NFL journeyman Carpenter looks to bring best to Patriots

724376.jpg

NFL journeyman Carpenter looks to bring best to Patriots

FOXBORO -- You probably don't know much about Bobby Carpenter the linebacker.
New England is his fifth team in what will be his seventh year in the league.
"You understand a lot about the NFL," he said this week, of his journeyman role. "You know a lot of people, you know a lot of systems -- which I think helps you out in your preparation. It just kind of gives you a healthy respect for the league and the game and how tough it is to make it."
What you do know about Carpenter wouldn't make him proud.
Maybe you saw that 2008 episode of "Hard Knocks" when Cowboys teammate and right tackle Marc Columbo dubbed him "Barbie Carpenter." Columbo had beaten up on him all practice.
Maybe you remember Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff raising his voice when Dolphins STC John Bonamego was fired. "It's interesting that there was one particular guy that was involved in two of those major breakdowns," Westhoff said. "Frankly, I don't think he could play. I don't want the guy either." Review of the film revealed Carpenter was on both plays.
And you might have heard the term "bust" used in reference to the former first round pick. Several teams had been interested in the Ohio State product. Teams like the Patriots.
"This is one of the places I came up and visited," Carpenter recalls. "Had a good connection here, really liked it. Just ended up going someplace else, but this was a place that was interested in me."
He had met with the lot: linebackers coach Matt Patricia, defensive coordinator Dean Pees, Bill Belichick.
Dallas snapped him up with its 18 overall selection in that 2006 NFL draft (New England picked at 21). What the Cowboys got in return was three starts, 96 total tackles, and 3.5 sacks in four years.
Carpenter was traded to the Rams and released at the end of training camp. Miami picked him up for the first five games of 2010 then cut him.
That's when the Lions gave him new life.
Never a fit in a 3-4 defense, Carpenter appeared more comfortable in Detroit's 4-3 scheme. There he could read and react, use his quickness, know he'd be protected. He played all 16 games in his second year, first full season in Detroit. An interception of old pal Tony Romo and 34-yard touchdown return in 2011 must have been sweet.
Yet he still played less than a quarter of the defensive snaps.
Despite taking steps forward, Carpenter couldn't shore up a starter spot. The Lions dragged their feet when free agency rolled around. New England saw an opening in April and pounced; Carpenter had to pack his bags yet again.
He's dismissive of stability's elusiveness.
"It's not too bad. Each season is kind of a separate year. You take it as it approaches: offseason, training camp, it's all in each individual segment so you try to look at what's in front of you and not too far ahead."
Patriots training camp looms large. Though he's gotten solid snaps off the line during mini-camp, it's in late July that player evaluation gets serious.
Linebackers coach Pepper Johnson likes the potential.
"He's a guy that's a workaholic. He's constantly going. You have to slow him down on the field. I don't want to slow him down, but... " Johnson laughed.
"He's going to be a plus for us -- he already is a plus for us."
If only Carpenter can translate the words into something meaningful. So much of what's been said about him in the last six years has not been kind.
"I just try to go out there and play best I can," said the linebacker. "I don't know if you want to put tags on it -- reporters kind of do better with that. It's a tough game. You try to make plays. However you do it, someone else can say that."
They will. But that hasn't really been the trouble.

Report: Brady and Gisele spotted on Italian island of Capri

brady.jpg

Report: Brady and Gisele spotted on Italian island of Capri

Anyone know any good receivers Tom Brady can work out with on Capri?

With a little over a week left before he can return to the Patriots, Brady and wife, model Gisele Bundchen, were spotted in a restaurant on the island of Capri in Italy in photos published by TMZ.

Brady, of course, is serving his NFL-imposed, four-game Deflategate suspension. He will be allowed to return to the Patriots practice facility on Monday, Oct. 3 and is expected to play in the game in Cleveland on Oct. 9.

Last week, Brady traveled to his alma mater, the University of Michigan, to serve as honorary captain for the Wolverines game against Colorado. 

