Patriots Training Camp: Day One Observations

The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally upon us, Patriots football is back. The Patriots kicked off their season today with the start of training camp with thousands of fans in the stands to show support for their team. As always, today’s practice session was simulated and unpadded with no contact allowed.

 

The biggest storyline going into training camp is that quarterback Tom Brady will be serving his 4-game suspension, and third year man Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starter for the teams first four games. The big question heading into training camp is how the Patriots will divide up playing time during practices and preseason games for Brady, Garoppolo, and rookie Jacoby Brissett with the first team offense. When the team began 7 on 7 drills it was Brady who was under center with the first team offense going against the first team defense, with Garoppolo then coming in with the second unit and two would rotate throughout the drills. When the team got into its 2-minute 11 on 11 drills it was Garoppolo who got all the first team reps going 18 for 21, while Brady worked with the second unit.

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Someone who stood out to me today was Aaron Dobson, which was a bit of a surprise. Dobson is on the bubble this year and will be fighting for his roster spot after disappointing during his first three seasons in the league. Dobson had two great catches in the end zone during 7 on 7 drills, one from Brady and a one-handed grab from Garoppolo. Chris Harper was someone who also made a few nice plays as well as rookie wide receiver Devin Lucien. With wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola starting off training camp on the PUP list the rest of the receivers on the roster should get a lot of reps in with Garoppolo and Brady and fight for their spot on the roster.

 

The teams biggest offseason acquisition tight end Marcellus Bennett had a very good first day of camp. It’s only the first day of camp and can’t really tell much from the practices being simulated and having no contact, but from what I saw pairing Bennett up with Rob Gronkowski is going to create absolute nightmares for defenses. Having two guys who are 6’6′ and as big and long as they are will cause a lot of problems for defenses and help out slot receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.

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Rookies Cyrus Jones and V’Angelo Bentley were the two who were returning punts and kickoffs during special teams drills. Jones, a second round pick out of Alabama, was one of the best return men in college football last season and showed a lot of speed when returning kicks. Hopefully Jones, and Bentley if he makes the roster, can help sure up a Patriots special teams unit which had it’s share of struggles last season.

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Not present for today’s training camp session were wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, running back Dion Lewis, guards Tre jackson and Shaq Mason, tackle Sebastian Vollmer, tight end Clay Harbor who were all placed on the PUP list, defensive tackle Alan Branch who was placed on the Active?Non-Football related injury list, safety Nate Exner who is training with the U.S. Olympic Rugby team and linebacker Jamie Collins who showed up to camp yesterday but did not practice with the team today.

 

The first day of training camp is officially in the books and I’m happy to say that Patriots football is back.

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Patriots Training Camp Preview: Things To Watch For

It’s been a long six months but what we’ve all been waiting for is almost finally here with the Patriots set to open Training Camp Wednesday, with the first practice open to the public on Thursday. Here are some things I will be watching for once the Patriots kick off training camp.

 

Quarterback Reps

Maybe the most obvious thing that will be mentioned on this list and for good reason as it will be the most important. As we all know Tom Brady ended his DeflateGate appeal snd will be missing the first four games of the regular season. As part of this suspension brady can not be around the team, practice with the team, be at the stadium, or even have contact with anyone from the team until his suspension is over. This puts the Patriots in a tough position of how they should split first team reps in training camp and preseason games between Brady, Garoppolo and even rookie third round pick Jacoby Brissett. Brady has been the leader of the team the past 15 years and has been playing with the core of the offense with the past three seasons, though he has the chemistry with Gronk, Edelman and Amendola you don’t want him not taking many snaps with these guys in camp then missing the first four games and have him come back where the guys could be out of chemistry and out of sync a little bit. Then you face the problem of having to make sure Garoppolo is ready to play in those first four games and can build up a chemistry with the first team offense. Garoppolo has yet to really play a true meaningful down in the NFL and getting him prepared is the biggest key for the team heading into the regular season. The team even has to mix Jacoby Brissett in for snaps just incase Garoppolo gets injured or isn’t playing well and the team has to make a change during the first four weeks of the season.

