patriots http://www.weei.com/taxonomy/term/4/www.weei.com/cash en Sunday NFL Notes: Injuries, suspensions could lead to AFC surprises early, but don’t overreact http://www.weei.com/sports/feed/blog/anonymous/sunday-nfl-notes-injuries-suspensions-could-lead-afc-surprises-early-don%E2%80%99 <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_109373" style="width: 410px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/159422756-tom-brady-of-the-new-england-patriots-greets-gettyimages.jpg" data-id="109373"><img class="wp-image-109373" src="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/159422756-tom-brady-of-the-new-england-patriots-greets-gettyimages.jpg" alt="We know Tom Brady will be out for the first four games. Will J.J. Watt be another AFC star on the sidelines at the beginning of the season? (Elsa/Getty Images)" width="400" height="267" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">We know Tom Brady will be out for the first four games. Will J.J. Watt be another AFC star on the sidelines to start the season? (Elsa/Getty Images)</p></div> <p><strong>1.</strong> There’s always a danger in reading too much into early-season action, but this year, it’ll be an especially dicey proposition, particularly in the AFC. We already knew that Tom Brady was going to be missing the first four games of the regular-season. But this week, we found out that Pittsburgh will be without one of its primary offensive options for the first quarter of the season, as running beck Le’Veon Bell is facing a four-game suspension of his own. (Interesting to see that news, especially in <a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/sports/newengland/football/patriots/2016/07/21/pittsburgh-rb-deangelo-williams-im-glad-patriots-have-their-problems/" target="_blank">the wake of DeAngelo Williams’ comments</a>.) In addition, the news that J.J. Watt underwent back surgery this week throws his availability for the first few games of the regular season into doubt. (At this point it’s believed Watt will be OK for the opener, but back surgery can be an especially tricky animal.) Indy will be missing defensive lineman Arthur Jones for the first four games because of a PED infraction, while Buffalo will be without running back Karlos Williams the first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and Cincy linebacker Vontaze Burfict will be sidelined the first three games for repeated violations of the league policy on player safety. There are others across the NFL who will be missing for a variety of reasons over the first month or so, but the sheer volume of injuries and suspensions (even before camps open) means using the first four games of the 2016 season as a barometer for how the AFC might ultimately turn out might not be a good idea.</p> <p><strong>2.</strong> Of course, the flip side of the argument is that a mid-level team with a relatively easy schedule over the first four games and is at full strength will be able to take advantage of some of these suspensions and injuries. Subsequently, a fast start could help set them up for an eventual playoff berth. In that vein, <a href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/these-nfl-teams-will-probably-start-hot-because-of-an-easy-schedule/" target="_blank">this is a great story from Chase Stuart</a> that looks at some teams that could be well positioned for success over the first quarter of the season (the Ravens) and as a result, could be in playoff contention all season. And then, there are teams that could struggle out of the gate because of their tough slate in the early going (the Jets).</p> <p><strong>3.</strong> Got a lot of great feedback on our “<a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/sports/newengland/football/patriots/tag/most-important-patriots/" target="_blank">Most Important Patriots</a>” series, which wrapped up this week. First, some folks wanted to know about our near misses, a group that included Logan Ryan, Patrick Chung and Jimmy Garoppolo. (In hindsight, we should have found a spot on the list for Ryan, who made sizable gains last year and will be asked to do more in 2016.) Garoppolo was an interesting case; as we explained in Tom Brady’s entry, when we started the series, the veteran was still fighting the Deflategate ban. If he had won, there would have been no talk about having Garoppolo on the list. But Brady dropped his appeal, which increased Garoppolo’s expected importance to the team exponentially. While we thought about tinkering with the rankings and trying to figure out a way to get Garoppolo on the list because of his anticipated importance over the first four games of the season, we decided to acknowledge his early-season importance, but leave him off the list altogether. It also struck us as interesting that none of the top four players on our list (Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Malcolm Butler) were first-round picks. In the end, the great back-and-forth debate that it sparked pretty much means that the “Most Important” list will be a summer staple going forward. Check out the final list here.</p> <p><strong>4.</strong> The Patriots will open their 14th training camp at Gillette Stadium this week. Players are set to report on Wednesday, and the first day of practice is set for Thursday. Here’s a quick look at what lies ahead for the rest of the week.</p> <p><strong>Thursday, July 28:</strong> Practice, 9:15 a.m.<br /> <strong>Friday, July 29:</strong> Practice, 9:15 a.m.<br /> <strong>Saturday, July 30:</strong> Practice, 9:15 a.m.<br /> <strong>Sunday, July 31:</strong> Practice, 9:15 a.m.<br /> <strong>Monday, Aug. 1:</strong> Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Kevin Faulk on NRG Plaza outside Patriot Place, 5 p.m. (The ceremony is open to the public.) That’s followed by an in-stadium ticketed practice for season-ticket members and Foxboro residents, 7 p.m.</p> <p><strong>5.</strong> Across the league, the Packers, who will take on the Colts in the Hall of Fame Game (Aug. 7), will be the first team with a full squad in camp when their rookies and veterans report on Monday. By Saturday, July 30, every team will be in camp. More and more teams are staying home for camp. This year, more than half the league (19 of 32, 59 percent) will be on their home turf. In 2000, only five of 31 (16 percent) teams stayed close to home. (That represents a dip from last year, when a record 20 teams, or 63 percent, were at home for the summer.) New England has been holding camp in Foxboro since 2003, but the Patriots still have a long way to go to match Green Bay, Minnesota or Pittsburgh when it comes to consecutive years in one location: The Packers have been training at Saint Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin for the last 58 years, while the Vikings (Mankato, Minnesota) and Steelers (Latrobe, Pennsylvania) have been at their locations for the last 51 years.</p> <p><span id="more-109372"></span></p> <p><strong>6.</strong> Want to try and pull off an AFC East camp road trip? While a drive to South Florida might be too much, if you’re a Patriots fan who wants to do some scouting and have a few extra bucks in gas money, a road trip to see the Bills and Jets between appearances in Foxboro is certainly manageable for anyone interested in checking out the rest of the division. The Bills are at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y. (their rookies report on July 28, and veterans the next day), while the Jets are at their own training center in Florham Park, N.J. (rookies and vets both report on July 27). It’s just over 300 miles between the two camps, and 250 miles from Florham Park to Foxboro.</p> <p><strong>7.</strong> While the 2016 regular-season looms in just over a month, we now know about a sizable portion of the 2017 slate of opponents. The AFC East will face AFC West and NFC South teams, with highlighted road trips expected to be Denver and New Orleans. Meanwhile, Cam Newton and the Panthers will be among the high-profile out-of-division opponents at Gillette next year. First reported by Mike Reiss of ESPN, here’s a look at what 2017 holds for New England:</p> <p><strong>Home:</strong> New York Jets, Buffalo, Miami, Kansas City, San Diego, Atlanta, Carolina, AFC South team that finishes in same spot in ‘16 standings.<br /> <strong>Away:</strong> New York Jets, Buffalo, Miami, Denver, Oakland, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, AFC North team that finishes in same spot in ‘16 standings.</p> <p><strong>8.</strong> If you’re into these sorts of things, Bovada released its odds for this year’s NFL MVP, and despite the fact that he’s going to miss the first four games of the 2016 season, Brady is still in pretty elite company. The Patriots quarterback is fifth on the list when it comes to MVP odds at 9-1. He trails only Aaron Rodgers (4-1), Ben Roethlisberger (7-1), Cam Newton (15-2) and Russell Wilson (8-1). The only other New England player on Bovada’s list is Rob Gronkowski at 66-1, about one-third of the way down the list. The longest of long shots, per Bovada? Ten different players are at 300-1, including Jared Goff, Jimmy Graham, Larry Fitzgerald, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Carson Wentz.</p> <p><strong>9.</strong> Looking to kick the tires on a veteran player with an excellent pedigree who still might be able to contribute? This might be your year. While there are plenty of cases of older players waiting for jobs to develop every summer, as camps open, there are still several established players with an NFL resume who are looking for a job. On offense, it’s a group that includes Wes Welker, Anquan Boldin, Reggie Bush, Dwayne Bowe and Ryan Fitzpatrick. On defense, Dwight Freeney, Antonio Cromartie, Donte Whitner, Brandon Spikes and Greg Hardy are all still on the market. (Although Hardy is clearly available for different reasons, given his history.) It makes sense for veterans to wait things out at this time of year (who wants to go through camp if you don’t necessarily have to?) and see what develops, particularly once practices start and injuries start to crop up. One exception to the rule figures to be Fitzpatrick; from this viewpoint, it’s his destiny that he ends up back with the Jets.</p> <p><strong>10.</strong> Former Vikings and Cardinals coach <a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/sports/newengland/football/patriots/2016/07/22/dennis-green-former-coach-of-vikings-and-cardinals-dies-at-age-67/" target="_blank">Dennis Green died this week at the age of 67</a>. While “<em>The Bears are who we thought they were!</em>” is a fun sound byte to remember Green, it should also be noted that he was a good coach, especially with Minnesota back in the 1990s. He averaged almost 10 wins a season over the course of a decade with the Vikings, including a 15-1 regular-season mark in 1998, a year that saw the Vikes lose the NFC title game in dramatic fashion to the Falcons. From a New England perspective, he went 2-2 in his coaching career against the Patriots: His first coaching game against New England came in a memorable overtime 1994 contest where Drew Bledsoe found Kevin Turner to beat the powerful Vikings at old Foxboro Stadium. He came out on the winning end of games against the Patriots (1997 and 2000), but lost to New England in 2004 with Arizona. He was a favorite of Randy Moss, and <a href="http://www.vikings.com/news/article-1/Randy-Moss-Favorite-Memory-Dennis-Greens-Beat-Before-Beating-Packers/bfe864ed-66ed-4813-ab28-20bb9ceb5a4d" target="_blank">the former Viking and Patriot receiver lauded Green</a> this week as the guy who “gave him a chance” when Moss fell to the 21st overall spot in the 1998 draft.</p> <p><strong>11.</strong> One of the single coolest aspects of my job is the opportunity to take part in the Top 10 series on NFL Network. This week, I was lucky enough to <a href="https://twitter.com/cpriceNFL/status/755452587982331904" target="_blank">be able to spend almost two hours talking with NFL Films</a> about the Patriots for a series that is expected to air sometime next year. Lots of good debate about the history of New England football — here’s hoping they include my rant about Logan Mankins being criminally underrated when it comes to his spot in franchise history. For what it’s worth, I was also part of a series that was taped in February at the combine, and was also chock full of good Patriots talk. I was told that group of shows will likely start running sometime next year. Worth looking out for.</p> Blog patriots Other Sun, 24 Jul 2016 10:00:08 +0000 2371271 at http://www.weei.com Report: Patriots sign OL Kerbyson http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/this-just-in/212367181/report-patriots-sign-ol-kerbyson <!--paging_filter--> <p>The Patriots added undrafted University of Tennessee offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson to the roster on Friday, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. </p> <p>Kerbyson is a 6-foot-4, 306-pounder who started 26 consecutive games the last two years for the Vols. He has experience at both tackles spots, as well as guard, and was named All-SEC second team as a senior.</p><p><a href="http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/this-just-in/212367181/report-patriots-sign-ol-kerbyson" target="_blank">read more</a></p> patriots Fri, 22 Jul 2016 19:28:35 +0000 Christopher Price 2367181 at http://www.weei.com Report: Patriots add OL Kyler Kerbyson http://www.weei.com/sports/feed/blog/anonymous/report-patriots-add-ol-kyler-kerbyson <!