’s so much to read into from Friday’s exhibition opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a nice win for the Patriots, but that takes a backseat to what we learned about some of the roles key players will have. Let’s take a look at five things that immediately stuck out:

1. LeGarrette Blount’s monster effort shouldn’t surprise you -- He rushed for 1,007 yards in his rookie season. He rushed for more than 700 yards in his sophomore campaign. And then he had his spot taken by Doug Martin, a 1,454-yard rusher in 2012. Like any new player to the Patriots' system, he’s had a hard time adjusting to the complexities of the offense. But when you have a horse like Blount in your stable, the raw talent somehow always shows itself.

Blount finished with 101 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns, including a 51-yard jaunt that showed his 247-pound frame can move well in space.

What’s more impressive for the big back is how he has leapfrogged Brandon Bolden. He was the first running back off the bench, substituting for Stevan Ridley. Bolden, who is fighting for a spot on this roster, should be worried about his job. He’s missed a number of practices in training camp and he didn’t fare well Friday, committing a mental error on special teams by running into Eagles punter Brad Wing. Somehow, he’s gotta catch up.

2. Kenbrell Thompkins isn’t going anywhere -- The undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati continues to impress. He caught four quick passes for 23 yards.

Between Thompkins, Danny Amendola, and Aaron Dobson, Tom Brady has a trio of receivers that have performed well consistently throughout training camp. It helps that we can see how Thompkins’ production in practice translates to game situations. And we should expect to see more of him with this trio. Along with rookie Josh Boyce and veteran Julian Edelman, the five wide receivers appear to be the team’s core group. Of them all, Thompkins figures to be featured more and more, which can be expected after an outstanding camp.

3. Tommy Kelly is disruptive -- If there’s one thing I love about defensive linemen, it’s when they show and prove their worth. Kelly came out and had an instant impact against the Eagles, finding himself chasing Michael Vick and Nick Foles in the first two series.

After only three series of play, Kelly finished with two tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. He looks like he will benefit greatly from Vince Wilfork’s presence this year. The Patriots are fortunate to have both working in tandem.

4. Ryan Mallett’s development -- It’s safe to say that despite getting knocked out of Friday’s game, this preseason is already going better for Mallett than the previous one. He was 9 of 18 passing for 97 yards. While he didn’t light up the Eagles, he looked more like a rusty gunslinger than a backup quarterback. That’s huge for him, considering that these preseason games are his showcase for prospective NFL teams.

5. The third string quarterback -- Tim Tebow cannot be denied. The backup quarterback looked rough when dropping back to pass, completing just 4 of 12 passes for 55 yards. The knock on him is still the same: he holds the ball too long, he doesn’t read defenses well, and his accuracy is questionable. Tebow’s quarterback rating was a meager 49.0. But what he lacked as a downfield passer, he made up for running the option.

Tebow (31 yards rushing) ran the read option for the Patriots, expanding the team’s playbook beyond its spread and double tight end formations. It confirmed all the suspicions we’ve had about his signing and his use on the team, which will provide a nice change of pace. It helps that he ran well. We should expect to see more of the option and more of Tebow.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.


Ryan Mallett feeling fine after leaving game early

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 10, 2013 12:33 AM

PHILADELPHIA - Friday night was supposed to be mostly about Ryan Mallett. He was expected to play the bulk of the snaps at quarterback for the Patriots. After Tom Brady exited the game after two series and 16 snaps, Mallett was in the game with 3:12 left in the first quarter.

He was doing reasonably well, completing nine of 18 passes for 97 yards and twice getting the Patriots within field goal range (Stephen Gostkowski was 1-for-2 on those attempts) when a second-down completion to Julian Edelman ended with Mallett laying prone on the grass.

The third-year quarterback was tended to by team medical staff and replaced by Tim Tebow; though he remained on the sideline for the remainder of the game, Mallett did not re-enter.

He told reporters in the locker room that he was feeling fine.

"Just got hit in the chest," Mallett said, adding that he did not suffer a concussion and did not go through the battery of concussion tests.

Running back Blount provides best play of the night

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 10, 2013 12:16 AM

PHILADELPHIA – If you’re a fan of the Madden video game series, you’ve probably pulled off a play like it once or twice, but it’s not the type of play you see on an NFL field very often.

Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount received a handoff from Ryan Mallett in the second quarter and started running for the left sideline, just as the play was drawn up.

One problem: there was a roadblock in Blount’s way, in the form of numerous Eagles defenders.

So he circled back toward midfield, cut between the hash marks, and then started chugging toward the end zone, tight end Zach Sudfeld running alongside him and clearing out the last defender in Blount’s way.

The fourth-year back, traded to New England from Tampa Bay during draft weekend, dove into the end zone, capping a run that went 51 yards north-south but was probably closer to 80 when his east-west moves were factored in.

“I remember it was an outside zone, and they had it blocked pretty well at the end,” Blount said after the Patriots' 31-22 exhibition victory over Philadelphia. “I saw a lot of green grass on the other side and I took it. Then I saw a lot of pursuit, so I took it back.”

It was an unconventional play, one that Blount admitted wouldn’t have ended well for him if he’d been taken down quickly.

“If you do it and it’s a tackle for loss, you’re going to get cussed out when you get back to the sideline. But if you do it and it’s a touchdown, there’s not a lot you can say about it,” he said.

It was the first of two touchdowns on the night for Blount, who added a one-yard score in the third quarter. He had a team-high 11 carries for 101 yards.

One of the first players to meet Blount after the long score was Aqib Talib, his former Buccaneers teammate who opened his home to Blount when he was traded to New England.

“That’s my man! That’s my dawg! That’s my homie!,” Blount exclaimed when asked about Talib. “He took me right in…He’s helping me a lot.”

But as much as Blount has enjoyed his time in Talib’s guest room, he said the time is coming when he’ll be getting his own place.

Final: Patriots 31, Eagles 22

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 9, 2013 07:23 PM

The Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles to kick off the preseason 7:30 p.m. Friday. Follow along for live updates throughout the game and postgame coverage.

Preseason Game 1: Patriots at Eagles

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 9, 2013 10:05 AM

The 2013 preseason begins tonight for the Patriots and Eagles in Philadelphia.

It’s the first time the Patriots will be back in uniform since last season’s AFC title game loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the eventual Super Bowl champions.

This Patriots team will feature at least four new offensive starters, given offseason departures and injuries. New wide receiver Danny Amendola fills in for Wes Welker, who signed with the Denver Broncos, and rookie receiver Aaron Dobson will take Brandon Lloyd’s spot after he was cut.

The team figures to have a tight end and right guard in place tonight to to fill in for injuries to Rob Gronkowski (back) and Dan Connolly (shoulder).

The Patriots will also likely feature two new starters on defense in defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and strong safety Adrian Wilson, both free agent pickups.

This is the 21st preseason meeting between the two teams, including last year’s 27-17 Eagles victory. The all-time preseason series is split at 10 games apiece.

Here are the details for tonight’s game:

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Preseason records: Patriots 0-0 regular season; Eagles 0-0 regular season.

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV and the Patriots Preseason Television Network (Dan Roche, Christian Fauria, Matt Chatham, Steve Burton, Paul Perillo, Andy Hart); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Will Svitek, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Jake Ballard, WR Aaron Dobson, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Devin McCourty, S Adrian Wilson.

Eagles offense: WR Riley Cooper, LT Jason Peters, LG Evan Mathis, C Jason Kelce, RG Todd Herremans, RT Lane Johnson, TE Brent Celek, TE James Casey, WR DeSean Jackson, RB LeSean McCoy, QB Michael Vick.

Eagles defense: DE Cedric Thornton, NT Isaac Sopoaga, DE Fletcher Cox, OLB Connor Barwin, ILB DeMeco Ryans, ILB Mychal Kendricks, OLB Trent Cole, LCB Bradley Fletcher, RCB Cary Williams, SS Nate Allen, FS Patrick Chung.

Read this

- Patscetera: 10 things to watch in the Patriots’ first preseason game

- Ben Volin’s five things to watch tonight

- On football: What is Eagles coach Chip Kelly bringing to the NFL?

- Going Deep: Erik Frenz on what to watch in tonight’s game

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

10 things to watch in the Patriots preseason opener

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 9, 2013 08:27 AM

It’s not Day 1, but it sure feels that way for a lot of people.

The Patriots are in Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in their first preseason game of the 2013 season. They do so as much changed team, particularly on offense. There are questions about the team’s receivers, tight ends, right guard, and much more.

So let’s not waste our time. Here are 10 things that you should be looking out for in Friday’s game.

1. How many snaps will Tom Brady get? -- Coach Bill Belichick has not said what kind of playing time Brady will receive in the preseason opener, if any at all. Brady has been tearing up the Eagles secondary in joint practices this week but he surely still needs more repetitions with his new receiving group. All of these reps before the regular season are precious, but not nearly as precious as Brady’s health. We’ll see how Belichick weighs these issues Friday night.

2. Who will shine at tight end? -- Pay attention to Zach Sudfeld, Jake Ballard, and Daniel Fells. Which of the three will get the start? And how will they perform. Sudfeld has looked fantastic in practices. But Fells has quietly had a solid training camp this offseason. Ballard, who has looked stiff at times, has fallen behind in the team’s competition. We’ll know more after the first game.

FULL ENTRY

Training camp Day 12 practice report

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 8, 2013 01:52 PM
PHILADELPHIA – The first two days of the Patriots’ joint practices with the Eagles were intense. The practices were long -- about 2-plus hours each -- the pace was frenetic and the hitting was hard.

Thursday’s practice was, well, not.

The session was just a light walk-through as the two teams prepared for Friday night’s preseason opener at Lincoln Financial Field. The teams worked on a lot of situational drills -- onside kicks, squib kicks, spiking the ball, hurry-up field goals, the lateral play on last-second kickoffs -- as well as some 7-on-7 work in the red zone. But every drill was done at half speed, so it was a little hard to take much away from Thursday’s practice.

With that, let’s get on with the report:

ATTENDANCE, PLEASE

Physically unable to perform: Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red non-contact jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Missing: TE Brandon Ford, OL Marcus Cannon, WR Michael Jenkins, CB Ras-I Dowling, OL Dan Connolly, DB Nate Ebner, OL Markus Zusevics, OL Tyronne Green, OL Kevin Haslam, and DE Jermaine Cunningham. Ford was the only new absence.

New injuries: CB Alfonzo Dennard left the field with the head strength and conditioning coach early in practice and walked with a slight limp. Although he returned to the sideline, don’t be shocked if the Patriots hold Dennard out on Friday as a precaution.

DRESS CODE

Shells, no contact.

TOP PLAYS

• In squib kick drills, Stephen Gostkowski drilled one off of Eagles linebacker Jacob Knott, standing 10 yards off the ball, and Patriots linebacker Jeff Tarpinian recovered it. This was probably the most exciting play of the day.

• Tom Brady once again showed impeccable touch and accuracy by perfectly floating a pass to Josh Boyce streaking toward the corner of the end zone for a touchdown over Eagles defensive backs Bradley Fletcher and Nate Allen.

• Tight end Zach Sudfeld had another nice one-handed catch, but he does this every day now.

• Tim Tebow threw a nice deep fade pass to Quentin Sims in 7-on-7 drills at the end of practice.

THREE UP

CB Marquice Cole: With Dennard and Dowling banged up, Cole should get a lot of playing time Friday night and can help his chances to win a roster spot.

WR Josh Boyce: Fellow rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins have been getting most of the attention, but Boyce continues to get more work with the first unit and has had a good camp so far.

DL Marcus Benard: Played with the first unit at left defensive end a little bit on Thursday. Don’t be surprised if he gets a ton of snaps on Friday.

THREE DOWN

Dennard: The last thing he or the Patriots needed was for him to get injured in camp and miss out on valuable reps.

Dowling: See above.

Cannon: Can’t win the right guard battle if he’s not practicing.

TEBOW TIME

Tim Tebow didn’t get much work in the walk-through until the end of practice -- Brady took most of the reps on Thursday -- but he completed a few passes in 7-on-7 drills, although the defense wasn’t really contesting the passes. He threw slightly behind Jonathan Haggerty on a crossing pass (still completed), threw a nice fade to Sims, tossed a deep corner pass to Kamar Aiken for a 35-yard touchdown and also scrambled up the middle on a designed QB draw. Tebow and Ryan Mallett also did some work off to the side with Haggerty, Sims, Aiken and Ben Bartholomew while Brady worked with the starters. Tebow said after practice that he doesn’t know if he will play Friday against the Eagles.

ODDS AND ENDS

• Utility lineman Will Svitek once again filled in at right guard with Cannon and Connolly hurt, and he will likely start there on Friday.

• With Dennard and Dowling out, the top four cornerbacks are Aqib Talib, Kyle Arrington, rookie Logan Ryan and Marquice Cole. After that it’s Justin Green and Brandon Jones, and Devin McCourty can play cornerback as well.

