Patriots

Shelton runs toward his target weight in Pats offseason program

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Phil Perry

Shelton runs toward his target weight in Pats offseason program

FOXBORO -- When Patriots center David Andrews was asked about his first impressions of new teammate Danny Shelton, acquired from the Browns this offseason via trade, Andrews answered quickly. 

"Big guy," he said. "He's a very big guy."

Shelton's working on that. The defensive tackle said he's shrinking a bit as he goes through the Patriots offseason workout program - and that's the goal. 

Shelton plans to play at 335 pounds, a number he still has yet to reach after gaining some weight starting at the end of last season. He explained that the fluctuations in his weight have become sort of his annual routine: Add some in the winter; shed it in the spring when workouts are underway. 

Since arriving in Foxboro, he said the changes to his body have been noticeable as he's embarked on an intensive conditioning plan unlike any he experienced in Cleveland. 

"My body's adjusting to all the running, man," he said. "It's pretty crazy. But I like it."

What the Patriots have Shelton doing is a radical departure from what he experienced in the first three years of his pro career. 

"Oh yeah. Definitely," he said. "I think any other team would say the same thing. Then again, I've only been on one team and I've only done one offseason program. Now that I'm here, it's pretty cool to change it up a bit and just watch my body change."

Shelton called the early portion of the Patriots program "a struggle," but he knows it has the potential to get even tougher since has yet to be introduced to the hill that rolls off the back of the team's practice fields.

"Not yet. I wave by it," he said. "Just getting my mind ready for it. We haven't gotten to that part. It is deceiving. It doesn't look too tough. But just hearing from some of the guys, it's not something you want to mess with."

Shelton figures to play a significant role in the middle of the Patriots defensive line in 2018. He has the ability to play as a true nose tackle and is expected to be a run-stuffing force on early downs. He was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2015 draft and considered a true blue-chip tackle in that year's class. 

His fifth-year option for 2019 was not picked up earlier this offseason - neither was the option for teammate Malcom Brown - which Shelton said, "sucked at first." But he's trying to think of it as an opportunity to show what he can do this year and put himself in a good position moving forward. 

Shelton knows that part of putting himself in a good position will be to be in good condition so that he can make plays in critical moments for his new team. 

"That's what I'm more focusing on," he said, "and that's what I like about the change is that my body will be more trained for the endurance and trained for fourth quarter, overtime."

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Are Bucs 'automatic' Super Bowl contenders with Tom Brady? Shaq Barrett thinks so

Are Bucs 'automatic' Super Bowl contenders with Tom Brady? Shaq Barrett thinks so

The addition of Tom Brady has Shaquil Barrett feeling like Joe Namath.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker was asked Tuesday on ESPN's "Get Up!" about his expectations for the 2020 season after the greatest quarterback of all time left the New England Patriots to join his team in free agency.

The short answer: They're very high.

"I think (former Bucs quarterback) Jameis (Winston) would have made a big jump, but I think with Brady, it just makes us an automatic contender for a Super Bowl," Barrett said.

"With Jameis, I think we would have been a playoff contender. It would have been still a battle, for sure, and it's still going to be a battle now, but having Tom, I think we're going to be over the edge, and everything on paper looks perfect. We've just got to put the work in."

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There you have it: Pencil the Bucs in for Super Bowl LV, which conveniently will be held at Tampa Bay's Raymond James Stadium. At least Barrett won't have to cancel any travel plans if his bold prediction doesn't come true.

Barrett has reason to be confident: The Bucs have the NFL's fifth-best Super Bowl odds at DraftKings Sportsbook after trading for tight end Rob Gronkowski, who joins an already-loaded offense featuring Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Tampa Bay also has a sneaky strong defense that allowed the fewest rushing yards per game in 2019.

The Pro Bowl linebacker may not want to count his chickens before they hatch, though. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, Tampa Bay has just a 4% chance to win Super Bowl LV, while Brady's former team, the Patriots, is right behind at 3%.

Some also believe Brady's Bucs may be overhyped, with one sportsbook executive comparing them to the 2019 Cleveland Browns, who went 6-10 after landing Odell Beckham Jr. and several other stars in the offseason.

Brady has never finished under .500 during a full season as starter, so Tampa Bay should be considered a serious threat. But if it fails to meet expectations, Barrett will be forced to eat crow.

Ever Wonder Series: Why does Bill Belichick cut his sleeves?

Ever Wonder Series: Why does Bill Belichick cut his sleeves?

Bill Belichick isn't one to make fashion statements. But he's also a man of reason.

If you've watched any Patriots game in the last 15 years, you've probably wondered why the surly head coach occasionally stalks New England's sideline in a gray hoodie with cut-off sleeves.

When did Belichick start this bizarre tradition? Does he cut the sleeves off himself? And most importantly, what's his reason for doing so?

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Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran has the answers in the first installment of our "Ever Wonder" series.

As Curran tells it, Belichick was seen uncomfortably fiddling with the sleeves on his gray hoodie during the Patriots' Super Bowl XXXIX win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

The following fall, he walked into the Patriots' equipment room, grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting.

When asked why he was ruining a perfectly good sweatshirt, Belichick replied:

"My arms are too short."

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A staffer offered to make the sweatshirt differently, but Belichick insisted it was fine. He'd cut the sleeves off himself, creating his own game-day outfit that was "designed to allow one to work as efficiently as possible toward the singular goal of winning."

The chopped-off sleeves also show zero concern toward fashion, which is probably just the way Belichick likes it. As Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel reported in 2012, Belichick demonstrated his displeasure toward an NFL mandate that required coaches to wear approved Reebok apparel by choosing "the most unstylish outfit" -- a gray hooded sweatshirt -- and chopping the sleeves off.

"It's comfortable," Belichick said at the time. "I carry my stuff in my pouch."

So, Belichick's decision to cut off his sleeves is part pragmatic and part rebellious. But has it worked?

Patriots.com's Mike Dussault and Pats Propaganda's Bob Yoon have charted Belichick's record in every Patriots game by his clothing choice. And the "Hooded One" actually has a better winning percentage (regular and postseason) when he doesn't use scissors.

Record in games coached in cut-off sleeves: 65-24 (73.0 percent)
Record in games coached short- or long-sleeves: 202-68 (74.8 percent)

Most notably, Belichick has lost three Super Bowls while wearing a hoodie with cutoff sleeves (2007, 2011 and 2018), while every Patriots playoff loss from 2005 to 2012 came when he wore a hoodie with cut-off sleeves.

Belichick wore a short-sleeved jacket during the Patriots' Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams, so it sounds like he got the message.