The Patriots have released defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, according to the veteran.

Well it's been real New England. The road continues

— Terrance Knighton (@MisterRoast98) August 29, 2016

The Patriots have released defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, according to the veteran.

Knighton, who was signed as a free agent by New England on April 4, did not play in the third preseason game this past Friday against the Panthers, and later lamented the fact that he did not get into the game, saying it was “disappointing” not getting a chance to play.

The 30-year-old Knighton, a 6-foot-3, 355-pounder, had previous stops in Jacksonville, Denver and Washington.

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
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Chris Long speaks to reporters at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Training camp and the preseason has been a very eye-opening experience for Chris Long.

The veteran defensive end brought to New England to help fortify the edge defense has noticed one thing about the way Bill Belichick and the Patriots operate: Good teams are always looking to upgrade.

Whether it’s through free agency and experiencing it first-hand with his own one-year deal, drafting young players like Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom, picking up a player like Barkevious Mingo through a trade, signing a player off the street in Anthony Johnson or keeping a veteran around like Rob Ninkovich, talent comes in many shapes, sizes and transactions in Foxboro.

That continued last Thursday with the trade with the Browns that brought Mingo on board as a 25-year-old edge rushing specialist. Long doesn’t believe the acquisition sends a message in the locker room, rather it just reinforces what he already knew when he signed to come on board.

“I’m not sure it sends any message,” Long said Sunday. “A team is a made up of a lot of really good players and guys with different skill sets. That’s what good teams is all about, is having a lot of good players. It sounds simple but it is important to have as many as you can.”

Flowers has 2.5 sacks in the preseason and is making a name for himself on the defensive line, something Long can see first-hand.

“Trey is a young guy but he’s a really smart football player,” Long said. “He can do a lot of different things. His versatility really serves him well. He’s a hard worker. As far as being a pro, I think he understands how to be a pro early [in his career]. It serves him well. It’s really been fun to watch him work and go about his work as a professional.”

Then there’s 32-year-old Ninkovich, the only player older than he is on the defense.

“He’s one of the greatest players I’ve played with,” Long said with a smile as Ninkovich, who lockers next him, waited for the media to disperse and became part of the media for a moment.

“Rob, for me, has been really helpful because he’s been in this defense so long,” Long added on a serious note. “He’s really helpful with me learning techniques, not just the playbook but how you’re supposed to do your job in certain situations and the intricacies of this defense. So, he’s like having another coach on the field. He has not only been a great player in this league for long time but someone I’ve always admired on tape. But now, I get to learn from him every day.

“It’s kind of a surreal experience.”

The Patriots defense has four interceptions and two fumble recoveries this preseason, something Long would like to see continue in the regular season.

“We’ve got a lot of good players,” Long said. “Focusing on turnovers, that’s a good thing to be able to do, helps the team, helps the defense. We certainly have a lot to work on and a long way to go. But anytime you get a chance to play good football teams in the preseason, good offense and Carolina certainly being one of the elite teams in the league with great players, it’s a great way to get ready for the regular season.”

“This week is all about New York and continue to hone our craft. Preseason is important all the way through the end. For vets and young guys alike, this is an opportunity to sharpen our tools and we’ll be done with the preseason in a week,” Long said. “You always feel more comfortable the longer you do something in a scheme. I’m just continuing to try to grind away with the playbook and continue to work on the same things you always work on in camp, fundamentals. Any time you get a chance to play in the preseason, it’s a good opportunity for you. I try to take advantage of those.”

The surreal experience of preseason is likely over for many on defense like Long who figure to have their spot wrapped up before the preseason finale this Thursday night at MetLife Stadium against the Giants. But that’s not going to keep Long from preparing as if he might get some action Thursday.

“Preseason and camp is all about taking things one day at a time,” Long said. “Really, you don’t think about when the game is. You think about how you can get better every day in practice and how to do your job to the best of your ability. You wake up the next day and it is what it is. That’s what the preseason is all about.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Bill Belichick has a shot at his first undefeated preseason since 2003. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick has a shot at his first undefeated preseason since 2003. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

If the Patriots are able to beat the Giants Thursday at MetLife Stadium, New England would finish the preseason 4-0 for the first time since 2003, and mark the fourth time in franchise history the team posted an undefeated record in the preseason.

Is going undefeated — or wins and losses in general — important at this time of year? When it comes to teachable moments for a younger team, there is value in simply learning how to win, especially when it comes to the preseason. Over the weekend, Bill Belichick said that while victories are always nice, the Patriots aren’t going to “pull out all he stops” when it comes to winning a preseason game, especially at the expense of something more important.

“I think what we tell our players and coaches is that we’re going to coach and play to win,” Belichick said when asked whether or not it was a big deal they were undefeated at this point in the preseason. “We’re obviously not going to pull out all the stops in terms of every trick play we’ve ever used or things like that. But whatever the situation calls for, we’re going to play it as competitively as we can play it, given the limitations that we have and based on the amount of experience our players have in the game at that certain point, and what we’ve been able to cover.

“We haven’t covered every single thing that we would want to cover or hope to cover to start the season, especially situational football,” he added, “but as far as competing and playing, we’re doing everything we can to win, but within the context of doing what we’re capable of doing right now. We’re trying to win, we’re trying to do everything as well as we can do it. But not pulling out all the stops in terms of playing time, strategizing and so forth that we would do in the regular season.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Trey Flowers has helped his cause with some great work in three preseason games this summer. (Jim Dedmon/USA Today Sports)

Trey Flowers leads the Patriots in sacks, quarterback hits and tackles this preseason. (Jim Dedmon/USA Today Sports)

For a sport that places so much emphasis on statistical analysis, precious little attention is paid to the NFL’s preseason numbers. Who remembers the best rusher, passer or receiver (Zach Zenner, Brett Hundley and Rashad Ross) from last year’s preseason?

But summer game stats are about more than just winning the offseason. They might not receive the same sort of emphasis that the regular season totals deserve, and like all numbers, they need to be placed in proper context. But they play an important role in the evaluation process, especially for younger players or those on the bubble when it comes to roster cuts.

When it comes to the Patriots, this year’s preseason totals aren’t all that surprising, but will play a part in determining who will make it through the series of cuts that are set to come down over the next week: On offense, Tyler Gaffney (29 carries, 130 yards, one touchdown) holds the team lead in rushing yards, with LeGarrette Blount (25 carries, 115 yards, two touchdowns) a close second and Brandon Bolden (six carries, 40 yards) third overall.

Meanwhile, tight end AJ Derby (10 catches, 138 yards and one touchdown) and wide receiver Chris Hogan (nine catches, 115 yards, one touchdown) are the top receivers, with Aaron Dobson (six catches, 86 yards) and James White (four catches, 73 yards) close behind.

And Jimmy Garoppolo is the leading passer (36-for-54, 406 yards and one touchdown), followed by Jacoby Brissett (25-for-35, 235 yards, one touchdown).

(While we’re having a statistical conversation, it’s also important to note that Garoppolo has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league this summer. Through three preseason games, the Patriots’ signal-caller is in the top five of most major passing categories, including completed passes, yards and fewest interceptions. To add to that, he’s sixth in passer rating. If it wasn’t for the otherworldly stretch from Dallas’ Dak Prescott, he might be at or near the top of just about everything, even after his sluggish performance on Friday against the Panthers.)

On the other side of the ball, defensive end Trey Flowers leads the Patriots in sacks (2.5), quarterback hits (four) and tackles (13), while cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc (12 tackles, one interception and a team-high three passes defensed) has also posted some good totals.

On offense, the numbers from Gaffney and Derby have undoubtedly bolstered their case to make it through to the final 53 with strong statistical showings. (If they make it, it won’t be the only reason, but it’ll play a role.) Gaffney was on the fringes of the running back position at the start of the summer, but his steady rise — combined with the release of Donald Brown and continued uncertainty regarding Dion Lewis — have almost assured him of a roster spot two weeks before the start of the regular season. (For what it’s worth, through three preseason games, Gaffney is fifth in the league in rushing yards.)

“He’s there early, he stays late, never complains, always does extra, and so it’s great to see him have an opportunity this year,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Gaffney, who has been sidelined the last two years with a knee issue. “He has had a good year all spring and in training camp, and has done a good job for us.”

On defense, Flowers and did the same, virtually assuring himself of a spot on the final 53 with a strong summer. The Arkansas product, who is competing against a handful of other candidates to become the backup defensive end, is among the league leaders in sacks, and with Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich on the shelf for an extended stretch — and displaying the ability to hold up against the run — the numbers bear out the fact that he’s done well when it’s come to taking advantage of his opportunities.

“It’s good to have him out there,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Flowers earlier this month. “He’s done a good job for us when he’s had an opportunity to play. He played some in the kicking game. He’s got obviously a lot of things he has to work on, too, but he’s shown up pretty much daily in one way or another with some positive plays. He’s a hard working kid so hopefully it will continue to get better.”

As for LeBlanc, he’s locked in a battle with the likes of Jonathan Jones and Darryl Roberts for the last cornerback spot. If he doesn’t make it, his strong preseason stats might be enough to squeeze him through to the practice squad.

Of course, good preseason stats aren’t always a harbinger of regular-season success; summer numbers compiled against a vanilla defense of third- and fourth-stringers over the last few minutes of a fourth preseason game don’t have the same value as first-half stats against starters. But when it comes to evaluating a prospect, good preseason totals can help provide a better idea in determining whether or not they’re ready for life in the league or need a little more time to develop.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — Does Bill Parcells still keep in touch with Jacoby Brissett? Will Brissett start Thursday night against the Giants? And what does Chris Long think of the added talent on defense in Barkevious Mingo? WEEI’s Mike Petraglia has your Sunday report from Foxboro.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

FOXBORO — Coming off a perfect 9-for-9 effort Friday night in Charlotte, rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett says he’s ready for whatever assignment he’s given this Thursday at MetLife Stadium in the preseason finale against the Giants.

Aug 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA;  New England Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) looks to pass the ball during the second half against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Panthers 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Jacoby Brissett looks to pass against the Carolina Panthers. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Coming off a perfect 9-for-9 effort Friday night in Charlotte, rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett says he’s ready for whatever assignment he’s given this Thursday at MetLife Stadium in the preseason finale against the Giants.

Brissett threw for 83 yards and a 12-yard TD pass to DeAndre Carter over the middle.

Just how comfortable did Brissett feel?

“It’s a work in progress,” Brissett said Sunday afternoon after watching film. “Just trying to get better each day, step out there and learn from everything that happens in the game and practice.”

Bill Belichick left open the possibility of Brissett starting Thursday night, possibly playing the entire game. If that pans out, will Brissett change his approach or mindset heading in?

“No, not at all. You prepare every week as if you’re starting and go out there and make sure you’re on the same level as the guys on the field,” Brissett said.

As for the 9-for-9 efffort, “A good day but a lot of improvement to make a lot of things to get better at,” Brissett said.

There’s no question Friday lifted the confidence level of Brissett.

“Definitely, with progress and time, playing more, practicing more so you get more familiar with things that we’re doing. It’s still an ongoing process of learning and getting better,” he said.

But where does the most learning need to take place? For Brissett, it’s the playbook.

“Still learning it. I think every day until I leave here, I’ll still be learning something about it,” Brissett said. “Just battling each day and tackle new points and learn new things every day. Definitely but you see some of the things that you messed up on and could’ve done better. That’s the main thing you really take away from that situation.

“Every day is something new. You know that going into it but you actually see it and you’re like, ‘Alight, I understand.’ You never finish learning.”

His mentor, ex-NFL coach Bill Parcells has kept in touch with Brissett.

“Here and there,” Brissett said, adding that much of what the former coach told him has come to pass in the NFL so far. “A lot of it but he’s not the head coach here so you’ve got to listen to what your coach says, either if it’s good or bad. You do what you’re told to do.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Patriots have issued a statement from owner Robert Kraft on passing of former New England offensive lineman Bill Lenkaitis, who played for the team from 1971-1981.

The Patriots have issued a statement from owner Robert Kraft on passing of former New England offensive lineman Bill Lenkaitis, who played for the team from 1971-1981.

“Bill centered one of the greatest offensive lines, not just in franchise history, but in NFL history. In 1976, he helped propel the Patriots to an 11-3 record and our first NFL playoff berth. Two years later, the offensive line powered the Patriots to our first NFL division title, while setting the NFL rushing record. As a season ticket holder during his playing days, I was a fan of the player he was on the field. But, in my 22 years of ownership, I became an even bigger fan of the person he was off the field. He was a big man with an even bigger personality and a huge heart. As a Patriots alumnus, he remained active in our communities and regularly volunteered to support out Foundation’s many initiatives. He was a great Patriots ambassador and he will be missed. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and former teammates.” 

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price