• Brady did take a ton of reps in Thursday’s walk-through, suggesting he might get a series or two in Friday’s game, but it’s still hard to tell at this point. Mallett figures to get most of the work, and don’t be surprised if Tebow gets the fourth quarter.

• Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 45-yard field goal in a hurry-up situation.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Friday: Preseason game No. 1 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday: TBD

Sunday: TBD

Rookie WR Dobson experiences highs and lows in Philadelphia

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 8, 2013 01:24 PM

PHILADELPHIA -- Patriots rookie receiver Aaron Dobson has experienced the polar opposites of emotions this week as his team practices with the Eagles.

On Tuesday, he found himself in Bill Belichick’s doghouse after getting into a scrap with Eagles defensive back Cary Williams. Belichick and Eagles coach Chip Kelly had established a strict “no fighting” policy before practice, and they sent Dobson and Williams off the field for the day.

“It happened and it’s over, so I've just got to learn from it,” Dobson said Thursday.

But on Wednesday, he made the highlight play of practice, twisting his body twice to locate a deep pass from Tom Brady, and then using his 6-foot-4-inch frame to outjump two defenders for a 50-yard catch. His teammates howled with delight on the sideline after the phenomenal catch.

“Definitely just making steps forward every day – baby steps,” said Dobson. “I’m just trying to get on the same page as my quarterback and my offense, just try to do what I can do.”

Dobson said that playing basketball in high school helps him win jump balls on the football field.

“It’s like going up for rebounds, and you can control your body," he said. "I guess it’s a good skill set for a receiver."

Dobson and fellow rookie receivers Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins have looked good through two weeks of camp, but Friday night’s game against the Eagles will be a whole new experience for them.

“Definitely jitters a little bit because it’s something new, but I’m definitely ready for it,” Dobson said.

Training camp daily briefing: Thursday, Aug. 8

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 8, 2013 08:58 AM
The Patriots and Eagles have one last day of joint practices on Thursday before meeting on the field for the first preseason game Friday night. Thursday’s practice figures to be a light, walk-through type of session after two days of physical, full-contact practices. The workout was moved up a couple of hours to 10:15 a.m. because of impending rain in the area.

With that, let’s get on with the Patriots Daily Briefing for August 8:

TODAY’S GLOBE COVERAGE

Ben Volin: On Football: Chip Kelly brings unorthodox style to the NFL

Shalise Manza Young: Devin McCourty excited about Patriots’ defense

Volin: Wes Welker details how bond with Bill Belichick fell apart

Volin: Wednesday’s practice report – Tom Brady and receivers put on a clinic

WHAT’S ON TAP

Today

Philadelphia weather: High of 84, chance of midday thunderstorms 30 percent

10:15-11:30 a.m.: Practice

Post-practice: Player interviews

Friday

7:30 p.m.: Preseason game No. 1 at Philadelphia Eagles

Down the Road…

Saturday: TBD

Sunday: TBD

KEY INJURIES/ROSTER MOVES

Not practicing Wednesday

OL Marcus Cannon

CB Ras-I Dowling

WR Michael Jenkins

OL Dan Connolly

OL Markus Zusevics

DB Nate Ebner

OL Tyronne Green

OL Kevin Haslam

DE Jermaine Cunningham

TE Brandon Ford

(All but Ford were previously banged up before this week and didn’t make the trip to Philadelphia.)

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

AROUND THE NFL

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley is a star in … Fargo, N.D.?

Bill Belichick is a fan of joint practices. Tom Coughlin is not.

Progress update on Bucs rookie QB Mike Glennon.

Justin Tuck is learning how to play rush linebacker.

Brett Favre knows he choked in the 2010 NFC Championship Game.

Vikings WR Greg Jennings is doing his best Favre impression, ripping the Packers again

New NFL rules, points of emphasis for officials this season

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 7, 2013 06:29 PM

The NFL, ever-conscious of the health and safety of its players, has communicated its 2013 rules changes to all teams, including points of emphasis for officials.

Among the changes, which include the elimination of the much-ballyhooed "tuck rule," taunting will be scrupulously scrutinized. Specifically, players standing menacingly over prone opponents, spiking, throwing, or spinning footballs, will receive a 15-yard penalty for taunting.

There are other minor rules changes aimed at increasing the safety of players:

1. Runners can no longer lower their heads and initiate contact with the crown of their helmet, especially after having lined up an opponent. They will receive a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

2. There are added restrictions for defenses on field goal, punt, and extra-point attempts. There can be no more than six defenders on either end of the snapper, now a 5-yard penalty for illegal formation. Defensive linemen cannot crowd and push down offensive linemen when attempting to block field goal or extra-point attempts. That will lead to a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. And now, defensive linemen also cannot block below the waist on field goal, punt, or extra-point attempts in order to get an advantage as well. (Offensive players, on the kicking team, can still block below the waist.)

In a slight change, the long snapper is now considered completely defenseless.

3. The peel-back block has been eliminated. It had been allowed within the tackle box, but now it is a 15-yard penalty with potential discipline from the league.

4. All players except for kickers and punters have to wear knee and thigh pads. If a player is caught without them, it could lead to a 5-yard penalty for illegal substitution or disqualification for a repeated violation.

5. The tuck rule is gone. Now, a loss of control after a passer starts to tuck the ball back to his body will be a fumble. Prior to this change, it was a pass until the passer actually tucked the ball all the way back to his body.

6. Erroneous coaching challenges won't prevent plays from still being challenged. This is the result of a play last season on which Houston's Justin Forsett broke loose for an 81-yard touchdown against Detroit. Forsett's knee clearly touched the ground after contact before he hopped up and scampered away for the score. Detroit coach Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag, negating the automatic review of a scoring play. His team was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Now, if a coach challenges a scoring play, a turnover, a play that began after the two-minute warning of either half, or a play in an overtime period, that team will automatically be charged a timeout. If it doesn't have a timeout, it will be assessed a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. However, the play will still be reviewed.

Officials will also make it a point to penalize players who attempt to hit or tackle offensive players after forward progress has ended or the player is already in the grass. And offensive players who grab and move face masks -- like Baltimore's Torrey Smith on the Patriots' Devin McCourty last season -- will be penalized 15 yard for unnecessary roughness.

Former Patriot Donald Jones announces retirement

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 7, 2013 05:16 PM


Donald Jones, the free agent receiver signed by the Patriots in March to a three-year contract only to be released before training camp began, announced on his Twitter page that he is retiring because of kidney disease:

Jones1.jpg-jpg

jones2.jpg-jpg

While a student at Youngstown State, Jones was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, which leads to total kidney failure in a quarter of adults who have it.

Training camp Day 11 practice report

Posted by Robert Burgess August 7, 2013 04:04 PM

PHILADELPHIA — Another day of practice in the books, and another fantastic day for Tom Brady and his receivers against the Eagles defense.

Brady was surgical Wednesday, carving up the secondary in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills with incredible accuracy, and his receivers were borderline dominant against cornerbacks Brandon Boykin, Nate Allen, Curtis Marsh, and others.

The New England rookie receivers were phenomenal: second-round pick Aaron Dobson used his 6-foot-4-inch height to make several great plays on the ball, undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins continued to get open deep, and Josh Boyce made several nice possession catches for first downs.

Tight end Zach Sudfeld once again made a handful of acrobatic catches, catching the eye of several national observers watching the Patriots practice for the first time.

The cornerbacks were better, with Logan Ryan and Aqib Talib bouncing back from shaky practices Tuesday. Kyle Arrington was excellent, displaying impressive ball skills as well as tight coverage.

With that, let’s get on with the report:

ATTENDANCE, PLEASE

Physically unable to perform: Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red non-contact jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Missing: TE Brandon Ford, OL Marcus Cannon, WR Michael Jenkins, CB Ras-I Dowling, OL Dan Connolly, DB Nate Ebner, OL Markus Zusevics, OL Tyronne Green, OL Kevin Haslam, and DE Jermaine Cunningham were absent. Ford was the only new absence.

New injuries: Arrington hurt his right ankle but returned to the field a few minutes later. Dobson appeared to hurt a calf or ankle, but returned to the field as well.

DRESS CODE

Full pads.

TOP PLAYS

■   Sudfeld displayed tremendous body control on two consecutive touchdown catches — a one-handed grab in the corner on which he tapped his toes inbounds, and a jumping, twisting catch in the back of the end zone on which he again tapped his toes inbounds.

■   Ryan, who has been up and down in his rookie camp, had a terrific diving pass breakup on a comeback route to Ifeanyi Momah, who stands 8 inches taller.

■   Great ball skills by Arrington, who forced a fumble after allowing a completion to Damaris Johnson, and then knocked the ball out of Riley Cooper’s hands to prevent a touchdown after Cooper had gone up to make the catch.

■   Eagles QB Michael Vick had an awesome sidearm throw to DeSean Jackson on a middle crossing route with Aqib Talib in coverage, slinging the ball just under the outstretched arms of a defensive lineman. Vick makes it look so easy sometimes.

■   Dobson made the play of the day, twisting his body around twice to locate the ball in the air, then outjumping two defenders to haul in a 50-yard pass. Dobson also had a great catch on a fade pass over Boykin, who is listed as 5 inches shorter. Haven’t seen a big man catch passes like that for the Patriots since Randy Moss.

■   Thompkins beat double coverage over the top to haul in a deep pass from Brady, which he then ran in for an 80-yard touchdown.

THREE UP

CB Logan Ryan: Bounced back from a rough day to make a few nice plays in coverage, and even took a few reps with the starting defense.

CB Kyle Arrington: Has arguably been the Patriots’ most consistent cornerback throughout camp, and could end up as one of the starting outside cornerbacks, especially if Alfonzo Dennard is suspended.

TE Zach Sudfeld: Rinse, repeat. This kid is a player. Now if only he can stay healthy . . .

THREE DOWN

CB Alfonzo Dennard: Either he’s nursing a minor injury, the Patriots are working in other corners in case he is suspended, or he’s just not performing well enough, because Dennard is losing out on some reps.

WR Kamar Aiken: Began training camp as a starting receiver, but clearly has fallen behind Thompkins, Dobson, and Boyce on the depth chart.

DE Jermaine Cunningham: Every day he doesn’t practice brings him another day closer to losing out on a roster spot.

TEBOW TIME

Tim Tebow again took a bit of a back seat, as the Eagles and Patriots gave their starters and primary backups a lot of the reps. But Tebow actually looked pretty good in seven-on-seven drills toward the end of practice, against the Eagles’ third-team defense. After throwing a deep fade too far for Jonathan Haggerty and throwing too high to Matthew Slater on a play-action rollout, he threw a really nice deep crossing pattern to Aiken and a great play-action buttonhook to Ben Bartholomew over the middle. He completed a screen pass and scrambled out of the pocket on one play, and would’ve had another completion on a nice curl-out to Aiken, but it was dropped. Tebow then posed for a few photos with fans after practice.

ODDS AND ENDS

■   Utility lineman Will Svitek once again filled in at right guard with Cannon and Connolly hurt. Ryan and Duron Harmon each got a few reps with the first defense. The Patriots also had three safeties on the field for a few plays: Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, and Steve Gregory.

■   Hard to watch everything at once — the teams performed about eight drills at once during the early portion of practice — but did manage to see Chandler Jones get stonewalled by G Evan Mathis a few times in OL/DL drills.

■   Talib intercepted Vick in one-on-one drills on a pass to Jackson to the end zone that was badly underthrown. Talib had a better day against Jackson, but Jackson still won the battle overall. He also dropped an interception toward the end of practice.

■   Rookie DB Justin Green got some one-on-one coaching from defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on the sideline after being beaten by Cooper for a touchdown.

■   Second-team defense front seven: Marcus Forston, Justin Francis, Jamie Collins, Joe Vellano, Dane Fletcher, Steve Beauharnais, Marcus Benard.

■   The Patriots ran a lot of three-receiver sets with Danny Amendola, Boyce, and Thompkins, and a lot of double-slot sets with Amendola and Julian Edelman. It appeared that Dobson had fallen behind the group, but it may have just been a temporary injury, because he dominated the Eagles’ defensive backs at the end of practice.

■   QB Ryan Mallett had a really nice low back-shoulder throw to Haggerty for a first down in 11-on-11 drills, but threw too hot to Sudfeld on a short crossing pass over the middle. He also had a nice deep play-action pass to Thompkins, but the receiver dropped it.

■   Brady really picked on Eagles CB Curtis Marsh at the end of practice, hitting Boyce three times in a row with Marsh in coverage.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Thursday: Practice, 12:30 p.m. (open to media)

Friday: Preseason game No. 1 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday: TBD

Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin

Defense arrived in Philly with chip on its shoulder, McCourty says

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 7, 2013 03:36 PM

PHILADELPHIA -- Devin McCourty has been a team captain for two seasons, and as a safety, he is essentially the quarterback of the defense. He said Wednesday afternoon that he likes what he's seen from his group so far in Philadelphia.

