Reggie Wayne running in a touchdown

The Patriots signed long-time Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne to a 1-year, $3M contract this week. Wayne, a 14-year veteran, was not resigned by the Colts and was sought after by the Patriots and the Green Bay Packers as injuries at the wide receiver position have plagued both teams heading into the season. The soon-to-be-37-year-old pass catcher will add depth at the position with Julian Edelman suffering from a lower leg injury, Brandon LaFell still unable to get on the field, and Aaron Dobson, Brian Tyms and Brandon Gibson all dealing with injuries of their own.

Last season, Wayne recorded 64 catches for 779 yards and 2 touchdowns. He played the last 12 games of the season with partially torn triceps, leading to a decrease in production. The injury, coupled with the emergence of T.Y. Hilton, played a roll in Wayne leaving Indy and landing in New England. Continue reading Reggie Wayne Signs $3 Million Contract with Patriots »

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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.

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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.


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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.

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New York Post/Bill Kostroun

Over the past week there have been multiple fights at Miami Dolphins training camp. The skirmishes between players have been widely publicized and embarrassing for the organization. In efforts not to be out done the New York Jets have thrown a counter punch of their own this week. Jets quarterback Geno Smith got his jaw broken when he was punched in the face Tuesday by teammate and linebacker IK Enemkpali. Enemkpali, a late round draft pick in 2014 out of Louisiana Tech, punched Smith during a locker dispute over a $600 dollar debt.

It all started earlier this year when Smith was to attend a football camp put on by Enemkpali and was unable to make it. When Smith wasn’t able to join his teammate, Enemkpali demanded to be reimbursed for a plane ticket allotted to Smith for the event. This is not the first disagreement between the two players over this matter, however the first one ended in both sides walking away, and this one ended with a haymaker to Smith’s jaw.
The young linebacker is no stranger to violence having been arrested in college after a bar fight, striking an undercover police officer and requiring pepper spray and a stun gun to take down the big fella. Unfortunately for Jets new head coach Todd Bowles the “smash mouth” style football left behind by ex-Jets head coach Rex Ryan was sadly misinterpreted by Enemkpali and instead used quite literally. Now Bowles will have to try and put the pieces (of bone) back together to get the Jets back on track. Continue reading The NY Jets Circus is Back! QB Punched Out, Locker Room in Shambles »

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pats packers

The Patriots fell to the Packers 22-11  in their first preseason game of 2015. The game saw many key players rest and was an opportunity for younger players and new arrivals to get some game action. Not too much can be learned from a contest like this scheme-wise, as neither team game plans. However, some players made their roster bubble case while others increased the hill they have to climb.

The Patriots defense bent early but did not break, allowing three points in the first quarter despite Green Bay being in Patriots territory three times. The Patriots had two fourth down stops, including one inside their own five yard line. Malcolm Butler carried his strong camp into the game and looked solid in coverage early, as did rookie Darryl Roberts, who did leave the game with an injury. Rookies Tre Jackson, Shaq Mason, and David Andrews were the starters in the interior of the offensive line and each held their own. Mason had a great block to help spring  Jonas Gray for a touchdown.

Tom Brady got the start, but Jimmy Garoppolo played most of the game at quarterback. Garoppolo had issues throwing behind receivers, especially Boyce, but got better as the game went on. He was sacked seven times, which although partly his fault also was evidence of poor offensive line play in front of him.

Jabaal Sheard entered the game on the second defensive series and showed some of the reasons why New England brought him in this offseason. He drew a holding penalty and had several impressive rushes off the edge, all before halftime. Logan Ryan, on the other hand, did not make a strong case to be a starter come September. He got beat badly by Jeff Janis on a second quarter touchdown that came on fourth down.  Dominique Easley and Malcom Brown saw time together in the interior of the defensive line, a combination the Patriots hope will be part of their defense for years to come.

It was also a tough night for Josh Boyce, who had several drops and could have done a better job working back to the ball on a third quarter Garopppolo interception. James White made a strong case to be New England’s third down back, he pass-blocked well and showed flashes of athleticism in the passing game. He capitalized on Brandon Bolden and Travaris Cadet being out due to injuries and the battle for the third down back will be one of the more interesting competitions to watch going forward.

Notable players who did not see the field were Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, and Bryan Stork.

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The Patriots held their final practice before Thursday’s preseason game on Tuesday afternoon. Prior to practice, Bill Belichick said it was a day the team could use to begin the transition to game preparation, most of which will take place on Wednesday. Tom Brady was absent from practice, which forced Jimmy Garoppolo and newcomer Ryan Lindley to take all of the reps.

Unfortunately for the two quarterbacks, it was the worst offensive practice of camp. There were numerous dropped passes and missed connections in the passing game. Some dysfunction is expected with Lindley being on the team for less than two days, but today’s troubles were beyond expected. The weather was rainy and slippery, which was a factor.

Darryl Roberts was the best player on the practice field for the defense. He had at least four pass break ups and had tight coverage on nearly every snap. One of his break-ups was a deflection that landed in the arms of Tavon Wilson for an interception. Fellow rookies Trey Flowers and Malcom Brown also had some impressive moments including when the two of them teamed up for pressure on Garoppolo to force a quick throw.

Overall, it was a sloppy practice both weather and football wise. The defense, led by Roberts, made some impressive plays but the offense got in it’s own way too often. Following Thursday’s game, the Patriots will hold their final “open to the public” practice on Saturday.


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