Brady, Pats ready to resume firing

532508.jpg

Brady, Pats ready to resume firing

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO -- How many times has Tom Brady faced Miami? Something like 18, right?

The Dolphins are an AFC East opponent, a rival, so there's volumes and volumes of history between these two teams. And the Patriots quarterback revels in it.

"It's always a tough place to play," he said Wednesday. "We've had our struggles down there, we've had some great wins. We play them at the beginning of the year, the end of the year. It always seems like a tough place to play. It's a division rival. They put a lot into the game, we put a lot into the game. It's going to be fun. It's a fun way to start the year."

Brady smiled in anticipation of Week 1. It's unsurprising he and his teammates are anxious to get back to the grind and shake off any lingering lockout talk.

"I think everybody put a lot of work in over the last six weeks to get to this point. We've moved on from the preseason and I think that getting here for a regular-season week has been a lot of fun for the guys. There's certainly a different urgency in the air. The guys are excited to watch a lot of film on the Dolphins and have a pretty good understanding of what they do well and the things we're going to try to take advantage of."

So how does one keep a long-term NFL relationship interesting? Fish the gauntlet out of the closet and throw it on the sands of South Beach. It's not the Patriot Way to bite when baited, but Miami has thrown out a line to the league and New England is the first challenger. Toward the end of August, third-year cornerback Vontae Davis beat his chest in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

"I'm going to go out on a limb and say secondary partner Sean Smith and I are the best tandem in the league," Davis said.

When asked about the potency of the pair, Brady smiled, nodded, indulged.

"They're very good and I think we've played them plenty of times to understand that," he said. "Vonte's really a ballhawk. He's had some great interceptions against us. He's very talented, he has all the tools of a great player. Sean Smith's another . . . He's long, he's tall, he's physical. He covers well. For a big guy he moves very well. They do have two very good corners."

The challenge will be answered in earnest on the field. And Davis and Smith aren't the only dangers Brady and his teammates are wary of.

"Benny Sapp, who's in there in nickel situations, is another very good player, experienced player who's caused us some problems too," he said. "It's a dangerous group. They're experienced in the secondary. They've been playing together for a little while. They're very good, especially when the pass rush gets going.

"I think we experienced that last year when we were down there. They were revved up early and, thank god for some special teams plays, but offensively we didn't play as well as we would have liked. We're going to need to play a lot better down there."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.

Lady Gaga.

More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.

Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice. 

"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.

Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.

"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."


 

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

browns-collins-jamie-collins-012017x.jpg

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.