It’s becoming more and more clear just how far apart the NFLPA and the NFL were in their negotiations in settling Tom Brady‘s appeal of his four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate.

It’s becoming more and more clear just how far apart the NFLPA and the NFL were in their negotiations in settling Tom Brady‘s appeal of his four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate.

According to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, the NFL never made formal settlement offer, but indicated they were willing to cut the suspension to three games if Brady admitted Deflategate guilt.

Brady and the NFLPA have indicated they wouldn’t accept any penalty that had the quarterback admitting guilt.

The two sides met again with Judge Richard Berman in New York Monday, but a settlement was not reached. Berman said he will rule on the case at some point this week.

The Patriots’ regular season opener is a week from Thursday against the Steelers.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Malcolm Butler

Malcolm Butler

FOXBORO — The biggest change to the secondary this season is Malcolm Butler’€™s move to left corner, where he has enormous shoes to fill with Darrelle Revis a Jet once again. While there will be questions in New England’€™s secondary until it shows sustained stability, the Patriots seem confident in Butler’€™s move to a key role in his second professional season.

“Much improved, much improved on everything,” Bill Belichick said Monday of Butler’€™s progression from his rookie season to now. “He worked hard in the offseason. It’€™s obviously just his second year, the change of lifestyle, becoming a professional athlete, working at this job every day, becoming more mature, more dependable, having a better understanding of what we do, having a better understanding of what our opponents do or the passing game in the National Football League. He’€™s made a huge jump from year one to year two as most of our other players have.”

It’€™s odd to know the pinnacle of a player’€™s career so early into it, as Butler will always be best-known for intercepting Russell Wilson in the final minute of the Super Bowl in February. The next thing Butler can do is establish himself as a starting cornerback, something he was not as a rookie due to both his lack of experience and the Patriots’€™ depth at the position.

The Patriots are now leaning on him to replace Revis and prevent New England’€™s secondary from getting picked on by opposing quarterbacks. As he continues to learn the ropes, he’€™s leaning on former All-Pro cornerback and current very-much-non All Pro cornerback Devin McCourty.

A star at safety, McCourty isn’€™t the oldest member of the Patriots’€™ secondary, but he’€™s certainly the best. As he enters his sixth season in the NFL, McCourty is being looked to as a leader of a group that lost Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in the offseason.

“That’s the quarterback of the defense I would say, him and Mayo,” Butler said Monday. “Devin back there gets us fired up for the game. He doesn’t only lead by example, but his words lead by action. Just a great player, great leader, doing great things.”

McCourty returned Butler’€™s praise.

“He’€™s a hard worker,” McCourty said of Butler. “I think that started last year, I guess everyone knows him from coming in in the Super Bowl, but since he came in here in OTAs and everything, he’€™s just been putting in a ton of hard work.”

The beginning of McCourty’€™s career was rather odd. He was an immediate star cornerback as a rookie following his first-round selection, but he regressed as a corner the next season. Since then, he’€™s becoming one of the top safeties in the league.

Butler, on the other hand, was undrafted and started just one game as a rookie. The expectations on him are very high, as his cornerback spot is where many feel the Patriots are set; the right corner spot is currently more up in the air, with Tarell Brown the favorite at the moment.

Given how well Butler has performed in the preseason, it’€™s reasonable to agree with that line of thinking. Belichick feels OK with Butler where he is because he feels that players drastically improve from their rookie seasons to their second seasons.

“I think that’€™s where players make the biggest leap is A, you have that understanding of what it’€™s going to be like. It’€™s not new; you at least know what training camp is going to be like, what a regular season is going to be like, what a game is going to be like, what the coaches expect, all those kinds of things,” Belichick said. “So you have a little bit better idea of being able to plan or anticipate for it, but then the knowledge that you have about yourself, about your opponents, about how things worked, and that’€™s a huge amount of information that those second-year players have that the rookies just don’€™t have no matter how smart they are or how hard they work or whatever they’€™ve been exposed to in the past, some more than others. But going through it and experiencing it is invaluable, really.”

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Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Rob Gronkowski talked about getting ready for the regular season without playing in preseason games. (WEEI.com)

Rob Gronkowski talked about getting ready for the regular season without playing in preseason games. (WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski hasn’t played in a preseason game since 2012.

Whether it’s been the tight end coming off an injury the season prior, or the team just wanting him to stay healthy for the regular season, Gronkowski playing in the preseason simply isn’t worth it.

Since he isn’t getting preseason game reps, he still needs to get his body in game shape so he’s ready for Week 1. The tight end said it comes down to working hard and putting in extra time after practice.

“To get ready for the season, mentally and physically you have to be up on the playbook. You have to know your plays. During the meetings you need to know what you have to do when you step out on the field,” Gronkowski said. “The physical part, you have to be in the weight room when you have some time off to keep your muscles strong and work yourself hard. Push your body to the limit during camp and practice harder than the games. Go out there and do a little extra conditioning so when the season comes, it’s a long haul, your body is mentally and physically ready.”

