After a whirlwind of news this week, the Patriots were back at it at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday with Antonio Brown making his first practice appearance, press conferences with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and an open locker room period.
Here's a recap as the team prepares to travel to Miami for the first road game of the season.
Belichick Presser Points
While Bill Belichick deferred to the team's statement on Antonio Brown and avoided any questions regarding the just-signed receiver and the new allegations against him, the coach focused on the Dolphins and pointed out the talented players and former Patriots coaches now in Miami to kick off his press conference.
"Obviously, there's a lot of familiarity with us and some of their players and coaches, but really, all of that aside, it's fairly common every week that there's some type of crossover there," Belichick began. "We'll just really focus on what we know about the Dolphins, what we've seen in the five games they've played – four preseason, one regular season game – and concentrate on what they've shown."
Belichick called first-round pick Christian Wilkins "an outstanding player," and returner Jakeem Grant "explosive."
The coach also acknowledged the poor results the Patriots have seen in Miami, where the Pats have lost five of the last six contests. It's a good bet any Patriots players that witnessed the Miami Miracle last year will be itching to get another crack at the Dolphins, even if it's a totally different team.
"It's been a tough matchup for us down there. We've got to do a better job than we've done in the past if we expect different results, and we'll work toward trying to get that."
Practice & Injury Report
The Patriots had full attendance at their Wednesday practice including new receiver Antonio Brown who was temporarily wearing number 1. In a great sign, Marcus Cannon was also at the fully-padded practice, though he looked to be clearly still favoring his injured shoulder.
The Patriots injury report included:
- Brandon Bolden – Hamstring – Limited
- Marcus Cannon – Shoulder – Limited
- Matt LaCosse – Ankle – Limited
For the Dolphins two starting members of the secondary appeared on the report:
- Trent Harris – Foot – DNP
- Reshad Jones – Ankle – DNP
- Albert Wilson – Hip/Calf – DNP
- Jonathan Ledbetter – Ankle – Limited
- Bobby McCain – Shoulder – Limited
- Walt Aikens – Shoulder – Full
- Charles Harris – Wrist - Full
With an open roster spot after the reported trade Demaryius Thomas to the Jets, the Patriots signed offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse, a veteran of 8 years with 6 different teams. With Marcus Cannon expected to miss some time after a shoulder injury, Newhouse will provide tackle depth. The team could also choose take a look at Korey Cunningham, acquired just prior to the season from Arizona. This now makes four new additions along the offensive line since the end of preseason.
In practice squad moves, the team signed safety Obi Melifonwu and defensive back Nate Brooks and released guard Colby Gossett. Brooks was undrafted this year and spent training camp with the Cardinals.
Brady Presser Points
Tom Brady spoke with reporters after his first practice with Antonio Brown but like his head coach was tight lipped about the new receiver. Brady was focused on the Dolphins and his team's struggles there.
"For one reason or another we've had struggles over a lot of years that even predate me, which is hard to say because I've been here a while," said Brady. "Five of our last six we've lost. I remember when finally beat them down there the first time I don't if it was'03 or '04 on a pass to Troy Brown. That was the first time in however many years. It's a challenging place to play."
One thing Brady did comment on was his sixth-round draft status that he shared with Brown. It's always been a motivating factor in Brady's career and he expanded why low-round and undrafted players often play with a chip on their shoulder.
"What they can't evaluate at the combine are probably things that might help you prolong your career. You learn different skill sets when you're not the top pick. If you can stick with it, you can keep filing away the things that make you successful as a player. Continuing to work at your skills. Continuous improvement. Hard work. Discipline. Sometimes I think the guys who are later picks develop those traits then you realize 'those really paid off for me. Let me keep doing those'. Sometimes it's a disadvantage when you're a high pick and everyone tells you how great you are all the time. You get more opportunity than everyone else. The things that are sustainable are hard work discipline, commitment."
Brady's biggest key to getting a win down in Miami? Communication.
"It's our first game on the road, regular season with a lot of new players. There's a lot of things that come up. We have to be able to communicate non-verbally. A lot of signals. Just make sure we're all on the same page. That's definitely part of the early season challenge and hopefully we can go out there and correct our ways from last year."
Locker Room Sound Bites
Matthew Slater on what the most important thing a new teammate should know about coming to the Patriots:
"No one's bigger than the team. We're all here to try and support one and other. Build one and other up. Accomplish something that's really bigger than ourselves. That's what a team is about. No one individual is bigger than the team. It's about working together as a family towards a common goal. Checking your ego at the door. Sometimes putting personal goals aside to ensure the success of the team."