"Just competing," he said. "I think we like this challenge. You come in, you get to practice against another team. You know, in training camp, going against the same guys every day, you’re going against your teammate, so when we get a chance to come out here and practice against another team, we really take that as a challenge.

"Each day is kind of like a mini-game for us. It’s not a game, but coaches evaluate this a little more and you really have to come out and try to prove yourself. As a defense, we came out with a chip on our shoulder and just played hard and competed."

Asked why the D had a chip on its shoulder, McCourty said, "I think as a defense you have to. You have to come in and try to dominate and be that defense. If you want to do that for the season, you can’t try to turn it on when you want, you have to have that attitude and come out and play with it each day you come out and practice, against our offense, another team.

"We’re trying to establish that now for the season."

There are some new faces on the defense, as there always are, but the core group remains much the same -- all but one of the players who started the AFC Championship game (Kyle Love) are back -- with veterans Adrian Wilson and Tommy Kelly added, as well as some promising rookies.

McCourty is looking for the unit to take the next step.

"We expect more as a group," he said. "We don’t come and think, ‘It’s a fresh start.’ We know we have some type of foundation and it’s up to us.

"We’ve got to push ourselves. We can’t allow ourselves to make simple mistakes out here. We’re not a first-year unit out there, and even the new guys are older guys like Adrian.

"I think one of the greatest things, our rookies have come in and picked it up and jumped right in stride with us. We expect a lot of our group, and that’s how we’ve been practicing."

The Rutgers product, now one of nine former Scarlet Knights on the current roster, of course said he's especially proud of his young teammates, who were freshmen when McCourty was a senior. He boasted of their smarts and how quickly they've been able to come in and pick things up.

On Wednesday, the defense was especially spirited on the sideline as Tom Brady and the offense picked apart the Eagles defense, running the no-huddle in 11-on-11 work. After a Kenbrell Thompkins catch just short of the end zone, Aqib Talib ran toward the play, excited to see the rookie make a big play.

No one had more fun than Talib during the session, as he was talking noise to Philadelphia players throughout.

"He’s passionate," McCourty said with a smile when asked if Talib is nuts. "He’s very passionate, and I love that about him.

"Our secondary, we have different characters all throughout the secondary and each person brings their own uniqueness to it, and as a group, I feel like we’re complete when we have everyone in there."


Belichick: 'We're a better team today than we were yesterday'

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 7, 2013 10:37 AM
PHILADELPHIA – With thunderstorms in the forecast for the Philadelphia area Wednesday afternoon, Bill Belichick and Chip Kelly decided to move their second joint practice up a couple of hours to make sure they would be able to get in the full schedule.

Belichick seemed very pleased with what he saw from his team on Tuesday.

"I thought yesterday was a real good day for us, we got a lot out of it, got pretty much everything we expected: a lot of situational work, a lot of good one-on-one work, our team saw some things we hadn't seen before we had to adjust to, which was good, (and) we had a good opportunity to go through the film and make some corrections," Belichick said. "We'll see what we're able to do today; we've got some new situations, we'll certainly repeat some of the things that came up yesterday, so we'll see how we do with them the second time around."

He would not specify if there was anything in particular that he was impressed with.

"I just thought that the overall practice was good. I thought our players worked hard, we worked together, we had good competitive practices, we both got a lot out of it, we're a better team today than we were yesterday," Belichick said.

He was asked about rookie receiver Aaron Dobson, who was pulled from practice after getting into a scrap with Eagles' defensive back Cary Williams, and whether he wanted to see how Dobson would bounce back from the situation.

But Belichick would not elaborate on the situation.

"Yeah, again, I think this is a great opportunity for every one of us – every player, every coach, to come out here and compete against a good football team we're not very familiar with," he said.

Kelly has been blaring music almost constantly during practice sessions going back to the spring, but on Tuesday it was silent on the fields at the NovaCare Complex except for the sound of coaches yelling and pads thumping. Somewhat curiously, it became a topic of discussion – why was there no music? On Tuesday, some local media members theorized that Belichick nixed the music, but he said it was a mutual decision.

"Yeah, we've done plenty of that and I know they have too; we just felt it would be better for practice to be able to communicate everything, make sure everybody understood the situations that we're going through and all that," he said. "We've done it, they've done it; I don't think it's a big deal one way or the other."

Training camp daily briefing: Wednesday, Aug. 7

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 7, 2013 10:24 AM
The Patriots had their most physical practice of the season on Tuesday when they squared off against the Eagles for 2? hours, and they planned to get right back at it again Wednesday morning with another day of full-contact football.

Tuesday’s practice had plenty of news – Riley Cooper returned from exile, WR Aaron Dobson and CB Cary Williams were tossed out of practice after fighting on the field and Eagles WR Arrelious Benn tore his ACL.

Some bad weather is expected to roll into Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon, so the teams moved up practice to 10:15 a.m.

With that, let’s get on with the Patriots Daily Briefing for August 7:

TODAY’S GLOBE COVERAGE

Shalise Manza Young: Tom Brady pleased with progress of offense

Michael Vega, Manza Young: Belichick, Kelly enjoy benefits of joint practices

Ben Volin: On Football: Humbled Eagles WR Riley Cooper has quiet, solitary return to practice

Volin: Tuesday’s practice report: Offense shines, CBs get toasted

WHAT’S ON TAP

Today

Foxborough Weather: High of 76, chance of afternoon rain 40 percent

10:15-12:15: Practice (pads)

TBD: Bill Belichick press conference

Post-practice: Player interviews

Thursday

12:30-2:30 p.m.: Practice (walk-through)

2:30 p.m.: Player interviews

Down the Road…

Friday: Preseason Game 1 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday: TBD

KEY INJURIES/ROSTER MOVES

Not practicing Friday

OL Marcus Cannon

CB Ras-I Dowling

WR Michael Jenkins

OL Dan Connolly

OL Markus Zusevics

DB Nate Ebner

OL Tyronne Green

OL Kevin Haslam

DE Jermaine Cunningham

(All were previously banged up before this week and didn’t make the trip to Philadelphia.)

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

AROUND THE NFL

Former Jets G Brandon Moore signed with the Cowboys on Tuesday night, then changed his mind and retired Wednesday morning.

Could Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson be a true two-way player?

Buffalo’s offensive coordinator says C.J. Spiller will get the ball “until he throws up.”

Steelers S Troy Polamalu, 32, says he has to pace himself this training camp.

Review of the first episode of last night’s “Hard Knocks” with the Bengals.

Training camp Day 10 practice report

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 6, 2013 05:47 PM

PHILADELPHIA — After two relatively light practices sandwiched around an off day, the Patriots had their most intense, physical practice of training camp Tuesday when they squared off against the Eagles in a full-contact workout.

The session lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes, and featured lots of hard hitting and a ton of reps in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 action. Bill Belichick and Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who are good friends, knew this practice would get intense and warned their players not to fight each other. So when Patriots WR Aaron Dobson and Eagles CB Cary Williams tussled midway through practice, the coaches sent them off the field for the rest of the day.

Tom Brady was incredibly sharp, and WR Kenbrell Thompkins and TE Zach Sudfeld had another great day as well. But some of the cornerbacks weren’t especially sharp, including rookie Logan Ryan, Alfonzo Dennard, and Aqib Talib, who each got burned badly at one point or another.

The conclusion of practice included a press conference from Eagles WR Riley Cooper, who addressed the incident in which he used a racial slur. Cooper talked for eight minutes and said he also spoke with each member of the team individually before practice.

With that, let’s get on with today’s practice report:

ATTENDANCE, PLEASE

Physically unable to perform: Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Missing: OL Marcus Cannon, WR Michael Jenkins, CB Ras-I Dowling, OL Dan Connolly, DB Nate Ebner, OL Markus Zusevics, OL Tyronne Green, OL Kevin Haslam, and DE Jermaine Cunningham were absent. All had previously missed practices over the past week.

NEW INJURIES

TE Daniel Fells came up limping after one play, but it didn’t appear serious.

DRESS CODE

Full pads.

TOP PLAYS

■ WR Danny Amendola had a beautiful diving touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone after Brady floated the ball perfectly away from the outstretched defender’s reach.

■ Dennard had a great leaping breakup on a deep pass intended for WR Russell Shepard in one-on-one drills.

■ Eagles WR Damaris Johnson had a great cutback to the left on a kickoff return to fake out Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon for a big return, potentially a touchdown.

■ LB Jerod Mayo had a great leaping pass breakup on a wheel route to RB Bryce Brown.

■ Brady had another perfect lob on a wheel route to TE Michael Hoomanawanui, which was caught for a sliding touchdown. Hooman also had a great block to set the edge and spring Brandon Bolden on a sweep to the right.

■ Sudfeld made a great diving catch on a post pattern from Brady for a touchdown with LB DeMeco Ryans in coverage.

■ Rookie WR Josh Boyce beat triple coverage to catch a deep post pass from Brady for a touchdown.

THREE UP

TE Zach Sudfeld: Running exclusively with the first unit at this point, he is catching everything thrown his way and looks potentially like the best tight end on the field.

WR Kenbrell Thompkins: Had the Philadelphia media saying, “Who is this guy again?” after making catch after catch after catch in team drills.

LB Jamie Collins: Got a lot of work with the first unit, especially in nickel and dime situations. At one point, he was lined up across from Cooper.

THREE DOWN

CB Aqib Talib: Was absolutely destroyed by WR DeSean Jackson in one-on-one drills, getting beaten on a buttonhook, a slant, and then burned badly on a double move for a touchdown.

CB Alfonzo Dennard: Appears to be running behind Talib and Kyle Arrington at this point, and got beaten badly twice by Cooper in 11-on-11 drills for touchdowns.

WR Aaron Dobson: He’ll learn quickly that when Belichick says, “Don’t fight,” it means, “Don’t fight.”

TEBOW TIME

Tim Tebow took a few goal line reps with the first unit, but once again spent most of the day working with the threes and fours. He threw a nice slant pass to TE Jake Ballard for a touchdown and a quick hitch to WR Kamar Aiken for another score, but threw low and incomplete to Sudfeld and had a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage. He also didn’t show great touch, throwing too far on deep fade patterns and a few wobblers that were dropped by receivers. Tebow addressed the media after practice, and while he said, “I was definitely praying for him [Cooper],” he said he hadn’t spoken yet to his former college roommate and declined to say anything about their relationship or Cooper as a person.

ODDS AND ENDS

■ Utility lineman Will Svitek once again filled in at right guard with Cannon and Connolly hurt. The practice included a lot of red zone and two-minute drills. The Eagles ran five plays in about 1:40 in Kelly’s no-huddle offense.

■ Amendola did have a bad drop at the end of practice on a wide-open slant pass in the middle of the end zone, but otherwise was pretty flawless. On one play, he ran a double move on CB Curtis Marsh and absolutely broke his ankles.

■ DB Justin Green finally flashed a big play with a great breakup of a slant pass intended for WR Ifeanyi Momah. Ryan badly bit on a pump-fake from QB Nick Foles and allowed an easy touchdown to Jackson.

■ The usual suspects returned kickoffs: Josh Boyce, Thompkins, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Leon Washington, and Jonathan Haggerty. Amendola, Julian Edelman, and Washington returned punts.

■ Didn’t see much from QB Ryan Mallett, who took a sack in 11-on-11 drills and had one pass batted away by CB Trevard Lindley. Mallett hasn’t looked too crisp in the last week.

■ Cooper had three nice catches in 11-on-11 drills at the end of practice. QB Michael Vick scrambled out of the pocket on one and floated up a jump ball into the end zone, which Cooper caught over Dennard. Cooper also beat Dennard on a deep flag route for another touchdown, and then caught a 30-yard fade over Ryan, to mild applause from Eagles fans.

■ DE Chandler Jones got his hand on a field goal at the end of practice, but the ball still pushed through the uprights.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Wednesday: Joint practice with Eagles in Philadelphia, 12:30 p.m.

Thursday: Walk-through (closed to media)

Friday: Preseason game No. 1 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Brady sees offense making progress, liked tempo vs. Eagles

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 6, 2013 04:15 PM


PHILADELPHIA -- Tom Brady had a crisp day against the Eagles Tuesday, and didn't seem to miss many passes as he led the Patriots in 11-on-11 work against Philadelphia's top defensive unit.

Brady capped a long drive with a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola that showed just how well the two are getting at working together. As Brady was calling things out at the line, he looked Amendola's way (he was lined up in the left slot), and Amendola made a hand signal.

The receiver ran toward the end zone, then broke toward the sideline and made a diving catch for a touchdown.

"We’re working at it," Brady said of that play and the progress he's making with Amendola. "There are adjustments at the line of scrimmage which are always important, especially in today’s game where the defenses are so multiple, you have to be able to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage.

"When you get these situations that we had today, they can play out in a lot of different ways. For us to be on the same page is really important. The more we do it, the better we’re getting at it. We just have to stay with it."

But Amendola wasn't the only pass-catcher who had a good day. Rookie Kenbrell Thompkins continues to impress, and tight end Zach Sudfeld ran a very Gronkowski-like seam route for a red-zone touchdown.

Aaron Dobson was getting reps with Brady but after a scrum with Eagles cornerback Cary Williams, both players were benched (Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly said he and Bill Belichick had agreed beforehand that any players who fought would be pulled).

Brady said he's trying to impart a sense of urgency on all of the new receivers, to help them understand that little mistakes can't linger. But he seems to like the progress they're making.

"I’m proud of all of those young players for coming in – we've thrown a lot of stuff at them," Brady said. "I said the other day that it's not like we're backing off, because that’s not the way our offense is.

"We've got to keep putting the pressure on everybody, whether it's Aaron or Josh [Boyce] or KT [Thompkins] or Zach Sudfeld. Everyone who’s out there is expected to go in there and execute at a pretty high level."

The first day of training camp was not a great one for the offense, which is to be expected. But Brady sees improvement, and that's critical.

"We’re making progress," he said. "I think it's better than what it was when we started, and I think that’s the important thing.

"We’ve got to keep building. We’re four weeks from our first game, so we’ve got to use every one of those days. We had extensive walk-throughs today at the hotel.

"All those places are opportunities for us to learn – all of us. And all of us get on the same page, and then we come out today and execute against a team that we really had no clue what they were going to do: the fronts, the blitzes, the coverages, the skill set of their players. So for us to come out and be able to execute was the more important thing."

Brady said it is Belichick's decision whether he plays more snaps in preseason games to get more time with the receivers, and noted that joint practices like these (and the upcoming ones with Tampa Bay) go a long way toward that end, too.

"I love playing out there, so if he tells me to stay out there, great. I think days like this are equally as important," Brady said. "I think that’s why he’s liked doing this really since the CBA was changed and there were limited amounts of practices.

"Coach has really decided to amp our practices up and get us more into game mode instead of just a bunch of, ‘OK, now it’s first-down passing. Now it’s just nine-on-seven run.’

"It's like, ‘OK, no, we're playing a game,’ like you saw at the end of practice. There’s 45 seconds left on the clock and it's the second half. We’ve got one timeout, what are we going to do?

"That's a little different. You get sacked, you get a big gain, or you’re going to clock it and you call a timeout. Did we get out of bounds? We're going to go for a touchdown, are we going to kick a field goal?

"I mean, all of those things are going to come up here on Friday and I think there’s just not as much time now to get all those things done, so we’re trying to really maximize it on the practice field."

Being in Philly offers 'great opportunity' for Patriots, Belichick says

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 6, 2013 12:35 PM

PHILADELPHIA - As his team filtered onto the fields at the NovaCare Complex for its first practice with the Eagles, Bill Belichick met with a fairly large contingent of Boston, Philadelphia and national reporters.

Belichick opened by re-stating his respect for first-year Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and how the time sharing a field with a different team can be beneficial for the Patriots.

"It's really a great opportunity for us to come down here and work with the Eagles," Belichick said. "I have so much respect for Chip and what he's done; we've been friends for a while. I know he does a great job with his football team and the program that he's run at Oregon and what he's doing here, so I think it will be a good experience for our team to get to see some different people, different scheme, we'll see some different matchups, I think it will be great for us from a coaching standpoint because we'll certainly have to make some adjustments during practices and as we go.

"Relative to what they're doing, we haven't done any preparation or scouting reports or anything like that so a lot of it will be on the run, which will good for us too, in terms of matchups and communication and all those things. Excited to be here, and really looking forward to working with the Eagles - this has been an outstanding organization through the years and I'm sure that Chip will have them in a very competitive situation this year."

This is the fifth time New England has held joint practices; beginning in 2010, they were with the Falcons and Saints, and then last year, it was the Saints and Buccaneers. The Bucs will be in Foxborough next week for a second go-round.

Belichick thinks the experience is good for everyone, players and coaches alike.

"It's good for everybody. It's good for the young guys, it's good for the old guys, good for the old coaches, it's good for all of us," he said. "You see something new. We've been working against ourselves for a quite a while now, we sort of start to know each other's plays, know each other's calls, certainly know the guys we line up against on a regular basis. Now we get a whole new set of faces and looks, things we don't know and things we'll have to adjust to and react to - won't be able to anticipate as well.

"Again, that will be good for all of us. It's as helpful for the coaching staff as it is for the younger players and I think the veteran players look forward to it as well. Anything to break up the monotony of camp, I think they're for."

Kelly, a New Hampshire native who has ascended in the coaching ranks relatively quickly, is "a really solid coach and a solid guy," Belichick said.

The former Oregon coach is known for his offense, which is run at hyper-speed. There are questions as to how it will translate to the NFL game, but Belichick anticipates his players being challenged in the coming days.

"We're going to find out; we're going to find out. Of course, what he did at Oregon, that was one thing, we'll see how it all plays out here," he said. "But he's a very innovative, creative guy, he's got a great mind, he's smart, and I think he'll take advantage of whatever resources he can, so we'll see what that is. I'm sure he'll give us plenty of trouble."

Training camp daily briefing: Tuesday, Aug. 6

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 6, 2013 09:20 AM
PHILADELPHIA – The Patriots wake up Tuesday morning in the City of Brotherly Love, focused on their first practice with and against the Eagles and new head coach Chip Kelly.

Kelly is known for running his offense and his practices at a high pace, and Vince Wilfork said on Monday him and his teammates will be ready for a lot of running.

“Absolutely,” Wilfork said with a laugh. “Trust me – Bill (Belichick) has been doing a real good job of that. We’ve always been a well-conditioned team and we’re not gonna stop.”

Before leaving Foxborough, the Patriots held a shells-and-shorts workout that was heavy on situational plays in all three phases of the game.

TODAY’S GLOBE COVERAGE

Shalise Manza Young: Punter Zoltan Mesko is still facing a challenge from rookie Ryan Allen

Manza Young: Patriots notebook leads off with Belichick calling these days in Philadelphia “a big week for all of us”

WHAT’S ON TAP

Today (in Philadelphia)

12 p.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

12:30-2:30 p.m.: Practice

2:30 p.m.: Player interviews

Down the Road…

Wednesday: Practice (in Philadelphia), 12:30 p.m.

Thursday: Walk-through (closed to media and public)

Friday: Preseason game No. 1 at Eagles, 7:30 p.m.

KEY INJURIES/ROSTER MOVES

Returned to practice Monday:

TE Jake Ballard

RB Brandon Bolden

CB Alfonzo Dennard

Not practicing:

OL Marcus Cannon (undisclosed)

CB Ras-I Dowling (undisclosed)

DL Jermaine Cunningham (undisclosed)

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

AROUND THE NFL

Mark Sanchez was booed during the Jets’ Green and White scrimmage on Saturday night – Antonio Cromartie took offense, but Rex Ryan says fans have the right to boo

The Bills held a full-contact scrimmage on Monday night, and rookie E.J. Manuel recovered well after throwing an early interception

The Dolphins gave safety Reshad Jones a four-year extension worth $30 million

The Packers worked out and then signed Vince Young on Monday, hoping he’ll become the backup to Aaron Rodgers

Training camp Day 9 practice report

Posted by Robert Burgess August 5, 2013 02:22 PM

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots practices Tuesday and Wednesday in Philadelphia figure to be intense and fast-paced, with a lot of physical contact between them and the Eagles, the teams and the defense having to keep up with Chip Kelly’s frenetic fast-break offense.

In that regard, it wasn’t a surprise to see Bill Belichick take it a little easy on his players Monday. The Patriots held their shortest practice of the summer on Monday, just 1 hour and 45 minutes, and it wasn’t the most intense day of work. They were in work shorts and shells and worked mostly on the esoteric situations that come up a only handful of times each season: Hail Mary tip drills, onside kicks, spike plays, safety punts, home run throwbacks, fake field goals, and kneel-downs.

Monday was also a day for the Patriots to continue to rest players who are slightly banged up.

With that, let’s get on with the practice report:

ATTENDANCE, PLEASE

Physically unable to perform: Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red jersey: S Devin McCourty (didn’t wear it Saturday).

Returned to practice: RB Brandon Bolden, CB Alfonzo Dennard, TE Jake Ballard

Missing: OL Marcus Cannon has been missing for four straight practices. CB Ras-I Dowling missed his third straight practice. DE Jermaine Cunningham missed his second straight day. WRs Matthew Slater and Michael Jenkins did not practice and rode the exercise bikes. RB Shane Vereen and OLs Dan Connolly, Markus Zusevics, Kevin Haslam, and Tyronne Green were all limited. on Monday.

DRESS CODE

Shells, no contact.

TOP PLAYS

■  In a scramble drill, rookie WR Aaron Dobson made a ridiculous leaping catch in the back corner of the end zone over two defenders. Tom Brady fired the ball high and into the corner, and Dobson used his body to box out the defenders and catch the ball at its highest point.

■ Brady also dropped a gorgeous throw into TE Zach Sudfeld’s breadbasket on a deep corner throw to beat the Cover 2 defense.

■ Brady did it again on the next throw, lobbing the ball perfectly over two defenders and into Kamar Aiken’s outstretched arms.

THREE UP

TE Zach Sudfeld: Undrafted rookie is practicing almost exclusively with the starters now, and caught a Hail Mary pass during one of the drills.

OL Will Svitek: With Cannon and Connolly down, Svitek worked at right guard Monday.

WR Josh Boyce: Rookie fourth-rounder continues to get a lot of snaps with the first team offense and could be in the four-receiver rotation right away.

THREE DOWN

WR Michael Jenkins: Won’t be able to impress the coaches and beat out some of the young kids if he’s not practicing.

CB Ras-I Dowling: Also falling behind Dennard, Kyle Arrington, and Logan Ryan by not being able to practice the last week.

K Stephen Gostkowski: Missed wide left on a 45-yard field goal in the two-minute offense.

TEBOW TIME

Tim Tebow ran the third-team offense in team drills again, and while the starters worked on the various situations, the third unit did 11-on-11 drills. Tebow completed several short, high-percentage throws, but also had a horrible interception to Arrington on an out pattern to Jonathan Haggerty. But Haggerty tapped did tap his chest several times after the play, perhaps signifying that he ran the wrong route. Tebow was mostly a spectator during this practice but did work on his throws for about 20 minutes after it ended.

ODDS AND ENDS

■  The Patriots have lots of little dings and bruises, especially on the offensive line, and could have several rookies and third-stringers playing significant snaps with the starters this week in Philadelphia.

■ Good to see Ballard back out on the field running with the first unit after sitting out Saturday’s practice with a little knee soreness. Daniel Fells is the likely No. 1 tight end at this point, with Michael Hoomanawanui working mostly at H-back, leaving Ballard to fight with Sudfeld to be the No. 2 tight end.

■  Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Boyce clearly are the clear top five receivers at this point

■  Here’s one you might not see too often: Tom Brady on a quarterback draw up the middle for a touchdown.

■  Zoltan Mesko, battling Ryan Allen for the punting job, worked a decent amount as the field goal holder Monday. Allen had been handling much of those duties for the first two weeks.

■  Edelman was the main punt returner on Monday and muffed onecatch.

■  Some players wore sweatshirts under their jerseys on Monday because it was in the 60s and they knew practice wouldn’t be too intense , but wanted to work up a sweat.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Tuesday: Practice 12:30 p.m. (at Philadelphia)

Wednesday: Practice 12:30 p.m. (at Philadelphia)

Thursday: Walk-through (closed to media)

Friday: Preseason game No. 1 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Vince Wilfork says Patriots will benefit from practicing with Eagles

Posted by Staff August 5, 2013 01:08 PM
When the Patriots announced they would travel to Atlanta for a joint practice with the Falcons in 2010, Vince Wilfork was skeptical.

It was something new for New England. Wilfork couldn’t help but wonder: How would this benefit the team? Traveling in the middle of training camp? Disrupting the flow of practices?

“When I first heard about we were doing it, I was like, ‘That’s not going to do anything,’” said Wilfork, the 31-year-old defensive tackle.

Three years and four joint practice trips later, Wilfork changed his mind.

“I told Bill [Belichick] this is something that I really think we get a lot out of,” Wilfork said.

The Patriots will practice with the Eagles on Tuesday and Wednesday before playing a preseason game in Philadelphia on Friday.

Wilfork said the trip “breaks up training camp.” Sometimes players need fresh scenery or new challenges to rejuvenate them amidst the training camp grind.

Facing the Eagles also means playing against something different. Since training camp began on July 26, Wilfork has faced the same offensive line over and over again. He has defended against the same playbook, the same offensive schemes.

In Philly, he will see something extremely new – especially with former Oregon football coach Chip Kelly now running the show.

Wilfork said throughout the season, the Patriots will see many different types of offenses. This prepares them.

“We get out and work against a good football team, a young team, a head coach coming in with a little bit of swagger that he brings from college,” Wilfork said.

One last benefit? The practice leads into New England's first preseason game on Aug. 9. And that marks the transition from training camp to preparing to face a different team.

