Allen admired New England before arrival


Allen admired New England before arrival

FOXBORO -- One thing you always hear from new Patriots -- rookies and veterans alike -- is awe for the team machine. Will Allen, a 33-year-old cornerback who signed with New England as a free agent, is no exception.

"It's been great," Allen said of the team's OTAs. "The kind of workouts these guys are doing, it's just impressive. It just reminds me of college and what it's about, as far as trying to get in shape to play at the level you need to play at this game. I think strength coach Harold Nash does an excellent job. He's been kicking my butt for the last week-and-a-half, so I'm excited about that."

The veteran of 11 NFL seasons spent the last five years in Miami's secondary as a mostly-corner, sometimes-nickel back. He signed a one-year, 1 million deal in New England in March.

Though the Patriots do need more men at the position and love veterans, especially former first-round picks, Allen's job isn't guaranteed. New England has worked out at least five college cornerbacks set to be rookies with this weekend's NFL draft.

That's fine with Allen.

"I think to be around for a long time, you have to embrace competition," he said. "I've been in competition since I came into this league and you have to embrace it. In my position, if you don't like competition you're not going to survive out there."

This is where the years of NFL experience help. Allen believes, if anything, the need for full-time nickel backs is growing.

"If you look at where most of the balls are thrown, a lot of the balls are thrown in there, especially where the game is turning now, where a lot of slot guys are getting lot of balls," he said. "If you take a guy like Wes Welker, Wes gets the ball a ton. And tight ends, it's easier throws for the quarterback and the fact that guys are spreading guys out and you're creating most mismatches out there."

The respect for Welker is genuine, and it extends to the rest of the Patriots offense. Allen's time in Miami taught him all too well what kind of damage New England can inflict on defenses; he laughed in obvious joy when asked about working with, instead of against it.

"I've faced Tom Brady quite a few times," Allen said. "To be a teammate of his, I'm grateful for that. I'm happy I'm here. I think, if I had to pick a team to go to, this would be the team."

Allen might have gotten his hopes up in the past. When the Dolphins released the defensive back at 2011's final cuts on September 3, he visited the Patriots in the next three days. But Miami, freed of guaranteeing Allen's contract and able to bring him back at a lower rate, re-signed him on the 14th.

Allen doesn't hide the fact he feels the visit was an opportunity lost. How could he? The Dolphins went 6-10 last season; they missed the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 years. When asked why he wanted to play for the Patriots, Allen practically scoffed.

"Why do you think? This team wins," he said. "We play this football game to win. We play this game because we love it, first and foremost, but most importantly we want to win. This place has a great reputation for winning ball games."

Wednesday's Patriots-Bills practice participation/injury report: Same names for Pats


Wednesday's Patriots-Bills practice participation/injury report: Same names for Pats

FOXBORO -- When Dion Lewis wasn't spotted at Wednesday's practice, we had to make it clear when we mentioned his absence: He had only, as far as we knew, missed the start of practice. Though unlikely, there's always the chance a player emerges from the locker room once practice has started and goes through the remaining periods of the workout. 

Now that we have the injury report for Wednesday, we know that wasn't the case for Lewis. He did not show up on the report as a limited participant, meaning he didn't participate at all. 

There were no surprises on Wednesday's injury report, with nine players listed as limited, including tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle), linebacker Jamie Collins (hip) and receiver Julian Edelman (foot).

For the Bills, running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring) did not participate. Bills coach Rex Ryan explained on Wednesday that McCoy aggravated his hamstring injury against the Dolphins on Sunday, but he did not rule him out for the Patriots game this coming weekend.

Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Bills game:


TE Martellus Bennett (ankle)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Jamie Collins (hip)
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
DL Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder)
LB Shea McClellin (concussion)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
DL Vincent Valentine (back)


LB Lorenzo Alexander (non-injury related)
LB Zach Brown (illness)
DT Corbin Bryan (shoulder)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
TE Cordy Glenn (ankle)
WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion)
RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring)
LB Lerentee McCray (knee)
DT Adolphus Washington (illness)
S Aaron Williams (neck)

DT Marcell Dareus (hamstring)
RB Mike Gillislee (foot)
T Seantreal Henderson (back)
LB Jerry Hughes (hand)
G John Miller (shoulder)
WR Robert Woods (foot)

Will time off in September benefit Brady down the stretch?


Will time off in September benefit Brady down the stretch?

FOXBORO -- As far as Tom Brady is concerned, there were no silver linings to Deflategate or the month he spent in exile from his team. Don’t try to put whipped cream on that particular mound of fecal material.
Found that out Wednesday when I gingerly asked Brady whether he’s ever felt this good in mid-October.
“I feel good,” said Brady. “I felt good at this time last year though, too. From one year to the next, I’d say I’ve become pretty efficient with how I get ready to play.
So the missing of September?
“I always wish I could be out there playing,” he pointed out. “I’d much rather be playing than not playing, but it is what it is. I feel good at this point. But like I said, I felt good last year, I felt good the year before that, and I think every year at this time of year just based on the right routine and kind of doing the right things to get yourself feeling good.”
The line of questioning was prompted by two things.
First, Brady’s played 256 games -- regular season and playoffs -- since 2000. His 31 postseason starts are the most in NFL history and he’ll add to it this year. No quarterback’s ever had a schedule like Brady’s for as long as Brady and the punishment he takes (witness Denver last January) would have destroyed the Montanas and Mannings with whom he’s compared. The extended layoff had to do a body good. And the level at which Brady’s playing right now -- and may continue to because he’s fresher -- can only mean good things.
Second, all the band, resistance and quickness work Brady does will never make him fast. But it has seemed to make him more decisive and determined that -- when he does opt to run -- the body will cooperate and arrive at the appointed destination without disaster.
Sunday, Brady both bought time for completions and embarked on short-range scrambles that picked up key first downs.
When Brady talked last week about making Pittsburgh “defend every inch of the field,” Brady scooting into open areas was a perfect illustration of that.
“If there are two or three plays a game that you can make just moving the pocket, or sliding, or buying your receivers more time, or scrambling on third-and-two, it’s just one more thing that they have to defend,” said Brady. “We made – Jimmy [Garoppolo] made a bunch of those when he was in there early. Jacoby [Brissett] made some.
“It’s nice to be able to do that because I think it’s a little discouraging for a defense when they feel like they’ve got you covered or they’ve got the right call on it, and all of the sudden – I mean, I don’t think they’re preparing for me scrambling for first downs. I know they’re not working on that. They’re working on stopping Gronk [Rob Gronkowski], and stopping Julian [Edelman], and Danny, and Hogs [Chris Hogan], LeGarrette [Blount] and James [White]. That’s not one of their top 10 things on their hit list, so I think it’s pretty discouraging when it happens and hopefully we can keep it going.”
At this point, Brady’s running has to at least be in the scouting report.
Although Rex Ryan isn’t buying.
“I’d like to see him do it more often,” said Ryan when asked if the scrambling of Brady was becoming annoying. “Put him in the option, that’s one thing that doesn’t scare you much, you live with that. What scares you is when he lets the ball go. He’s able to pick up a few first downs, But I think we may have the edge in running ability this week. I may go out there and make that bold statement. They may be worried about (Tyrod Taylor) more than than we’ll be about Tom running.”