With two games in the books — and one contest under his belt — Tom Brady is 8-for-10 for 81 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the 2014 preseason. But how does that stack up to some of his past preseason numbers? With the understanding that passing yardage totals often fluctuate because of total snaps played, the key numbers to look for here are accuracy (completion percentage) and ability to avoid interceptions and sacks. From this viewpoint, his 2010 preseason remains the best of his career, but you could make an argument for 2004 or 2013 as well. (Last year, he started red-hot, going 18-for-20 for 172 yards and two touchdowns in his first two preseason games.) Here’s how the rest of the last decade stacks up for Brady when it comes to preseason performance:

2013
3 games: 34-for-44 (77 percent), 357 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 2 sacks

2012
2 games: 17-for-27 (63 percent) 157 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 3 sacks

2011
3 games: 28-for-50 (56 percent), 379 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 3 sacks

2010
4 games: 37-for-50 (74 percent), 476 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT, 2 sacks

2009
3 games: 26-for-42 (62 percent), 307 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 2 sacks

2008
DNP

2007
3 games: 32-for-48, (67 percent), 346 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 2 sacks

2006
3 games: 35-for-54 (65 percent), 404 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 1 sack

2005
2 games: 18-for-33 (55 percent) 232 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (no sack information available)

2004
3 games: 34-for-44 (77 percent), 374 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (no sack information available)

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Every week, we list the Patriots’€™ “offensive touches,”€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense through the first two preseason games of 2014:

RB Jonas Gray: 21 (21 rushes)
RB James White: 15 (14 rushes, 1 catch)
RB Roy Finch: 11 (10 rushes, 3 catch)
RB Stevan Ridley: 11 (11 rushes)
WR Brian Tyms: 8 (8 catches)
WR Josh Boyce: 6 (5 catches, 1 rush)
QB Ryan Mallett: 5 (5 rushes), 3 sacks
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 4 (4 catches)
WR Brandon LaFell: 4 (4 catches)
RB Brandon Bolden: 3 (3 rushes)
RB Stephen Houston: 3 (3 rushes)
RB Shane Vereen: 3 (1 rush, 2 catches)
FB James Develin: 3 (3 catches)
WR Julian Edelman: 2 (2 catches)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 1 (1 rush)
WR Wilson Van Hooser: 1 (1 catch)
WR Danny Amendola: 1 (1 catch)
FB Taylor McCuller: 1 (1 catch)

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat — a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback — it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™s a look at the target breakdown for the New England passing game after twos game of the 2014 preseason:

WR Brian Tyms: 8 catches on 13 targets
WR Josh Boyce: 5 catches on 8 targets
WR Brandon LaFell: 4 catches on 8 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 4 catches on 6 targets
RB Roy Finch: 3 catches on 6 targets
FB James Develin: 3 catches on 3 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 2 catches on 2 targets
WR Julian Edelman: 2 catches on 2 targets
WR Wilson Van Hooser: 1 catch on 1 target
WR Danny Amendola: 1 catch on 2 targets
RB James White: 1 catch on 2 targets
FB Taylor McCuller: 1 catch on 3 targets
TE Justin Jones: 0 catches on 1 target
TE Steve Maneri: 0 catches on 1 target

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — Here we go again.

It’s only the preseason but the question of Stevan Ridley and ball security has arisen once more.

On his seventh carry Friday night against the Eagles, Ridley ran off to his right, behind the right guard and just as he appeared to be falling routinely to the ground at the Philadelphia 10, the ball came out.

FOXBORO — Here we go again.

It’s only the preseason but the question of Stevan Ridley and ball security has arisen once more.

On his seventh carry Friday night against the Eagles, Ridley ran off to his right, behind the right guard and just as he appeared to be falling routinely to the ground at the Philadelphia 10, the ball came out.

It was recovered by fullback James Develin so the Patriots managed to salvage the red zone chance and finished it off when Jimmy Garoppolo found Brandon LaFell in the back of the end zone.

There was some question as to whether it was a fumble at all as Ridley was close to having his backside on the turf when the ball came out when safety Earl Wolff stripped it out. But to head coach Bill Belichick, who has been down this road for the last three seasons with Ridley, whether it was down by contact was not the issue.

“We always talk about ball security, taking care of the ball. There’s nothing that correlates more to winning and losing than turnovers, so that’s always a high priority for us,” Belichick said in his Saturday conference call. “We never want the ball out and on the other side of the ball defensively and in the kicking game, we always try to get it out. Sometimes when we get the ball out, we don’t recover it or sometimes when we get it out they blow it dead but we always want to try to do that. The same goes true for the offensive side of the ball.”

Ridley came out of the game on what appeared to be his normal rotation but when he began to sprint on the field before the LaFell touchdown, he was called back and Brandon Bolden took his place. Bolden had two runs and rookie James White had another as Ridley was given time to consider his indiscretion.

“We don’t want plays where they end up with the ball, whether they’re ruled in our favor or not,” Belichick said. “Guys that have an interception in their hands but drop it or plays where the ball gets away from us, whether we recover it or it goes out of bounds or they recover it, those are all plays we’re trying to avoid, obviously. They do matter. So do the ones that, same thing on defense, the plays that we get out, we don’t get them all but the more we get them out, the more we’ll get, so they are significant.”

Ridley’s trouble with holding onto the ball is well-chronicled in New England. He has lost four fumbles in each of the last two seasons and was benched for the AFC championship and Super Bowl in his rookie season when he lost a fumble in the regular season finale and a playoff win over the Texans in Jan. 2012. Still, Ridley remains one of the most productive runners in the Patriots backfield, averaging 4.5 yards and rushing for 20 touchdowns in his first three seasons in New England.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Troy calls into Sports Sunday to discuss an event he, Tedy Bruschi and BIll Belichick are running Wednesday night in Boston for the Bill Belichick Foundation Scholarship Program. The guys ask him his opinions on what the Pats will look like this season, their improved defense and rule changes in the NFL. He also reminisces and tells some stories about Belichick's personality behind the scenes.

By all accounts it was a good week of joint practices and second preseason game for the Patriots and Eagles.

You know it really was a good week when Bill Belichick is calling it the best week of joint practices he’€™s ever had in four years of holding them.

“The practices and the game combined, I would say probably were as productive as any week we’€™ve had with any team in training camp since we’€™ve been doing this,” Belichick said during Saturday’€™s conference call.

It was the second year of joint practices between the Patriots and Eagles. Belichick and Eagles coach Chip Kelly have known eachother since Kelly was a coach at the University of New Hampshire. The two didn’€™t change much from last year’€™s week in Philadelphia practice plan wise.

“Coach Kelly and his staff and the Eagles and their players — it was a real good working environment that was productive and competitive, but not over the top where anybody was really put in any unnecessary risk or any type of after the whistle or cheap shots or anything like that. It was really good,”€ said Belichick.

The Patriots started the somewhat new phase of joint practices in the league in 2010 when they had them with the Saints and Falcons. In 2012 they did them again with the Saints and added the Buccaneers. Last year the Buccaneers came to Foxboro and the Patriots went to Philadelphia. Finally this year, the Patriots were in Washington last week before welcoming the Eagles. Belichick usually holds them with other coaches in the league he is familiar with and respects, including Greg Schiano, Mike Smith, Sean Payton and last week Jay Gruden.

Many players and coaches speak to the value of the sessions as often times teams get tired of going up against the same players on their own team day-after-day. It also gives teams a chance to go against different schemes that their own team may not use on a consistent basis.

Kelly agreed with Belichick that it was a beneficial week — even with the Eagles losing 42-35 on Friday night.

“It was very productive,”€ Kelly said following the game. “I think any time two teams that kind of think alike, what we wanted to get accomplished on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and what Bill [Belichick] wanted to get accomplished — I think both of us are really happy with the whole week. I think how our teams get along, it’€™s physical at the point of attack.”

Teams enjoy going against the Patriots as they get the chance to go against and work with one of the best teams in the league every year, as well as one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Tom Brady. It gives opposing teams a good chance to see where they stack up.

“When you get a chance with our pass defense in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 against Tom [Brady] and his receivers, obviously a lot of teaching can go on there,”€ Kelly said. “€œThere is still a ton of film that we need to watch with our guys so we can go over and point out things. It was really good for us to go against their defense and see a little bit of a different scheme. It’€™s going to help us a little bit.”

The Patriots are done with joint practices for this season as they are now preparing for the Panthers in the third preseason game next Friday night at Gillette Stadium.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

1. There’€™s a wide range of opinions when it comes to rookie running back James White. Many national analysts have expressed doubt about White and his chances to succeed in the New England offense, pointing to his performance in the first two games as proof (he averaged 2.7 yards per carry against the Eagles, and just nine yards on four carries against the Redskins). Meanwhile, those who have spent time around the team — as well as many of his teammates — believe that White has had a good summer, and while he may not unseat any of the regulars when it comes to playing time this year, he certainly has a place on the roster in 2014. From this viewpoint, it’€™s more of the latter for a few reasons, including the fact that quarterback Tom Brady has already managed to express a deep level of faith in the youngster. Brady has been effusive in his praise of White the last few weeks, telling Sirius/XM in July that “nothing seems too big for him. In the few practices we’€™ve had, he’€™s made an impression on everybody,” and adding earlier this month that White has “done a great job since he’€™s got here. He’€™s got a real maturity for someone who is just getting out of college.”€ It’€™s not Brady’€™s job to pump anyone’€™s tires, but in year’€™s past when he’€™s been asked about a player who has had issues, he’€™s turned the focus outward, spotlighting the woes of the team as a whole and not just the one player. On both occasions when asked about the rookie out of Wisconsin, he’€™s kept the focus on White, offering praise. That should tell you something about the confidence the quarterback has in the young running back. In the end, we don’€™t really know what the coaches think of the 5-foot-10, 194-pounder and his overall progress in the system — the numbers suggest that he may be struggling at times to pick things up. None of this is to suggest White is going to be the next 1,000-yard rusher in the New England system. Ultimately, it’€™s important to remember that when it comes to surviving in the New England offense, if you have the confidence of the quarterback, that can go a long way toward securing a roster spot.

2. Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones has been working more and more at dropping into coverage over the course of the summer, and had a chance to show some of that in the game against the Eagles Friday night. Operating in space is no easy feat for a defensive end/outside linebacker, and while Jones remains a work in progress, watching him try and do it made me appreciate what Willie McGinest did for several seasons with New England. The two are relatively the same body type — Jones is 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, while McGinest was 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds — but there was a fluidity in McGinest’€™s game that’€™s still lacking in Jones. Of course, it’€™s a tough job: For a defender of that size who has been rushing forward to the quarterback for the bulk of his career, working in space represents a fundamental reset in their approach to the game. You not only have to be able to move forward at a high rate of speed as needed, but the position demands that you change direction quickly. You also have to work laterally, get a jam on pass catchers off the line, and run with them stride for stride in coverage. Whether it was getting after the quarterback or dropping into coverage as a big guy, McGinest had all of those skills, and managed to make it look easy over the course of his career with the Patriots. (For what it’€™s worth, Jones said he’€™s welcomed the chance to show off some versatility, saying, “I enjoy it. I really enjoy it.”) Jones has already professed to be a big McGinest fan — with the added responsibilities, he’€™d be well-served to go even deeper in his study of McGinest going forward.

3. Much was made this week of the fact that Philly wide receiver Jeremy Maclin beat Darrelle Revis deep on a ball during the joint practices between the Patriots and Eagles. While it was a smartly executed play on the part of the Philadelphia offense, it was a bit of a surprise to see Revis get beaten. He’€™s had an excellent summer to this point, and plays like that have almost been nonexistent. But speaking with him after practice about the situation, he didn’€™t seem too worried, sounding like a veteran who has the bigger picture in mind when it comes to reps over the course of training camp. “€œI’€™ve been doing this for a while,”€ Revis said when asked about letting up, “and sometimes you do that and sometimes you don’€™t. It depends on how everything’€™s going. But like I said, they’€™re reps. Even though I’€™m not maybe running that fast, or whatever, they’€™re reps and I know what I need to do during that play.”€ There have been many instances this summer where we’€™ve made the Revis-Randy Moss analogy, and this is another one. Both understand the teachable parts of camp, as well as the importance of working with teammates. But at the same time, they understand as Hall of Famers what they need to do to get up to speed in time for the regular season. Bottom line? Don’€™t read too much into the fact that Revis gave up the score to Maclin. It’€™s all part of the preparation process for the regular season.

