Patriots

Kony Ealy on his curious start to Patriots camp: 'It's just a learning curve'

Kony Ealy on his curious start to Patriots camp: 'It's just a learning curve'

FOXBORO - Kony Ealy doesn’t want to talk about what he can’t do, only what he can. 

“I can’t just pick one part of my game out,” he told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “You don’t do that as an athlete. Try to pick everything you’re good at, [then] you try to perfect it even more. That’s what I’m trying to do...Not worried about anything else or anyone else.”

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Patriots defensive end has had a curious start to his career in Foxboro since being acquired from Carolina. He left a mini-camp practice back on June 8 and we didn’t see him in a uniform again until July 28, a day after training camp started. When asked where he was that day, Ealy provided a curious answer.

“You have to ask Coach Bill," Ealy said. "Me and him had something going or whatever."

When Bill Belichick was asked about Ealy that morning, he wouldn’t get into details, other to say Ealy was in Foxboro. Earlier this week, the Pats coach seemed like he was okay with how the defensive end was adapting to his new surroundings and new program.

“He’s a smart kid, he works hard, and he’s building his versatility,” he said. “We’ll see how far that goes, but he’s got the ability to play inside, to play outside on the end of the line, to play in some coverage situations, to have a role in the kicking game…”

“We’ve asked him to do some new things, and we’ll evaluate those as we go through camp and see how it goes.”

Belichick pointed to the number of different responsibilities they’ve presented to Ealy, including working in the kicking game and also asking the former Missouri standout to drop into pass coverage.

“It’s just a learning curve. That’s fair to say," Ealy said. “Within the scheme of the defense, I’m learning, studying, picking things up every day. I had a natural ability to cover and do everything they ask me to do in the drop game so I don’t have a problem with it.”

That doesn’t seem to jibe with what Belichick and the coaching staff are feeling at this juncture, and while Ealy showed more Wednesday than he had any day prior, including making a couple of plays in the running game, most of his time was spent with the second and third units. 

“[You’re] asking way too many questions with that one,” he said when asked about an expanded role. “You have to ask Coach Belichick. Right now, I’m just in the phase of study, put back to back practices together and get better.”

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Jalen Ramsey's right: Jags should have trusted Bortles against Patriots

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Jalen Ramsey's right: Jags should have trusted Bortles against Patriots

It’s easy to debate whether the comments to GQ Magazine made by Jaguars corner Jalen Ramsey were “appropriate.” 

But don’t get completely caught in the weeds on that. Because more than a little of what Ramsey said is accurate.

He took a verbal flamethrower to guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and especially Bills rookie Josh Allen. Then, when asked the merits of his own quarterback, Blake Bortles, Ramsey criticized the Jaguars' offensive approach in the second half of last year’s AFC Championship.   

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“Blake do what he gotta do . . . ” said Ramsey. “I think in crunch-time moments, like last year's playoff game -- not as a team, because we would have trusted him -- but I think as an organization, we should have trusted him more to keep throwing it. We kinda got complacent and conservative. And I think that's why we lost. We started running it on first and second down, throwing it on third down, every single time we were out there. [The Patriots] caught on to that.”

Yeah, they kinda did. In stark contrast to the aggressive offensive style the Eagles showed in the Super Bowl, Jacksonville turtled in the second half of the AFCCG, which they eventually lost, 24-20, by blowing a 10-point lead in the final 10 minutes. 

Jacksonville was up 14-3 late in the first half before the Patriots narrowed the score to 14-10 with a James White touchdown. By that time, Jags running back Leonard Fournette had run 11 times for 40 yards and Bortles was 13-for-15 for 195 yards. 

In the second half, Fournette ran 13 times for 36 yards. They ran him 10 times on first-and-10 while they had the second-half lead. He gained 25 yards on those carries, with 14 coming on one of those. 

The Jags’ strategy was obvious. To everyone. They were going to run the ball so that every position ate some clock. But by handing off over and over and running a big back into a defense stacked against him, the Jags were continually asking Bortles to make something out of second-and-long. 

The Jags tried to sneak out of Foxboro with a win. Going bold against the greatest quarterback of all-time (especially for a huge underdog) was probably the better strategy.  

What about Super Bowl 51, you say? Good point. Former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will forever be criticized for being too aggressive and allowing the Patriots to come back from a 28-3 deficit. 

But that game was an avalanche of huge plays by New England on both sides of the ball in the second half, which left Shanahan searching for answers and making desperate decisions. 

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The Jags started playing scared before halftime when they took a knee on first down with 55 seconds left and two timeouts.

The way the final two games of the Patriots 2017 season unfolded may have been a teachable moment for the rest of the league. It’s fight or flight. 

You can be afraid of the Patriots, play scared and allow your nightmare to be realized, as the Jags did. Or you can fight them, like Philly did. 

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Panicking over the Patriots wide receivers; Red Sox continue to win

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Panicking over the Patriots wide receivers; Red Sox continue to win

1:23 - Marc Bertrand and Phil Perry join Trenni Kusnierek on Early Edition to discuss Tom Brady’s comments after today’s practice, and they compare this year’s wide receivers to the receivers on the 2006 team.  

6:39 - Evan Drellich phones in to break down the Red Sox 2-1 win over the Phillies and how this team doesn’t seem to ever lose close games. 

10:24 - Tom Giles, Kevin Duffy, Hardy, and Phil Perry give their panic meter rankings for the numerous Patriots injuries sustained during training camp practices. 

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