Patriots

Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: The cornerbacks

patriots-malcolm-butler-020315.jpg

Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: The cornerbacks

Leading up to the first day of training camp, we’re going to look at the most important Patriots, counting down from 10 to 1. We’ve advanced to number four today and yes, because it’s my list, it’s a little offbeat. But when you read, I think you’ll understand why.

4. MALCOLM BUTLER. OR LOGAN RYAN. OR BRADLEY FLETCHER. OR TARELL BROWN. OR SOMEONE CURRENTLY NOT ON THE ROSTER.

Why? The Patriots won a Super Bowl last year. They won it, in part, because they finally had an elite secondary. Having Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington slotted at 1, 2 and 3 gave Matt Patricia more flexibility to call whatever he wanted and trust it would be executed on the back end. Now those guys are gone, and to say the corner position is a massive question mark would be a colossal understatement. I have no idea who will start in Week One. I have no idea who will be starting when the playoffs roll around. It could be an entirely different crew from early September to January. You know. I know it. The American public knows it.

Previous Performance: Throw it all out. The top four corners are no longer on the roster. Now I could give a damn about Alfonzo Dennard, but the other three?? I cry my big fat head to sleep on my pillow every night. Watching Revis play was football porn. You never had to sweat the technique (shoutout to Eric B & Rakim) and it was clear -- despite the idiots yammering on sports radio -- that he played at an elite level from start to finish. Browner’s insertion into the lineup brought swagger and physicality and smarts that he still doesn’t get enough credit for. Butler’s Super Bowl interception doesn’t happen without Browner alerting him to the play and then making that wicked jam. So what’s left? Butler is the “it” corner but he played a limited role overall. Ryan regressed. Brown just signed and is coming off the broken foot and Fletcher had one of the worst years a corner has ever. But don’t worry. It’ll be fine . . . 

Questions surrounding the player: How quickly can these youngsters and retreads come together? Can any emerge as a legit number one option (and I’m not talking in the Leigh Bodden mold, either)? Can Fletcher rediscover the form that in 2013 had him close to getting a lucrative contract extension from the Eagles? Will Butler and Ryan avoid the all-too-common step back or flatline trajectory that most of the Pats young corners have fallen into? I need a drink . . . 

Overall Outlook: Until they show me they can do it, I won’t believe they can. There is potentially good football in this group, but there’s also the potential that one or two of these guys will be forgotten by the end of camp, let alone the end of the season.

Patriots-Falcons injury report: Gilmore, Rowe out

patriots_texans_stephon_gilmore_2_092417.jpg

Patriots-Falcons injury report: Gilmore, Rowe out

As expected, after not practicing all week, Patriots cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (concussion) and Eric Rowe (groin) have been ruled out for Sunday night’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

The full Patriots and Falcons injury report:

Tom Brady: Injuries like his, Gordon Hayward's 'big reality check for all of us'

patriots_tom_brady_3_112016.jpg

Tom Brady: Injuries like his, Gordon Hayward's 'big reality check for all of us'

FOXBORO — You’d have to go back to 2008 to find the last “you’ve got to be kidding me” injury to open a Boston season before Gordon Hayward. 

That injury, of course, was the torn ACL suffered by Brady on a hit to the left leg from Bernard Pollard with 7:27 left in the first quarter of Week 1. Brady missed the rest of the season and the Pats went on to miss the playoffs despite going 11-5 under Matt Cassel. 

MORE:

Brady, who reached out to Aaron Rodgers last Sunday after the Packers quarterback was lost for the season, said he felt for Hayward after the Celtics’ key free agent acquisition suffered a fracture-dislocation of his left ankle 5:15 into the season opener against the Cavaliers Tuesday.

“It’s just a big reality check for all of us because we all think we’re invincible to some degree, and then you go and you have this really tough injury that just happens,” Brady said. “It is tough and everyone probably goes through something a little different or it hits them at different times, and I feel bad for [Hayward and Rodgers], but I’m sure they’ll both come back stronger and better than ever. 

“That’s what you have to do as an athlete. You’re always faced with adversities and you’ve got to overcome them. Mental toughness is a big part of that. I know both those players have a lot of that.”