With Dion Lewis on the shelf, james White is going to get more work this season. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

With Dion Lewis on the shelf, james White is going to get more work this season. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — James White is ready for another chance at the spotlight.

With the news that Dion Lewis is expected to miss the start of the regular season with more knee issues, the third-year back out of Wisconsin is expected to see an increase in reps as the primary third-down option out of the backfield for the Patriots.

The 5-foot-9, 204-pounder, who stepped in down the stretch and into the playoffs last year following Lewis’ initial knee injury, said before practice on Monday that he anticipates leaning on his on-field work last season as a guidepost for this season.

“I had some experience last year, getting an opportunity to play — just play with more confidence,” said the 24-year-old White, who has three catches for 73 yards in two games this preseason. “Go out there and practice and take it one day at a time and do whatever I can to help this team.”

He added: “Just doing that during practice and repping with those guys. Like I said, when you can do it in practice, it makes it easier in the game. You build trust with the offense as a whole. That’s what you try and do.”

Last season, White had 40 catches for 410 yards and four touchdowns, to go along with 22 carries for 56 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Aside from the numbers, two areas where White aims to improve on last year’s performance is in blitz pickup and running the ball between the tackles.

The Patriots have had a long-established tradition of third-down backs excelling when it comes to working in pass protection, and while White was overwhelmed at times last year, it’s one of his primary points of emphasis this offseason.

“It’s a constant work in progress,” he said when asked about the art of blitz pickup. “You have different guys, different types of guys that blitz, so you just try and work at it in practice every day. We have some great linebackers here, so you go up against them in practice, it makes you a better blocker.”

As for an ability to run between the tackles, White is aiming to replicate the sort of production he had while at Wisconsin, when he managed 4,015 rushing yards and a 6.2 yards per carry average in four seasons with the Badgers.

“Just working hard during practice at it. That’s how when you’re going to get the most work in pads. Trusting the run reads, knowing what you have to read. And just running hard,” he said. “You’re not going to be great at everything at the start. You have to be patient sometimes and keep working at it.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.22.16 AM

Rob Ninkovich speaks to reporters in Foxboro. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Rob Ninkovich is in a tough spot.

But as the pass rushing specialist indicated Sunday, he’s at least got the chance to fight through adversity and get back on the playing field. With Chandler Jones off to Arizona, Ninkovich is the most accomplished best pass-rushing specialist on the roster, totaling 30.5 sacks, including 6.5 last season.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since tearing his triceps on Aug. 9 in a joint practice with the Saints, Ninkovich said he’s getting his practice in as much as the injury would allow.

As a rookie with the Saints in 2006, his season ended after just three regular season games with a knee injury. The next summer, another knee injury wiped out his preseason and he was waived.

He went back and forth between the Saints and Dolphins before the Patriots signed him in 2009. His injury luck has changed with the Patriots. In that first season, he played 15 games. He’s played in every game since 2010 and hasn’t missed a start since 2011.

“It’s really hard,” he said. “I haven’t had to deal with anything like this for a long time. Just trying to work as hard as I can, and just trying to work and do the only thing I know how to do. That’s try to work hard to get back.”

Now, Ninkovich’s job is to get the mental reps in so that when he returns, he’s ready as possible.

“You watch the tape, you watch practice, you watch game film. You do the best you can to try and absorb what’s going on and put yourself out there [mentally]. Again, it’s just something you have to do when you’re in the position I’m in,” Ninkovich said. “When you can’t be on the field, you have to take as many mental reps and situational awareness to put yourself in that position of playing, even though I’m not on the field.

“It’s something, for me, as a football player, you’ve got to run around, you’ve got to use your legs. Keep running around and keep my wind, that’s the most important part.”

Ninkovich, 32, is the leader of a talented group, including Jabaal Sheard, Chris Long and a host of younger players like Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom and Shea McClellin.

“Definitely, we’ve got a lot of great football players,” Ninkovich said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys. Chris [Long] obviously doing a great job coming in and being that sponge. Again, we’ve got a lot of knowledgeable football players.”

Ninkovich didn’t want to address any timetable for return, which initial reports had pegged at mid-October.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Ninkovich said. “Just want to try and take it day-by-day.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

No one is quite sure how the quarterback reps are going to be doled out in this week’s preseason contest against the Panthers, but here’s a look at Jimmy Garoppolo’s workload in the third preseason game in his two seasons he’s been in the NFL.

2015: 13-for-17, 126 yards, one touchdown, 33 snaps vs. Panthers
2014: 9-for-12, 105 yards, one touchdown, 24 snaps vs. Panthers

(By way of comparison, here’s a look at Brady’s workload in the third preseason game going back the last 11 years.)

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

No one is completely sure what’s in store for veteran quarterback Tom Brady this week — while there’s a school of thought that says sit him out until Week 5 of the regular season, there’s also some wisdom in having him take at least a few game reps to hold him over until he returns from his suspension. Regardless, here’s a look at his workload for the third preseason game dating back the last 11 years.

