Patriots

Vinatieri expects 'fun game' from Brady and Patriots

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Vinatieri expects 'fun game' from Brady and Patriots

INDIANAPOLIS - There are as many grey hairs in Adam Vinatieri’s beard as there are brown. The same for his slightly receeding hairline. But the Vinatieri who booted game-winning field goals for the Patriots is now 42 years old, deep in the second phase of his career, one that includes another Super Bowl ring with the Indianapolis Colts. For those counting at home, that makes four in what should most certainly be a Hall of Fame career.

Very few of Vinatieri’s old Patriots teammates are still playing, not just in Foxboro, but period. However, Tom Brady remains a constant, just as Vinatieri does. Vinatieri’s locker used to be just a few down from Brady’s. He knows as well as anyone how Brady’s mind works, though he wasn’t willing to put himself in the quarterback’s shoes after an offseason of unrest caused, in part, by the Colts.

“I don’t want to speak for Tom,” said Vinatieri. “I don’t know what’s in his mind right now. I’m sure he’s preparing like he always does. He’s a professional. One of the best professionals out there as far as getting ready to play and getting his team ready to go. So I’m sure he’ll be ready to play.”

But is there more to it than that for Brady, for the Patriots?

“Does this game hold more meaning?” Vinatieri asked. “Like I said, I’m not speaking for anybody else. I know for us, it’s a good game. Whenever you play a team like the Patriots, it’s a big game. They’re a good team, but it’s one of 16 and they all count as one of 16 so is it any more or any less important? Absolutely not. It’s the next game...”

The Patriots have dominated this “rivalry,” with wins of 38, 22, 21 and 35 points in their past four meetings. Now, there’s something different at play for this one, at least in the eyes of fans and media alike publicly, and privately, in the minds of some of those who live in that Pats locker room. Yes, all who “Believe in Brady” are praying for a beatdown of epic proportions Sunday night, one that leaves the Colts neutered. Vinatieri obviously has no desire to see that, but knows how Bill Belichick can operate.

“I remember coach Bobby Bowden 15 years ago when he was at Florida State, I remember him saying my job is to score to points, it’s the other team’s job to stop us from scoring points,” he said. “Why would I expect anything less from them, or from us, or from any other team for that matter? We try to score as many points as we can, and I’m sure they’ll try to do the same. We‘ll see how it all pans out, how it is at the end of game.”

Considering the level the Pats are playing at right now and how difficult it has been for the Colts to get their season turned in a positive direction - don’t let the three straight wins fool you - Vinatieri is sure it will take a much better performance from his team Sunday night, or else, well, you know...

“This locker room knows how great of a team the Patriots are,” he said. “They’re the defending world champs, undefeated and playing some of the best football of anybody. We know what we’re getting ourselves into as far as going out there, needing to execute, play well, play error free. So, we expect it to be a fun game.”

Depends on what you consider fun.

Nick Foles beats Tom Brady again - in jersey sales

Nick Foles beats Tom Brady again - in jersey sales

Nick Foles is likely headed back to the bench to back up Carson Wentz after leading the Philadelphia Eagles past the Patriots for their first Super Bowl title. 

But the backup QB is still No. 1 in jersey and other officially licensed merchandise sales - beating out the same QB he topped in Super Bowl 52 - according to figures released by the NFL Players Association.

For the period from March 1 to May 31, it's Foles' No. 9 at No. 1 over Tom Brady's No. 12, with Wentz's No. 11, who was injured late last season before Foles took over the starting job, coming in third. At fourth is a player who has yet to take a snap yet for his team, No. 2 overall pick Saquan Barkley, the running back from Penn State who'll wear No. 26 for the New York Giants. 

Brady's former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, now wearing No. 10 for the San Francisco 49ers, checks in at eighth.

Here's the Top 10:
1. Nick Foles, Eagles QB No. 9
2. Tom Brady, Patriots QB No. 12
3. Carson Wentz, Eagles QB No. 11
4. Saquon Barkley, Giants RB No. 26
5. Dak Prescott, Cowboys QB No. 4
6. Aaron Rodgers, Packers QB No. 12
7. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys RB No. 21
8. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers QB No. 10
9. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants WR No. 13
10. Derek Carr, Raiders QB No. 4

Other Patriots in the Top 50: Tight end Rob Gronkowski, whose No. 87 gear is 24th and at 32nd, it's wide receiver Julian Edelman, who wears No. 11. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

Scary story: Will left tackle situation put Brady in peril?

Scary story: Will left tackle situation put Brady in peril?

First in our series looking ahead to the opening of Patriots training camp July 26.

It's time for the linemen to get to work. Sure, the Patriots had 10 voluntary practices in the spring and three more mandatory mini-camp sessions. But it's not until training camp arrives that the pads come on and the linemen actually get to hit someone.

The left side of the line will be of particular interest once camp gets going because it will be the first time in almost two decades that the Patriots will go into camp with someone other than Matt Light or Nate Solder as their top tackle on Tom Brady's blind side. 

Will it be Trent Brown, the behemoth blocker the Patriots acquired from San Francisco with a third-round pick on draft weekend? He saw the majority of the reps at on the left side with the first group of linemen at OTAs. 

Will it be Isaiah Wynn, the first-round pick out of Georgia who looks like a guard but has the athleticism to man the edge? He worked at left guard during the spring because Joe Thuney was dealing with an injury. 

Whoever it is, Dante Scarnecchia will have his work cut out for him. It's only the health of the almost-41-year-old-quarterback, and hence the season, that's at stake. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE