Patriots

Patriots 2019 preseason schedule: Matt Patricia's Lions among four opponents

Patriots 2019 preseason schedule: Matt Patricia's Lions among four opponents

UPDATE (2 p.m. ET): The New England Patriots confirmed their 2019 preseason schedule Tuesday afternoon. Here's the rundown:

Week 1: at Detroit Lions
Week 2: at Tennessee Titans
Week 3: vs. Carolina Panthers
Week 4: vs. New York Giants

Exact dates and times have yet to be announced.

ORIGINAL STORY: It appears Bill Belichick got his wish.

The Athletic's Nick Underhill shared the Patriots' four 2019 preseason opponents Tuesday, citing sources, and they include two teams led by former New England players or coaches. Here's the list:

-- at Tennessee Titans
-- at Detroit Lions
-- vs. New York Giants
-- vs. Carolina Panthers

The Patriots reportedly requested to play preseason games against teams led by former assistants at the NFL owners' meetings, and the league seemingly has given them two such matchups, as Titans coach Mike Vrabel and Lions coach Matt Patricia both have ties to New England. 

After not conducting any joint practices last summer for the first time since 2012, Belichick could try to schedule joint practices with Vrabel's Titans or Patricia's Lions ahead of those preseason matchups. Detroit also is a potential candidate for HBO's "Hard Knocks," which would make a joint practice session with the Patriots even more intriguing.

New England traditionally plays the Giants in its final preseason game, while the team also played the Panthers on the road in their third preseason contest last August.

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Malcolm Butler gives great insight into Super Bowl XLIX interception

Malcolm Butler gives great insight into Super Bowl XLIX interception

The play never gets old (if you're a New England Patriots fan, anyway).

With 26 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLIX and the Seahawks threatening to score the go-ahead touchdown, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler jumped a slant route to intercept Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal line and clinch an improbable 28-24 win for New England.

 

So, how did Butler anticipate the play so well, and how did he know to make a bee-line toward the ball?

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NBC Sports' Liam McHugh asked Butler on Tuesday night during NBC Sports Network's re-broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX, and the now-Tennessee Titans cornerback admitted he thought Seattle would run the ball just like everyone else.

But Butler also noticed a subtle tell from Wilson.

 

"I learned a long time ago, if the quarterback is throwing the ball, I guess he’s going to favor the receiver or look at him or see what’s going on in the area," Butler told McHugh, "and I just felt like Wilson was just looking a little bit too much. And I think I just caught a little whiff of what he was going to do.

"So I just stared at my receiver and said if my receiver plants on the outside, I’m just going to go and just hope the ball is there. And when he planted, I took off. I just (saw) the ball and the ball was coming so fast I didn’t know how to catch it."

Butler also was uniquely prepared for the moment: The Patriots' scout team had run a similar passing play in practice leading up to Super Bowl week and actually beat Butler for a touchdown.

The undrafted rookie wouldn't make the same mistake twice, however, showing great anticipation and instinct to make one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history.

Tom Brady making his mark on Buccaneers: 'It's been fantastic,' says Bruce Arians

Tom Brady making his mark on Buccaneers: 'It's been fantastic,' says Bruce Arians

Tom Brady has had an eventful tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers despite the fact he hasn't played a single game for the franchise.

Of course, when Brady comes to town, every single move he and the team make will create headlines. It's all part of employing the greatest player in NFL history.

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The six-time Super Bowl champion's decision to join the Bucs has elevated the team's expectations to heights it hasn't seen in a very long time. The man tasked with getting the most out of Tampa Bay's very talented roster is head coach Bruce Arians, who's entering his second season with the franchise.

Arians recently made an appearance on the first episode of Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon's YouTube show titled, "Uncorked". He talked about the unique dynamic between a coach and a player of Brady's caliber, and it also sounds like he's impressed with the 42-year-old quarterback's impact so far.

"We got a great locker room, but to now get a guy that's been there, done it, six times, (he's) the G.O.A.T,?" Arians said. "When he talks, they listen. It's so different than a coach. I think for us as coaches, there has to be a bond between the coach and those guys so that you give them ownership. You ask them questions. How do you want to do things? So if they think they have a big hand in it, they send a message to the rest of the guys. They send your message to the rest of the guys. With Tom, it's been fantastic."

Brady isn't the first great quarterback Arians has coached. He also worked with Peyton Manning early in the future Hall of Famer's career with the Indianapolis Colts. Arians worked with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for many years, too. Arians was impressed with the way Manning led his teams, and he expects Brady to have a similar impact on the Bucs players.

"The way (Manning) commanded the room and the team was amazing," Arians said. "What he asked those guys to do. I'm sure Tom Brady has a lot of the same things. Just the little bit I've been around him so far, it's going to be the same way."

Manning left the Colts late in his career and signed with the Denver Broncos in free agency. He spent the last four years of his career playing for the Broncos, and with him the team reached two Super Bowls and won a championship in 2015 -- his final season. The Buccaneers are hoping a similar ending to Brady's career unfolds in Tampa Bay, and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Bucs' chances of contending for the Lombardi Trophy in 2020.