Doub Gabriel spent training camp with the Raiders before being traded to the Patriots. He was inactive for the Patriots first meeting with the Bills in Week 1, but has since been on the rise. He's reeled in 12 passes for 129 yards since joining the Patriots and started in the last two games against Cincinnati and Miami.
Tom Brady spoke earlier this year about focusing his work in the offseason on throwing more accurately down field. Gabriel said Monday that he would like to see more of that.
"Who wouldn't?" Gabriel asked rhetorically. "Everybody's around to see big plays. When you see a player make a big play like that – a deep ball – you love it. You might see a running back get an 80-yard run. That might get me hyped more than an 80-yard pass. It's the game. What ever happens, happens. We'll keep striving to make ourselves better."
So far this season, the Patriots longest pass was a 35-yarder to Benjamin Watson against the Bengals.
"Tom's the leader," said Gabriel. "Whatever he wants to call, we're going to run. If he wants to call [long passes], let's call them. I don't think the receiving corps has a problem with them. It's like the running game. We just do what we're told."
Gabriel is visibly more comfortable in the locker room than when he first arrived. He and Chad Jackson were joking around while the press was in the locker room.
"That guy's ready," Gabriel said of Jackson. "Look at him. The perfect physical specimen."
Gabriel said it wasn't hard fitting into the system or learning the plays, good news for newly acquired wideout Jabar Gaffney.
"I don't think it was difficult, because I'm a person that always feels like I got my back to the wall," explained Gabriel. "So if it takes me to sit here or sit up all night trying to learn some things, I'm gonna do it. This is our job. It's our livelihood, let's work."
He said he feels his back is against the wall because he's a perfectionist.
"I try to aspire to be perfect, but once you take a wrong step and you know it yourself, you'll be like, 'Man I got to make sure I get that right.' That's how I take it," he said.
Koppen in for the long haul
Center Dan Koppen spoke to the media today for the first time since re-signing with the Patriots for five more years. This was to be his last season of a four-year deal.
"When talks started happening again, it's in the back of your mind," he admitted. "It doesn't affect you on the field, per say but when you get home you start thinking about it. I'm glad it's over. I'm glad everything worked out. We can move on from here and just worry about the season."
The rest of the starting offensive line is signed for the next four years, something Koppen said played a big role in his decision to re-sign.
"It feels good. We've got a great group of guys here," Koppen said. "Guys that just love to go out and work and try and get better. We get along off the field as well. For me to know I'm going to be here for the next five years with most of those guys – for the next four at least, that's very comforting to know that they're here with me. That made it very appealing to sign back."
Koppen initially signed with the Patriots out of Boston College. He expressed relief at the thought of being able to stay in the area.
"I've grown up here and have got a lot of really good friends still here around the area," said the beaming big man. "To be up here is like a dream come true. You always want to get to that second deal. Thankfully it was here and everybody came out of it happy and we're just going to move on from here. We play Buffalo on Sunday and that's what we're worried about."
The one drawback to the deal?
Koppen has to take the rest of the offensive line out to dinner. It's a tradition.
"I've got to take the line out to dinner, I know that," he said with a smile. "Steve [Neal] gave us a dinner earlier this year and Russ [Hochstein] owes us one. I'm next in line."
Notes: The Patriots held practice today in shorts/sweats, shoulder pads and helmets. The media was allowed on the field for stretching and two sets of drills. … Ellis Hobbs ran drills with a cast on his left forearm and hand, which he later said was, "mostly for protection." He was able to catch with the cast during drills and left the locker room with an ice pack on the arm. He broke his wrist in the Denver game, a little over two weeks ago. … The only players not seen on the field during the portion of practice available to the media were Nick Kaczur and Russ Hochstein. … The NFL trade deadline is tomorrow.