No huddle: Brady on Welker, fullbacks & a fuzzy first game

No huddle: Brady on Welker, fullbacks & a fuzzy first game

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's 1,327 passing yards in three games is an NFL record.

He should send a thank you note to Wes Welker.

Welker has long been one of Brady's favorite targets and this season is no exception. The receiver has 458 receiving yards and four touchdowns in Weeks 1 through 3. His performance against Buffalo was tremendous: 217 yards (a career and franchise record), 16 catches (a personal record and tie for the Patriots' best with Troy Brown) and two TDs.

"He's just a great player," Brady said Wednesday. "And he's been that way since the day he got here. He had a great game last week in an individual effort that made some incredible plays. And he always seems to do that. In Miami he did the same thing. He's done that in practice every day, every day in training camp -- he never missed a day. He's just a tough, hard-nosed football player."

Brady said Welker's entrance the league as an undrafted free agent drives him to do more, be better.

"You can never underestimate someone that's worked the way that he's had to work, because he hasn't had all the opportunities, that maybe a lot of other guys have had early in his career. And he realizes that and he still works as hard today as he's ever worked. I love being out there with him. He's a great teammate, he's an incredible player, receiver, leader on this team. Team's are always trying to find ways to take Wes away."

'Try' is the operative word. Arguably, the most impressive quality about Welker's game is his consistent ability to get open. This is his fifth season as a Patriot and a starter, but he's never been listed as active and gone catchless in a game.

Brady remains impressed

"Different guys create different separation different ways. Wes uses his quickness a lot of the time and you see he gets a lot of separation because he's so good getting in and out of his breaks.

"Taller guys, some don't get as good of horizontal separation because their vertical length and their catch radius...they could be open even if the DB is a lot closer. Wes doesn't have that so he's got to be open. He's got to get separation. And he does that. That's what his quickness really allows him to be able to do."

Brady had plenty more to say on non-Welker topics.

HEARD THE PATRIOTS WORKED OUT TWO FULLBACKS THIS WEEK. DO YOU MISS HAVING A TRADITIONAL FB ON THE ROSTER? "We have different guys that kind of play that similar role. There's not necessarily a fullback on the roster, but the things that some teams would ask a fullback to do, we ask of the different tight end variations that we have. Different guys do different things well, so in this situation we just...don't have a fullback."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR FIRST THREE GAMES WITH CHAD OCHOCINCO? "It's been three games for all of us together. In this offense: Chad, Wes, Deion... all of us in this receiverquarterback combination, we're trying to do better each week. We're trying to make improvements each week. We're not where we need to be, we're not where we're going to be.

"We're going to keep working hard at it and we're going to try to make some improvements. That's for myself, that's for every position on the team. As long as we show up and work hard every day and have confidence that we're going to get better, We're going to try to get better within the system of what coach's is asking us to do."

DOES COMING OFF THE LOSS TO BUFFALO GIVE YOU ADDED MOTIVATION FOR THE WEEK AHEAD? "I think we always prepare pretty hard. We aren't doing anything extra special this week. I think we, like every week, identify problems that were a problem, we see things that we did well, try to eliminate some of the problems and understand what it takes to win these games.

"When you look at the different opponent that you're facing, you have a different game plan, you go out there and you try to attack them in a different way and everybody's really got to get up to speed on what we're trying to do there. We're preparing pretty much like we always prepare."

THE 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF YOUR FIRST NFL START IS COMING UP. HOW ABOUT THAT? "I don't even remember. That was a long time ago... God. Yeah, I don't even remember."

YOU WON BIG. "Yeah, we beat the Chargers...."

...IT WAS THE COLTS. "Was it the Colts? God, see?"


YES, YOU DID. "I got to watch that game again."

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

Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension


Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

The Patriots have signed backup linebacker and special teamer Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension through 2018, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.

Freeney, 27, was originally signed by the Patriots to a one-year free-agent deal in March 2015 after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. He then earned a one-year extension last September and played 13 games, seven starts, with 50 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. 

"Jonathan is a very dependable player," Bill Belichick said on a conference call Saturday. "He is able to do a lot of different roles for us. He can play inside, outside, on the line of scrimmage and off the ball defensively. He has been a very valuable player for us in the kicking game, obviously with some size, a four-phase special teams player.

"He is one of our overall top workers in terms of the offseason program, preparation, training. He always does things right. He works hard, doesn't really say a lot, but is very dependable and consistent. I think everybody in the organization looks up to him."


49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy


49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy

Colin Kaepernick was already a noteable NFL player as the one-time, and now apparently former, face of the San Francisco 49ers.

The quarterback likely will gain even more notoriety for his stance on refusing to stand for the national anthem at a preseason game on Friday:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

In a statement released Saturday, the NFL said players "are encouraged but not required to" stand for the anthem.

More here from Mike Florio of's Pro Football Talk on Kaepernick and Florio on the NFL's statement in response.



Curran: Impact of Brady's suspension already being felt on field

Curran: Impact of Brady's suspension already being felt on field

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s an inconvenient and uncomfortable truth that can’t just be blissfully ignored.

The pound of flesh Roger Goodell extracted from the Patriots in the form of Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension is starting to hurt.

Friday night, we watched the less-than-ideal quarterback rotation between Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo unfold. 

Garoppolo completed a 17-yard dart to Aaron Dobson on his first throw of the night. He completed eight of his next 14 for 40 yards – an ugly yards per attempt average of 3 – took a sack, threw a would-be pick and had a fumble. He looked skittish, indecisive and a thousand miles away from being in total command.

The Brady suspension was designed to punish the Patriots and it is.

Garoppolo played three ineffective series at the start of the game. He got the hook after that and the predictable power surge that came when Brady was on the field instead of the guy who – on this night – couldn’t get anything done was almost tangible.

Garoppolo’s first pass went to Dobson went for 17? Brady dialed up the same player and the play went for 37. Three of Brady’s six incompletions were drops (one was a near pick) and his 33-yard touchdown throw would have given every quarterback in the league except maybe Aaron Rodgers inadequacy issues.

I asked Garoppolo earlier in the week about trying to take command of the team while still remaining deferential to Brady’s status as TFB, future Hall of Famer. Garoppolo admitted it was tough.

How can it not be when the reminders are everywhere, including the pregame exit from the locker room and the trot onto the field. 

Brady is the leader. Jimmy is the long-term substitute. Substitutes don’t have it easy.

There is no solution for what’s going on. It is the ultimate, “Is what it is…” scenario. Can’t do anything about it, so everyone’s got to deal with it.

For Brady on Friday night, that meant staying apart from pretty much everyone for most of the first quarter.

When the Patriots offense was on the bench, he stood with arms folded and jaw set staring onto the field with the occasional glance up at the replay board or over at the area where Garoppolo, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and rookie Jacoby Brissett were going over plans.

When the Patriots offense took the field, Brady retreated to the bench and sat alone. There were two interactions during the first three series came when strength coach Moses Cabrera went to Brady and clapped him on the shoulder pads then rubbed his head as Brady sat on the bench. The other came when Brady sidled up to Brissett and asked him to play catch.

This is not open hostility. This is not Brady trying to undermine Garoppolo. But anyone expecting to see Brady putting an arm around Garoppolo every time he came off the field and publicly lend an ear to Jimmy isn’t getting that. Who knows, maybe Garoppolo doesn’t want that, maybe Brady thinks it’d be counter-productive, maybe McDaniels wants there to be one voice in Garoppolo’s ear during games. The fact is, it’s not cozy.

And you shouldn’t expect it to be. Brady is a quarterback who – while still at the height of his powers – is being forever reminded that the party for him is almost over.

Belichick himself did it the day he drafted Garoppolo. Consider again what was said: 

“The situation we have at quarterback, I think that we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future, so we’ll see how all that works out,” Belichick said during the 2014 draft when Garoppolo was taken in the second round. “I think we’re better off being early than being late at that position. We know what Ryan [Mallett’s] contract situation is. We know what Tom’s age and contract situation is. I don’t think you want to have one quarterback on your team. I don’t think that’s responsible to the entire team or the organization."

Age? Contract? Rather be early at that position than late?

Brady’s best method for combating speculation about when he’d be put out to pasture has been to own his position with peerless play and turn in – in my opinion – the best Super Bowl performance a quarterback’s ever had.

Not only is Brady miles away from being ripe for the picking, the only reason Garoppolo’s playing at all is because of a BS investigation and punishment that turned Brady’s life upside down and besmirched his name.

Garoppolo taking Brady’s reps, taking Brady’s team for a month is the punishment for Deflategate. Watching Jimmy G. play is the punishment Brady was handed. No wonder he’s standing with arms folded and jaw set.

If you simply look at the dynamics between players of Brady’s ilk and their would-be successors you realize that expecting Brady to go merrily along and show no signs of agitation is absurd. Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, Joe Montana and Steve Young, Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler. In each, the incumbent wasn’t real keen on wet-nursing the new guy.

Garoppolo’s case is a little different, though. He has no illusions about being better than Brady (that little 25-for-25 day from Brady in the intrasquad scrimmage earlier this month probably helped put that to bed). 

Garoppolo just wants to come in, play well, do his job and not step on any toes. He’s not looking to create a quarterback controversy. But he can’t afford to be deferential anymore or concerned about how the legend in his shadow feels or how he feels about the legend in his shadow.

He just has to go play. Something that Brady – very soon – won’t be able to do.