Patriots notes: Belichick has 'balls in the air'

Patriots notes: Belichick has 'balls in the air'

By Tom E. CurranFOXBORO - Brandon Spikes, Stevan Ridley and Patrick Chung were among not taking part in early practice Monday as the Patriots worked out in shells prior to Wednesday's preseason finale against the Giants. Ridley and Chung watched from the sidelines while Spikes and running back Shane Vereen were not seen on the field during the small window afforded to media observation. Others not seen include tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, linebacker Tracy White, safety Will Allen, linebacker Tracy White, offensive lineman Matt Kopa and offensive lineman Nick McDonald. Jabar Gaffney, Markus Zusevics and Myron Pryor were also on the sidelines. Bill Belichick said there were "a lot ofballs in the air" on Monday with the looming cut to 75, the Patriots Kickoff Gala on Monday night, preparations for the preseason finale and the first regular season game. Asked for an update on erstwhile offensive lineman Brian Waters, Belichick said, "I don't have one. I'm happy to discuss the players that are here." Speaking for a few minutes with Tom Brady in the locker room, the quarterback assured that, "We'll be fine" when asked about the offensive line. "We'll be good." Meanwhile, at the other end of the locker room, I caught up with Rob Ninkovich who sighed when asked about the defense and said there's a "ways to go" in terms of mastering fits and timing. On Aaron Hernandez, Belichick said, "Aaron has improved a lot. Hes worked hard, hes improved a lot in all phases of the game: passing game, running game, protection and his overall versatility. Hes done a good job for us."As for his feelings on getting an extension done with Hernandez, "Any contract that we agree to is one that were in support of. If we agree to a contract on a player, then were in support of that player, the length of the contract, the amount that were paying him, all the other things that go with the contract. We wouldnt do it if we werent in support of it, as an organization, me personally, all of the above." Belichick seems to be enjoying the competition at running back, saying, "Each guy kind of brings a little bit of a different dimension to the position, although they all have the basic same requirements of the position, but they all do it a little differently because of their style or makeup or physical abilities or what have you. Its been interesting to watch that group work and theyve all been productive. Well continue to evaluate that and Im sure that in some way theyll all be able to contribute for us depending on what were doing."

Van Noy: 'I was shocked" to be traded from Lions to Patriots


Van Noy: 'I was shocked" to be traded from Lions to Patriots

FOXBORO -- It's not often that NFL teams make deals before the trade deadline. Seeing starters get dealt before the deadline is a veritable rarity. It's no wonder linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who started in all seven Lions games this season, reacted the way he did when he was dealt to the Patriots earlier this week.

"I was shocked to go from starting there to traded," Van Noy said during his first back-and-forth with Patriots reporters. "I was shocked. I respect everybody with the Detroit Lions, they'll all be my guys there. Just grateful for the opportunity to come here and get it going."

Van Noy has been working closely with Patriots linebackers and linebackers coach Brian Flores since his arrival, even getting some last-minute notes from Flores before meeting with reporters and heading out to Thursday's practice. 

The 6-foot-3, 243-pounder wasn't completely unfamiliar with the operation in New England before being sent to Foxboro along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-rounder. He admitted he had "a lot" of contact with the Patriots before being taken in the second round by Detroit.  

Now he's playing "catch-up" to learn the Patriots playbook, which could include learning multiple positions within the team's defense. He played mostly as an off-the-line linebacker in Detroit, but when he entered into the league out of BYU, he was considered to have the tools to be a productive pass-rusher as a pro. 

Van Noy, who lost about 15 pounds going into this season, indicated that the Lions didn't get the most out of him because of how he was used. 

"I mean, they didn't know where to put me," he said. "Here, they want me here, and I'm happy to be wanted." 

Van Noy was injured for much of his rookie season and had a hard time making an impact last year. He was relied upon to fill a more substantial role this season, playing in 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps. It's unclear just how Van Noy will fit in as a member of the Patriots, but he says he's willing to do whatever it takes to work his way back up another depth chart.

"I'm here now, and I'm gonna do whatever they have me [do], and whatever they want my weight to be at," he said. "Whatever they want me to do I'm gonna do it because I want to win and be part of this team."

Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?

In Episode 22 of "The Great American Hockey Show" podcast hosted by Joe Haggerty and Jimmy Murphy, we try to figure out if there is any light at the end of the tunnel for the Bruins with their goalie situation in a very bad place.

Former Bruin Aaron Ward joins Haggerty to talk about his appreciation for Claude Julien as a coach, entertains us with a great story on captain (and defensive partner) Zdeno Chara, and makes a bold statement on how good Brad Marchand has developed into as a player.

Plus, Ward has some insight to the injury goalie Tuukka Rask is dealing with, which he believes is a hamstring AND groin problem.

Ward also discusses his relationship with "Toucher & Rich" and the "Cuts for a Cause" charitable event that he helped start.

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