Brown reflects on defensive opportunity


Brown reflects on defensive opportunity

FOXBORO -- When Troy Brown was tapped to play cornerback in 2004, the way Julian Edelman was this season, he didn't get to wade slowly over to the other side of the ball. He had to dive, head-first, into defense.

"From the moment I was told, I left my locker and went straight to the practice field," Brown said. "I didn't fully, really understand all the concepts, but I understood basic stuff. So I went out and did one-on-one's and I did seven-on-seven with the 'D'."

Here he stopped. Grinned.

"It wasn't pretty."

Edelman describes the move the same way. It's not transition so much as addition. It's just more of everything, Edelman says. He comes in to Gillette and gets an early scouting report on offense. Then he works with defensive coaches. Then he goes back to offense.

He names the Patriots' constant use of situational football as his best asset. Even though Edelman never worked with the defense in the past, he's been on the field with it as a scout team slot receiver. He would have gone up against the starters and seen exactly how the Patriots nickel packages were used.

"The coaches help you during practices," Edelman explained, "making situations as hard as they can to try to slow down the game and let you play fast. By no means have I made every tackle or covered every guy. I've got to work on those plays."

Some of those early full-speed practice might not have been, as Brown would say, too "pretty."

But the pressure isn't unmanageable. Brown said the coaches know that having a guy split time between offense and defense might mean he isn't razor sharp on both sides -- even if they don't say it. They might not say anything at all.

"Nobody ever really gave me exact expectations," said Brown. "As far as meetings and that type of thing, I was told, Go to the defensive meeting today,' and that's what I did. And I was already familiar with the offensive terminology, I just had to make sure I had all my notes on that stuff. Then I'd get my reps in."

The support of teammates and coaches can't be understated. When Edelman was asked who's been the biggest help in managing his defensive workload, he rambled on like a first-time Oscar winner.

"Coach JB -- Josh Boyer -- Coach Matty P. Matt Patricia, it's been Coach Belichick, it's been defensive captain Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung's been out there helping me. Even Nate Jones, he's helped me with little things."

There are little things. There are big things.

Edelman doesn't have bad habits to break (leading with his helmet, for example) and his shoulders aren't banged up from absorbing countless opponents. He gets low on targets and wraps them up. He hits hard.

Brown is impressed by Edelman's ability to chase down plays or limit yards after a catch. So maybe the new defensive back is missing some jam, some reroute. Those aspects of his technique can be practiced if the Patriots really want to make something of this.

At least one person thinks it can work.

"I wish I had started playing defense earlier in my career. I had fun doing what I did, but I probably could have made my career just a little bit more...." Brown mingles his search for the right word with a laugh. "...A little more fun."

"If I was able to do that when I was younger, it would have been awesome. It's actually a great opportunity for Edelman, if he could find out a way to do both of those things well."

Edelman has 18 combined tackles in 94 snaps as a defensive back (five games, according to Not bad for a stop-gap guy. He has none of the interceptions that were so impressive about Brown, but again, that could come. It all depends on how he's used.

"With the offense the way it's been, you've either got to get better or you've got to expand," said Edelman. "I've tried to do both and the coaches have given me an opportunity to do something different. All I can ask for is opportunity."

The Patriots hope giving Edelman a chance doesn't turn out to be the easy part.

Rules changes are in: Field-goal leap, crackback blocks banned


Rules changes are in: Field-goal leap, crackback blocks banned

PHOENIX -- The NFL has announced which rules, bylaw and resolution proposals passed following Tuesday's vote at the Arizona Biltmore. The full list is below, but here are a couple of the noteworthy changes from a Patriots perspective . . . 

* That leap-the-line play that Jamie Collins and Shea McClellin have executed for the Patriots over the course of the last two seasons? That's been prohibited, as expected. The league did not want coaches to be responsible for putting a player in a position where he may suffer a head or neck injury. (Which is different from a player putting himself in that position with a split-second decision to leave his feet mid-play.)

* Receivers running pass routes can now be considered "defenseless." That means that even within the five-yard "chuck" area beyond the line of scrimmage will have some measure of protection. The Patriots, like many teams, have called for linebackers to disrupt the routes of shallow crossers, which can lead to monster hits on unexpecting players. Those types of collisions may now be fewer and farther between.

* Crackback blocks are now prohibited by a player who is in motion, even if the player is not more than two yards outside the tackle box at the snap. What's the Patriots connection here? It seems as though the overtime play that won Super Bowl LI -- during which Julian Edelman came in motion and "cracked" down on corner Brian Poole -- is now illegal. We'll look for clarification on this when the league holds its press conference describing the rules changes later on Tuesday.

Approved 2017 Playing Rules Proposals

2a. By Philadelphia; Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays. (Final language will be available on  

8.   By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. 

9.   By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only. 

11. By Competition Committee; Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection. 

12. By Competition Committee; Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped. 

13. By Competition Committee; Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews. 

14. By Competition Committee; Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock. 

15. By Competition Committee; Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

Approved 2017 Bylaw Proposals

4.     By Competition Committee; Liberalizes rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club’s facility for one year only. 

5.     By Competition Committee; Changes the procedures for returning a player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness to the Active List to be similar to those for returning a player that was Designated for Return.  

6.     By Competition Committee; The League office will transmit a Personnel Notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason.

Approved 2017 Resolution Proposal

G-4.     By Competition Committee: Permits a contract or non-contract non-football employee to interview with and be hired by another club during the playing season, provided the employer club has consented.

Bowles on if Revis can still compete physically: 'I don't know for sure'

Bowles on if Revis can still compete physically: 'I don't know for sure'

PHOENIX -- Todd Bowles wasn't asked if he thinks Darrelle Revis can be a All-Pro level player. He wasn't asked if Revis has it in him to be a No. 1 corner again.

The bar was much lower. 

Can Revis, who will be 32 at the start of next season, still be a serviceable player? Does he have the physical ability to be competitive?

Bowles should know. He coached Revis with the Jets each of the last two years. But his answer was far from definitive.


"If he goes ahead and proves it, yeah he does," Bowles said during the AFC coaches breakfast on Tuesday. "But we'll see. I don't know for sure. I can't answer that. Only he can."

It's been a remarkable fall from grace for Revis, who re-signed with the Jets as a free agent after winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots. He was given $39 million fully guaranteed and went on to make the Pro Bowl in his first season back.

Last year, however, he had his worst season and was arguably among the worst full-time corners in the league. Quarterbacks completed almost two-thirds of their passes sent in his direction, and they had a rating of 104.2 when targeting the player formerly known as Revis Island.

"I love the guy. I love the player," Bowles said. "He didn't have a great year, but we didn't have a great season so he wasn't the only one. It's all about coming back and proving you can still do it every year. That can only be answered when you come back and do it."

The Jets released him earlier this offseason despite the fact that he's guaranteed $6 million by the team whether he plays in 2017 or not.

Now that Revis is looking for a job, New England has been cited by some as the most logical place for him to land. Asked about the potential of having Revis back, Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the New York Daily News on Monday that he'd be all for it.

“I would love it," Kraft said. "Speaking for myself, if he wanted to come back, he’s a great competitor, I’d welcome him if he wanted to come.”

At this point, however, a reunion seems unlikely. 

The Patriots are looking at the potential of having Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones all on the roster at corner next season -- though there is some question as to whether or not Butler will stick. 

And if Revis is hoping to make a move to safety, he'd probably have a hard time finding playing time as part of a group that will include Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung. 

Then there's the question as to his motivation. After winning a Super Bowl, and after making as much money as he's made, with an easy $6 million more staring him in the face, will Revis be ready to re-adapt to the demands of playing in New England?

Even if he is, there could very well be physical limitations impacting Revis' effectiveness moving forward. Bowles acknowledged that for some at Revis' age who play his position, the drop-off can come quickly.

"Sometimes it can. Sometimes it can't," Bowles said. "Every story is different. You have to write your own so he has to write his."