Patriots

McDaniels explains why Hoyer is the right fit as Brady's No. 2

McDaniels explains why Hoyer is the right fit as Brady's No. 2

FOXBORO -- Few people spent more time with Jimmy Garoppolo over the last three-plus years than Josh McDaniels. He's the Patriots offensive coordinator, but he's also the quarterbacks coach, and he's watched Garoppolo go from a second-round pick from a school where there was no playbook to a player entrusted with the keys to a franchise. 

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"We understand the business side of it," McDaniels said at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. "But the human element is that you had a guy in your room that you really enjoyed being around, you coached, that spent a lot of time learning and grasping what you were doing, and you saw him grow and get better and mature and improve through the course of time, and now he’s not here. I wish him nothing but the best. I really, really think a lot of this guy. He’s got a bright future, he’s a great person and I hope he does well for himself out there."

The Patriots held their lone practice of the bye week on Wednesday, meaning McDaniels and the rest of the Patriots have to move on quickly without Garoppolo -- and they have. The team announced on Wednesday afternoon that it signed Brian Hoyer to be its backup. 

McDaniels was in Denver and St. Louis for the majority of Hoyer's time in New England, but the two got a chance to work together at the end of the 2011 and the beginning of the following season. Hoyer was released in the summer of 2012, which was McDaniels' first in his second stint as coordinator.

"Brian’s a smart guy," McDaniels said. "He’s got, obviously, some years in our system and our terminology, so it will be kind of a cram session here, but I don’t expect that to take forever because Brian’s an intelligent guy that had plenty of exposure to what we do, and I know he’ll work hard. Hopefully, we’ll catch him up really quickly."

The Patriots benefit from having a week off to get Hoyer caught up well enough to be able to take charge in an emergency situation should it arise in Week 10. They also benefit from having a system that has the same foundation it did when Hoyer was first in town. 

Not every team in the league can say the same for its offense.

"I think the foundation of our system is the same," McDaniels explained. "There’s certainly things that have changed since he was here, I’m sure, but I would say that it’s just like learning a new language. Generally, they’re not going to change the language entirely. You know, you might have to learn a new word here or there or something like that, which I’m sure Brian will be able to do quickly. But, the foundation of our system and what we use and what we’ve done since he left has not really been that different."

McDaniels added: "He’s from Ohio, so I have a fondness for those guys. You know, he’s a football kid. He’s all about football and loves the game, cares about playing quarterback the right way, smart guy, works hard, good teammate, so there’s a lot to like. I spent a short amount of time with him. Looking forward to working with him here going forward in the second half of this season."

Vikings hold off Lions 30-23 to extend win streak to 7

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Vikings hold off Lions 30-23 to extend win streak to 7

DETROIT = Case Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score in the first half to give the Minnesota Vikings a double-digit lead and they went on to win a seventh straight game, 30-23 over the Lions in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit. Click here to read more. 

Pats can find reasons for thanks everywhere

Pats can find reasons for thanks everywhere

The Patriots hit Thanksgiving with an 8-2 record, a stranglehold on first place in the AFC East, and a rest-of-the-season schedule -- save for the much-anticipated meeting with the Steelers on Dec. 17 -- almost bereft of quality opponents. So they have a lot to be thankful for.

But here are some things you may not be aware of . . . 

SURGICAL-GRADE DIPPED LATEX TUBING

Whoever came up with the stuff Tom Brady's resistance bands are made out of -- it's actually "surgical-grade dipped latex tubing sheathed in ballistic nylon," according to the TB12 website -- probably deserves a tip of the cap from the entire region. The 40-year-old uses the bands extensively as part of his training regimen, and he currently leads the league in passing yards, yards per attempt, quarterback rating, rating under pressure and touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

SUSAN SCARNECCHIA

Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia was retired just a couple of years ago. He traveled. He spent time with his grandchildren. Then the Patriots called. After some time to think about it -- and after talking it over with his wife Susan -- Scarnecchia opted to come back after two years away from the game. At 69 years old, he's helped this year's unit overcome some early-season struggles, and he still seems to be on top of his game. Think the Patriots are happy he had his wife's blessing to jump back in? 

ELECTRONIC TABLETS

You weren't expecting this, were you? Bill Belichick has said he's not a fan . . . but that's on game days. "I’m done with the tablets," he said last year. "I’ve given them as much time as I can give them. They’re just too undependable for me." But when it comes to players using tablets on their own time? They're incredibly useful. Whereas years ago players would have to come into the facility early or stay late in order to watch extra film, now they can study from the comfort of their own homes, on a team flight, or while riding in a car (as long as they aren't driving). For teams that have players who want to be over-prepared, having access to all-22 video at any time can be an advantage. 

DR. ROBERT WATKINS

Who's this, you ask? He's the Los Angeles-based back specialist who operated on Rob Gronkowski's back last year. He operated on the big tight end in 2009 and 2013, and his latest procedure seems to be holding up as well as possible. Gronkowski quickly regained his strength and athleticism, and he continues to be his team's most dynamic offensive weapon. He has 41 catches for 619 yards and five scores this season, and he's been used extensively as a blocker in the running game and in pass protection. Gronkowski deserves credit -- as does the Patriots medical, training and nutrition staffs -- for being so effective in his return to the field, but the Patriots are probably thankful that last year's back surgery went as well as it did.  

FLOWERS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY

Trey Flowers has been arguably his team's most dependable defender this season. According to Pro Football Focus, he's been on the field for 606 snaps, which is fourth among edge defenders. His 338 pass-rush snaps are second among 4-3 defensive ends, per PFF. He's played through injury at times, and he's remained productive. Against the Raiders he had three quarterback hits and three hurries. So why would the Patriots be thankful for Flowers Construction Co.? That's the Huntsville, Alabama company run by Flowers' father, Robert, who put Trey to work when he was growing up. The work ethic he learned on-site has helped him go from a fourth-round pick who lost most of his rookie season to injury into a playing-time iron man and one of the team's most reliable defenders.

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