Belichick laments reduced practice time during preseason

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Belichick laments reduced practice time during preseason

FOXBORO -- As training camp winds down, so too does Patriots practice time.

New England's final three exhibition games will be played over a 10-day period, meaning they're not afforded much in the way of teaching moments.

"The unusual thing about this situation is just our inability to actually install everything, actually put in plays or cover things," Bill Belichick said Thursday. "This week is pretty much about it. I think we'll have good practices next week against Tampa like we did against New Orleans and the preseason games will be beneficial to us.

"But in terms of actually being able to go out there and talk about something in the morning, walk through it, practice it in the afternoon, watch the film at night, correct it, go through the some of the little things that didn't come up or did come up or go over again or fine tune that's what we lose. After this, this is it."

The Patriots will practice tomorrow and begin to prepare for their exhibition game Monday against the Eagles. The next day, the team travels to Tampa Bay for the first of two joint practices before their exhibition game on Friday. Only two days separates that game from their final preseason game against the Giants. Before the preseason finale, Belichick must decide on his 75-man roster.

The coach was asked about how difficult the condensed schedule makes player evaluation.

"This certainly isn't the ideal way to set it up," said Belichick, who will make a second round of cuts to get to a 53-man roster by Aug. 31. "But we'll do the best that we can with the opportunities that we have."

Belichick said that during the preseason his team will prepare for their upcoming opponent for about one third of the amount of time they would normally spend game-planning another team during the regular season. At this point in the season, they are more worried about themselves than anyone else. And with limited practice time, it means they have to be especially vigilant to stay on course and learn what they need to learn before the start of the regular season.

"We're just trying to stay on schedule, get things covered that we're going to need to do during the season," Belichick said. "Maybe they'll come up in the preseason games, maybe they won't but we'll have to be ready for them sooner or later so that's where we're at."

Belichick says all three QBs could use more game reps

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Belichick says all three QBs could use more game reps

Bill Belichick was expansive Saturday when asked on a conference call how he'll split the quarterback reps for the Patriots final preseason game Thursday in New York.

"I think that’s a good question, it’s a fair question, it’s one that we really have to give some good consideration to," Belichick began. "As I said before, I think whatever we do will benefit whoever does it. We want to get Jimmy [Garoppolo] ready for the Arizona game. Tom [Brady] isn’t going to be playing for a while, so it’s kind of his last chance to play until he comes back after a few weeks. Jacoby [Brissett] certainly could use all the playing time that he can get. I think that whichever players we play will benefit from it and it will be valuable to them. We could play all three quarterbacks a lot next week and they’d all benefit from that and it would all be good, but we can’t."

Since they can't, Belichick said there will be situational work done with whoever isn't going to get the game reps.

"We only have one game and so many snaps, so we’ll have to, between practice and the game, put them in some situations that are somewhat controllable like a two-minute situation or things like that that you know are going to kind of come up one way or another," said Belichick. "You can sort of control those in how you want those broken down, what’s best, what does each guy need and how can we get the best we need for each guy. I need to let them get the reps that they need, but it’s how do we get the team ready for what they need to be ready for. They all need to get ready for different things.

What Jimmy’s role is in a couple weeks is going to be a lot different than what Tom’s is, and it’s going to be a lot different than what Jacoby’s is. At some point later on, those roles are going to change again. So again, there’s no perfect solution to it. We’ll just do the best we can to try to have our individual players and our team as well prepared as possible at whatever point that is that we have to deal with, and whenever those situations come up."

As I wrote earlier today, this is the sticky and uncomfortable situation arising from Deflategate. It's not a Tom Brady penalty. It's a team penalty when one considers the ripple effects. And there's no handbook to consult.

 

Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

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Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

The Patriots have signed backup linebacker and special teamer Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension through 2018, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.

Freeney, 27, was originally signed by the Patriots to a one-year free-agent deal in March 2015 after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. He then earned a one-year extension last September and played 13 games, seven starts, with 50 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. 

"Jonathan is a very dependable player," Bill Belichick said on a conference call Saturday. "He is able to do a lot of different roles for us. He can play inside, outside, on the line of scrimmage and off the ball defensively. He has been a very valuable player for us in the kicking game, obviously with some size, a four-phase special teams player.

"He is one of our overall top workers in terms of the offseason program, preparation, training. He always does things right. He works hard, doesn't really say a lot, but is very dependable and consistent. I think everybody in the organization looks up to him."

 

49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy

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49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy

Colin Kaepernick was already a noteable NFL player as the one-time, and now apparently former, face of the San Francisco 49ers.

The quarterback likely will gain even more notoriety for his stance on refusing to stand for the national anthem at a preseason game on Friday:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

In a statement released Saturday, the NFL said players "are encouraged but not required to" stand for the anthem.

More here from Mike Florio of NBCSports.com's Pro Football Talk on Kaepernick and Florio on the NFL's statement in response.