Patriots RB Mike Gillislee: 'Every time I get the ball, I'm trying to score'


Patriots RB Mike Gillislee: 'Every time I get the ball, I'm trying to score'

FOXBORO -- The approach Mike Gillislee takes to his job makes sense. A backup for the vast majority of his first four years in the NFL, he has developed an almost over-eager attitude coming out of the backfield.


"Every running back is different, but for me, I try to score," Gillislee said. "You know, opportunities in my career, I've barely gotten them. But now, every time I get the ball, I'm trying to score."

His average was pretty good in Week 1 against the Chiefs. On 15 carries, he scored three times, all of them from two yards out or closer. But there were moments when maybe Gillislee might've been better off looking for a sharply-lined single to the opposite field as opposed gearing up for an awe-inspiring moon shot. 

One play that stood out from Week 1 was Gillislee's off-tackle run with 10:23 remaining in the third quarter. Left guard Joe Thuney pulled and sealed one defender while fullback James Develin led the way to take out another. Instead of waiting a beat and allowing a hole to develop, Gillislee tried to bounce the run outside and lost four yards. 

"There were some things I looked at on film that I could see I could do better," Gillislee said this week. "Just perfecting the schemes. Every running play, every passing play, it's schemed the way that coach wants and the way that it works." 

There's a fine line between patience and aggressiveness as an NFL back, Gillislee explained.

In short-yardage situations, the get-it-and-go approach is ideal. "I'm not waiting," Gillislee said. "I'm trying to hit it." That's exactly what he tried to do on both fourth-and-one runs last week that failed when the line in front of him was unable to create much in the way of running room.

But on first and second down? There may be a little more leeway there, and Gillislee indicated that having a feel for the timing of how the play will develop in front of him can help him adjust one way or the other.

Gillislee he has done what he can to ensure that he's up on that timing, running drills with his teammates, talking to them in the locker room about what they see in certain situations. But he missed a large chunk of training camp with a hamstring issue and there still may be work to do in that regard.

From Gillislee's perspective, any ground they have to make up isn't necessarily a result of missed practice time -- "I wouldn't directly point to that," he said -- but he acknowledged the chemistry between him and his linemen can always improve with practice repetitions.

"Just getting those reps, developing those reps, me gaining their trust," Gillislee said, "I think it's going to come."

There should be opportunities for Gillislee to do some damage against the Saints on Sunday as they gave up 127 yards rushing to Vikings rookie runner Dalvin Cook in their Week 1 loss.

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."