We know that the Redskins have already tried to get their fans excited about the Patriots’ upcoming visit by blasting the news all over their website. Now, they’ve gone a step further and created a T-shirt commemorating the joint practices between Washington and New England. Not sure that we’ve ever seen anything quite like this before.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO -- Faced with the chance of providing a defensive boost in the secondary or up front this offseason, it appears the Patriots chose the latter.



FOXBORO — The Patriots defense answered the bell big time Thursday in the team’s last practice on grass before heading for Richmond and three practices in the heat of Virginia against the Redskins.

The way Tom Brady looks at it, a good physical challenge from a hard-hitting defense is just what the doctor ordered Thursday.

“They are a physical defense,” Brady said of the blue shirts. “I think all of those guys are veterans. They know how to get away with certain plays. Like holding for example ‘€“ it happens every play, so if you look close enough you’€™re going to find holding. There is an edge that you can always push it to.

“If you look at the offensive line, there’€™s holding on every play. That’€™s just the way football is. You’€™ve just got to do it in a way where the refs don’€™t see it and don’€™t call it. But that same thing goes for the defensive backfield. If there is a way to gain leverage on a particular route then you’€™re going to use it. The veterans know how to do it better; they know right where the limit is.”

Holding or not, the Patriots defense, led by Chandler Jones, Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich got the better of the Patriots offensive line on Thursday. One such example came when Jones and Ninkovich came blasting through to stop Stevan Ridley for a loss on a rush inside the 5.

On the outside, it was Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis leaving their mark, including a pick-6 on Brady. But beyond the interception, what impressed Brady was the physical pounding the defense was laying his receivers, forcing them to toughen up during practice. Brady thinks the physical challenges his receivers see in practice can only pay dividends when the games roll around.

“Absolutely, I think that’€™s what defenses do,” Brady said. “We’€™ll go into games and say, look, these guys hold on every play. They grab you, they clutch you, they hold you, but we still have to figure out a way to get open. It’€™s not flag football. Their hands are going to be on you, and the refs, they’€™re only going to call it when you pass the limit of where they think the limit is.

“That’€™s just part of football, and I think the best defenses I’€™ve ever played against ‘€“ they get their hands on you, and they don’€™t let you get into your route, and they disrupt the timing. Our corners, Kyle Arrington, and linebackers in coverage do a great job of that, too. But we’€™ve got to learn to be just as physical. We’€™ve got to learn to push off in the right way and get our leverage because that’€™s how it’€™s going to be when it matters.”

Here is the rest of Tom Brady‘s presser Thursday:

Q: What are your early impressions of James White?

TB: He’€™s done a great job since he’€™s got here. He’€™s got a real maturity for someone who is just getting out of college. He’€™s made a lot of really great plays out here. We’€™re all trying to work to get better, and we’€™re all trying to make improvements. We can all do it. The young players need to come out here and keep working hard, and he’€™s one of those guys who has been out here every day so he’€™s been able to do that. He’€™s been able to make a mistake, get the correction, come out again and not make the mistake the next day, so it’€™s been great.

Q: Has James White surprised you in his versatility, seeing that many people thought he was drafted as a third-down back?

TB: I knew when we drafted him everyone really liked him, so that’€™s why he’€™s here, because I think everyone thinks he can contribute to the team and he can make a big impact on the team. He’€™s done that. He’€™s definitely someone who has come every day, and he makes really impressive plays for a young player. The more of those guys we have, the better we’€™re going to be collectively, and that’€™s what training camp really gives everybody an opportunity to do ‘€“ because you get the chance, and you want to try to go out and show people what you’€™re capable of, you want to go out and surprise people that they didn’€™t think you’€™re capable of something, and you show them that you can do it. That’€™s where you really gain the trust of your coaches and your teammates.

Q: How much more comfortable is Danny Amendola this year now that he has a full season in the system under his belt?

