Tag Archives: Patriots

2017 Patriots Training Camp First Day Thoughts and Observations

The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots kicked off training camp today in front of a massive crowd of fans that showed up to welcome back their beloved team. Quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady was one of the first on the field for the Patriots and was welcomed by a loud uproar of screams and chants from the fans. Fans were also excited to see the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the second half of the regular season and the playoffs after undergoing back surgery during the season.

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With the first few days of camp being non-contact the team went through a lot of individual position drills, as well as 7-on-7s, 11-on-11s and special teams drills. The team started off with kickoff and kickoff returns, where Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis, and Cyrus Jones were fielding and receiving kicks. Cyrus Jones picked up the same spot he ended last season, dropping one of his first few attempts catching the kickoff and then fielded everyone cleanly after that. If Jones continues to have issues on special teams his job and roster spot could be in jeopardy.

 

All three quarterbacks participated in 7-on7 and 11-on-11 drills with Tom Brady primarily working with the first team offense, Jimmy Garoppolo working with all three units and Jacoby Brissett working with the third team offense and some snaps with the second team offense. Brady looked like his normal self; spreading the ball around to his many offensive weapons, connecting with offseason addition Brandin Cooks several times deep down the sideline. During these drills Rob Gronkowski looked like he was completely healthy and happy to be back on the field and was even trying to create contact with defenders and did his famous “Gronk Spike” after catching a pass in the end zone from Brady. Jimmy Garoppolo was inconsistent during these scrimmages, making some good passes including a deep ball to tight end Dwayne Allen. Garoppolo also made some bad passes and decisions, including back to back interceptions in the end zone by Eric Rowe and Jordan Richards. Jacoby Brissett looked good with the third team offense and had a good chemistry with second year receiver Devin Lucien, who made a great catch on a back shoulder fade in the back of the end zone, and undrafted rookie Austin Carr. Brissett showed improvement on the quickness of his decision making and getting rid of the ball, both of which were areas he struggled in last year.

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Austin Carr is someone who stood out to me and had a great practice working as a slot receiver with the third team offense and was constantly finding a way to get open. Carr was a Biletnikoff award finalist during his senior season in 2016 and led the Big Ten in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns before going undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft. With the Patriots depth at receiver it will be tough for him to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster and would be a great addition to the teams practice squad and continue to learn from slot receivers like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, if he is not signed by another team.

 

Defensively the cornerback duo of Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore looked very sharp. Early on in the beginning of drills Butler had played great coverage on Brandin Cooks and had a pass breakup in the end zone on cooks. One area of question this offseason was who is going to be the Patriots slot and nickel corner, and on the first day of camp that went to Jonathan Jones. Jones was a primary special teams player last season who played some slot corner on defense and appears as of now to be the team’s starting slot corner, with Butler and Gilmore on the outside, as well as Eric Rowe who can line up on the outside or on the inside against some tight ends because of his size.

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There were several players who did not attend of participate in todays practice including; Dont’a Hightower and Alan Branch who were both placed on the PUP list earlier this week, as well as Rob Ninkovich, Kony Ealy and Joe Cardona. According to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston Cardona’s absence is due to a commitment that Cardona has with the Navy. The absences of Ealy and Ninkovich have yet to be given a reason for. Ninkovich has been a name that has been discussed this offseason as a potential surprise cut or someone who will not make the final 53-man roster and his absence could be related to possible thoughts of retirement as he is set to enter his 12th year in the league.

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The Patriots will continue to practice over the weekend with only partial contact before moving to full padded practices next week. Patriots football is back and ready to defend their title and be on the quest for their sixth Super Bowl championship.

Patriots 2017 7-Round Mock Draft

The start of the NFL Draft is just under a week away. Currently the Patriots will not pick until the third round with the 72nd pick overall after trading their first round pick to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and their second round pick to the Carolina Panthers for defensive end Kony Ealy and the Panthers third round pick which is 72.

