Patriots

Michael Bennett appreciates Belichick for time away: Sees you 'as a human being, not just a number'

Michael Bennett appreciates Belichick for time away: Sees you 'as a human being, not just a number'

FOXBORO -- Michael Bennett didn't look like a player who flew into town this morning, traveling from where he makes his home in Hawaii.

He matched up with two of New England's best offensive linemen in one-on-one periods and more than held his own. In 11-on-11 work, he looked quick off the ball, throwing his 275-pound body (and tiny shoulder pads) across the line of scrimmage with abandon.

Fresh off a plane, Bennett was also fresh off of three days away from Patriots training camp practices. Dealing with what he termed a family issue, he stayed away from Gillette Stadium until Sunday, jumping right into the team's second fully-padded practice.

In meeting with the reporters for the first time this summer, Bennett went out of his way to thank Bill Belichick for allowing him the time off he needed.

"I was lucky," Bennett said. "Coach Belichick – it's nice when you have a coach that sees you as a human, sees you as a human being, not just a number, and you're able to go talk to him, tell him what's going on, and you're able to go take care of it. That just makes you want to play harder for a coach. When he believes in you, and lets you take care of your family first."

He added: "I think everybody's always concerned about how their boss is going to take into consideration if something happens back home, but when you have a boss who respects you as a man, it's easy to go out there and play for him like that. I think for me, that's easy to look him in the eye and whatever he asks me to do, I'll do it simply because I know he respects me as a human being and I respect that."

Bennett insisted he was working out in the days he wasn't with the team and so he didn't need much time to get up to speed. Based on how he played -- even though he was matched up with players who had been on the field for three days -- it'd be hard to say he wasn't ready to go. He showed noticeable burst in the one-on-one session, locking horns with starters Marcus Cannon and later Shaq Mason.

Bennett was asked if it was important to him that he arrive and hit the ground running after time away.

"I mean, I just flew here this morning, so I just came right to practice," he said. "It's important – just the game. You want to prove to your teammates that you love the game. I grew up and this game has been a part of my life for over 20 years, so every time I step on the field and I've got teammates who believe in me, I just want to come out and show them that in every single moment, I'm going to try to go as hard as I can.

"When you're on a new team and you have to build new relationships, the only type of way to build new relationships is to show everyone the type of work ethic you've got, what you believe in, and how you carry yourself. Then, the relationship grows from there, especially when you've been in the league for a long time and you have to come to a new team. It's always good, you know you've got great leadership all over, and I'm just trying to learn from these guys."

He'll have ample opportunity to do just that now that he's in town and with one seemingly strong practice under his belt.

Postcard from Camp, Day 4: Bennett shines in first Patriots practice>>>

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Elandon Roberts evidently wasn't happy playing fullback last season for Patriots

Elandon Roberts evidently wasn't happy playing fullback last season for Patriots

Elandon Roberts found success as a two-way player with the New England Patriots last season.

Amid injury issues that the squad had at fullback -- both James Develin and Jakob Johnson were placed on IR in 2019 -- Roberts, a natural linebacker, converted to play fullback for the team. He was a strong blocker and fared well for a player that had been thrust into action at an unfamiliar position on short notice.

While Roberts did what was asked of him and filled the role with a linebacker mentality, he evidently didn't like being a fullback that much.

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Need proof? Just check out his latest Instagram post.

Roberts took a moment late Thursday night to post a picture of him in a Miami Dolphins uniform. Roberts signed with the Dolphins as a free agent and will evidently be wearing No. 44 for the squad.

But the more interesting part of the post is what he said to Dont'a Hightower in the comments.

Hightower suggested that Roberts "keep his a** on defense" and Roberts responded pretty definitively that he is planning to do just that. Here's a screenshot of the comments.

So, yeah. It doesn't look like Roberts enjoyed playing on that side of the ball last season. It also lines up with what Roberts said in an interview last season after taking over the fullback position:

"Am I a fullback now? No. Am I 100 percent a linebacker? Yes. But when them guys need me on that offensive side because of the circumstances that we have this year, I'm gonna go out there and give 100 percent just like I'm on the defense."

Roberts deserves credit for embracing the role as he did. Even if it wasn't what he wanted to do, he did what he could to help the team's sputtering offense by playing that position.

Just don't expect to see him line up in the backfield anytime soon for the Dolphins.

Bucs QB coach Clyde Christensen: Narrative of Tom Brady drop-off 'is dead off base'

Bucs QB coach Clyde Christensen: Narrative of Tom Brady drop-off 'is dead off base'

One of the concerns surrounding Tom Brady in free agency was his age. He is set to turn 43 before the start of the 2020 NFL season is the oldest player currently on a roster.

So naturally, that begs the question, is Brady set to take a step back soon? Or has he already started regressing?

In the opinion of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback coach Clyde Christensen, Brady hasn't dropped off one bit in recent seasons.

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On a recent episode of The Pat McAfee Show, Brady's new QB coach spoke to the former NFL punter about Brady's arm strength and accuracy. And Christensen had one takeaway after watching Brady's tape this offseason. He is still doing just fine.

There is nothing on the film that shows he is dropping off accuracy wise, arm strength wise.

And just how is Christensen so sure of that? He went back and watched every throw that Brady has made the past four years to determine it.

I watched every throw of his for four years and couldn’t see any drop off whatsoever. Anyone who says that he can’t [throw the ball] - just is talking. They haven’t watched the film. He makes every throw.

Now, some years they had fast guys and they threw that ball up the field. Some years they didn’t. This year they didn’t and they threw more checkdowns. Any time he got his opportunity, that ball went up and usually extremely successfully.

I think that narrative is dead off base and if I thought that way we probably wouldn’t have gone after him. He is playing at an extremely high level.

Christensen also coached Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck in his time with the Indianapolis Colts, so he would know about QBs playing at a high level. And he could be right about Brady, who still has something left in the tank and, though coming off a down year, isn't very far removed from being an MVP-caliber player.

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While Brady did have one of his worst seasons in 2019, it still wasn't bad. At 42, he completed 60.8 percent of his passes, logged 4,057 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and eight interceptions as he led the Patriots to a 12-4 record despite lacking weapons on offense.

Brady mainly targeted Julian Edelman, who was nursing a shoulder injury for a good chunk of the season. Mohamed Sanu (also injured), Phillip Dorsett, and N'Keal Harry rounded out his receiving corps. As for his tight ends, they were virtually non-existent.

Brady was markedly better from 2016-18 when he had a capable tight end target in Rob Gronkowski and healthier receivers. In those three seasons, Brady averaged a 66.4 percent completion rate, 4,162 passing yards, about 30 TD passes, and just seven interceptions per season. He also earned three Pro-Bowl nods, one first-team All-Pro appearance, an MVP award, and two Super Bowl rings.

The Bucs are banking on Brady showing that type of production thanks to the strong pass-catching weapons they have in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate. They clearly believe that he is the right guy at QB and if his arm is still as good as Christensen believes it to be, he should rebound from a down year. 

And at the very least, Brady should greatly improve the turnover woes the Bucs offense had last season with Jameis Winston at the helm. In 2019, Winston became the first NFL QB to post 30 passing TDs and 30 interceptions in the same season.