Featured Story

Ryan Wendell Activated from PUP List

By on August 25, 2015 at 7:18pm
320-ryan-wendell-inside Photo courtesy Patriots.com.

Patriots starting offensive lineman Ryan Wendell practiced on Tuesday, a signal that he has been removed from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Wendell, who is entering his eighth season, has experience starting at both guard and center.

Wendell entered in the NFL as an undrafted free agent and has played his entire career with the Patriots. He played on two AFC Champion teams and won Super Bowl XLIX with the team. With Wendell returning, the interior offensive line picture becomes more interesting.

Rookies Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson have gotten a lot of guard reps alongside starting center Bryan Stork and fill in David Andrews so far through camp and the preseason. Jackson looks primed to potentially start this season at one guard spot, which leaves the other spot to come down between Wendell and Mason. Mason is an excellent run blocker but has had trouble in pass protection, due in part to his limited experience in that area. Wendell is also a better run blocker than pass blocker, but has more experience protecting Tom Brady.

The Patriots will have a decision to make over the next two weeks, whether to go with Mason or Wendell as the final starting offensive lineman. In this writer’s view, Wendell looks to be the favorite if healthy. Mason could win the job and could end up being the better player, but Wendell has the experience edge and that makes a difference when the Patriots will already definitely be starting a second year player (Stork) and probably a rookie (Mason) as well. Health will be the key for Wendell, the more of an impact he can make through the rest of the preseason the better. Unlike last season, the Patriots look ready to enter the regular season with solid options along the inside of the offensive line.

Tags: ,

jimmy preseason

The Patriots will take on the New Orleans Saints in their second preseason game on Saturday night. The game concludes a week that included two days of joint practices. Tom Brady and the Patriots offense shined throughout the two sessions that both teams called valuable. As with the first preseason contest, tonight will feature limited time by the starters with backups playing most of the game. With that in mind, here are five players to watch tonight:

Chris Harper- The rookie wide receiver out of Cal will likely get a lot of chances tonight with Julian Edelman, Brian Tyms, and Aaron Dobson all dealing with injuries. He has looked solid in camp and has come on strong as of late and was productive in joint practices while working with Jimmy Garoppolo. The 5’11”, 175 pound Harper has also had some punt return opportunities in camp.

Brandon Bolden/ James White- Bolden and White have been battling throughout camp to fill the third down back roll that was left open by the departure of Shane Vereen. Bolden is stronger, but White has more speed and quickness. White played in last Thursday’s preseason opener and looked like a player ready to take on the third down role. Bolden has the advantage that he plays on special teams, but if White has another strong outing he could put himself firmly ahead of Bolden.

Malcom Brown- The rookie first round pick is one of several options to fill the middle of the defensive line after Vince Wilfork signed with Houston this offseason. Pairing Brown with 2014 first round pick Dominque Easley is something the Patriots hope to do for the next several seasons.

Jimmy Garoppolo- The potential of Garoppolo starting at least one game this regular season has been well documented. What the Patriots need is for Garoppolo to have a strong game and continue to build toward his possible regular season action. He looked shaky in the first half against Green Bay last week but improved as the game went on. A more consistent performance will help both the Patriots and the young quarterback going forward.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

joint practice

The Patriots will travel to White Sulpher Springs this week to conduct joint practices with the New Orleans Saints. The practices will be on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, after which the teams will travel to New Orleans and compete in a preseason game on Saturday.

Bill Belichick has made a habit of having the Patriots practice with other teams during training camp over the past several years. He has called the practices some of the best he has been a part of and it has helped make up for some of the other restrictions on practice time in training camp.

The practices give the teams extended time to “hit someone else” rather than the series or two in a preseason game that the starters might play. It also allows coaching staffs to share information and improve their own performance as well as evaluate talent against another NFL team for an extended period. Teams can gauge where they are at training camp wise as well. They walk away from joint practices with a better understanding of what exactly needs to be worked on.

Following Saturday’s game in New Orleans, the Patriots will fly home and have practice before taking on the Panthers in Carolina next week.

Tags: ,

76bb0010-fb36-11e4-bedf-fdb4c319c835_goodell_515

Roger Goodell was spending time at a conference in Sun Valley when he told a CNBC reporter that a ruling on Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady’s appeal could come as early as next week.

Goodell initially responded to questioning by saying a decision is “coming soon” and then elaborated that it could be next week. Brady was originally suspended for the first four games if the 2015 season in May and his appeal was heard on June 23. The appeal was a marathon affair, lasting the entire day and into the night. Since the appeal, both sides have been mum regarding the potential outcome.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft was also spotted at the conference, but according to Goodell none of their discussions were regarding Brady.

Tags: , ,

tom-brady-nfl-super-bowl-xlix-new-england-patriots-press-conference-850x560

Tom Brady will meet face to face with Roger Goodell on Tuesday in the much anticipated “deflategate” appeal. Brady will be looking to have his four game suspension completely wiped out. Goodell will be the arbitrator and have final say on whether or not Brady’s  case merits a change in his discipline. If he chooses to uphold the punishment, Brady will likely sue the league in Federal Court.

Brady has some science on his side as several organizations have recently come out to debunk the science in the Wells Report, including a lengthy New York Times article.(http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/14/opinion/deflating-deflategate.html?_r=0)

Brady also has the issue of precedent on his side as no violation of this minor a magnitude has ever been punished so severely. There is also no direct proof that Brady ordered the footballs to be lowered below the league minimum or that he endorsed the practice.

However, Brady will still have to overcome the fact that he refused to turn records of text messages over to investigators and he will have to prove no wrongdoing. If he cannot do this, it is unlikely that Goodell will wipe his entire punishment away, something that would cause the league to lose face and would be a waste of the Wells Report cost, which was reportedly over $5 million.

The decision will have lasting effect on both the NFL and the Patriots. If the suspension is overturned, the entire process in which the NFL investigated the Patriots and Brady will be questioned. Also, Goodell’s handling of all discipline would be questioned also, as this would not be the first time he had a major decision overturned. If the suspension is upheld, the league will be facing a court battle with one of its biggest stars. Needless to say, the fireworks for the NFL are going to come early this summer, and they will begin tomorrow.

Tags: , ,

jackson_tre_2

Through the first four games of last season, the Patriots offense was in shambles. Tom Brady was constantly under pressure and the team was struggling to move the ball even against inferior opponents, such as the Raiders and Vikings. The woes culminated in a 41-14 drubbing at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The offensive line began to play better in the loss to the Chiefs, thanks to the insertion of Bryan Stork as starting center. The line stabilized and was solid through the rest of the Patriots championship season. That does not mean that the problems went away, however. Brady was sacked four times in a late season game against the Jets and twice in the Divisional Playoff win against the Ravens. The Patriots did a much better job of protecting and getting the ball out quicker as the season wore on, but it was an area that needed to be addressed.

The Patriots drafted Florida State guard (and former Stork teammate) Tre Jackson as well as Georgia Tech guard/center Shaq Mason. Dan Connolly, a mainstay on the Patriots offensive line, has not been re-signed after his play dipped a bit last season and Ryan Wendell has proven to be an adept run blocker but has had inconsistencies in pass protection. Currently, the Patriots would have Wendell, Stork, and Marcus Cannon as their three interior offensive lineman if the season began today. Cannon struggled mightily last season and despite having a full offseason to work at guard, his performance should not be expected to be strong.

Enter Jackson. The 6’4″, 326 pound lineman played 49 games for Florida State in his career there and was a unanimous All-American in 2014. He played both guard and center for the team in his career and could play either guard spot for the Patriots but he played mostly on  the right in college. His could potentially solidify the interior of the line next to Stork, so long as he improves his technique which was lacking at times in college. Dave DeGuglielmo will have the responsibility of improving Jackson’s technique so he can excel at the NFL level.

It is possible that both Jackson and Mason start for the Patriots at points this season, but the better bet is for Jackson. Mason is an excellent run blocker, but he is coming from a Georgia Tech team that rarely passed (203 total attempts in 2014) and his pass blocking skills need work. Jackson could be an immediate starter and contributor. There would be growing pains, as with any rookie, but if Jackson earns a starting nod the Patriots would go a long way in have a stable interior line for the foreseeable future.

Tags: , ,

Malcolm-Butler

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported last night that Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler was held out of the first two weeks of Organized Team Activities because he showed up late to the initial session.

Butler caught a late flight to New England, which was delayed by weather and caused him to be late on the first day. Because of this, the coaching staff decided to not allow Butler to practice for the first several weeks. Butler was present in all meetings and other activities, he was just not allowed to practiced.

Bill Belichick has a history of sending players home who show up late to meetings or practices. This punishment is longer than previous ones in length, but is also a chance to send a message to a player that has been praised as a hero all offseason. The message seems to have been received, as Butler was back out on the field this yesterday.

 

Tags: ,