"It puts you in the mind frame that the season is here," Wilfork said. "If you didn’t think it was here when you came to camp, now it’s here."

Belichick: 'This will be a big week for all of us'

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 5, 2013 10:20 AM
FOXBOROUGH – Coach Bill Belichick seemed to be in good spirits as he chatted with reporters on Monday morning before his Patriots returned to the field after having Sunday off from practice.

New England will practice in the morning, and the team is scheduled to fly to Philadelphia midday Monday; the Patriots will spend Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday practicing with the Eagles before the preseason opener for both on Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Belichick is looking forward to the challenges the joint practices will pose for all members of the team.

"This will be a big week for all of us, to see how we can pull things together from a team standpoint as well as each one of us individually work on our development, and our improvement at this point in the season and we'll see where we're at on Friday night," he said. "I think we're all looking forward to going down there, seeing the Eagles. I have a lot of respect for [coach] Chip [Kelly] and his organization, the job that he does, and the Eagles have always been a solid franchise since I've been in the league. Looking forward to working against some different faces, different jerseys, and getting a gauge on how things are coming along for us."

Belichick and Kelly have planned how they want the practices to go, but "once the ball is snapped, it's all going to happen as it happens," Belichick said. "But just structurally, things we want to try to get done, the drills, who's going to go where, just to try to get organized so we're efficient with it, that's taken some time and communication to organize, but once we have the basic parameters of it, then we're just on football, and we have to react to what they do, just like game situations, and vice-versa.

"I think that will be good for the players, the coaches, we'll have to make adjustments down there; they're running a new coaching staff, new scheme, new system, they have some new players, so we're not doing a whole lot of scouting and preparation for them, we'll just see when we get out there, we'll have to react to it and adjust to it, and that will be good for us as well."

After Saturday's scrimmage, Belichick flew to Canton, Ohio, to see his friend and former boss Bill Parcells inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He enjoyed the experience.

"I've never been to that part of it (the induction ceremony) – I've been through the hall, although they've re-done it, it was always great, they've re-done it and they've got some amazing displays," Belichick said. "And I've coached in the game a couple of times, but then you're there with your team, so you're not part of that, so this was the first time I've been through that.

"It was an amazing collection of all the icons from professional football – players, coaches, not just the people who are there in the gold jackets but also many of the other people that come for the event, so it was a great experience. It was awesome; it was impressive.

"It was great to see a lot of people I haven't for a while, going back to Bill's Giants days, but also many other people came to be there for coach Parcells and of course players that I have coached along the way. It was a good experience, and a great night for Bill."

In other news, Belichick announced the Patriots have re-signed OL Matt Stankiewitch and LS Mike Zupancic.

Training camp daily briefing: Monday, Aug. 5

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 5, 2013 09:33 AM
The Patriots held a relatively relaxed scrimmage on Saturday, and took Sunday off to rest the players’ bodies. But the intensity figures to ramp up Monday as the Patriots begin their first game week of the season and prepare for Friday night’s preseason opener at Philadelphia.

The Patriots will practice amongst themselves one last time Monday morning before hitting the road later in the day and practicing with the Eagles on Tuesday and Wednesday. The practices in Philadelphia figure to be hard-hitting and should help the Patriots work on their physicality and play speed as they ramp up for the preseason games.

Here’s a preview of Monday’s events and the week ahead:

TODAY’S GLOBE COVERAGE

Emily Kaplan: Tim Tebow connecting with Patriots fans

Ben Volin: Rob Gronkowski’s book provides insight into his recovery from back surgery

Volin: Sunday NFL Notes: Breaking down the Patriots’ key position battles

WHAT’S ON TAP

Today

Foxborough Weather: High of 74, sunny

9:40 a.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

10-11:45 a.m.: Practice

11:45 a.m.: Player interviews

Tuesday (in Philadelphia)

12 p.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

12:30-2:30 p.m.: Practice

2:30 a.m.: Player interviews

Down the Road…

Wednesday: Practice (in Philadelphia), 12:30 p.m.

Thursday: Walk-through (closed to media and public)

Friday: Preseason game No. 1 at Eagles, 7:30 p.m.

KEY INJURIES/ROSTER MOVES

Not practicing Saturday

OL Marcus Cannon (undisclosed)

RB Brandon Bolden (in uniform but limited)

CB Ras-I Dowling (undisclosed)

DL Jermaine Cunningham (undisclosed)

WR Michael Jenkins (upper left leg)

S Tavon Wilson (undisclosed)

DB Nate Ebner (undisclosed)

TE Jake Ballard (undisclosed)

OL Kevin Haslam (undisclosed)

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

AROUND THE NFL

Packers LT Bryan Bulaga reportedly tore his ACL

The Packers are also working out QB Vince Young Monday

The Ravens already lost TE Dennis Pitta, and now Ed Dickson has a bad hamstring

The Dolphins looked pretty terrible in the Hall of Fame Game last night

RIP to one of the NFL’s great all-time characters and story-tellers, former Colts DT Art Donovan

Colts WR Darrius Heyward-Bey sprained his knee

Training camp daily briefing: Sunday, Aug. 4

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 4, 2013 09:06 AM
Good morning.

Since the Patriots will practice Monday and then travel to Philadelphia for the rest of the week for joint practices with the Eagles and then their first preseason game Friday night, today is a day off for players.

On Saturday, Bill Belichick split the team into Blue and White groups for a shells-and-shorts scrimmage which essentially pitted most of the top offensive players (white team) against the top defensive players (blue team); the white team also had reserve defensive players and the blue team had backup offensive players.

Tom Brady had a light day of work with the white team, leaving Ryan Mallett to quarterback the group for much of the practice; Tim Tebow was quarterback of the blue team. The two sides were competitive, even doing their dynamic and static stretching on different fields and celebrating big plays from their teammates.

After wrapping up the day with his players, Belichick flew to Canton, Ohio for the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony where his former boss, Bill Parcells, was among those honored.

TODAY’S GLOBE COVERAGE

Ben Volin: Tells us about former Patriots (and Giants/Jets/Cowboys) coach Bill Parcells’ Hall of Fame induction speech; he was one of seven men honored Saturday night

Michael Vega: Has Patriots’ defensive line hopeful Marcus Benard talking about sniffing the quarterback when it’s time to pass-rush

Emily Kaplan: Leads the notebook with Devin McCourty appearing fully recovered from offseason shoulder surgery – on Saturday he practiced without a red non-contact jersey for the first time.

WHAT’S ON TAP

Today

No practice – Players day off

Monday

9:40 a.m. – Bill Belichick press conference

10-11:45 a.m. – Patriots training camp practice No. 9

Team departs for Philadelphia on Monday night

Tuesday

12 p.m. – Bill Belichick press conference

12:30-2:30 p.m. – Patriots joint practice with Eagles, NovaCare Complex, Philadelphia

KEY INJURIES/ROSTER MOVES

Not practicing Saturday

OL Marcus Cannon (undisclosed)

RB Brandon Bolden (in uniform but limited)

CB Ras-I Dowling (undisclosed)

DL Jermaine Cunningham (undisclosed)

WR Michael Jenkins (upper left leg)

S Tavon Wilson (undisclosed)

DB Nate Ebner (undisclosed)

TE Jake Ballard (undisclosed)

OL Kevin Haslam (undisclosed)

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

Released

OL Elvis Fisher

WR Lavasier Tuinei

* Both were waived/injured, meaning if neither is claimed on waivers they will revert back to the Patriots and be placed on injured reserve.

AROUND THE NFL

The Jets held their Green and White scrimmage on Saturday night, and rookie Geno Smith got more snaps with the first-team offense than Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was also booed after throwing an interception.

Just a little bit embarrassing: Kevin Kolb, in competition with rookie E.J. Manuel for the Bills’ starting quarterback job, slipped on a rubber mat walking out to practice and suffered a knee injury.

Neither the Dolphins nor Cowboys are expected to play their marquee players on Sunday night in the Hall of Fame game, meaning Miami’s rookies will be in the spotlight.

The Broncos also held a scrimmage on Saturday – or tried. Heavy rains cut the practice short and led to Peyton Manning and teammates slip-sliding through the mud.

Patriots release Fisher, Tuinei

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 3, 2013 05:22 PM

New England announced Saturday evening that it has released OL Elvis Fisher and WR Lavasier Tuinei.

Fisher, listed at 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, was an undrafted rookie out of Missouri. He was signed on May 3.

Tuinei was signed on Thursday. The 6-foot-4, 200 pound Oregon product was originally signed by Seattle in 2012, and spent much of last season on the Seahawks' practice squad.

Tuinei was not on the field for practice on Saturday; Fisher was in uniform but saw limited action.

Training Camp Day 8 practice report

Posted by Robert Burgess August 3, 2013 03:58 PM

FOXBOROUGH — Bill Belichick did something add on Saturday that this writer has never seen in a training camp practice in seven-plus years covering the Patriots: He split the team up for a blue and white scrimmage, with the white team featuring most of the top offensive players and second-string defensive players, and the blue team consisting of the top defensive players and reserve offensive players.

It appeared that the plays were somewhat scripted/situational, with coaches calling out down-and-distance, and calling for quarterbacks to switch into two-minute for some possessions. But with players in shells and shorts, there was no live tackling.

Birthday boy Tom Brady had an easy workdayon the field first for just one drive, though he threw touchdown passes on back-to-back plays, both to Danny Amendola. Brady was 7 for 9 during his brief stint.

That left Ryan Mallett to run the white team offense for the rest of the practice, with Tim Tebow as the lone blue team quarterback. Mallett was solid, though he’s still having trouble keeping his passes down, leaving them too high for receivers. He also was picked off by Devin McCourty on a deep ball intended for Kamar Aiken. McCourty was out of the red no-contact jersey he wore throughout the spring and first week of camp (he underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason).

Tebow was Tebow. He had several head-scratching plays, with interceptions by rookies Jamie Collins and Duron Harmon, but also completed a couple of nice passes, including a touchdown to Quintin Sims, who out-jumped Justin Green in the back of the end zone.

ATTENDANCE, PLEASE

Physically unable to perform: TE Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Missing: S Tavon Wilson, CB Ras-I Dowling, OL Marcus Cannon, DL Jermaine Cunningham, TE Jake Ballard, WR Michael Jenkins, WR Lavasier Tuinei, DB Nate Ebner, OL Kevin Haslam.

New injuries: None.

Returning from injury: None.

DRESS CODE

Shells and shorts.

TOP PLAYS

■ On his first drive after “halftime,” Tebow capped the series with a completion pass to Sims. It was definitely one of Tebow’s better throws on the day, but Sims made a nice play to keep the ball from Green for the touchdown.

■ McCourty made a great play on the deep ball from Mallett intended for Aiken. Aiken appeared to have his corner beat, but McCourty came in, stepped in front of Aiken, and picked off the ball, taking off in the opposite direction to the great delight of his teammates.

■ Logan Ryan had a nice pass breakup break-up of a potential touchdown pass from Mallett to add Kenbrell end Thompkins. Thompkins had his hands on the jump ball but Ryan knocked it out of his hands.

THREE UP

Brady: He didn’t have a long day of work, but he was 7 for 9 during his one drive, completing passes to Thompkins (twice), Zach Sudfeld, Danny Amendola (three), Thompkins (two), Zach Sudfeld, and Stevan Ridley.

Sudfeld: The undrafted rookie continues to show that he’s arguably the best pass-catching tight end on the roster.

Stephen Gostkowski: Converted four PATs and five field goals, on the morning, including one a field goal of around 50 yards to end the practice.

TWO DOWN

Justin Green: Drew rookies Josh Boyce and Sims in coverage, and was beaten twice by Sims on jump-ball touchdowns; had some trouble trouble keeping up with the speedy Boyce.

Tebow: He did have some bright spots, and you can see how even a simulated game brings out better play, but there were still too many off-the-mark throws and times when where he surely would have been sacked had there been live tackling.

TEBOW TIME

Finished the day 17 for 31 with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

ODDS AND ENDS

■ Roster for the white team:

QB — Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett.

RB — Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden (in uniform but did not participate), James Develin, George Winn.

WR — Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins, Kamar Aiken, Johnathan Haggerty.

TE — Zach Sudfeld, Brandon Ford.

OL — Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, Tyronne Green, Markus Zusevics, Elvis Fisher, Dan Connolly (in uniform but did not participate), Brice Schwab (later switched to blue team).

DL — Justin Francis, Jake Bequette, Cory Grissom, Marcus Forston, Michael Buchanan, Joe Vellano.

LB — Jamie Collins, Steve Beauharnais, Dane Fletcher, A.J. Edds.

DB — Duron Harmon, Steve Gregory, Marquice Cole, Brandon Jones, Kanorris Davis, Justin Green.

P — Ryan Allen.

■ Roster for the blue team:

QB — Tim Tebow

RB — Leon Washington, LeGarrette Blount, Ben Bartholomew. Bartholemew.

WR — Aaron Dobson, Matthew Slater, Josh Boyce, Quentin Sims.

TE — Michael Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells.

OL — Chris McDonald, Luke Patterson, Josh Kline, R.J. Mattes, Will Svitek.

DL — Rob Ninkovich, Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Chandler Jones, Marcus Benard, Scott Vallone, Jason Vega, Anthony Rashad White.

LB — Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Jeff Tarpinian, Mike Rivera, Niko Koutouvides.

DB — Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Kyle Arrington, Aqib Talib, Logan Ryan, Alfonzo Dennard (in uniform but did not participate).

P — Zoltan Mesko.

■ As a prank for Brady’s birthday, someone on the team had “Happy 40th Birthday Tom” T-shirts made (Brady actually turned 36). today); linebackers coach Pepper Johnson was wearing his on the sidelines. Asked about it after, linebackers coach Pepper Johnson grumbled that he was the “only fool” who wore the shirt out to practice.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Sunday: No practice (day off).

Monday: Practice 10-11:45 a.m. (open to public).

Tuesday: Practice with Eagles in Philadelphia, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (closed to public).

Wednesday: Practice with Eagles in Philadelphia, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (closed to public).

Thursday: TBD.

Friday: Preseason opener Game 1 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Ridley at the heart of Patriots returning rushing core

Posted by Staff August 3, 2013 01:39 PM

FOXBOROUGH – It will take some time for fans to grow familiar with the Patriots’ fresh crop of wide receivers like veterans Danny Amendola and Michael Jenkins and rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce.

While the wide receiver depth chart is far from being set, there is a comforting certainty in the trio of returning running backs Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden.

The Patriots also added running back LeGarrette Blount in the offseason, but at the heart of the rushing core is Ridley – who rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

“[Tom] Brady’s job at quarterback is to handle the passing game, us as running backs have to do it on the ground,” Ridley said after Saturday’s practice. “More pressure? Yeah there are some new faces out here, but for us we just have to continue to do what we’re doing. We can’t buy into the hype or what people are saying, we just have to go develop as a team.”

Of course, there are questions about how long it will take the Patriots’ new receivers to gel together. But Ridley and the Patriots aren’t listening.

“I hear about it, but you know how coach [Bill Belichick] says, we focus on us and what goes on in this facility,” Ridley said. “Between our team, we’re just going to go out and be the players that we are. We can’t really get caught up, because that’s when you can easily get distracted.”

Ridley also said that he doesn’t plan on getting distracted by a new rule that was implemented by the owners in the offseason, which prohibits running backs from delivering crown-of-the-helmet hits to defenders outside the tackle box.

Last season, in the AFC Championship game loss against the Baltimore Ravens, Ridley suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter when he broke through a hole, lowered his head and collided with safety Bernard Pollard. He did not return to the game.

This season, a play like that may draw a penalty flag.

“I’m going out there to play the game the way I play it,” Ridley said. “Hopefully I can do my best to stay safe and stay away from getting flagged for that penalty. But, I have to play football and I have to protect myself and I have to run hard.

“We have to get our pads down and get as low as we can to protect ourselves from defenders. If they call it, they call it.”

At Saturday's practice, Ridley shouldered the majority of the carries and catches as Vereen and Bolden sat out most of the drills. Bolden also did not participate Friday.

But despite the bruising beatings running backs endure coupled with the limited availability of his running mates, Ridley said he doesn't feel any pressure to stay healthy.

"It's no pressure, my teammates are going to be sore," he said. "It's a week straight. Camp is brutal. If they have a little injury or something they're going through, I think the coaches do their best job to take them out and put them in when they need to be and get a little rest.

"We just have to come out there and if the next time they get out there, they're going to be right back to work. It won't be long, I can't be out there myself, I promise you."

Devin McCourty sheds non-contact jersey

Posted by Staff August 3, 2013 12:39 PM

FOXBOROUGH --- Devin McCourty arrived to Gillette Stadium on Saturday morning, unsure of what color jersey would be hanging in his locker.

That’s not unusual.

“You never know what’s happening here,” McCourty said. “You come in, and you just go with what happens.”

But for the first time this training camp, the jersey was blue -- not red, designated for non-contact.

That’s a sign of progress for the 25-year-old defensive back, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

“I knew it would be coming off sometime,” McCourty said. “Hopefully I can keep it off.”

The Patriots scrimmaged on Saturday, pitting the top defensive group and most of the top receivers against each other. McCourty intercepted Ryan Mallett on an under-thrown ball into the end zone.

The defensive back was the only position player besides quarterback to wear a non-contact jersey this training camp.

McCourty said he feels “pretty good.” The non-contact jersey didn’t really affect how he played through the first seven practices.

“I got tackled one time in a red jersey,” McCourty said. “So I don’t know how much of a difference it makes.”

McCourty has mostly been working at free safety -- a position he converted to midway through last season.

McCourty has taken reps at other positions -- on Friday he practiced almost exclusively at corner back -- but he warned against reading too much into the switch.

The Patriots’ defense prides itself in versatility. And McCourty said he needs practice working at other positions in case there are injuries or unexpected absences this season.

“I like wherever they put me,” McCourty said. “Right now, to be able to practice in a couple positions always helps you. You can’t take everyone you want into games. You have to play musical chairs out there.”

Switching from position-to-position presents challenges -- mainly adjusting to technique.

“I wish I could say it’s as easy as riding a bike,” McCourty said. “You have to be out there, get reps and experience certain things. You can’t just walk out there and be able to play.”

Still, the defensive group seems to enjoy having McCourty at free safety, a position considered the quarterback of the defense.

“He’s a great communicator,” cornerback Kyle Arrington said. “Sometimes I have to tell him to shut up on the field.”

Brady celebrates his 36th birthday

Posted by Staff August 3, 2013 12:39 PM

FOXBOROUGH - Tom Brady has made it clear he plans to play through his 40s, chasing a fourth Super Bowl title as the proverbial "window of opportunity" narrows.

But in the eyes of linebacker coach Pepper Johnson, the Patriots quarterback is already there.

Johnson sported a white T-shirt at Saturday’s training camp practice with a sincere message for the quarterback, who was celebrating his 36th birthday.

The shirt read, “Happy 40th Birthday Tom,” a playful jab towards Brady, who is entering his 14th season.

In past years, fervent Brady fans that attended camp often serenaded No. 12 with renditions of “Happy Birthday.”

There wasn’t much singing Saturday, but as Tim Tebow dropped back and slung a pass down the sideline, the stands simultaneously erupted with a “Happy Birthday Tom.”

Brady only took nine snaps during practice but looked sharp, connecting on back-to-back touchdowns with former Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola, who was signed in the offseason.

According to Amendola, that was the best birthday gift he could offer his new quarterback.

“Just try to catch every ball for him,” he said. “That’s pretty much it.”

Brady finished with seven completions, threw one ball into the turf after a high snap, and had one incompletion.

Did he look any older?

“Maybe a little bit,” running back Stevan Ridley said. “We’re rubbing it a good bit on him. But he’s still slinging it around.”

After one week, some thoughts on training camp

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 2, 2013 08:17 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The 2013 Patriots are starting to take shape, with some questions both answered and unanswered through the first seven practices.

Here's some thoughts on the team's first week of training camp:

1) It's going to take longer to flush out the wide receiver competition -- With the return of Julian Edelman and the departures of veterans Donald Jones and Lavelle Hawkins, the team is starting to come to grips with its core group of receivers. But the mix and match of those who will have integral roles in this offense is yet to be determined. Rookies Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Josh Boyce have all gotten significant repetitions alongside Danny Amendola. Edelman, who only has two practices under his belt, is expected to have a role as well. Don't expect anything to be settled before the fourth week of the preseason.

2) The secondary apparently needs flushing out too -- Devin McCourty has worked out as cornerback the last two practices, giving more time for Steve Gregory to work as the free safety. This could be a viable option for the team should Alfonzo Dennard be jailed or suspended following his probation hearing Aug. 27. But it could also just be the team testing out its versatility with its defensive backs. We'll see how that comes together in the weeks ahead.

3) Some last-minute depth worries -- The Patriots signed two offensive linemen, Luke Patterson and rookie Brice Schwab, to shore up the team's interior line depth. This comes after Marcus Cannon and Dan Connolly missed consecutive practices in camp. Tyronne Green, who was picked up just a day prior to the start of training camp, has seen an uptick in snaps at right guard. Already the moves have taken away from other position players, with cuts occurring in both cases to make room for each new player. Coach Bill Belichick said there were a number of players in the "day-to-day category" for one ailment or another, so we'll see how this lack of depth affects the bottom portion of the roster going forward.

4) Tim Tebow has a role -- Fans who have attended training camp have come to see Tebow go through the myriad of quarterback drills next to Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett. But they've also seen him running 11-on-11s as a quarterback, with the team utilizing his versatility at different times. It's clear that Tebow will not compete at fullback or tight end, but he will have a role on the team as a substitute in some form.

5) There is good defensive line depth -- While the offensive line may just need bodies, the defensive line may have too many, particularly at defensive end. Through the first week, it's been clear that behind Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, there's some good players fighting for snaps. Among Justin Francis, Marcus Benard, Jermaine Cunningham, Jake Bequette, Michael Buchanan, and Jason Vega, the team has a lot of talent on its hands that need to be evaluated. So far, Francis and Benard appear to be a cut above the rest, but they're solidly behind Jones and Ninkovich.

Marcus Forston making inroads on a roster spot

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 2, 2013 08:07 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots are in an interesting position for defensive line depth.

Up front, they have stalwarts in Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich, coupled with last year's top draft choice Chandler Jones and free agent signee Tommy Kelly.

That much is settled.

But behind those chosen four, the competition is at full throttle for the team's backup positions.

Over the course of the first seven practices, one of the 16 defensive linemen competing for a spot on the team has been Marcus Forston, a practice squad player last season who has been substituting for Vince Wilfork at defensive tackle. He's been getting significant repetitions in practice, a sign that he may stick with the team.

"I still got a long way to go," Forston said. "But I'm just trying to chop at it and do it the way the Patriots want it to be done."

A year on the practice squad with three game appearances is all Forston has to put on his resume. So for him, the last year has been about the learning process, growing as a player and professional.

"I learned so much going up against guys every day like Logan Mankins, [Ryan] Wendell and Dan Connolly," he said. "I'm learning from those guys and going against those guys, giving them a good look week in and week out. I felt like I got better. That was one of the best things to happen to me."

Luckily for Forston, Wilfork is also a great source of knowledge. Forston has been following in Wilfork's footsteps for some time, watching him play in his hometown at the University of Miami before becoming a Hurricane himself, and then signing on with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie last season.

Nowadays, Forston is either in Wilfork's ear or at his house, picking his brain, talking football nonstop.

"When you love the game, you never get tired of it," Forston said. "There's never too much information."

Forston, listed at 6 feet 3 inches and 305 pounds, is the beneficiary of Armond Armstead's absence. The team announced that Armstead had surgery to treat an infection and has missed all of training camp. He was supposed to come in and compete for the team's starting defensive tackle position opposite of Wilfork, pushing the snaps and repetitions down for everyone else, Forston included.

Now, Forston finds himself useful in different sub-packages for the team.

But despite this, his place on the team is not something that's easy for him to discuss.

"I don't know," he said of his prospects on making the roster. "I leave that to the coaches. I just come out here and try to do my job. And try to do it the way it's supposed to be done."

Training camp Day 7 practice report

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 2, 2013 07:00 PM
FOXBOROUGH – It was another day of full pads for the Patriots, and injuries continue to be a factor. Unlike several other NFL teams, they do not have a player who has suffered a season-ending injury, but even coach Bill Belichick acknowledged the issue, at the start of his Friday news press conference, saying, "We have a lot of guys in the day-to-day category."

Running back Brandon Bolden was in uniform but did not participate in team drills, instead doing rehab work on a different field; defensive lineman Jermaine Cunningham and cornerback Ras-I Dowling were both absent for the first time, and offensive lineman Marcus Cannon was absent for the second straight day.

Players had to be shuffled in several areas, including at cornerback, where Devin McCourty worked almost exclusively, lining up at right corner opposite Aqib Talib.

It also was not a crisp day for the offense – even in warm-ups – with Tom Brady and Tim Tebow throwing to receivers running the route tree with no defense, there were three straight drops.

ATTENDANCE, PLEASE

Physically unable to perform: TE Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Missing: OL Marcus Cannon, who first also missed practice on Thursday; CB Ras-I Dowling, who appeared to suffer an injury in the early part of Thursday's session; DL Jermaine Cunningham, who missed his first practice; and OL Kevin Haslam, who also missed his first practice.

New injuries: WR Michael Jenkins appeared to injure his left hamstring midway through practice; he remained on the sideline but was done taking part for the day.

Returning from injury: None.

DRESS CODE

Full pads.

TOP PLAYS

• In a one-on-one drill, Ryan Mallett threw a pretty pass for Matthew Slater to the deep right corner of the end zone with McCourty in coverage. Slater made the reception, but it was a close call as to whether he got both feet in; judging by the crowd reaction, he did.

