Patriots

Burkhead excited to put his varied skill set on display with Patriots

Burkhead excited to put his varied skill set on display with Patriots

FOXBORO -- Rex Burkhead was paying attention. 

After watching how the Patriots offense operates -- and specifically how they use their backs in a variety of ways -- he knew that he'd like to play for them. As a free agent this offseason, it didn't take long before the two sides agreed to a one-year deal where Burkhead will seemingly have an opportunity to show that he can be an effective running back, receiver and special teamer in the right system.

"It was very intriguing, of course, how they use [their running backs]," Burkhead said. "Split them out, use them in the backfield, just the multi-dimensional ways that they use them. What coach McDaniels does with offensive schemes, it's great, and I felt like it was a fit for me."

Burkhead's size (5-foot-10, 210 pounds) and his ability to catch makes him the biggest all-purpose back on the Patriots roster. Dion Lewis has proven over the course of the last two seasons that he can be effective when used between the tackles as well as when used as a receiver, but he doesn't carry with him the frame that Burkhead does.

The former Bengals special teamer and 2013 sixth-round pick out of Nebraska said that if his new club wanted to use him lined up wide or in the slot -- as Cincinnati did in the playoffs three seasons ago -- he would be comfortable doing that. 

"I grew up in Texas," he said with a smile. "We had 7-on-7s in the summers all the time. We had to play receiver. You can't hand the ball of there. Got comfortable with that.

"Just trying to be an all-purpose back. Being able to split out, catch passes out there is something I've always wanted to do."

Despite the presence of Lewis and James White on the roster, he should have the opportunity to do just that in New England. For a team that throws as much as the Patriots do, there will be in all likelihood enough targets to go around.

Patriots Demise Syndrome, the symptoms and how to cope

Patriots Demise Syndrome, the symptoms and how to cope

The Patriots are 1-2. An ugly 1-2. We haven’t even turned back the clocks. And it’s over. It’s all over. They’re all gone.

You’re angry.

Bill the GM finally killed Bill the coach. Selfish Brady and stupid Gronk ruined everything with their offseason of self-discovery. Also, if Robert Kraft worried about his team as much as he worried about Meek Mill and getting into the Hall of Fame this wouldn’t have happened. Bill should have played Butler, paid Dola, kept Cooks, cut everyone from Rutgers, never kicked Alex off the sidelines, never allowed Alex in the facility, drafted a linebacker, kept Jimmy (scratch that …), gotten more for Jimmy and never traded Chandler, Jamie or Logan. All these thoughts swirl through your mind. It’s a mental tornado and your mind’s eye sees the faces of Nate Solder and Dion Lewis in the dirty swirl like helpless cows lifted from the ground.

You’re sad.

These are your guys. This is your team. Ride or die. You firmly believe they hate us cuz they ain’t us, you take no days off, you got stripes tattooed in bright pink around your biceps (sup, Ernie… respect). Mostly, you’re sad because you also have tickets for the Titans game in Nashville in November. You were really looking forward to that and now you might not go because why do you want to spend 1,500 bucks to watch a shit team get its ass beat by Mike Vrabel and Marcus Mariota?

TOM E. CURRAN'S HARD TRUTHS

You’re scared and confused.

How does one go about following an NFL team which may or may not win each week? Do people really do this? Do they live with the uncertainty of whether or not their team will score more than their opponents EVERY. FRICKIN. WEEK?! You knew this day would come. Now it’s here. And you aren’t ready.

You’re experiencing Patriots Demise Syndrome (PDS).

If you were born prior to 2003, you may have experienced some of these symptoms previously. Those born prior to 1987 will feel the symptoms more acutely. Anyone born before 1970 is particularly susceptible to PDS and may recall similar minor outbreaks in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008. The very serious 2009 pandemic (Adalius Thomas Strain) wiped out many fans’ interest in the Patriots. Fortunately, all of them recovered by November of 2010 but studies performed after the 2010 playoff loss to the Jets showed that, once a person is diagnosed with PDS, their threshold for recurrence is lowered.

Symptoms can be fleeting. A wave of PDS invaded the New England region on February 5, 2017, at around 8:20 p.m. By 10:30 p.m., zero cases were reported.

If you have PDS, you may be experiencing irritability, listlessness and an urge to directly punch the face of that donkey you work with. The one who grew up in Belchertown or someplace you wouldn’t go to if someone tried to force you at gunpoint? Right. Dolphins fan, somehow. Got a lot to say this week including, “Gonna kick some Cheatriot aaaassssss on Sunday…”

PDS sufferers will sometimes resort to mild self-harm. Example? Listening to the radio between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. or finding yourself “wondering what Tanguay and Adam Jones think” then seeking to find out even though you told yourself that today was nothing but podcasts while you drive. A PDS sufferer may feel shortness of breath, jaw soreness and aching/spasming in their fingers and forearms in the immediately following this kind of exposure. You may need a friend or family member to help pry your fingers from the steering wheel. ASK FOR HELP!

Here are some “best practices” and/or things to remember if you’re suffering from PDS.  

STRIKE OUT WITH VENGEANCE
Whether it’s at friends or acquaintances in texts, email chains or on Twitter and Facebook, if you go Krakatoa when someone pollutes your laptop or mobile device with some vapid-ass observation like, “They should have traded Brady’s whiny ass…” you will be marked as someone not to be trifled with and can expect to be excised from further communications. You can apologize later. Or not. If they are that moronic, why do you want to go past “How ARE YOUUUU?!?!?!” in the future?

DON’T SAY “IT FEELS DIFFERENT …”
Because of course, it does. It feels different because you don’t know how things are going to turn out just like you didn’t know how things would turn out after the Patriots lost to Kansas City in primetime in Week 4 of the 2014 season or after they looked like pooh in the rain against the Jets in 2013 or they were down 21-3 at halftime of the Super Bowl or down 24-14 in the fourth quarter of another Super Bowl, or after the mortar kick or whatever. Your PDS was just as acute then, you little liar.

QUIETLY TELL YOURSELF “...but it feels different...”
Because it really is. Non-competitive in back-to-back weeks? One week it’s against with a great defense and a C-grade offense (Jacksonville), the next it’s against an average-at-best team that gave greater effort even though the previous week was as listless as it was? That’s different. And so is a locker room in which a player (Gronk) proudly confirms that, “Yes, I refused an offseason trade by threatening to retire …” without fear of  … well, fear of anything. Since last summer, Bill Belichick has been trying to get his players to heel with escalating punishments. From taking away Brady’s trainer to benching Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl, to trying to trade Gronk they’ve all kind of backfired. Make your brain refrain from using the phrase, “Bill lost the locker room!!!!!!” The locker room is in the same place it’s always been. The dig-out for the team is different because they are worse than they’ve been talent-wise; the buy-in from the players is different because there’s unprecedented pushback against Bill Belichick from his best players.

LEAVE SONY MICHEL ALONE
The hell did he do? Second game of his career? So he dropped a couple of passes. He runs hard, gets his shoulders square, doesn’t go down on first contact, knows what the hell he’s doing in pass protection. If you want to compare him to Laurence Maroney, go ahead. It just marks you as someone who doesn’t know what they’re looking at.

PLANT MUMS
This time of year, that vibrant color around your home (or even in your dorm room or apartment) can really brighten your mood.

REMEMBER, THE SKY ISN’T FALLING
But it is raining butcher knives. Anything can happen. Stay loose. Josh Gordon might go for eight catches and 241 yards on Sunday. He might be found shirtless in the Foxboro PD parking lot. Julian Edelman will be back from his four-game suspension next week. He may fix everything!  Or, he may look like a guy who hasn't played in a real game since the Patriots beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl. Dont'a Hightower's performance so far has been an aberration and he's going to return to being Dont'a Hightower. Or, he isn't Dont'a Hightower anymore. Belichick will strike exactly the right chord with his players this week in practice and you'll see 53 players rowing in unison. Or it's war and some asses are getting benched and/or shipped out of town. 

PDS. Remember, it's never as bad as you think. Unless this time...it really is. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

Brady touched by Gronk's loyalty, sad for Jimmy G

Brady touched by Gronk's loyalty, sad for Jimmy G

Tom Brady sounded humbled both by his team's performance and his All-Pro tight end's pledge of loyalty to him in the aftermath of the Patriots' 26-10 loss to the Lions in Detroit on Sunday night.

Of Rob Gronkowski's acknowledgment that he was nearly traded to the Lions in the offseason and that "Brady's my quarterback. I'm not going anywhere without Brady," the Patriots quarterback, in his weekly WEEI interview on the "Kirk and Callahan" show, said the feeling is mutual about Gronk.

TOM E. CURRAN's HARD TRUTHS

“Well, I think that speaks to our relationship and I feel as strongly about him as he does about me," he said. "I love the guy. He has had a big impact on my career personally, professionally. Like I said, I am very lucky to play with him and we’re going to keep fighting. We are going to keep going after it week in and week out. We’re going to figure out a way to get this thing turned around.”

Brady would comment specifically on the rumored trade, but called it "nothing short of a miracle" that Gronk is playing after fighting through injuries throughout his career. 

“I don’t want to get into any hypotheticals and things like that. I have played with him for a long time," he said. "I think so highly of him as a player, as a person, as a friend, as a teammate and I am lucky to play with such a great player and someone who I just love being out there with. [He is] such a great competitor with what he’s fought through over the course of his career. Nothing short of a miracle in a lot of ways. … I love playing with Gronk. 

Brady also expressed sympathy for his former backup QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, who is likely out for the season with a torn ACL suffered in the San Francisco 49ers loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/patriots/49ers-fear-jimmy-garoppolo-tore-left-acl?int

“I feel terrible for him,” Brady said. “It’s a tough injury. I feel bad for Jimmy, and it's football. Things happen like that. I've been through an ACL. It just sucks. You hate to see people go down, and (Jimmy) is someone I really like and have been friends with since the day he got here. It just sucks to have to go through that.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE