Belchick's back, and so are the Pats


Belchick's back, and so are the Pats

In retrospect, its not an enormous surprise that the Patriots released Joseph Addai. First of all, hes 29, which in running back years puts him on the cusp of Social Security. Second, in reality, its been three seasons since Addai was any good; five seasons since he was great. Third, hes injury prone. Fourth, he was reportedly unimpressive at OTAs. Fifth and sixth, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. Six and a half, Danny Woodhead.

Like I said, all things considered, Addais release shouldnt come as a huge shock. And it didnt. Still, when the news first surfaced yesterday afternoon, it conjured up a familiar feeling. Something we probably havent felt around here since the night before the Super Bowl, when Tiquan Underwood and his high top fade were handed a pink slip on the eve of the biggest day of their life.

In a word: Belichick!

Theres nothing quite like the abruptness of a Bill Belichick transaction. They come in many shapes and forms: Cuts, trades, signings, silent suspensions. I dont know much about the future, but I know that yesterday wasnt the last time this season that youll be moping around on Twitter or watching the Bottom Line, when all of sudden: Patriots have released Player X or Patriots have signed player Y or Player Z will be inactive for Sundays game or Player has been relegated to the crawl space in Bill Belichicks attic and youll think: Huh? What? Did that really just happen?"

Its just funny, because he gets us every time. He makes a random move like signing Addai last May, and every one starts buzzing. Oh, wow. Did you see they signed Addai? Is he the new BenJarvus? The next Kevin Faulk? We spend the next two months evaluating the Pats running back situation with Addais undetermined role hanging over everything. Wondering where and how hell fit in. Then on the eve of Training Camp: BOOM. Hes gone. He never existed. And were left with a slew of paragraphs like the one I opened with. Listing all the different ways Addai was never a good fit. Of course, by the time youre done reading this post, the Pats will have probably re-signed Addai to a three-year deal and named him an offensive captain. Thats just the way it goes.

Its always a mind-game with Belichick. At least from our perspective. No ones better at making all of us feel stupid. At convincing us that hes thinking one thing, and then turning perception upside down. Almost everything he does exudes some level of mystery, shock and awe. For instance, take Training Camp 2011: Trading for Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. Cutting Ty Warren, James Sanders and, to a lesser extent, Brandon Meriweather. Or just this week: Signing Visanthe Shiancoe! Sure, part of that is the nature of the cut throat NFL, but its just as much the nature of Belichick.

And believe, Im not suggesting he plays these games on purpose. Because the truth is, he doesnt care. And why should he? Unlike some other teams in town, Belichick never considers public perception when making a move. He never adds insight on why he did this or what he was thinking with that. He goes about business in a vacuum, and we stand outside banging on the glass, just begging for information. He never gives it up, so were just left to assume. We pretend like we know whats up. We try to make something of the nothing that hes provided. And we usually end up looking silly.

But if were looking silly, it can only mean one thing.

Belichick is back.

And so are the Pats.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars


THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There's nothing like a visit from the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the Tennessee Titans remember how to protect their home field.

Marcus Mariota threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns to end his home struggles and the Titans had their highest point total of the season in a 36-22 victory over the Jaguars on Thursday night.

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Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up


Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up

FOXBORO -- Once the Patriots traded AJ Derby to the Broncos for a fifth-round pick earlier this week, they were left with just two tight ends on their roster. While those two tight ends -- Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett -- have played as two of the best tight ends in football this season, it's a position group that has been considerably thinned. 

Until coach Bill Belichick adds another player at that spot, James Develin would be the logical "next man up." A position group unto himself as the team's lone active fullback -- the other fullback in the locker room is practice-squad player Glenn Gronkowski -- Develin meets with Patriots tight ends and coach Brian Daboll on a daily basis because the fullback and tight-end responsibilities in the Patriots offense are similar, particularly in the run game.

As much time as he spends with that group, Develin tries to absorb what he can when it comes to the nuances of the position. 

"I always kind of try to prepare, obviously, for my fullback role, but then in any other role that I might be called upon for," Develin said on Thursday. "A couple years ago, we had a bunch of injuries during the offseason program, during OTAs, and I filled in a little bit at tight end. I try to keep myself familiar with all those techniques and that tight end role so if the day were to come where I needed to go out there and do it, I'd be able to go out there and do it."

When the Patriots began the season relying more on the run, Develin was called upon to play a relatively significant role in the offense. He averaged 21.3 snaps per game through the first three games of the season, but that number has fallen to 13.6 since Tom Brady's return from a four-game suspension. Still, his role can be a critical one. 

The Patriots' running game faltered last season after both Blount and Dion Lewis went down with season-ending injuries. Having Develin in the mix as an extra blocker would not have guaranteed a more efficient attack, but it may have helped the team's running-game woes late in the year. 

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels now has the luxury of bringing Develin onto the field when he wants some added muscle for his blocking schemes, and should the Patriots need a tight end in a pinch, Develin could do that too.

"A lot of times, especially in the blocking game, really the only difference [between fullback and tight end] is that I'm five yards off the ball in the backfield and they're up on the line," Develin said. "The angles are a little bit different. But a lot of times the assignment is typcially the same thing. It's just the technique of getting there and the angles that you take.

"Then in the passing game, as a tight end, there's just a lot more routes and stuff like that. I try to work on that to help me as a fullback to be a little bit better in space . . . It's a sybiotic relationship." 

As it is, Develin will line up occasionally outside. Though not a threat as a receiver in that spot in the same way that Gronkowski or Bennett would be, he understands some of the different looks tight ends have to be comfortable with.

If an emergency arose and he was asked to fill that role, he wouldn't hesitate.

"There's a little bit of carry-over depending on what we're doing or whatever play we have called where I'll line up on the line," he said. "But that's kind of what a fullback has to do. You kind of have to be able to be thrown into whatever position on the field that you gotta do and you gotta just do your job."