Ugliness started on Patriots sidelines

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Ugliness started on Patriots sidelines

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
DETROIT - There was no hemming and hawing from Bill Belichick Saturday night in Detroit. No"the other guys are getting paid too" nod to well-laid Patriot plans blown up by the Lions. The Patriots head coach put the focus squarely where it needed to be after his team's 34-10 beatdown in Detroit. He started with himself. "Well, there was no question about who the better team was tonight," he said dourly. "I think that obviously I did a poor job of having the team ready to play. We didnt really do anything very well, in any phase of the game, certainly not good enough to win. Lions are a good team, they played well. Jim did a great job with his team and they were a lot more efficient, a lot more ready to play, and played a lot better than our team did. I dont feel very good about the job that I did, dont feel very good about really anything we did tonight. We really werent competitive and weve obviously got a lot of work to do."Belichick discarded a request for specifics. In this instance, it wasn't a case of the Patriots being "outcoached" by Jim Schwartz and his staff. This was about New England's effort, decision-making, precision andpost-snap communication on both sides of the ball. They were not prepared to play in this game. You could see it before the game was 10 minutes old. Detroit had plays of 12, 8, 37, 6, 52 and 9 yards on its first 11 offensive snaps. On the Patriots' third play from scrimmage, Chad Ochocinco's hold wiped out a 15-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski. On the sixth play, Tom Brady was strip-sacked. The second Patriots offensive drive was their best of the night. They converted four straight first downs but then were stopped on the fifth, a third-and-1 carry for BenJarvus Green-Ellis with 31 seconds left in the first quarter. They settled for a field goal. They converted one third down after that and finished 5-for-16 on third down for the night. Lions coach Jim Schwartz probably gave the most telling evaluation of how it went badly for New England. "We say a lot of times in the preseason: you want to see players win, you don't want to see scheme win," Schwartz explained. "I think we saw some good match-ups today and not just our first group against their first group. A lot of times our twos matched up against their ones on defense and sometimes our threes matched up and we won some of those battles. Same thing defensively."Regardless of how improved the Lions are, the Patriots' starters should not be beaten individually by any third-stringers when the rosters are at 90 players. Period. "We just didn't come to play," said safety Brandon Meriweather. "Coach was telling us all week how good this team was and how we had to come out and start fast and we just didn't come out the way we wanted to. I don't know what happened. The more we tried to get over that hump, the more we fell behind."As Tom Brady pointed out, there's no need for a confidence crisis. And the fact Belichick's team didn't answer the bell for this game is not a sign of Patriots apocalypse. It's happened before and will happen again. "We need to go back to the drawing board and learn from the mistakes that were made," said veteran defensive tackle Gerard Warren. "I've seenperformances like this quitea few times in preseason. Just got to learn from the mistakes in the game and try to get better. Losing's always bad. Preseason or regular season. That's not what we want to put on film, not what we practiced all week." Said Belichick, "I don't think theres any other solution than to go back and work harder and try to correct a lot of mistakes. We need to do everything better. I dont think theres any one area that should be highlighted any more than anything else. I thought we had problems in every phase of the game. We obviously werent coached very well, and we didnt play very well.Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

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Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

The Patriots will be without two of last year's defensive starters when training camp begins later this week. 

Both Dont'a Hightower and Alan Branch were placed on the physically unable to perform list on Monday. They are eligible to come off the list at any time. Once they are removed from the list, they will be eligible to practice fully. Players on PUP count against the 90-man training-camp roster.

Undrafted rookie tackle Andrew Jelks will begin camp on the active/non-football injury list. The Vanderbilt product dealt with knee injuries that kept him off the field each of the last two seasons. 

Neither Hightower, nor Branch, nor Jelks participated in spring practices at Gillette Stadium. Hightower was present for voluntary work, but during practices open to the media he typically did some conditioning off to the side. Branch skipped optional team activities (as he usually does), and though he was in Foxboro for mandatory minicamp, he did not practice during that three-day stretch.

Hightower was limited last season with knee and shoulder injuries. The MMQB.com's Albert Breer said on Sports Sunday that Hightower's health concerns made teams reticent to make him offers that would lure him away from New England. 

Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

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Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

In what’s been a somewhat busy offseason for their secondary, veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers is in talks with the Patriots, according to Adam Schefter. 

Flowers, who spent the first six seasons of his career with the Chiefs and last three with the Chargers, was released in March. He is set to meet with the Cardinals this week as well. 

The Pats lost cornerback Logan Ryan this offseason, but landed the top free agent corner on the market in Stephon Gilmore. A potential addition of Flowers might give them an insurance policy if second-year pro Cyrus Jones fails to improve from a dismal rookie season. 

Flowers was limited to just six games last season, as a concussion ended his season in December. He has played in at least 11 games in the rest of his NFL seasons. His lone Pro Bowl nod came in the 2013 season.