Belichick: Taking turnovers 'to the house' always a focus

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Belichick: Taking turnovers 'to the house' always a focus

FOXBORO -- Turnovers are important. Nobody questions that. But if you don't do anything with them, they don't really change a football game.

The Patriots forced turnovers on Thursday night in New York, and they turned them into points, which is an aspect of the Patriots' game that coach Bill Belichick said is stressed each and every week, on each and every play.

"I think those plays always energize you a little bit," said Belichick in a conference call on Friday, a day after New England's 49-19 win over the Jets. "But we really try to go out there and do that on every play, believe it or not. When we go out there on the kickoff team, we're always thinking about making a big play, tackling inside the 20, knocking the ball loose. We go out on the punt return, kickoff return team, we're always thinking about taking it to the house, trying to execute the play properly. Whether it's blocking a punt or returning a kick, whatever it happens to be, we're trying to get that in the end zone."

The Patriots forced five turnovers on Thursday night, with Steve Gregory and Julian Edelman turning two of those turnovers into immediate touchdowns.

Belichick praised his team's preparation, but also the players' capitalization following those turnovers, to quickly put the game out of reach.

"Well I think last night is Exhibit A on how quickly the game can change," said Belichick. "Turnovers are a huge part of the game. And other than points, they're probably, statistically, the highest correlation to winning. We had a lot of turnovers earlier in the year, and we didn't get enough point production out of those turnovers. Even though we had a turnover differential advantage, that didn't really translate into a big point advantage with those turnovers. And in the past few weeks, those numbers have changed, more in our favor, where the turnovers have been converted into points.

"The score was tied, and both teams are battling back and forth, and then all of a sudden there's 35 points up there. But that's how it happens . . . When you get all those yards in one play, whether it's on a big play or a turnover, that's what defines explosive plays. It certainly changes the whole dynamic of the game. Even though a 14-play, 80-yard drive that takes seven-and-a-half minutes gets you the same amount of points, at the end of it, it just takes longer and doesn't change the game as quickly, obviously. So being able to take advantage of those opportunities and turn them into points . . . when it happens that fast, it really can swing the game in a hurry."

Report: White Sox scouting Red Sox' minor league affiliates for possible trade

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Report: White Sox scouting Red Sox' minor league affiliates for possible trade

Though the chances are slim the Red Sox and White Sox make a blockbuster trade before the MLB trade deadline, Chicago is at least sending resources to Boston's minor league affiliates to scout their prospects.

ESPN Boston's Scott Lauber first reported Friday the White Sox were scouting Double-A Portland (home of Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi), but Ken Rosenthal adds they were also at their Single-A and Triple-A affiliates.

Though one would assume the Red Sox are seeking prospects for a potential return on Chris Sale, Rosenthal thinks it could be "for reasons other than Sale" and that some believe the White Sox are "simply laying groundwork for off-season trade."

Stay tuned for more.

Cooper carted off, reportedly dealing with plantar fascia injury

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Cooper carted off, reportedly dealing with plantar fascia injury

FOXBORO – There was some offensive line attrition this morning at the first full-contact practice of training camp.

Most notably, guard Jonathan Cooper left the field on a cart.

Cooper, acquired from the Cardinals in the Chandler Jones trade, went down during a drill when the offensive line was firing off and hitting bags and carrying the blocks out. It appeared to be his right foot that was afflicted. He was down for a few minutes and the team had to move the drill away from him as he stayed down. Quarterback Tom Brady went over to check on Cooper before Cooper was helped gingerly to a cart alongside trainer Jim Whalen and was carted away.

Ian Rapoport from NFL Media reported after Cooper went down that the former first-rounder is battling plantar fascia, a painful foot ailment.

That’s what led to him needing to be held off, according to Rap.

Meanwhile, center Bryan Stork kinda just slipped out of practice. He was first noticed missing when he did not take part in 1-on-1s which came early in practice. He was out there for the beginning of practice so whether he was hurt, sent off for whacking people or had a dentist’s appointment isn’t known.

Bill Belichick wasn’t available after practice. Otherwise we’d have the full scoop.

We’ll keep an eye on that for Sunday.

Running back D.J. Foster and guard Shaq Mason meanwhile didn’t take part in 1-on-1s and retired to a lower field for some conditioning. Guard Josh Kline’s workload is also a bit limited while guard Tre Jackson and tackle Sebastian Vollmer are on the PUP list still.

The Patriots have practice Sunday and are in the stadium for a night practice on Monday before getting Tuesday off.

Tom E. Curran can be followed on Twitter: @tomecurran

Patriots happy to experience 'real football' on first day with pads

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Patriots happy to experience 'real football' on first day with pads

FOXBORO -- With pads on the docket to be introduced for the first time during Saturday's practice, it gave Patriots coaches an opportunity to put together a plan that focused on the running game. 

Early in practice, defensive ends worked on setting an edge, while receivers practiced sealing off defensive backs on the outside. Linemen got to go at each other in one-on-one drills, and running backs got to lower their shoulders and try to run through contact. 

While the session featured fewer passes at which the thousands of fans in attendance could marvel, it did set the table for some hitting that elicited oohs and ahhs from the crowd. 

Though some players were on the receiving end of a forceful hits, the consensus at the end of practice seemed to be that players on both sides of the football were pleased with the summer's first truly physical session. 

"You see a run game, finally, not just passing every play," Devin McCourty said. "I just think it’s real football. We come out here and we get to work on fundamentals and all of those things. We’re seeing guys’ mentalities, being able to play violently. That’s what football is all about."

For players on the offensive and defensive lines in particular, padded sessions provide them with an opportunity to shine. When practices are held in shorts and t-shirts, there's only so much those big bodies can do. But on Saturday, they were focused on opening up and clogging holes in the running game. 

Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said he's been waiting for Saturday for some time.

"Training camp started today," he said. "Yesterday, the day before, [that] was preliminary. It was all about seeing who came back in good condition, getting back to their playbook. Real football is with a helmet on and shoulder pads. 

"There's just something about putting on these pads and thudding up, and coach giving us one period today to go live, see who [can] really man up. That's what it's about with the pads on. See who's gonna show up. See who are the real men out here. See who can play 11-on-11."

The first big collision of the day came between LeGarrette Blount and Jamie Collins. During a run-specific drill, Blount got through a hole and put his head down. He hit Collins hard, knocking the linebacker backwards, but he lost his feet and fell to the turf. That started a steady stream of solid "thuds" -- not wrapping up or tackling to the ground -- throughout the afternoon.

With contact, often comes some chatter, and Saturday was no different. 

"You got the offense bickering back at us and we're bickering back at them," Knighton said. "They make plays, we make plays. All day, it's a competition. If everyone was out here quiet, going through the motions, it would be boring. You won't get nothing out of it. You try to be competitive. At the same time you also try to work on your fundamentals and do what you gotta do." 

"It was fun," said Chris Hogan of the contact. "We were looking forward to it. We're playing football now. There's no more with the shells on or just helmets. This is real football now. We look forward to this. We kind of had our minds right for the one-on-ones with the DBs and the blocking drills and all that kind of stuff. It was a lot of fun today." 

Later on Saturday, players and coaches will go back over the tape of their first day of hitting. That's where, Knighton said, the rubber will meet the road for some players who talked a big game leading up to this day. 

"Guys always talk about what they'll do when the pads come on," he said. "We'll watch the tape today, and the eye in the sky won't lie."