Patriots

Wendell moves on without retired O-linemate Connolly

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Wendell moves on without retired O-linemate Connolly

Dan Connolly’s retirement this offseason snuck under the radar for the casual fan, but not to anyone who covered this team during Connolly’s tenure, and certainly not to longtime teammate and friend, Ryan Wendell.

“I can’t say enough good things about Dan, so whatever you want to write about Dan Connolly you can,” Wendell said, smiling. “He’s an awesome guy, an awesome teammate, one of my best friends. It was an honor and privilege for me to play behind him, next to him, anywhere around him for the past seven years. I wish we could play together for longer, but he’s got time with his family now and he’s enjoying that.”

The closeness between the two men is such that I asked Wendell if he tried to persuade Connolly to give it one more go this season.

“We want the best players we can get every year, and Dan is a great player,” admired Wendell. “I would love to have him out here, but this is the NFL - pro football - guys come and go all the time. We’ve lost guys in the past and made adjustments.”

They will have to do again. In fact, the Pats have been since the draft, when the team selected a pair of guards in the fourth round, Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson. Those two have been working with the first team since OTAs while Wendell rehabbed from offseason surgery. But now Wendell is back in the mix after that interminable wait, practicing for the first time Tuesday.

“I think every player wants to be on the field every snap,” said Wendell. “I’ve been trying to let Bill [Belichick] get me on defense and special teams...I’m sure I’d be terrible at all of 'em, but I do it anyway.”

There is some thought the Pats would willingly go into the year with both rookies flanking second-year center Bryan Stork. I wondered if that added to Wendell’s urgency in getting back as soon as humanly possible.

“I think you can’t spend any time worrying about things you can’t control,” he said. “The only thing I can control is doing the work I’ve had each day, and believe me, I’ve had plenty of work to do each day, and I do that each day trying to do the best I can. I feel like that’s what would be of the most help to the team and that’s all I can do.”

Wendell was the stabilizing force when inserted into the Pats starting lineup in Week 5 a season ago. Those protection problems that had plagued Tom Brady through the first four weeks magically disappeared with Wendell at right guard, Stork at center and Connolly at left guard. Perhaps the coaching staff will recall that and let the kids play themselves in or out of a job, knowing there’s security with Wendell waiting in the wings. But if the former Fresno State product is healthy, and capable, the smarter move would be to have him in the lineup as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Wentz tosses 4 TDs, Eagles beat Redskins, 34-24

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Wentz tosses 4 TDs, Eagles beat Redskins, 34-24

PHILADELPHIA - Carson Wentz tossed four touchdown passes, and the Philadelphia Eagles overcame losing nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters in a 34-24 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday night.

Wentz threw for 268 yards and ran for a career-best 63 after a shaky start to lead the NFL-best Eagles (6-1) to their fifth straight win. But the victory was costly because Peters was carted off the field with a knee injury in the third quarter.

Kirk Cousins had 303 yards passing and three TDs for the Redskins (3-3).

The Eagles went three-and-out three times in their first four drives and had only 57 total yards before Wentz hit Mack Hollins in stride with a perfect 64-yard TD pass to tie it at 10.

That got the offense rolling.

Wentz connected with Zach Ertz for 46 yards on the next series and found him again for a 4-yard TD pass to make it 17-10.

After getting the second-half kickoff, the Eagles drove 86 yards for another touchdown. Peters was injured during the series, and fans chanted his name while teammates surrounded the cart.

Wentz finished the drive off with a play that Peters would appreciate.

While being hit by two defenders and falling forward, Wentz lofted a 9-yard TD pass to Corey Clement.

Wentz fired a 10-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor to expand the lead to 31-17. Wentz kept that drive alive by escaping a sack and running 17 yards on third-and-8.

Cousins tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chris Thompson to give the Redskins a 10-3 lead. He connected with Jordan Reed on a 5-yard TD to cut the deficit to 24-17 and threw a 12-yard pass to Reed to cap the scoring.

The Eagles were penalized on four straight plays to start their first possession before Wentz was intercepted by Quinton Dunbar on a deep pass to Torrey Smith on second-and-31.

Philadelphia swept Washington for the first time since 2013 and has a commanding lead in the NFC East. The Cowboys and Redskins are tied for second place.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Are Patriots' defensive problems solved?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Are Patriots' defensive problems solved?

0:41 - Tom Giles, Michael Holley, and Tom Curran react to the Patriots’ 23-7 win over the Falcons on Sunday night and whether the Patriots deserve to be considered Super Bowl favorites.

6:09 - Is Johnson Bademosi an upgrade over Stephon Gilmore at cornerback for the Patriots? Michael Hurley joins BST to debate with Tom Curran, Michael Holley, and Kayce Smith. They also discuss the defense’s overall improvement in Sunday night’s win.

14:37 - NBC Sports Boston’s Red Sox insider Evan Drellich joins the show to talk about the Red Sox hiring Alex Cora to be their new manager, whether it was the right choice, and how his presence will affect the Red Sox clubhouse.

22:14 - Kayce Smith and Tom Curran discuss Kyrie Irving’s vulgar response to a Philadelphia fan yelling “Where’s LeBron?” at him on Friday night.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE