Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman checked in with Middays with MFB as part of Patriots Monday on WEEI and discussed the high number of penalties being caused in the preseason. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

“If they’re going to call the game like that, we’ve got to get used to it for the regular season,” Edelman said. “Kind of like training a dog, we’ve got to train everyone and throw probably a little more now to get it in guys’ heads to think towards the regular season. We’re just going to play it out. Every team has to deal with it — our defense has to deal with it. That’s the route they want to go, that’s what we’re going to have to do.”

Added Edelman: “As a player, you know the rules and you’re going to go out there and you’re going to play — do business as business is being done. So if you see it’s a tight game, you’re going to tighten it up a little. If it’s not, that’s when you’re going to loosen up, get away with the push-off or something like that. You’re going to adjust to how the game’s being called.”

Edelman is coming off a breakout, 105-catch season that led to a big contract in the offseason. With his spot secure, he acknowledged approaching training camp with a slightly different mindset.

“This year has been a little different,” he said. “Now I get to really focus on my fundamentals, plays that I go out there and not have to think about a bunch of noise, what’s going on, this, that. You really get to brush up route technique. You have the experience from last year to see what guys have done on certain plays, certain techniques, certain head-bobs, all this kind of stuff. It’s good to kind to learn from last year and try to use that as a foundation and go on from there.”

Tom Brady has taken to affectionately calling Edelman and fellow undersized receiver Danny Amendola “pygmies.”

Edelman professed ignorance about the African-derived term for short people but added: “He’s the commander in chief. What he says goes.”

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

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

At every NFL training camp, there are always out-of-the-blue success stories — players who no one was talking about at the start of the summer, but through hard work and sheer will have managed to elbow their way into contention for a roster spot. This year is no different, as the Patriots have had more than their share of under-the-radar possibilities rise up and make a name for themselves. Now, with half the preseason schedule in the books and the regular season less than three weeks away, these four underdogs have positioned themselves nicely to beat the odds and win a roster spot. Here are our favorite success stories of the summer.

Offensive lineman Jordan Devey – As of Sunday afternoon, Devey was the only player in the league who played every single snap for his team in the preseason. The 6-foot-7, 317-pounder out of Memphis, who spent all of the 2013 season on the practice squad, has lined up at both guard spots and both tackle spots in the first two preseason games. Along the way, he has injected himself into a conversation regarding who might work along the interior, as well as who would best be served to work as the backup swing tackle. He probably won’€™t start, but his versatility could make him the latest in a long line of offensive linemen who have used the fact that they can play multiple positions as an entry point for more reps. In many cases, that’€™s led to bigger and better things down the road.

‘€œI think he’€™s improved a lot from last year — he’€™s had a good offseason,’€ Bill Belichick said of Devey. ‘€œHe’€™s worked really hard. He’€™s a smart guy. His fundamentals have improved. His strength is better. His offseason program was very productive. Harold Nash and Moses [Cabrera] and their program, he really was able to take advantage of that and put himself in a very competitive position.’€

Wide receiver Brian Tyms – What’€™s the wildest part of Tyms’€™ story? How he was a foster child who bounced from home to home as a preteen? The fact that he lived in his car as a teenager? How he walked on at Florida A&M? Or how he’€™s buddies with Randy Moss? Regardless, Tyms has gone from not being on the radar screen at the start of camp to becoming front and center as part of the debate as to whether or not the Patriots will carry six receivers this season.

Over the course of the summer he’€™s displayed a fierce level of competitiveness for jump balls — he’€™s been targeted almost twice as much as any other pass catcher through two games. He hasn’€™t missed a practice. And by all accounts, he’€™s a model teammate who everyone seems to be rooting for. In addition to that, he has some roster flexibility that ultimately could tip the scales in his favor. He faces a four-game ban at the start of the season for using Adderall (according to Tyms) late last year. If the Patriots choose to keep him around (although he wouldn’t be allowed in the facility during his suspension), he wouldn’€™t count toward their final 53-man roster. That could end up working in his favor.

