Belichick: 'League wants to eliminate kickoffs'

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Belichick: 'League wants to eliminate kickoffs'

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - The new rule moving kickoffs up to the 35-yard line from the 30 is generating a lot of conversation. And it should. Those 15 feet could change things pretty drastically in terms of strategy, scoring and even personnel. We'll get into more of the kickoff nuts-and-bolts later, but for now, it was interesting to hear Bill Belichick state unequivocally that the league wants kickoffs to disappear. When a question was posed saying, "If the intention of the league is to almost eliminate kickoffs . . ."
"That's what they told us," Belichick interrupted. "I'm not speaking for anyone else. That's what they told us, that they want to eliminate the play."UPDATE: NFL spokesman Greg Aiello responded to Belichick's comments in an email."(Chairman of the Competition Committee) Rich McKay and (NFL Vice President) Ray Anderson say thats not accurate," Aiello wrote. "They said the Competition Committees position was that they wanted to 'shorten the field' and that the movement of the kickoff line would potentially reduce the number of kickoffs to be returned. They said they are unaware of anyone saying that it was intended to 'eliminate' the kickoff return."Belichick predicted that the expected reduction in returned kicks will make teams mull their roster decisions differently. "If, instead of covering 60 kickoffs in a year you think you're only gonna be covering 30, then is that coverage player as important, or -- on the flip side of it -- is the return game?" he asked. "If you're going to be returning 30 instead of 60, are the guys who block on the kickoff return(as important).If you think you're gonna be returning more punts than kickoffs (there's a decision to weigh). Usually you're going to be returning more kickoffs than puntsbutif you think you'll bereturning more punts than kickoffs, then maybe you put more of a priority on your punt returner than your kickoff returner."The league's been tweaking its kickoff return rules for the past few seasons thanks to the calamitous injuries that occur when coverage teams have taken a 50-yard running start and crashed into members of the return team. This rule is the most drastic. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”