Some do’s and don’ts for Brady during his suspension

Some do’s and don’ts for Brady during his suspension

When Sept. 3 rolls around, eight days before the Patriots open the season in Arizona, Tom Brady will leave Gillette Stadium and not be allowed to return for a month. Brady, of course, is facing a four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate.  The suspension is a result of a year and a half of legal wrangling, debate and, ultimately, the reaffirmation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s power to act as both judge and jury in this current system. 

This leaves Brady in an unfamiliar position, with limitations on what he can do, where he can do it and with whom. I’ve been emailing back and forth with the NFL and the NFLPA for more than a week and finally have some answers about what Brady can and can’t do while on suspension.

MORE: Jonathan Kraft: Brady banner will come down when Patriots-Cards kick off

Brady cannot: 

-- Attend or watch practice

-- Appear at the team’s facility for any reason

-- Have contact with any team personnel. No exchange of playbooks/game plans or sending video on tablets or other electronic devices. If the league becomes aware of a violation, they will investigate (though the league wouldn’t elaborate how they would discover such info and then enforce).

-- Engage in any team football-related activities or discussions with teammates, even if away from the team facility (i.e. at Brady’s home, or a high school field, etc). This would include working out or running drills, including running simulated plays and playing catch.

-- Go to the stadium as a spectator. 

-- Travel to road games

-- Attend press conferences

MORE: Goodell believes he was 100 percent right to suspend Brady four games

Brady can:

-- Work out or receive treatment at a different facility with his own trainers, meaning Alex Guerrero and the TB12 Sports Therapy Center at Patriot Place, adjacent to Gillette Stadium, would appear to be in play. However, Guerrero often appears on the Patriots sidelines and wearing Patriots gear. According to report in the Boston Globe last December, since the TB12 center opened in 2013, “the team has paid the company for Guerrero and his staff to provide treatment services and nutritional advice to multiple Patriots players.” An email sent early this afternoon to Patriots PR about Guerrero’s status within the organization has yet to be answered.  

-- The NFLPA also believes that Brady can work out at a college or high school and throw to that school’s wide receivers.

-- He’s also free to workout with unsigned free agents, and that would include players who have been cut by the Patriots. 

In short, Brady really can’t do much at all. There will be challenges Brady has never faced as a pro, even dating to the 2008 season, which he missed all but a few plays after undergoing knee surgery.


Patriots release Shea McClellin

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Patriots release Shea McClellin

Shea McClellin will be blocking kicks for somebody else next season. 

The Patriots announced Monday they've released the veteran linebacker, ending his tenure with the team after two seasons.  ESPN's Field Yates broke the news.

The Pats signed McClellin to a three-year deal prior to the 2016 season, but that was the only season in which he played for the team. McClellin missed all of last season due to injury. Prior to coming to New England, McClellin played four seasons with the Bears, who chose him 19th overall in 2012. 

McClellin's biggest contribution with the Pats came when he blocked a Justin Tucker kick in Week 14 of the 2016 season against the Ravens.

Pinning down the best lesson Vince Wilfork could teach Danny Shelton

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Pinning down the best lesson Vince Wilfork could teach Danny Shelton

When the Patriots traded for Danny Shelton earlier this offseason, sending a 2019 third-rounder to Cleveland in exchange for the defensive tackle, they traded for a player who was already being mentored by one of their own. 

In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Shelton explained that one of his agents put him in touch with former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork so that Shelton could pick up some tips from one of the best defensive tackles in football of the past 15 years. 

"For me, he’s someone that I still look up to even when he was with the Texans," Shelton said. "I got the opportunity to reach out to him and kind of pick his brain and just learn a couple of tips from him. He’s been really responsive. He’s been a guy that has been really helpful this offseason and I’m looking forward to reaching out more and learning some more from him."

When Shelton was coming out of the University of Washington in 2015,'s Lance Zierlein's "NFL comparison" was Wilfork. Both carried similar builds -- Shelton is now listed at 335 pounds -- and both were viewed as surprisingly good athletes for their body types. Shelton was also viewed as the top two-gapping tackle in the draft that year, which is exactly what the Patriots ask their interior linemen to do. 

Shelton has made good on those projections over the last couple of years. Last season, he was a key part of a Browns defense that ranked fourth against the run by Football Outsiders in terms of DVOA. In 2016, Shelton was ranked by Pro Football Focus as its eighth-best interior lineman against the run. Per PFF, he was second that year -- behind only Damon Harrison -- in terms of the number of run stops he recorded from the interior.

It's clear that Shelton, the No. 12 overall pick three years ago, understands what his strengths are. 

"Honestly, I’m just going to go with whatever Coach [Bill Belichick] wants me to do," Shelton said. "My best feature is stopping the run, so if he wants me to play at a specific position I’ll do it, and I’ll make sure I do my job for the team’s success."

So how can Wilfork help? If he has any tips on how to be a consistent player from the inside in Belichick's system, that could go a long way. Over the course of Wilfork's 13-year career, few defensive tackles were as effective from week to week and year to year. Wilfork played at least 830 snaps in four of his last five seasons with the Patriots (he was injured in 2013), and even during his two seasons with the Texans, he averaged about 600 snaps per year. He made five Pro Bowls with the Patriots and was named a First or Second-Team All-Pro four times.

In what form might Wilfork's advice on consistency be delivered? Would it be nutritional, which was an aspect of his preparation he embraced later in his career? Would it be technique-based? Would it be simply how to take the coaching dispensed inside the walls of Gillette Stadium? 

Shelton, who missed two games last season and played in 469 snaps, doesn't have a long-term contract with the Patriots to be able to prove his worth over multiple years the way Wilfork did. And he may not be asked to take on the myriad roles Wilfork was during his time under Belichick. But if Shelton can pick up some advice from Wilfork on how to stay on the field and how to help the Patriots win on first and second downs, that might make him the team's most valuable offseason addition. 

New England finished the season 20th in rush yards allowed per game, and they were 31st in yards per attempt allowed. In the Super Bowl, with run-stuffing defensive tackle Alan Branch a healthy scratch, the Patriots allowed 6.1 yards per carry to the Eagles on their way to 164 yards rushing. 

Shelton is in the final year of his rookie contract and scheduled to make $2.03 million this season. The Patriots may not be willing to pick up his hefty $11.7 million fifth-year option for 2019, but if he can continue his upward trajectory then maybe the Patriots will work to extend him before the end of the year. 

How Wilfork impacts that trajectory, if at all, remains to be seen. But he's certainly not a bad guy for Shelton to have in his corner as the 24-year-old embarks on life with the Patriots.