2015: 7-for-13, 84 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, one sack, 27 snaps vs. Panthers
2014: 17-for-21, 204 yards, two touchdowns, 42 snaps vs. Panthers
2013: 16-for-24, 185 yards, one interception, two sacks, 46 snaps vs. Lions
2012: 13-for-20, 127 yards, one touchdown, one interception, two sacks, 45 snaps vs. Bucs
2011: 12-for-22, 145 yards, one touchdown, one interception, two sacks, 37 snaps vs. Lions
2010: 18-for-22, 273 yards, three touchdowns, 30 snaps vs. Rams
2009: 12-for-19 for 150 yards, two touchdowns, one sack, 29 snaps vs. Redskins
2008: DNP
2007: 17-for-22, 167 yards, two touchdowns, 47 snaps vs. Panthers
2006: 17-for-30, 231 yards, one touchdown, 49 snaps vs. Redskins
2005: 12-for-21, 127 yards, one touchdown, one sack, 40 snaps vs. Packers

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Monday to talk about the huge losses to injury on the Patriots offense and the status on Tom Brady.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Monday to talk about the huge losses to injury on the Patriots offense and the status on Tom Brady. To hear the interview, visit the D&C audio on demand page.

Life has been made much tougher for Garoppolo, who will have to start the first four games of the season without some key offensive weapons. News broke Sunday that running back Dion Lewis will need a second knee surgery and will miss significant time. The absence of Lewis, who shined in seven games before tearing his ACL last November, provides an extra challenge to Garoppolo, but he takes comfort in the gang of halfbacks behind him.

“He was doing a heck of a job,” Garoppolo said of Lewis. “Seeing him go down with that injury was tough, but it’s kind of the Patriot Way. Next man up, the running backs behind him, James White and Branden Bolden, they both played well the rest of the season. It’s nice having a good crew of running backs like that, you could interchange in and out.”

Lewis isn’t the only starter on offense who is sidelined with an injury. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer reportedly will be placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. And right guard Shaq Mason broke his hand and his return date is unknown.

There have been plenty of moves on the offensive line throughout preseason, but that’s just how training camp goes, according to Garoppolo.

“Whether it’s injuries, whether it’s just coach mixing an matching all the guys up there, injuries are going to happen throughout the year,” Garoppolo said. “That’s just how it goes, I’ve been in it for a couple of years now and you just see that from year after year. For those big guys to be able to play with one another, it really is tough, but it’s a good thing they can all do it with one another.”

Garoppolo was slated to come off the bench behind Brady in Thursday’s 23-22 preseason win against the Bears. However, Brady reportedly cut his hand on scissors before the game and was unavailable. Brady also has been excused from practice both Sunday and Monday for non-injury reasons.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Garoppolo said on where Brady’s been. “It’s kind of like the game day, I thought he was going to start. … It’s just kind of how we roll around here though, you never know when your number is going to be called, you’ve always got to be ready, and it worked out pretty well.”

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

On joint practices with the Saints and the Bears during training camp: “I love the joint practices, personally. Not that it gets old after a while, but you go against the same guys, same look, they know your tendencies, you know theirs, you’re with these guys literally for 14-15 hours a day. After a while, it’s refreshing to get a new face in there, new tendencies or whatever. The competitiveness obviously comes out, obviously against the Bears in practice it was pretty evident.”

On learning from Brady: “You learn so much from the guy, he’s obviously a tremendous quarterback, he’s been doing it for so long now. Each quarterback has a different style on how they lead, how they approach everything. Me and Tom are real similar in ways, but we’re different in ways, too. It’s one of those things where you’ve got to make it your own, you don’t want to come in and be phony and be someone you’re not, you just have to go about it as you would.”

On his relationship with Bill Belichick: “It’s a good relationship. He’s a very smart coach and I’ve learned a ton from him. I’ve learned from all of these guys who have been doing it for so long. Tom, Coach Belichick, even Josh McDaniels, all three of them just are non-stop teaching you and you just try to pick up little tidbits as you go and put them towards your game.”

On the progress of Malcolm Mitchell: “He’s progressing really well, he really is. He’s got big strong hands, he catches everything you throw at the guy, as a quarterback you love that. You don’t want a guy who bobbles it, he’s going to catch it clean for you every time and that’s a comforting feeling. It’s disappointing what happened to his elbow, pretty disturbing what happened to it. … I saw the replay and it was just not good. But he was having a good camp, hopefully he comes back, he’s ready to roll and everything and can just keep progressing the way he was.”

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier

Dante Scarnecchia has to get the offensive line to come together once again. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)Looking ahead to the 2016 Patriots season, Sunday was not a good day.

FOXBORO — Sunday was a big day of injury news in Foxboro as Dion Lewis, Sebastian Vollmer and Shaq Mason are all reportedly dealing with injuries. Meanwhile, Tom Brady has been excused for the next two days for what’s being termed “non injury-related” reasons. WEEI’s Mike Petraglia has the details.

Blog Author: 

The Patriots have released safety Cedric Thompson. according to his agent David Canter.

The 6-foot, 210-pounder out of Minnesota was signed by New England to the practice squad this past January after being taken in the fifth round of the 2015 draft by the Dolphins. The 23-year-old has not played in any regular season games to this point in his career.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

It looks like Dion Lewis is going to miss the start of the 2016 regular season. (Mike Stone/Getty Images)So, how was your weekend?