Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett could all see some time Thursday against the Giants. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett could all see some time Thursday against the Giants. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

After spending last week wondering how Bill Belichick was going to divide the quarterback reps in the third preseason game against the Panthers, it looks like we’re all going to be asking the same question this week for the preseason finale against the Giants.

On a conference call with the media Saturday, Belichick said there are several things at play when it comes to making his decision: It’s the last chance for Tom Brady to get game reps until he starts his suspension. The game also represents one more opportunity for Jimmy Garoppolo to get fully ready for the regular-season opener. And the hope that Jacoby Brissett can continue to build on an impressive performance Friday against the Panthers. All have to figure into the game plan for Thursday’s clash with New York.

“We want to get Jimmy ready for the Arizona game,” Belichick said. “Tom isn’t going to be playing for a while, so it’s kind of his last chance to play until he comes back after a few weeks. Jacoby certainly could use all the playing time that he can get. I think that whichever players we play will benefit from it and it will be valuable to them.

“We could play all three quarterbacks a lot [against the Giants] and they’d all benefit from that and it would all be good, but we can’t. We only have one game and so many snaps, so we’ll have to, between practice and the game, put them in some situations that are somewhat controllable like a two-minute situation or things like that that you know are going to kind of come up one way or another.”

In the end, Belichick said “there’s no perfect solution.”

“They all need to get ready for different things,” Belichick said of the quarterbacks. “What Jimmy’s role is in a couple weeks is going to be a lot different than what Tom’s is, and it’s going to be a lot different than what Jacoby’s is. At some point later on, those roles are going to change again.

“So again, there’s no perfect solution to it. We’ll just do the best we can to try to have our individual players and our team as well prepared as possible at whatever point that is that we have to deal with, and whenever those situations come up.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Jonathan Freeny

Jonathan Freeny

Hours after it was revealed linebacker Jonathan Freeny received a two-year extension, Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke very highly of the work that the 27-year-old has put in over the last year-plus to become a “very dependable player” for New England.

“He is able to do a lot of different roles for us,” Belichick said on a Saturday afternoon conference call. “He can play inside and outside on the line of scrimmage and off the ball defensively. He’s been very valuable for us in the kicking game, obviously with some size.

“A four-phase special teams player and one of our overall top workers in terms of the offseason program, preparation, training; he always does things right. He works hard, doesn’t say a lot, but is very dependable and consistent. I think all of the other players — everybody in the organization looks up to him.”

The linebacker/special teamer played in 13 games last year with New England with 50 tackles (27 solo), one sack and one pass defensed.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Jonathan Freeny

Jonathan Freeny

Hours after it was revealed linebacker Jonathan Freeny received a two-year extension, Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke very highly of the work that the 27-year-old has put in over the last year-plus to become a “very dependable player” for New England.

“He is able to do a lot of different roles for us,” Belichick said on a Saturday afternoon conference call. “He can play inside and outside on the line of scrimmage and off the ball defensively. He’s been very valuable for us in the kicking game, obviously with some size.

“A four-phase special teams player and one of our overall top workers in terms of the offseason program, preparation, training; he always does things right. He works hard, doesn’t say a lot, but is very dependable and consistent. I think all of the other players — everybody in the organization looks up to him.”

The linebacker/special teamer played in 13 games last year with New England with 50 tackles (27 solo), one sack and one pass defensed.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots have signed linebacker Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

The Patriots have signed linebacker Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder out of Rutgers is entering his second season with the Patriots. The linebacker/special teamer played in 13 games last year with New England with 50 tackles (27 solo), one sack and one pass defensed. The 27-year-old figures to work as a backup this season behind the likes of Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Defensive lineman Terrance Knighton was noticeably absent from Friday night’s action against the Panthers.

Terrance Knighton didn't play Friday night. (Michael Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Terrance Knighton didn’t play Friday night. (Michael Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Defensive lineman Terrance Knighton was noticeably absent from Friday night’s action against the Panthers. After the game, Bill Belichick offered a partial explanation as to why, saying that Knighton is still picking up on some of the things New England does differently.

“Some new techniques, some new things. [Just] different things than what he’s used to doing,” Belichick said of Knighton. “We played the younger guys tonight. We didn’t get as much of a look at him as some other players. He played a little more last week. I think there’s good competition at that position. We’ll just have to see how it all plays out.”

For his part, Knighton told reporters after the game that it was “disappointing” not getting a chance to play.

“Everybody wants to play. I didn’t get a chance to,” Knighton said after the game. “That’s the decision they made. … I have faith in my ability. I have faith in the coaching staff’s decisions, whatever the decision was. I’m not looking for an explanation or anything. [I’ll] show up to work tomorrow. I still got a lot of ball left in me, so it is what it is.

“It’s disappointing, just because I’ve played a lot of ball in this league,” the 30-year-old Knighton added. “I’ve seen a lot of things. I’m not going to make too much of it. It is what it is. Whatever happens happens. If I’m here, I’m here. If I’m not, I’m not. I’m just taking it a day at a time.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Tom Brady looks to pass Friday night against Carolina. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)Oh yeah: THAT’S what was missing the first two weeks of the preseason. 



Aug 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA;  New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Patriots win over the Panthers 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick watched his team improve to 3-0 in the preseason. (Jim Dedmon-USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick watched his team improve to 3-0 in the preseason Friday night in a 19-17 win over the Panthers.

But infinitely more important is the progress he saw in key areas as the team prepares for the season opener Sept. 11 in Arizona.

The Patriots head coach saw his defense pick off three Carolina passes, including two interceptions of reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton. He saw Tom Brady play four series and throw a perfect 33-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hogan.

He saw Cyrus Jones, his prized rookie punt returner, rip off a 60-yard run to set up the eventual game-winning touchdown.

“It was a good run but really blocked well,” Belichick said of the third-quarter return. “We covered kicks well, probably best game we’ve had [in preseason].”

Of course, on the negative side, his starting quarterback for Sept. 11 clearly looked the most inferior of the three on the field Friday night as Jimmy Garoppolo struggled from beginning to his end in the third quarter. His team was 0-for-7 on third down in the first half and finished just 1-for-13 and missed its only chance on fourth down.

“I think all of our players have made progress and they all have things they need to work on,” Belichick said after the game. “We’ve moved ahead in a lot of areas. But we’re certainly not where we need to be. I don’t think any player is, any coach is and I’m sure no team is at this point. But we’re all making progress and that’s good. We’ve just got to keep our foot on the gas and try to make it as quickly as we can. That goes for everybody.”

All eyes were on Tom Brady as he made his 2016 preseason debut late in the first quarter. For the first time since Sept. 23, 2001, Brady came into an NFL game (of any kind) as a substitute quarterback.

“I thought that was the best way to play him,” Belichick said of the plan for Brady.

Brady hooked up with Chris Hogan on a perfect 33-yard TD pass that dropped into Hogan’s hands to cap his second drive.

“Carolina doesn’t play a lot of single-high coverage,” Belichick said. “They do it a few times a game. They play a little bit of quarters coverage a few times a game. When you get those opportunities, you’re talking about going up on them. We did a couple of times. That’s one we hit. That’s good to see us take advantage and convert that. We hit one last year to Dobson. When they give you that opportunity, and you don’t see many of them, you’ve got to make it count. Good throw, good catch.”

Perhaps what brought the most satisfaction to Belichick on the night were the three interceptions, all by Rutgers products. Logan Ryan and Devin McCourty (thanks to a tip from Chris Long) picked off Cam Newton and Duron Harmon intercepted Derek Anderson at the Patriots goal line.

“The Rutgers connection came through for us.” Belichick said with a smile.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The film doesn’t lie. Neither does instant replay on a smart tablet on the sideline.