Best & Worst: Lions 34, Patriots 10


Best & Worst: Lions 34, Patriots 10

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
Stephen Gostkowski finally took a kickoff for the Patriots, the first since Week 9 of 2010. Though New England's No. 1 saw action against the Jaguars, having Gostkowski back for the big boots is a welcome development. Unfortunately, the kickoff was another anticlimactic touchback, as they've all been this season.

Listen, it's the third game of the preseason so everybody knows the starters are going to play more. This also means everybody's extra freaked out about players getting hurt. No doubt, some pulses raced in New England when Cliff Avril got his hands on Tom Brady. But Avril came at the QB from behind and got a hand on the ball to force an incomplete. It was a preferable outcome to shattering Brady's arm into pixie dust.

The first quarter was the Matthew StaffordNate Burleson variety show. On Detroit's first drive Burleson burned Devin McCourty off the line and gained 37 yards on third down. Three plays later Burleson beat McCourty into the end zone. He bobbled the ball and McCourty broke up the pass for an incomplete. But the pair made up for it on the next drive with Burleson besting Kyle Arrington to catch a 9-yard laser from Stafford. Touchdoooown.

If you're going to get one, might as well be after a touchdown. The Lions went up 17-3 in the second quarter when Stafford capped a four play drive with a touchdown pass to Tony Scheffler. It's understandable that Detroit would be excited to go up on the Pats, but Scheffler's end zone dance was awful. It was like drunk Riverdancing. The penalty came when at least one of his teammates joined the celebration. That's not allowed.

The Lions are in the NFC North. With the way Detroit's defensive line ripped up New England's offense (Brady: two sacks, seven passes hurried by the half), the Pats should be happy this meeting is it for the year. There aren't too many other D-lines that should give them THIS much trouble.

First axe falls on the roster in just three days. The Patriots will probably keep six receivers and Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman are likely safe if so, but the margin for error is small. Tate in the first 40 minutes: 2 kick returns, 27 yards. Edelman: one kickoff return for 32 yards and two punt returns for 34 total yards. Nick Caserio has said over and over, "they more players can do, the better." As far as special teams looked? Edelman was much better.

Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite was laid out after a hard hit in the third quarter. Then things got worse. While Wilhite was tended to, word came out Wes Welker left the game with a neck injury. How'd that happen? Welker made a great open-field tackle after Brady was intercepted. Preseason injury? Yup. Avoidable preseason injury? Super.

Patriots corner Darius Butler was in the back of the end zone when Drew Stanton was looking for Nate Hughes. The ball popped up and Kyle Arrington had the wherewithal to snag it. New England didn't score on their next drive, but... Oh, well.

Up 34-10, Detroit put in its fourth quarterback before New England tried a third. Zac Robinson was No. 4. Zac Robinson! Saw time with the Patriots last season! The Lions had three QB's throw touchdowns in the game. Would Robinson? Probably.

Remember how Belichick and the boys watched The Fighter last week? The team met the real fighter, Mickey Ward, and screened the movie to "relax a bit," said Belichick. They even enjoyed some candy. "Put me down for the Junior Mints." After Saturday's loss, I'd assume any upcoming movie nights for the Patriots will be cancelled.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Garoppolo on Kaepernick, anthem: 'To each his own, I guess'


Garoppolo on Kaepernick, anthem: 'To each his own, I guess'

Jimmy Garoppolo joined WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Wednesday as the Patriots readied themselves to travel to New Jersey for their preseason finale against the Giants. During the interview, Garoppolo was asked for his thoughts on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who opted not to stand for the national anthem during a recent preseason game in order to express his political beliefs.

"It’s a touchy subject, but to each his own, I guess," Garoppolo said. "It’s not my idea of doing the right thing. But it’s his personal opinion, I guess. You’ve just got to let him stand by that. But I think we have a great thing going on in this country. Everything about America, it’s a great thing. We’re all very blessed to be here. And it’s good to realize that."

NFL teams have been required to be on the field for the anthem since 2009. Garoppolo said that he uses those moments as a time to soak in the chance he's been given to play football at the highest level.

"I can’t tell you what exactly is going through my mind, because it’s right before the game, you’ve got a lot of emotions rolling and everything," he said. "But it’s kind of one of those moments you get to sit back and really appreciate where you are and the opportunity that you have. The NFL is a tough gig to get into and a tough gig to stay in. I feel blessed to be in it. It’s a great opportunity. It’s one of those moments you get to just sit back and realize where you’re at -- then go kick some ass after that."

Belichick: Players don’t have time to be coaching each other

Belichick: Players don’t have time to be coaching each other

FOXBORO - It's been an ongoing conversation/fascination this summer. With Tom Brady's four-game suspension looming, how much knowledge, support and coaching was he going to give to Jimmy Garoppolo?

Bill Belichick was asked by Phil Perry on Thursday how much he expects from veteran players when it comes to coaching up teammates. 

The answer? Be an example, but let the coaches coach. 

"I think veteran players can be a good example for younger players in terms of their preparation, and their attitude, and their work ethic, and the way they go about things," said Belichick. "We have a lot of guys that I would put in that category that when you watch them do things they do them right and it’s easy to say to a younger player ‘Do what that guy does’, and you’d be off to a good start. 

"But you know, that being said, I think everybody on the team, really their number one focus is to get ready to play football. Our players aren’t coaches, they’re players, and they need to get ready to play, and as I said, I think every player needs to get ready to play. I don’t care how long you’ve been in the league, I don’t care what positon you play, I don’t care how long you’ve coached, I don’t care what position you coach. We haven’t done it for a long time, a number of months, and now we all need to sharpen those skills up. That’s every player, that’s every coach, so I don’t really think players have a lot of time to run around and be telling everybody else what to do."

The answer is not surprising. As much as the "Do Your Job" mantra is espoused in New England, to think Belichick or his mostly veteran staff of coaches would want players monkeying with the message is a little naive. Certainly, there are things players can impart to teammates who play the same position. Things coaches might not see from the sidelines or from upstairs. And Belichick's made a point of saying that in the past: there are things players on the field know and have experienced that the coaches may not be able to articulate as clearly. Junior Seau was a resource and touchstone for defensive teammates during his time in New England. 

But there's a difference between giving helpful pointers when they are sought or being a locker room sage and coaching. 

"Honestly, there is enough that all of them need to work on individually, and that would be every single player, that’s a full plate for them," added Belichick. "I don’t really think that’s their job, and I don’t think any player has enough time to do that because they all have things that they need to do to prepare for the season. But as far as being a good example and doing things right and all of that, I mean we have a lot of guys that fall into that category and that’s definitely a good thing. But, you know, that’s what they should be doing."

For two seasons and three offseasons, Garoppolo's had a chance to observe how Brady prepares, studies, interacts and leads. No doubt they've had countless conversations about the Patriots offensive philosophy and the throws and checks that need to be made in certain situations. But the job of actually coaching Garoppolo falls to Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. 

Any successes of failures Garoppolo has during the four weeks Brady is off campus will belong to him and his coaches. And that's how it should be. 


Slater signs one-year contract extension with Patriots


Slater signs one-year contract extension with Patriots

The Patriots have their special-teams captain locked up through 2017.

Matthew Slater and the team have come to terms on a one-year contract extension that will keep him in New England for the next two seasons. He's due base salaries of $1 million and $900,000 in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Slater was made a fifth-round draft pick by the Patriots back in 2008, and since then he has established himself as one of the top soecial teams players in the NFL, making each of the last five Pro Bowls. He's also been a durable player, seeing action in all but nine games over the course of his eight-year career. 

The Patriots have a handful of young and talented special teams players on their roster, including Nate Ebner and Brandon King, but during training camp practices Slater continued to show his prowess when it comes to tracking down kick and punt returners. He's also taken on a well-defined leadership role in the Patriots locker room -- he's been a captain each year since 2011 -- and he serves as the team's NFLPA player representative.