October 19, 2017

Archives for May 2009

Tom Brady’s OTA Media Session

Here is the full transcript of Tom Brady’s session with the media at yesterday’s Organized Team Activities (OTA).

New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady

OTA – Media Availability

May 28, 2009

Q: How are you feeling? Do you want to give us an update on the progress of your knee from the last two months or so?

TB: Yeah. I’ve been feeling really positive. You know, getting back into the football stuff – it’s a little different than the training you do – working out normally in the offseason, so it’s good to come out on the field. There is obviously a lot of rust by all of us being off for four months. We’re working hard to make the improvements we need to make. Thank God the season is a few months away, but we need the work and I need the work. I think everybody realizes when you come out after four months off there is a lot of work for us to do.

Q: Have you talked to any other quarterbacks who have gone through this about what their experiences were?

TB: Not really. No, I haven’t.

Q: Anyone else at all? Any players that you’ve talked to that have been through it?

TB: There have been a couple of guys on our team that have had knee injuries. It’s about staying positive and putting in the work. You’ve got to do the rehab. Nobody likes to do rehab. I’m glad we are back into the football stuff and we are back into throwing the ball on the field. That’s the stuff that I enjoy the most.

Q: Do you have to learn how to throw again with the knee the way it is?

TB: The throwing is not the problem at all. At this point it’s just about getting back to the football activity. I am doing the football activities not for my leg, but for the rest of me – my everything. My body feels really good. My arm feels good. I’m not completing as many passes as I want, but we haven’t been out here very long. I think it’s just about getting better every day. If you can do that, and you can make continuous improvements over the course of weeks and months, you’ll be a better player.

Q: There’s no adjustment with having to wear a brace on your leg and getting used to that?

TB: No. You don’t even really notice it. I would rather not wear, but [Head Athletic Trainer] Jim [Whalen] is forcing me to wear it, so I have to listen to him.

Q: With your lifestyle being glamorous, are you still as hungry and competitive as you’ve always been?

TB: I’m a believer that talk is real cheap. I’m someone that likes to put the work in. I know it looks glamorous at times. I think what I enjoy the most is playing football and being with my family, and those are the kind of things that I do. I’m excited to go out there and compete and anytime I have a chance to compete, I love that. Whether it’s on the practice field or the game field, which unfortunately is a few months away for us, you just have to come out – and I always enjoy that.

Q: You said last year was the halftime of your career. What did you mean by that?

TB: Well, I think we all have goals that we set for ourselves and how long you want to play. Fortunately for a quarterback, you can play for a long time because you don’t get hit very often. I hope I have the opportunity to play for a long time. I think when you sit on the sidelines for an entire year you realize how much you love it. Not that you need that to happen to be grateful to play, but you experience things in a much different way and a way that I never experienced as an athlete. I love being out here. I love participating and being around these guys. We’re working for some big goals we set, so we just have to, like Coach Belichick says, come out here and work hard every day and do our job.

Q: Does this year off make you think about your athletic mortality?

TB: Like the end of my career?

Q: Well, did it make you think that it’s getting closer than…

TB: The reality is in this sport, you really never know with… Any day could be your last day in football. You come out and it’s a very physical game and I think you’re just grateful for having a chance to compete in practice and be on a team and having a great job. I think all of that stuff we are very happy about and happy to participate in. I don’t think about the end too often. Hopefully this is still, relatively, in the early part of my career. I guess you will have to talk to me in a few years.

Q: You used the word rust. Getting back out here does it feel like a long time? What are your emotions?

TB: I’ve been playing football for a long time so you don’t have to relearn how to do anything, you just have to go out and try to be sharp. I don’t think I’ve been very sharp the last three days in practice. It takes a lot of reps and a lot of throwing. You see the defense and you make the throws and there are adjustments you have to make on the field. The football part and understanding our offense – I mean, obviously, I have a good understanding of that – it’s just a matter of putting it together at a different speed than you can go out and practice in the bubble in March and April. It’s nice when team activities are on the field and there’s blitzes and you can signal guys and something happens and a guy slips on a route and now you have to throw to a different player. Those are the things that you’ve got to sharpen up. There’s a lot of training camp practices. There’s probably 50 training camp practices that we’ll have and I think each one of those will be valuable for all of us. I’m looking forward to those because I haven’t had the opportunity to do that in quite awhile.

Q: I would imagine your rehab is probably 75 percent done and I would think you probably still have some limitations. You don’t feel like you are 100 percent yet, do you?

TB: I feel as good as I could possibly feel. I don’t think about it. It doesn’t bother me doing anything. It’s feeling really good and it’s about as good as I can say. I’m real happy with where I’m at and I come out to these workouts happy to participate in them. That was something that was a big goal for me to be able to do.

Q: If the opening game would be two months away do you think you’d be ready or do you think you need four months?

TB: I will take every day that I have. Believe me, I’ll take every day. We have a lot of work [to do] and there are a lot of new faces and new coaches. There’s been a lot of change for us this year and we have to use it to our advantage.

Q: Did you learn anything while you were out from watching the game that you can put into practice now?

TB: Yeah, you’re not in the day-to-day of the football, which as a football player – like everybody – your job, when you’re in it every day, it’s a grind. You get up and you go to work and there is quite a routine. I didn’t have that routine this year, so there are other things that you see. I said earlier, some of those things when you are in that marathon of a season it’s just getting through the next day and getting through the game. You start complaining about the little things. When I was sitting out last year you hear all the guys start [in] November, December – that later part in the year when the guys are starting to get worn down – I’m going, ‘Come on guys, push through it, just win the game.’ That’s how Coach Belichick coaches us, and I saw it from a different perspective in that sense. So hopefully there’s no complaining from me this year.

Q: Naturally a lot of people are comparing this offense to 2007 – you have some new tools in Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis. What are your expectations and do you think it will be better?

TB: Well, we have guys that are experienced players. Obviously, Randy [Moss] and Wes [Welker] at receiver and we’ve added some tight ends and Joey and Greg are here as well. There’s a lot of work that we need to do to get on the same page. I know the kind of effort we put in in 2007 and we need to match that, and in 2008 as well – we worked hard that offseason. It didn’t work out for us in the end, but I think this year is another bit of excitement, it’s a new challenge and that’s why we are out here practicing. I don’t think you overlook anything out here. Every rep we are trying to complete is for a reason. There are signals [to learn]. We’re walking through the two-minute drill today. We’re trying to all get on the same page and that’s going to carry over into training camp and training camp carries over to the season. We have a lot of tough opponents this year. We have a challenging schedule and we are going to need the work that we have. I think the new guys – they are a bit overwhelmed with the offense and the terminology and the speed of how I’m spitting things out in the huddle and how I’m changing things at the line. We are all trying to get used to that.

Q: What’s been the biggest surprise for you over the last two days?

TB: This is a hard game and it’s one of those things that if you’re not doing it every day and you’re competing at this level, you always think it’s going to get easier as you get older and you are going to complete more balls. That’s not the way it works. You’ve got to come out every day and put the work in. You can’t take anything for granted and you can’t think that because you completed it last year a certain way that that’s the way it’s going to be this year. We’ve got a group of hard working guys and I’m very appreciative of that as a member of the team because I don’t have to motivate those guys. They are really self-motivating and they’re willing to work and we are willing to put the time in together. I think we’re going to need all that hard work and commitment from everybody to make it a successful season.

Q: A lot of good things happened for you off the field this year – you were able to spend more time with your son and you got married. Can you address that and how it was?

TB: Sure. I’m a very optimistic person. I cherish those moments. There’s been great things happening in my life for a long time and certainly this year was no different and different areas of success with marriage and with children. It’s a great part of my life and so is work. I’m excited for all those things coming together. I think I’m a happier person when I’m working.

Q: You’re going to have to juggle a little more.

TB: Yeah, certainly. I think there are a lot of constraints on your time and it’s about prioritizing and doing the best you can do.

Q: You said “children” in a previous answer. Is there another one on the way?

TB: No. It’s… No. One is enough. I have dogs and that’s all I need.

Q: Aside from the knee, how rusty do you feel?

TB: I feel like it’s springtime – 50 degrees and rainy in Boston. It’s the start of a new year. I wish we’d come out and throw 90 percent completions out here every day and [have] everyone on the same page and [have] no mental errors, but because we are so new to this there are a lot of mistakes we are making. We have to try to make those improvements every day. We go in, watch our film and listen to Coach and hopefully we can build on each day. So like I said, we can look back two months from now and know that we’re prepared for training camp.

Q: When you think back about the day you were injured, is it something you put in the back of your mind?

TB: I really don’t think about it. I’ve never really thought about it. I’ve never really focused on it. I think I felt bad for myself that night and then I think I moved on after that. Since then it’s about trying to get better. There’s nothing you can do and you have to find ways to move on. Like I said, I’m grateful to be out here. To have the chance to come out here and play is something I’ve wanted to do my entire life and I’ve had the opportunity to do it for nine years and I’m at it again for my 10th. Randy [Moss] jokes that he wishes this was training camp. I think in a lot of ways we feel the same way that we are going to put the work in and we want to come out and get back to doing what we love to do.

Q: Have you talked to other players with this injury?

TB: I haven’t – just the guys on my team that are supportive and encourage me, but no one in particular that I’ve sought out.

Q: With your glamorous lifestyle, does the football field feel like a sanctuary for you?

TB: Yeah, the football field… You are one of the guys here and I enjoy that. In other parts of my life it’s just that once I had a little bit more privacy back in the past, but that’s okay and I learn to manage it and I still find ways to enjoy myself, certainly here – I always have fun here. Personally, I really enjoy the things I’m doing. This is a great place for me.

Q: At this point what could stop you from being ready for the season opener?

TB: I said anything that could stop anybody. There’re a lot of things that could happen in two months. I have to drive home this afternoon in Boston traffic, you never know what could happen. Knock on wood please. We’re out here preparing and I don’t anticipate anything. I hope there’s not. We’ll deal with something if something does… lighting striking, I don’t know.

Q: How do you feel about playing in London?

TB: I’m looking forward to that. Mr. Kraft told me last year the day that it was announced. I was excited. Especially that it’s an away game for us and a home game for them. I’d much rather play in London than at Tampa’s stadium. It’s the middle part of the year and it will be fun to play at a different place. I know the NFL works hard to expand into different countries all around world and get more fans. I think the players understand that and we’re willing to do that. We love the game and we want other people to love the game too.

Q: Randy Moss and Wes Welker talked about how their experience in the offense is really going to help what you guys had in 2007. What do you think about that showing up now and going into the year?

TB: Those two work extremely hard. They were pretty good two years ago when they got here and they were great last year. I expect them to be great this year and there isn’t any reason why they shouldn’t be. They work hard. They know the offense. They’re accountable and they’re great leaders. They need to play well. If they don’t play well then obviously we’re not going to have a very good football team. When your best players are guys that are the hardest workers – I know Coach Belichick loves that. I think all the players look up to those guys and their leadership ability.

Q: What’s the adjustment without Josh McDaniels out here?

TB: You know Josh and I had a great relationship. As a part of the NFL, things change every year. There’re 13 new head coaches and he’s one of them. I really hope that we find ways to move on without him, and we’ve already started that process. It doesn’t stop for anybody around here. You leave and someone else fills your spot and they’re anxious for the opportunity. We have to work hard to get up to speed on everything and the coaches that are in that role are doing that.

Q: Is it kind of quiet without [Mike] Vrabel?

TB:  You noticed that too don’t you? Vrabel, Rodney [Harrison] – there is definitely not as much noise. We miss those guys and we love those guys. They are our great friends and we wish them well.

Q: Were you surprised about the Vrabel move?

TB: I’m not surprised by anything anymore. It’s part of this game and it’s part of the league. I know Mike’s happy to have a job. We are all happy to have a job. Like I said, Mike’s a great friend of all of ours. We miss him and I know he misses us, but if we ever play Kansas City than we are going to want to beat the crap out of him.

Q: Was there ever a point in your recovery that you thought you might not be ready?

TB: No, I think part of surgery and rehab is that you have setbacks and you just deal with them. It doesn’t always go as you plan it. Life doesn’t go how you plan it. It’s a matter of dealing with it [and] understanding, what do I have to do to get back on the right track. It didn’t really set me back for very long, probably just long enough from keeping me from really hurting myself.

Q: Did you pay attention to the speculation about your knee and were you amused by any of it?

TB: I’m amused by a lot.

Q: Some Pats fans might be concerned today to look at the paper and see you riding your bicycle without your helmet on. Tell me about that?

TB: Do I need a helmet?

Q: Yea.

TB: I do? I’m not even going very fast.

Q: You have to wear a helmet.

TB: I’ll get a helmet. I’ll see if Mr. Kraft can provide me with a helmet.

Q: Have you lost weight? Are you at your playing weight?

TB: I think I’m a little more than my playing weight. I try to work on my strength a lot. There’re different things you try to find [to make] improvements on. I’ll be right back to where I need to be in a few months. I need some warm weather.

Q: Are there things you would like to do but you are holding back a little bit?

TB: I always try to do as much as I can do. I’m never a person that does not enough because I’d regret not doing enough and think I probably could have done more. I probably go too far and have to reel myself back in, which works in some things and other things it doesn’t work. I think as far as I’m concerned now, coming out here, I’m trying to do everything I can do and I’m trying to do everything in the offseason program since it started. It’s been good because now I come out here and there’s nothing I’m worried about. I just try to play better, which I didn’t do very well today.

Q: What do you think about Joey Galloway and Fred Taylor and the new weapons on offense?

TB: I think it’s great. I love having veteran players come onto this team because they have the experience. They know football and they know the language and terminology and the learning curve is so much accelerated for them. It’s challenging in our offense for a young player because there’s a lot that we do. It changes every week. Especially as a receiver, you might be in one spot one day and the next spot the other [day] and the route we are calling – there are three different variations to the route based on the coverage. It’s tough, so when you have a veteran player, he’s – ok yeah, I get that, I did that. When you get a rookie, he’s trying to make sure he gets out to practice on time. When you have Fred who’s excited to run the plays and now he has to learn our terminology versus the terminology he’s known… He’s excited, he feels excited to be here. That youth comes out in him, so I think hopefully we are going to get the best out of both he and Joey and Greg Lewis. I don’t know if you saw that catch he [Greg] made today, but that was ridiculous. I told him that was the one he caught in the Super Bowl – that weasel.

Q: Have you told those guys that you are trying to do something special?

TB: I think they know that we are all trying to do something special. We haven’t had the kind of season we would’ve liked going into our fifth year. There have been some ups and downs and I think we’ve realized you need to be extremely consistent in everything you do to accomplish your goals. It is challenging. Look at Miami last year – they were the division champs last year. We are not in that spot anymore, so we have to make the improvements to catch up to the other teams. We have an AFC team that won the Super Bowl, a team that we seem to play every year. When you don’t make the playoffs you’re looking up at a lot of teams. We’ve got to get back to winning some football games.

Q: How confident are you that you can be the same player that you were before the injury?

TB: We’ll see. Like I said, talk is cheap. I could sit here and tell you guys that I’m going to play until I’m 80, but that doesn’t matter. I’m going to do the best that I can do and I’m going to try to be the best leader and the best teammate and supporter of the guys on my team – it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing. Like I said, I’m grateful to have that chance and to be out here today. I can’t wait to get out and start playing games.

Q: For veteran guys the first time they have an injury it’s a shock. Did you go through that?

TB: I think you wake up the next day and think was that a dream? Because that’s not really how I thought it was going to go. I had never been injured and then that passes with me pretty quick though. I don’t dwell on it. I just kind of go, well that sucks. Okay, now what do we have to do? Right after, you’re hurting a little bit but then you are focusing on the things that you have to do to get better. I think it went pretty fast in a lot of ways – the rehab process and getting back here. It goes fast because there is something else to focus on and you’re always trying to make improvements just like we do on the practice field. In a different way, when you’re not practicing you’re trying to make improvements so you can get back out here with this goal in mind. It’s challenging because you’re not playing. It’s challenging because you can’t help your teammates in the role that you’ve always helped them in, but I am obviously supportive of them. I’m hoping that I can be back out there leading them once again.

Q: Was it difficult to watch the games?

TB: Watching the games wasn’t a problem – I loved that. It’s the end of the game that’s the problem, because when you win you’re like, I wasn’t a part of any of that [and] they’re all celebrating in the locker room and I’m laying on my bed. And when you lose, you are bummed because the team lost. It’s probably the emotion of a normal game. For the players there is always emotion after the game. During the game you are rooting and cheering for the guys and hoping that everyone is doing well and everyone is safe, but once the game ends you try to go to bed early.

Patriots on TV This Week (5/21 – 5/27)

These programs are all on the NFL Network.

If you didn’t hear, the NFL and Comcast have finally settled their dispute, and the NFLN should be appearing on your digital classic and above level of service from Comcast no later than August 1st.

Sunday May 24th

4:30 PM – NFL Replay: New York Jets vs. New England Patriots (Week 11, 2008) (HD)

12:30 AM – NFL Replay: New York Jets vs. New England Patriots (Week 11, 2008) (HD)

Tuesday, May 26th

5:00 PM – NFL Film Session: Super Bowl XXXVIII – New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers

5:30 PM – NFL Replay: New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts (Week 9, 2007) (HD)

You can also check for frequent video updates on Patriots.com.

Breer Report Says Brady “Full Go” for Pats

by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff

Albert Breer of Sporting News today posted the most encouraging story yet on Tom Brady’s recovery from the reconstruction of his left knee.

According to a source close to Brady, the quarterback has “no restrictions at all” as a result of his reconstructed left knee and is “more than excited” about his progress.

The report – filed by the former Herald beat guy and ace blogger – also shed more light on the timeline of Brady’s rehab following complications that forced additional procedures, and much wringing of hands:

Brady was able to return his normal rehabilitation schedule within “10 days to two weeks” after the follow-up procedures, the source said. That means the quarterback is roughly six months into the rehab process.

“He’s full go,” the source said Tuesday. A second source confirmed that assessment.

I can only assume the first source is Buzz Aldrin, what with the NASA-speak, like Brady’s getting ready to leave the lunar module.  The fact that Breer got a second guy to confirm Buzz is good enough for me on May 19.

Breer also has a few words for the “doesn’t care about football anymore” crowd:

Brady hasn’t been shy about taking part in the club’s offseason program, giving teammates a close-up look at his progress. Most Patriots players are apprehensive about shedding too much light on player injuries and rehabs, but indications have been uniformly positive.

“He comes in, he does his work and takes it home to his wife,” Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss said Friday. “The only thing I can say is everybody’s up there working hard and getting ready for the season.”

The last part that stuck out for me was Breer’s discussion with Carson Palmer’s surgeon:

There’s a significant mental mountain a player has to climb in returning to game action. Authorities in sports medicine say it takes roughly two months of live action for a player to fully learn to use his new knee.

“There’s no question that they’re never really back 100 percent until they get behind that line, take snaps and play,” said Dr. Lonnie Paulos, Palmer’s surgeon. “That’s where all the practice and technique comes back, and you get that razor’s edge. No matter how hard you rehab, it’s going to take time.”

All I can say to that is that he better play in the pre-season, then.

Scott Benson can be reached at scott@patriotsdaily.com

Pats Will Honor AFL Roots in 2009

by the Patriots Daily Staff

The 2009 season will mark the 50th anniversary of the American Football League, and the NFL will pay tribute to the pioneering league by featuring 11 “Legacy Games” between the eight original AFL teams.

The Patriots will participate in four of those contests, including a Monday Night Football opener with the Buffalo Bills on September 14, an October 11 visit with Broncos in Denver, an October 18 home game against Tennessee (playing the part of the Houston Oilers), and a December 6 road game in Miami.

For those occasions, the Patriots will roll out brand new throwback uniforms that replicate those worn by the team’s 1963 AFL Eastern Division champions.

It should be great fun for those fans that first followed the team in the wide-open AFL, before it merged with the NFL in 1970.

With that in mind, we’ve been Googling the web for artifacts of the 1960’s Patriots. You might get a kick out of the following:

A 1959 story from the old Boston Daily Record about founder Billy Sullivan’s efforts to bring professional football to Boston.

A 1960 pull out supplement from the same paper, officially welcoming the Boston Patriots to the city as they prepared to play their first AFL game.

A long You Tube video of the 1963 AFC championship game. This might be a bit like watching a replay of Super Bowl XX, but in forty-plus years as a fan, I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than a few seconds of this tape.

A 1965 Sports Illustrated story on the Patriots as they challenge for another Eastern Division title.

The Patriots’ 1965 media guide.

A 1966 Sports Illustrated story on the Patriots as they look to rebound from an injury-plagued 1965 season.

The Patriots’ 1967 media guide.

A nice fan tribute to the Pats’ top players of the 60’s.

A fun database of Patriots football cards from the 60’s.

Another You Tube video – this one looks at the entire 50 year history of the team, but there’s some excellent early clips of the old Boston Patriots.

Finally, here’s a couple of Uni Watch links on those much-anticipated throwbacks – the origins of the team’s original tri-cornered hat logo, and the birth of the much beloved Pat Patriot.

If you’re aware of other such artifacts of the Patriots past, by all means, let us know about them in the comments section below.

A Look Ahead

by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff

They may be heading into the NFL’s next campaign as one of the top contenders for Super Bowl XLIV, but even their own fans are full of questions about the New England Patriots.

These, then, are the things we’ll be wondering about as we look ahead to the 2009 season:

  • Can Tom Brady pull off the ACL/MCL comeback to again be one of the league’s best players? I’ll be watching the footwork – both the fundamental execution stuff and that familiar, intuitive pocket shuffle that effectively extends pass plays, often to great benefit.
  • Will the skill of the free agents and draft picks (both current and recent) be enough to improve the Pats’ secondary, especially on third down, or will we see another season of backpedaling and tissue-soft zones?
  • Who will replace Mike Vrabel? Team iconography aside, who will line up in his spot? Will the Pats’ relatively modest succession plan (going with what they have, rather than targeting a free agent or top draft choice) work? Can Jerod Mayo top his decorated freshman season – because he may need to?
  • Can Ty Warren recover from multiple off-season surgeries and return to form? Will Richard Seymour make it two good, healthy seasons in a row? How often will they both be out there with Vince Wilfork, making the d-line a team strength again?
  • Will the front-liners on the Pats o-line stay healthy and keep Brady upright? Can they sustain ’08’s productive ground game?
  • Who will be the Pats’ third receiver? Does Joey Galloway have anything left, or will Greg Lewis pull a David Patten and produce timely catches? Will either Chris Baker or Alex Smith give the Patriots more than Ben Watson can?
  • Will pairing with Fred Taylor allow Lawrence Maroney to finally carve a niche in New England? Can the Pats’ rotation of backs put together another 2,300 yard season? Is Sammy Morris the Pats’ new fullback?
  • What about Bill O’Brien? Can the new play caller keep one of the league’s top offenses – even without Brady – on track? And what of Josh Boyer, the latest to tackle the secondary? Will veteran coaches Scott O’Brien and Chad O’Shea have a seamless assimilation?
  • Can Nick Caserio, Floyd Reese and the rest of the team’s remodeled front office keep New England contending in ’09 while preparing for up to 30 expiring contracts at the end of the season? Will they find a way to keep Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins, to name two?

