Bill Belichick gives complimentary scouting report on Steelers QB Landry Jones


Bill Belichick gives complimentary scouting report on Steelers QB Landry Jones

FOXBORO -- The Patriots may not have to go prepare for Steelers quarterback Ben Roesthlisberger this weekend, but coach Bill Belichick insisted on Wednesday that Roethlisberger's backup poses some problems of his own.

Landry Jones will get the start for Mike Tomlin's club, and there's enough tape on him from Weeks 6 and 7 of last season -- when he took over the offense while Roethlisberger dealt with an injury -- that the Patriots know what to expect when they head to Heinz Field on Sunday.

"Ahtletic, good arm, quick release, doesn't hold the ball," Belichick said of Jones. "Thought he played well last year when he played in Arizona and Kansas City . . . Another good player, experienced player. Knows their system."

Indeed, in Jones' lone start last season against the Chiefs, he ran the kind of varied looks teams have come to expect from Pittsburgh's offense. He took snaps from under center and out of the shotgun. He used three, five and seven-step drops. He worked the middle of the field and wasn't afraid to take deep shots down the field.

Jones, a fourth-round pick in 2013, was not as accurate as Roethlisberger likely would have been, however, completing just 55 percent of his passes. He also had difficulty taking care of the football as he was intercepted twice (one off of a drop from Antonio Brown) and he was strip-sacked while running the four-minute drill as the Steelers attempted a comeback. 

Belichick said the challenge of defending Landry is that he won't be fixated on one type of throw or one receiver. The Patriots will have to be ready for a host of different looks -- even though those looks may not be run as effectively as they would be with Roethlisberger behind center.

"He does a good job," Belichick said. "Comebacks, in-cuts, deep balls, throws all those well. But the catch-and-run plays, if you drop back and take those away, those are a problem, too.

"They do a good job on crossing routes and obviously when you get the ball to the backs, those guys are dangerous. Tight ends really show up a lot in the red area. [Jones] doesn't discriminate. Gets the ball to everybody.

"And that's the tough thing about defending the Steelers. If they get behind you, it's all over in one play. If you take that away, then they get chunks of yardage on catch-and-run plays, and a running game. They're very hard to defend. Very explosive."

Report: Brady expected to play Saturday night vs. Texans, but not Gronk

Report: Brady expected to play Saturday night vs. Texans, but not Gronk

Tom Brady and other Patriots starters are expected to make their preseason debuts Saturday in the second preseason game vs. the Texans in Houston, but Rob Gronkowski won't play, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports.

Gronkowski, recovering from back surgery performed late last season, hasn't played in a preseason game since 2012. 


Brady and new acquisitions Brandin Cooks at wide receiver and Mike Gillislee at running back, along with wide receiver Julian Edelman and other starters, did not play in the Patriots' preseason opener against the Jaguars last week in Foxboro. The Patriots and Texans have been conducting joint practices at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia and Howe reports the plan all week has been to have the starters participate in the game Saturday night.

Of course, Bill Belichick reserves the right to change those plans. 

The Pats will return to the site of their last victory, NRG Stadium in Houston, where New England won Super Bowl 51 over the Falcons in February, to play the Texans. 

Freeney among available options if Patriots looking for pass-rush help

Freeney among available options if Patriots looking for pass-rush help

For years, the Patriots have schemed to keep Dwight Freeney away from Tom Brady. Might they be interested in making him Brady's teammate?

With the news coming down on Friday that rookie third-round pick Derek Rivers may have suffered a season-ending knee injury, it was just the latest hit to an edge group that was already hurting for numbers.


The Patriots lost Rob Ninkovich to retirement early in training camp. They lost rookie defensive end Deatrich Wise for a to-be-determined period of time to a head injury suffered during last week's preseason game with the Jaguars. They lost Shea McClellin to an apparent injury earlier this month that has kept him out for almost two weeks.

So what's next? Here are some of the options . . .


Bill Belichick and his staff could look outside the organization for help right away via free agency or trade. Freeney, who recorded seven quarterback hurries and a sack in Super Bowl LI, is available as a free agent. Former Dolphins, Bills and Texans defensive end Mario Williams -- who Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio have happily referred to as "Big M" over the years -- is also without a team at the moment. Both of those players, 37 and 32 years old, respectively, could serve as stop-gap options. ESPN's Mike Reiss noted on Friday that perhaps Ninkovich could come out of retirement to help the club. 

Then there's the possibility of the trade. The Patriots are annually among the league's most aggressive teams in terms of looking for deals to help their roster, and this year figures to be no different. They have plenty in the way of draft capital if they decide to continue their recent trend of parting ways with picks for proven players in return. There are also valuable pieces on their roster who could end up elsewhere if the return is right. Of those, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and corner Malcolm Butler -- both in contract years -- would figure to be among their most valuable potential trade chips.


With only one cutdown deadline this year -- teams will have their rosters trimmed from 90 players to 53 following the last week of the preseason -- chaos figures to reign as teams scour the waiver wire for both active-roster and practice-squad help. Clubs could steadily make their releases in the days leading up to the deadline, but the expectation is that there will still be a tsunami of cuts that take place in a very short span. The Patriots are already preparing for the well over 1,000 players who will eventually become available, taking an all-hands-on-deck approach in the scouting and personnel departments. Perhaps as things get hectic right around the deadline, capable edge help will become available. If it does, don't be surprsied to see the Patriots pounce. 


The Patriots could choose to simply roll with what's on the roster for 2017. Their front-seven is loaded with versatile defensive linemen and linebackers who can play a variety of positions. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Harvey Langi have seen time on the edge in recent practices. Trey Flowers should be a staple on the edge when he's not being used as an interior rusher. Lawrence Guy is more of an interior force and seems to be ideally used as a five-technique, but he played all along the defensive line in Baltimore and could have some positional versatility in New England. Kony Ealy has started to show some things as a pass-rusher of late. And undrafted rookie defensive lineman Adam Butler -- who saw time everywhere from nose tackle to stand-up edge-rusher during training camp -- is an intriguing young prospect. 

The Patriots situation on the edge is far from ideal at the moment, and they could try to remedy their issues quickly with some outside help. But if they choose to stand pat, they do have options.