FOXBORO — Bill Belichick coached teams generally are at their best late in the season.

In his 16th season as coach of the Patriots he knows how to best prepare his teams and how to get them playing their best when things matter the most. It should come as no surprise then how he talks about his team as they go into their third preseason game.

“I think our team made some progress,” Belichick said. “I don’€™t think we’€™re anywhere near where we need to be. In all reality, we probably won’€™t be for a while, but we just need to keep making progress and the faster the better, or the more the better ‘€“ however you want to look at it. We’€™ve got a long way to go but we’€™ve got to keep taking forward, positive steps.”

One of the positions that will need to make improvements moving forward is the offensive line.

A lot of their poor play over the first two preseason games comes down to who has been on the field. The team has been without center Bryan Stork and guard Ryan Wendell (Wendell came off the PUP list Tuesday, while Stork still remains out with an injury) for both preseason games, while tackles Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder each made their debuts last week in New Orleans.

Belichick was asked Wednesday of the importance of the potential offensive line starters seeing time together during preseason games.

“It’€™s definitely helpful,” he said. “I know in talking to those guys, it’€™s a great learning experience for them. It’€™s different than practice. But again, we have to consider the management of our team and we also have to consider the depth of our team and the evaluation of multiple players. It’€™s a balance there of giving the right amount so that we can evaluate the team properly, get some execution and timing and maintain and have our different combinations of depth, which eventually we will probably need somewhere along the line.

“It’€™s all those things, but we try to balance it the best we can. If I knew exactly how things we’€™re going to turn out at the end of the season ‘€“ last half, three quarters of a season ‘€“ then maybe we do it one way now, but there’€™s no way of knowing that, so we have to kind of cover our bases.”

A prime example of the offense line coming together over time was last season, as after a defined starting group was created — around Week 5 — the unit hit its stride, all the way through Super Bowl XLIX.

Overall, under Belichick the team is 54-10 in the month of December, the best record among any coach in the NFL.

So, when the coach says the team isn’t anywhere close to where they need to be, there’s no need to worry because when it comes to a preparing for a team for when it counts, no one is better than Belichick.

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Jimmy Jean

Jimmy Jean

FOXBORO — The Patriots are a little lighter in the secondary after the release of rookie defensive back Jimmy Jean.

Jean, 26, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Alabama-Birmingham on May 8, 2015.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, played both safety and cornerback over two seasons at University of Alabama- Birmingham. He played in 24 games over two seasons at UAB after beginning his college career with two seasons at Arkansas Baptist Junior College.

In 16 special teams snaps last Saturday night in New Orleans, Jean had one tackle and did not play in the secondary. The week before against the Packers, Jean played 15 snaps on defense and 18 on special teams, recording a tackle on defense.

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Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — The Patriots held their final open practice to the media Wednesday before departing for North Carolina Thursday and their third preseason game against the Panthers Friday night.

Josh Boyce

Josh Boyce

FOXBORO — The Patriots held their final open practice to the media Wednesday before departing for North Carolina Thursday and their third preseason game against the Panthers Friday night.

The most notable player missing was wide receiver Josh Boyce. The TCU product practiced Tuesday after not playing at all in last Saturday’s game against the Saints, but was not seen on the field Wednesday.

New offensive lineman Michael Williams, who the Patriots traded for from the Lions on Tuesday was present. Following stretching drills he switched out of his listed No. 74 jersey into No. 85 where he began working with the tight ends.

Missing for the Patriots were: Brandon LaFell, Darryl Roberts, Jimmy Jean, Dane Fletcher, Marcus Cannon, Chris Barker, Bryan Stork, Joe Vellano, Boyce, Jake Bequette and Chris Jones. Linebacker Dakoda Watson returned.

Practice was held in shorts and shells for a second day in a row.

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

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — If Tom Brady has been thinking about his impending suspension, Jimmy Garoppolo says he can’t tell.

FOXBORO — If Tom Brady has been thinking about his impending suspension, Jimmy Garoppolo says he can’t tell.

The second-year quarterback, who has already had 126 snaps this preseason in taking the majority of game reps, said Wednesday Brady has been treating him and the rest of the team just like it’s business as usual. Asked if working with Brady has been any different this summer, Garoppolo said the only change he’s noticed is their familiarity with one another.

“Knowing him for a year, we’ve obviously become closer and everything, but he’s gone about his business the same way as always ‘€“ just getting prepared and attacking training camp like the rest of us,” Garoppolo said. “I’d say we’ve gotten to know each other better, so we’re more comfortable with one another, but other than that, nothing crazy.”

