Patriots

Kyle Van Noy on replacing Dont'a Hightower: 'Going to take a group effort'

Kyle Van Noy on replacing Dont'a Hightower: 'Going to take a group effort'

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Patriots locker room wasn’t filled with laughter and a ton of energy Thursday afternoon. Perhaps that’s in part because there were meetings going on during the media availability period. But though teammates no doubt knew Dont’a Hightower’s fate before we did, losing a player of his caliber and with his influence hurts. No one knows that better than Kyle Van Noy. The linebacker has leaned heavily on Hightower during his year in Foxboro.

“Dont’a is a special player,” said Van Noy. “He does a lot for the team. It’s going to take a group effort.”

MORE PATRIOTS

The Pats defense has played nearly an equal number of plays with and without Hightower this season. 228 with, according to NFL Research, 226 without. That unit - which struggled until last weekend against Atlanta - has allowed 307 more yards with the former Alabama star on the field. That’s no coincidence. Now Van Noy and company will have an even greater burden placed on their shoulders.

“As a unit, everyone has to step up and hold each other accountable and get on the same page,” said Van Noy. “There’s really no conversation needed. Everybody knows what they need to do.”

Van Noy has had more responsibility from jump this year, barely coming off the field. On defense, only Devin McCourty and Malcolm Butler have played more snaps, and while the analytics crew is not all that complimentary of Van Noy’s play, either the Pats have no one better or the number crunchers don’t know what they’re looking at. 

“I guess that question reverts back to you,” said Van Noy when asked if he was comfortable with all that he’s being asked to do. “What do you think? I can only say so much.”

Van Noy is more fond of letting his play do the talking and that will be scrutinized in the coming weeks and months. Is he up for it? We’re about to find out.

Trent Brown calls Patriots QB Tom Brady "one of the coolest guys" he's ever met

Trent Brown calls Patriots QB Tom Brady "one of the coolest guys" he's ever met

Trent Brown has played only one season with Tom Brady, but the offensive tackle clearly has a high opinion of the New England Patriots quarterback.

Brown was a recent guest on ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter's podcast "The Road Less Traveled", where he talked about free agency, his 2018 trade from the San Francisco 49ers to the Patriots, and more. 

The soon-to-be free agent also was asked about Brady, and he paid the 41-year-old quarterback quite a compliment.

“Tom’s really one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met in my life, and that’s no (B.S.) by any stretch of the imagination,” Brown said. “He’s really a cool guy. That’s really the only way I can say it.”

Brown is one of several current and former teammates to praise Brady over the last year or so.

Former Patriots linebacker James Harrison, who played with New England for just a few months last season, called Brady the "ultimate teammate" in January. Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, during an appearance on FOX Sports 1 show "First Things First" earlier this month, called Brady a "great teammate" and "one of the hardest workers I've ever played with."

It's hard to find a negative opinion of Brady from players who've interacted with him on a daily basis. It probably also helps that Brady is the main reason why many of these guys have a Super Bowl ring (or multiple). 

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 fans will enjoy this video of Tom Brady's top 10 plays in 2018

Patriots fans will enjoy this video of Tom Brady's top 10 plays in 2018

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took a lot of criticism during the 2018 NFL season, and a good amount of it was warranted, but the 41-year-old veteran got the last laugh when he held the Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LIII.

Brady became the first player in NFL history to win six Super Bowls when the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 on Feb. 3 in Atlanta. He didn't play particularly well against the Rams, but he made enough clutch plays with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.

The NFL tweeted a video Monday of Brady's top 10 plays from the 2018 season, including New England's memorable playoff run. Check out it out below:

Brady has been adamant about returning for the 2019 season, when the Patriots will try to become the first team since 2004 to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Given the way Brady played in 2018, there are plenty of reasons to believe next season's top 10 plays video will include several memorable playoff moments.

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.