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via bostonherald.com

 

D.J. Foster

D.J. Foster is a name that is not known by many, but one people will be hearing a lot about this preseason. Foster is an undrafted rookie free agent out of Arizona State who is listed as a running back, but is more of a receiver than a running back which will help him and was known as more of an offensive weapon for the Sun Devils. It’s no secret that coach Bill Belichick loves versatility in his players and that a receiving back has played a huge role in the teams offense during the Belichick era. Dion Lewis will be starting training camp off on the PUP list which will give Foster even more of an opportunity to show what he can do on the field and fight for his roster spot. With running backs LaGarrette Blount and James White very much fighting for their own spot on the roster, Foster should get many opportunities to prove himself and earn a spot on the teams final roster.

foster patriots
via patriots.com

 

Offensive Line

The Patriots offensive line was absolutely terrible last year, partly due to injury and partly due to all around poor play. Long time offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia even came out of retirement because he couldn’t stand watching his offensive line play so bad anymore. The Patriots made a few offensive line acquisitions this offseason most notably Jonathan Cooper in a trade from Arizona and third round pick Joe Thuney from NC State. Cooper was the seventh overall pick of the first round pick back in 2013 and struggled in Arizona in large part due to injury, as well as the team trying to move him from guard to center. Cooper is known for having a little bit of a mean streak which is something that Dante Scarnecchia loves in his players and something that really all offensive lineman should have. Thuney played tackle during his time at NC State but said he sees himself as more of a guard in the NFL.Even with Thuney being more of a guard than a tackle at the pro level the versatility he can provide is something that the Patriots covet in him. With offensive lineman Shaq Mason, Tre Jackson and Sebastian Vollmer all being placed on the PUP list to start training camp Cooper and Thuney should get a lot of snaps with the first team offense and could very well be the week one starters.

Jonathan Cooper
vis bostonherald.com

 

Edge Rushers

The Patriots traded their top pass rusher this offseason to Arizona for a second round pick and the aforementioned Jonathan Cooper as Jones was entering the final year of his rookie contract and the team was unlikely to sign him after the season. Jamaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich are locks to make the roster and be starters after both played very well last season. The team also added veteran defensive end Chris Long who was released by the St. Louis Rams this offseason. Long has taken a few steps back the past few seasons from his former Pro Bowl days at the beginning of his career. Long signed a very team friendly deal with New England because he wanted to go to a place where he could not only contribute but more importantly win. If Long can stay healthy and play in a limited role like Jabaal Sheard did last season, Long could have a very good season in New England. The Patriots will also look to second year men Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers to step up and contribute to the teams pass rush this season. Both Grissom and Flowers looked good in preseason last year but saw very limited playing time during the regular season with Grissom only collecting one sack and Flowers only appearing in one game. Flowers is more of a true pass rusher than Grissom and can’t wait to see how they involve him in the defense once camp starts.The teams pass rush this year could be a weak spot on this defense or be quietly very good.

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via patriots.com

 

Cyrus Jones and Darryl Roberts

The Patriots secondary was very good last season and better than most people had expected. Malcolm Butler proved that he could be a true number one corner in the NFL and was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his young career. Logan Ryan went on to have a fantastic season and at times outshining Butler in the secondary and had a good 5-6 game span where he was dominant lining up opposite from Butler. Where the Patriots did tend to struggle last season was the slot corner. Guys were constantly being mixed in such as Justin Coleman and Leonard Johnson, and though they had their moments they often struggled. The team went on to draft Alabama corner Cyrus Jones in the second round, Jones has been deemed a little undersized but has very good speed and quickness as well as playmaking skills which could make him a great fit as the teams slot corner.Jones would constantly go up against some of college football’s top wide receivers playing in the SEC and would hardly ever get beaten. Jones should make an immediate impact in the secondary whether he be the teams slot corner or end up being a starter at some point throughout the season. Jones was also the top returner in college football last season and is expected to take over the kickoff and punt returning duties in New England. Darryl Roberts is a former seventh round pick out of Marshall who is entering his second season with the Patriots. Roberts was generating a lot of buzz for himself last preseason during training camp and was looked at as a potential starter to begin the season. Roberts ended up starting the first preseason game opposite Malcolm Butler against the Green Bay Packers, and then ended up breaking his arm on the second defensive series. He was later placed on season-ending injured reserve. Roberts should be easily 100% healthy entering training camp and will hopefully continue where he left off last year. If Roberts can come back healthy and looking as good as he can be, and Jones can step in and be a contributor the Patriots could build up a very good and very young secondary.

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via patriots.com

Seeing the Forest through the Trees

In the very long aftermath of the never ending joke that has been labeled Deflategate, we finally have a victor, of sorts. The National Football League (more importantly Commissioner Roger Goodell) has triumphed over the New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady, as the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Brady of a rehearing. Now barring a very small chance of the case being heard by the Supreme Court, this ridiculous sideshow has come to a very unfathomable conclusion for New England football fans.

Last summer, Tom Brady and his legal counsel were able to convincingly expose Deflategate as the sham, which for those who do not have a vendetta against Brady and the New England Patriots could always clearly see. Judge Richard Berman decided to overturn Roger Goodell’s “impartial” ruling as arbitrator in Brady’s appeal of his four game suspension. Tom Brady was allowed to take the field and celebrate his 2014-15 Super Bowl victory with his teammates as they opened the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  As the season progressed, Brady and company went on a 10 game winning streak using the fuel from the Deflategate fiasco to further their goal of winning back to back Super Bowls.

Sadly, due to a virtual cavalcade of injuries towards the end of the season, the 2015-16 Patriots season came to an end in the AFC Championship game against the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Denver Broncos.  The bitter sting and disappointment of that loss carried over to the offseason as Tom Brady and his legal team went to battle with the NFL yet again, this time in Second Circuit Court of Appeals over Judge Berman’s favorable Brady ruling.  Unfortunately, the end result was that Tom Brady’s four game suspension was reinstated due a to a 2-1 decision.  Brady and the NFLPA (National Football Players’ Association) were determined to right this wrong, not just for Brady but for the entire roster of NFL players.

The NFLPA’s interest in this case stems from their own regret over how they handled the last CBA (collective bargaining agreement), as they gave the NFL and their commissioner more or less carte’ Blanche to make whatever decisions he’d like in regards to player discipline.  Essentially, they allowed the evil Emperor from the Star Wars movies to exist in the NFL, unchecked.  Now like most people in this world, NFL players don’t particularly care if someone successful is getting knocked down a few rungs from the top. It’s that short sightedness that will be their downfall. Sure, this time it’s Tom Brady, with the Super Model wife and four Super Bowl rings, whose legacy is being crushed and dragged through the gutter, but what about next time the NFL decides to flex their power?

Tune into the NFL network today and you will likely hear a bevy of former players talking about how Tom Brady should drop this fight now, because bigger, worldly situations such as the horrifying events in Dallas are occurring. Not discounting the horrible events transpiring in Dallas but what does that have to do with Tom Brady’s case? Horrible events have occurred throughout history and still less meaningful events have transpired simultaneously. To use the dastardly events in Dallas to push your own agenda is both disrespectful to those who have lost their lives and callous to the remaining victims of such tragedies.

Now, with the immediate NFL future of the New England Patriots clearer than it has been in many months, what do New England fans have to be excited about? Sure, the New England Patriots have seemingly lost the greatest Quarterback of this generation for the first four games but let’s be honest, the Patriots have routinely persevered with the next man up mentality. Let’s not forget that the Patriots have a pretty stellar roster to contend with this season aside from Tom Brady. The time will come when Tom Brady is permanently on the sidelines, as he is far closer to the end of his Hall of Fame career than he is to the beginning. Regardless of the fact that it has become rather old hat to say, but wouldn’t it be nice to see what Jimmy Garoppolo is capable of? If this man is truly New England’s future, why not see what he has in the tank?

