Giardi: Patriots embracing competition in joint practices


Giardi: Patriots embracing competition in joint practices

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, West Virginia – Tom Brady barked his cadence loudly before tapping his foot once. His slot receiver, Julian Edelman, released quickly off the line of scrimmage, getting on to Houston cornerback Jonathan Joseph in a snap. Joseph tried to get his hands on Edelman in an attempt to gain balance and leverage. The Pats wideout wasn’t having any of it, using his arm to fend of Joseph’s right hand, then turning his shoulders, creating even less surface space for Joseph to grab. Scrambling to gain control, Joseph opened his hips slightly. Huge mistake. Edelman planted off his inside, left foot and cut hard toward the sideline. Joseph got turned around completely, leading to an easy completion and plenty of running room. 

Why is this noteworthy? Well aside from Joseph being one of the best corners in the AFC, it highlights another reason why joint practices are a critical part of Bill Belichick’s formula. Prior to the session with Jacksonville last week, Edelman and his fellow receivers were finding less and less space to operate against the Pats defensive backs. Yes, those guys get paid too, but after a while, there are no secrets between teammates, especially as we get deeper into training camp.

“That’s the great thing about these practices,” said Edelman. “You have an opportunity to get out of training camp…it’s almost like you’re in school and you go on a field trip. You may be learning things but it’s like 10 times better than when you’re in class. It’s the same thing with joint practices. You get to go out, hit someone new, use your techniques that you’ve been working on for so long against someone new, and see how they stack up.”

That’s not to say it’s easy. It’s not. Houston’s defense is as good as you’ll see and Edelman and the rest of the Pats offense discovered that for the better part of the 2-plus hour practice Tuesday. But there were moments, be it in the aforementioned example featuring Edelman and Joseph, or later, when Chris Hogan ran by both Joseph and Kareem Jackson some 45 yards or so down the field to reel in a beautiful thrown bomb by Brady. Stephen Gilmore, Malcolm Butler or Eric Rowe would have known how quickly Hogan can get even and then go by you. Joseph and Jackson did not.

“It’s great to be able to have this,” said Brandin Cooks. “Last week, it was Jacksonville, this week now having a great defense in Houston. All it’s doing is just sharpening your game. Not having the same people in front of you, having the mix and the feel for the competition that we’ll be seeing all year round, I think it’s a great thing we’re doing.”

Edelman had a different way to describe it. He was in full storyteller mode (maybe that has something to do with a certain book he wrote with one Tom E. Curran).

“It’s the brother syndrome,” said Edelman. “You go out, your mother is not around, you’re with your brother and all day you hang out and you guys end up beating each other up. When you get to go out and play with someone else, it’s a little different. You get to have fun, and take pride on that, and you’re actually closer with your brother who’s there with you and you work harder together as a family.“

Based on how uneven the offense was on day one, I’d bet the two chief babysitters of this family - Belichick and Brady - will be asking for even more work from the skill position players. And there is no better time to do - and discover what works and what doesn’t - then in these sessions. Right mom?

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots running back Danny Woodhead has announced his retirement after 10 years in the NFL.

The 33-year-old took to Instagram to make it official.

10 years! Wow, God had crazy plans for a small little kid from North Platte, NE! It’s been a wild ride and feel so blessed He allowed me to do what I loved for so long. But now it’s time to say goodbye to the game I love. First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without Him my career wouldn’t have been possible. He blessed me with the gifts and He paved the way. All I had to do was follow His plans for my life, and His plans were crazy awesome! Next, I want to thank my wife who has been by my side since freshman year of high school. She has been a rock through all the ups and downs. Sis, Willy, Mae Mae, and Hopie your daddy is going to be home a ton more and I can’t wait! Thanks to my Dad and Mom for always supporting me and showing me that God is first, then everything else will fall into place. Ben, Joel, and Anna thanks for preparing me for the NFL in our backyard games growing up. The dreaded in-laws Steve and Suzie for always being there for me. Chris Gittings (agent) you’re the best and thankful your my brother/uncle! Thank you Jets, Patriots, Chargers, and Ravens! Thanks to all my head coaches (Bob Zohner, Brad Smith, Bill O’Boyle, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick, Mike McCoy, and John Harbaugh) who believed in me! To my rbs coaches (coach skiles, coach reiners, Jimmy Raye, A Lynn, Ivan, Ollie, Ridge, and Thomas) thanks for putting up with me. Thanks to all my teammates from high school till now. Without you guys I never would’ve become who I was as a player. To all my olinemen, you guys deserve the credit for anything that I received credit for. I thank you for helping make my career. To all the trainers, team docs, strength coaches, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, body gurus thanks for making sure I was on the field. To all the people who made my life easier at the facility (ops, pr, equipment staff, cafe workers, custodians) thanks and your work doesn’t go unnoticed. And how could i forget all my fans?! You’re the best and have always felt the love and support! I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few but know that I’m thankful for everything everyone has done on my journey.

A post shared by Danny Woodhead (@teamwoody39) on

Thursday, it was reported the Patriots reached out to Woodhead for a possible reunion. 

The last two seasons have been challenging for him, as he dealt with season-ending injuries in both 2016 with the Chargers and 2017 with the Ravens.

Woodhead finishes his career with 2,238 yards rushing, 2,698 yards receiving, 15 rushing touchdowns and 17 receiving touchdowns.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

1:20 - Despite throwing a depleted roster out there, the Celtics were able to get back in the win column vs. the Magic. Michael Holley and Tommy Heinsohn break down the win.

6:17 - Finally, the Patriots have done something! On Friday night it was reported that New England signed defensive end Adrian Clayborn as well as running back Jeremy Hill. Tom Curran, Alex Giaimo and Ben Volin discuss the impact these additions will have on the team.

11:05 - While the Celtics were able to pull out the win on Friday, the team did announce that Marcus Smart is expected to miss six to eight weeks after undergoing thumb surgery. A. Sherrod Blakely expresses his optimism on Smart’s return for the playoffs.