Patriots

Haynesworth: Time for 'sleeping giant' to awake

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Haynesworth: Time for 'sleeping giant' to awake

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO --Albert Haynesworth wasnt happy with his situation inWashington the last two seasons. Thats no secret.

But as Mondays regular-season opener in Miami nears for thePatriots, everyone in the football world is ready to see what Haynesworth willbring to New Englands defensive line this season.

Hes pretty clear on what he wants to do.

I think its time for me, and for the sleeping giant toawake, and to go back out there on the field and play football again, said Haynesworthin front of his locker at Gillette Stadium, prior to Thursdays practice.

A pretty powerful comment, to say the least.

At 6-foot-6, 350 pounds, Haynesworth is a giant. And for thelast two seasons, hes felt like hes been a non-factor.

So to hear him call for the sleeping giant to awake withno sense of comedy attached to it, is quite a statement, just days away fromhis first meaningful game with the Patriots.

Haynesworth said that hes still a little bit rusty andthat he still has some work to do, in order to get where he wants to be. Butthat doesnt mean there hasnt been improvement by the day.

Maybe the fact that hes improving isnt a surprise. Maybeits the fact that the past two seasons havent allowed for many football fansand critics to buy into the fact that hes willing to put in the time to makethose improvements.

On a day in which the Patriots chose six captains for theseason, Haynesworth described his hard work as a product of the familyenvironment in the Patriots locker room.

For two years, I was kind of taken out of football a littlebit, and now Im back in it, and am truly enjoying the game again, and trulyenjoy coming in to practice and coming in to work every day, said Haynesworth.Just to be able to have the chance again to play and to show what I can do, isawesome.

Its not like the last two years, he said. That was alittle different. The captains or whatever were almost above the team inWashington. Here, with Mayo and Vince, you can go up and talk to those guys.

Thats not saying you couldnt do that in D.C., but here,its really like a family in the locker room. Everybodys for you. No matterwhat happens, say that guy does something or whatever, it doesnt matter, wereall behind him. Were not going to pass judgment or anything like that. Itsall about everybody being for you, and everybody having your back.

And when that sleeping giant awakes, it sounds like hesalso going to have theirs.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady is on pace for 5,224 yards passing in 2017, just a shade under his total from his career-high in 2011. He's on track to have 34 touchdowns and just five picks. Barring a continued run of ridiculous efficiency from Kansas City's Alex Smith, those numbers would be MVP-caliber in all likelihood.

But Brady's not thrilled with the way he's played of late. What gives? 

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In his past two games, he hasn't thrown the football as consistently as he would have liked. After starting the season with a 10-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio, he's 3-to-2 in the last couple of weeks. His accuracy has been at times pinpoint (as it was on his 42-yard completion to Brandin Cooks to help set up a Rob Gronkowski score against the Jets), but it has also been uncharacteristically erratic.

He was picked deep down the middle of the field by Buster Skrine last week, but the more concerning throw may have been the quick out-route to Gronkowski that Skrine dropped for what should have been an easy interception. Brady missed Phillip Dorsett on what looked like it could have been a long touchdown with Dorsett running free behind the defense. He threw behind Chris Hogan twice in the game, one of which opened up Hogan to a rib-shot that landed him on the injury report this week.

Against the Jets, Brady was not sacked and he was hit only four times -- a light day for him compared to other weeks this season when he's been battered. Yet he still completed just under 53 percent of his passes for 257 yards and a season-low 6.76 yards per attempt. 

"Well, I've got to hit the open . . . If the throws are there I've got to be able to make them," he said on Friday. "It's disappointing when I don't. To me, it just comes back to technique and fundamentals and making sure everything is working and that's the consistent daily thing that you're working on. I'm always working on my accuracy.

"I wish I hit them all. I'm capable of hitting them all and I need to be able to do that. I said last week that some of these games wouldn't be as close if I was playing better in the red area. I think some of those missed opportunities in the pass game with me hitting guys would really help our team. Hopefully, I can do a better job for this team."

Brady is no longer listed on the Patriots injury report, but he dealt with a left shoulder injury against both the Bucs and the Jets, and it's worth wondering if that somehow impacted how his passes traveled in those games. Balance is key in Brady's world, and even though he can make flat-footed throws look easy, perhaps an injury to his front side limited his ability to place the ball where he wanted. 

Keeping Brady upright could go a long way in helping the 40-year-old regain his form from Weeks 2-4 when he didn't dip below a 104 quarterback rating. Bill Belichick said earlier this week that part of the reason the Jets pass-rush wasn't quite as effective as others they'd faced this year was his team's ability to run the ball. Productive rushing attempts on first and second down mean manageable third downs, which mean shorter pass attempts. Those of course, in theory, lead to less time standing in the pocket and a healthier quarterback.

"It's great," Brady said of his team's recent surge running the football. "I mean, to be able to run the ball consistently in the NFL is important for every offense. It does take a lot of . . . I wouldn't say pressure, it's just production. If 400 yards of offense is what you're looking for and you can get 150 from your running game, the 250 has got to come in the passing game. If you're getting 50 yards in the rushing game then it means you've got to throw for more.

"I don't think it's pressure it's just overall you're going to get production in different areas and the backs are a big part of our offense and handing the ball off to them is an easy way for us to gain yards if we're all coordinated and doing the right thing. But those guys are running hard. The line is doing a great job up front finishing blocks and so forth."

Against the Falcons and their talented -- though underperforming -- offense this weekend, the running game could be key. First, it could help the Patriots defense by controlling possession and keeping Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman off the field. Next are the obvious advantages for the signal-caller who could use a stress-free day in the pocket to help him solve his recent accuracy issues. 

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