Belichick: Patriots benefited from rare padded practice


Belichick: Patriots benefited from rare padded practice

Patriots coach Bill Belichick made a comment during his postgame press conference that stood out as a bit of a change from the norm. He liked the way his team had practiced in the days leading up to New England's 27-6 win over the Texans on Sunday night, and he decided to highlight the effort his players showed him.

"Well, first of all I am real proud of our team this week," he said. "It was a tough week. I thought we competed hard all week, in terms of preparation, on the practice field, we practiced in pads and worked on a lot of fundamental things and those guys had a great attitude about it."

Belichick pointed out that the Patriots worked out in pads in part because that's a rarity for this time of year. 

Since the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and NFLPA was signed back in 2011, all NFL teams have been permitted just 14 fully-padded practices during the regular season. Teams are allowed one per week through the first 11 weeks of the season. After that, teams have to pick their spots as to when they ramp up contact. 

After consecutive losses to the Broncos and Eagles, the Patriots opted to use one of their remaining padded practices on Wednesday of last week. They had struggled on special teams, their pass protection had broken down, and their tackling had been sloppy at times. 

What better time to do some full-contact fine-tuning?

Players could have complained or gone half-speed, Belichick explained, by they approached the challenge with a certain zeal and became a better team for it. 

"You put on pads at the end of the season . . . Look, nobody's 100 percent this time of the year on our team or on any other team you play," Belichick said. "That's football. It takes a toll on everybody. So it's certainly the more comfortable way just to not have contact during the week -- which we're forced to do that the majority of the time anyway in terms of padded contact -- so not having that during the week, and when you do have it, then sometimes players can look at it as we're sore, we're banged up, [and take an] I-wish-we-weren't-doing-it type of attitude.

"But I think that our guys went out there and they worked hard. When we practiced on Wednesday, we definitely got better. We improved in a lot of the areas that fundamentally we were trying to address. I think that showed up in the game. It certainly wasn't perfect. I'm not trying to say that. But I thought that [it was] a hard week of preparation both on and off the field, and pushing each other.  Not just each individual preparing separately, but preparing and adjusting with his teammates, and getting on the same page on communication and adjustments and how to handle certain situations. Especially against a team like Houston -- that defensively has a lot of great players and gives you a lot of looks, and offensively can play at a fast tempo and force tough communication situations -- our players did a good job of that all week."

Belichick said he felt confident in the week of work his team had put together long before their drubbing of the Texans, but he was pleased to see that work pay dividends. 

"I told them that before the game, so it wasn't an after-the-fact thing," Belichick said. "I knew we had a good week of practice, and I knew we prepared hard, and I was just glad to see it show it last night. They got out what they put into that game. That was certainly a lot better than what we did last week."

Sources: Patriots not interested in bringing back Antonio Brown

Sources: Patriots not interested in bringing back Antonio Brown

Once bitten, twice shy.

Two sources with knowledge of the Patriots thinking scoffed at the idea Antonio Brown would rejoin the Patriots this season.

When one source was asked if there was a chance the wideout – who was with the Patriots for less than two tumultuous weeks in September – might have a chance at rejoining the team, this was the two-word response.

“What’s changed?”

I mentioned Brown’s social media apology to owner Robert Kraft earlier in the week and his meeting last week with the NFL as possibly changing the equation.

I was told that it does not.

At issue aren’t hurt feelings that Brown couldn’t fix with a few keystrokes. It’s the wariness of something else cropping up down the road.

When the Patriots signed Brown, there was no advance notice from Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus that Brown was on the cusp of being slapped with a lawsuit by his former trainer Britney Taylor even though the legal wrangling between Brown and Taylor’s attorneys had been going on for months.

And while it was subsequently reported Rosenhaus couldn’t break a confidentiality agreement Brown supposedly had in place, the fact that the Patriots entered into the Brown experience not knowing at all that that bombshell was waiting to explode makes them unwilling to go down the same road again.

Florio: If Patriots don’t sign Antonio Brown, "somebody else will">>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Mike Florio on Antonio Brown situation; Robert Kraft-Jerry Jones rivalry

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Patriots Talk Podcast: Mike Florio on Antonio Brown situation; Robert Kraft-Jerry Jones rivalry

Tom E. Curran is joined by Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, who discusses the latest on Antonio Brown's legal situation and a potential reunion with the Patriots, as well as New York Times journalist Mark Leibovich — author of the book "Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times" — who talks about the off-field rivalry between Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones, in this new episode of Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast.

4:09 — Tom Curran is joined by Mike Florio to talk about the emerging new details of Antonio Brown's legal situation and how it relates to his possible return.

12:22 — Mike explains why the NFL's disciplinary system for players who violate the league's personal conduct policy is not fair.

14:52 — Will the Patriots try to resign Antonio Brown if he is cleared? Tom and Mike discuss how close the wide receiver actually is to making a return to football and why the Patriots might go after him.

21:46 — Tom is joined by author and journalist at the New York Times Mark Leibovich to discuss the off-the-field rivalry between Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones.

28:12 — Is there inherent jealousy between the two owners based on their own success?

33:40 â€” Mark gives his take on the Patriots' upcoming matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.