Countdown to Camp: Secondary


Countdown to Camp: Secondary

A position-by-position look on the Patriots heading into training camp. This position: Defensive secondary.

Comings: S Steve Gregory (FA, Chargers), CB Alfonzo Dennard (7th rounder), CB Marquice Cole (FA, Jets), S Tavon Wilson (2nd rounder), S Nate Ebner (6th rounder), CB Will Allen (FA, Dolphins)

Goings: CB Nate Jones, CB Antwaun Molden

Something To Prove: Devin McCourty, Ras-I Dowling, Patrick Chung, Josh Barrett, Dennard, Gregory, Marquice Cole, Sergio Brown

Nothing To Lose: Sterling Moore, Kyle Arrington, James Ihedigbo, Ebner, Will Allen, Malcolm Williams, Ross Ventrone, Tavon Wilson.

Summary: There is talent at the back of the Patriots defense. Can it play with confidence and controlled aggression? That's been the problem. Start at corner, where Devin McCourty played scared and lost his confidence in 2011, undoing all the good he'd done in 2010 as a rookie. Then there's injury-plagued second-year man Ras-I Dowling, whose injury history is becoming a concern at the other corner. Safety Patrick Chung plays with aggression, but his smallish size and tendency to get dinged will have to be overcome for him to take the step toward becoming a Pro Bowler. Corner Kyle Arrington and safety Sterling Moore play with more stones than anyone at the back end and that's why they're fun to watch. Dennard, who plummeted to the the seventh round because of a pre-draft arrest, could hit the ground running as a corner with something to prove. Safety Steve Gregory is a free agent from the Chargers who is being paid starter's money. Barrett, Brown and Cole are on the bubble. Ihedigbo is a known quantity and a pro. Allen's on his last roundup. Ihedigbo will likely find a role. Ebner's a project. And Wilson will be groomed to play next to Chung.

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'


Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.


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)


TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”


Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”