TB: I think everybody ‘€“ Danny and all of the guys who are coming in here after their first year with our team ‘€“ it’€™s a different offense. We do quite a few things, we move guys around a lot, there are a lot of post-snap reads, a lot of pre-snap reads, there is a lot of non-verbal communication that goes on. So we’€™re still working at it, and he’€™s been out here every day working his butt off, too. That’€™s been great to see, and for the most part we’€™ve had full participation, so that’€™s really helping our team get better to be out here on the field doing the things that we’€™re going to need to be able to do.

Q: How much does it hurt Aaron Dobson’€™s development that he can’€™t be out here working with you?

TB: I think all of the guys are in different situations. It certainly doesn’€™t help not to practice, but if you’€™re dealing with something, you’€™re dealing with it. There is nothing you can really do. You’€™ve just got to do what the trainers tell you to do. I know he’€™s working hard and he wants to be out here. Whenever he gets back out here, it’€™ll be great to have him back out here because he was a really great player for us last year, and we need that this year.

Q: Will it be refreshing to go down to Washington, D.C. and evaluate yourself against another team?

TB: Sure, since the spring, I don’€™t know how many practices we’€™ve had ‘€“ 21, 22. They’€™ve seen a lot of stuff that we do, we’€™ve kind of know them a little bit, but you’€™ll get some different competition. This is all good for us, too. There are sometimes when you play a team twice in a year, and they’€™re really familiar with you, you’€™re familiar with them, and ultimately you’€™ve got to go out and the fundamentals of the game kick in. You’€™ve got to make the plays, you’€™ve got to make the reads, you’€™ve got to do the fundamentals of the game that allow you to win the game. Block, tackle ‘€“ all those things are really important. That’€™s kind of the fundamentals of the camp. You can’€™t scheme every play against our particular defense. We’€™re just trying to install the things that we do. There are some plays that we run that we’€™d probably never run if we knew a team was going to play this style of defense that they’€™re playing, but it’€™s still good work.

Q: Now that you’€™re getting ready to turn 37, how do you maintain your exuberance for the game?

TB: I think I owe it to my teammates to bring the enthusiasm and energy every day. There are no days off for the quarterback. I think we try to set a great example, and I learned that from the guys that I’€™ve played with my whole career, whether it was at Michigan, or whether it was Drew Bledsoe or Damon Huard ‘€“ all the guys I’€™ve taken something from. I’€™ve been lucky to do something I really love to do. I’€™d love to keep doing it, so that’€™s a great motivation for me to come out. Where else would I rather be? This is a lot better than any cubicle I could probably think of. It’€™s a pretty good office.

Q: How much has [trainer] Alex Guerrero helped you?

TB: More than anyone could ever realize. He’€™s been someone I’€™ve been very lucky to work with for a long time. He’€™s my best friend, and he’€™s phenomenal at what he does ‘€“ probably the best in the world ‘€“ so I’€™m pretty lucky.

Q: When you were growing up, could you have ever dreamed about what has happened to you?

TB: No, you probably couldn’€™t. Of course, it feels just like my life, and it feels like the things that I’€™ve done my whole life, but you’€™re right. It’€™s been a lot of progression and a lot of things to get to this point, so I don’€™t take any of those things for granted. I’€™m certainly appreciative of doing something I really love to do for a profession. I like being a good example for some young athletes and for my teammates of how to do things the right way.

Q: Are you still trying to prove people wrong or are you past that?

TB: I don’€™t think you’€™re ever past that. I think that’€™s part of your character when you’€™re faced with [adversity]. Everybody has faced adversity in their career. You ask any player in the locker room, any coach, and they’€™ve dealt with something. We’€™ve all got a story to tell. It’€™s not easy to get to this point for anybody. It’€™s a lot of hard work and commitment by a lot of guys, but we’€™re very fortunate to be in the positions we’€™re in. We’€™re just going to go out and try to, as Coach Belichick always says, be a pillar in the community and also win a lot of football games.

Q: What are your thoughts on Ty Law going into the Hall of Fame?

TB: It’€™s great. It’€™s really cool how the Hall of Fame has evolved over the last few years, and some really great players have been in there. And Ty is one of the best that I’€™ve ever played against. He had a great, unique play style, and he’€™s another guy who really made quarterbacks pay. He was really a playmaker, and I had a lot of experience going up against him when I was younger, and he made a lot of plays for us in big games. It’€™s cool to see him go in. He’€™s been around quite a bit, so I’€™ve always kept in touch with him, and it’€™ll be really cool to see on Friday night.

Q: What have you seen from James Anderson and Jamie Collins in coverage?

TB: We’€™ve got a lot of linebackers that can cover, and they do a great job covering. I think Jamie has done a great job of that since he’€™s got here. And James [Anderson], Jerod [Mayo], Don’€™t’€™a [Hightower] ‘€“ all those guys ‘€“ they’€™re good. They’€™re big, they’€™re physical, they’€™re athletic, they’€™re quick, they’€™ve got good long speed, so there are no easy plays out there. If you make the play, you’€™ve got to earn it, and they’€™re going to make you earn it on every play.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

WEEI_FantasyFootball_2013_hdr_v6

Last week we took a look at the top 50 wide receivers. This week we will get into the signal callers and break them down into tiers as we did with the receivers. Jim Hackett and I will get even deeper into the quarterbacks in our weekly podcast that will be posted tomorrow. I am also pleased to announce that Jim and I will be hosting a new show on WEEI 93.7 called “The Fantasy Football Hour.” Our first episode airs Aug. 10 at 7:30 a.m., and we’€™ll be on every Sunday throughout the NFL season. If you missed my article on high-value targets, give it a read. It points out some nice value opportunities based on average draft position.

2014 features perhaps the deepest group of fantasy quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. For years, Rotobahn has been preaching patience when drafting passers — and never has that approach been more prudent than it is for this season. There simply is no way you can get shut out at the position. Sure, some outcomes are better than others, but you are not taking a big risk by waiting on a quarterback because, quite simply, they will not be depleted unless you are playing in a league that allows teams to start more than one quarterback.

If you are looking for more information on any particular quarterback or player, go to rotobahn.com and check out our top 400. If your player isn’t listed there, you should strongly consider getting him off of your redraft board.

Tier 1 (1)

Peyton Manning, Broncos

Yes, for fantasy purposes he’€™s all alone. If there is a valid argument for taking an early quarterback, it’€™s Manning’€™s scoring gap over second place. Even though I expect a mild statistical regression, there’€™s still Manning and then everybody else. Yes, he lost a very reliable option when Eric Decker signed with the Jets, but the Broncos added Emmanuel Sanders and drafted Cody Latimer. Latimer has a skill set that ultimately could make Denver fans forget about Eric Decker. Check out Latimer’s Rotobahn scouting report if you haven’t already.

Tier 2 (2-3)

Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Drew Brees, Saints

Just about all of Rodgers’€™ arrows are pointing up. As long as he avoids another season-ending injury, he’€™s about as safe as it gets as a performer and his receivers are talented and deeply immersed in the Green Bay offense. Brees is the definition of consistency. That’€™s why he’€™s an elite option, and that’€™s why people overdraft him in most leagues. Though he’€™s showing some signs of age, that should be counter-balanced by the influx of young receivers. We are very high on Kenny Stills, who played 60 percent of the offensive snaps as a rookie, and this year’€™s first-round selection, Brandin Cooks. This could give Brees the kind of shot in the arm that Manning got from Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in 2012.

