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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

James Harrison really doesn’t care much for Roger Goodell.

James Harrison is no fan of Roger Goodell.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

James Harrison is no fan of Roger Goodell. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

James Harrison really doesn’t care much for Roger Goodell.

The Steelers linebacker told reporters Thursday he’s agreed to meet with Goodell to discuss the PED accusations made against him in the Al-Jazeera report, but said that he’d welcome the chance for the interview to be filmed live because he has nothing to hide.

Harrison initially resisted the idea of submitting to an interview with the commissioner, but has since agreed to meet with investigators at the end of the month. Goodell had threatened to suspend the players named in the report, a group that includes Harrison, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, under the umbrella of “conduct detrimental” if they did not speak with him about the story.

“If it goes to conduct detrimental, it leans to the hands of that crook — I mean Roger Goodell — and he can do whatever he wants,” Harrison said. “That’s just the collective bargaining agreement that the players signed.

“Whatever evidence they might have or reasoning for questioning for me is out of my control, I don’t know,” Harrison added. “I wouldn’t have a problem with it being filmed live. I’ve been prosecuted and persecuted publicly in the media by them for something I didn’t do, so I don’t see why we couldn’t have the media there and do a live interview. They can ask the questions and I can answer them, and you all can see whatever evidence it is they say they got.”

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Jimmy Garoppolo had a quicker release this week than in his first preseason game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Jimmy Garoppolo had a quicker release this week than in his first preseason game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Not many quarterbacks in the league can get rid of the ball as quickly as Tom Brady can, but Jimmy Garoppolo is sure coming close.

After averaging 2.21 seconds from snap-to-throw against the Saints last week, Garoppolo averaged 2.15 seconds from snap-to-throw this week against the Bears, which was part of a 16-for-21 performance with 181 yards and a touchdown.

Last week Garoppolo was 6-for-9 when taking less than two seconds from snap-to-throw and this week he was 8-for-10, continuing the success when getting the ball out quick.

His best drive of the night came at the end of the first half with the Patriots starting on their own 43-yard line with 1:42 left and Garoppolo led the two-minute drill capped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass to AJ Derby.

The quarterback did a great job running the no-huddle offense, which forced him not to think much and get the ball out around his average of 2.15 seconds the majority of the drive.

“Finishing with the touchdown is obviously what we wanted to come away with,” Garoppolo said. “I forget how many seconds exactly, but I think it was like 12 or 13, something like that left on the clock. Taking the last shot, especially in the first half like that is really what we always try to do. We don’t want to give them another opportunity to score. It was executed pretty well. It’s just something good to build off of.”

So how does the 2.15 seconds compare to Brady last year? In five of his games last season did Brady average more than 2.15 seconds, but Garoppolo is getting close to Brady’s average, as Brady averaged 2.10 seconds in the 18 games in 2015.

Overall, it seems like Garoppolo may be more like Brady in terms of his release than anyone first thought, which means good things for the Patriots offense.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Tom Brady shouldn't play a single snap in a game this preseason.</p>
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Jimmy Garoppolo went 16-for-21 for 181 yards and a touchdown against the Bears.</p>
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FOXBORO — Even Jimmy Garoppolo was caught off guard.

The credo of every quarterback in the NFL and especially under Bill Belichick, is be ready to enter the game at ALL times.

A.J. Derby

A.J. Derby

FOXBORO — AJ Derby knows he’s in the battle of his young career.

The tight end is trying to gain a spot on an NFL roster that includes Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. What he’s really trying to do is beat out the likes of Clay Harbor, Bear Pascoe and perhaps even fullback Joey Iosefa.

Thursday night’s effort could go a long way in making his case better than anything he had to say after a 23-22 win over the Bears at Gillette Stadium.

The third-year player out of Arkansas caught six passes on seven targets for 71 yards and a 16-yard touchdown pass over the middle in the win. The touchdown catch and two other passes came in heavy traffic, with at least two defenders on him, including a nice leaping grab for 26 yards on the left sideline from Jacoby Brissett.

“Jacoby made a good check on the line,” Derby said. “He made a really good throw and the offensive line did a really good job giving him time to get the throw off. To be honest, I’ve got to watch the film to see exactly what happened before I let you know the answer,” Derby said. “I’m really just trying to get better every day, so I’ve got to watch the film and see how I did.

“I’m having fun, I enjoy it. I enjoy football so it’s good to be back out there.”

Bill Belichick provided a little more insight afterward.

“AJ has had a solid and pretty consistent several months for us here, going all the way back to the spring, to the offseason program, to OTA’s, mini-camp, training camp. He has shown up every day, he’s improving,” Belichick said. “He’s a young player that only played the position for a short amount of time, basically a year down in Arkansas, has a lot to learn, has a ways to go, but has some skills to work with. He’s a smart kid, eh works hard, and he’s gotten better.

“He’s making some plays for us in the kicking game, some tackles, in coverage he has caught the ball and blocked competitively. He’s done some good things.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Aug 18, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) throws a pass for a two point conversion against the Chicago Bears in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Garoppolo was tough under fire Thursday in a win over the Bears. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Even Jimmy Garoppolo was caught off guard.

The credo of every quarterback in the NFL and especially under Bill Belichick, is be ready to enter the game at ALL times.

The thinking of the Patriots’ head coach Thursday was reportedly to start Tom Brady in his final home game before Oct. 16 vs. Cincinnati. Then, reportedly, the star quarterback cut his throwing thumb using a pair of scissors to clean his spikes before the game.

When did Garoppolo find out he’d be starting the game and how did he handle the whole situation?

“Pretty suddenly before the game,” Garoppolo said. “I haven’t even got a chance to yet. I found out literally right before the game, so it was pretty sudden. I didn’t think I was going to [start], but then some stuff came up and I got tossed in there. It was a good test I guess, it always keeps you on your toes. Coach [Bill Belichick] always preaches, you never know when you’re going to go in or when your number is going to get called. You just have to be ready for it.”

For the second straight week, the start wasn’t great. He went 3-and-out in the opening series. The offense was shutout in the opening quarter. Then Garoppolo caught fire. He led the Patriots to 17 second quarter points and it could’ve been 24 if Brandon Bolden didn’t fumble at the Bears 5.

“It was still not our best start. We started with another three-and-out which is never good, but after that, I think we got into a nice rhythm offensively. Obviously, the defense playing good always helps us. It’s just complementary football.”

With the drive at the end of the first half that produced an touchdown pass to A.J. Derby with 16 seconds remaining, Garoppolo had a good feeling going to the locker room. The Patriots finished the night 2-for-5 in the red zone.

“We just have to finish some of those drives,” Garoppolo said. “We got the ball down there, we were moving it well, had some long drives, slot plays, but we’ve got to finish at the end. The two-minute drive before the half, we executed pretty well all the way across the board. Just good play-calling, got the ball in the end zone, that’s always what you hope for, and then the two-point [conversion] to top it off.

“Finishing with the touchdown is obviously what we wanted to come away with. I forget how many seconds exactly, but I think it was like 12 or 13, something like that left on the clock. Taking the last shot, especially in the first half like that is really what we always try to do. We don’t want to give them another opportunity to score. It was executed pretty well. It’s just something good to build off of.

Garoppolo came out to start the second half and played one series to try and carry the momentum over. It produced 64 yards and nine plays, ending with a 29-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. Garoppolo looked comfortable in the pocket, dropping and finding Clay Harbor all alone on the right side on one play and then Chris Hogan sliding across the field on the next. In the regular season, those names could be Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. That’s why Thursday was good for Garoppolo.

“It was just a little bit of a different philosophy, I guess, the next couple of times we got down there,” Garoppolo said. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t come away with points the first couple of down there, but there’s always room for improvement, obviously. You want to finish with touchdowns, and good teams do that, so we’ve got to get there.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
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Anthony Johnson was a beast in Thursday’s win over the Bears. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Anthony Johnson made himself quite the name in Thursday night’s 23-22 win over the Bears at Gillette Stadium.

The nose tackle out of LSU has had to re-make his image from a 325-pound space-eater to a 280-pound up-the-field force as a defensive lineman.

The undrafted lineman came into the NFL in 2014 and played parts of two seasons with the Dolphins and Redskins. Then, the same tackle who set a Louisiana high school record with 67.5 sacks in four seasons realized he had to change.

The Patriots, after Bill Belichick checked him out in the offseason, gave him that chance this year. But not before Belichick wondered if the trimmed down Johnson was the same tackle he saw at LSU.

“Do we have the right guy?” Belichick said after Thursday’s game in which Johnson played most of the first half with the first unit and into the second half with the second and third team defense.

Johnson finished with a half-sack, two tackles, one quarterback hit and even one pass defended. In other words, he was all over the field.

“That’s my game, vertical, up the field. Just trying to disrupt stuff in the backfield and try to help the DBs. [The Patriots have] been great to me, given me a chance. I’m just going to take it and run with it,” Johnson said Thursday.

After chances with the Dolphins and Redskins, Johnson is ready to show his personality and his hunger to stay in the NFL.

“You have to stay persistent,” Johnson said. “If this is what you want to do, you’ve got to understand this isn’t a job for the weak. I have to categorize myself as a silverback gorilla. Just go out there and be ferocious and just play. So, that’s how it is in the NFL. You have to go out there and be ready to play every day.

“It’s been different. I had to lose a lot of weight over the course of the summer. I went from 325 to about 280 pounds. I’m just trying to be the player I can be, to try to help a football team out the best way I can.

“It was a personal thing. I just didn’t feel right. When I was down in Miami playing nose tackle, I got too big, about 325 pounds. I just wasn’t moving the way I could. I’m a quicker guy, quicker defensive lineman, just trying to use my techniques to the best of my ability.”

It’s ironic that Johnson’s big night came on the same night Alan Branch was reportedly suspended for violation of team rules. Johnson is fighting for a spot on the team with the likes of Markus Kuhn, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom and Terrance Knighton.

“It’s good to be out there playing with a great group of guys, especially with a great organization like the Patriots,” Johnson said. “I haven’t been on the field in a long time and I love the game of football. Just to get out there and feel the fans and just have fun. It was a great experience again.”

Johnson’s ability to play into the fourth quarter speaks to his new-found stamina with his new body type.

“Very important. I put in a lot of hard work in the offseason with training, down in New Orleans,” Johnson said. “I’m trying to be the best player I can be for any team, especially the New England Patriots. I have a great opportunity here and just trying to take every chance I get and run with it.

“I wouldn’t change nothing for nothing at all. I’m happy about everything right now and everything is going in the right direction. It’s been different. A lot of ups and downs. My whole football career has been like that, at the end of the day. What God has for you is for you, man. I’m just going to keep pushing and playing football.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia