It was a light day of Patriots coverage on Monday at Gillette Stadium, as Bill Belichick held a conference call with reporters in the morning and a handful of players were available in the locker room in the afternoon.
While the team did officially announce the signing of wide receiver Antonio Brown, along with two other roster moves, we still await his first appearance as a Patriot. He was spotted around the stadium on Monday as he begins to assimilate into New England. Hopefully, we’ll hear from him later this week.
Here’s a recap of everything else.
Belichick Presser Points
A big highlight of the film review was the play of the linebackers and Bill Belichick echoed the sentiment that the entire front seven played well against the Steelers.
“I thought overall those guys did a really good job. Really it was across the board,” Belichick said. “A lot of those plays that the linebackers make are a result of the defensive line doing a good job and creating space for the linebackers to get through there and then the backers hitting them with good timing and making the tackle and finishing the play. It's really about team defense. But it's, again, good execution up front and then the linebackers being able to gradually hit the gaps that are free for them, but it needs to just be well executed as a front-seven or front-six. We had several of those plays.”
Another topic of conversation after the game was the shotgun snaps of new center Ted Karras. Many observers noted that they seemed to lack the necessary velocity. Belichick made no attempt to disagree when asked about it.
“That's very observant,” Belichick told ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “The timing when the quarterback is in the shotgun is different than when he's under center because he has the ball in his hands through the entire drop where it's different when he's five yards behind the center and has to catch the ball and then go through his footwork and so forth. If there's a variance in the snap, either speed or accuracy, then runs over into the footwork and timing of the play then that's just another added degree of difficulty. I'd say that's one of the many things that we can do better."
Though Belichick praised most of the specialists, there was one area he pointed out that needed to be better.
“I thought we left some yards on the field on the kickoff returns,” Belichick said. But that didn’t take away from the solid punt return work done by Gunner Olszewski and those in front of him.
“Those guys really did a good job of getting guys held up at the line of scrimmage so that Gunner could get started. He had some positive yards, helped our offensive field position in the return game. Still plenty of room for improvement but I thought we did some positive things last night.”
The Patriots officially announced the signing of Antonio Brown, along with the releases of Obi Melifonwu and Lance Kendricks. Melifonwu's release opens a spot on the 53-man roster for Brown.
Ian Rapoport reported on terms of Brown’s deal which will contain a similar structure to Darrelle Revis’ with the Patriots, including a second-year option to spread out the cap implications.
Kendricks, suspended for the first week of the season, was set to join the active roster. This leaves the Patriots with just two tight ends on the roster – Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo. Izzo played 64 percent of the offensive snaps against the Steelers, while LaCosse was dressed for the game but did not see any action as he continues to recover from an ankle injury suffered in the first preseason game.
Mike Reiss also reported that tight end Stephen Anderson has been released from the practice squad and two players were worked out. As Reiss points out, bringing in a tackle could be a reflection on the prognosis for Marcus Cannon, who injured his shoulder against the Steelers and appeared to be in considerable pain.
Locker Room Sound Bites
Rex Burkhead on turning the page to Miami:
“Good win yesterday for us. Good way to start off the new season. We watched the film today, we got a lot of things to clean up for sure. We’re nowhere near the team we need to be. It’s a long road and we got a challenge this week in Miami.”
Burkhead on what the expectations are for players new to the Patriots:
“I think people understand when you come here you can’t really make mistakes or do things that are going to be distractions for the team. You gotta lock in and buy in, and understand it’s a team atmosphere, there’s goals ahead. If you buy in and take part in that you’re going to be successful and you’re going to have an opportunity to play on the field.”