If needed, Pats have confidence in Hoyer


If needed, Pats have confidence in Hoyer

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady would have you believe he'll be playing on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. But how long he'll be in there is another question.

If Brady doesn't play the whole game, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer could see his most playing time of the season.

Hoyer has appeared in four games in this, his second year in the NFL. He's yet to complete a pass in 2010, after finishing his rookie season 19-of-27 for 142 yards in five games.

Still, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has seen improvements from his backup QB, even if he believes there's some things he has to work on.

"I think he took last year, and he built on that," said Belichick. "He certainly started at a much higher level this year than he did last year. That's obvious. I think he's improved a great deal this year, not as much as he did last year because his starting point was so much higher. Those improvements are incremental.

"I think he does a good job in his role," added Belichick. "He does what he needs to do at his position. We all know, and everybody knows, he's one play away from playing."

Just ask former Patriots backup Matt Cassel, who's now leading his Kansas City Chiefs into the playoffs. Cassel came in for Brady in 2008 when Brady went down in Week 1 with a knee injury.

Brady missed the entire season,and Cassel got his opportunity, something Brady says is all that Hoyer needs to prove himself in the NFL.

As for when that consistent opportunity comes is another unanswered question. Hoyer may see time on Sunday against the Dolphins, but that won't be enough to convince another NFL team that he's a No. 1 quarterback in the league.

Brady will start on Sunday, in a game that is essentially meaningless with regards to the standings. In the devastating case that something were to happen to Brady between now and the end of playoffs, the Pats are confident that Hoyer would be ready for the call.

"Brian is a great player," said Brady. "Even though he's a Michigan State kid" -- a tough admission for Michigan grad Brady -- "he's really come a long way. For any quarterback, that first to second year is a really big jump. He's smart, has all the physical skills. All he needs is an opportunity. You never know when you'll get that opportunity because at quarterback, it's only one play away. The whole team has a lot of confidence in Brian."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.