 

I did a seven round mock draft using the draft simulator on FanSpeak.com. While some players may not be around in the actual draft while they were in the simulation I selected the players who I thought helped fit the biggest needs for the Patriots.

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Round 3, pick 72: Ryan Anderson, Edge Rusher, Alabama

Edge Rusher remains the biggest need for the Patriots after the offseason, even with the addition of Kony Ealy. The team lost Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard to free agency and have little depth at the position. Anderson is a very good pass rusher and can get after the passer standing up and with his hand in the dirt. One down side with Anderson is his size, only standing at 6’2 253 pounds he could face problems against bigger tackles. Given the relationship between Bill Belichick and Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Anderson is someone who the Patriots could definitely look to draft to help their issues at the defensive end/ outside linebacker position.

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Round 3, pick 96: Sidney Jones, cornerback, Washington

While I don’t expect Jones to last near this long the Patriots should draft him immediately if he does. Jones would have been a first round pick if it wasn’t for the torn Achillies injury he suffered at his pro day. Jones is a very physical corner who possesses good speed, and also has a knack for finding the ball with his nine career interceptions during his time at Washington.  Jones insisted that he would be ready in time for training camp, and even if he isn’t would still be a great pick at this point in the draft with the talent he possesses. If the Patriots do part ways with Malcolm Butler either this year or next, Jones could be a great replacement in the secondary.

Jake Butt detroit news

Round 4, pick 131: Jake Butt, tight end, Michigan

Like Jones, Jake Butt saw his draft stock slide due to injury. Butt suffered a torn ACL in the Orange Bowl against Florida State and is currently rehabbing the injury. Butt wont burn you defenders with his speed but is a consistent, reliable pass catches and a very good blocker for the tight end position. When you watch Butt you can see flashes of Cowboys tight end Jason Witten in his game. The Patriots lost Martellus Bennett in free agency but acquired Dwayne Allen in a trade from the Colts to pair up with Rob Gronkowski. The issue? Both Gronkowski and Allen have had their share of injury problems since entering the league. Adding another tight end into the mix would be a wise move for the Patriots in the draft; and because of the deep tight end class and injury that he suffered Butt could be a potential steal for the Patriots in the fourth round.

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Round 5, pick 163: James Conner, running back, Pittsburgh

Running back is not a huge position of need for the Patriots, especially if Buffalo does not match the offer sheet that the Patriots gave restricted free-agent Mike Gillislee earlier this week. But as of now Gillislee isn’t a member of the Patriots so James Conner is the pick here. Conner is a big physical back with a powerful running style, similar of LaGarrette Blount, who still remains a free agent. Conner could give the Patriots the big, physical back that the team is currently missing and has been a key piece to the offense over the past several seasons. Even with the addition of Gillislee, Conner could be someone who could find a place on the Patriots practice squad.

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Round 5, pick 183: Erik Magnuson, tackle, Michigan

Magnuson has experience playing both guard and tackle while at Michigan. He has pretty good size at 6’6 305 pounds, but could bulk up a little bit if his full-time position is at tackle. Magnuson was named to the first-team All-Big Ten team this past season with the Wolverines and played well against good competition such as Ohio State and Wisconsin. Magnuson would be an upgrade over LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming as a backup tackle.

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Round 6, pick 200: Bryan Cox Jr., edge rusher, Florida

The son of former Patriot Bryan Cox, Cox Jr. has the size to play defensive end and outside linebacker in the NFL at 6’3 265 pounds. Cox Jr. had a productive first three seasons at Florida before battling injuries during his senior year. Cox Jr. isn’t a very polished pass rusher and only ran a 4.89 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but is a good run defender. During his best season as a junior, Cox Jr. had 10 tackles for a loss with 3.5 sacks. Adding Cox could give the Patriots another big body on the outside that the team currently does not have much depth in.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Mississippi State
Nov 14, 2015; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Fred Ross (8) runs the ball during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Davis Wade Stadium. Alabama won 31-6. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

