Slater loving WR reps, but happy anywhere

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Slater loving WR reps, but happy anywhere

FOXBORO -- Anyone watching Patriots training camp Thursday probably saw a depleted receiving corps by the end of the session. No Brandon Lloyd, no Deion Branch, no Jabar Gaffney.
One guy saw something else. A rare opportunity.
Matthew Slater reaped most of the reps that were left on the field by the trio of absentees. As a listed wide receiver who had just one catch in 16 games last season, he was more than happy to get extra targets this week.
"I'm excited," said Slater. "Whatever I'm position I'm in, just trying to get better. Every year I feel like I've had such great veterans to learn from and the list goes on this year. So many guys at that position have been there, done that. I'm just trying to learn. And I love playing football so I'm having fun."
The windfall of passes might not last long. New England has more than enough receivers in camp when everyone is healthy, and Slater knows the numbers will get whittled down come September.
But it's not the end of the world. The 26-year old has plenty of value elsewhere.
"Obviously, special teams has been my ticket, how I've paid my bills," Slater smiled. "And I still feel like I have a lot of room for improvement. There are a lot of things I can do better and special teams coach Scott O'Brien is staying on me, challenging me to get better.
"At receiver, safety, or offensive line -- wherever it may be -- there's a lot to learn. I haven't spent as much time playing those positions so obviously there's a lot of room for improvement."
The offensive line reference was just a crack, but Slater did indeed get a few reps at safety last season. That shouldn't be necessary this year with the additions of Tavon Wilson and Steve Gregory --which is important to Slater. The special teams captain needs to pour his energy into helping New England improve areas like 2011's 29th-ranked kick return.
"We understand that we struggled, to say the least, there last year. It wasn't any one person's fault, it was the whole unit. We realized that's something we really have to focus on and try to do a better job of setting up Tom Brady and the offense this year."
The pressure is on.
"We have to stick with it. We can't get frustrated, we can't get down on ourselves. But at the same time, we have to keep challenging ourselves, keep working on our techniques. And it goes back to fundamentals. That's the great thing about training camp: You focus on the fundamentals and the little things, and those little things hopefully will give us a chance to make some plays during the season."
Even if the playmaking potential doesn't fall to him at receiver on game days, Slater will find opportunity somewhere, and love every minute of it.

Tomlin apologizes for language, calls Brown's actions 'foolish' and 'selfish'

Tomlin apologizes for language, calls Brown's actions 'foolish' and 'selfish'

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, 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."
 

Where is Roger? Not in Foxboro . . . again

Where is Roger? Not in Foxboro . . . again

After speculation and “Do it; you won’t” cries from Patriots fans as to whether Roger Goodell would show his face at Gillette Stadium for the AFC Championship, we’ve now got our answer: When the Patriots and Steelers kick off Sunday in Foxboro, the commissioner will be 1,045 miles away. 

Goodell will reportedly attend the NFC Championship Sunday in Atlanta, continuing his absence from Patriots home games since the start of Deflategate. For those inclined to call it merely a coincidence, Goodell was in Atlanta last week for the Falcons and Seahawks. This will be two straight weeks of Atlanta -- with a trip to Kansas City for Chiefs-Steelers mixed in -- and still no New England. 

Tom Brady, whom Goodell suspended for four games over the ball-deflating scandal, was asked on WEEI Monday about the possibility of Goodell attending a game in New England. 

“He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do,” Brady said on Kirk and Callahan. “If he wants to come, that would be -- yeah, he can come.”

Asked if he wanted Goodell at the game, Brady replied, “He can go wherever he wants to go. Whoever is at the game is at the game.”

Equally popular as the will-Goodell-ever-go-back-to-Gillette discussion has been that of how Patriots fans would react. Last week, something of a light feud between Michael Felger and Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy took place over what kind of behavior towards the commissioner is acceptable. 

That all remains a moot point, however, as Goodell won’t need to worry about being berated, spit on or anything else. Any of that will continue to be put off for as long as he stays away from Gillette.