No huddle: Slater on special teams, Brady, the Bills


No huddle: Slater on special teams, Brady, the Bills

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO -- The Patriots are all aware of that 15-0 winning streak against Buffalo. But according to special teams captain Matthew Slater, nobody in New England's locker room is looking to throw a party about it.

"The Bills are always going to be amped because it's a big division game," he said. "They're 2-0 and they're at home, and they're going to have their crowd behind them. This is a big game for them and a big game for us, so we have to approach it as such.

"We have to have a good week of preparation and we can't take these guys lightly. What's in the past is in the past. Winning streak . . . that doesn't mean anything. These guys are a good football team."

Slater isn't surprised Buffalo is getting it done without a group of big name players. He says it's about good ol' fashioned effort.

"They play with tremendous effort, and they're very well coached, and they have players that buy into what they're trying to get done. That always makes them a handful for us."

Here's a few other topics Matthew Slater touched on during Wednesday's media scrum.
BRADY WAS NAMED AFC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK AGAIN. WHAT'S THERE EVEN LEFT TO SAY? "When a guy's playing like that... how do you even explain it? I couldn't even get on the video game and put up those numbers, but I'm sure Tom would tell you the same thing -- anyone around here would tell you -- we've got to worry about this week. He's going to prepare and he's our leader, we look to him. He doesn't get caught up in what he did last week, he's worried about this week."

WHAT ARE YOU SEEING FROM BRAD SMITH, FORMER JET, NOW IN BUFFALO? "They use him in the same ways. He's a good player. We've got to be ready for him in two phases of the game. He can give us problems if we don't prepare for him."

HOW HAS BEING NAMED CAPTAIN CHANGED YOUR WORK WEEK? "More preparation, I guess. Just try to make sure I'm on things. If anybody has questions they can come to me with them. I've been trying to encourage these guys out there, but we have so many good players and veterans who've done it... It's been a blast playing with those guys and I think we're off to a good start, we've just got to keep it up."

CALLING COIN TOSS ON THE ROAD TOSS IS THE BEST PART, RIGHT? "No. Laughs I let the older guys do it. Just go out there and just try to continue to lead my group as best I can."
HOW'S YOUR SPECIAL TEAMS CORPS DONE OVER TWO WEEKS? "I think there's been some good and some bad. There's some areas we can improve upon. We played a little bit better last week. But it's about this week and it's going to be a test because Buffalo's always tough in the kicking game."
NOT TO BE MORBID, BUT IF ZOLTAN MESKO IS REALLY HURT..."There might be some changes with punting, but we've got to adapt. We're all professionals and we've got to be able to adjust to whatever happens out there. Injuries are obviously an unfortunate part of the game. But we're hoping and praying Zoltan's going to be okay, but if not, then we have to be ready to go."

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Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski attended the Dayton 500 in true Gronkowski form.

He appeared to be there promoting Monster Energy drink, and was therefore hanging with the Monster Girls, who were also promoting the drink. Gronkowski's herniated disc injury, which required surgery in December 2016, does not seem to be slowing him down as he gets warmed up for the Summer of Gronk.

During the race coverage on FOX Sports, Gronk delivered a speed limit joke, which is sure to make the 13-year-old in you chuckle. (You can watch it here.)


Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

I think it’s time. Time to let the Deflategate wound scab over. Time to exit the active, raging, teeth-gnashing, petition-signing, lawsuit-filing portion of the program and let the hate follow its natural course into a slow-boil loathing.

If you are of Irish descent, you know how it works. Clear a big-ass space on the grudge shelf. Put Roger Goodell, Jeff Pash, Mike Kensil, Troy Vincent, Ryan Grigson, Jim Irsay, every shiv-wielding owner, all the cluck-clucking media and the legion of retired players and exiled GMs from Marshall Faulk to Joey Porter through Marty Hurney and into Bill Polian up there. Turn off light. Leave room.

When you need to piss yourself off -- in traffic, mowing the lawn, waiting for your coffee -- fetch ‘em down, blow the dust off and when you’re in a sufficiently foul mood, return grudge to shelf.

You rode the roller coaster. You’ve been there, done that and have all the T-shirts.

I came to this conclusion a few days ago, when ESPN’s Cari Champion interviewed Rob Gronkowski and asked about Goodell visiting Gillette. It was like playing “Get the Stick!” with a big goofy Lab. Champion threw the leading question, Gronk fetched -- tail-wagging --  and returned with a slobbery response that was completely implausible but still designed to dominate a four-hour news cycle.

"The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what,” said Gronkowski. “They have [Tom Brady’s] back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston."

Gronk’s just doing what he thinks he’s supposed to do. And Champion is, too. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

Watch these mooks up in New England get all pissed off: “Hey, hey, Chowderhead . . . Roger Goodell . . . . ”

“F*** that guy, he better never show his face in Foxboro! But I want him to come to Foxboro so I can boo the ever-living s*** out of him and maybe barricade Route 1 like Gronk said we would!”

See? Works every time.

The irony is that the person mainly responsible for turning up the burner on this is Robert Kraft.

In May 2015, Kraft said at the owners meetings in San Francisco, “I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us, and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric, and we won’t appeal.

“Now, I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision, but I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans, and the NFL, and I hope you all can respect that.”

Well, that blew up like an ACME bomb. And -- from that moment on -- Kraft has tried to recoup the fanbase that believed he sold them out by issuing a succession of calls-to-arms that the region has dutifully responded to.

The most recent was throwing down the gauntlet to Goodell by expressly inviting him to the 2017 season opener.  I mean, it would have been a conversation point anyway, but now it’s metastasized into something that will be discussed throughout the offseason, ratcheting up in early September and hitting a crescendo on opening night.

There is appeal to seeing Goodell squirm while knowing the Maras, Rooneys and Irsays will be sipping highballs and lamenting the caddish treatment of Poor Roger. But I still like the football better.

Conversation about the historic import of SB51, the legacy of Brady and Belichick, prospects for the league in 2017? I’ll take those rather than an ESPN “personality” who spent a weekend in Newburyport at a friend’s wedding telling everyone what the mindset of the New England sports fan is.  

But that’s not what we’re going to get. There will instead be ever-escalating predictions of the terrors Goodell will be subjected to fueled by interviews with tatted-up kids from the mean streets of Marshfield who wanted “Hoodie” fired when he let Revis sign with the Jets.

Unless . . . unless the region en masse decides to let its loathing mature. Mature to the point that when the carrot gets dangled in its collective face it doesn’t leap at it with teeth bared but instead says, “No thanks. Already full.”

Yeah. I don’t think it’s gonna happen either.