• In seven on seven, a Tom Brady attempt for rookie Josh Boyce was intercepted by Talib. Talib tipped the ball to himself and hung on, taking off for the opposite sideline. After the play, it appeared Talib may have been injured, as he was walking gingerly, but he indicated to a team staff member that when he spiked the ball it bounced up and hit him in the inner thigh. Talib returned to the field a play later.

THREE UP

OL Tyronne Green: With Dan Connolly (shoulder) still limited and Cannon absent, Green has been running with the top offensive line.

McCourty: Shows his versatility yet again, lining up at corner after spending the entire offseason and first days of training camp at safety.

DL Michael Buchanan: The rookie looked good in one on ones, using his speed against newly acquired Brice Schwab.

THREE DOWN

Dowling and Cunningham: As Ellis Hobbs loved to say, you can't make the club from the tub. These players are squarely on the bubble, and can't help their cause if they're not on the field.

Brady: He wasn't terrible, but given the level we're used to seeing, from Brady it was an off day for him, capped by the Talib interception.

TEBOW TIME

Tebow took just five snaps in 11-on-11 work, with just one pass attempt – a completion to Michael Hoomanawanui. Otherwise, he carried it three times and handed off once to Leon Washington. There also was a bad snap that went over his head. Tebow retrieved it and scrambled for a couple of yards.

He chatted with reporters after practice, and talked about working with offensive assistant Brian Daboll. At times, Tebow and some reserves have gone to the second field for seven-on-seven work and it is Daboll who is tutoring Tebow.

After meeting with media, Tebow spent more time signing autographs, to the delight of the few remaining fans.

ODDS AND ENDS

• Punters Zoltan Mesko and Ryan Allen split duties, with each getting two or three reps during each special-teams period. The Patriots have long since cut kicker David Ruffer and on Thursday released long snapper Mike Zupancic, leaving Mesko as the only specialist still in a competition.

• Julian Edelman, Leon Washington, Danny Amendola, and Kenbrell Thompkins all took turns fielding punts.

• Interesting seeing Chandler Jones in a one-on-one against Logan Mankins, working on inside rushing moves. Jones punched Mankins in the chest, but Mankins recovered and Jones lost his balance, having to put his hands on the ground to steady himself.

• At one point during 11-on-11 work, Belichick stopped the offense to talk with them in the huddle, not something we see too often, and an indication that it wasn't the group's best day.

• During red-zone work, Brady had a quick completion to Amendola, who got a nice shove from Jerod Mayo as he was trying to run after the catch and was knocked off his feet.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Saturday: Practice 9-11:30 a.m. (open to public).

Sunday: No practice (day off).

Monday: Practice 10-11:45 a.m. (open to public).

Tuesday: Practice with Eagles in Philadelphia, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (closed to public).

Wednesday: Practice with Eagles in Philadelphia, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (closed to public).

Thursday: TBD.

Friday: Preseason Game 1 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Patriots QB Tom Brady thinks offense still 'a work in progress'

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff August 2, 2013 06:45 PM

FOXBOROUGH – A day before his 36th birthday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looked none the worse for wear after completing his seventh day of training camp at Gillette Stadium.

As the elder statesman among the 90 players on the Patriots training camp roster, did Brady feel older?

"I feel good," he said Friday. "We've had a lot of good practices and we're stringing them together, so, hopefully, it really pays off for us."

The Patriots picked up their tempo as Brady attempted to push the offense forward, helping to build some cohesion with a unit that features several new faces among the receiving corps.

"I think a lot of guys are trying to create roles for themselves," Brady said. "There's a lot of opportunity and every time you take a rep, you're trying to do better than the previous time. So there's a lot of moving parts right now.

"The tempo is important, the personnel is important, getting the formation right is important, running the right play, all those are little things that become big things," Brady added. "There's not a lot of practices we have left before we go down to Philly [for the first preseason game against the Eagles next Friday night], so we're trying to correct as many mistakes as we can."

Brady was pleased to see the return of wide receiver Julian Edelman, who suffered a season-ending fractured right foot at Miami last Dec. 4, but was cleared Thursday to come off the physically unable to perform list and wound up practicing that day.

"It was great," Brady said about Edelman's return to practice in full pads. "I mean, any time you can get guys back healthy ... Julian has been working his butt off to get back out here. I'm right next to him in the locker room and he's been excited every day. That excitement he brings to the practice field, he's out here working really hard just like anybody else.

"He's a tough kid. Mentally and physically, he's battled through a lot over the course of his career. I know he's been working hard in his rehab and hopefully it continues to go well.''

Brady admitted his 14th training camp was one of the more important of his career because of the challenges he faced in helping the newcomers to the offense get up to speed with the system.

"Everyone feels like it's the most important, because it's the only one, really, we can control at this point,'' Brady said. "There's a lot of new guys. We're making mistakes, we're trying to learn from the mistakes. Offensive football is about 11 guys being on the same page and really being able to anticipate what each other is trying to do.

"A challenging part of offense is when you got new guys and they're not really sure when I'm throwing it and I'm not sure when they're going to break,'' Brady added. "A lot of it we just have to work out. The more reps we get, the better we're going to be. So just to come out every day and make these type of improvements are important. You can't go out and miss three or four days of practice because you just get so far behind, especially at this time of year.

"It's hard to slow down something for one person, because the train's really moving at this point. So, it takes really smart football players to be in this system. Guys who have done well have been smart players and they adjust well. Football is important to them and they go home and they study and they work at it. That's what it's all about here.''

Asked if he was willing to live with the mistakes some of the newcomers were bound to make, Brady said, "We're all going to make mistakes. I make 'em. The young players make 'em. Everyone makes 'em ... It's just a matter of how critical those mistakes are going to be. Hopefully, our bad plays are just incomplete passes and not really bad plays.

"But they're going to happen and part of the challenge is being mentally tough to come back on the next play, and doing a good job,'' Brady continued. "We're just trying to see what people can do on a consistent basis. We're trying to see what I can do on a consistent basis.

"We're looking at what Danny [Amendola] can do, what Julian can do, what Jake Ballard can do – everyone who's coming out here trying to earn a spot on the team. The better we do [in practice], the more efficient we're going to be.''

Brady emphasized the importance of getting everyone on the same page, offensively.

"That's what we talk about after practice, that's why we watch the film, that's why we talk about throws, reads, routes, and techniques and playing with anticipation,'' Brady said. "When you really believe with the guys you're out there with, you can play fast and you can play with confidence.

"If you don't play with that confidence, then it slows you down and if it slows you down then you're going to make mistakes. So that's what we've been working on. I can always do better, and come out and get better every day and make the right reads and make the right throws.

"We haven't played football in 7-8 months, so timing is an issue and you're just trying to get your timing down with the [new] players and it's a work in progress.''

Tim Tebow declines to discuss Riley Cooper

Posted by Staff August 2, 2013 05:48 PM

Tim Tebow addressed the media for the second time during training camp – and the third time in his tenure with the Patriots.

This media session, at the end of Friday afternoon’s practice, lasted less than three minutes.

Once again, reporters peppered Tebow for his thoughts on a former Florida teammate who has been in the headlines.

The Eagles announced on Friday that wide receiver Riley Cooper would take a leave of absence from training camp to meet with counselors. Earlier this week, Cooper came under fire after a video surfaced showing Cooper using a racial slur toward an African-American security guard at a Kenny Chesney concert.

Cooper and Tebow roomed together at Florida.

“I haven’t seen everything that’s happened,” Tebow said. “I’ve been pretty busy. I’m going to wait to comment until I hear what happened.”

As for his on field progress? Tebow said he’s “feeling good” and “working hard.”

“I’m just trying to get better every single day,” Tebow said. “That’s our goal and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Tebow, the clear third-string quarterback during camp, has been spending extra time with offensive assistant Brian Daboll during, and sometimes after, practice. They have been working, among other things, on Tebow’s throwing motion.

“He’s a very bright football mind, offensive mind,” Tebow said of Daboll, who was the Kansas City Chiefs' offensive coordinator last season. “He’s been around the game a lot, been a lot of places, really understands it well. When Josh [McDaniels] is busy doing so many things, sometimes Daboll can get in there and really help, as well.”

Belichick acknowledges competition in defensive end group

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 2, 2013 02:32 PM

FOXBOROUGH – Patriots coach Bill Belichick is going to have some tough decisions to make when it comes time to pare the team's roster.

He's got 16 defensive linemen and, unlike in years past, the team is deeper at defensive end with a strong competition brewing for backup spots behind starters Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.

Belichick, in discussing Marcus Benard and Justin Francis Friday, acknowledged as much ahead of the team's seventh training camp practice.

"There's good competition there with all those guys," he said. "I think all those guys have something to offer. In the running game, pass rush, there's a variety of skills involved in the competition. They've all been working hard. It started in spring and it's continued."

Belichick said don't count out 2012 third-round pick Jake Bequette.

"Jake's a smart guy. He definitely understands what we're doing, what they're doing."

The coach added: "He's in a real competitive situation. ... He's definitely holding his own."

--

The Patriots appeared to have abandoned the cameras on each quarterback's helmet Thursday. However, the coach said there was some good that came from using the film.

"There's some aspect to make note of that's good," Belichick said. "It certainly doesn't give you the whole picture. I've coached 38 years without 'em, it's not like it's an absolute necessity. I think you're always looking for something a little bit better."

--

Belichick was asked whether Ras-I Dowling, Jermaine Cunningham, Marcus Cannon, or Dan Connolly would practice Friday.

"We have a lot of guys who are in the day-to-day category."

Patriots make more minor moves

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 2, 2013 01:57 PM

The Patriots have waived defensive lineman Travis Chappelear after one day as well as long snapper Mike Zupancic, and signed two more offensive linemen onto the team's 90-man roster.

The team signed second-year veteran Luke Patterson and rookie Brice Schwab. Patterson spent time on the Kansas City Chiefs' practice squad the last two seasons. Schwab was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after signing as an undrafted free agent.

Patriots announce final open camp dates

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 2, 2013 01:50 PM

The Patriots announced that their training camp will come to a close on Aug. 15, with only six practices open to the public left.

The team's remaining camp dates at Gillette Stadium include 9 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Monday before the team travels to Philadelphia for joint practices with the Eagles.

The team will take Sunday off before traveling Monday after practice.

The Patriots will conclude practice at Gillette Stadium's lower practice fields Aug. 12 through Aug. 15 at 2:20 p.m. each day. The team will not practice on the weekend after Saturday.

Rutgers North working hard on improvements

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 2, 2013 10:58 AM

Recently signed wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei, in his first practice with the team Thursday, surprised observers by blowing past a Patriots cornerback for an easy touchdown grab on a deep throw from Tim Tebow.

The cornerback he beat so easily? That would be third-round pick Logan Ryan. And while Tuinei isn’t a name so readily known around these parts, he is one of the many questionably talented wide receivers on the team’s roster that have consistently schooled Ryan during training camp.

But Ryan’s not the only Rutgers defensive back being humbled by the NFL experience. Fellow rookie and college teammate Duron Harmon – who was also a third round pick – has suffered some tough setbacks in practice too, coming off the field and appearing at times as if his head was spinning. And then there’s the undrafted rookie Brandon Jones, who has lost more than his fair share of one-on-one battles.

It’s been enough to warrant asking how the Rutgers rookie contingency – consisting of Ryan, Harmon, Jones, linebacker Steve Beauharnais, wide receiver Mark Harrison, and now defensive lineman Scott Vallone – are faring after a week of Patriots training camp.

This is, after all, Rutgers North. With the Patriots’ signing of Vallone Thursday, the Patriots have nine former Scarlet Knights on the roster.

FULL ENTRY

Training Camp Daily Briefing: Friday Aug. 2

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 2, 2013 07:23 AM
Good morning! The Patriots were back on the field Thursday after getting Wednesday off per CBA rules. But linebacker Jerod Mayo said it was mostly just a day off from pads, as he and many of his teammates were still at Gillette Stadium, getting treatment and watching film.

The big news on Thursday was the return of receiver Julian Edelman, who was removed from the physically unable to perform list and practiced for the first time since the end of last season. Edelman, who signed a one-year deal with New England after receiving little interest on the open market, has "some ground to make up," coach Bill Belichick said.