--paging_filter--><p>The Patriots added undrafted University of Tennessee offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson to the roster on Friday, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. </p> <p>Kerbyson is a 6-foot-4, 306-pounder who started 26 consecutive games the last two years for the Vols. He has experience at both tackles spots, as well as guard, and was named All-SEC second team as a senior.</p> <p>With training camp set to start next week, the addition of Kerbyson means New England currently has 88 players on its active roster.</p> <p>For more Patriots news, check out <a href="http://www.weei.com/teams/patriots/home" target="_blank">weei.com/patriots</a>.</p> Blog patriots Other Fri, 22 Jul 2016 19:27:25 +0000 2367286 at http://www.weei.com Most Important Patriots of 2016: No. 1, Tom Brady http://www.weei.com/sports/feed/blog/anonymous/most-important-patriots-2016-no-1-tom-brady <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_88683" style="width: 360px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/462637764-tom-brady-of-the-new-england-patriots-throws-gettyimages-1.jpg" data-id="88683"><img class="wp-image-88683" src="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/462637764-tom-brady-of-the-new-england-patriots-throws-gettyimages-1.jpg" alt="Tom Brady is our choice as the most important guy on the Patriots roster. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)" width="350" height="529" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Tom Brady is our choice as the most important guy on the Patriots roster. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)</p></div> <p><em>As the countdown to training camp begins later this month, we’re looking at the 20 most important members of the Patriots heading into 2016.</em></p> <p><strong>1. Quarterback Tom Brady</strong></p> <p><strong>Height:</strong> 6-foot-4<br /> <strong>Weight:</strong> 225 pounds<br /> <strong>Age:</strong> 38 (will turn 39 on August 3)</p> <p><strong>Resume:</strong> Not sure there’s enough bandwidth on the Internet to list all of Brady’s accomplishments, but we’ll try and sum it up here: At this point in his career, even the most ardent Deflategate truthers have to admit that the two-time MVP is one of the top two or (maybe) three quarterbacks of all-time. The former sixth-round pick out of Michigan has managed to put together a consistently high level of play well into his thirties — <a href="http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/football/patriots/christopher-price/2013/01/10/tom-brady-best-thirtysomething-qb-all-t" target="_blank">from this viewpoint, he’s the best thirtysomething quarterback in the history of the game</a>. He’s <a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/sports/newengland/football/patriots/2016/06/23/by-the-numbers-tom-brady-poised-to-climb-several-all-time-statistical-lists-in-2016/" target="_blank">at or near the top of every major statistical category in league history</a> when it comes to quarterback play. He’s won four Super Bowls and been on the big stage six times, a ridiculous prospect in the salary cap era. Bottom line? Even if Deflategate ends up being part of his ultimate legacy, it’s awfully hard to say he doesn’t at least belong on the short list as one of the greatest in the history of the game, and the best player in the history of the franchise.</p> <p><strong>Why we ranked him here:</strong> This is probably the least surprising end to any list ever, so we’re not sure how much we have to defend the choice of Brady as the most important guy on the roster going into the 2016 season. But even at the age of 39, he will be expected to lead the offense for the bulk of another year. And while Brady is now surrounded with difference-makers like Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett and Dion Lewis, once again, it’ll be Brady&#8217;s level of performance that will ultimately decide the fate of the 2016 team. (One more note: After we started this series at the beginning of the month, Brady gave up on his Deflategate appeal, which means — at least presumably — Jimmy Garoppolo will start the first four games of the season in Brady’s place. So we thought about tinkering with the rankings and giving Garoppolo at least a portion of this spot because of his anticipated importance over the first four games of the season. But while Garoppolo deserves a mention as being important because of what will likely transpire over the first four games of the year, we’re going to keep Brady by himself at No. 1.)</p> <p><strong>Quote:</strong> “I’ve said many times there is no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady. He’s my quarterback. So I’ll stand by that.” — <em>Bill Belichick on Brady, 3/22/16</em></p> <p><strong>Random Note: </strong>If Brady plays out his latest contract extension, that will take him through the 2019 season, and give him 20 consecutive years with the same franchise. Only Jackie Slater (Rams, 1976-1995), Lou Groza (Cleveland, 1946-1967), Jason Hanson (Detroit, 1992-2012) and Darrell Green (Washington, 1983-2002) played 20 or more years with the same franchise.</p> Blog patriots Other Fri, 22 Jul 2016 16:58:29 +0000 2366931 at http://www.weei.com Ex-NFL coach Dennis Green dies at age 67 http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/this-just-in/212366791/ex-nfl-coach-dennis-green-dies-age-67 <!--paging_filter--> <p>Dennis Green, who served as a head coach for 13 seasons in the NFL, passed away Friday at the age of 67 as a result of cardiac arrest.</p><p><a href="http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/this-just-in/212366791/ex-nfl-coach-dennis-green-dies-age-67" target="_blank">read more</a></p> patriots Fri, 22 Jul 2016 15:33:32 +0000 Christopher Price 2366791 at http://www.weei.com Dennis Green, former coach of Vikings and Cardinals, dies at age 67 http://www.weei.com/sports/feed/blog/anonymous/dennis-green-former-coach-vikings-and-cardinals-dies-age-67 <!--paging_filter--><p>Dennis Green, who served as a head coach for 13 seasons in the NFL, passed away Friday at the age of 67 as a result of cardiac arrest.</p> <p>Green went a combined 113-94 while coaching the Vikings (97-62, 10 seasons) and the Cardinals (16-32, three seasons). That included a 15-1 regular-season mark with Minnesota in 1998, a year that saw the Vikings lose the NFC title game in dramatic fashion to the Falcons.</p> <p>Green gained a small measure of fame for a 2006 postgame rant where his Arizona team lost to Chicago. After the Cardinals blew a 20-0 halftime lead and lost, Green shouted from the coaches podium after the game that the Bears &#8220;are who we thought they were. And we let &#8217;em off the hook!&#8221;</p> <p>Green also was the head coach at Northwestern and Stanford. 
</p> Blog patriots Other Fri, 22 Jul 2016 15:32:13 +0000 2366796 at http://www.weei.com Poll: Which offseason free agent addition is going to have the greatest impact on the Patriots in 2016? http://www.weei.com/sports/feed/blog/anonymous/poll-which-offseason-free-agent-addition-going-have-greatest-impact-patri <!--paging_filter-->Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll. Blog patriots Other Fri, 22 Jul 2016 15:15:19 +0000 2366786 at http://www.weei.com With release of Christian Yount, Joe Cardona now appears to be good for 2016 season http://www.weei.com/sports/feed/blog/anonymous/release-christian-yount-joe-cardona-now-appears-be-good-2016-season <!--paging_filter--><p>Thursday’s decision to <a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/sports/newengland/football/patriots/2016/07/21/patriots-release-lb-c-j-johnson-ls-christian-yount/" target="_blank">cut loose veteran long snapper Christian Yount</a> means there’s some clarity to Joe Cardona’s situation this coming season.</p> <p>While <a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/sports/newengland/football/patriots/2016/05/05/patriots-might-be-missing-long-snapper-joe-cardona-for-extended-stretch/" target="_blank">there was some question this offseason as to Cardona’s expected availability for 2016</a> — that being the primary reason for the addition of Yount, a four-year veteran, this past spring — a report from ESPN indicates Cardona has been transitioned to the Navy Reserve and will thus be at the start of Patriots training camp July 28.</p> <p>The 6-foot-2, 241-pound Cardona was a fifth-round pick of New England out of Navy in 2015.</p> Blog patriots Other Fri, 22 Jul 2016 13:46:34 +0000 2366526 at http://www.weei.com Patriots DB Nate Ebner on how Rob Gronkowski might do when it comes to rugby http://www.weei.com/sports/feed/blog/anonymous/patriots-db-nate-ebner-how-rob-gronkowski-might-do-when-it-comes-rugby <!--paging_filter--><p>Patriots special teamer/defensive back Nate Ebner was on &#8220;The Dan Patrick Show&#8221; Thursday morning to talk about his quest for Olympic glory as a part of the USA Rugby 7’s Olympic team. He discussed whether football or rugby is tougher, and Patrick asked him how Rob Gronkowski might do when it came to rugby.</p> <p><iframe width="615" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UjOgD5yc-p8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Blog patriots Other Fri, 22 Jul 2016 13:19:48 +0000 2366516 at http://www.weei.com Patriots release LB C.J. Johnson, LS Christian Yount http://www.weei.com/sports/feed/blog/anonymous/patriots-release-lb-cj-johnson-ls-christian-yount <!--paging_filter--><p>The Patriots announced Thursday they have released rookie free agent linebacker C.J. Johnson and veteran long snapper Christian Yount. The following is a portion of the statement issued by the team on the moves.</p> <p><em>Johnson, 24, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 6, 2016 out of Mississippi. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder began his college career at Mississippi as a defensive end before moving to middle linebacker for the 2015 season. Johnson played in 51 games and finished with 180 tackles, 13½ sacks and three interceptions during his college career. </em></p> <p>Yount, 28, was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on April 22, 2016. The 6-foot-1, 245-pounder, is a veteran of four NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2011) and the Cleveland Browns (2011-2014). He was released by Cleveland in May 2015 and did not play last season. Yount originally entered the NFL with Tampa Bay as a rookie free agent out of UCLA on July 27, 2011. He made the 53-man roster out of training camp and played in seven games before being released. Yount then signed with Cleveland, where he remained through the 2014 season. He has played in 60 NFL games. </p> Blog patriots Other Thu, 21 Jul 2016 21:06:28 +0000 2364736 at http://www.weei.com Most Important Patriots of 2016: No. 2, Rob Gronkowski http://www.weei.com/sports/feed/blog/anonymous/most-important-patriots-2016-no-2-rob-gronkowski <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_108435" style="width: 410px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/518070940-player-rob-gronkowski-attends-as-athletes-gettyimages.jpg" data-id="108435"><img class="wp-image-108435" src="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/518070940-player-rob-gronkowski-attends-as-athletes-gettyimages.jpg" alt="Rob Gronkowski is already one of the best tight ends in the recent history of the game. (Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images)" width="400" height="267" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Rob Gronkowski is already one of the best tight ends in the recent history of the game, and he&#8217;s only 27. (Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images)</p></div> <p><em>As the countdown to training camp begins later this month, we’re looking at the 20 most important members of the Patriots heading into 2016.</em></p> <p><strong>2. Tight end Rob Gronkowski</strong></p> <p><strong>Height:</strong> 6-foot-6<br /> <strong>Weight:</strong> 265 pounds<br /> <strong>Age:</strong> 27 (will turn 28 on May 14)</p> <p><strong>Resume:</strong> Where to start? When Gronkowski been healthy, this second-round pick out of Arizona has been one of the most dominant offensive options in the game since he arrived in the NFL in 2010. Over the course of his six-year career, he has 380 catches for 5,555 yards and 65 touchdowns, which includes a career-high 90 catches in 2011 and 82 in 2014. As a red-zone threat, a blocker or as a pass catcher with one of the largest catch radiuses in the NFL, he’s the best and most complete tight end in the game today, and is well on his way to becoming one of the best at his position in the history of the game. The big fella had a nasty two-year stretch where he struggled with injury, but aside from an occasional scare as of late, he’s held up well since the start of the 2014 season, playing in 30 of a possible 32 regular-season games in that span. He’s been named a first-team All-Pro by the AP on three different occasions (2011, 2014. 2015), and four times by Pro Football Focus.</p> <p><strong>Why we ranked him here:</strong> Everything is different when he’s not on the field. <em>Everything</em>. When he’s healthy, the field tilts in New England’s favor. He’s an elite offensive option who can put pressure on opposing defenses from multiple spots, including split wide, in the slot, flush against the tackle or even out of the backfield. If they double- or triple-team him, it opens things up for the likes of Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis or any one of the other pass catchers. When he’s not out there, Tom Brady loses a target with a world-class catch radius, an extraordinary football IQ (more on that in a second) and the sort of occasionally nasty streak that has helped make him an underrated blocker. There are about eighty billion examples of his importance over the last six years, but maybe the best one is last year’s AFC title game. His whole game was a clinic, but his catch on fourth down to keep the chains moving late in the contest and his astounding touchdown reception with less than two minutes left were the sorts of game-changing plays Gronkowski has become known for. Frankly, he’s not just one of the two most important players on the New England roster, he’s one of the faces of the league, and someone who will be fitted for a gold jacket in Canton before it’s all said and done.</p> <p><strong>Quote:</strong> “He’s a smart football player. He understands leverage, he understands position, he understands technique. He understands the concept of what you’re trying to do. … Probably other than the quarterback, the tight end position on our offense is the hardest to play. You have all the protections, all the [work in the] running game, and you have routes from sideline to the middle of the field to occasionally even in the backfield. There are really no plays off mentally for that position. His work ethic, his ability to work with his teammates, whether it’s the quarterback, the offensive tackles, the other tight ends or even with the defensive players, is good.” — <em><a href="http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/football/patriots/christopher-price/2015/09/23/no-joke-rob-gronkowski-emerging-leader-" target="_blank">Bill Belichick on Gronkowski</a>, 9/23/15</em></p> <p><strong>Random Note:</strong> Gronkowski ended 2015 with 379 career regular-season catches via Brady, which now puts him second on the all-time list of receptions from New England’s veteran quarterback. (Gronkowski is 184 catches behind the all-time leader, Wes Welker, who finished his time in New England with 563 catches from Brady). Deion Branch is third overall with 328 career catches from Brady, while Troy Brown is fourth with 323 receptions via No. 12.</p> Blog patriots Other Thu, 21 Jul 2016 14:30:05 +0000 2364041 at http://www.weei.com Steelers RB: 'I'm glad' Pats have their problems http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/this-just-in/212363861/steelers-rb-im-glad-pats-have-their-problems <!--paging_filter--> <a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/503263292-deangelo-williams-of-the-pittsburgh-steelers-gettyimages.jpg" data-id="109349"></a> <p>Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams doesn’t care who is under center for the Patriots for the first four games of the season.</p><p><a href="http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/this-just-in/212363861/steelers-rb-im-glad-pats-have-their-problems" target="_blank">read more</a></p> patriots Thu, 21 Jul 2016 13:36:38 +0000 Christopher Price 2363861 at http://www.weei.com Pittsburgh RB DeAngelo Williams: ‘I’m glad’ Patriots have their problems http://www.weei.com/sports/feed/blog/anonymous/pittsburgh-rb-deangelo-williams-%E2%80%98i%E2%80%99m-glad%E2%80%99-patriots-have-their-problems <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_109349" style="width: 410px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/503263292-deangelo-williams-of-the-pittsburgh-steelers-gettyimages.jpg" data-id="109349"><img class="wp-image-109349" src="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/503263292-deangelo-williams-of-the-pittsburgh-steelers-gettyimages.jpg" alt="DeAngelo Williams does not care about the Patriots' problems. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)" width="400" height="281" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">DeAngelo Williams does not care about the Patriots&#8217; problems. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)</p></div> <p>Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams doesn’t care who is under center for the Patriots for the first four games of the season.</p> <p>“I am glad they got problems. I don&#8217;t care,” <a href="http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/10818052-74/williams-steelers-camp" target="_blank">Williams told TribLive</a> when he was asked for his thoughts on what the Patriots are going to do during Tom Brady’s four-game ban. “Everybody has their problems, and I&#8217;m glad they have theirs.</p> <p>“I don&#8217;t know why everybody thinks that affects us,” Williams added. “We don&#8217;t care. You think [Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger] wants to beat a [Tom] Brady-less team? That proves nothing to him.&#8221;</p> <p>Williams has been <a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/sports/newengland/football/patriots/2016/02/15/pittsburgh-rb-dangelo-williams-when-it-comes-to-patriots-only-tom-brady-likes-bill-belichick/" target="_blank">an outspoken critic of New England for several years</a>, with <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DeAngeloWilliams/photos/a.1438857926335998.1073741828.1438173719737752/1651208281767627/?type=3&amp;theater" target="_blank">one school of thought saying that it goes back to the Patriots’ decision to pass on him in favor of Laurence Maroney in the 2006 draft</a>.</p> <p>For what it’s worth, Brady is expected to be back at quarterback when the Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to meet Williams and the Steelers on Oct. 23.</p> <p>For more Patriots news, check out <a href="http://www.weei.com/teams/patriots/home" target="_blank">weei.com/patriots</a>.</p> Blog patriots Other Thu, 21 Jul 2016 13:35:14 +0000 2363921 at http://www.weei.com Edelman has 'itch' to get back on field http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/this-just-in/212362166/edelman-has-itch-get-back-field <!--paging_filter--> <a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IMG_2488-e1469050592370.jpg" data-id="109342"></a> <p>One of the biggest question marks entering Patriots training camp next week will be if wide receiver Julian Edelman will be on the field.</p><p><a href="http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/this-just-in/212362166/edelman-has-itch-get-back-field" target="_blank">read more</a></p> patriots Wed, 20 Jul 2016 21:40:01 +0000 Ryan Hannable 2362166 at http://www.weei.com Julian Edelman has ‘itch’ to get back on field, has been training to get in ‘football shape’ http://www.weei.com/sports/feed/blog/anonymous/julian-edelman-has-%E2%80%98itch%E2%80%99-get-back-field-has-been-training-get-%E2%80%98football- <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_109342" style="width: 360px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IMG_2488-e1469050592370.jpg" data-id="109342"><img class="wp-image-109342" src="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IMG_2488-e1469050592370-655x873.jpg" alt="Julian Edelman is itching to get back on the football field. (WEEI.com photo)" width="350" height="467" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Julian Edelman is itching to get back on the football field. (WEEI.com photo)</p></div> <p>One of the biggest question marks entering Patriots training camp next week will be if wide receiver Julian Edelman will be on the field.</p> <p>The wide out had offseason foot surgery after breaking his foot during the year, but did return for the postseason possibly doing more damage to the foot.</p> <p>Edelman didn&#8217;t specifically address his foot, but sounded like a player who has been working hard in the offseason and is ready to get back out on the field with less than a week left in his offseason.</p> <p>&#8220;You enjoy it, but you have the itch to get back,&#8221; Edelman said at Fenway Park Wednesday where he took batting practice, <a href="http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/sports/newengland/football/patriots/2016/07/20/video-julian-edelman-hits-home-run-over-green-monster-at-fenway-park/">including hitting several homers over the Green Monster</a>. &#8220;It&#8217;s not like you haven&#8217;t been doing anything. You&#8217;ve been training and get your body and yourself in football shape. That&#8217;s kind of where my focus has been.&#8221;</p> <p>Edelman was asked about Tom Brady and him missing the first four games, but he didn&#8217;t want to get into it.</p> <p>&#8220;I&#8217;m not here to talk about that, I am here to enjoy America&#8217;s pastime,&#8221; he said.</p> <p>The Patriots&#8217; first official training camp practice is July 28.</p> <p>For more Patriots news, visit <a href="http://www.weei.com/teams/patriots/home">weei.com/patriots</a>.</p> Blog patriots Other Wed, 20 Jul 2016 21:38:54 +0000 2362176 at http://www.weei.com