The Patriots have ruled the AFC East for the better part of 15 years, sacrificing the first four games of the season is now seemingly inevitable but what if it turns out that Brady’s successor is up for the challenge?  Sure, New England could possibly lose all four Garoppolo games but does anyone really believe that Tom Brady is the only reason the Patriots are successful? Bill Belichick is an amazing coach, the Patriots defense is quite impressive and on paper their offense is practically an All-star team.  The first four games of the Patriots 2016-17 season will no doubt take years off many New England fan’s lives and possibly place this year’s playoffs in doubt but I think it’s safe to say it won’t be any less exciting.

Tom Brady’s 2nd Circuit Appeal Denied; Thoughts and What’s Next

Tom Brady’s appeal of his “DeflateGate” suspension has been denied by the 2nd U.S. Circuit of Appeals, announced Tuesday morning. It is expected that Brady and his legal team will make one last appeal to the Supreme Court in hopes of having the suspension overturned, Brady’s last hope and chance of his suspension overturned and him being allowed to play the first four games of the regular season.

I’m honestly shocked after hearing the news that the 2nd Circuit has denied Brady’s request of an appeal. The decision took longer than it was expected to make, which for me sounded like a good thing seeing as from what I’ve heard most 2nd Circuit appeal decisions are made quick and usually a denial.

via bostonglobe.com
via bostonglobe.com

As shocked as I am about Brady’s appeal being completely denied; I am more surprised that the biggest joke scandal in the history of all sports is still going on and being talked about and that the league is still going after the best player who has ever played in it, someone who has never any wrong, who has played the game the right way, who has been a model citizen on and off the field who the only time you hear his name during the off-season is when he’s doing his Best Buddy charity events and this is the guy the NFL is still going after? Who cares about Greg Hardy beating the living hell out of his girlfriend who was suspended 10 games which was then later reduced to four, or Sheldon Richardson’s high speed police chase with loaded handguns, marijuana and a 12-year old boy in the car and was suspended for only ONE game.  Hell Isaiah Crowell posted a cartoon image of an African American man slicing the throat of a cop on his Instagram page in wake of all that has been happening in the news recently and that has barely been talked about, but thats fine also in the eyes of the league. These are the real model citizens of the world right NFL? Goodell said Brady “ruined the integrity of the game” when first giving out the suspension over a year ago for having no proof that Brady or anyone else for that matter actually did anything wrong, these guys have helped ruin the integrity of the human race but I guess thats fine in the eyes of Roger Goodell and the NFL.

The Patriots are set to start the regular season against the Arizona Cardinals on September 11th against the Arizona Cardinals. With Brady this would look to be one of the better games of the whole NFL season with both teams making deep playoff runs last season. Now Jimmy Garoppolo could be inline to start the regular season opener against a tough Cardinals defense as well as the teams next three games if Brady’s suspension is not overturned prior to the start of the season.  Personally, I have never been a fan of Garoppolo and do not see what many others see and do not see him being the successor to the greatest quarterback of all-time in Tom Brady like many others inside and outside of the organization have. If Jimmy G does indeed end up playing the first four games of the regular season it will be interesting to see how he does as the teams starting quarterback and if he can either build up some trade value or prove to everyone that he can be a legit NFL starting quarterback and the guy for the Patriots down the road.

via sportsworldreport.com
via sportsworldreport.com

As much as I would love for this BS joke of a scandal to be over with and end i want Brady to keep fighting and prove his innocence to the world. And one thing that the league should already know by now, Brady is not the guy you wanna piss off. he will come for you and he will dominate you. Teams should be more worried that Brady is suspended because if he is he is going to comeback with an unstoppable fury and continue to prove his greatness and dominate the league once again.