Patriots

Caserio tight-lipped on Fletcher, Waters

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Caserio tight-lipped on Fletcher, Waters

FOXBORO -- Director of player personnel Nick Caserio was a fine choice for Monday's pre-practice press conference. New England made two roster moves Sunday evening -- releasing receiver Britt Davis and waiving linebacker Dane Fletcher -- and, in theory, had to address them.
Caserio responded... in his way.
Here's what came out of the media meet.
What's the procedural difference between releasing a player during training camp and waiving him?
NC: "It's the same. Any time that you remove a player from your roster, you designate him X amount of ways. Theres certain ways you can designate that player so we take all the information like we normally do and then we release the player and then we just move on."
It's the same to the team unloading the player, anyway. Either way, that guy is gone. But for the team that wants to pick up a released player, it becomes a bidding war. A waived player, however, will go to whatever team with the highest spot in the waiver order that puts a bid on him.
Is it accurate to say a player with less than four accrued seasons would count against the 90-man roster if he was placed directly on Injured Reserve?NC: "Look, we make decisions every day on the roster. If there are any rules questions, I would direct those to the league and their interpretation."
Though Caserio wouldn't say one way or another, the reporter's understanding is accurate.
Moving on.
What did you see in Steve Gregory when you guys brought him in and were deciding whether to sign him?
NC: "He had played a little bit of corner in college. Maybe a little bit undersized just from a height, weight, speed standpoint for the safety position; 190 pounds, but was real fast, aggressive, very instinctive player, matched up well. They played him a little bit at their money position or in some of their dime packages, played him close to the line of scrimmage.
"Hes a versatile player; he was able to do a number of different things in San Diegos defense. I think some of the things that were doing are a little bit different, just systematically but hes indoctrinated myself into our system well."
After last night, you have tape on all 31 other teams so far in the preseason. What is your methodology behind analyzing it?NC: "Well have certain people that follow specific teams and will be responsible for evaluating and writing those players. Then what well do is well meet as a staff and go through one scouts evaluation and then well have somebody else watch that player so we can kind of get more than one evaluation. I try to watch each game: I try to go through both sides of the ball and watch the kicking game as well, just to try to get a bigger picture view on things.
"You try to do the best you can between practice, practice tape and watching the preseason games. The good thing is the next set of games isnt played until this weekend so it gives you a certain amount of time to work through it."
After making it painfully clear he had no update on Brian Waters, who has yet to report, Caserio shut things down even further.
Internally, do you have an idea of where its going and you just dont care to share that?NC: "Really, everything is day-to-day. Well take today, deal with today and then whatever happens tomorrow, well take that as it comes."
Odds and ends
Caserio refuted reports that the Patriots will work out Chad Clifton.
He said there's nothing new in regards to Andre Carter.
Regarding Nate Ebner, who joined camp action August 4, Caserio said getting the rookie up to speed is a "process," but Ebner is smart and is learning.
On Tavon Wilson: "Could he play corner? Maybe, but right now hes worked at safety."

With Andrews out, who's next man up for the Patriots at center?

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With Andrews out, who's next man up for the Patriots at center?

Continuity along the offensive line was one of the reasons the Patriots were able to have the season they had in 2016. They tossed aside the early-season experiementation that Bill Belichick favored at times in order to establish a starting five that could be relied upon, if healthy, start to finish. 

They attacked 2017 with the same approach, but because of injury the consistency simply has not been the same. Both starting tackles, Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon, have missed time injured this season, and Cannon will sit out again on Sunday as he continues to deal with an ankle injury. 

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The interior of the line has remained largely in place until this week when center David Andrews came down with an illness, missed two practices, and was ruled out. 

On a line where familiarity is key, where the center is the one making the calls, the one in constant communication with Tom Brady, what now?

The Patriots will likely turn to second-year man Ted Karras, who has the ability to play both guard spots and also backed up Andrews for the vast majority of training camp. The 6-foot-4, 305-pounder was released at the end of camp, quickly signed to the Patriots practice squad, and then he re-signed to the active roster in Week 1 when Malcolm Mitchell was placed on injured reserve.

Karras, drafted in the sixth round in 2016 out of Illinois, was named a practice player of the week earlier this year and he earned some praise from Belichick before the Patriots took off for Mexico City.

"Ted works hard," Belichick said. "He loves football. He gets there early, stays late."

Belichick noted that Karras (nine snaps, all against the Broncos) hasn't played much this season, but he did see plenty of work early last season when he filled in for an injured Shaq Mason. He was the Week 1 starter at right guard in a win ver the Cardinals and he played 41 snaps in Week 2 against the Dolphins. 

The Patriots offensive line could also potentially turn to Joe Thuney at center. He's practiced there before and got some experience at the position during his time at NC State. This seems like the less likely move since the Patriots would then have to deal with two new players at different spots -- center and left guard (whether the player replacing Thuney would be Karras or rookie Cole Croston) -- which could have a domino effect on the rest of the line. 

However the Patriots choose to handle it, they'll face an interesting test south of the border. The Raiders feature a pair of talented pass-rushers in Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack, who Belichick says play all over the offensive line, yet Oakland is tied for last in the league in sacks. 

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Bill Belichick takes time to admire yet another opposing punter

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Bill Belichick takes time to admire yet another opposing punter

If the Patriots are about to go up against one of the more talented punters in the league, one way or another, you're bound to hear about it from Bill Belichick.

Sometimes Belichick will go into great detail on opposing punters in one of his weekly press conferences. Sometimes he'll go out of his way to highlight a punter during one of his "breakdowns" on Patriots.com. 

He went the latter route this week, gushing over Raiders punter Marquette King.

"We usually don't have the punters on the highlights here, but King's a very athletic punter," Belichick said. "He runs a lot of fakes, a guy you have to really be conscious of as a both holder on field goals and punts on fakes."

King is the No. 2 punter in the league when it comes to net punting (45.5 yards), and he's tenth in the league in terms of the number of punts dropped inside the 20-yard line. 

"King is an athletic guy," Belichick reiterated, "and he can change field-position big time."

Add him to the list of big-legged punters -- "weapons," if you will -- Belichick has praised in the past.

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