 

Patriots never really practiced play Brissett took for touchdown run

Patriots never really practiced play Brissett took for touchdown run

FOXBORO -- On a short week leading up to a Thursday night game, time is of the essence. Coaches have to be mindful that there is only so much they can install for their upcoming opponent, and players have to sort through a wealth of information on a compressed schedule. Practice time is almost non-existent. 

That's what makes what the Patriots did against the Texans so impressive. Without any real practice reps to speak of -- they held walkthroughs on Tuesday and Wednesday -- they installed plays they had never run before. Not only did they work, but one of them helped break the game open. 

Jacoby Brissett's 27-yard touchdown run in the first quarter came on a play that the team wouldn't call for Tom Brady. And if they felt like Jimmy Garoppolo could run it, it was one they hadn't installed and run for him. But given the combination of Brissett's athleticism, his ablity to execute play-fakes, and the look the Patriots thought they might get from the Texans, Belichick and his staff believed they could make it work.

Even though there was no opportunity to run it in a live practice setting.

When the time came, Brissett faked a run to the left for LeGarrette Blount, the Texans defense bit, and Brissett smoothly changed direction to run around the right edge. Patriots guard Shaq Mason sought out linebacker Bernardrick McKinney, who Belichick has called one of the best young 'backers in football, and cut him down. That cleared more than enough running room for the rookie third-rounder. 

Because Houston corner Jonathan Joseph was in man coverage on receiver Malcolm Mitchell, he turned and ran with Mitchell up the sideline and only finally turned around to see Brissett coming at him when it was too late. Brissett made a move to avoid free safety Andre Hal and dove into the end zone to give the Patriots a two-score lead.

"It was just we felt like we could get what we ended up getting," Belichick said. "We thought we could get outside, and there wasn’t really anybody left out there but the corner who was in man coverage and it’s just a question of – once we got outside – it was just a question of when the free safety would get there or if an inside linebacker would be able to get there quick enough. But because LeGarrette flowed across the formation that dragged the linebackers with him . . . there was, as you saw, nobody left."

Belichick credited players with being able to take the concepts given to them with that play and executing despite their limited time with it.

"The timing of the play between Jacoby and Shaq was really perfect, which is remarkable considering the fact we’ve never run the play other than just a walkthrough," Belichick said. "But Shaq cut McKinney down at the perfect time as Jacoby was getting outside of him. McKinney just didn’t really have a chance to recover."

There were other plays that were new to the Patriots for Thursday's game, both offensively and defensively; the counter option out of a two-back pistol set is one we have not seen from the Patriots this year in a regular-season game or a training camp practice. But they were able to hit on them successfully, which Belichick explained was a nod to the work that both the starters and the scout team did in walkthroughs that week.

"We gave them a lot of new things," Belichick said after the game. "We ran some plays that we haven’t run all year. We put them in and walked through them. We never got a chance to really run them, and a couple of those hit big. Defensively we tried to do some things that we just didn’t even practice them. All we could do was walk through them. It’s just not the same as repping them, but they understood . . . They’re a smart group. They’re an astute group. They understood how it needed to try and fit against the Texans and then we got out there on the field and they executed it very well tonight.

"Just a tremendous credit to those guys – the players on the scout team, our defensive and offensive scout teams, to try and replicate the Texans’ plays so we could at least walk through them. Again, we didn’t really run them at any tempo but at least we walked through and they give us a great look, and some of the communication that we needed to be able to execute those plays was really as a result of the scout team giving us the opportunity to practice it, and if we made a mistake correct it in practice and get it right tonight.

"It was really a great, great team effort over the last four days. The guys that played, a lot of guys that didn’t play, like I said, the coaching staff, not just the coordinators, the assistant coaches. We had a lot of guys really work hard this week. It’s gratifying to see those kinds of results. Not that we don’t work hard every week, but this is a tough week."