How does Bill Belichick define toughness? Before practice on Wednesday, the Patriots coach went deep on the idea of what makes a mentally and physically tough player.

“There are a lot of different types of toughness,” he explained. “Going over the middle and catching a ball when somebody is getting ready to hit you hard — that’s one kind of toughness. Lining up against a guy that’s big and strong a few inches away is a different kind of toughness. Taking on guys that are bigger than you in the run-force and linemen and things like that, that’s another kind of toughness. Receivers cracking on ends and linebackers and safeties; there are different kinds of toughness.

“Then, there’s mental toughness — kickers, it’s a non-contact position but there is a lot of mental toughness in those specialist positions; snappers, holders, kickers. There is an element of physical toughness but there is definitely an element of mental toughness that is different than a guard’s toughness. They’re different.”

Askd how he measures intangibles like toughness when it comes to evaluating a player, Belichick checked off a number of boxes.

“Toughness, intelligence, work ethic, I mean, those things aren’t … you don’t get that out of vertical jump,” he said. “Whatever characteristics you want, you put whichever ones in there. Dependability. Whatever adjectives you want.”

One thing he’s aware of is the fact that this week’s opponent is one of the most mentally and physically tough teams in the league.

“I imagine you probably wouldn’t last very long there if you weren’t [tough],” Belichick said of the Ravens. “Yeah, probably it’s a combination of all of those things from the owner to the general manager to the head coach to their team leaders right on down the line. A tough, competitive group every week.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Sep 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona (49) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Cardinals 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Cardona is an active Naval officer who also serves as the Patriots long snapper. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — No one in the Patriots locker room has a keener appreciation of Wednesday’s 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor than long snapper Joe Cardona.

The 24-year-old active naval officer spoke about the significance on Wednesday.

“We had naval history courses where we studied the past naval battles, past wars,” Cardona said. “Obviously, being at the Naval Academy, just seeing when Dec. 7 came around people took it a little more somberly because it is a part of our history as a Navy.

“It’s just a day of remembrance for the men that were involved in defending Pearl Harbor and trying to really remember their legacy and honor those who are still here today from that generation, the sailors that were there, came under attack unexpectedly. They fought back and a lot of the survivors were part of the campaign in the Pacific to take back the Pacific and really make a huge impact on that war.”

Bill Belichick addressed the lessons of Pearl Harbor in his press conference Wednesday, pointing to how Americans banded together to unite and respond in the face of attack and war. That is something Cardona echoed in his comments in front of his locker.

“That’s a huge takeaway from it, just with preparedness and always being ready for any circumstance that comes across, whether that be from a [military] defense standpoint or now, on this side, from a football standpoint, being ready for whatever,” Cardona said. “Obviously, as a Navy, we look back and reflect on this day and remember the lives lost but also just take moment to appreciate those that fought in that war and defended our freedom.”

Cardona, a 2015 graduate of the Naval Academy, said he’s never been to Pearl Harbor but definitely plans on visiting someday.

“Definitely. A huge bucket list item to go see the memorial and to be able to see that kind of history,” Cardona said. “I’ve had the opportunity once or twice to meet Pearl Harbor survivors and it’s just unimaginable to have come under attack like that.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Just how tough are the Ravens and what did Bill Belichick say in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Wednesday in Foxboro? WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable discuss inside Gillette Stadium.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

FOXBORO — Following Rob Gronkowski’s season-ending back injury, it has changed the Patriots’ odds to win the Super Bowl.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

FOXBORO — Following Rob Gronkowski’s season-ending back injury, it has changed the Patriots’ odds to win the Super Bowl.

According to Bovada, the Patriots remain the favorites to win the Super Bowl, but have higher odds than prior to the injury news. New England currently has 3/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, which is up from 12/5 odds before the Gronkowski injury news. Dallas has the second-best odds at 7/2.

Like last week, Tom Brady has the third-best odds to win NFL MVP at 15/2, which is tied with Matthew Stafford. Ezekiel Elliot has the best odds at 12/5, while Derek Carr is second at 7/1. Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson follow Brady at 10/1 odds, so it will surely come down to the final four weeks of the season.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski is up for a NFL award.

Gronkowski is the Patriots’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The award recognizes a player for his excellence on and off the field and is among the league’s most prestigious awards.

“We’re proud to honor these outstanding men who represent the NFL’s best on and off the field,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “Our players have a unique platform to make a difference far beyond the field of play. We salute these individuals who are exemplary in their commitment to making a positive impact in communities across the globe through their dedicated service and philanthropic efforts.”

The winner will be announced in Houston at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on February 4, the night before Super Bowl LI.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — On the 75th anniversary of the attack that changed the course of history forever, Bill Belichick took time to recall his naval roots and the lessons learned from Pearl Harbor, lessons that he continues to impart on his team to this day.

LeGarrette Blount is nearing the second 1,000 yard season of his career. (Getty Images)

LeGarrette Blount is nearing the second 1,000 yard season of his career. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Since 2000, the Patriots have had four running backs top 1,000 yards.

Corey Dillon — 1,635 (2004)
Stevan Ridley — 1,263 (2012)
Antowain Smith — 1,157 (2001)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis — 1,008 (2010)

LeGarrette Blount should be the fifth one sooner sooner rather than later. While he and the rest of the New England running game face a sizable challenge this week against the best run defense in the league in Baltimore, the fact that Blount is at 957 after 12 games means that if he stays healthy, he’s a lock to hit 1,000 for the second time in his career. (He had 1,007 as a rookie with the Bucs in 2010.)

In this pass-first era, the 1,000-yard mark is still an important milestone for any back, let alone one that just turned 30 this week.

“It means a lot, because there aren’t a lot of running backs who can rush for 1,000 yards in this league,” Blount said of the opportunity to reach 1,000 yards. “That goes out to all my offensive linemen and all of my tight ends and my receivers blocking on the perimeter. Tom [Brady] lead blocking when I reverse field. It goes out to all those guys. They work their tails off. They work their butt off every day. They work their butt off all week to continue to perform. I get all the notoriety for it, but it starts with those guys, for sure.”

“He’s run well for us. He’s made a lot of tough yards. He’s also made some big plays for us, has ripped off some big, explosive plays. He’s been out there every week,” Bill Belichick said of the 30-year-old Blount. “He’s had a solid year for us, no doubt about it.”

On Tuesday, Belichick was asked if there was any historical comparison he can think of when it came to Blount’s hammer strength and surprising speed. While he alluded to the skill set presented by Dillon and Ottis Anderson, in the end, he said Blount is a fairly unique back.

“I don’t know if there’s a lot of guys really that I would compare him to right off the bat,” Belichick said of Blount. “You see him making some tough runs and running guys over and then you see him hurdling guys like in the Miami game and you see an open-field run like he had last week against the Rams where he kind of, you know, spun the safety around and ran by him. So he’s got a good combination of moves and style.

“It’s not all one thing. He’s effective. He’s got an effective stiff-arm. He can be elusive, he can be powerful. And he’s got good run vision. It’s hard to find another guy like him.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
IMG_1702

Bill Belichick spoke at length about Pearl Harbor Wednesday on the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — On the 75th anniversary of the attack that changed the course of history forever, Bill Belichick took time to recall his naval roots and the lessons learned from Pearl Harbor, lessons that he continues to impart on his team to this day.

“It’s a pretty big day in our history, certainly in naval history,” Belichick said. “For me, the lesson on Pearl Harbor and for us as a team and individually I would say, is not what happened on Dec. 7, although that was a lesson there, but the response and what the response was from our nation, from our military, from our civilians, from our population to battle the world on two fronts and win both of them.

“What this country did under [Franklin] Roosevelt’s leadership as well as the multiple military leaders and to go fight in Europe and go fight in Southeast Asia and Japan in response to what happened on December 7, 1941 is pretty impressive.”

Belichick’s father, Steve, served in the Navy in World War II, something that greatly influenced the younger Belichick when he was growing up. Steve Belichick would return from his service and spend a lifetime working as an assistant football coach at the Naval Academy.

“I remember my dad talking a lot about that, and when it happened, when he found out and then when he went into the Navy and went to Great Lakes and eventually went to Europe and eventually went to Okinawa,” Belichick continued. “It was a tough time for this country but it was a great example of the patriotism of citizens, men, women, fighting together, pulling together and being victorious in a lot of different ways.

“It’s special, special day, one we hope we don’t have to see again. Tough day for the Navy but they responded, they bounced back. The Battle of Midway was really a huge turning point. Had that not gone the way it did, I don’t know. Probably been a longer fight.”

Belichick also noted the work of filmmaker Rhode Island filmmaker Tim Gray, a former sportscaster who has earned a reputation as one of the most respected historians and chroniclers of World War II.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Ed Hochuli will work as the referee for Monday’s Ravens-Patriots game.