Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo each threw a touchdown pass and Stephen Gostkowski hit another long field goal as the Patriots won their second preseason game with a 17-16 win over the Panthers at

Scott Chandler beats Thomas Davis of the Panthers to haul in a  touchdown pass from Tom Brady Friday night. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Scott Chandler beats Thomas Davis of the Panthers to haul in a touchdown pass from Tom Brady Friday night. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo each threw a touchdown pass and Stephen Gostkowski hit another long field goal as the Patriots won their second preseason game with a 17-16 win over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Brady played all seven series in the first half, leading the Patriots to just 45 total yards on the first six. Brady was flushed out of the pocket twice, leading to a pair of runs for 18 yards. He was sacked once.

But on the seventh, and in the two minute drill, Brady finally turned it on, completing 5-of-6 passes for 71 yards. The final drive just before the half was capped off when Brady threw a perfect touch pass to Chandler down the left sideline. The new Patriots tight end hauled it in for Brady’s first touchdown pass in three preseason games with 50 seconds left in the first half.

Before that pass, Brady was just 2-for-7 for 13 yards and two interceptions. Both interceptions came on passes intended for Aaron Dobson. On the first pass, Brady threw down the middle and the pass hit Dobson in the hands. As Dobson fell to the ground, he was stripped by 13-year veteran Charles Tillman.

On the next series of the first quarter, Brady threw over the middle for Dobson and was picked off by Kurt Coleman, who undercut the route. Brady finished 7-of-13 for 84 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

[For the full box, click here.]

Jimmy Garoppolo, who finished 13-of-17 yards for 126 yards, came on to start the second half for the Patriots after Cam Newton opened the third quarter with a nine-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 3-yard TD pass in the flat to Mike Tolbert.

Garoppolo looked shaky on his first series, nearly getting intercepted for a sure pick-6 by corner Bene Benwikere. One play later, Garoppolo threw to the other side of the field and was nearly intercepted again. Both reprieves were the result of Carolina drops.

The Patriots defense was outstanding in situation football in the first half, again coming up with two big red area stops. The Patriots defense was given a reprieve late in the second quarter when Corey Brown dropped a sure touchdown from Newton from the Patriots 30. Several plays later, the Brown dropped a sure first down at the Patriots 5. The two drops led to a 30-yard Graham Gano field goal that put the Panthers up, 6-0.

The Patriots defensive line showed very strong in the first half, with rookie Malcom Brown and Chandler Jones getting good push and pressure on Newton. Jerod Mayo made his first start of the preseason and combined with fellow linebacker Jamie Collins (wearing green dot) to stop the Panthers on the first drive on third and fourth down runs.

After a 39-yard field goal from Gano grew the Panthers lead to 16-7, Garoppolo had his best series of the night. He connected on a 40-yard pass down the right side to Dobson to the Panthers 9. On the very next play, Garoppolo fired a crisp pass to Dion Lewis on a slant in the end zone to cut the lead to 16-14.

LeGarrette Blount did not start but played almost exclusively as the feature back in the second half.

With 8:01 left in the fourth quarter, the Patriots sustained what could be a significant loss to their offense when one of Tom Brady‘s most dependable fullbacks James Develin was carted off the field. His right foot appeared to stick in the grass and then when it let go, it crashed into oncoming safety Dean Marlowe. Medical staff looked closely at Develin’s right ankle.

Moments later, Stephen Gostkowski connected on yet another long field goal, hitting from 53 yards to give the Patriots a 17-16 lead.

The Patriots conclude the preseason next Thursday night at Gillette Stadium with their annual preseason battle against the Giants at 7:30 p.m.

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Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Patriots tight end Scott Chandler returned to practice this week and then caught a nice 18-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady in Friday night’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.

Chandler’s wife, Alissa, and three daughters were watching at home, and Alissa tweeted out this video of their daughters’ adorable reaction to the touchdown:

Blog Author: 
WEEI

It gets worse and worse for Chris Mortensen.

It gets worse and worse for Chris Mortensen.

Less than 24 hours after going on an Arizona radio station and claiming that the Kraft family had apologized to him for implicating him as the man responsible for starting “Deflategate,” Jonathan Kraft flatly denied any such conversation ever took place.

“We haven’t and we have no need to,” the team president told the Patriots pregame radio show Friday night before the preseason game in Charlotte against the Panthers.

The irony of Mortensen’s ill-timed doubling-down on his now-deleted tweet of Jan. 20 that 11 of 12 Patriots balls used in the AFC championship were found to be two full PSI under the 12.5 minimum is that it comes just a month after he said he learned his lesson about double-checking facts before tweeting them out and deleting them sooner if found to be incorrect, as the Wells report itself proved.

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Mike Petraglia

The Patriots have claimed another player off waivers and put him on season-ending injured reserve.

Defensive end-turned-tight end Jake Bequette was put on injured reserve Friday after the team claimed him. The Patriots did the same with Brian Tyms on Tuesday.

Bequette, 26, was originally drafted by the Patriots in the third round (90th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Arkansas. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder appeared in eight games in his first two seasons and was a member of the Patriots practice squad in 2014. Bequette had spent the 2014 offseason transitioning from defensive end to tight end.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The NFL’s Vice President of Officiating explained in detail what happened in last Saturday’s replay just before halftime that left Bill Belichick bewildered.

Gene Steratore was training Barry Anderson last Saturday in the Patriots-Saints game when a replay became problematic.  (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Gene Steratore was training Barry Anderson last Saturday in the Patriots-Saints game when a replay became problematic. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The NFL’s Vice President of Officiating explained in detail what happened in last Saturday’s replay just before halftime that left Bill Belichick bewildered.

With just over a minute left, Jimmy Garoppolo completed a pass to a sliding Brandon Gibson over the middle to the Patriots 46. The clock continued to run. The Patriots got off another snap and gained another ten yards on another catch by Brandon Gibson on the sidelines.

But the second catch was mysteriously wiped out. That’s because the replay official Darryll Lewis was slow on the draw. He was trying to review the sliding catch but didn’t let referee-in-training Barry Anderson know until just before the ball was snapped with :37 left. The play went off, and then so did Belichick when he was told the penalty on the play, and the play itself didn’t count.

“There was a breakdown in communication on our end,” Dean Blandino told WEEI.com via email.

On Friday, the NFL produced a video explaining exactly what happened and what should take place in such instances.

“We’ve got to do a better job communicating, and that’s what the preseason is for, to work through all these mechanics,” Blandino said. “In essence, what happened is this play technically didn’t happen because we said that the previous play was under review. We went back and reviewed it.

“The call on the field stood and we had to reset the clock because not only would New England be losing that 10-yard gain, but then we’d be taking nine or ten seconds off the clock. So, we had to go back to the snap of the play that was voided, give New England the ball at the 46, reset the clock to 37 seconds and it was first-and-10 and we would wind on the ready.”

What should happen in the regular season?

“Mechanically, we want our replay official to stop the game sooner,” Blandino continued. “We don’t want to wait till the snap is imminent. If we do get a radio call while the play is going on, the referee is told to ignore that. We cannot stop the game in the middle of a play to review a previous play. So, it’s incumbent on the replay official to stop the game before the snap is imminent, and then, if the crew does get that notification and the play has already started, we have to ignore it, and we can’t stop the game in that instance because you create a situation where there’s confusion.

“It could be a safety issue if some players stop, some players don’t and we just have to make sure that we do a good job of communicating on both sidelines as to what’s going to happen after the review, where the ball’s going to be placed, what is going to be status of the clock. All of those things have to be explained clearly to each head coach.”

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Mike Petraglia

Rob Gronkowski hasn't had to worry about rehabbing this offseason. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski is in a class of his own among tight ends. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

This week we are taking a look at the tight ends for fantasy purposes. I’ve broken down the top 32 options and placed them into tiers as I did with the quarterbacks and wide receivers. I’ll be back next week with the running backs. If you can’t wait until next week, don’t worry. You can check out my full top 500 rankings at Rotobahn right now.

As Jim Hackett and I said on Thursday’s Fantasy Football Podcast, there are not a lot of tight ends who you can really count on, but there are a bevy of options with potential. The key to drafting tight ends in 2015 is knowing how to tell the two apart and avoiding the duds. I’ll endeavor to guide you through that in this article.

If this is your first dose of preseason fantasy football at weei.com, here are some links to what you’ve missed.

Jim and I will be back on Sunday morning, as usual, so tune in to 93.7 and catch the entire hour starting at 8 a.m. I hope you can join us! To keep tabs on all my preseason fantasy football content including all rankings and cheat sheet updates, follow me on Twitter.

Tier 1

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (1)

Do I need to say anything here? He’s the best, and he’s got a Hall of Famer throwing him the football. Gronkowski also is as healthy as we’ve seen him in years — coming off of a surgery-free offseason. He’s the biggest no-brainer in the 2015 positional rankings — outclassing the field and even Jimmy Graham by several lengths.

Tier 2

Jimmy Graham, Seahawks (2)

Maybe the only tight end who has Gronk-like upside, Graham has posted elite numbers in the past and is a red zone beast. He is going to a less-pass-happy offense than the one he’s used to, but he’ll be the best weapon Russell Wilson has ever had, and I suspect they will hook up often. Graham is the easy choice once Gronkowski is off the board at tight end.

Tier 3

Travis Kelce, Chiefs (3)

Yes, another guy with his own tier. Kelce has the scoring potential to get close to the big two, but that is still a projection because Kelce has never been a full-time player before. He will be just that in 2015, and I expect numbers that border on elite if he can stay healthy for 16 weeks. Kelce had microfracture surgery in 2013, so full health for a full season is not guaranteed. Having said that, he could be much better in 2014, a full year removed from the injury.

Tier 4

Greg Olsen, Panthers (4)

Olsen, like the three guys before him, exists in his own area of the draft. I could have put him in Kelce’s tier, but he lacks the high-end potential of Kelce. Olsen’s the No. 1 option in the Panthers passing attack. It’s hard to imagine him not producing if he is healthy. It’s just hard to project a 30-year-old player to break out to a new level of production. Having said that, he has a very good chance to maintain his level of production from last year, when he went over 1,000 yards with six touchdowns. He’s a lock starter.

Tier 5 (5-6)

Martellus Bennett, Bears
Julius Thomas, Jaguars

Bennett and Thomas both are a cut above what’s left out there. Both project as big parts of their respective offenses and both have produced at an elite level. The reason I lean toward Bennett is that he’s the tougher player, one who can play through pain. We’ve seen him do it as a Giant and as a Bear. Thomas, on the other hand, tends to get nicked up and miss time. It’s Thomas’ upside that gets him into this tier. He is one of the few tight ends who could post elite numbers outside of the big three.

Tier 6 (7-10)

Dwayne Allen, Colts
Jordan Cameron, Dolphins
Jason Witten, Cowboys
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings

Tier 6 is a large step down from Tier 5. The upside is still there, with the exception of Witten, who is fading at age 33. Allen, Cameron and Rudolph all have serious pluses. Allen is a talented receiver with good red zone chops who plays with Andrew Luck. Cameron has flashed elite potential in the past. He even had one elite year in 2013, but it’s the outlier in his four-year career. Rudolph, a second-round pick back in 2011, has high-end talent and plays in Norv Turner‘s historically tight end-friendly scheme. Sadly, Rudolph shares the same downside as Allen and Cameron. They all are big injury risks. For Cameron, the big concern is concussions. He has had multiple concussions and his recovery time has been longer than what’s considered typical. It’s a big red flag. Rudolph has played 16 games just once in his four year career. Allen missed almost all of the 2013 season and missed three games in 2014. So be careful with this group. I am fine drafting any of them, but they should not go off the board soon after the Tier 5 guys. There’s a significant value gap. I’m willing to spend a seventh- or eighth-round selection on the Tier 5 guys. For Tier 6, I am looking at Round 12 or later.

