Belichick on Ealy: 'He's building his versatility'

ealy.jpg

Belichick on Ealy: 'He's building his versatility'

FOXBORO -- Kony Ealy indicated last week that he was held out of Day 1 of training camp practice by Bill Belichick, but he seems to have impressed his new head coach with what he's shown over the course of the last few days. 

The former Panthers defensive lineman has had a bit of a bumpy start to his Patriots tenure. He left a minicamp practice early and then was not present for one of the team's OTA sessions. When he wasn't on the field for Day 1 of camp, it raised some eyebrows.

New player. New scheme. Last year of his rookie contract. Big opportunity in front of him with Rob Ninkovich's departure. It felt as though he should be on the field as much as possible if he was going to carve himself a role. 

What Belichick said about Ealy on Tuesday, though, made it appear as though the team was encouraged with his progress of late.

"Good," Belichick said of Ealy's transition from Carolina to New England. "We've worked him in a number of different positions, both inside and outside. I think we've asked him to do more in coverage than he did in Carolina. Carolina doesn't do a lot with their defensive ends in pass coverage. We probably do significantly more than they do. Not with their linebackers, but with their ends and their coverage responsibilities . . .

"Those are things he's had to adjust to. But he's a smart kid. He works hard, and he's building his versatility. We'll see how far that goes but he's got the ability to play inside, to play outside on the end of the line, to play in some coverage situations, have a role in the kicking game, which was another thing that wasn't a big role in Carolina. I don't know how big it will be here, but it's already, I would say, more than what he had there. We've asked him to do some new things, and we'll evaluate those as we go through camp and see how it goes."

Belichick later highlighted some of the things the Patriots are looking for in their left ends and right ends. Ninkovich held down the left end spot for years with the Patriots, and in camp practices thus far we've seen Geneo Grissom handle those duties. Trey Flowers, meanwhile, has manned the right spot. 

The difference, Belichick explained, is in large part what the team entrusts a player to do coverage-wise. The left end spot typically needs to be able to cover -- oftentimes because a right-handed quarterback may be prone to testing that side of the field more frequently. 

Can Ealy be that combination of pass-rush-and-coverage option? That kind of role would be new to him so these next few weeks of training camp could be an audition to serve as Ninkovich's successor.

Goodell statement calls Trump's comments 'divisive'

goodell-nfl.jpg

Goodell statement calls Trump's comments 'divisive'

In separate statements Saturday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith each criticized President Donald Trump's verbal attack on NFL players. 

Goodell's statement: 

The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month.  Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.

 

And Smith's statement: 

Whether or not Roger or the owners will speak for themselves about their views on player rights and their commitment to player safety remains to be seen. This union, however, will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks. 

 

NFLPA president Eric Winston, a tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, also tweeted a statement critical of the President:

At a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Trump said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he encouraged NFL fans to walk out of games in protest. 

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump told the rally. 

He also lamented that football has become less violent.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

McCourty tweets criticism of Trump's shot at NFL players

devin_mccourty.jpg

McCourty tweets criticism of Trump's shot at NFL players

Patriots safety Devin McCourty tweeted criticism of President Donald Trump's harsh words toward NFL players who have been kneeling in protest during the national anthem.

McCourty shares a Twitter account with his twin brother Jason of the Cleveland Browns but put his DMac signature on this tweet. Devin McCourty was one of several Pats who didn't go to the White House this past spring to celebrate the team's Super Bowl championship with Trump. 

At a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Trump said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he encouraged NFL fans to walk out of games in protest. 

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump told the rally to loud applause.

McCourty and then-teammate Martellus Bennett raised clenched fists in protest after the anthem at the Patriots opening game last season and McCourty said he received plenty of criticism for it. 

“I got a lot of [backlash],” McCourty told CSN Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran last year in the days following that protest. "You gotta remember, a lot of these people, they don’t know me. They like the way I play football and they like some of the things I do in the community but they don’t know me. I talked to my brother [then with the Tennessee Titans] because we have the same Twitter and the Titans got a bunch of calls from people saying they don’t respect [the Titans who made symbolic gestures] and they need to be gone. He said their community relations people said, ‘If you just knew them, your opinion would change.’ ”

Several NFL players and other athletes, most prominently former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest the treatment of African-Americans by police.