FOXBORO -- Jake Locker has been named Tennessee's starting quarterback to begin the regular season, and the assumption may be that his inexperience could provide the Patriots with some difficulty as they prepare for him.
But Bill Belichick pointed out on Monday that's not necessarily the case.
"There's a decent amount of film on him, from when he played a couple games last year," said Belichick. "He's had a lot of experience and a lot of playing time this preseason.
"So I think we have a pretty good feel for what they've shown. What else they have, that they haven't shown, we'll see how that unfolds. But we did work on him coming out of college. I think he's pretty much the same player that we expected to see coming out of college. He's athletic, has a good arm, is a smart guy. He can certainly get the ball down the field, and he's a hard guy to tackle. He's elusive."
Locker isn't the only "elusive" player the Patriots will need to prepare for this weekend. And while their speed isn't the same, Belichick compared Locker's elusiveness to that of running back Chris Johnson.
"Johnson's speed is unique, and I'd say Locker's is pretty fast, too," said Belichick, when asked about preparing for Johnson. "So, it's hard to replicate that."
As expected, after not practicing all week, Patriots cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (concussion) and Eric Rowe (groin) have been ruled out for Sunday night’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
The full Patriots and Falcons injury report:
FOXBORO — You’d have to go back to 2008 to find the last “you’ve got to be kidding me” injury to open a Boston season before Gordon Hayward.
That injury, of course, was the torn ACL suffered by Brady on a hit to the left leg from Bernard Pollard with 7:27 left in the first quarter of Week 1. Brady missed the rest of the season and the Pats went on to miss the playoffs despite going 11-5 under Matt Cassel.
Brady, who reached out to Aaron Rodgers last Sunday after the Packers quarterback was lost for the season, said he felt for Hayward after the Celtics’ key free agent acquisition suffered a fracture-dislocation of his left ankle 5:15 into the season opener against the Cavaliers Tuesday.
“It’s just a big reality check for all of us because we all think we’re invincible to some degree, and then you go and you have this really tough injury that just happens,” Brady said. “It is tough and everyone probably goes through something a little different or it hits them at different times, and I feel bad for [Hayward and Rodgers], but I’m sure they’ll both come back stronger and better than ever.
“That’s what you have to do as an athlete. You’re always faced with adversities and you’ve got to overcome them. Mental toughness is a big part of that. I know both those players have a lot of that.”