It’s unlikely Gronkowski and many other starters play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Giants.

The Patriots open the season Thursday, Sept. 10 at home against the Steelers. Playing their first regular season game on a Thursday night provides some challenges, according to coach Bill Belichick, but Gronkowski said it will just be like a regular week for him.

“I’ve never played a Thursday night game opening up so I kind of feel like it won’t change my preparation at all because I know it’s the first game of the season for myself,” he said. “I just have to go out there the days leading up to the game and prepare for the game like any other time.”

In the third preseason game the Patriots lost fullback James Develin to a reported broken tibia — a player Gronkowski called the team’s “thumper.”

There are some similarities between the two positions, so it would not be out of the question to see Gronkowski and other tight end Michael Hoomanawanui line up in the backfield on a few plays in Develin’s absence.

If that is the case, Gronkowski would be ready.

“There’s definitely similarities at each position — tight end, fullback,” he said. “You see the fullback lined up at tight end, tight ends line up at fullback. It’s all what you can do as a player. You have to do your job. The more you can do the better off you are. If I ever got asked to play fullback — I know I’ve lined up in the backfield a couple of times playing fullback so it’s a position that interchanges and you can play both.”

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Patriots wideout Danny Amendola joined Merloni & Fauria as part of WEEI’s Patriots Monday to talk about the Reggie Wayne signing and other team news. To hear the interview, go to the Merloni & Fauria audio on demand page.

Amendola discussed the value a veteran with Wayne’s experience provides for the team.

“Guy’s been in the league for 15 years, so he’s been through quite a few training camps,” Amendola said. “He’s a guy who’s been around forever and has a lot of knowledge and insight on how to play the position. It’s great to have a guy like that in the room.

“He’s a vet and he’s picking it up very quickly. He’s running around in practice really well still and trying to make as many plays as he can. It’s been good to get to know him here for the last week and in the future.”

Following Amendola’s 20-yard catch in Friday’s preseason game against the Panthers, the Patriots offense appeared to get into more of a rhythm. When asked if that faster tempo would be a theme throughout the season, Amendola indicated it did give the offense some options.

“We made some good plays on that drive,” Amendola said. “We didn’t get what we wanted to get done on the previous couple drives, but we got points going into the half and we got some good work. We played at a higher tempo on that drive so we got some looks that we wanted to see, guys made plays when we needed them to and it was a positive going into the locker room.”

With Rob Gronkowski sitting out the rest of the preseason, Amendola said the offense will continue to do what it always does on the field even without his gigantic presence.

“No doubt, Gronk is a huge part of the offense,” Amendola said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can make plays on this offense too. [Scott] Chandler made some plays, [Michael Hoomanawanui] made some plays.

“We’re focused on what we need to do, specifically trying to [learn] our routes and [make] our conversions and stuff like that. There’s no doubt Gronk’s one of the best in the league. He’s our best player, he’s the league’s best tight end.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

DraftKings Kick off this football season with the biggest fantasy football contest ever on DraftKings! Prizes worth $10 million are up for grabs, including $2 million for first AND $1 million for second! PLAY IN THE WEEK 1 MILLIONAIRE MAKER, CLICK HERE.

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik
Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower

Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower joined Merloni & Fauria as part of WEEI’s Patriots Monday to talk about his return to game action in Friday’s preseason game against the Panthers. To hear the interview, visit the Merloni & Fauria audio on demand page.

Hightower got into his first game action of the preseason Friday, as he was slowed following shoulder surgery during the offseason

“It feels good to actually be back out there with my teammates,” he said. “I didn’t get to hit as much as I wanted to, obviously, but I’m looking forward to the next game.”

He said this experience is important because it will help him get into game shape before the regular season begins.

“Once you get two or three weeks into the season you don’t get to hit as much,” he said. “You don’t get to make your body a callus, I guess. Through training camp, through all that banging and getting that soreness out, so come Week 3 or Week 4, you feel like it’s Week 8. That’s why during training camp I wanted to get out there and hit as much as I can so I’m not new to it, and I’ve tested out my shoulder and all that stuff.”

When asked about transitioning to inside linebacker during his rookie season following the injury to Jerod Mayo, Hightower said it took him a while to get acclimated to the new position.

“What we teach in that room, it took me a little bit longer to kind of get a hold of it, being a younger guy, is that most of the time linebackers, everybody kind of looks to them for guidance or what happened, like, ‘What do we need to fix?’ ” Hightower said. “So in that first year, I knew the defense, but I didn’t know it obviously as well as I should. And having they guys around me, there wasn’t a lot of veterans, and it just sucked. I played well and it showed. And then in those last three or four games in that first year, I finally found my niche, I found like what do I need to to make myself play. Like, let me make people run into me instead of letting me chase them, like Mayo. Mayo’s fast. I’m not as fast as Mayo. I finally found my niche and it helped a lot. That learning curve really helped me a lot.”

Hightower indicated that he prefers to play outside linebacker, citing the chance to rush the quarterback.

“I really like playing outside,” Hightower said. “I like playing inside, too. You’re constantly hitting at both positions, which is why I like both of them. But I just really like to be on the edge, I like to be outside. I like to know that if somebody’s running over there, they’re running at me. … I like to be on the edge, I like to get after the quarterback. Most of the time those are the guys on the edge who do that.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On Dominique Easley’s progression: “He’s really grown up a lot. You can just kind of tell he’s more aggressive. … He’s usually one of the first ones in and the last ones out — he always works hard. And to say that he’s a high-motor guy, that’s cutting it short.”

On Devin McCourty playing safety instead of corner: “Devin probably does one of the best jobs as far as communication goes. We’ve got to get the play and the check downs and Devin has just as hard of a job, if not more, talking to Malcolm [Butler] and [the other corners]. Having him back there along with [other members of the secondary], they all do a really good job communicating, and that’s why things go smoothly.”

DraftKings Kick off this football season with the biggest fantasy football contest ever on DraftKings! Prizes worth $10 million are up for grabs, including $2 million for first AND $1 million for second! PLAY IN THE WEEK 1 MILLIONAIRE MAKER, CLICK HERE.

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik

“NFL Network” has released another preview of “Do Your Job,” their upcoming special on the 2014 Patriots. In this segment, coach Bill Belichick looks at Aqib Talib and Darrelle Revis.

DraftKings Kick off this football season with the biggest fantasy football contest ever on DraftKings! Prizes worth $10 million are up for grabs, including $2 million for first AND $1 million for second! PLAY IN THE WEEK 1 MILLIONAIRE MAKER, CLICK HERE.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Danny Amendola joined the show to talk about the addition of Reggie Wayne to the receiving group, the offensive tempo in game 3 of the preseason, and who is the most stylish in the locker room.

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Dont'a Hightower joined the show on a Patriots Monday. He spoke out the benefits of getting "calloused" as the season wears on, how he likes being on the outside because he can go after the QB, and his appreciate for how Rob Ninkovich climbed the Patriots ranks to become a starter.

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Troy Brown has always had the ear of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.   (Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Troy Brown has always had the ear of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. (Doug Benc/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Turns out, Bill Belichick does listen to the media, at least when one of those media members is a respected former player.

Troy Brown certainly fits in that category. On Monday, Belichick shared an experience he had recently when he heard Troy Brown speak about the NFL cutdown process from a player’s perspective.

“I think Troy Brown made a comment a couple of weeks ago when he said, ‘I knew that when I came into the league, I knew that it was a long shot for me to make a team. I was probably going to get cut and all that. I felt like my job every day was to make it as hard as possible for Coach Parcells to make that decision. I wanted to make his job tough for him to cut me,'” Belichick said.

Belichick said he and his staff are in a tough spot for a very good reason. Many of his players in different groups have battled hard to make the decision on whether to cut or keep a player very challenging. In two particular groups, wide receiver and running back, especially the third-down back spot, it’s going to be razor-thin.

“It’s definitely made it hard. We’ve have a lot of guys do that,” Belichick said.

“I’d say there have been a number of guys that have done that this year in preseason. They’ve kind of taken that phrase that Troy used and really have done that. They’ve forced us to make some hard decisions because of how competitively they’ve played and vice versa. Guys at a spot where there’s a lot of competition, instead of one or two guys rising and one or two guys fading out, in some cases several members of that group have all competitively risen the level of their game to make some very tough decisions.”

The wide receiver spot includes new names like Chris Harper and Jonathan Krause, both of whom have shown glimpses of being impact players to give depth behind the likes of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Reggie Wayne and Brandon LaFell. As for the running back group, it’s very, very competitive, with players like James White, Dion Lewis, Travaris Cadet and Tony Creecy all vying for valuable game reps as a third-down back to replace Shane Vereen.

“I would put the running back position in that,” Belichick said. “We’ve pretty much had the same group. We added Tony [Creecy]. We’ve pretty much had that same group when we lost [Tyler] Gaffney but we pretty much have the same group of guys since the beginning of the spring, with no rookies in that group other than Tony coming in a couple of weeks ago. Those guys have all competed well. They’ve all improved. They’ve all pushed each other. They’ve all worked really and they’ve all been productive. It’s a good example of that. They’re making it hard on us.”

DraftKings Kick off this football season with the biggest fantasy football contest ever on DraftKings! Prizes worth $10 million are up for grabs, including $2 million for first AND $1 million for second! PLAY IN THE WEEK 1 MILLIONAIRE MAKER, CLICK HERE.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia