Patriots

Did Eagles pump in crowd noise vs. Patriots? Tom Brady 'didn't notice'

Did Eagles pump in crowd noise vs. Patriots? Tom Brady 'didn't notice'

Philadelphia Eagles fans gave Tom Brady and the New England Patriots an expectedly rude welcome Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

But did "The Linc" take matters into its own hands to make that welcome a little more rude?

As Brady took the field for the Patriots' first drive, 98.5 The Sports Hub color analyst Scott Zolak made an interesting observation on the radio broadcast: From his vantage point in the booth, it sounded like the Eagles were pumping in artificial crowd noise.

A stadium playing fake noise through its speakers is a punishable offense; just ask the Atlanta Falcons, who were fined and docked a 2016 fifth-round NFL Draft pick for a similar offense in 2015.

The Eagles haven't formally been accused of anything, as we only have Zolak's speculation as of Monday morning. But WEEI's "The Greg Hill" show still asked Brady about Zolak's observation Monday morning, and the Patriots quarterback seemed pleased by what Zolak may have uncovered.

"Good job, Zo! I like it," Brady said.

Alas, the 42-year-old QB couldn't corroborate Zolak's story.

"I didn’t notice, but again, those are not the things I would notice. Loud is loud. At one point when you can’t hear, basically it’s like 'loud' and then 'louder,' but you’re really not going to notice the difference much."

Brady and the Patriots offense also rely on silent snap counts and hand signals during road games, so if there was some extra crowd noise, he wasn't rattled by it.

"Once it’s to the point where we have non-verbal communication, it kind of is what it is," Brady said.

Brady and the Patriots offense did just enough to grind out a 17-10 win over Philly and improve to 9-1. They're on to next week's matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, while we'll have to wait and see if anything more comes out of Sunday's "loud" crowd in Philly.

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Could trick-shot kicker return to Patriots in 2020 after practice squad release?

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USA TODAY Sports

Could trick-shot kicker return to Patriots in 2020 after practice squad release?

FOXBORO -- The New England Patriots' rare instability at kicker has forced them to get creative.

The Patriots raised a few eyebrows Wednesday by signing Josh Gable -- a "YouTube star" with no college football kicking experience best known for his trick shot videos -- to their practice squad.

Gable's tenure in New England was short-lived, as the Patriots released him Friday.

So, why use a practice squad spot on a kicker only to cut him two days later?

"We had a spot available on the practice squad, and it gave us an opportunity to look at a younger kicker," head coach Bill Belichick said Friday.

" ... Rather than just (have him) come in and do a workout, we were actually able to (have him) kick with the team and put him on the practice squad for a couple days."

Belichick said the Patriots have no plans to move away from Nick Folk as their starting kicker this season. 

But getting Gable in for essentially a multi-day tryout allowed New England to explore a potential kicking option for 2020.

"We'll worry about that next year," Belichick said. " ... Put that in the bank, and maybe it comes up later on at some point in time down the road. Maybe it doesn’t. I’m not sure."

Such is the reality for the Patriots, who lost Stephen Gostkowski to season-ending hip surgery in October and have cycled through Mike Nugent, Kai Forbath, Folk and Younghoe Koo (practice squad) since.

Gostkowski turns 36 in January and is entering the final year of his contract, so Belichick has good reason to get a head start on contingency kicking options for 2020.

That's assuming New England doesn't stick with Folk: The veteran has been the most consistent of Gostkowski's replacements this season, connecting on eight of 11 field goals and making all four of his extra-point attempts.

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N'Keal Harry using big play vs. Chiefs as a reminder of his potential

N'Keal Harry using big play vs. Chiefs as a reminder of his potential

FOXBORO -- At the moment, N'Keal Harry will take positive reinforcement wherever he can get it.

The New England Patriots rookie had just one reception in last Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He made the most of it, though, breaking multiple tackles and diving for what should have been ruled a touchdown.

For 21-year-old rookie with just five catches on 10 targets through four NFL games, the play was a reminder to himself and the Patriots of what he's capable of in space with the ball in his hands.

"Yeah, definitely," Harry said Friday when asked if that play was a confidence boost for him. "It kind of felt like some of the stuff I did in college, just getting the ball in my hand and being able to run with it.

"So, that definitely helped. Just seeing that I'm able to do the same things (I did in college)."

Harry averaged 13.9 yards per catch as a sophomore and 14.9 yards per catch as a junior at Arizona State, earning First-Team All-Pac-12 honors in both seasons as a playmaking deep threat.

Harry's NFL transition has been bumpy to date, as an ankle injury caused him to miss New England's first nine games. But the Patriots still are well aware of his talent.

"I need to do a better job of finding ways to get him in space, get him the ball, and let him have an opportunity to (make plays)," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels admitted earlier this week.

The red zone seems like a natural place to get Harry more involved; the 6-foot-4, 225-pound wideout is a matchup nightmare for smaller cornerbacks and scored 17 touchdowns over his final two seasons.

Even after the Week 14 confidence booster, though, Harry will defer to McDaniels on how the Patriots want to increase his workload entering Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"That's more of a Josh question," Harry said when asked about his role in New England's red zone offense. "I'm just ready whenever my name is called."

" ... Whenever I get onto the field, whether it's 50 snaps or one snap, whenever my name is called, I have to be able to contribute."

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