| November 29, 2007 »
November 28, 2007
Jets claim K. Brown
Hey all --
The New York Jets have claimed rookie Kareem Brown off waivers. The defensive lineman was released by the Patriots yesterday to make room for Troy Brown; he had not been active for any of the team's games this season.
Brown is not happy about leaving New England; he was hoping to remain with the team on its practice squad. He and Brandon Meriweather are good friends from their days at Miami and Brown looks to fellow Hurricane Vince Wilfork for big brother-type guidance.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 8:40 PM to Kareem Brown
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Tippett chosen Hall semifinalist
After coming close to being voted in last year, former Patriots LB Andre Tippett has once again been chosen as a semifinalist for the 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.
Tippett is one of 26 modern era semifinalists named today; the list will be narrowed to 15 in the coming weeks before the Class of '08 is chosen during Super Bowl week. The Hall's Board of Trustees voted this year to increase the minimum and maximum number of players that can be chosen each year to 4 and 7 (from 3 and 6), and also there are now 44 selectors, up from 40.
A member of the Patriots Hall of Fame, Tippett recorded 100 sacks in his 151-game career.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 6:55 PM | Permalink
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Samuel named AFC defensive player of the week
The hardware keeps rolling in for the Patriots, as Asante Samuel has been named AFC defensive player of the week for his two interception performance against the Eagles.
Samuel returned his first pick of the night 40 yards for a touchdown, and now has six on the season, tying him with San Diego's Antonio Cromartie for the league lead.
It is the second player of the week award for Samuel in his career and the eighth time this season a Pats player has been named player of the week.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 4:51 PM to Asante Samuel
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Wednesday participation report
The first participation/injury report of the week has been released, and there are a couple of new names for New England.
Did Not Participate
RB Kevin Faulk - thigh
QB Tom Brady - right shoulder
CB Randall Gay - back
G Stephen Neal - shoulder
LB Mike Vrabel - team decision
The Ravens did not practice today, so there is no report for them.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 4:25 PM | Permalink
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Belichick offers condolences on Sean Taylor
Bill Belichick opened his press conference this morning with the following statement:
"First of all I’d like to on behalf of our team extend our condolences, thoughts and prayers to Sean Taylor’s family and his extended families with the Redskins and the University of Miami. Of course, we have a number of players from Miami on our team and some connections there. It’s a terrible tragedy. There’s no way to really explain it, obviously, it’s just our sympathies go out to them."
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 2:48 PM | Permalink
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Transcript: Tom Brady's Wednesday press conference
Are you happy to have Troy Brown back?
It’s great. It’s great to see him. I know he’s excited. He’s been working very, very hard. [He’s] played a long time and it’s great to have him up and available. I sure hope he makes a big impact on the team. He always does, just with his leadership, his ability to bring people together and he always has positive words. He’s a great leader. He’s a great teammate and everybody loves having Troy Brown.
Because Troy has been around so long and he knows what to expect, does that make it easier for him to come back and produce?
Yeah, and he’s been in our offensive meetings however as long the season has been going on. Even though he hasn’t been out on the practice field, he’s been keeping up with the meetings and so forth. I know he’s excited and he can do a lot for us. He can play receiver. He can play DB. He contributes on special teams. He really does whatever this team needs.
The Ravens are a team, like the Eagles, that you aren’t that familiar with. Talk a little bit about the Ravens.
Yeah and I think you’re right. It’s a team that we haven’t played in a bunch of years. They’re very experienced and very battle-tested. They were one of the best teams in the AFC last year. We really have our work cut out for us. It should be a fun week. It’s a great defense that we’re facing, led by a bunch of great players on that defense in Ed Reed and Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs and they can all really play - Bart Scott. It’s a very challenging defense to face. I know that hopefully we can present those same challenges to them, but on a Monday night, that’s kind of what that teams live for.
Tedy Bruschi said after Sunday night’s game that he anticipates more tough games like that this time of the year. Do you agree with that?
I think you have anxiety before every game. You sit in a locker room just before you run out and really it’s the unknown. You just don’t know the way the games are going to go. You always hope for the best and you try to prepare for everything and, really, however they play out, whether you win 56-10 like in Buffalo, or this past weekend when it came down right to the end, you have to really be mentally tough and prepare for both. I think you always prepare for the tough ones and if it ends up not being as close as expected then you deal with that, too. That’s a good thing to deal with, but we’re always expecting whatever is the team’s best performance and what they’re capable of. Really, that’s what we expect.
Bill Belichick raves about Ed Reed --
He wants to adopt Ed Reed.
Yeah, he does.
It’s going to be Ed Belichick.
How does [Ed Reed] change what you look at in terms of their defense?
I know he coached him at the Pro Bowl last year and I think, as a defensive coach, you look at a player like that who’s such a game-changer. [Belichick] coached Lawrence Taylor and he knew what the impact on the game that Lawrence Taylor had when he was coaching. I think Ed Reed is similar, in different ways, but [he’s] really a game-changer. He’s a ballhawk. He covers so much ground back there. He’s really smart. He’s really aware. He loves football. He’s got all the great qualities of a great defensive player. I tell you, he better run after the game is over because Coach is going to try to bring him back on the plane with us if he could.
Personally, do you like the games that are close as opposed to the games that are really out-of-whack like some of the games you’ve had?
Yeah, we’ve had some games that in the fourth quarter haven’t been much of a game, not like this last one. I think we’ve showed some mental toughness in Dallas and in Indianapolis and [against] the Eagles, where we’ve been down the second half you have to find ways to make plays under pressure and I think this team has done a good job -- Whether we’re up or down we’re focusing on doing our job. A lot of it is composure and poise and it’s tough environments you’re playing in. Two of those games were on the road with the crowd really into it and we found ways to pull it out in the end. Anyway, the goal is to win. That’s what we approach every week as and, whether you win by 30 or you win by three, you’re trying to win the game. Everyone was happy we won this last game and it’s really going to be a challenge for us to get to 12-0.
Are you sick of all these night games?
I’m tired of them. I look around at all these tired faces today and I think everyone is just dragging a little bit. You don’t get home until late and it feels like you’re always trying to get caught up throughout the week so I’m glad we’ve got the extra day. It’s not a Sunday night game so it’ll be a long week this week I’m sure. Four days of practice, we can use each and every day of that to get ready for this team and, hopefully, put our best out there.
Is it a disadvantage for you guys because you’re like bats, you don’t the see light of day because you’re always playing at night --
(Laughs.) That’s the first I’ve heard of that.
And you’ve got so many in a row that it’s got to be tough.
It is and you play when they tell you to play and I think most guys in the NFL, you love Monday night games. The fun part about Monday night is just before the game at 8:00 when you’re ready to go out there and the bad part is about 11:30 as soon as the game is over. It’s fun to play on Monday night, but I think most guys would love to play Sunday at 1:00, every single week. That gives you the most time to let your body rest and your mind to get focused on those weeks ahead. Coaches love it because they get - on the Monday night games they get the extra day to practice you, which a lot of the older players don’t like so much. But we play when they tell us to play.
What are some of the particular challenges this defense poses to you?
They challenge you in a lot of ways. I think they have very athletic pass-rushers. They have a bunch of different packages that they run with different types of D-lineman that have different abilities. Some rush the passer. Some play the run really well. They get you in a lot of long-yardage situations. I think they’re very creative with what they do up front and [you] just can’t go to sleep on them. If one guy isn’t focused and concentrating and their job, it’s going to be a negative play. A guy like Ed Reed, or Ray Lewis, or Bart Scott, or Chris McAlister, they’re all looking to make interceptions. Not only that, they’re trying to return it for a touchdown. They’ve got a bunch of play-makers and we’ve got to be able to focus on every play and make sure we’re really aware of what they’re doing so we can really stay on track.
Posted by Art Martone at 2:15 PM to Tom Brady
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Transcript: Bill Belichick's Wednesday press conference
First of all I’d like to on behalf of our team extend our condolences, thoughts and prayers to Sean Taylor’s family and his extended families with the Redskins and the University of Miami. Of course, we have a number of players from Miami on our team and some connections there. It’s a terrible tragedy. [There’s] no way to really explain it, obviously, it’s just our sympathies go out to them. On our end of it, we unfortunately had to put Rosie [Colvin] on injured reserve yesterday. He’s worked awfully hard this year, as he always does and I feel badly for him, as I do for the other players that are on IR - Sammy [Morris], Chad Scott, Dave Thomas and all of those guys. It’s unfortunate. [We] re-signed Chad Brown who, of course, has been with us and gives us some depth and experience at the position, as well as activated Troy [Brown] from the PUP roster. So we’ll as usual go into the game with the players that we feel like from the 53-man roster that give us the best chance to compete against the Ravens and we’ll make that decision at the end of the week. I don’t want to lead anybody in any direction other than that one and so that’s where we’re at, as far as the Ravens go. This is in a lot of ways similar to the Eagles that we talked about last week - veteran team, veteran coaches, a team that’s won, that’s played very well at home, that’s played in a lot of big games and won them, especially at this time of year, very good defensively, outstanding return game, good kicker, big play-makers on offense, especially at the skill positions, a lot of outstanding players, a lot of outstanding talent and a team that we have a lot of respect for. I know going down there playing Monday night it’s going to be a very energetic environment for us to go in to, so we’ll have to really be sharp on everything that we do, especially as it relates to snap counts and communication and things like that. We have a lot in front of us. [It’s] a team we haven’t played in a while. [There are] a lot of good players we have to get ready for, a lot of difficult schemes that they run. It’s probably good that we have the extra day. I’m sure we’ll be able to use it.
You guys rarely see the sun. This is your third night game in a row.
We’re so excited about that.
Does it take some special preparation to play at night?
I don’t think it’s [so] much the preparation for the night game. I think where it gets you is at the other end, is coming off the night game and you sort of lose more of Monday than you normally would on a 1:00 or 4:00 game. Then it kind of pushes you back into Tuesday, but at this point in the year I think everybody deals with short weeks and long weeks and all that. We’ve been through a lot of football and a lot of games and a lot of meetings and a lot of preparation, so you just make those adjustments and go on.
Is it in any way better to have them back-to-back so that they are the same week, rather than having a long week and then a short week?
I’m personally not that excited about it, but whatever. There’s things we don’t have any control over. I just don’t think there’s any sense in worrying about it. You just make whatever adjustments you make and move on. Everybody’s got to deal with something.
Having five linebackers playing four spots has worked pretty well for you so far. Is there any concern of especially Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi having to play more snaps than they had previously?
Yeah, well, sure. We certainly didn’t want to lose Rosie, but that’s where we’re at so we’ll just move on with what we have. We’ve added Chad. Like I said, Chad gives us a level of depth and experience that [we’re] probably fortunate to be able to have at this time of year. He knows our system, he’s been here, he’s played here. [He] played in one regular season game, played in some preseason games, was with us for a lot of practices, so I think everybody has a lot of confidence in Chad, as we should, and our other players. Whatever we feel like is the best thing to do, we’ll use those combinations of people and - Yeah, it’s certainly not the optimum situation, but that’s what we have.
Chad played a lot of inside here but was an outside guy primarily in his career before he got here. Do you see him better at one spot or is he a guy that has flexibility?
Yeah, well he’s done both. He’s a pretty versatile guy. He’s played inside, he’s played outside, he’s played defensive end for us in passing situations in the sub, he’s played off-line, he’s played on the line. I think he definitely has versatility. Like I said, it’s a big advantage for us to have a player like that at this point in the year, who has that kind of flexibility, knows our system, who’s played in it. He’ll just have to work hard - I know he will - to get back up to speed with the different things that we’re doing since he was here last in the first Buffalo game and get caught up on some of that stuff, but it’s a lot further along than we would be with a player who was totally new to our system. Plus, he has a lot of experience in the league and he’s played here.
Your kick coverage has been pretty strong all year, with Kelley Washington and guys mixing in with guys like Larry Izzo, the old core guys. Can you talk about the way that group has performed?
I think our kickoff coverage is certainly improved over a year ago. That’s a combination of the kicking and the coverage. We’re up against another real good returner this week in [Yamon] Figurs - well, Ed [Reed]’s been back there some, too, but I assume it would be mostly Figurs doing the punt and kickoff returns - but another fast, quick, elusive guy with good running skills and good vision. Those guys work hard on that. Larry, of course, is our special teams captain and he gives us great leadership in the entire special teams unit. Those guys spend a lot of time watching film, meeting, talking together. Like I said, the coordination of those coverage units is so important - the proper lanes and leverage, and any time you’re doing something a little bit different whether it’s twisting players or changing coverage lanes or picking to try to get somebody else free to try to get a better release off the line of scrimmage on punts - all of those little things, there’s really a lot of teamwork and communication involved. It may not seem like that to the average fan, but there’s a game within a game going on there and they’ve done a good job with it. Overall, our force players have done a good job. One thing you don’t want to have happen on those returns is let the guy get the ball and run down the sideline. Then it’s just a lot of easy yardage. No one really has a shot of them if they get outside. There’s nobody left. At least if you can force them back inside, you have other people who have a chance to make the play. It was a big play last week on the last punt when [Brian] Westbrook was back there, which didn’t surprise me, that he was in there in that critical situation. Pierre [Woods] kind of had him, but I don’t think he was really down. I don’t think they called him down, and Kyle Eckel was kind of heads-up and came in there and made the tackle so he didn’t spin out of that one. [We’ve] been getting good hang time on the punts, and Steve [Gostkowski]’s done, on the balls that haven’t gone out of bounds, done basically a pretty good job of kicking off and our coverage units have been pretty solid, other than the long kickoff return against Dallas.
Obviously you have great depth at wide receiver. What kind of a role do you envision Troy Brown in now that he’s back?
We’ll determine that on a week-to-week basis, same as we always do. Troy is a versatile guy for us. He’s done a lot of different things around here. He’s played on offense, defense, special teams and obviously [is a] very experienced player, a guy that has done a lot of different things, and I think has the opportunity to fill different spots for us. We’ll see how that works out on a game-to-game basis and that’s the way it’s been here for a while. That’s the way it will be this week, that’s the way it will be next week.
Is it possible he would see time in all of those areas, or would you rule out --
No, I wouldn’t rule anything out. Anything is possible. We’ll do whatever we need to do. I’m not going to sit here and say we’re not going to do something we think will help us win. Whatever it is, we’ll do it. That’s what we’re here for.
So it’s possible he could play defense as well?
It’s possible he could do anything that we need him to do to help us win.
Chris Hanson hasn’t had to punt much. How would you assess his performance? Is it tougher for a guy to get in a rhythm when he’s only punting twice a week? I know you don’t want him to be punting a lot.
No, that’s right. We don’t want him to punt nine times. We’re trying to avoid that. You know, we’ve talked about it many times. Punting is a lot like golf. It’s not like standing on the driving range and hitting all drivers out there as far as you can hit them. I’d say probably well over 50 percent of a punter’s punts are situational punts, either based on what the return team is doing or based on field position or the game-situation that dictates do you want the punt directional, do you want it with hang time, they’re rushing, you have to kick it a certain way, you’re trying to kick away from - You have a key that they’re going to run right-return, you’re going to punt the ball to the left - Whatever it happens to be. A lot of it is situational punting, like using all of the clubs in your bag that a golfer would do. I think that Chris is a very good athlete. He handles the ball well, he’s got good hands and he does a good job of getting the ball off and placing it and doing the things that we ask him to do from a situational standpoint. He’s given us some real good kicks in clutch situations where we needed the ball down the field and changed field position a little bit. Like last week against Philadelphia, kicking out of the end zone, we had the false start penalty and we were backed up on the, whatever it was, four, five-yard line or whatever, and he gave us a great field position punt and Kelley gave us a big tackle on that for little or no return, whatever it was. That was a big play. Sometimes that’s what the situation calls for. Sometimes it’s getting the ball down inside the five, 10-yard line and Chris does a good job of that. Sometimes it’s, like I said, directionally kicking or utilizing some type of wind or return key or whatever it is to get the ball. I think he’s been effective for us. Is there room for improvement? Of course. But I think he’s been effective for us.
A couple of years ago before you played the Ravens, I remember you saying that you felt Ed Reed was probably playing better defensively and was the defensive MVP at that point in the season. How is he playing now? Is there slippage?
No. No, Ed Reed is an awesome football player. To me, he’s one of the best football players in the league. I think he’s the type of guy that allows the Ravens to do some things defensively that you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do. I would say that in a lot of cases - in most cases - just common sense would tell you that you could protect the deep part of the field better with two deep safeties than with one deep safety. I’m not sure that’s really the case. I think that probably Ed Reed by himself back there can control the deep part of the field better than any two guys can, because the other guy isn’t as good as Ed Reed, no matter who it is. So whichever side he’s on, whoever the other guy is doesn’t have the same kind of skill that Ed Reed has. To me, when he’s in the deep part of the field, it’s hard to throw in the deep part of the field with him being back there, and then that allows them to do whatever they want with the other 10 guys, which they have a lot of creative schemes and he’s a tremendous play-maker. Not only does he come up with a lot of balls, but as we’ve seen, when he has it in his hands he’s a threat to score, whether he runs it back or laterals it or does something creative to not only turn the ball over but have it find it’s way into the end zone on your end. He’s a tremendous football player. I really enjoyed working with him for a week in February and I got to spend a little more time with him on a person level and really talk to him a little bit about football and some of the things that we were doing. I mean, it was an all-star game, but still, he’s really, really good, as good as anybody I’ve ever seen.
You had him and Champ Bailey together on that. How good was that secondary?
Pretty good. Yeah, pretty good. Those two guys were real good - at different positions, so it’s an appreciation, but we had [Chris] McAlister out there, we had [Bart] Scott. I mean, they have a lot of good defensive players. Really, everybody’s good - their outside linebackers are, [Terrell] Suggs, we had him, he’s a tremendous pass-rusher, [Jarret] Johnson has done a great job for them, Scott and Ray Lewis inside. Their down-guys are good, [Dwan] Edwards has played well for them. [Haloti] Ngata blocks out the sun. He’s an enormous guy that plays linebacker a good part of the time, which is…You don’t often see 350lb guys playing linebacker, but he’s back there [and] plays it quite a bit. [Kelly] Gregg is one of the best defensive technique linemen in the league. He’s outstanding on the nose. They have great corners in [Samari] Rolle and McAlister. [Dawan] Landry has done a terrific job for them at safety, playing with Reed. I think that’s an excellent safety tandem. For a rookie, he came in and played great last year and he’s having a terrific year this year. Big kid, big hitter, but he’s got good coverage skills. I couldn’t say enough complimentary things about Ed Reed as a football player - his intelligence, his skill, his play-making ability, his ability to do things back there that…I mean, I’ve seen some good free safeties and they may have some elements of his game, but I think he pretty much has it all.
A little off the subject -- this weekend is the Army-Navy game. What makes that game so special for the people involved?
It’s kind of a season within a season for those teams. I think no matter what the record is, that game means more than all the other ones put together, if that makes any sense, so in some respects it’s probably better to go 1-11 and win that game than to go 11-1 and lose that game. I’ve kind of seen that from both sides of it. One of the things they do, they have such esprit de corps with the brigade and the corps of cadets and the brigade of midshipmen, is a lot of times the team that wins that game, the superintendent gives all the other members of the brigade special privileges, like an extra night out or they knock off the demerits or whatever it is as kind of moral-booster thing. So a lot of times that game means a lot more than just what meets the eye. I know there’s a couple kids, Max Lane and Kyle Eckel and [Roger] Staubach, but those kids aren’t playing football to be professional football players. They’re playing football because they’ve chosen a career in the military and that’s what’s really important to them, so to compete against their rival military academy, it’s a tremendous tradition that goes back forever, even back into the great Army-Navy teams in the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s where they were ranked in the top 10 on a pretty regular basis and [had] Heisman trophy winners and all of that, as well as guys going on to be great leaders of this country. The tradition in that game just flows. It just drips with tradition. But really, there’s a lot at stake within the brigade, within the institution, that is a little bit special relative to just another college football game. You know, you walk around there in March or April or May or whatever and there’s signs all over of “261 days until we beat Army” or “173 days until we beat Army.” I mean, literally, a lot of times the calendar in that Navy football office is just reflected on how many days to the Army-Navy game. When my dad was there, there were a lot of years when he would scout the opponent that Navy was going to play next. So if they were going to play Pitt, he would go to Pitt. If they were going to play BC, he’d go to BC. But then there were other years when the only team he scouted was Army. He would watch them play all 11 games. So if that gives you any sense of what that game meant, that you just put one guy on it the whole year, that was not uncommon. And Army would do the same thing.
Posted by Art Martone at 2:10 PM | Permalink
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Wednesday practice peek
The Patriots are holding practice outside today on the upper practice field behind Gillette Stadium. "New" guys Troy Brown and Chad Brown were out there for the full pads session; the only player who was missing was running back Kevin Faulk.
Offensive lineman Billy Yates and Bam Childress were the men in black as practice players of the week.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 1:28 PM | Permalink
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