Brady, Pats ready to resume firing

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Brady, Pats ready to resume firing

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO -- How many times has Tom Brady faced Miami? Something like 18, right?

The Dolphins are an AFC East opponent, a rival, so there's volumes and volumes of history between these two teams. And the Patriots quarterback revels in it.

"It's always a tough place to play," he said Wednesday. "We've had our struggles down there, we've had some great wins. We play them at the beginning of the year, the end of the year. It always seems like a tough place to play. It's a division rival. They put a lot into the game, we put a lot into the game. It's going to be fun. It's a fun way to start the year."

Brady smiled in anticipation of Week 1. It's unsurprising he and his teammates are anxious to get back to the grind and shake off any lingering lockout talk.

"I think everybody put a lot of work in over the last six weeks to get to this point. We've moved on from the preseason and I think that getting here for a regular-season week has been a lot of fun for the guys. There's certainly a different urgency in the air. The guys are excited to watch a lot of film on the Dolphins and have a pretty good understanding of what they do well and the things we're going to try to take advantage of."

So how does one keep a long-term NFL relationship interesting? Fish the gauntlet out of the closet and throw it on the sands of South Beach. It's not the Patriot Way to bite when baited, but Miami has thrown out a line to the league and New England is the first challenger. Toward the end of August, third-year cornerback Vontae Davis beat his chest in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

"I'm going to go out on a limb and say secondary partner Sean Smith and I are the best tandem in the league," Davis said.

When asked about the potency of the pair, Brady smiled, nodded, indulged.

"They're very good and I think we've played them plenty of times to understand that," he said. "Vonte's really a ballhawk. He's had some great interceptions against us. He's very talented, he has all the tools of a great player. Sean Smith's another . . . He's long, he's tall, he's physical. He covers well. For a big guy he moves very well. They do have two very good corners."

The challenge will be answered in earnest on the field. And Davis and Smith aren't the only dangers Brady and his teammates are wary of.

"Benny Sapp, who's in there in nickel situations, is another very good player, experienced player who's caused us some problems too," he said. "It's a dangerous group. They're experienced in the secondary. They've been playing together for a little while. They're very good, especially when the pass rush gets going.

"I think we experienced that last year when we were down there. They were revved up early and, thank god for some special teams plays, but offensively we didn't play as well as we would have liked. We're going to need to play a lot better down there."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

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

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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.”