Patriots

Belichick: Guys have some catching up to do

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Belichick: Guys have some catching up to do

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
FOXBORO The New England Patriots are gearing up for their third preseason game, a game that's often seen as the first real opportunity for starters to see extended playing time.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn't downplay the importance of Saturday's game against the Detroit Lions. But in true Belichickian fashion, he's not putting too much stock in the game, either.

"Every game presents challenges and opportunities, gives our team a chance to go out there and perform against another team and evaluate," he said. "Each game is different, each matchup is different so absolutely, it's a great opportunity to face an explosive team like Detroit. This will be a real good test for us, in all three phases of the game."

Here are some of Belichick's thoughts on other topics discussed during his afternoon press conference:

On having Leigh Bodden back
BB: "He's had a good camp. He's played both inside and outside. It looks like he's healthy. He's had a chance to participate. He's taken a lot of snaps. He looks like he's fine."

On seeing Ras-I Dowling on the field
BB: "The guys that have missed time, have some catching up to do. It's good to see every player out there, good to see every player that has missed time, come back and rejoin the team and be able to practice. It's good for the team, it's good for those individuals because I know they're working hard to get back out there. It's a positive step."

On the challenges for players entering their second year
BB: "By Year Two the other teams -- not that they don't do it during the course of the first year -- but I think by the end of your first year, other teams have a pretty good scouting report on each individual player. There's a pretty good body of work, for the most part. Sometimes your rookie year, your skills or some of the things you do, might sneak up on some people or they may not be as prepared for you individually. It kind of works the other way around, too. Rookies don't have the kind of preparation in some cases, some teams don't know them quite as well."

Anything from the league on Haynesworth
BB: "Whatever the league does, they'll announce."

The importance of technique and where his players are now
BB: "In the NFL, you build your fundamentals in technique in the offseason program, and then in the spring and then in training camp. As you get into regular season, it's harder and harder to allocate the time to individual technique because your preparation team-wide consumes so much time. With all the different schemes you face weekly and the smaller roster size and limited amount of practice reps that you have relative to the number of things that can happen in a game, you spend more time in team-work than individual, fundamental skills. The time to build those, is early in the season."

The progress of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski
BB: "Every day they work hard, have gotten better. They came in last year they certainly know a lot more now; they know a lot more now about what we're doing, they know a lot more now about what our opponent's are doing. They have a better understanding of how to play the game at this level. Their year of experience, is invaluable. They started at a much harder level. Both have had a good camp."

On Haynesworth's court case being wrapped up on Monday
BB: "It's a personal matter, so I don't have any comment on that."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Vikings hold off Lions 30-23 to extend win streak to 7

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Vikings hold off Lions 30-23 to extend win streak to 7

DETROIT = Case Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score in the first half to give the Minnesota Vikings a double-digit lead and they went on to win a seventh straight game, 30-23 over the Lions in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit. Click here to read more. 

Pats can find reasons for thanks everywhere

Pats can find reasons for thanks everywhere

The Patriots hit Thanksgiving with an 8-2 record, a stranglehold on first place in the AFC East, and a rest-of-the-season schedule -- save for the much-anticipated meeting with the Steelers on Dec. 17 -- almost bereft of quality opponents. So they have a lot to be thankful for.

But here are some things you may not be aware of . . . 

SURGICAL-GRADE DIPPED LATEX TUBING

Whoever came up with the stuff Tom Brady's resistance bands are made out of -- it's actually "surgical-grade dipped latex tubing sheathed in ballistic nylon," according to the TB12 website -- probably deserves a tip of the cap from the entire region. The 40-year-old uses the bands extensively as part of his training regimen, and he currently leads the league in passing yards, yards per attempt, quarterback rating, rating under pressure and touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

SUSAN SCARNECCHIA

Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia was retired just a couple of years ago. He traveled. He spent time with his grandchildren. Then the Patriots called. After some time to think about it -- and after talking it over with his wife Susan -- Scarnecchia opted to come back after two years away from the game. At 69 years old, he's helped this year's unit overcome some early-season struggles, and he still seems to be on top of his game. Think the Patriots are happy he had his wife's blessing to jump back in? 

ELECTRONIC TABLETS

You weren't expecting this, were you? Bill Belichick has said he's not a fan . . . but that's on game days. "I’m done with the tablets," he said last year. "I’ve given them as much time as I can give them. They’re just too undependable for me." But when it comes to players using tablets on their own time? They're incredibly useful. Whereas years ago players would have to come into the facility early or stay late in order to watch extra film, now they can study from the comfort of their own homes, on a team flight, or while riding in a car (as long as they aren't driving). For teams that have players who want to be over-prepared, having access to all-22 video at any time can be an advantage. 

DR. ROBERT WATKINS

Who's this, you ask? He's the Los Angeles-based back specialist who operated on Rob Gronkowski's back last year. He operated on the big tight end in 2009 and 2013, and his latest procedure seems to be holding up as well as possible. Gronkowski quickly regained his strength and athleticism, and he continues to be his team's most dynamic offensive weapon. He has 41 catches for 619 yards and five scores this season, and he's been used extensively as a blocker in the running game and in pass protection. Gronkowski deserves credit -- as does the Patriots medical, training and nutrition staffs -- for being so effective in his return to the field, but the Patriots are probably thankful that last year's back surgery went as well as it did.  

FLOWERS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY

Trey Flowers has been arguably his team's most dependable defender this season. According to Pro Football Focus, he's been on the field for 606 snaps, which is fourth among edge defenders. His 338 pass-rush snaps are second among 4-3 defensive ends, per PFF. He's played through injury at times, and he's remained productive. Against the Raiders he had three quarterback hits and three hurries. So why would the Patriots be thankful for Flowers Construction Co.? That's the Huntsville, Alabama company run by Flowers' father, Robert, who put Trey to work when he was growing up. The work ethic he learned on-site has helped him go from a fourth-round pick who lost most of his rookie season to injury into a playing-time iron man and one of the team's most reliable defenders.

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