TAMPA - Computer issues. I don't even want to talk about it. The first half. It was 20-7 at the break with Tampa scoring on its opening drive, a methodical nine-play number, an interception return (we'll get to that) and two 50-plus field goals. Assorted notes. The initial dime defense featured Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling and Steve Gregory on the field. Ebner played at the linebacker level. He showed nice coverage ability dropping on Dallas Clark on one play. On the Bucs initial drive, Doug Martin went in from the 1 and Jerod Mayo, who tried to time his leap to meet Martin at the goal line, got flipped over the pile dangerously but was fine. The starting offensive line featured Dan Koppen at center. The second offensive line had Dan Connolly in there. Ryan Wendell also took a series there. The rotation continued through the game. Marcus Cannon gave up a costly sack. He got beat off the edge by Michael Bennett after making an initial push to redirect Bennett then Cannon kinda stood there and Brady got lit up. His fumble was recovered by Spencer Larsen. On the ensuing third-and-14, Brady got picked by rookie Mark Barron who returned it for a score. And Cannon's weak summer continues. Stevan Ridley ran very well for most of the first half. He finished with 52 yards on 10 carries including a 29-yard run well-blocked by Donald Thomas and Deion Branch. Ridley had a blitz pickup mistake that led to another Brady sack. Long snapper Danny Aiken had a shaky snap that was well-handled by holder Zoltan Mesko on a PAT attempt. Daniel Fells saw his first action of the preseason at tight end. Marquice Cole came in to play the "Star" position on a few nickel defense plays and was very competent. Julian Edelman had a solid 15-yard punt return where he buzzed straight upfield. Logan Mankins played a portion of the first half before Thomas went in for him at right guard. The Patriots used a fleet of return options. Devin McCourty (twice) and Kyle Arrington returned kickoffs. Sketchy decision on the first one by McCourty to bring out a bouncing kick. Aaron Hernandez was in for a punt return late in the first half. (STRAY THIRD QUARTER NOTES) Chandler Jones got himself a third-quarter sack and Brandon Bolden was on the field for the first series of the second half at running back.
FOXBORO -- Patriots left tackle Nate Solder has been through a lot over the last few years.
He battled and beat testicular cancer before the 2014 offseason and then went on to help the Patriots to their fourth Super Bowl title. In 2015, he tore his biceps in Week 5 and spent the rest of the year on injured reserve. Just weeks later after suffering that season-ending injury, Solder's son, Hudson, was diagnosed with a Wilms' tumor in his kidneys.
A quiet leader in the Patriots locker room, Solder has used his platform with the team to spread awareness stemming from personal hardships in addition to serving as a prominent supporter of the Hockomock Area YMCA. For his devotion to helping those in need, and for the example he sets at his job and in the community, he has been named the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner for 2016.
Solder also participated in the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative wearing cleats to raise awareness for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which gives financial aid to cancer patients and their families. He also supports The Fresh Truck, which describes itself as a mobile food market on a mission to radically improve community health.
Rob Gronkowski, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Jerod Mayo, Logan Mankins, Wes Welker and Tedy Bruschi have also recently been named Ed Block Courage Awards-winners for the Patriots.
The team's training staff, led by head trainer Jim Whalen and assistant trainer and director of rehabilitation Joe Van Allen, was also honored on Tuesday as it was named the 2016 Ed Block Courage Award NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year.
"The annual award, named for the longtime head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts who demonstrated an untiring dedication to helping others, recognizes an NFL staff for their distinguished service to their club, community and athletic training profession," the Patriots announced in a statement.
In the release, trainer Daryl Nelson and physical therapist Michael Akinbola are also credited with helping keep the Patriots healthy.
Others, including head strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera and team nutritionist Ted Harper, have a hand in keeping players at their physical peak. Combined, given the overall health of the roster this season, they've all had a hand in keep the team humming as it heads into its sixth consecutive AFC title game.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated that stunts like Antonio Brown’s Sunday night video are the kind that get good players shipped out of town.
“He's a great player, respected largely in the locker room but incidents such as this don't help him in that regard,” said Tomlin told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette and others at a Tuesday press conference in Pittsburgh. “That's often why you see great players move from team to team. Don't want that to happen to Antonio Brown.”
Tomlin: Antonio Brown . . . "it was foolish of him to do that, selfish and inconsiderate. It was violation of our policy, league poilicy"— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) January 17, 2017
Tomlin, who referred to the Patriots as “a--holes” after the Steelers beat Kansas City in a Divisional Playoff game, apologized for his profanity and the other off-color comments made in the 17-minute broadcast.
“Like to say the language on the video is regrettable, by me and by others,” Tomlin stated.” That's why we go to great lengths to preserve certain moments and interactions between us. As a parent, as a member of the community I take that very seriously. I issue an apology in that regard.”
Tomlin added that he has “absolutely no worries on the video's effect on the game, on the Patriots, on the Steelers. Game is too big.”
Returning to Brown – who has yet to address why he thought this was a great idea – Tomlin said, “It was foolish of him to do that, selfish and inconsiderate. It was violation of our policy, league policy. He has to grow from this. He works extremely hard, he's extremely talented and those things get minimized with incidents like this."