Belichick seeing the positive in rookie Bolden

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Belichick seeing the positive in rookie Bolden

Preseason Game 2: Eagles.
With several starters sitting, and the all-important Game 3 just four days away in Tampa, a big opportunity was laid out for rookie Brandon Bolden.
Stevan Ridley went into the preseason as the guy to beat for the No. 1 running back spot. Shane Vereen, back from the injury that plagued him last season, showed well against New Orleans.
Bolden's spot on the roster is less secure. But with some special teams work there could be one to win, according to Bill Belichick.
On a Tuesday evening conference call, New England's bench boss said Bolden and the other backs will have to fight it out.
"I can't control how the players play -- that's up to them. What we can do is coach them, and teach them to the best of our ability, and prepare them for when they do play. In practice, getting them repetitions and making sure they understand their assignments But the players have to go out and perform.
"I can't tell you how that competition's going to work out, whether it's going to be a couple guys, or a few guys bunched up close together, or if somebody's going to separate from the group or not."
Bolden getting several reps against Philadelphia is part of the process.
"We tried to play those guys last night and, in a lot of cases, just left them in the game, so they played on first, second, and third down. In a lot of cases, it wasn't a third down substitution. We did it more by groups that had practiced together rather than by down to try to help ourselves evaluate those players on all three downs and not necessarily pigeon-hole them into one situation."
The undrafted rookie finished with seven rushes for 14 yards. The number would have been higher if he hadn't run backwards on a red zone draw for a loss of seven.
In the second quarter, Bolden muffed a punt. Philadelphia recovered both the ball and the game's momentum, taking the ball from New England's 24 into the end zone on three plays.
Bolden failed to recognize a fair catch situation on his next punt return try and got bulldozed.
It wasn't all bad. But those plays mentioned can't be ignored when evaluating personnel. To Bolden's credit, Belichick noticed more of the positive.
"I think Brandon competed well and he definitely showed up with some positive plays in the kicking game and also offensively. We'll take a look at different people doing different things, trying to see what kind of depth and versatility we have with some players before we decide for sure to lock in to one particular spot or we use that person's versatility in a couple different spots. I think that's what we need based on the make-up of our roster.
"There are a lot of things that he can learn from and will probably execute better next time," Belichick concluded. "Overall, I think, a positive performance. But not perfect."
Bolden has to hope, in the end, it's good enough.

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

Belichick: Brady-less Patriots ‘just really focused on Buffalo’

FOXBORO -  A verrrrrryyyy long time ago, the Patriots targeted September. There were t-shirts and everything printed back in 2002 as the Patriots came off of their first Super Bowl title.

The names of that season’s first four opponents – Steelers, Jets, Chiefs and Chargers – were all listed on a bullseye.

How’d that work out? Well, they hit the bullseye for most of September, winning the first three. Then they lost four in a row and the notion of “targeting” a segment of the schedule around these parts went the way of the Dodo bird.

Which may be why, as truly remarkable as this September’s been, Bill Belichick isn’t taking any bows after three damn wins.

“We’re just really focused on Buffalo,” Belichick told me Friday morning when I asked about whether winning the first three in the face of some adversity was a point of pride. “I don’t really care about last week. I don’t really care about two weeks ago. I don’t really care about last year. I don’t really care about four years ago. I don’t really care. I think we’re just trying to get ready and compete against Buffalo. That’s our challenge this week.

“The rest of it – it’s in the books. It is what it is,” he said. “So write whatever you want to write about it. It’s good, it’s bad, I mean I don’t really care. It’s done. We’ve got to do a good job of what we have here with Buffalo. We can’t live in the past. And I respect where you’re coming from, I really do. It’s not like I’m trying to be dismissive of it, but I really don’t care. It doesn’t really matter. Nothing that happened last year, last week, last month really has anything to do with this week.”

Things change after Sunday. The best player the franchise has ever had rejoins a team that – in spite of the adversity – flourished without him. Even though the competition wasn’t what one would call “stiff” compared to challenges Brady faced as recently as last January, it’s still remarkable.

Asked about Brady’s looming return, wide receiver Julian Edelman also redirected.

“We got a game before that,” he pointed out. “When he comes back we'll obviously be happy but we got a job ahead of us with the Buffalo Bills.” 

Asked if there’s some pride taken in the beginning, Edelman replied, “It’s just having pride in your job in general. Really just focusing every week and trying to improve. I say it every week on these cameras, if you try to get better and you get better every week, you're gonna do these things. 

“It tells you that you have a mentally tough team that goes out there and works hard and prepares hard and does the extra things,” Edelman added. “I've been around here a little while and that's just the mentality we've always had and continue to have. We have a tough one against the Bills and we'll see how it tests out against these guys.”

 

 

Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

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Patriots-Bills injury report: Garoppolo, Brissett listed as questionable

The inury report for Sunday's Patriots-Bills game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

OUT
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

QUESTIONABLE
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)