A Polite introduction

623386.jpg

A Polite introduction

FOXBORO -- Lousaka Polite was at home in Miami when he got the phone call from his agent. The 30-year old fullback, then working as a full-time dad to his daughter Anya, was needed in New England.

He hasn't played football since training camp.

You just never know, he said before his new locker Wednesday. As the weeks go by, you just dont know whats going to happen. Theres always a little, tiny bit of doubt because you dont know what to expect. But you just need to stay ready, stay in shape and luckily, I just got the call.

Polite, or "Lou," as he's asked to be called, is a seven-year NFL vet. He spent the last three seasons with the Dolphins where he earned a reputation as a short-yardage specialist.

According to PhinFever.com, Polite had 15 carries on third or fourth-and-1 situations in 2010 and converted 14 to first downs. His 92.3-percent success (12 for 13) on third down lead the league for running backs. Since 2008, Polite has rushed 43 times on third or fourth-and-1 and muscled his way to 41 first downs. 20 of those drives yielded at least six points.

"It takes a lot of studying," Polite said of his success. "You have to treat each situation as a different one, just like a snowflake. You might have had success running through one gap but that's going to change. Things slant, they have different ideas to try and stop you. You can't be stuck in one mindset; you've got to be flexible as far as making adjustments.

"It's a combination of study and instinct. If you do all your work throughout the week studying then your natural ability will take over. "

So why in the heck did Miami let him go?

The team struggled with the overall ground game last season. Polite has also been tapped for poor lead-blocking. But there's something to be said for a general decline of the position. The Patriots haven't really employed a fullback since Heath Evans, instead using different tight end variations, and the trend is common throughout the league.

"The game is always evolving. Things happen and the fullback is kind of a dinosaur position, I guess you could say," he smiled. "But as long as I'm healthy and here I'll do my best to stick around."

In what capacity, well, no one knows.

Bill Belichick was characteristically mum about what the new guy's role will be. Though the Patriots were rumored to be working out fullbacks in Week 4 none were signed. Would New England now change up the offense to accommodate one? Not likely. But Polite does have experience with special teams, which is a well-known plus in the mind of his new coach, and it's possible his short-yardage expertise could be called upon.

Tom Brady had six rushes two weeks ago in Denver. He had nine in last Week 16's win over Miami. A toe injury is hampering BenJarvus Green-Ellis and uncertainty in rookie Stevan Ridley might be what's pushed Brady into the breach. Regardless, the consequences are more than two touchdowns to pad his scoring stats.

Against the Dolphins Brady tried Ridley on a third quarter third-and-1 but the run was stuffed. The quarterback carried the ball himself on fourth down.

Somewhere among his carries came fear Brady separated his shoulder. A post-game X-ray revealed the shoulder is intact, as Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran reports, but the Patriots will want to avoid what put him in that position in the first place. It wouldn't be unwise to call for reinforcements.

The 6-0, 245-pound Polite says he's up for anything.

"Im just learning, learning as much as I can," he said. "Everything is new to me, so Im just trying to learn and well just go from there, he said. Im willing to do anything. Ive played special teams, and Im just willing to do whatever it takes to contribute to the team."

He's not the only one curious to see what exactly that means.

Patriots-Rams inactives: Slater, Coleman, Richards out

patriots_matt_slater_081613.jpg

Patriots-Rams inactives: Slater, Coleman, Richards out

FOXBORO -- The inactive lists for today's Patriots-Rams game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
S Jordan Richards
WR Matthew Slater
DL Woodrow Hamilton
RB D.J. Foster
T LaAdrian Waddle
DL Darius Kilgo
CB Justin Coleman

LOS ANGELES RAMS
WR Tavon Austin
DE Robert Quinn
QB Sean Mannion
TE Temarrick Hemingway
OL Rodger Saffold
DB Steve Williams
OL Pace Murphy

Belichick: You give up individuality when you play football

Belichick: You give up individuality when you play football

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick’s Friday press conference began with him swatting back inevitable questions about Rob Gronkowski. It’s the dance and Belichick doesn’t love it but on this day he at least went through the steps.

PATRIOTS-RAMS PREGAME

By the end, though, Belichick warmed to the conversation with the media in general and was letting some Friday perspective loose.

The portion I found most interesting came at the very end when Belichick was discussing Logan Ryan’s adjustment to a different role in the secondary and reduced playing time.

Did Belichick talk to Ryan? Often, the coach will say that his conversations are private. Not this time. And the reply gave insight into the message the Patriots impart over and over and over to their players. The same one the coach has given since 2000. The boat won’t move unless everyone grabs an oar and rows in unison with the rest.

“Yeah, sure,” Belichick began. “We always talk about that. It’s not an easy conversation because everybody wants to play more but at the same time everybody wants to have a good team and everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to do their role. We all want it to be bigger but sometimes we have to understand the bigger team picture, which I think our players do. Again, that’s not always. But you give that up when you play football. You give up some of your individuality. You give up some of your individual preferences or individual control you have to play the great team sport of football.

“If you want to go out there and run track, or swim, or throw the shotput, or play tennis or whatever it is; great,” Belichick added. “There’s nothing wrong with that and you control everything. You control how you practice. You control when you practice. You control how hard you hit the ball or how soft you hit it or whatever. Play golf. Then you’re your own team but when you buy into a team sport, not just defensively but offensively and in the kicking game, practice for the show-team, practice for the other side of the ball, so forth and so on, then you make a commitment to the team. And that’s different than playing individual sports.”

Unanimous buy-in is very hard to attain. Players’ livelihoods depend on how they show out on Sundays. For every Elandon Roberts -- a rookie who’s pinching himself at the opportunity to be a starting linebacker on the Patriots after being lightly-regarded out of Houston -- there’s a Jamie Collins who was on the cusp of a payday bonanza but was playing under a modest contract and in a system that wasn’t allowing him to just run around and make sensational plays.

“All players, that’s something that all players have to deal with but that’s part of playing football,” said Belichick. “But to your point of Logan [Ryan], he does a great job of that. But yeah, do all players want to play more? Do all players want more opportunities? Of course they do. But we have to try to set up a system and a structure that we feel like gives our team the best chance to win and I think everybody respects that.”