The one thing that has most certainly changed this preseason is the amount of media attention, in part because Brady hasn’t spoken to the media at all and Garoppolo will be the starting quarterback if Brady has to serve any type of suspension.

“At Eastern Illinois we had the same amount of media,” Garoppolo joked, referring to his alma mater. “No, I’m just kidding. It’s been a little bit of an adjustment. I’m getting more and more used to it as we go, but it comes with the job I guess. You’ve got to get used to it.”

Does it give Garoppolo a little bit more of an appreciation for Brady?

“Yeah, there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that goes on that you don’t really know about until you’re in the spotlight I guess, but you can have fun with it, right?”

Garoppolo has completed 48-of-63 passes in those two preseason games replacing Tom Brady. He’s thrown one touchdown and two interceptions. Garoppolo was asked if the season opener started tomorrow, does he feel comfortable with how much work he’s had.

“It’s not here yet, so we’ve got 15 days to still get ready and prepare and all that stuff,” he said. “We’re working in the right direction. We’ll put it that way. It’s coming up, but we’ve got a long way to go still. We’ve still got two preseason games left. You can’t look past any of that. Like I said, just take it day by day and the rest will handle itself.”

Here were some other takeaways from Garoppolo’s Wednesday session with the media at Gillette Stadium:

Q: You didn’t get knocked down at all in the last game. How proud are you of your offensive line, especially the three young guys?

JG: Just the whole line altogether, backs ‘€“ they did a tremendous job blocking. That obviously makes my job so much easier, so huge credit to those guys up front. They just did a tremendous job.

Q: Does your offensive line performing like that raise your confidence?

JG: I think they always have my back, practice, game, whatever the circumstance may be. You have to have confidence in them. They have to have confidence in you. It’s a two-way street I guess.

Q: What do you carry into this week coming off of Saturday’s performance?

JG: It’s just like any other week ‘€“ going out there, going to practice, trying to get prepared for Carolina and just taking it day by day.

Q: How has this week been different for you guys as you prepare for the third preseason game?

JG: It’s a little shorter than usual, so we’re kind of cramming some things in, but other than that we’re just going about our business same as always.

Q: Does it have a little bit more of a regular season feel?

JG: Yeah, the whole game planning ‘€“ like I said, it’s a shorter week. It’s a little different, but for the most part, they’re trying to get us ready for Week 1.

Q: What’s been the biggest thing you’ve seen improve in the first couple of games as far as your play?

JG: There are a good amount of things I think have improved, but week to week everything changes ‘€“ just adjusting to the new game plan that we put in this week compared to last week and handling new information really.

Q: How important has it been for you just to play so much in the first two games?

JG: It’s definitely beneficial. Every rep counts. Practice, game, whatever it may be, you’ve got to go in there and take advantage of the opportunity that you get.

Q: How beneficial is it to work with different personnel?

JG: That’s kind of the way we do it. Practice, game, you’ve got to be ready to play with anyone just due to the nature of the sport ‘€“ injuries and all that stuff. It’s definitely helped.

Q: How would you assess yourself so far from the start of training camp?

JG: It’s coming along. Each day is a new task. You want to tackle things differently day by day. We’re kind of getting out of the training camp mode and into the regular season mode, so kind of adjusting to that now.

Q: How does it feel different to you maybe from a year ago?

JG: Which part? It’s a big switch from last year to this year, but that’s the nature of the beast I guess.

Q: What are your thoughts about adding a guy like Reggie Wayne to the offense?

JG: I’m excited about it. He’s only been here for 48 hours or so, so he’s been picking things up quickly. I’m excited to have him here.

Q: What are your impressions of him as a player from having watched him over the years?

JG: Tremendous player, tremendous career with the Colts and everything and I’m just excited to have him on the team now. He’s a nice guy to throw it to.

Q: Going back to the touchdown you threw off the scramble last week, how was that play different than some similar ones that ended up being picked off in practice?

JG: That’s kind of what practice is for. You see which throws you can make, which you can’t, and apply those to the game. In that situation, I got out of it. The receivers did a great job of getting open down the field after I extended it, and good things happened.

Q: Is there maybe added urgency because you can get sacked?

JG: That could’ve played a factor. The instinct part of it kicks in more in a game than during practice I guess, but you try to make practice as similar to the game as you can. The better you can do that, the better off you’ll be really.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Ryan Wendell will miss teammate Dan Connolly on the Patriots offensive line. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Ryan Wendell will miss teammate Dan Connolly on the Patriots offensive line. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Offensive lineman Ryan Wendell returned to the practice field for the first time on Tuesday after spending the entire summer on PUP recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Upon his return to the offensive huddle, he wasn’t seeing a familiar face, as long-time teammate Dan Connolly announced his retirement this offseason.

“I think Dan — I can’t say enough good things about Dan so whatever you guys want to write about Dan Connolly you can,” Wendell said. “He’s an awesome guy, an awesome teammate. One of my best friends and it was an honor and a privilege for me to play behind him, next to him, anywhere around him for the past seven years. I wish we could have played together for longer, but he’s got time with his family now and he’s enjoying that.

“He’s having a great time. He’s still plugged in. He still knows what’s going on every day. He’s watching all the games and he’s going to be our biggest fan this year.”

For obvious reasons Wendell would have liked to have Connolly back for another season, but he’s seen over the years the Patriots can adapt and make the adjustments, as well as have new players step in.

“We want the best players we can get every year and Dan is a great player,” Wendell said. “I would love to have him out here, but this is the NFL, pro football — guys come and go all the time. We’ve lost guys in the past and we’ve made adjustments, guys have stepped up and I don’t have any doubts guys on our team now will do well going forward.”

While Wendell didn’t step foot on the field since winning the Super Bowl, he’s entering his seventh season, so he knows what he needs to do to make sure he’s ready for the season-opener Sept. 10. While he wasn’t on the field, the Fresno State product was still putting his work in.

“I think you can’t spend time worrying about things you can’t control,” Wendell said. “The only thing I can control is doing the work I have each day — believe me, I’ve had plenty of work to do each day and each day I am trying to do the best I can.”

As for any hint as to whether or not he will play in Friday’s third preseason game in Carolina against the Panthers?

“You’ll have to talk to Bill,” Wendell joked. “I don’t put the players in.”

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

U.S. District Judge David S. Doty, who has ruled on several NFL labor matters over the last few years, took a shot at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his interpretation of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement on Wednesday.

Judge David Doty is no fan of Roger Goodell. (Layne KennedyGetty Images) Football: Portrait of NFL anti-trust trial judge David Doty alone in chambers.  (Photo by Layne Kennedy/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Judge David Doty is no fan of Roger Goodell. (Layne KennedyGetty Images)

U.S. District Judge David S. Doty, who has ruled on several NFL labor matters over the last few years, took a shot at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his interpretation of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement on Wednesday.

At a hearing Wednesday on a contempt motion filed by the NFL Players Association in the Adrian Peterson case, Doty said everyone was “curious” as to how Judge Richard Berman would rule in the case of Tom Brady and Deflategate. In the process, he took the opportunity to get in a dig at Goodell.

“I’m not sure the commissioner understands there is a CBA,” Doty said.

Doty has ruled against the NFL on many occasions, including a decision to vacate the arbitration award that upheld Peterson’s suspension.

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

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Jonathan Krause

Jonathan Krause

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 or coach might have in said pass catcher. In addition, like our look at offensive opportunities in the preseason, it gives you some sort of indication as to the chances younger pass catchers are getting. With all that in mind, here’s a look at the target breakdown after the first two preseason games.

WR Chris Harper: 12 catches on 15 targets
WR Brandon Gibson: 12 catches on 13 targets
WR Jonathan Krause: 9 catches on 9 targets
RB James White: 5 catches on 6 targets
RB Dion Lewis: 5 catches on 5 targets
TE Jimmay Mundine: 3 catches on 5 targets
WR Josh Boyce: 2 catches on 11 targets
TE Asante Cleveland: 1 catch on 1 target
RB LeGarrette Blount: 1 catch on 1 target
WR Danny Amendola: 0 catches on 2 targets
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 0 catches on 1 target
FB Eric Kettani: 1 catch on 1 target

One note on the peerless performance of Krause: His 9-for-9 start to the preseason is the best preseason start for a New England pass catcher since Julian Edelman went 10-for-10 last preseason.

DraftKings Kick off this football season with the biggest fantasy football contest ever on DraftKings! Prizes worth $10 million are up for grabs, including $2 million for first AND $1 million for second! PLAY IN THE WEEK 1 MILLIONAIRE MAKER, CLICK HERE.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price