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A New England Patriots Community Blog



Updated: 2017-07-26T16:15:18-04:00

 



Patriots sign rookie DE Caleb Kidder, fill one of their vacant roster spots

2017-07-26T16:15:18-04:00

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New England filled one of its open roster spots today.

Following the injury-related release of offensive lineman Chase Farris last week and yesterday's unexpected retirement announcement by veteran wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, the New England Patriots had two open spots on their 90-man offseason roster with training camp on the horizon. Earlier today, the team filled one of the vacancies.

According to his agency, rookie defensive edge Caleb Kidder has signed with New England:

Congrats to @ckidder_37 signing with the New England Patriots today! @UMGRIZZLIES @Patriots

Despite a productive five-year collegiate career at the University of Montana, Kidder went unselected during this year's NFL draft. Instead, the two-time All-Big Sky defensive lineman signed a free agency contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Kidder spent the entire offseason with the Vikings until he was released last week.

Now, the 23-year old, who played both on the interior and the edge in Montana, will join a deep Patriots defensive line. Consequently, Kidder's chances of making the team - especially considering how late he joined it - do not look good right now. Given his versatility, however, he might be a candidate for the practice squad.



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Patriots Training Camp Schedule: Week one dates and times

2017-07-26T14:00:01-04:00

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A list of times fans need to show up to watch the training camp practices that are free and open to the public.

With the New England Patriots' training camp starting tomorrow, I thought it would be a good idea to post the schedule for when this week's practices and Raymond Clayborn’s Hall of Fame induction will take place. The schedule can be found on the Patriots website if you are unsure. The gates will open an hour before the start of practice and close an hour after the conclusion of practice.

Here’s the schedule and time for the first 4 days of camp:

Thursday, July 27th: Morning practice 9:15-11:30 AM

Friday, July 28th: Morning practice 9:15-11:30 AM

Saturday, July 29th: Morning practice 9:15-11:30 AM; Clayborn’s Hall of Fame induction 12:30 PM at NRG Plaza after practice concludes

Sunday, July 30th: Morning practice 9:15-11:30 AM

I will be personally attending the full length of these practices and the Hall of Fame ceremony even though Clayborn’s playing career ended long before I was born. I’ll try my best to do live tweeting of what happens if you aren’t able to attend practice yourself.




Don’t forget about late-bloomer Devin Lucien as Patriots open training camp

2017-07-26T13:00:03-04:00

While wide receiver Devin Lucien’s rookie season was spent on the practice squad in Foxborough, there’s reason to wonder where the 2016 seventh-round pick will spend his second. Malcolm Mitchell wasn’t the only wide receiver drafted by the New England Patriots a year ago. It will be up to Devin Lucien to remind the organization of that as training camp begins Thursday. At this juncture, it’d be easy to forget New England’s war room selected Lucien three rounds and 113 spots after Mitchell last spring. It’d be easy to call the late-bloomer by way of UCLA and Arizona State as much of an afterthought then as he is now. In a nine-man Patriots draft class, Lucien was the ninth man. On a 90-man roster, he was the lesser-discussed Sun Devil behind undrafted running back D.J. Foster. Lucien cannot afford to stay out of the discussion this summer. There’s little room for anonymity on a wideout depth chart headlined by Mitchell, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and trade acquisition Brandin Cooks. There may be no room at all. If the 24-year-old hangs around for 2017, it’ll likely take a rise out of nowhere. Though for Lucien, it wouldn’t be the first time. After catching just 58 passes for 752 yards and four touchdowns through four years at UCLA, the Pac-12 veteran went on to reel in 66 passes for 1,075 yards and eight touchdowns as an Arizona State graduate transfer in 2015. Lucien’s sudden surge in an offense with pro-style elements and tag-like terminology saw him rank seventh in single-season Sun Devils history in receptions and 11th in receiving yards. It saw him work his way onto the NFL radar from one spring to the next. Keep in mind: Lucien wasn’t even in Tempe for spring ball ahead of 2015. “I knew that I had to leave UCLA to put myself in the best position to be drafted,” Lucien said on his post-draft conference call, via Patriots.com, later adding, “The production was everything. I don't think had I stayed at UCLA, I don't think I'd be on this phone call with you guys.” Lucien caught no more than 29 passes in a campaign during his tenure in UCLA’s spread. He amassed 21 receptions for 534 yards and five touchdowns over his final three games at Arizona State alone. Perhaps it was his fit within the scheme. Perhaps it was his familiarity with then-quarterback Mike Bercovici and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell. Whatever it was, as Patriots head coach Bill Belichick described in his press conference that April, it was “unusual.” “It's an unusual situation where you have a player like that go in the same conference, and so you can kind of see him against the same competition but with a different team and a different offense,” Belichick said of Lucien. “It was interesting, but he did. He went down there and had a good year with not much practice, not much lead-up.” Lucien’s ability to catch on quickly played no small part in New England’s evaluation. But his lone catches as a Patriots rookie would transpire in the second halves of preseason games, opposite many players who, like himself, would soon become unclaimed names on the transaction wire. Lucien was stuck at zero until the fourth quarter of New England’s Aug. 26 exhibition meeting with the Carolina Panthers. It was then that No. 16 got in the stat sheet as he slanted, sat, and waited for rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett to find him. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/sPPdrgOU3xE?rel=0&" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> A cutback to the outside saw him turn the check-down throw into a 12-yard gain. The next sample from Lucien would come a week later, in the third quarter of the Sept. 1 preseason finale against the New York Giants, as Brissett again checked in under center. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iIUsGnvJQl8?rel=0&" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> Lucie[...]



Patriots Training Camp Previews: Roster Strengths

2017-07-26T12:00:02-04:00

Highlighting positions where the Patriots have strong depth on their 90-man roster. The Patriots go into camp with arguably one of the deepest rosters in Bill Belichick’s tenure after one of the greatest come from behind wins in NFL History followed by an exciting offseason. The Patriots added cornerback and receiving depth while also being able to retain key defensive players in free agency. The Patriots will miss Martellus Bennett, Logan Ryan, and LeGarrette Blount, all of whom were great for the Patriots last season. On the other side, they added Brandin Cooks in a trade with New Orleans, and signed Stephon Gilmore to a mega deal. There is a lot to be excited about when camp opens up on Thursday. The Patriots roster is very deep at receiver, running back, defensive line, and offensive tackle. The Patriots made a major moves at all five of those positions in the last calendar year, which included extensions, re-signings, trades, and free agent additions. The Patriots were able to make some splashes in the offseason due to a very small amount of dead money on the cap thanks to prioritizing depth over star power and being able to draft really well since Nick Caserio took over the player personnel job in 2009. Running Back: Last year, the Patriots relied on the duo of LeGarrette Blount and James White as their top RBs. Dion Lewis missed 10 games recovering from a follow-up surgery to treat a stress reaction in his right knee, the same knee he blew out the previous season. Blount is now in Philly, but that was after the Patriots went out and signed Rex Burkhead the first week of free agency and Mike Gillislee before the draft. In addition, they were able to extend White’s contract for 3 years. Gillislee will be the main early down back and White the receiving back, although I figure he’ll get a decent chunk of carries as well after showing the ability to run through contact in the Super Bowl. Of this group, I expect the most from James White, who can be best described as tough, smart, and dependable, all of which are excellent qualities to have as a football player. Gillislee was excellent as a backup in Buffalo, averaging about 5.7 yards per carry the last two seasons, so the Patriots are banking on similar efficiency when his volume of carries doubles from last season. Rex Burkhead is a jack-of-all trades RB that does a lot of things well and can play on all four downs, which makes him the perfect back up to both Gillislee and White should either player need a breather or are injured. That’s before mentioning Lewis, who’s been forgotten in the shuffle with all these moves. Lewis is another RB who can play on all 3 downs and offer value as a return man. Lewis is in the final year on a very cheap contract signed 2 years ago. Lewis is electric as a runner in tight quarters with amazing quickness and impossible to cover and tackle in space. If he returns to pre-injury form, the Patriots will have an embarrassment of riches at the position, even with 2 players in a contract year. Receiver: In the offseason, the Patriots traded for Brandin Cooks and extended Julian Edelman’s contract another 2 years. That’s adding to a position group that already had Edelman along with 2016 additions in Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. Hogan served as the team’s vertical threat, averaging just under 18 yards per reception. Mitchell enjoyed a very strong rookie year that ended on a high note with 5 catches for 63 yards in the 2nd half of the Super Bowl that included a critical 3rd and 11 conversion right after Dont’a Hightower’s strip sack. While the position is deep, they struggled to get open against the Falcons’ man coverage, but the tempo and rhythm that Brady had tired out the Falcons secondary by the end of the 4th quarter. Cooks will be the guy to watch this camp. It’s important for him to develop chemistry with Tom Brady because of the group he will be the biggest difference maker. Edelman is going to get his catch[...]



Patriots training camp: Bill Belichick announces joint practices with Detroit Lions; notes from Wednesday's press conference

2017-07-26T11:00:09-04:00

New England’s head coach met the media today to talk about the upcoming training camp. Coaches arrived last week while rookies, quarterbacks and injured veterans came in on Monday. Today, the rest of the New England Patriots’ roster has reported to the team’s 2017 training camp. And as has been the case in the past, head coach Bill Belichick held his yearly press conference talking about the upcoming camp. The event, which took place 25 minutes behind schedule, featured typical Belichickian non-answers but emphasized the team's general mind-set: “What people have done some other year it’s really meaningless for the 2017 season.” New England's head coach made this much clear during his opening remarks when he spoke about the team having entered a new year with new challenges ahead. Belichick also dropped an interesting, previously unreported bit of news during his opening statement: Prior to their August 25 preseason game against the Detroit Lions, the Patriots will hold joint practices with the team. New England already has joint sessions scheduled against their first two preseason opponents, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans. Before fielding questions, the future Hall of Fame coach also talked about how the team will now be able to work on aspects of the game it has not been allowed to during earlier phases of offseason workouts. Belichick talked about contact, technique and leverage as examples for points the team will address in the upcoming weeks of practices with the goal of building “good fundamentals”. After finishing his opening remarks, Belichick's press conference became a bit less informative. He neither gave an update on whether all players reported to camp (“We'll have an update on the roster at some point”), nor if the team had filled its two vacant roster spots (“I don't know). The 65-year old also dodged questions about his team going undefeated – as if he would answer them – and blocking distractions out (“We're focused on one day at a time”). Belichick did, however, offer a little bit more when asked about two players – one that had recently joined the team and another that had just left: David Harris and Sebastian Vollmer. Regarding Harris, Belichick called him an “experienced guy” that has had “a very productive career” before adding the typical “we'll see how it goes”). When speaking about Vollmer, the head coach noted that he was a “great teammate and a great player for us”, one that had come a long way: “He played good football for us on both sides of the ball”. Before leaving the podium after about 15 minutes, Belichick was also asked about the coaching staff remaining unchanged for yet another year: “We've had a lot of consistency on our entire staff. I thought that was very helpful this year with a relatively short offseason.” He pointed out that the entire staff has a level of experience when it comes to working with each other. One coach in specific was pointed out: strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera, who took over after the 2015 season. Belichick noted that Cabrera has changed the program “quite a bit” when it comes to rest and recovery and helping players work on their speed, strength, power and explosion. The final question of the day was a personal one, whether or not the coach still enjoyed the process and starting from scratch. Belichick's answer was today's press conference in a nutshell: “I don’t really think we’re going from scratch.” Follow @BerndBuchmasser Follow @PatsPulpit src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpatspulpit%2F&width=450&layout=standard&action=like&show_faces=true&share=false&height=80&appId" width="450" height="80" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"> [...]



New England Patriots links 7/26/17 - Deep roster means steep competition for starting spots

2017-07-26T10:44:37-04:00

Daily news and links for Wednesday TEAM TALK Patriots Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for Raymond Clayborn set for July 29. Paul Perillo previews the Patriots defensive line as the team heads into Training Camp: It will be interesting to see where the draft picks fit in. Andy Hart previews the Patriots linebackers at the start of Training Camp: Dont'a Highower's value to the team is unquestioned. Andy Hart passes along a report that WR Andrew Hawkns has decided to retire. Paul Perillo tackles this week's Ask PFW Mailbag: Ready to go camping. LOCAL LINKS The Boston Herald offers a fans' guide to Patriots training camp. CBS Boston also posts a fan guide to 2017 Patriots training camp. Mike Reiss knows from experience the one thing to expect as players show up for camp, is for something unexpected. Karen Guregian focuses on five camp battles to keep an eye on in the coming weeks: 1. Running back development. Steve Balestrieri (PatsFans) Gillislee is primed for a big 2017 season for the Patriots. Ryan Hannable picks 5 things to look for at Patriots training camp: 1. Who will be the third tight end? Kevin Duffy takes a good look at the roster locks and the starting spots that are up for grabs. Ryan Hannable examines the roster to figure out who are the locks, who is on the bubble, and who has no shot. Mike Reiss gives us his starting lineup projection. Zack Cox lists Cyrus Jones at the top of Patriots players with the most to prove at camp. Doug Kyed ranks the Patriots most competitive training camp roster battles to watch: 1. Linebackers. Rich Garven tells us 5 things to watch as camp opens: 1. Can Cyrus Jones (freshman flop) and Jordan Richards (sophomore slouch) live up to their draft status? Mike Dussalt (PatsPropaganda) 5 Most intriguing Patriots of training camp. Doug Kyed gives his version of the 53-man roster after the Patriots shook it up in the offseason: Who will David Harris replace? Mike Reiss notes David Harris is switching to No. 45, his number from his days at Michigan. Adam Kurkjian sees the Patriots deeper at the quarterback position than any other NFL team. Adam Kurkjian evaluates the special teams position: Patriots have lingering issue with Stephen Gostkowski. Evan Lazar points out the Patriots have carried at least one undrafted rookie free agent on their Week 1 roster for 13 consecutive seasons. Ryan Hannable notes Tom Brady will turn 40 years old one week from Thursday, and he says he would like it to be just a regular day. CBS Boston notes The MMQB ranks Tom Brady No. 1 among the NFL's top 400 players. Kevin Duffy tells us why the Patriots are "role models" for Jerry Jones' Cowboys. Mike D'Abate (Cover32) Opposition research: Ben Roethlisberger will have a lot to manage in 2017. Phil Perry compares the 2007 Patriots vs. 2017 Patriots: Quarterbacks. ... even though it's the same guy. Ian Glendon (Cover32) Cover32 Podcast: All things Patriots with Jerry Thornton of Barstool Sports. (1 hour 36 min.) /Worth a listen. Steve Buckley thinks Red Sox manager John Farrell should learn some lessons from Bill Belichick. NATIONAL NEWS Kristopher Knox (Bleacher Report) 8 Players on New England Patriots' 2017 roster bubble. Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) AFC playoff predictions 2017: Why, how Patriots will win conference again. Nate Davis (USA Today) 17 things to watch in 2017 NFL season. 1. What can the Patriots do for an encore? Mike Freeman (Bleacher Report) 10-Point stance: Is Jerry Jones influencing Zeke investigation? [yes] 3. No drop-off coming for Brady at age 40. Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) PFT preseason power rankings No. 1: New England Patriots. SI Now (SI) Peter King: 'No question' the Patriots are Super Bowl favorite. (2.59 min. video) Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) Matthew Slater: Patriots don’t talk about a 19-0 season. Andy Benoit (The MMQB) The MMQB 400 - The Best Players in Football. Mike Florio[...]



Patriots Training Camp Previews: Roster Weaknesses

2017-07-26T08:00:05-04:00

Which positions do the Patriots have the least amount of depth at? The Patriots roster has its strengths, but also positions where they are a bit thin at. As is the nature of the game, with limited resources (salary cap) and supply (players) there is going to be scarcity when managing a roster. Every team has a position where they’re thin at and hope that injuries don’t affect the position in the regular season and later. The Patriots are no different in those, although they have quality starters at most of these positions already. Areas where the Patriots might be a bit thin at is interior offensive line, slot corner, tight end, and safety. Interior Offensive Line: The starting trio is currently Joe Thuney, David Andrews, and Shaq Mason. Thuney is coming off a decent rookie season, although the longer season grind and teams figuring him out late led to some struggles. In the long term, he’ll be an excellent player if not an All-Pro guard. Andrews is a reliable starter who is more brains than braun at the center spot, which the Patriots can afford to have when he’s surrounded by two quality guards next to him. Shaq Mason was a project player drafted out of Georgia Tech in 2015, coming out of an offense that primarily ran the ball out of a triple option offense. His pass protection is starting to come along nicely and was one of the best guards in the 2nd half of 2016, save for a Super Bowl where he struggled against Grady Jarrett, a familiar foe from their college days in the ACC. Behind those 3 isn’t a lot of roster depth. The Patriots had Ted Karras as the primary backup to all 3 spots, although in 2016 the Patriots really didn’t need him to play any significant snaps after Week 2. They have a bunch of UDFAs behind him, so until I see Karras and the other IOL options practice this week and play in preseason games next month, I’m going to be concerned about the IOL having little depth. Ideally the starting trio play all 16 games, but that’s wishful thinking. Slot Corner: The Patriots mostly have a group of unproven players vying for this job, not because of lack of bodies. Jonathan Jones has the most experience of the position group with limited action in the slot in a handful of games last year and handled the role well. Justin Coleman was the primary slot corner in 2015 and early 2016 until passed on the depth chart by Eric Rowe, which moved Logan Ryan to the slot. Slot CB is a very underrated, but important position because there is more field for the receiver to operate with and they are closer to the ball than the boundary receivers and corners. Cyrus Jones has the skill set to handle the slot role, but will he be able to rebound after a tough 2016 campaign that made him a healthy scratch since he could not hold onto the ball returning punts. One potential option is to see if Malcolm Butler can kick inside when the Patriots need 3 corners. In that scenario, they can play their top backup boundary CB in Eric Rowe on the outside. However, I don’t see that happening because I’m confident in Jonathan Jones winning the job. The Patriots have plenty of options to cycle through in the six weeks between now and the start of the regular season. Tight End: Rob Gronkowski is one of the greatest players to ever play the position, but his health is always a question mark. Last year, they had a quality insurance policy in Martellus Bennett, but he’s now a Packer. In response to that, the Patriots traded for Colts TE Dwayne Allen. Allen can block and catch the ball, but like Gronk has a pretty lengthy injury history, although his injuries are more minor in severity. Behind those two is Matt Lengel and James O’Shaughnessy. Neither guy is a proven option, but O’Shaughnessy has special teams value, so he has more roster utility than Lengel. It’s possible one of the UDFAs emerges like Jacob Hollister, who is more of a practice sq[...]



New England Patriots 2017 roster breakdown: #77 OT Nate Solder

2017-07-26T07:00:02-04:00

The Patriots' starting left tackle enters the final year of his contract. With training camp starting this week, the NFL's most quiet period is set to come to an end soon. The New England Patriots' rookies have reported to camp on Monday, while veterans will return to Foxboro today. Tomorrow, finally, the defending world champions will hold their first practice of this year's camp. Over the next month, players have a chance to earn a spot either on the team's 53-man roster or the practice squad. Throughout the offseason, we will take a look at the men fighting for those few select spots on the 2017 Patriots to find out who will and might be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title. Today, we will continue the series with the Patriots' starting left tackle. Name: Nate Solder Position: Offensive tackle Jersey number: 77 Opening day age: 29 Experience: 6 Size: 6’8, 325 lbs. 2016 review: After tearing his biceps in week five of the 2015 season, Nate Solder spent the rest of his fifth year in the NFL on injured reserve. In 2016 and with the injury behind him, the veteran returned to serve in his usual role as the Patriots' starting left tackle. His regular season comeback had to wait until after opening day, though, as Solder was a no-show in week one due to a hamstring injury suffered in preseason. The following week, Solder was back in the starting lineup – and he would stay there throughout the year. As a result, he finished the regular season having played 1,031 of 1,120 offensive snaps (92.1%) despite being out on opening day while also adding 76 of 449 snaps as a kick protector (16.9%). During the 15 regular season games he appeared in, Solder re-established himself as one of the better left tackles in the league. Following the regular season, Pro Football Focus rated Solder as New England's best offensive lineman with his pass blocking in particular standing out: Solder, usually going against opponents' top rushers, finished with five sacks given up as well as 11 quarterback hits and 28 hurries. He also helped New England gain 3.55 yards per carry when running behind the left tackle, tied for the second-highest number on the team. Overall, the Colorado product proved to be a reliable and consistent presence both as a run blocker and as a pass protector. He was able to carry this momentum into the post season, when he played all 242 of New England's offensive snaps as well as 16 of 93 special teams snaps (17.2%). Solder paved the way for a team-high 5.23 yards per rushing attempt and also looked good as in the passing game – at least against the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers. On the NFL's biggest stage, Solder had his worst game of the season: In Super Bowl LI, he gave up a combined 14 pressures and struggled to consistently block the Atlanta Falcons' speedy edge rushers. He did, however, settle down later in the game as the Patriots came back from a 25-point deficit to win their fifth Lombardi Trophy. Solder was thus able to put a fitting end – despite his struggles in the title game – to an otherwise very good season. 2017 preview: Even though he is scheduled to hit the team's books with a salary cap number of $11.2 million – the second-highest behind only quarterback Tom Brady –, Nate Solder is a virtual shoo-in to serve as the Patriots' starting left tackle once the 2017 season starts. As such, he will once again play close to 100% of New England's offensive snaps while also being on the field for around 15% of kicking game plays. While he ended the 2016 season in bittersweet fashion, the 29-year old should be able to bounce back to his pre-Super Bowl form. All in all, he was a very good tackle in 2016 and won with strength, technique and smarts – attributes he still brings to the table this season. Furthermore, Solder's communication and chemistry with left guard Joe Thuney is expe[...]