4. Speaking of Revis, we were able to get his perspective this week on the semi-regular sessions off to the side of practice this summer that have involved Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Revis has been working with the pairing as Gronkowski continues to get up to speed throughout camp, offering him a look as a defender and providing some resistance for the big tight end as he goes through his progressions. To use a baseball analogy, it’€™s a little like Revis is a hitter being asked to step into the batter’€™s box with a bat while a rehabbing pitcher gets some work in. While it’€™s interesting watching three of the Patriots most important players working off to the side by themselves while the rest of the practices goes on on another field (sometimes, Bill Belichick wanders over to get a look at what’€™s going on), Revis said it’€™s simply a chance for Gronkowski to get some work in as the tight end continues his rehab. “€œIt’€™s giving Gronk a look and giving Tom and Gronk a look and I’€™m just doing what Coach asks me to do,”€ Revis said. “€œHe asked me to just try to cover him the best way I could and make sure Gronk got reps. It’€™s been going great, and we’€™ve been working hard.”

5. Two players who will be in the spotlight this week for the Patriots are Gronkowski and rookie defensive tackle Dominique Easley. Gronkowski took another step forward this week as he was in pads, but was still not part of any live contact involving the Eagles. It remains to be seen if the team wants to try and get him some physical contact between now and the start of the season — even if it’€™s just a handful of live action snaps over the next two weeks before Week 1 — but it would seem like minimal contact sooner rather than later would be the next logical step in the rehab process. One guy who is probably loser to live action is Easley. The rookie out of Florida wasn’€™t part of any of the 11-on-11 action with the Eagles over the course of the last week, but he did jump in on some pass rushing drills, and displayed a nice burst, as well as an ability to cut and change direction. It’€™s just a gut feeling, but from this viewpoint, Easley will see contact before Gronkowski does.

6. With 16 practices in the books and two preseason games now out of the way, here’€™s a look at the practice attendance to this point in the summer. (As we’€™ve previously stated, It’€™s important to remember in some cases, players like Tyler Gaffney, Greg Orton and Terrence Miller have been shuffled on and off the active roster since the start of camp –€” that’€™s one of the reasons why they don’€™t have more official absences than the ones we have listed here.

Sixteen absences
Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon
Offensive lineman Chris Martin

Twelve absences
Wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot)
Running back Tyler Gaffney
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui
Defensive lineman Dominique Easley (knee)

Eleven absences
Center Bryan Stork

Ten absences
Defensive back Jemea Thomas
Linebacker Cameron Gordon

Eight absences
Linebacker Deontae Skinner

Seven absences
Linebacker Ja’€™Gared Davis

Six absences
Special teamer Matthew Slater
Tight end D.J. Williams
Defensive lineman Sealver Siliga

Five absences
Defensive lineman Chris Jones
Safety Kanorris Davis

Four absences
Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard
Linebacker James Anderson

Three absences
Tight end Rob Gronkowski
Running back Brandon Bolden
Defensive back Tavon Wilson
Linebacker Jerod Mayo

Two absences
Defensive lineman Tommy Kelly
Cornerback Daxton Swanson
Quarterback Ryan Mallett

One absence
Wide receiver Greg Orton
Offensive lineman Dan Connolly
Linebacker Chris White
Wide receiver Josh Boyce
Cornerback Brandon Browner
Tight end Terrence Miller
Defensive lineman Ben Bass

7. One interesting note that popped up on the radar over the last week was the fact that the Broncos lost linebacker Danny Trevathan for six to eight weeks because of a fracture in his left knee joint. Trevathan isn’€™t necessarily a marquee player, but he’€™s integral to the Denver defense on a few levels, including the fact that he’€™s an acknowledged team leader who finished with a team-best 124 tackles last season. Known for his ability to work in coverage, his loss for an extended stretch would certainly test the Denver pass defense, at least as it relates to short and intermediate routes. The Patriots and Broncos don’€™t meet until Nov. 2, but it will be interesting to see how the loss of Trevathan impacts the team over the first month-plus of the season, when Denver faces playoff teams in six of the first nine games from last year.

8. Intrigue coming out of Western New York, as it appears that separate groups led by Jon Bon Jovi and Jim Kelly have had conversations about joining forces in pursuit of the Bills. Both groups have run into issues in their attempts to buy the team, with Bon Jovi committing a series of PR missteps that has left football fans of Buffalo skeptical about the possibility of him landing the team and keeping it in Buffalo. (Not to mention the fact that Bon Jovi and Belichick remain friendly, which is enough to make any Bills fan more than a little suspicious.) Meanwhile, Kelly who remains a massive fan favorite in New York, has struggled to come up with the financing needed to close the deal. The theory is that Kelly would be the face of the franchise and vouch for Bon Jovi’€™s group when it came to keeping the team in town and not moving them to Toronto, while the Bon Jovi group could come up with the cash needed to make the deal happen. (For what it’€™s worth, it appears the current front-runners are Sabres owner Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim.) For a complete rundown of the latest, make sure to check out this story from our pal Tim Graham, who has been on the case from the beginning.

9. In something that may interest only the media, when reporters were let into the Patriots locker room for the first time since the end of the 2013 season, they found the locker room slightly altered. In year’€™s past, it had always been something of a numbers system — kicker Stephen Gostkowski (or whoever had the lowest number) was in one corner next to the equipment managers’€™ room, and for the most part, things went in a numerical fashion all the way around the room. Now, things have been changed a bit, with most of the players in what appears to be a random series of lockers throughout the room. For what it’€™s worth, Brady is still at his old locker, as well as linebacker Jerod Mayo, Gostkowski and punter Ryan Allen. And while the defensive backs still occupy the same neighborhood (with Revis taking Aqib Talib‘€™s old locker), much of the rest of the room has changed. For instance, Chandler Jones is where Logan Mankins used to be. On first glance, it appears the rookies are sharing lockers — Jimmy Garoppolo has White as his locker partner. (They dress at the same stall inhabited by Tommy Kelly last year — now, Kelly is across the room.) Things will change as cuts come down, as those who remain will more than likely get their own locker. In the postgame rush to get quotes, we didn’€™t get a take from anyone on the new layout, but we’€™ll make sure to ask about their thoughts this coming week. Just thought it was an interesting note worth passing along.

10. With the third preseason game coming up this week when the Patriots meet the Panthers at Gillette Stadium, here’€™s a quick look at how Brady has performed in the third preseason game of the summer since 2007:

2013: Last year against the Lions in Detroit, Brady was 16-for-24 for 185 yards and one pick in 45 snaps.

2012: He played 45 snaps against the Buccaneers, going until the end of the third quarter before yielding to Ryan Mallett. Brady ended by going 13-for-20 for 127 yards with one touchdown, one interception and two sacks in what turned out to be his final action of the preseason.

2011: Against the Lions in Detroit, Brady played 37 snaps and was lifted at 9:02 of the fourth quarter in favor of Brian Hoyer. Brady was knocked around pretty good in this game against a physical Lions front (he was sacked twice, fumbled once and was hit seven times), and ended up going 12-for-22 for 145 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

2010: That season was likely the finest preseason of his career, and the third preseason contest may have been the best of his career. Against the Rams in Foxboro, he took 30 snaps and finished an astonishing 18-for-22 for 273 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. (He was lifted with 12:30 left in the fourth quarter. That’€™s the deepest he’€™s gone as of late, but that game plan was likely altered by the fact that the Rams went on a 15-play, 76-yard drive that consumed 9:19 at the start of the second half.)

2009: This one will always be known as the Albert Haynesworth game. The future New England defensive lineman drove Brady to the turf on the final play of the first half, busting up the shoulder of the quarterback. While Brady wasn’€™t technically removed from the game, he didn’€™t play at all after the hit. Ultimately, he ended up playing 29 snaps and going 12-for-19 for 150 yards with two touchdowns, no picks and one sack.

2008: DNP.

2007: No snap count information is available, but Brady was able to step off the plane from Los Angeles — he missed a couple of days of practice following the birth of his son — and go 17-for-22 for 167 yards and two touchdowns. His night included an impressive 18-play, 80-yard drive right off the bat that went 9:43.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — After a 5-for-12 effort against the Redskins in the preseason opener, creating more speculation about his future in New England, no one needed a pick-me-up on Friday night at Gillette Stadium than Ryan Mallett.

Sure, the speculation will continue, even after his 7-of-11 effort in a 42-35 win over the Eagles. Mallett passed for 92 yards while registering a team-high 120.3 quarterback rating. His touchdown pass to Brian Tyms in the back corner of the end zone was the kind of touch pass that raises scouts eyebrows.

So was his 23-yard pass over three defenders into the arms of Josh Boyce along the right sideline that led to a a Roy Finch touchdown run.

Mallett’s first drive of the game came with little advance warning, when Duron Harmon intercepted Mark Sanchez on the second play of the third quarter. Mallett opened with a short pass of six yards down the the Philadelphia 6. That was followed by an incompletion. Right off the bat, Mallett faced pressure. Third and 4 and a field goal would be a big disappointment. He dropped back in shotgun. No one broke open so he broke free of the pocket and scrambled for a touchdown.

All told, Mallett led the Patriots to 21 points in a third quarter that might – at least for now – change how Mallett is viewed.

‘€œYeah we had the momentum all game,” Mallett said. “I feel like we played well throughout the game and it continued throughout the second half and we still got some little things to overcome, but it was a lot better.’€

This was a different kind of week for Mallett. He was given two “maintenance” days off from practice. He was not the first quarterback off the bench after Tom Brady.

‘€œI get to play in the game ‘€“ that’€™s all that matters. That’€™s all. I just want to get out there and try to get better as a player and I felt like I did that tonight and I just got to keep building on it.’€

Yet, Mallett played Friday like a quarterback that still had confidence, and Tyms making circus catches was a big part of that.

‘€œYou build confidence in practice,” Mallett said. “We’€™ve been watching [No.] 84 do that all camp. He’€™s been making plays and he got one-on-one coverage, so I’€™m going to let him make a play and just try and get it close to him.’€

Mallett did take two sacks in the second half and couldn’t put points on the board in the fourth quarter but overall, still a very good night against an Eagles defense that provided different looks.

‘€œIt’€™s a totally different defense; you know. They’ve got a good team,” Mallett said. “It was close there at the end and we got a stop and then we moved the ball and ran the clock out. The offensive line did a great job right there during that last series as far as moving the ball. There were big holes for the running backs to see and get through. It’€™s a credit to them.’€

But the biggest credit goes to Mallett who put the rumors of his future on the back burner, at least for one night.

“I don’t worry about that stuff,” Mallett said to a reporter asking him if he’s trying to make a point to his doubters. “I leave that to all you.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

In Friday’s 42-35 preseason win over the Eagles, New England utilized several different combinations along the offensive line. On a conference call with reporters on Saturday afternoon, Bill Belichick said there were several reasons the Patriots went with so many different personnel packages up front against Philadelphia, including the fact that New England went into the game with only one healthy tight end. As a result, some offensive linemen occasionally had to kick out to work as a tight end/tackle eligible.

“None of those players are really here to play tight end — they’€™re here to play center, guard or tackle, whatever the offensive line position or a combination is,” Belichick explained. “So which guy we move to tight end, that’€™s kind of a function of who’€™s available — who would cause the least disruption in the offensive line, combined with which player has the best skills to play on the end of the line. I’€™d say it comes down to a combination of those two things.

“Ideally, your sixth lineman would be not one of your starters who could come in and go out,” he added. “But if it’€™s not him and it’€™s some kind of juggling where you put one of your starters out there, then you bring somebody in then that causes a little juggling on the line and a player has to go out to come back in at his position for a play and so forth. But we’€™ve done it both ways. It’€™s just trying to find the best combination of those.”

There were a handful of players who filled the role of what Belichick called “end of the line” players. On Friday, it was a group that included left tackle Nate Solder. It’s a job that encompasses a wide range of skills.

“In the running game, you have to be able to block the end of the line of scrimmage,” Belichick said. “The tight end flips sides, from left to right, and the numbering of the plays changes and so forth. Whereas when you’€™re just playing one position, whether it’€™s right guard or right tackle or whatever it happens to be, a guy’€™s always in the same place and he doesn’€™t move and you get used to a numbering system or terminology that’€™s more consistent and stays the same for those guys all the time. But when you’€™re a tight end and you’€™re moving, then one time you’€™re on one side and one time you’€™re on the next side.

“The wheel starts to spin a little faster when you add that volume in addition to a regular line position. So there’€™s some learning [and] there are some techniques that are different,” he added. “It’€™s a little different look and a little different skill set.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price