Brady lauds White, whose Super Bowl heroics haven't 'totally sunk in yet'

Brady lauds White, whose Super Bowl heroics haven't 'totally sunk in yet'

“It still hasn’t totally sunk in yet.”
It’s been a little more than a week since Patriots running back James White powered into the end zone, then made a mad dash toward the goalpost while cannons shot off red, white and blue confetti, all done in the shape of the Lombardi Trophy. White didn’t win the MVP, but his record-setting performance, one that included 14 receptions and 20 points, is still drawing rave reviews.
“I’m not surprised,” Dion Lewis told me. “He’s a playmaker. That’s what he does.”
“I’d say it was unreal but that wouldn’t be giving James enough credit,” said LeGarrette Blount. “He’s made plays for us every single week.”
When Lewis injured his hamstring in the fourth quarter, it helped pave the way for White to get the overtime winner. That TD run would gone to Lewis under normal circumstances, but a popped hamstring meant more White. Safe to say, the Pats benefitted.
“Surreal. Just surreal,” said White, looking back on his career night. “I was just doing whatever it took to get a victory. Had to leave it all out there.”
Said special teams captain Matthew Slater in the immediate aftermath of the win: “James is a professional. He’s put in so much work to become the player that he is.We trust him. Tom obviously trusts him.”
That Tom is Tom Brady, of course, and on Peter King’s MMQB podcast, King pointed out to the Pats QB that he targeted White 16 times in the Super Bowl, a year after throwing the same amount of passes to the running back in the AFC Championship game at Denver.

“It’s because of him,” gushed Brady. “I said this to someone earlier in the season, he’s like my oldest son. He never does anything wrong, so it’s hard to get mad at him. And even if he does something wrong, he didn’t really mean it and he feels worse about it than you do. That’s how James is. He never does anything anything wrong.”
Brady continued, “If it’s blitz pickup, it’s blitz pickup. If it’s run the route and catch the ball, that’s what he does. Make a tough decision, he makes it. He’s just been such a dependable, consistent player, so much in the mold of Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, just guys I’ve been in the backfield with who can just do it all. And James has been phenomenal in what he’s been asked to do, from the time he took over for Dion Lewis when he got hurt [against] Washington last year, to this year. He’s just made every play he’s been asked to make.”
When those comments were relayed to him, White chuckled and said, “Tom is the best of all-time so I’ll take it,” before adding, “but there’s still room to get better.” More laughs, but knowing how hard White has worked to get here, he’s not joking.

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

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Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."