TODAY'S GLOBE COVERAGE

Dan Shaughnessy: Talks to Hall of Fame-bound Bill Parcells about his years with the Patriots

Shalise Manza Young: Jerod Mayo once again in the middle of Patriots' defense

Michael Vega: Patriots Notes - Edelman back at practice; Belichick discusses his friend Parcells

WHAT'S ON TAP

Today
2 p.m. - Bill Belichick press conference

2:20-4:30 p.m. - Patriots training camp practice No. 7

Saturday
8:40 a.m. - Bill Belichick press conference

9-11:30 a.m. - Patriots training camp practice No. 8

Sunday
TBA

KEY INJURIES/ROSTER MOVES

Removed from physically unable to perform list
WR Julian Edelman (foot)

Not practicing Thursday
OL Marcus Cannon (undisclosed)
RB Brandon Bolden (in uniform but limited)
CB Ras-I Dowling (began practice but did not finish)

Not cleared to practice yet:
TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)
WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)
DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

AROUND THE NFL
No more Super Bowl predictions for Rex Ryan: he's using the low expectations for the Jets as motivation now

Riley Cooper has apologized for hurling a racial slur at a security guard at a recent concert, but not all of his teammates are ready to forgive him

The Bills are using a base 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and the projected line starters are all 300-plus pounds; Buffalo is hoping bigger is better

The Dolphins' $60 million man, WR Mike Wallace, is currently sidelined with a groin injury

Continuing his return from a torn ACL, top Ravens CB Lardarius Webb is increasing his workload on the field

Training camp Day 6 practice report

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 1, 2013 07:41 PM
FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots returned to the field on Thursday for a full-contact practice after having Wednesday off, and the story of the day was injuries. Most importantly, wide receiver Julian Edelman passed his physical and returned to practice for the first time since injuring his foot in early December. Offensive lineman Marcus Cannon was surprisingly missing, and cornerback Ras-I Dowling spent the second half of practice on the sideline: .

We'll get into full injury and roster news below, plus our observations from the sixth practice of training camp:

ATTENDANCE, PLEASE

Physically unable to perform: TE Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Missing: Cannon, who appears to be leading the battle to win the right guard job, was nowhere to be found, and was replaced by Tyronne Green. It was the first practice Cannon has missed this camp. RB Brandon Bolden was in uniform, but sat out his third straight practice with an undisclosed injury.

New injuries: CB Ras-I Dowling suffered an undisclosed leg injury at some point and spent most of the practice on the sideline or on the exercise bike.

Returning from injury: WR Aaron Dobson was back returned to practice after sitting out Tuesday's session with a minor foot injury. Edelman returned to practice for the first time this season, as did DL Cory Grissom.

DRESS CODE

Full pads.

TOP PLAYS

• Rookie WR Kenbrell Thompkins blew past three defenders -- Kyle Arrington, Aqib Talib, and Steve Gregory -- on a deep bomb over the middle that would have gone for a 70-yard touchdown.

• Dowling made a really nice breakup of a slant pass intended for Quintin Sims before injuring himself.

• QB Tim Tebow showed really nice touch on a lob to Dobson for a touchdown, over DB Justin Green.

• QB Tom Brady also displayed beautiful touch on a deep corner pass, dropping it right into Josh Boyce's arms to beat the Cover-2 defense.

• LB Steve Beauharnais intercepted Tom Brady in the back of the end zone in goal line drills.

THREE UP

CB Marquice Cole: Took a lot of snaps with the first unit today with Dowling injured and Alfonzo Dennard on the sideline.

OL Green: Took reps at right guard for the second straight day and could be first in line for one of the backup interior line spots.

WR Boyce: The rookie fourth-rounder got a lot more opportunities with the first team and is catching most passes thrown his way.

THREE DOWN

WR Kamar Aiken: After starting camp with the first unit, appears to have fallen behind Boyce, Edelman, and Thompkins.

Dowling: Hard to make the club when you're always nicked up, and Dowling needs to get back on the field soon to ward off Cole and others.

LT Nate Solder: Didn't look great in one-on-one 1-on-1 drills, whiffing badly against Chandler Jones and then getting beaten by Jake Bequette.

TEBOW TIME

Tebow is never going to have a perfect practice, but his accuracy was much better Thursday. In goal line seven-on-seven 7-on-7 drills, he hit Danny Amendola on a quick out for a touchdown, threw a square-in to Aiken in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, and also had a nice lob to Amendola in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Tebow ran a few read-option plays -- it could have just been to help the defense prepare for it down the road -- and once again ran the scout team in the two-minute 2-minute drill.

After practice, Tebow threw passes with a teenage kid wearing his jersey for 15 minutes, then obliged the small throng of fans who patiently waited 40 minutes for his autograph and a few pictures.

ODDS AND ENDS

•Watched the OL/DL one-on-one 1-on-1 drills. today. Here's a recap:

Sebastian Vollmer vs. Rob Ninkovich: Ninkovich jumped offside, forced to run a lap.

Tyronne Green vs. Tommy Kelly: Kelly with the decisive win.

Ryan Wendell vs. Marcus Forston: Wendell held his own.

Logan Mankins vs. Vince Wilfork: Wilfork dominated.

Solder vs. Chandler Jones: Solder completely whiffed.

OT Kevin Haslam vs. DL Jason Vega: Vega jumped offside, forced to run a lap.

Haslam vs. Marcus Benard: Benard with the decisive victory.

OL Markus Zusevics vs. Kelly: Kelly jumped offside, forced to run a lap.

Zusevics vs. DL Joe Vellano: Zusevics held him off.

OL Josh Kline vs. DT Anthony White: Draw.

OL Chris McDonald vs. Forston: Draw.

Will Svitek vs. Justin Francis: Francis won, and was dragged down from behind.

OL R.J. Mattes vs. DL Michael Buchanan: Mattes held him off.

Wendell vs. Vellano: Wendell stoned him.

Mankins vs. Forston: Forston jumped offside, forced to run a lap.

Solder vs. Jake Bequette: Bequette beat beats him around the edge.

Zusevics vs. Kelly: Zusevics with the win.

McDonald vs. Benard: Benard destroyed him with a swim move.

Svitek vs. Jones: Svitek with a nice win.

• The Patriots focused a lot on inside run drills, goal-line offense, and two-minute drill. on Monday.

• Edelman took reps with both the first and second unit. on Thursday. A common pairing was Amendola, Thompkins, and Boyce, although Dobson got plenty of work as well.

• Ryan Mallett had a few reps with the ones, while Brady took a few with the twos. Tebow played almost exclusively with the threes, except for during a goal-line drill.

• Amendola, Edelman, and Leon Washington returned punts. Washington also got some work with the two-minute offense.

• Rookie CB Logan Ryan broke up a pass when he wasn't even looking. He was running stride for stride with his receiver, and Mallett's pass bounced right off his arm.

• James Develin appears to be leading the fullback competition, although TE Michael Hoomanawanui often lines up in the backfield.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Friday: Practice 2:20 p.m. (open to public).

Saturday: Practice 9 a.m. (open to public).

Sunday: TBD (likely off day).

Monday: TBD (likely practice day).

Tuesday: Joint practice with Eagles in Philadelphia.

Wednesday: Joint practice with Eagles in Philadelphia.

Thursday: Off.

Friday: Exhibition game No. 1 Preseason Game 1 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

WR Julian Edelman makes long-awaited return to Patriots practice

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff August 1, 2013 05:35 PM

FOXBOROUGH – Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, who broke his right foot at Miami Dec. 4, 2012, and missed the last four games of the regular season, made his much-anticipated return to practice Thursday after spending the first week of training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

"It felt good,'' Edelman said after he fully participated in Thursday's full-padded practice at Gillette Stadium before an estimated crowd of about 7,000 fans. "It's always exciting to get back out there with your teammates, start a new year, and get on the field. It was exciting.''

Entering his fifth year after being drafted in the seventh round in 2009 out of Kent State, where he starred as a quarterback, Edelman emerged as a welcome addition to the Patriots young corps of receivers as one of the more veteran players in the group.

"Obviously, it's new right now, so I'm definitely going to have to get my legs under me, work my way in, and try to land a spot,'' said Edelman, who played in nine games and made three starts last season, catching 21 passes for 235 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.

Given all he went through to get back on the field, Edelman was asked how meaningful it was to finally don full pads again.

"It felt great,'' he said. "Like I said, you're around the facility and you're seeing all your teammates having fun, training camp with guys developing. It was just great to be out there and see all the faces.''

Edelman was not hindered in any way during Thursday's practice, running routes with the receivers and working on special teams as the punt return specialist.

"I'm just focused on coming out here, getting my feet down, running around on the grass, having fun and playing football,'' he said.

Asked if there was much rust to be knocked off after his first practice in pads, Edelman replied, "It's been a while, so of course. I have a long way to go and I'm excited that the process has started.''

Was there any drill in particular where his rustiness was self evident?

"No, I mean, just in general,'' Edelman said. "The duration of practice, I mean, these guys are in shape out there, running around with all this fast-tempo stuff. The train's moving and I've got to catch up.''

Patriots WR Julian Edelman cleared to return from PUP list to practice

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff August 1, 2013 02:25 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick confirmed during his news conference Thursday that wide receiver Julian Edleman, who started out training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, had been medically cleared to return to practice.

Edelman, who played in nine games last season (three starts) and made 21 catches for 235 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, missed the last four games of the regular-season and the Patriots' playoff run to the AFC Championship Game after suffering a fractured right foot in a game at Miami Dec. 4, 2012.

Idle since that setback, Edelman gained medical clearance to begin working as the Patriots embarked on their second week of training camp at Gillette Stadium.

In other news:

The Patriots announced they had signed four players and released DB Stephon Morris, who pulled up with a right hamstring injury in Tuesday's practice in full pads.

The team signed free agent DL Travis Carpenter, a 6-5, 263-pounder out of Missouri State; WR Johnathan Haggerty, who had originally signed as a rookie free agent with Cleveland, WR Lavasier Tuinei, a 6-4, 200-pounder from Oregon who signed as a rookie free agent with the Seahawks, and OL Scott Vallone, a 6-3, 275-pound rookie free agent from Rutgers.

Patriots announce signing of four players, release one

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff August 1, 2013 02:01 PM

The Patriots have announced the signing of four players:

DL Travis Chappelear - is listed at 6-5, 263; he played at Northwest Missouri St. and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Bengals on Apr. 29 but released just a couple of weeks later;

WR Jonathan Haggerty - is listed at 6-1, 195; he played at Southwest Oklahoma St. and entered the league as an undrafted rookie with the Browns in 2010. He has been out of football since being cut from the Bears' practice squad near the end of the 2011 season;

WR Lavasier Tuinei - is listed at 6-4, 200 pounds; he played at Oregon and spent most of last year on the Seahawks' practice squad. He split the 2013 offseason between the Bengals and Cowboys;

DL Scott Vallone - is listed at 6-3, 275; he played at Rutgers and is now the ninth Scarlet Knight on the Patriots' roster. This is his first opportunity with an NFL team after being undrafted earlier this year.

New England already had three open roster spots due to moves earlier this week; to create a fourth, rookie DB Stephon Morris (Penn St.) was released.

Training Camp Daily Briefing: Thursday, Aug. 1

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff August 1, 2013 10:34 AM
The Patriots will get back at it Thursday after a much-needed off day on Wednesday, hitting the fields at 2 p.m. for a practice in full pads. The Patriots will have a couple of new bodies -- rookie DT Scott Vallone and WR Lavasier Tuinei, who both signed overnight to fill the roster spots vacated by WR Lavelle Hawkins, WR Perez Ashford and OL Nick McDonald. The Patriots still have one open roster spot available.

Rookie receiver Aaron Dobson, who sat out Tuesday after taking a cleat to the right leg on Monday, is also expected to return to practice.

Now let’s get on with the Patriots Daily Briefing for Aug. 1:

TODAY’S GLOBE COVERAGE

Ben Volin: On Football: All rational logic points to Tim Tebow making the Patriots in 2013

WHAT’S ON TAP

Thursday

Foxborough Weather: High of 78, chance of rain 10-20 percent

2 p.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

2:20-4:30 p.m.: Practice (open to public)

4:30 p.m.: Player interviews

Friday

2 p.m.: Bill Belichick press conference

2:20-4:30 p.m.: Practice (open to public)

4:30 p.m.: Player interviews

Down the Road…

Saturday: Practice 9 a.m. (open to public)

Sunday: TBD

Monday: TBD

Tuesday: Joint practice with Eagles in Philadelphia

Wednesday: Joint practice with Eagles in Philadelphia

Thursday: Off

Friday: Preseason Game 1 at Eagles, 7:30 p.m.

KEY INJURIES/ROSTER MOVES

Roster Moves:

Released: WR Lavelle Hawkins, WR Perez Ashford, OL Nick McDonald (failed physical)

Signed: WR Lavasier Tuinei, DT Scott Vallone

Not practicing Tuesday:

WR Aaron Dobson (Right foot -- should return to practice Thursday)

DL Cory Grissom (undisclosed)

Not cleared to practice yet:

TE Rob Gronkowski (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Julian Edelman (Physically Unable to Perform)

WR Mark Harrison (Physically Unable to Perform)

DE Armond Armstead (Non-Football Illness)

AROUND THE NFL

49ers star LB Patrick Willis may have fractured a bone in his hand

Eagles WR Riley Cooper apologizes for racial slur

The Colts are suffering a lot of nicks and bruises in camp

Redskins are gradually increasing Robert Griffin III’s practice reps

Bears WR Devin Hester isn’t happy that kick returners have been taken out of the Pro Bowl

The Lions have a player named “Kickalicious,” and he has been as good as advertised

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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