FOXBORO -- The primary halftime story here in a 6-6 tie between the Patriots and Cardinals is the relative sloppiness of both offenses. The Patriots have 129 yards of offense and the Cardinals have 111. Tom Brady's been sacked three times and he threw a pick on the first offensive play for New England, a tipped pass that was hauled in acrobatically by Cardinals corner Patrick Peterson. There are two developing stories as well: 1) what looks likea fairly serious ankle injury for Aaron Hernandez and 2) an even bigger role this week for Julian Edelman in place of Wes Welker. Hernandez went down while blocking for Edelman in the first quarter. Hernandez's right ankle was rolled over and it bent under the weight of the tacklers and Edelman. It could be a high ankle sprain which normally takes more than a month to recover from. As for the wideout reps, Edelman started in place of Welker and was on the field ahead of Welker in two wideout sets prior to the Hernandez injury. Last week, Welker had 43 snaps to Edelman's 23, leading to speculation Welker was being supplanted. That was a little premature based on the number of snaps, but this week's developments put the situation in a new light. One interesting tidbit that gains traction was pointed out to me by someone close to the team during training camp. Edelman and Brady spent a ton of time together in the offseason, time that in years past Welker was spending. A comfort level may have been reached and necessary improvement on Edelman's part may have been attained. Edelman's work during training camp was remarkably good. This could be a pro-Edelman move as opposed to an anti-Welker move. Still, with Welker making 9.5 million and having been targeted 173 times last season, it's too early after six quarters of football to conclude it's a freeze-out.
Ray Ratto joins Chevrolet SportsNet Central to discuss Colin Kaepernick's decision to not stand during the national anthem before the San Francisco 49ers preseason game.
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.
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."