 We’ve got plenty of time to debate all of the above. Training Camp doesn’t open for another 10 weeks.

Scott Benson can be reached at scott@patriotsdaily.com.

A Few Words, Ostensibly About Jason Taylor

by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff

I never thought Jason Taylor would end up signing with the Patriots, but it was still kind of surprising to hear of his earlier-than-expected return to the Miami Dolphins yesterday.

The conventional wisdom was that Taylor would wait out the upcoming OTA’s and mini-camps before committing. Apparently not.

I was never a fan of swapping out one 34 year old linebacker for another, so this is no skin off me. Yes, Taylor might have made the Patriots better in the short-term (or not; nobody seems to have considered that possibility) but since when has it been about the short-term in New England?

I’m more convinced now than ever that the Pats have intended all along to play with what they have. Their every move from the time free agency opened to this ‘non-signing’ today says they believe they can win the Super Bowl with Pierre Woods, Tully Banta Cain, Shawn Crable and Vince Redd playing opposite of Adalius Thomas.

Nick Caserio, in an appearance at the Hall at Patriots Place last evening, essentially confirmed this.

We’ve got players on our team we feel good about,” Caserio said, citing Adalius Thomas, Pierre Woods, Tully Banta-Cain and Shawn Crable, a 2008 third-round pick who spent much of last season on injured reserve.

Caserio apparently went on to note that there are still three months to go before the Patriots complete their roster building for the 2009 season (and beyond) though I hope he knows he just bought himself at least twelve more weeks of ridiculous Julius Peppers fantasy with that caveat.

Because there are some among us who are steadfast in their belief that if the Patriots don’t replace one Name Linebacker with another, they might as well set the whole team on fire. How these noisy nutjobs have arrived at this conclusion in beyond me; I only wish Caserio had been content to stop at “we feel good about” and spare the rest of us three more months of ridiculous foot stomping about the Madden rosters of drooling message board posters.

Who knows if the Patriots have made the right decision here; given that their previous personnel decisions under Bill Belichick have resulted in a  71% regular season winning percentage this decade (82% in the playoffs), it seems reasonable to assume they at least have a shot.

I’ll trust in those odds, and the people whose work has been right far more than it’s been wrong, and not in the braying junior GM’s who have apparently mistaken someone else’s acumen for their own.  

Scott Benson can be reached at scott@patriotsdaily.com

You Like Us! You Really Like Us!

Sorry, couldn’t resist, we’re new to this “winning blog awards” thing. Give us time, I’m sure we’ll get the proper decorum down.

Ahem. We’re pleased to announce that Patriots Daily has been named as the Best Patriots Blog in the New England’s Sports Blog Awards put on by TruFan.

Unfortunately the prize for this honor isn’t quite enough for us to retire on, so we have no choice but to keep plugging along and blogging about the Patriots.

Still, as our first Award of any sort, it’s pretty cool. Thanks to any of you who voted for us in these awards, we appreciate your support, and look forward to another exciting season.

– The Patriots Daily Staff

Around The Web 5/11

During the offseason we’ll be periodically taking a quick spin around the internet looking for news and analysis on the Patriots.

Maybe Peter King feels bad for the flack he took last week for praising the Eagles for doing the same thing that he had mocked the Patriots for doing the week before, because he gives the Patriots the top ranking among all NFL teams at this point in time.

1. New England
Teams don’t stay the same in the NFL. That’s the old bromide. But tell me: What’s the difference between the Patriots of 2007 and the Patriots who enter the season in 2009? I’ll tell you the biggest thing — concern about Tom Brady’s knee. And if there were any real reason to be concerned, Bill Belichick wouldn’t have traded Matt Cassel to Kansas City.

New England was seventh in the league in scoring with Brady playing one quarter in 2008; it’ll be in the top three, easily, with him back. With new young talent in the defensive backfield — Belichick can mix and match all the toys he’s gathered over the past two offseasons, maybe playing Shawn Springs sparingly some weeks to keep him healthy for January — New England should have enough ammo to be competitive with the best quarterbacks on the schedule. It was 5-1 down the stretch, including 4-0 on the road, as many of its young defenders grew up. I don’t see much downside.

Jeff Howe has a profile of offensive lineman draftee Rich Ohrnberger, who apparently is something of a comedian.

ESPN.com AFC East Blogger Tim Graham had a chat last week about the teams in the division.

The column is mostly Bruins/Hurricanes related, but the Charlotte Observer says that Rooting for the Patriots is like rooting for the swine flu, except the swine flu might be more likable.

Mike Reiss is going to look at all 91 players currently on the Patriots roster.

Last week, Shalise Manza Young said the Patriots and Jason Taylor might have a “handshake” agreement for next season.

Tom Curran lists Sebastian Vollmer as one of 10 potential draft busts.

Patriots on TV This Week (5/7 – 5/12)

Periodically we’ll check the TV listings for you to see if the New England Patriots will be making any appearances on television, mostly on NFL Network. This week sees a few times scheduled, though you might be just as well off missing these:

(All of these items are on NFL Network)

Thursday May 7th

5:00 PM – NFL Film Session: Super Bowl XX – Chicago Bears vs. New England Patriots

Sunday, May 10th

3:00 PM – NFL Replay: New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts (Week 9, 2008) (HD)

11:00 PM – NFL Replay: New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts (Week 9, 2008) (HD)

Monday, May 11th

7:00 AM – NFL Replay: New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts (Week 9, 2008) (HD)

1:00 PM NFL Replay: New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts (Week 9, 2008) (HD)

What Can We Take From Rookie Camp?

The Patriots held their rookie camp last Friday and Saturday, getting their first real chance to run the newest potential Patriots through their paces together down in Foxborough.

Top pick Patrick Chung was impressive. Reiss said that Chung looks like a leader out on the field, while Guregian said that Chung looked incredibly poised out there. Reiss observed that Chung looked fine in the cover drills, which had been able the only concern on the second round pick. With the statements that Chung has made about learning the defense and that he enjoys putting the hits on opposing players, the Patriots might’ve gotten their type of player with this selection – at second round money.

Darius Butler was the other skill guy getting a lot of attention in this camp. Guregian noted that Butler had an up and down day on Friday, struggling a bit in the morning catching punts and in coverage, but recovering to pick off a couple of passes in the afternoon. Reiss liked Butler’s form and technique, noting that he got in and out of his breaks smoothly and decisively in the camp. Gasper thinks that Butler has the skills to succeed. He’s got a pretty good mentor, as well.

It’s mostly the skill players that make an impression in these type of workouts. Reiss notes that it is  tough to get a read on the big guys in these sessions. So with defensive picks like Ron Brace, Myron Pryor and Darryl Richard as well as offensive lineman like Sebastian Vollmer, Rich Ohrnberger and George Bussey the camp was spent mostly with their position coaches, working on technique. We did learn that Bussey and Pryor share some common roots, having both grown up in Louisville.

One of the feel-good stories of the draft turned into about the only downer of the rookie camp. Third round pick Tyrone McKenzie, the linebacker from South Florida went down with a knee injury and couldn’t complete the camp. Guregian observed that the training staff appeared to be doing various stretches to test the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments on McKenzie’s knee.

Third round pick Brandon Tate couldn’t be on the field during camp, but the wide receiver was on the sidelines, trying to learn as much as he could up close.

Seventh round pick Julian Edleman apparently opened a few eyes during the camp. The quarterback turned wide receiver also took a few handoffs at running back, showing his versatility. Reiss was impressed enough to note that Edleman was the player that caught his eye during the first day of camp. Guregian made the comparison to Wes Welker, and noted Edleman’s transition from QB to potential offensive weapon extraordinaire.

Having caught lightning in a bottle with Stephen Neal making the transistion from wrestler to offensive lineman, the Patriots are attempting to do the same with Jermail Porter. It’s worth watching how much time and effort the club invests into Porter, who is attempting organized football for the first time in his life.

So that pretty much wraps up the camp. From here, we go to passing camps and other organized team activities, such as mini-camp next month. Are You Ready for the Summer?

Old friend Christopher Price had a pretty good look at the team today as we hit the mid-point of the offseason.

Undrafted, Or Underestimated?

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Whether in the story of The Alamo or the movie Rudy, the theme of the underdog gets a lot of attention. Overall, few undrafted rookies make a final roster, but Foxboro fledglings have a better chance than most, as Gary Guyton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Vince Redd showed last year.

Due to New England’s large intake of rookies last weekend, this year’s free agent crop has been limited. The list has been compiled with any available information (solid sources include Christopher Price’s blog and NEPatriotsdraft.com and remains flexible.

(In fact, if you hear of an addition to the list, let us know in the comment section below. What’s the Internet for if not sharing?)


Antonio Appleby, Virginia ILB (6-4, 245): Appleby was listed as a PD Day Two Draft Board hopeful pegged to go in the sixth round. He contains the Redd factor in that he’s got good size, good workout numbers (4.65-second 40-yard dash, 24 reps in the bench press), and tutelage under former Bill Belichick cohort Al Groh.

Why undrafted: Not as aggressive nor as productive as one might hope. Overshadowed by Clint Sintim’s athleticism and Jon Copper’s numbers while with the Cavaliers.

Jamar Love, Arkansas CB (6-0, 191): Along with Appleby, Love made PD’s Day Two Draft Board in the late-sixth-round range. The Razorback had a heck of a pro day for himself, running a 4.35-second 40 and a 4.07 short shuttle. Had eight pass breakups last year, second on the Razorbacks.

Why undrafted: Unspectacular stats (39 tackles) and a lack of experience. Only started two games his junior year. Where was the Love, indeed?

Brian Hoyer, Michigan State QB (6-2, 215): Now known as one of the poor saps who let ESPN film him sitting at home waiting for a call, Hoyer comes in as another camp arm with some athleticism. Had a strong junior season at MSU (20 touchdowns vs. 11 interceptions).

Why undrafted: You’ll note above it reads junior season. His senior year, Hoyer had a mere 51 percent completion rate and drew even in TDs and INTs with nine apiece.

Marcus McClinton, Kentucky S (6-0, 210): The Wildcat had a decent combine and solid follow-up pro day, running his 40 in the 4.5 range and demonstrating his power (10-foot broad jump, 37-inch vertical). Had 50 total tackles and four interceptions in 2008.

Why undrafted: As the Patriots showed by trading down to draft the first safety off the board, 2009 wasn’t a strong year for the position. McClinton’s numbers don’t look so hot when compared to Patrick Chung’s 92 tackles.

Jermail Porter, Kent State wrestler (6-6, 312): The Stephen Neal Project, Part II, Porter looks to begin the official conversion from All-American wrestler to New England offensive lineman this weekend.

Why undrafted: Um, did you catch the whole “wrestler” thing? According to this article, Porter has never played organized football. If you need an underdog to root for, he’s your guy. Although in a one-on-one match-up, he would absolutely crush Rudy.


Josh Allen, RB/WR Troy (5-11, 193): Small, quick pass-catcher who got a tryout with New England last year but got hurt. Had 32 grabs for over 14 yards apiece in 2007 with the Trojans.

Why undrafted: Less than spectacular stats from a smaller school. Runs about a 4.6 40. Played receiver in college but is projected as a running back in the NFL. One of three Josh Allens trying to make it in the NFL, which some might find annoying. (Like, someone searching for him online, for example.)

Aaron Perez, UCLA punter (6-4, 232): Regarded as one of the best in the nation as he averaged over 45 yards per punt.

Why undrafted: He’s a punter. The Patriots drafted a long snapper in the sixth round. Had they taken a punter, too, there may have been a small riot in Gillette.

I assume that the Patriots will invite more free agents to Foxboro for mini-camp, but I’m out of the prediction business, so let’s just call this next part:


As a potential power back, Brandon Mason of Stony Brook has the right size (6-2, 230) and the right pro day numbers, including a 4.63 40 and 27 bench reps. The Pats already look loaded at the big-back position, but two are over 30 years old and one is Laurence Maroney. Having another pounder on the practice squad wouldn’t hurt, as Green-Ellis proved last year.

Rumors that Navy receiver Tyree Barnes (6-2, 197) had signed with New England have since been quashed, as Barnes will probably fulfill his commitment somewhere beyond commuting distance to Gillette Stadium. As much as I’d like to see Barnes or Navy fullback Eric Kettani here, I’ll consider another receiver:

Maurice Covington from Virginia has the frame for a big man role at 6-4, 224 pounds. Last year he had 33 catches averaging over 12.5 yards apiece. His reported 40-inch vertical leap at his pro day would make defensive backs cringe on end zone fades. Plus, with the whole Groh thing, Belichick would get a proper heads-up on the guy. (Update: Covington reportedly has a tryout with the Giants.)

Villanova’s Darrel Young (5-11, 245) moved from linebacker to safety his senior year. The Patriots might not have room on their roster for Ray Ventrone, Part II (another former Wildcat safety), but having one on the practice squad seems like a good fit.

Antwain Robinson  (6-2, 258) of Arkansas remains one of the few DE/OLB conversion projects still available. He only started a couple of games for the Razorbacks and managed 22 tackles, two sacks and six QB hits. Showed great quickness at his pro day, including a 4.6 40.. Showed less quickness two years ago at the Northwest Arkansas Mall, where he was arrested for shoplifting. Beggars can’t be choosers. Or robbers, apparently.

As they usually do, I figured the Pats would bring in a kicker, and that they’d gotten a decent look at Tony Ciaravino during UConn’s pro day. At 225, Ciaravino was the heaviest kicker available, but sadly at 6-2 he’s no Tony Franklin.

Every year, we wonder where on the roster an undrafted rookie would fit. On average, at least one makes it to Foxboro every season. Again, feel free to post any updates in our comments section.

Chris Warner can be reached at chris.warner@patriotsdaily.com