Patricia wary of Tennessee's weapons


Patricia wary of Tennessee's weapons

The Titans team New England will play in Week 1 is not the same that got buried under a 59-0 Patriots avalanche in 2009.
Kerry Collins? Gone. Vince Young? Gone.

Tennessee is now lead by second-year quarterback Jake Locker. Have your doubts? Probably. Nobody's seen him start an NFL game before.
But Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia found some nice things to say on his Tuesday conference call.
"I think you can definitely see just the ability he has to be able to run their offense," Patricia said, "recognize what the defense is doing, get the ball to the appropriate people versus whatever the defense may be running, and be able to read the coverages and get the ball to the soft spot in the defenses."
Even though Chris Johnson fell off in production last year, and has underwhelmed during this preseason (more on him in a minute), Locker will have others to look to.
"They have a lot of different weapons they can use offensively along with obviously a great coaching staff to utilize all those players," Patricia explained. "So, weve got to just really pay attention to all of them, make sure we understand whos out on the field and make sure we understand what packages they're running in the game. I dont really think you want to single anybody out; they obviously have great players at every position."
Rookie Kendall Wright will also be making his first career start on Sunday. Part of the opportunity comes from first-round talent Kenny Britt's one-game suspension, but Wright has also made a case all his own for snaps.
He hooked up with Locker for four catches, 44 yards, and a 10-yard touchdown in Tennessee's 32-27 preseason win over Arizona.
"Hes got good speed; he can get down the field vertically on seam routes, go routes, things like that," Bill Belichick noted Tuesday. "They also threw him a lot of slip screens in college, catch and run type plays; hes had some of those with the Titans as well. He has good ball skills, good ability to run after the catch. Hes a 200-pound guy, hes a pretty solid guy thats big, that can run -- not big, big but hes got good size.
"Hes been a very productive player. Hes already had good production in preseason and he had good production in college so he finds a way to get open. Obviously quarterbacks have confidence in him in terms of getting him the ball and the coaches do in some of the plays theyve designed for him. Im sure theyre happy with him; hes been a good addition to their team. He looks like a good football player."
Speaking of good football players, Belichick made it clear he doesn't care that Johnson's stats have fallen off. So what if he only had 26 rushes over 10 yards last year? So what if he only had four touchdowns?

So what if the guy's preseason yards per carry was just 2.9?
Belichick won't call Johnson anything but "very dangerous."
"His production speaks for itself," the coach said. "Hes really an outstanding player with the ball in his hands in the passing game, in the running game, inside runs, outside runs, draws, screens. Everybody is at the point of attack because he has the speed to start one way and go the other to get back to the cutback backside of the defense or bounce out in either direction.
"It's a big challenge for our defense."
Bigger than in the last meeting between these two teams, anyway.

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'


Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."