Some good, some bad for Patriots secondary

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Some good, some bad for Patriots secondary

FOXBORO -- The Patriots allowed 300-plus passing yards for the third-straight game on Sunday. This time, it was Peyton Manning doing the damage.

Manning also threw for three touchdowns. And while the end result is really all that matters, the spotlight was once again on cornerback Devin McCourty, who failed to make the big plays when those big plays came his way.

McCourty didn't speak to the media after the game. But if he did, the questions would have been mostly about the plays he didn't make, regardless of the outcome.

It helps, of course, that the Patriots won. But that's because any comeback that the Broncos were attempting in the second half was stopped by Rob Ninkovich and his two forced fumbles.

Before that, the finger could be pointed at McCourty for Denver's first two touchdowns.

The first tied the game at 7-7, nearly a minute into the second quarter. It was a one-yard play-action pass to Joel Dreessen. But it was set up with the help of a Devin McCourty pass interference call, as he covered Eric Decker deep down the right sideline. McCourty has tight coverage in the back-right corner of the end zone, but he never turned around to make a play on the ball, forcing the official to throw the flag, and give the Broncos a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

Had McCourty turned and made the play cleanly, the Broncos would have had to kick a field goal on fourth down. But Denver's touchdown instead tied the game at 7-7.

The Patriots took a 31-7 lead in the second half, but the with a minute left in the third quarter, Manning went to Decker once again in the right corner of the end zone. This time, Decker made the catch, as McCourty once again didn't turn around to play the ball.

The result was a 31-14 game, with plenty of time left.

Denver added another touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut new England's lead to 31-21, and Manning wasn't done picking on McCourty.

With under five minutes left in the game, the Broncos were driving. And on 4th-and-1 from the Patriots 42-yard line Manning went deep down the right sideline to Demaryius Thomas, who was being covered by McCourty.

Thomas came back to make the catch at the Patriots' 14-yard line, mainly because McCourty out-ran the route. Fortunately for the Patriots, Ninkovich forced his second fumble of the game two plays later, essentially ending the game.

"Obviously, you never want to give up big plays," said Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo after the win. "But at the end of the day, it's all about winning the game."

As the end result shows, the Patriots' secondary wasn't all bad on Sunday. Rookie safety Tavon Wilson made his first career start, as Steve Gregory was held out with a hip injury.

Wilson held his own, for the most part, along with fellow rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who made his NFL debut, and made a couple big plays himself.

"Those guys came in and played well," said Mayo. "And it's always good to see that. Those guys practice hard each and every week. They put the extra film time in. They do a good job for us."

Sterling Moore also can't be overlooked for his contributions in the patriots' secondary on Sunday against the Broncos.

Moore got burnt by Thomas deep down the left sideline during Denver's opening-game possession. Manning found Thomas for a 43-yard completion, and the only thing in sight after the catch was the end zone.

But Moore never gave up on the play, and used a right-handed uppercut to punch the ball out of Thomas' hands for the fumble, which Moore also recovered, preventing an early Denver touchdown.

"It was a big play for them that turned into a big play for us," said Mayo. "And that's always huge. We strive to get turnovers. And any time we get the ball back over on that side, it's a good thing."

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.