Patriots defense came ready to play

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Patriots defense came ready to play

FOXBORO - What can you take away from a first preseason game? It's basically an in-stadium practice with fans, live coverage and teams finding out exactly what they need to work harder on.

It's just a checkpoint.

But in the six plays the Patriots defense faced the Saints first offense, it was somewhat apparent that they were playing faster. More aggressively. Hard from the start.

The last three seasons, the Patriots defense has been a reactionary one. There are signs that this year they are trying to take the fight to offenses.

"We're just trying to be physical and be aggressive out there, just fly around," said cornerback Kyle Arrington. "One thing we've definitely harped on early this year is playing for each other. Just trying to be a physical defense. (Continuity) definitely helps. We're communicating better and that's always a big advantage. The more comfortable and confident you are with the calls, the faster you can play. We're working on it."

Of particular note Thursday night was the work of right defensive end Chandler Jones. The rookie first-rounder was a pain in the posterior for the Saints, coming off the edge against Pro Bowler Jermane Bushrod to draw two holds and bring a pressure that caused an incompletion.

Hes a specimen," said Bushrod. "I dont have too much else to say. He was excited, just like any other rookie.

But also worth mentioning was a third-down play by linebacker Jerod Mayo who tracked down Saints' running back Darren Sproles after a catch and brought him down short of the sticks.

Running the 4-3 defense, the Patriots can afford to be more aggressive. And players like Mayo can flow more readily to the ball than they would in the two-gapping 3-4 defense the Patriots have so often employed in the past.

The pressure up front also helped set up the Patriots' two interceptions, one by safety Steve Gregory, the other by safety Patrick Chung.

The speed of the defense is a point of emphasis, said Chung. It's being preached to younger players like Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower.

"Thats more practice, more things that we execute during practice and tell them, Hey, get to the ball, get to the ball, get to the ball, " Chung explained. "Its more of a consistent thing so during the games its kind of like second nature. Its older guys, younger guys it really doesnt matter. You have to be relentless and get to the ball and thats what weve been practicing.

"Having a bunch of young, athletic guys out there is definitely good; guys that want to learn and theyre learning fast," Chung also said. "First game, first preseason game, just have to build on it, get better and see how the season goes. But its good to have guys like that. Theyre working hard out there so its good to see them having some success."

The Patriots don't figure to scrap their ability to use multiple fronts and looks. It's what makes them so hard to prepare for, said Drew Brees.

"They have the ability to flip from a three-four scheme to a four-three scheme," said Brees. "We only practiced against them two days and then played against them in the first preseason game, so everything is still going to be pretty simple. ...But I remember when we played them in 09, wed watch a game one week and it was all three-four and then youd turn on the film the next week and its all four-three. And so, youre just sitting there going, How do they determine how they are going to play, when theyre going to play it? And then, How are they going to play us? So then youre forced during the week to prepare for both, because youre not quite sure what youre going to see."

The Patriots could have three or four new starters a month from now when they take on the Titans in a real game. Jones, Hightower, Gregory and, possibly, defensive tackle Jonathan Fanene (idle Thursday night).

They definitely sought to change their defense some at each level.

And they got good returns on their first time out.

"I felt like we played good," said Chung. "We played good. We have to watch some film obviously. I cant really give you a full explanation on that but for the most part we played good. We held them to six points so thats always good. ... Its just the first game. You have to do that multiple times. You have to do that consistently throughout the whole season. Its a very good start. Well take that but we have to keep doing it. It cant just be one game. You have to keep doing it for 16, 20 games, however many games we end up playing, we have to do it every game.

"You cant get a chip off (your shoulder in) one preseason game," Chung warned. "We have to build and get better, make the communication better, make the play better, make some plays on the ball; fumbles. Everything is a factor. Just having one game doesnt really tell you anything. You have to get through preseason, get a couple games under the belt and then see if we get that little chip.

Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate

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Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate

When the topic of Deflategate was broached on HBO's Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons, which debuted this week, Ben Affleck became all kinds of fired up.

"What they did was suspend Tom Brady for four days for not giving them his [expletive] cellphone," Affleck said. "I would never give an organization as leak-prone as the NFL my [expletive] cellphone . . . so you can just look through my emails and listen to my voicemails?"

Affleck grew up in Cambridge, Mass. and is a passionate Patriots fan. He made no attempts to hide his fandom, and his appreciation for Brady, as he and Simmons (also a Patriots fan) discussed the football-deflation controversy that has now lasted well over a year. 

Affleck, who said he would want to cast himself as Brady if ever a Deflategate movie was made, harped on the fact that the league wanted Brady to turn over his phone. 

"Maybe Tom Brady is so [expletive] classy and such a [expletive] gentleman," Affleck said, "that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion on some of his co-workers."

Brady is waiting for the Second Circuit to make a decision as to whether or not it will rehear his case against the NFL. Earlier this offseason, the Second Circuit reinstated Brady's four-game suspension issued by the league when a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the NFL, 2-1. 

Pro Football Talk wrote on Thursday that a decision from the Second Circuit could come at any time. If the rehearding request is denied, Brady could then take the case to the Supreme Court. Should the Second Circuit grant Brady a rehearing, his suspension would be delaed until the court reached a decision. In that case, Brady could potentially play the entire 2016 season before a decision came to pass. 

Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow

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Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow

Tom Brady wasn't always the most famous person in his family. Growing up, his sisters were the accomplished athletes in the household. 

For his latest Throwback Thursday style Facebook post, Brady published a pair of photos of an old high school essay that he wrote in the fall of his senior year in 1994. It was titled "The way my sisters influenced me."

I found an essay I wrote in 1994... I love my big sisters! #tbt. Thanks for the good grade Mr Stark!

Posted by Tom Brady on Thursday, June 23, 2016

In it, he discusses some of the difficulties of growing up with three older sisters and no brothers. Because Maureen, Julie and Nancy Brady had achieved so much in softball, basketball and soccer, Brady -- or "Tommy," as he signed his paper -- had trouble getting noticed. 

Of course, it wouldn't be long before Brady was headed from San Mateo, California to Ann Arbor, Michigan in order to play football for the Wolverines. He probably had no trouble garnering attention by then. Still, it's funny to read about how he felt overlooked in his youth. 

He closed the essay explaining that he knew his sisters would always provide him support throughout his life, adding, "hopefully, just maybe, one day people will walk up to them and say, 'Aren't you Tommy's sister?' or 'Hey where is your brother?' Maybe . . . "

If the Brady sisters didn't get those kinds of comments by the time the baby of the family was given an 'A' for his English assignment, it probably didn't take long before they did. About seven years later, he took over as the starting quarterback of the Patriots.