Tier 7 (11-18)

Larry Donnell, Giants
Delanie Walker, Titans
Tyler Eifert, Bengals
Antonio Gates, Chargers
Zach Ertz, Eagles
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buccaneers
Ladarius Green, Chargers
Jordan Reed, Redskins

Tier 7 is not all that unlike Tier 6, just a little bit worse. Every player in this group has nice upside or potential. Donnell has been injured most of the offseason with an Achilles issue. He’s got very good chops as a receiver, and that includes red zone work. The issue is his health and his blocking or lack thereof. With the Giants offensive line hurting, Donnell could lose snaps to a better blocking tight end. Delanie Walker may have another solid year in him, but he’s smallish and is no spring chicken at 31. Tyler Eifert has plenty of untapped potential, but until he has an extended run of good health he will be hard to invest in. Gates and Ertz both have significant appeal, but both project to miss the first month of the fantasy season. They are high-value stash options. Seferian-Jenkins has a big ceiling, and he’s a guy I am targeting if he stays on the board long enough. His issue will be staying healthy and being a little more consistent catching the football. Green’s early value could be outstanding, but projecting his role once Gates returns is tricky to be sure. Jordan Reed, when healthy, is a potentially elite PPR option. The thing is, he just hasn’t stayed healthy at all. I love him as a late-rounder in leagues, but I am not investing in him any more than that.

Tier 8 (19-25)

Virgil Green, Broncos
Richard Rodgers, Packers
Maxx Williams, Ravens
Owen Daniels, Broncos
Eric Ebron, Lions
Coby Fleener, Colts
Josh Hill, Saints

This might be my favorite tier in that I can score big and pay very little. In bigger leagues, I will draft my back up here and hope that he overtakes my starter at some point. While most people are talking about Owen Daniels having a big year with Peyton Manning, I am higher on the more athletic Virgil Green. His blocking prowess will keep him on the field and his ability as a receiver is being undersold. Richard Rodgers is a solid talent, but it’s his quarterback that gives him fantasy appeal this early in his career. You heard of Aaron Rodgers, right? Ebron is a high-end talent and he is in a good situation. I expect him to bust out at some point and become a weekly option, but he’s still developing. You can’t count on him being a big help early on. Fleener is projected to be less of a factor this year with all the new talent at wide receiver. I get it, but don’t totally discount this guy. He was Andrew Luck‘s college roommate. The two have been teammates for a long time. It would be silly to discount that connection. Josh Hill currently is playing behind ex-Patriot Ben Watson on the Saints depth chart, but that could change at some point, and I really like Hill’s upside in that offense if it does.

Tier 9 (26-32)

Vernon Davis, 49ers
Charles Clay, Bills
Jace Amaro, Jets
Heath Miller, Steelers
Garrett Graham, Texans
Crockett Gillmore, Ravens
Scott Chandler, Patriots

There’s still potential — even this late in the game. Davis is older now and he’s coming off a down year. Still, the 49ers project to throw more this season than they have in some time. Don’t forget, Davis scored 13 times back in 2013. He’s still an athletic freak. Charles Clay got paid big bucks to defect to Buffalo, but the quarterback situation there is a limiting factor for him. Amaro has an injured shoulder, but he’s a catch-first tight end once he is healthy, which should be early in the season. He’s a worthy flier, but he’s had a quiet offseason with the exception of trash talking at Rex Ryan. Heath Miller‘s stock is rising with all of the injuries in Pittsburgh. Martavis Bryant’s absence opens up some potential red zone love. Miller might be able to help you in September. Graham was a disappointment in 2014, but he’s having a very strong camp, and Bill O’Brien likes to use the tight end a lot more than his offense did in 2014. Crockett Gillmore is a big-time blocker who could win the role of in-line tight end in Baltimore. He’s having a solid camp and closed out 2014 well. Scott Chandler is a sleeper. We all know that the Patriots like to use the tight ends. Chandler’s size makes him an obvious red zone weapon.

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: 
Peter Davidson

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and NBCSports called in to Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the latest Deflategate news and Chris Mortensen’s defense of his inaccurate report.