FOXBORO — The Patriots went through a high-speed training camp session Tuesday afternoon on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. The workout, which was in full pads (the third of the year in pads), ran for two-plus hours, and was probably the most eventful of the summer.

The following players were not spotted on the field during the workout: quarterback Matt Flynn (NFI, in sweats), special teamer Matt Slater (PUP, in shorts), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (PUP), running back Tyler Gaffney, linebacker Dane Fletcher (PUP, sweats), offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, offensive lineman Ryan Wendell (PUP, in sweats), offensive lineman Caylinn Hauptmann (PUP), defensive lineman Joe Vellano, tight end A.J. Derby, defensive lineman Chris Jones (PUP), defensive lineman Alan Branch (PUP, sweats).

In addition, linebacker Xzavier Dickson shed the red non-contact jersey that he had been wearing and linebacker Dont’a Hightower was in a red non-contact jersey again. And a handful of new faces were in attendance, but there was no way to match up names to numbers: linebackers L.J. Fort and Cameron Gordon, defensive lineman A.J. Pataiali’l and running back Erik Kettani.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman disappeared into the field house early in the workout. Without Edelman and LaFell, the offense was without two of its top three options in the passing game, and the receiving corps got even thinner just after the halfway point of practice when Brian Tyms went down after a contact injury and had to be carted off. In their place, there were plenty of passes for the likes of Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola. Amendola certainly took advantage of those reps, collecting a few touchdowns on some nice throw-and-catch routes from Tom Brady.

Brady was picked by Malcolm Butler in 11-on-11s midway through practice — it was Brady’s first turnover of the summer. (Nate Ebner got an interception on a ball for Jimmy Garoppolo earlier in practice.) The ball was intended for Josh Boyce, and Butler undercut the route. Butler also had a really impressive pass break up on a goal-line drill where he knocked the ball away from Dobson. This has been mentioned by many of my colleagues, but it certainly bears repeating: Butler has been very good over the first week of camp. He is not Darrelle Revis, version 2.0, but he’s been extremely competitive to this point in the summer, and when he’s been beaten, it’s only been because of a really impressive hookup between the quarterback and pass-catcher.

In the goal-line passing drills, Josh Boyce had a couple of really nice connections with Tom Brady in those same drills. Provided Boyce stays healthy and remains an option at kick return, he could turn things in his favor when it comes to landing a roster spot. Brandon Gibson had a nice catch he wrestled away from Jimmy Jean. Later in the same drill, Gibson had another nice reception. Later in the same drill when Garoppolo was throwing to him, Tyms was able to get open, but flat-out dropped the ball. Tyms rebounded with a nice catch in his follow-up opportunity. (In 7-on-7s later in the session, Tyms had a great catch from Brady.)

With Sebastian Vollmer remaining on a snap count (he did get some reps, but they were few and far between) and Cannon not on the field, Cameron Fleming got plenty of time with what appeared to be the starting offensive line at right tackle. And while there was plenty of shuffling up front with a lot of different combinations, it appeared that the two rookies –€” Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason — got plenty of time at the guard spots.

At kick returner, Amendola, Boyce and Travaris Cadet got a lot of reps,

Some of the highlights in the one-on-ones between the offensive line and defensive line included Eric Martin using his speed to sneak past Nate Solder, center Bryan Stork stoning Dominque Easley and wins for Jabaal Sheard against Jackson and Josh Kline. (The Sheard wins in that context are interesting because he wasn’t necessarily coming off the edge, but instead, going head to head against guards.) Jackson lost one against Sheard, but later took out his frustrations on Rufus Johnson, wrestling him to the ground. And rookie Trey Flowers ended up running a lap for jumping early.

Toward the end of practice, there was some goal-line running work, and the defense turned away the offense on a handful of occasions. That sparked some celebration and some trash-talking from the defense, led in large part by veteran safety Devin McCourty.

There were several different musical selections throughout the session, including Bon Jovi, Metallica and Green Day.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

ESPN’s Michael Wilbon joined Dennis & Callahan Tuesday to talk about the impact of the false Chris Mortensen report on the Deflategate scandal and how it will impact Tom Brady‘s legacy. To hear the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

When asked if he thought Deflategate would not have gained traction without the false report from Mortensen, Wilbon concluded that it’s possible the phenomenon would have happened either way.

“I’ve thought that on occasion,” Wilbon said. “… We’d have to go back and basically eliminate the possibility that other people had said something similar. Now, do they have the number of followers, or readership, or following or the same number of years and respect in the industry that Mort has? I don’t know. … But every time I think, ‘Ok, this might not have exploded without that,’ you look at the elements out there. I don’t know what the league’s agenda is. What is the agenda? Is there an agenda? Can you prove it? Is Mort the only one who would’ve felt this way? Then I back off and say, ‘No, it probably would have exploded.’ There are a million other triggers that could’ve come into play.”

Wilbon discussed the possibility that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may be under pressure from African-American players to discipline a white superstar in whatever way possible.

“[This] was given a voice to by my dear friend and co-host Tony Kornheiser,” Wilbon said. “… So Tony’s given voice to this and is adamant about it and has said this from day one with no agitation. I’d be slow to that. Do I think that there’s certainly a feeling that Roger Goodell … has come down too hard on black players historically? Yes, there is that feeling. Does it necessarily mean that there has to be a ‘gotcha’ when Tom Brady‘s face pops up? … That would’ve been a challenge to what the NFL has done the past 50 years. All of this is complex. I find that there are no absolutes. I find that every time people tell me their absolute answers I look at them with raised eyebrows.”

According to Wilbon, neither the NFL nor Brady’s camp expected the Deflategate saga to get to this stage.

“This is a game of chicken in some ways,” Wilbon said. “Each side thought somebody from the other side was going to say, ‘Ok, I’m sorry man, my bad.’ And it never happened. It just never happened. And it appears it is not going to happen. … These things are not necessarily new. It’s a new twist with a player like Tom Brady. … I think that it’s a game of chicken and each side thought the other was going to say, ‘Alright, alright you got me. This is not a big deal. I’m going to walk away from this.'”

Wilbon touched on Brady’s legacy, saying that it’s too early to judge the impact of the whole ordeal.

“I’m not going to jump to, ‘Oh, his legacy is tarnished,'” Wilbon said. “Is this going to be out there for a while for people who want to build a case for somebody else being the greatest quarterback or build a case against the Patriots for the Patriot-hater community? Yes, this will be out there and this will be paragraph one for while. Will this somehow reduce Brady’s career in retrospect? … How much, if any at all depending on who you are?

“I have my doubts about the way Brady’s behaved during this whole thing, particularly with the Jim Gray interview, how I believe he’s been completely disingenuous at a lot of levels. But I’m the last person out there outside of New England who thinks Brady’s going to win the lawsuit and the play all the games. … If that happens, then how long does the paragraph stay above the Brady story. Brady’s legacy, to some degree, will change dramatically on what happens.”

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick got his wish when the NFL decided to move extra point attempts back from the 2-yard line, and now the Patriots and every other team will strategize accordingly.

Belichick said in January of 2014 that he would have liked to see extra points kicked from further back, saying that the ease of kicking from the 2-yard line essentially made actually running the plays pointless.

“I personally would love to see the kicking game remain as a very integral part of the game so that the kickoffs are returned and so that extra points are not over 99 percent converted because that’€™s not what extra points were when they were initially put into the game back 80 years ago, whatever it was,” Belichick said in 2014.

Now that teams will attempt extra points from the 15-yard line (two-point conversions will remain at the 2), Belichick said he and his coaching staff have discussed how they might prepare differently. Among the things to consider are whether to kick more field goals in close-yardage situations and whether to go for one or two points after scoring now that seven points won’€™t be as much of a certainty.

‘€œWe’€™ve talked a little bit about that,’€ Belichick said prior to Tuesday’€™s practice. ‘€œI think it’€™s kind of a marginal thing. I don’€™t think the pendulum has swung one way or the other, but I think marginally it’€™s a little bit more towards a two-point attempt than an extra point, but still, even extra point numbers from the 15-yard line are still, they’€™re in the high 90s, but it’€™s not 99.6 or whatever it’€™s been. We’€™re talking marginally, but it’€™s still a difference though. I don’€™t think it will have a dramatic shift in the strategy, but I think it will have some in certain situations.

Added Belichick: “Again, to me, the extra point was automatic. When you’€™re talking over 99 percent, I mean, it’€™s an automatic play. Now it’€™s less than that. It’€™s still high, but it’€™s less than that.”

Last season, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski was one of 25 kickers with a success rate of 100 on at least 20 extra point attempts. Gostkowski was 51-for-51 on PATs in addition to going 35-for-37 (94.6 percent) on field goals. He made his only attempt of under 20 yards, successfully kicking a 19-yarder in the Patriots’ Week 5 win over the Bengals.

The Patriots have been 0-for-1 in two of the last three seasons (2014 and 2012), though they were 2-for-3 in 2013.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Rob Gronkowski speaks to reporters after practice Sunday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Rob Gronkowski speaks to reporters after practice Sunday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Call it the super-sizing of the Patriots offense.

Bill Belichick was asked about unique ability of his receivers to get into end zone when the team is in the red area.

In the last five years, the primary target in that regard has been Rob Gronkowski. While there are a handful of great red zone producers in the game like Jimmy Graham, no one in football does it better than Rob Gronkowski.

On Tuesday, Belichick broke down the art of getting open in the red zone. Without mentioning Gronk by name initially, Belichick cited all the qualities a receiver needs to execute when the pressure is on inside the 20.

“I think the main thing in the red zone is whoever you’re throwing to, somehow that person has to create some separation with the defense, and it’s hard because there’s not very much space. The defense is taught to get on those guys quickly,” Belichick said.

“So, whether it’s quickness, size, ability to catch the ball away from your body with great hands consistently or maybe a person that excels in a particular route, and the technique of it, like a fade or slant or some type of push off contact play to create separation. It’s hard to get open down there. There’s not a lot of space and the defense drops seven again five or eight against five, which teams are doing a little bit more of that, going with three-man rush down there to get that extra guy in coverage. It’s just really tight.”

Gronkowski is 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds. There are few in the game that can compare to his size and catch radius, something Tom Brady has often cited as a reason for his dependance on No. 87.

“Any player that can separate, whether it’s size, quickness, hands, technique, makes them a good red area receiver. I don’t think it has to be a tight end or not a tight end,” Belichick added. “It can be anybody but the ability to do that is what makes them good.

“Obviously, bigger is better, particularly when a lot of throws in there in the red area are at the back end line, high up by the crossbar on the goal post. Those high throws in the back of the end zone, that just gives the quarterback a little bigger target but the guy’s got to have good hands to be able to bring the ball down and make a tough catch. Just being tall might help but without good hands, jumping skills, timing, concentration, that’s only one component of it.

“What about when defense knows it’s going to Gronk? “I don’t know. That’s why we have other guys on the team. They can’t double cover everybody. Only got 11 guys out there. One player draws coverage, then that lightens the load somewhere else. Coverage is somewhere else and we have individual match-ups, then sooner or later, we’re going to have to win on those individual match-ups. Every pass doesn’t go to the same guy. That’s why we have everybody else out there.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — The Patriots are back at their full training camp capacity after signing four players to their roster on Tuesday.

Before heading out for Day 5 of training camp on Tuesday afternoon, the team announced the signing of linebackers L.J. Fort and Cameron Gordon, fullback Eric Kettani and defensive lineman A.J. Pataiali’€™l (pah-tie-AH-lee-ee). The moves bring the roster size back to the 90-man maximum.

Fort, 25, has spent time in the NFL with Cleveland (2012), Denver (2013-14), Seattle (2014) and Cincinnati (2014-15). The 6-foot, 230-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Cleveland out of Northern Iowa on May 3, 2012.

He made the Cleveland 53-man roster as a rookie and played in all 16 games with one start, finishing with 13 tackles, one interception, one sack, three passes defensed and seven special teams tackles. Fort was released by Cleveland at the end of training camp in 2013 before being signed to the Denver practice squad in December of 2013.

Fort was released by Denver following training camp in 2014 and was signed by Seattle to the practice squad on Oct. 21. He was signed to the Seattle 53-man roster from the practice on Oct. 29 and saw action in one game before being released and signed back to the practice squad. Fort was released from Seattle’€™s practice squad on Nov. 11, and was signed to the Cincinnati practice squad on Nov. 26. He was released by Cincinnati on April 29, 2015.

Gordon, 24, originally signed with the Patriots on May 12, 2014, as a rookie free agent out of Michigan. The 6-foor-3, 237-pounder suffered an injury during training camp and spent his entire rookie campaign on injured reserve.

Kettani, 28, originally signed with New England as a rookie free agent out of Navy in 2009 and after spending time on the Reserve Military list, he went to training camp with the Patriots in 2011 and spent part of the 2011 and 2012 seasons on the team’€™s practice squad. The 5-11, 235-pounder, also spent time on the practice squad with Washington (2012), Kansas City (2013) and Jacksonville (2014).