 

Round 7, pick 239: Fred Ross, wide receiver, Mississippi State

Wide receiver is not an area of need for the Patriots this season but could be later on down the road and drafting Ross could give the Patriots someone they could hold onto and develop more and maybe keep on the practice squad. Ross possesses good size and speed for the position, standing at 6’2 and running a 4.5 40-yard dash. Ross had a breakout junior season with Dak Prescott at quarterback, setting a school record with 88 receptions and surpassing over 1,000 yards receiving. His numbers slipped a little during his senior season without Presott, but had 12 receiving touchdowns. Ross also contributed on special teams for Mississippi State and could help the Patriots in that department as they struggled with Cyrus Jones returning kicks and punts last year.

NFL: If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying

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Deflategate is a sham. Roger Goodell and the NFL took an equipment violation and turned it into the crime of the century. It’s all part of an effort to buy back trust and confidence from league owners after a tumultuous 2014.
The previous paragraph accurately sums up how the New England fan base feels about the debacle known as deflategate. It’s a bit one sided but not all together the worst summary of 2015’s biggest non story. The NFL and more than likely the other 44 states, look at this organizational massacre as one brand’s comeuppance for seemingly always skirting the rules.
Last week ESPN,which has hardly been in the New England Patriots corner during this mess, polled more than 100 NFL players asking them a variety of questions concerning their take on deflategate. While every fan and media member from around the globe has had their chance to jump on their proverbial soap boxes we have only heard from a select few actual colleagues of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
The 13 question survey begins by asking if the player believed the accusations that the Patriots knowingly deflated footballs; 72% said yes and 28% said no. Given the Patriot’s history, this comes as no real shock. Where it gets interesting is when the players are asked if they are upset with the Patriots over the alleged deflation of footballs; 84% said no and only 16% said yes. Take a moment to let that resonate, 84% of their peers look at this alleged reaction as

“no biggie“.

The majority of people the Patriots play week in and week out aren’t upset with this supposed travesty of justice.
Questions three and four run a bit closer to a split decision but, none the less, still fall in the Patriots favor. Question three point blank asks if the Patriots are cheaters; 58% said no and 48 percent said yes. Question four asked if the outcome of the game could be impacted by deflated footballs; 52% said no and 48% said yes.
When asked how many games Tom Brady should have been suspended for, the most common answer was 1.5, more than four games was 3%, four games was 19 % and fewer than four was a resounding 78%.
Questions six and seven were once again far apart in results but both in Tom Brady and the Patriot’s favor. Question six asked if the Patriots would still make the postseason without Brady (85% yes, 15% no.) Question seven asked if Spygate still stuck in their craw (80% no, 20% yes.)
Possibly the most indicative of the league’s biggest problems, from a player’s point of view, is Roger Goodell handling player discipline. 88% of players feel Roger should not decide discipline, with only 12% okay with his current role.
What should come as no surprise, to anyone who has ever competed athletically, are the questions and results garnered from inquiries nine through thirteen. When asked if other teams illegally tamper with the footballs, 68% said yes and 32% said no. Mind you, these are actual, current NFL players indicating that most teams tamper with the footballs. When asked about the most common form of on field cheating, 55% of those polled said holding was the most egregious faux pas. The most outlandish form of cheating witnessed were cheap shots and deliberate injuries at 52% It’s safe to say Bountygate would register as a bigger offense to those polled when compared to under inflated footballs.
Question twelve asked the percentage of players they think actually cheat on field which came up at 30%. The final question asked the player if they thought their teammates had cheated; 71% said no, whereas 29% said yes.
Overall it seems that although not every athlete cheats, in the NFL skirting the rules and gaining a competitive advantage is not something that angers many players. Does this ESPN survey prove the Patriots are cheaters or that deflategate is overblown hyperbole? No, it just proves that for some “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.”

via grantland.com
via grantland.com