Postcards from Patriots Camp: Day 19

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Postcards from Patriots Camp: Day 19

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski missed his second practice and Aaron Hernandez missed his first on Sunday. Brandon Lloyd was also sidelined for Day 19 of training camp, instead joining the rehab group in shorts and a t-shirt.
I'll say it now before you start to panic: There is nothing serious to worry about with any of the trio as far as we know.
So let's get on to the rest of practice.
WEATHERIn the sun? Hotter than hell. The temperature had to be mid-80s and you could feel every degree. But when clouds rolled through it was okay because the humidity wasn't out of control.
WHAT THEY WOREBack to full pads.
WHAT THEY DIDA lot of walkthrough to start. A lot. And Mallet took several of the QB snaps.
2:00-2:09: Basic running, dynamic running, team stretches.
2:09-2:15: Stretching in position groups.
2:15-2:32: Drills. For the secondary, more time was spent working on their drop and catching a ball thrown high. Josh Barrett did some pushups after one pass went through his hands.
2:32-2:36: 1-on-1s. A few noteworthy moments: Tom Brady threw a bad ball to Jabar Gaffney that had no chance. Devin McCourty got the best of Julian Edelman. Marquice Cole, who hasn't impressed much this camp, had great route recognition against Jeremy Ebert to break up the play. McCourty also bothered Edelman enough to cause an incompletion. Edelman came back and made Sterling Moore look foolish his next time out. Mallett threw an awful, awful pass to Jesse Holley who could have beaten Ross Ventrone. Kyle Arrington got Donte' Stallworth around the neck for blatant pass interference.
2:36-2:58: 11-on-11; 2-minute drill.
2:58-3:03: Special teams practiced blocking on punt return.
3:03-3:04: The barrel came out -- finally. Brady, Brian Hoyer, and Mallett tried their luck from about 30-yards out on the right hashmark. None of the three quarterbacks hit. In fact, Josh McDaniels got closest when he hit the front of the barrel.
3:06-3:25: 1-on-1s: O-line vs. D-line. Elsewhere, 7-on-7.
3:30-3:33: "Tackling!" somebody shouted. Your highlights: Matthew Slater got absolutely horse collared by Rob Ninkovich. Justin Francis gave Brandon Bolden the what-for. Welker was far too fast for Dont'a Hightower. Bobby Carpenter looked tough against everybody he faced.
3:33-3:42: More punts, where players worked on line calls. Ebert had an issue somewhere and muffed one. Slater was there for the recovery. Deion Branch, Edelman, and Welker each went back to receive.
3:42-3:48: More 11-on-11.
3:48-3:50: Chris Koepplin got to practice some field goals. One, he dropped dead-center from 55-yards out.
WHAT WE SAWFunny to see the Hernandez ride a bike with the ball tucked under his arm while the rest of the team stretched and ran.
Others who did not practice: Spencer Larsen, Eric Kettani, Daniel Fells, Sebastian Vollmer, Kyle Hix, Alfonzo Dennard, Visanthe Shiancoe, James Ihedigbo, Markus Zusevics, Tracy White, Gerard Warren, Jonathan Fanene, Malcolm Williams, Myron Pryor, Dane Fletcher and Britt Davis (both waived today). Jake Ballard remains out and Brian Waters still hasn't reported.
Logan Mankins was in light pads (today was the last day before he can suit up completely).
Dan Koppen started with the 1s at center.
Stephen Gostkowski was doing handstands at the beginning of practice. Nothing to add to that. Just odd.
No injuries to report, but keep an eye on Julian Edelman and Dont'a Hightower. Edelman came off the field during 11-on-11 and had a trainer attend to his right wrist or hand. The receiver waited a while before putting his glove back on, but did rejoin the drills after a few minutes. Hightower laid on his back during the second hour of practice and got his right ankle taped.
Mallett was moving at a glacial pace during the 2-minute drill. He would have gotten rocked by a Trevor Scott sack on one play and had to throw the ball away. On the next snap, Shane Vereen showcased his speed on a nice shallow crossing route.
Justin Francis and Jake Bequette did a lap. Stevan Ridley and Brian Hoyer both had to run after fumbling a handoff.
Ridley continues to get the stuffing knocked out of him. Jerod Mayo blitzed on one play and just crushed the running back.
Ridley got some revenge on the defense during red zone drills when he beat Dont'a Hightower in the flat and made it in for a touchdown.
WHO'S HOTI'll say Alex Silvestro just because he had his best offensive day of camp. During 11-on-11, the DE-turned-TE jumped over Nate Ebner to make a nice catch on a Brady ball up the seam. The QB was so excited he hugged Silvestro.
Deion Branch also looks to be moving back into good favor in the passing game. Branch got more reps with the 1s today. During red zone 11-on-11 he got over McCourty in the back of the end zone for a TD.
Yesterday I mentioned Mayo for his on-field leadership. Today, I'll keep him under this heading for his play. He created problems for the run whenever he got the chance and had one particularly decisive stuff on Danny Woodhead.
WHO'S NOTKyle Arrington. Yes, he's been working a lot against Welker in the slot, which will make a lot of guys look bad. But he also dropped an easy interception that was thrown right to him. Today is not the first day he's looked un-Arrington like. The one nice play I saw was during 7-on-7 when he bothered Welker enough for an incomplete between the receiver and Brady.
Julian Edelman had two dropped passes and a pass interference penalty. It wasn't all bad; Edelman's just been so good that it's worth noting when he's off.
The offensive line looked leaky at times. Woodhead got stuffed by Ninkovich during red zonegoal line practice and Jeff Tarpinian took advantage of Koppen's ineffectiveness to blow up a screen on the line of scrimmage.
WHAT THEY SAID"Not really. You just have to know everything." -- Nick McDonald on if playing all five spots on the offensive line is challenging.

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: The Top 2

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Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: The Top 2

We're down to the Top 2. 

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!

PLAY NUMBER: 2

THE YEAR: 2014

THE GAME: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24

THE PLAY: Malcolm Butler picks off Russell Wilson at goal line to save Super Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Is it the biggest defensive play in NFL history? You’d have a tough time making a case for any play to be ranked ahead of it. The play itself – Malcolm Butler sniffing out a quick slant to Ricardo Lockette on second-and-goal from the 1 with 26 seconds left – was a singularly great football play. The historical importance of it to the Patriots franchise in delivering a fourth Super Bowl title and preventing a third straight Super Bowl loss is even more far-reaching. It’s a play that symbolized a lot of things the Patriots under Bill Belichick have been about. It symbolized that it doesn’t matter how you got to the Patriots, it mattered what you did when you got there. Butler, an undrafted rookie who made the team in a tryout the previous spring, was on the field because another undrafted player, Kyle Arrington was getting lit up. A bold move but one that had to be made. It symbolized preparation and attention to detail. During the week of practice leading up to the game, Butler arrived late when the Patriots scout team offense ran the play and Jimmy Garoppolo beat Butler with a throw to Josh Boyce. The play needed to be sniffed out – it was by Butler and Brandon Browner – then executed with a great jam by Browner and an unhesitating break by Butler. It symbolized maintaining poise, which the Patriots had to do after the ridiculous juggling catch by Jermaine Kearse put Seattle on the brink of victory. It symbolized a measure of risk-taking and coaching by feel, as Bill Belichick eschewed a timeout and let the Seahawks run the play. That the coaches locking brains at the point – Belichick and his predecessor in New England, Pete Carroll – added another chapter to the backstory. You could write a book about this play.  

PLAY NUMBER: 1

THE YEAR: 2001

THE GAME: Jets, Patriots

THE PLAY: Mo Lewis changes course of NFL history with sideline hit on Drew Bledsoe

WHY IT’S HERE: While the Butler interception at No. 2 cemented legacies and places in history, the play at the top of this list was the one that started it all. If you paid attention to what Tom Brady was doing in training camp practices and preseason games (30-for-51 for 390 yards) and contrasted it with Bledsoe’s performances (so underwhelming he played the bulk of the fourth preseason game and went 14-for-22), you could see the gap between $100 million franchise quarterback and sixth-round afterthought was closing. But even with the Patriots losing at Cincy to open the season and Bledsoe playing  poorly against the Jets, it was still going to be very difficult for Bill Belichick to press the eject button on Bledsoe. The team was building a new stadium and Bledsoe was the hood ornament for the franchise. With ownership trying to sell luxury suites and sponsorships, benching the only marketable player for the worst team in the league might not be prudent. Then Mo Lewis intervened. With 5:19 remaining and the Patriots trailing 10-3, Bledsoe was flushed to the right on a third-and-10 from the Patriots 19. As he neared the sticks, Bledsoe saw Lewis coming and slowed to go out of bounds, then seemed to remember it was third down and he needed to push forward. Lewis had all the momentum and his devastating hit sheared an artery in Bledsoe’s chest and gave him a concussion. It was a terrible injury that caused internal bleeding and put Bledsoe in some touchy moments in the hospital. And that’s what sucked. Here was a solid person of good character with a young family who’d given a lot for the franchise (albeit for a handsome paycheck) and now he was seriously hurt. But what happened in Bledsoe’s absence only confirmed what many suspected. He was an impediment to winning. It was that simple. I don’t doubt for a moment Brady would have eventually taken Bledsoe’s job even if the injury hadn’t occurred. It might have been that week anyway Bledsoe was so ineffective against the Jets. But the course of the 2001 season wouldn’t have been the same and almost certainly wouldn’t have ended with Bledsoe hoisting a Lombardi in the Superdome on Feb. 3, 2002.

 

NFL: 'No credible evidence' Manning used PEDs

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NFL: 'No credible evidence' Manning used PEDs

The NFL released a statement on Monday saying that after a seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary produced by Al-Jazeera America, it found "no credible evidence" that Peyton Manning used HGH or any other performance-enhancing drugs. 

In its documentary, released in December, Al-Jazeera used former British sprinter Liam Collins to go undercover to try to expose PED use by athletes. Collins spoke at length with a supplement salesman named Charlie Sly, who claimed he worked with Manning at the Guyer Institute, an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis following Manning's 2011 neck surgery, and that the Guyer Institute sent HGH to Manning's wife, Ashley.

Manning, who retired about a month after his Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50,  vehemently denied the allegations. Meanwhile, Sly -- who was recorded by Collins without consent -- later recanted his claims.

The NFL did not release all the details of its investigation, but it explained in its statement that both Mannings were "fully cooperative" with the investigation. They agreed to interviews and provided access "to all records sought by investigators," the NFL said.

The league did say that its investigation was led by the NFL's security and legal teams with "support from expert consultants and other professionals." 

"The investigation involved witness interviews," the NFL said, "a review of relevant records and other materials, online research, and laboratory analysis and review."

Al-Jazeera's documentary implicated several other NFL players, including Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. The league said that its separate investigations into those claims are ongoing.

The NFL Players Association released the following statement regarding Manning:

As a former player, Peyton Manning is free to do whatever he believes is in his best interest. The Union knows that he understands the rights of players under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and would never do anything to hurt or undermine active players in support of those rights.