Patriots rookies schooled before bye week

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Patriots rookies schooled before bye week

FOXBORO -- The Patriots rookies are well into the team routine by now. Theyre six weeks into the NFL season. Practice, training, game prep -- its all part of the grind.

Taking a break? Thats something new.

Its the first bye week for first-year players. There are seven listed on New England's active roster, including Nate Solder, Stevan Ridley and Ras-I Dowling. Youd think five days away from the practice field might be the easiest thing these guys have done in months, but head coach Bill Belichick disagrees.

I actually met with the rookies this morning for about 40 minutes, he said Wednesday. It's just different for them, it's a different experience . . . what they did in college, what happens in college, relative to an NFL season is just different. It's the kind of thing you can't really prepare for, you just have to go through it and experience it.

But I just try to talk to the players about some of the things that they could expect, some of the things they might experience in the future weeks. We've had players talk to them along those same lines, players that have been through it: 'Here's what the coaches are telling you and here's what a couple of my experiences were.' It might be helpful for them to hear those or let them ask questions.

Devin McCourty is one such touchstone.

Though only in his second season, the cornerback earned Pro Bowl honors in his first. More importantly, McCourtys leadership skills won him the respect of his teammates and one of the shared captaincy titles. The role means more responsibility -- even during the bye week. Especially during the bye week.

McCourtys all over it.

"I told guys make sure you don't do anything crazy," McCourty said. "Because it's not a lot that we get a couple of days off. So I just told them to stay focused, think about anything you do, think about your actions, consequences, all of that. A lot of things they've heard before, so I just kind of send a reminder in because it's a little different when it comes from a teammate, coming from a coach. Basically just reiterating what Coach Belichick's telling them."

"You're excited to go back home," he said. "You haven't been home in a while. See your family, see friends. So that's the biggest thing is being able to see familiar faces. Just relax, that's the biggest thing, is sleep."

Rookie guidance isnt limited to first steps. Belichick makes sure the channels of communication are always open and consistently surfed. Adjusting to an elevated level of play and, consequently, a more high-profile life, is an extensive process. The more involved the coaching staff and veterans are the smoother that process should run.

We meet on a pretty regular basis, whether it's start of training camp, regular season, bye week. We spend a lot of time with the rookies, Belichick said. Trying to help them acclimate to a different area, a different working environment, different team structure than whatever structure they were on before . . . ours is what it is and they have to be able to understand it and be able to utilize the opportunities and tools that we give them to try to help them improve themselves on and off the field, in and out of football.

This is one of those big off-field experiences.

For most, this isnt just the first trip home, its the first trip home in a nicer car, with a fatter wallet in that back pocket. And the words said or old haunts visited are suddenly interesting enough to end up as Twitter fodder.

Veteran running back Kevin Faulk isnt worried about this new batch of rookies. The career-Patriot has remained a locker room leader, despite being held to the PUP list until recently. Faulk has relished the teaching opportunities.

Throughout the course of the entire time that they've been here they all ask questions," Faulk said. "They haven't been here long enough; they trying to figure out what they can and can't do.

His biggest bye-week takeaway is simple. In theory.

Understand that people look at you differently, he said. Understand that the people that probably do look at you differently arent your family. It's one of those hard things you have to be able to balance.

Belichick would approve Faulks advice. Being smart, staying out of trouble? Thats common sense no matter how long youve been in the league.

"I think that's a message for any professional athlete pretty much any day, the coach said. The day you become a professional athlete, things change and they carry that with them wherever they go, whether it's the bye week or any other week.

New QB Brissett comes in with high praise from Parcells, Weis

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New QB Brissett comes in with high praise from Parcells, Weis

Suddenly, there’s an awful lot on the plate of young Jacoby Brissett.

Drafted in the third round by the Patriots, he’s charged with learning one of the most difficult offenses to in the NFL, performing in one of the league’s most demanding programs, dealing with being two heart attacks away from being the starter for a dynastic franchise and living up to the advance billing that’s built him up as one of the great Americans of the 21st century.

Bill Parcells, who’s known Brissett since the NC State product was in high school, spoke to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. The Tuna pumped Brissett’s tires up beyond all reasonable inflation levels.

“He’s a Curtis Martin, Willie McGinest, Troy Brown-type player,” Parcells said, reeling off the names of one Pro Football Hall of Famer and two Patriots Hall of Famers. “That’s the kind of guy he is. That’s what New England is getting. Those kinds, those Tedy Bruschi types, those players who’ve been successful — he’s very similar in his personal life to those kinds of guys.”

Former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who coached Brissett at Florida in Weis’ vagabond post-Patriots career, was also reached by the intrepid Guregian.

“I only got to coach him for one season, but I absolutely loved the kid as a player and a person,” said Weis. “I couldn’t be any happier that he ended up in New England.”

There’s much more from both Weis and Parcells but I’m not going to scavenge the whole article so click here to see it. 

Meanwhile, Josh McDaniels on Monday also spoke about Brissett in complimentary but far-less-fawning terms.

“We’ll find out more as we get to know him in our building, but I know we feel good about the kid,” said McDaniels. “He did a lot of good things in college. He played in a lot of big games and played against some really good football teams. He performed well and admirably for his team. He takes care of the ball, makes some smart decisions. He’s a big kid and sometimes he’s hard to bring down in the pocket. There are some other things that we’ll get a better chance to see and evaluate when he gets here, but I’m looking forward to working with him.”

We already heard from Brissett in his post-draft conference call and he was enjoyable. But it will be interesting to speak with him in the flesh when the 2016 rookies are introduced en masse. No doubt by then the Patriots will have stressed to Brissett the importance of being a name, rank, serial number conversationalist rather than delving too deeply into his pre-Patriots relationships with former New England coaches.

 

Patriots release a pair from end of roster

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Patriots release a pair from end of roster

After importing a fleet of corners over the weekend, the Patriots released veteran Rashaan Melvin on Monday.

Melvin was claimed off waivers in October of last season as the Patriots were combing the league for cornerback depth. He’d been with the Ravens previously and was targeted repeatedly by Tom Brady in the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoff win. Soon after joining the Patriots, he was on the field against the Giants in Week 9 when Justin Coleman got injured. It didn’t go well as Eli Manning sought Melvin out and chewed him up.

The Patriots released Melvin in mid-December and then signed him back to their practice squad.

The Patriots drafted Cyrus Jones on Friday and reportedly added four more undrafted corners (the team hasn’t confirmed those agreements yet) so Melvin became expendable.

The Patriots also released linebacker James Vaughters, who they signed to a futures contract in January.