Pataiali’€™l, 24, was originally signed by Baltimore as a rookie free agent out of Utah State on May 12, 2014. The 6-foot-3, 219-pounder, was released by Baltimore at the end of training camp and spent time on the practice squad of both Baltimore and Cleveland in 2014.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Chris Mortensen

Chris Mortensen

Chris Mortensen and ESPN have finally given in.

The Jan. 20 tweet that read, “NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots footballs used in Sunday’€™s AFC title game were under-inflated by 2 lbs each,” sent out by the highly respected NFL journalist, was deleted on Tuesday.

The tweet fanned the flames of Deflategate into a national inferno and the NFL, Tom Brady and the Patriots have been doing battle ever since.

The post, citing NFL sources, was retweeted by more than 14,000 Twitter users, standing as Mortensen’€™s most popular tweet for the majority of the offseason.

The information in the tweet was proven to be incorrect by the Wells Report, which showed all 11 of the Patriots’€™ footballs used in the AFC Championship Game to be within two pounds per square inch of the requisite 12.5 PSI, according to at least one of the two gauges used by NFL officials.

Patriots owner Bob Kraft cited the erroneous report in saying “this entire process” in the wake of “an initial erroneous report,” a few days after Mortensen canceled an appearance on WEEI’€™s Dallas & Callahan Morning Show some 17 hours after he claimed to be “still trying to figure out” Twitter on ESPN Radio’€™s Dan Le Batard Show. It only took six and a half months, but he finally figured it out.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Chris Mortensen and ESPN have finally given in.

Michael McCann of SI.com joins the Dale and Holley show to talk about the latest news surrounding the legal case Brady vs the NFL

[0:03:12] ... in the air and the caller was asking about defamation suit in. Tom Brady has any right there and we asked you about this before and I believe you said it was very difficult for many ...
[0:03:44] ... And others in the NFL for defamation and it would follow what Jonathan Vilma did. In the aftermath of delegate or he argued that the commissioner. Made public statements about him that would not only lies. But seriously damaged his reputation and so that would be a lawsuit that Brady was based outside the scope of the collective bargaining agreement. It's a separate area of law Briere nationalist island Massachusetts. Thank you would be under state law rather than federal law. Now the difficulty of that back kind of pursuit is one it's not gonna get him on the field it's not gonna ...
[0:06:29] ... aren't. A party in the sense that you know they're not on Tom Brady's side in the in this particular matter they're clearly. I think supporting Brady and I think that the that the judge looks at that as you know that was ultimately about an allegation that Tom Brady. Do or may have known that two other people on the team may have deflated football intentionally away that was outside the ...
[0:08:21] ... reminding via felt that he that you wage in this litigation with Tom Brady we have all of those emails you sent. Not only from Jeffords I imagine from other officials. And we can just keep. In every Friday we could just start sending more more out if one can predict the picture to reminding the NFL isn't just you vs Tom Brady. It worked out with Tom Brady technically but we're certainly supporting him. People honestly to Warren pretty well I don't think the pictures are gonna do everything Robert ...






Nick Caserio

Nick Caserio

With only two quarterbacks — Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo — active in training camp so far through four practices that has meant more reps for the two and even the team having scouts and director of player personnel Nick Caserio throw a few passes.

“We had two or three of our scouts step in there and Nick Caserio — pulled Nick out of the bullpen, got him out there throwing passes to the backs,” Bill Belichick joked when he was on SirusXM radio Sunday.

“Yeah, I think that they feel like they are getting good work out there once they get warmed up and ready to go,” he added. “Once you’re warmed up and ready to go you might as well throw, not till it drops, but get in the reps that you need. A lot of work these last two days have been on the running game as well. Given that the first two days were not in pads we did more work in the passing game so there’s a lot of run snaps out there.”

Third-string quarterback Matt Flynn, who the team signed this offseason, was placed on the active/non-football injury list and hasn’t seen the field yet. Belichick expects to get the veteran back on the field soon.

“Hopefully we’ll get [Matt] Flynn back out there soon,” Belichick said. “I think he’s pretty close to returning, we’ll take it day-by-day, but hopefully it’s not a long-term thing. That will give us three guys.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

If second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is forced to start any games this season because of a potential Tom Brady suspension, it seems he has the backing of a number of his teammates, including running back LeGarrette Blount.