Tier 3 (4-7)

Matt Stafford, Lions
Andrew Luck, Colts
Nick Foles, Eagles
Robert Griffin III, Washington

By my math, you have three very secure options at the top of this tier. Stafford, Luck and Foles all are in very good situations and they’€™re all big strong-armed passers with quality targets. Griffin also has quality targets, and we like new head coach/offensive coordinator Jay Gruden‘€™s offense in terms of its flexibility. Griffin is the lottery ticket of the group. He is one of the few players who could outscore everybody, but the injury risks are obvious and real. If you do choose to roll the bones on RGIII, you’€™ll want to back him up with a strong option, ideally from the next tier.

Tier 4 (8-14)

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
Jay Cutler, Bears
Matt Ryan, Falcons
Cam Newton, Panthers
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Tom Brady, Patriots
Tony Romo, Cowboys

This is perhaps the crucial tier to understand if you are going to use our drafting advice. Even after every team in the league has drafted its starter, there should be a Tier 4 option on the board. Tier 4 protects you. Tier 4 is your buddy. It’€™s your pal. Think about it — no matter what happens at the position in the early to middle rounds, you will almost always be able to get a quarterback from this tier. These are all desirable options with elite upside. My general strategy is to nab a quarterback from this tier in or around the ninth round. If the quarterbacks are going later than expected and I have a middle draft position, I will push the envelope and wait even longer.

And, even if other owners are getting antsy and drafting their backup quarterbacks early, you still have another two tiers of startable options coming up.

Tier 5 (15-17)

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Andy Dalton. Bengals
Philip Rivers, Chargers

This tier may not be exciting, but you’€™ll get solid weekly output. Rivers could be ranked higher, but he has a schedule with a lot of tough matchups. The Chargers get the NFC West in 2014. Big Ben has plenty of appeal and just missed the fourth tier. His weapons are better in 2014 and his health is looking good. Dalton has outstanding talent around him and should continue to post respectable numbers. His fantasy performance the last two seasons has been better than a lot of people realize.

Tier 6 (18-23)

Eli Manning, Giants
Johnny Manziel, Browns
Carson Palmer, Cardinals
Sam Bradford, Rams
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
Joe Flacco, Ravens

There are a lot of flavors in this tier, but there’€™s one commonality, and it is value. These quarterbacks will be playable in plus matchups but also have the potential to be weekly options if things go well. Bradford and Palmer play in the nastiest division in recent memory, so they likely will stay in the matchup play column. Tannehill, Manning, Manziel and Flacco could all surprise and they all have the potential to be weekly starters. Manziel is no lock to start. If he was we’€™d have him a tier higher. As I said through the offseason, Manziel’€™s fantasy value should exceed his real football value. His foot-point potential is special. The important takeaway from this tier is, again, depth. You could roll with a guy like Tannehill as your starter if you had to.

Tier 7 (24-29)

Josh McCown, Buccaneers
Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings
Alex Smith, Chiefs
Jake Locker, Titans
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Texans
EJ Manuel, Bills

Again, the depth is staggering. I may not want these guys in my lineup just yet, but they all have scoring potential for one reason or another. McCown and Fitzpatrick have great surrounding talent. Smith, Locker and Manuel have the ability to augment their passing stats with foot points, and that raises their floor. Bridgewater has both surrounding talent and above-average mobility. He’€™s here for his upside in Norv Turner‘€™s offense. We’€™ll move him back if Matt Cassel ends up starting, but we don’€™t see that happening — and if it does, it won’€™t be for long.

Tier 8 (30-32)

Geno Smith, Jets
Chad Henne, Jaguars
Matt Schaub, Raiders

The only guy with upside here is Smith, but drafting him as a backup is chancy in that Michael Vick could take the job quickly if given the chance. Henne is a solid bye week option if his receivers stay healthy, but you can do better in almost any scenario. Schaub is a poor bet for value, and the Raiders have a rookie in waiting. None for me, thanks.

Tier 9 (bonus tier)

Michael Vick, Jets
Derek Carr, Raiders
Mike Glennon, Buccaneers
Matt Flynn, Packers
Kirk Cousins, Washington

You probably don’€™t want to be drafting any of these guys in redraft leagues with the possible exception of Vick, who has plenty of fantasy upside if he is starting in Marty Mornhinweg‘€™s offense. Carr has great ability and some nice depth at receiver, but Schaub is going to play for a while, it seems. If and when Carr gets in there, he has some fantasy upside. Glennon would have value if he starts at some point because of all the weapons. It’€™s the same deal for Flynn and Cousins in Green Bay and Washington, respectively. When the Bears announce a backup, that player will get added to this list. Our early money is on Jimmy Clausen, who could post some nice stats throwing to all the beasts in Chicago’€™s offense.

To keep up with future articles and crucial fantasy information, follow me on Twitter.

Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson

brightcove.createExperiences();

FOXBORO — What’s a little competition to Tom Brady, even if it comes in training camp?


FOXBORO — What’s a little competition to Tom Brady, even if it comes in training camp?

The Patriots held their third straight day of padded practice Thursday on the grass fields outside Gillette Stadium and it was a big day for the defense.

Darrelle Revis intercepted Brady on a pass over the middle intended for Kenbrell Thompkins as the offense worked on being backed up against their own goal line. Brandon Browner and Devin McCourty broke up a Brady pass intended for Brandon LaFell in the end zone.

“They’€™re both great players, so when you make a mistake, they make you pay, and I think that’€™s the mark of a really good corner,” Brady said of Revis and Browner. “As a quarterback, you’€™re always trying to find the weak link in the defense, and neither of those guys are weak links. Sometimes, we’€™ve got to go after them, [and] we’€™ve got to try to see if we can make a play. But like I said, if you miss a little bit, they end making the play. It’€™s great work for us, and you understand what you’€™re up against.”

It wasn’t just the secondary showing off. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich helped stop Stevan Ridley for a loss on a red zone run inside the 10, causing Devin McCourty and the rest of the defense to celebrate jubilantly.

Brady says its all part of camp.

“There are a lot of competitions out there, so every drill, a coach pits the offense against the defense, and when we review the film at night there’€™s one side that’€™s getting praise and the other side is getting the opposite. You want to be the one who gets praised all the time, but in situations like this, it all kind of balances out. The defense makes a lot of good plays out there and we make our fair share. Hopefully when we play a different opponent, both of us are clicking the way we need to.”

The Patriots will return to practice Friday inside Gillette Stadium for a workout for season ticket holder and residents of South Walpole and Foxboro.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — The Patriots wrapped up their seventh session of training camp and fifth in pads Wednesday. It was a beautiful summer morning, and the workout ran for just over two hours in front of a big crowd on the practice fields behind Gillette. Here are a few quick notes:

Matthew Slater was back on the field in pads, and Josh Boyce was also among those returning to practice. Meanwhile, linebacker Cameron Gordon was not on the field for the first time this summer. In addition, center Bryan Stork, tight end Michael Hoomanwanui, running back Tyler Gaffney and offensive lineman Chris Martin were among those not present.

– The highlight of the morning likely came late in the 11-on-11 drills. With the Patriots offense working at their own 1-yard line, quarterback Tom Brady dropped back and zipped a pass over the middle. Cornerback Darrelle Revis stepped in front of the pass and took it back roughly six yards for the score. The play drew a big cheer from the crowd, as well as the rest of the defense. Later in the same series of drills, the defense bottled up running back Stevan Ridley in a goal-line drill — the defense was cleared fired up.

Marcus Cannon was getting a lot of work at right guard with what appeared to be a reasonable facsimile of the starting offensive line. Last year’s starting right guard Dan Connolly got a lot of work at center, likely giving Ryan Wendell a bit of a rest because Stork wasn’t on the field.

Rob Gronkowski was in pads again, but didn’t appear to be involved in any of the 11-on-11 drills. He did get his daily dose of work on the side with Brady, and once again, Revis worked to provide some level of defense on Gronkowski.

– In that same vein, Alfonzo Dennard was again back on the field in pads, but didn’t appear to get any work in the 11-on-11 drills.

Julian Edelman and Roy Finch worked as punt returners.

– No fireworks from Brandon Browner, who spent a relatively quiet morning going through drills with the rest of the defensive backs.

– In 11-on-11s, at the end of a Brady pass for James White, the rookie busted into the secondary and got popped by Revis, drawing a cheer from the crowd. In the same series of drills, Ryan Mallett found Shane Vereen out of the backfield, and the running back took off down the sideline for the end zone on a crisply executed play.

– The 6-foot-8, 275-pound Justin Jones is a massive and intriguing presence at tight end. He’s not the fastest guy in the world, but he presents himself as a massive target, and when a quarterback is able to get the ball in his general vicinity, he makes the catch. (He dropped a laser from Mallett in 7-on-7 drills Thursday morning.) He made a great catch in the back of the end zone in 11-on-11 drills on a ball from Mallett. While he’s probably behind D.J. Williams on the depth chart at this point in the summer, Jones is certainly one to watch as the preseason and camp continues.

Jimmy Garoppolo continues to be a mixed bag, to be kind. He badly overthrew a receiver in an early 7-on-7 drill, and missed a throw to Brian Tyms. Later in the same drill, he overthrew Tyms on an attempted deep ball. (For what it’s worth, Tyms has grown into Garoppolo’s favorite target — the combo could be this summer’s version of Tim Tebow and Quentin Sims.) And at the end of practice, Malcolm Butler picked off Garoppolo in 11-on-11s, and almost directly after that, was almost crushed by Michael Buchanan coming off the edge. There’s no sign that any sort of deal is imminent, but if Garoppolo continues to struggle this summer, I’m not sure the Patriots would be inclined to trade  Mallett.

– Edelman continues to have an excellent camp. The receiver has consistently been where he needs to be when it comes to routes, and as far as I can tell, there haven’t been any cases where Edelman and the quarterback weren’t on the same page. (Not to mention the fact that he’s caught everything that’s been thrown in his direction, particularly when going up against Revis.) He had a great catch on a deep ball against Arrington late in camp in 11-on-11s. At this point, Edelman appears to be poised to have a terrific year.

– Backup offensive lineman Jordan Devey took a lap late in practice for an unknown transgression.

– Former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk was on the sidelines watching practice, and spent time chatting with Brady during the workout.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

brightcove.createExperiences();

FOXBORO — When defensive back Brandon Browner got in Kenbrell Thompkins face Wednesday, the Patriots receiver didn’t take it personally.


FOXBORO — When defensive back Brandon Browner got in Kenbrell Thompkins face Wednesday, the Patriots receiver didn’t take it personally.

After all, the receiver has been making big play after big play on him and figured the time had come in the training camp one-on-one competition for Browner to rise up. He did, with an interception, his first of training camp and a strip of a ball on another play against Thompkins.

Thompkins said the early sparring session in Wednesday’s padded practice was not something that will carry over to another practice.

“I don’t think so,” Thompkins said. “We still have a lot of practice against each other. We’re just out there being competitive. He’s competing against the wide receiver position. We’re competing and those things happen. At the end of the day, we go in the locker room and we all see each other’s faces and we have another six hours together. Hopefully, we’ll crack a couple of jokes later.”

Earlier in practice, during red zone drills, Browner got so frustrated he just pushed Thompkins in the back as he was beaten on a corner route in the end zone. Minutes later, in another passing drill, Browner had seen enough and got physical and loud.

The sparring session caused receivers coach Chad O’Shea to intervene, naturally defending his receiver. Browner didn’t take kindly to that and got in the face of O’Shea.

“The receiver position, it’s our job to make sure we get open and make sure we catch the ball,” Thompkins said. “Our coach always preach those two things.”

They may have wanted to rip each other apart for a brief moment Wednesday but both praised the other after practice, including Thompkins, who said he’ll benefit from going up against a 6-foot-6 defensive back at the line of scrimmage.

“He’s a tremendous athlete. All of those guys are tremendous athletes,” Thompkins said. “Brandon has great length. You just pretty much have to work against every DB we have out there. We have to make sure we work on our releases and are getting open.”

Thompkins said the important lesson of Wednesday is to learn from the emotion on the field and use the passion to make better plays.

“Hopefully we can just get better from it,” Thompkins said. “Just leave it on the field.”

Asked if he would “hug it out” with Browner as Browner said he did with O’Shea, Thompkins said he would just settle for some civil conversation.

“We’ll talk it out,” Thompkins said.

Thompkins made a point to tip his cap to the entire Patriots secondary as a group, not just newcomers Browner and Darrelle Revis.

“I don’t think it’s [only] two,” Thompkins said. “We have a great group, a great bunch at the corner position right now. I think they’re all competitive and they’re all working hard and we’re all trying to make each other better at the end of the day.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
With a new attitude, tight end D.J. Williams is primed for his best season yet (AP).

With a new attitude, tight end D.J. Williams is primed for what could be a breakout season (AP).

FOXBORO — For tight end D.J. Williams he’€™s been in the NFL for three years with the Patriots being his third team. After being cut three times last season, including once by the Patriots and having only nine career catches and no touchdowns, the 25-year-old has a new outlook on how to approach the game.

“It came with sitting on the couch for a couple of weeks not having a job waiting on a phone call,” Williams said after practice on Wednesday. “I don’€™t want to be that guy who is sitting at home saying he didn’€™t get his chance because of a hamstring or anything like that. I want to say I gave it my best, everything I had and it didn’€™t work out, but I couldn’€™t say that. I don’€™t want to let that opportunity slip through my hands again.”

After being drafted by the Packers out of the University of Arkansas in the fifth-round in 2011, he was cut before the start of the 2013 season and picked up by the Jaguars. He didn’€™t record a catch in seven games with Jacksonville and was let go.

With injuries at tight end the Patriots claimed Williams in late November, but after just one game he was let go once again as fellow tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was deemed healthy again. Then, a week after being cut he was re-signed when Rob Gronkowski went down with a season-ending ACL tear.

This brings Williams to his fourth training camp, one he is looking to make the most of.

“I have the attitude now after being cut three times in one year — you stop pointing fingers saying this guy got paid, it didn’€™t work out in this system — the only person that has anything to do with it I found out is myself,” Williams said. “Looking back at it, I got comfortable. That is a terrible thing to do. Once I realized it was all my fault I stopped beating myself each and everyday. I approach everyday as a new day that you can get better and I don’€™t want to beat myself anymore.”

After working out for much of the offseason with fullback James Develin, a player he became close with in his short time with the organization last year, Williams is ready to compete for a spot on the final 53-man roster.

“It was intense. I got together with my boy James Devlin. We were in the weight room getting after it and when we were away from each other we were sending video messages to each other seeing who could lift more weight,” he said. “He has me right now.”

With the team not having a true backup for Gronkowski, Williams is looking to be that guy as he is versatile in the fact he can both block and catch passes well. Currently the Patriots have five tight ends on the roster, with two rookies — Justin Jones and Asa Watson. In all likelihood the team will carry two or three tight ends on the final 53-man roster, so with Hoomanawanui missing the last two days of practice, Williams could have an upper hand at making the team.

“I’€™ve started to learn you can’€™t control the hand that is dealt, you can just control how well you play,” Williams said. “I am here now. I really love the system and I am going to do my best to make sure I can be as productive as I can not for myself, but for the team.”

Williams, who when was signed last season compared the offense to a attractive Hispanic lady, with his new approach on the game could be primed for his best season yet.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable