Patriots notes: Belichick has 'balls in the air'

Patriots notes: Belichick has 'balls in the air'

By Tom E. CurranFOXBORO - Brandon Spikes, Stevan Ridley and Patrick Chung were among not taking part in early practice Monday as the Patriots worked out in shells prior to Wednesday's preseason finale against the Giants. Ridley and Chung watched from the sidelines while Spikes and running back Shane Vereen were not seen on the field during the small window afforded to media observation. Others not seen include tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, linebacker Tracy White, safety Will Allen, linebacker Tracy White, offensive lineman Matt Kopa and offensive lineman Nick McDonald. Jabar Gaffney, Markus Zusevics and Myron Pryor were also on the sidelines. Bill Belichick said there were "a lot ofballs in the air" on Monday with the looming cut to 75, the Patriots Kickoff Gala on Monday night, preparations for the preseason finale and the first regular season game. Asked for an update on erstwhile offensive lineman Brian Waters, Belichick said, "I don't have one. I'm happy to discuss the players that are here." Speaking for a few minutes with Tom Brady in the locker room, the quarterback assured that, "We'll be fine" when asked about the offensive line. "We'll be good." Meanwhile, at the other end of the locker room, I caught up with Rob Ninkovich who sighed when asked about the defense and said there's a "ways to go" in terms of mastering fits and timing. On Aaron Hernandez, Belichick said, "Aaron has improved a lot. Hes worked hard, hes improved a lot in all phases of the game: passing game, running game, protection and his overall versatility. Hes done a good job for us."As for his feelings on getting an extension done with Hernandez, "Any contract that we agree to is one that were in support of. If we agree to a contract on a player, then were in support of that player, the length of the contract, the amount that were paying him, all the other things that go with the contract. We wouldnt do it if we werent in support of it, as an organization, me personally, all of the above." Belichick seems to be enjoying the competition at running back, saying, "Each guy kind of brings a little bit of a different dimension to the position, although they all have the basic same requirements of the position, but they all do it a little differently because of their style or makeup or physical abilities or what have you. Its been interesting to watch that group work and theyve all been productive. Well continue to evaluate that and Im sure that in some way theyll all be able to contribute for us depending on what were doing."

Curran: The main concern with new NFL replay rules is. . .

Curran: The main concern with new NFL replay rules is. . .

Tom E. Curran sounds off on the NFL and the proposed changes coming from the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.

Curran: Not a big stretch for Tom Brady to play past age of 43

Curran: Not a big stretch for Tom Brady to play past age of 43

Tom E. Curran joins Early Edition to discuss Robert Kraft saying Tom Brady plans to play 6-7 more years, and explain why it is not outlandish.