Ultimately, no matter happens with him, he’€™s the feel-good story of the summer in Foxboro.

‘€œI don’€™t know if you guys feel the atmosphere coming out here on this practice field, but everybody’€™s serious,’€ Tyms said earlier this month. ‘€œIt’€™s not, ‘€˜OK, this is just another practice.’€™ Everybody is serious. The level of intensity is high, so I don’€™t really have time to sit back and think, ‘€˜Wow, I’€™m missing the first four games.’€™ The moment I do that, I’€™ll hear, ‘€˜Hey Brian, sub in.’€™ And then Tom [Brady] calls a play and I don’€™t know what I’€™m doing because I’€™m thinking about a suspension.

‘€œI don’€™t really think about that. I just come out here and try to stay good on my assignments, making all my blocks, running my routes at the right depth and cheering on my teammates. That’€™s about it.’€

Cornerback Malcolm Butler – Hailing from noted Division 2 football factory West Alabama, Butler is a 5-foot-11, 190-pounder who was signed after getting a tryout during rookie minicamp. Like most of the other guys on this list, he made his bones through the first two weeks of training camp because he didn’€™t back down from anyone and maintained that same competitive attitude when he stepped on the field. In the first preseason contest against the Redskins he deflected two passes, and he also has a pick of Brady to his credit. He got the start on Friday against the Eagles and played roughly two-thirds of the snaps in the win.

‘€œI think he’€™s done a good job every day, coming out there being ready to compete,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œHe’€™s a got a long way to go. He’€™s got a lot to learn. There are a lot of things different here than where he played and who he played against. But that’€™s all in the past, so he’€™s just got to take it day by day. He’€™s learning every day, he works hard and he’€™s gotten better on a daily basis. Still has a long way to go.’€

There’€™s still time between now and the start of the season, but unless Butler is brutal in the final two preseason games, he figures to at least have the inside track on a roster spot while the Patriots wait out the four-game suspension for fellow corner Brandon Browner at the start of the regular season. That means he’€™d be the fifth corner for New England heading into Week 1 against the Dolphins.

Running back Roy Finch – The rookie free agent out of Oklahoma has gotten every chance to win a spot somewhere on this roster, and while he may not come away with a berth on the 53-man squad to start the season, it appears he’€™ll find a way to stick around Foxboro in some form, either on the practice squad or as a result of the Foxboro flu. The 5-foot-7, 167-pounder struggled in the preseason opener against the Redskins, having some issues with ball security while working on special teams. But against the Eagles he had 71 yards from scrimmage (37 rushing, 34 receiving), and averaged 7.9 yards every time he touched the ball. Good numbers for an undersized back.

‘€œRoy was a player that is good with the ball in his hands. He’€™s got pretty good quickness,’€ Patriots personnel chief Nick Caserio said earlier this summer. ‘€œWhen a guy is maybe a little bit smaller at one position relative to the other, you look for maybe a skill that separates themselves. In Roy, [that'€™s an] ability to move laterally. He was good with the ball in his hands. They played a lot of running backs at Oklahoma and when he got touches he was able to make some plays in space.’€

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the huge number of penalties given out this preseason as well as Jimmy Garoppolo‘€™s potential in New England. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

NFL referees have come under fire for aggressively calling penalties in preseason games, something that revolves around the league cracking down on illegal contact, defensive holding and illegal hands to the face.

Hasselbeck said the number of penalties should decrease once the regular season kicks off.

“I watch all of these games, and you obviously can’€™t watch them all in real time, so I feel like I’ve had the benefit of fast-forwarding through the nonsense, because the games that I’ve watched in real time, it’€™s been brutal,” Hasselbeck said. “It’€™s been absolutely brutal. There’€™s no way this continues, because the league doesn’t want games like this during the regular season, and I can tell you right now, with all of this emphasis and all of this focus on this illegal contact and that nonsense, go look at every postseason for the last five years. The further and further you get along in the postseason, refs are afraid to take the flag out of their pocket. They won’€™t do it. … I feel like the officials in the NFL kind of missed the boat on this one.”

Hasselbeck said that Garoppolo’€™s impressive performances in the team’€™s first two preseason games, coupled with Ryan Mallett‘€™s upcoming free agency, has given Garoppolo the edge in terms of fighting for the backup quarterback role on the team.

“œI think, in terms of the ownership of the system, I think you need to be in it for a full year,” Hasselbeck said. “The advantage of being in something a full year is that you have command over it, rather than just knowing it. … There’€™s so many layers of it, so I think if you’€™re in it for over a year, to start to develop that type of ability. In terms of Belichick’€™s process with these guys, because of the contract situation for Mallett going forward and when he reaches free agency and because they’ve invested a second-round pick in Garoppolo, I believe that the scale is tipped a little bit in Garoppolo’€™s favor for them to really try to get him up to speed and feel comfortable with him being the backup, and so I think that’€™s why you’€™re going to see them give him opportunities.”

While teams such as the Bills and Jets have the players and potential to make some noise this season, Hasselbeck still has New England pegged as a massive favorite to once again claim in the top spot in the AFC East.

“œEveryone is looking for the team that’€™s challenging them. Who is it? I said this last week … If [Rob] Gronkowski‘€™s healthy, I don’€™t see anybody challenging them,” Hasselbeck said. “New England has gotten better on both sides of the football, just by guys going into their second year, guys on the defensive side of the ball, in terms of additions, [Shane] Vereen being healthy, they have gotten significantly better, I believe, from a personnel standpoint.

“€œYou can talk Sammy Watkins all you want. … EJ Manuel developing, whatever it its, good quarterback play out of the Jets and their defense. But New England looks better, too. I really don’€™t think that there’€™s a team that gives them a significant run for their money in the East.”

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

Blog Author: 
Conor Ryan

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, with the team hitting the halfway mark of the preseason schedule.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, with the team hitting the halfway mark of the preseason schedule. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Some consider preseason a boring lead-up to the regular season, but Brady is not one of those people.

“It means football is back,” he said. “We’re really in preparation for the season. You can’t shortcut it. You’ve just got to grind through it. It’s about getting better, and you can’t cheat that. You’ve got to see where your team’s at, and to have weeks and weeks of really concentrated practice time and then the preseason game, you make mistakes, you correct them, you try to do them better and make the improvements — I think that’s what training camp’s all about.

“Coach [Bill Belichick] always says a good offseason program leads to a good start of training camp, good training camp leas to a good September, a good September leads to a good October, November. Then you’ve got to be playing well in December. Through none of those phases can you really just be average, because then you can never get back, you can never try to get ahead, you’re always just trying to catch up.”

Brady said progress is far more important than anything else at this stage.

“For all of us it’s just level of improvement,” he said. “I think that’s what you gauge. Because not all the parts are there at this point. A lot of it is individual improvement. So you’re really just focusing on what you’re job is, what you need to do, go through your read, your throw. And then when you start to incorporate those into one-on-one drills, and as that leads over into team drills, hopefully by the opener you’ve got all the guys that have worked on their individual improvement so collectively, as a whole, you’re better and better — or significantly better than what we were let’s say when the OTA’s started. That’s what you have to look to be able to do. You’ve got to built a foundation. Without that foundation you’ll never be a good football team.”

Friday’s preseason win over the Eagles was marked by 28 penalties as officials try to get players to understand they’ll be calling games tighter this season. Brady said it’s incumbent on the players to adjust.

“I don’t know whether they throw 20 flags or five flags over the course of the game. Some calls go your way, some calls don’t,” he said. “I think players like when they let you play, more so than anything. But at the same time, the refs stand up there in front of us on whatever day it was, on Wednesday, and said, ‘Look, we’re throwing a lot of flags. If we see illegal contact, if we see defensive holding, if we see hands to the face, those are real points of emphasis for this year.’ And they showed video. So when those things come up, they’re throwing the flags. And they did in practice a lot, too.

“It’s just being able to adjust and being disciplined and being good decision-makers. … You just have to learn to play within the rules. And those adjust on a weekly basis, depending on how the refs call the game. And we have a pretty good idea of how they’re going to call the game going into it. Some refs throw a lot of flags, some refs don’t throw a lot of flags. Our coaches try to prepare us on that. And once you get out there on the field, you play within the rules to the best of your ability. And if they’re calling it tight, you’ve got to be able to adjust. That’s all part of the decision-making process as a player.

“Hopefully, there’s not 20-plus flags a game. That’s a lot of flags. That will make for long football games.”

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

On the most important trait for a quarterback to succeed in the NFL: “Probably the same thing you need in life: It’s decision-making. That’s an everyday characteristic. I think more so than any physical ability — which, believe me, those are all important. Having great physical ability allows maybe some more margin of error in other areas. But ultimately it comes down to decision-making. And as a quarterback on the field it’s really split-second decision-making.

“And that carries into all parts of your life. What you do on an off day, how hard you work, the kind of leadership you’ll provide, whatever it takes and whatever priorities you put in your life, what decisions you’re making in order to prioritize what’s important. For me, my priorities are football — and obviously they change over the years when you have a family and so forth, but football is obviously the utmost priority, and trying to be the best I can be. Every decision that I make always comes back to being a better performer, and that’s a pretty good [factor] in my life to be able to do it.

“It’s hard to judge one quarterback on the course of one year or two years or three years. I’ve been at it for a while. Guys I really look up to do it for long periods of time. That’s really a life decision. When you look at Peyton Manning, for example, he’s just been so consistent for so long. That’s the kind of guy you always look for.”

On if a “knucklehead” with exceptional physical ability can be successful over time: “I don’t think you can really be a knucklehead and be a great performer. Maybe for a year, or maybe for two years. But not for a long period of time. It all depends on what a lot of people would define a long period of time as; it’s different. But I think that the guys that go and play at Hall of Fame levels, they do it year after year after year. You know what you’re going to get every time out.

“The best guys that I’ve played against, the best guys that I’ve played with always make good decisions. They’re always the ones that are doing the right thing by their teammates and being the best they can be.

“The quarterback position in general really affects the game a lot because you’ve got the ball in your hands more than anybody else. So if you make poor decisions with the football then you really don’t give your team a chance to win the game. If you’re careless with the ball, if you’re not throwing the ball to the right places, if you’re making wrong checks at the line of scrimmage, then the rest of the team really has no chance. Because the ball always goes to the quarterback.”

On rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo: “He’s been a lot of fun to work with. There’s a reason why the team liked him and picked him pretty high. Obviously the team feels that way. He’s gone out there and done just a great job when he’s had his opportunity. That’s great to see from any young player, but you’ve got to keep building on it. You’ve got to keep getting better and making improvements and improving your deficiencies while strengthening the things that are really strong points for you. It’s hard to tell after such a short period of time.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

The Patriots want to remind fans that Monday is the final day of training camp access for the public. Monday’s session is scheduled to run from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. Following Monday practice, the team switches to a regular-season schedule — workouts will be closed to the public, while the media will have a brief window at the start of practice to watch stretching and drills.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots want to remind fans that Monday is the final day of training camp access for the public. Monday’s session is scheduled to run from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. Following Monday practice, the team switches to a regular-season schedule — workouts will be closed to the public, while the media will have a brief window at the start of practice to watch stretching and drills.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

One week after they waived tight end Justin Jones, the Patriots have re-signed the rookie, according to reports.

The 6-foot-8, 277-pound Jones, who was cut loose last week, was a three-year starter at East Carolina, and finished his career with 52 receptions for 598 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots this past spring.

One week after they waived tight end Justin Jones, the Patriots have re-signed the rookie, according to reports.

The 6-foot-8, 277-pound Jones, who was cut loose last week, was a three-year starter at East Carolina, and finished his career with 52 receptions for 598 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots this past spring.

Tom E. Curran of Comcast first reported the story.

To make room for Jones, the Patriots have released long snapper Tyler Ott, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. The Harvard product was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots on May 16.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

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