Patriots

Too many men: Patriots very good at making other teams look bad

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Too many men: Patriots very good at making other teams look bad

The Patriots are the best team in the league this season when it comes to making opposing defenses look silly.

Blown coverages happen. Sure. And players find themselves on the wrong end of physical mismatches all the time. But, against the Patriots, teams are more likely to break one of the simplest rules in the game than they are against anyone else.

Bill Belichick's club leads the NFL with six 12-men-on-the-field penalties drawn this season. Second in that category? The Vikings and Packers, tied with two.

The Patriots picked up a too-many-men call against the Broncos on Sunday night in the fourth quarter when they were set to punt -- a first for them this season. Defensive lineman Shelby Harris couldn't get off the field in time on a fourth-and-five, and the penalty gave the Patriots a first down that sucked the thin air out of Mile High.

After being gifted an extended drive, Tom Brady found James White for a touchdown to make the score 41-16.

It looked like the Patriots could have picked up another too-many-men penalty late in the second quarter when Brady rushed to the line as two Broncos scampered off. They either got off just in time -- it's hard to tell on the NBC television replay -- or the officials missed it.

In their first three games of the season, and now in their last three games of the season, the Patriots have caught their opponents either loafing or just plain unaware. But it's not always Brady who has the knack for catching other teams meandering as they try to substitute.

Sometimes it's offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels telling Brady through his helmet that they have a chance to pick up five free yards.

Sometimes it's someone in the Patriots booth above the field -- perhaps director of player personnel Nick Caserio, who is in regular contact with McDaniels -- who sees an opening.

McDaniels explained the mechanics of what he called a "unique opportunity" during a conference call on Tuesday.

"It doesn't always present itself in each game," he said. "Where we're not trying to substitute and the other defense might be. But, you know, it could be something you see on the field as a player. Tom's certainly done a good job of that in his career. Or it could be something that somebody sees from the booth or the sideline. But, again, it's not something that we've done extensively.

"It just so happens it might've happened a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. But there's a lot of circumstances that go into that. If we're substituting, obviously, we really can't do that. If they're not substituting [then we can't]. There's a lot of different factors that go into it. The down and distance and what you're trying to get done, etc.

"If all the things line up, you end up with multiple groupings trying to sub in and out on the other side, eventually you may end up getting a situation like we've had in the last couple of weeks where the defense has a different personnel grouping on the field than they want to have."

The Patriots may be better built than most to draw those kinds of penalties since they can attack defenses with what looks like base personnel on one snap, not substitute, and then go five-wide on the next. Having versatile backs and tight ends as the Patriots do can cause a defensive coordinator's head to spin.

Though McDaniels noted the uniqueness of the situation, New England's personnel is its personnel. And it's happened often enough this season that you'd be brave to bet against it happening again.

Ex-Patriot Chris Long rips NFL's new National Anthem policy

Ex-Patriot Chris Long rips NFL's new National Anthem policy

On Wednesday, the NFL announced a new policy on players protesting during the National Anthem.

The new policy permits players to stay in the locker room while the anthem plays, but requires them to stand if they come on to the field.

Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long, now with the Eagles, shared his thoughts on the controversial change via Twitter:

His teammate, Malcolm Jenkins, ripped the new policy on Twitter as well.

Devin and Jason McCourty showed their support for Long and Jenkins' statements by reposting them on their Twitter account:

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Source: Tom Brady not at TB12 while teammates next door at OTAs

Source: Tom Brady not at TB12 while teammates next door at OTAs

A source confirms that Tom Brady was not working out at his TB12 sports medicine facility at Patriot Place in Foxboro while his teammates were on the field at OTAs as was previously reported by the Boston Herald.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, the other notable absence from OTAs, has been at the TB12 facility on the days his teammates were on the field practicing and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who participated in the first day of OTAs, has also been at TB12, according to the source.

The Herald's Karen Guregian reported on Tuesday that both Brady and Gronkowski were at TB12 on Monday, which is right next to Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots were practicing. 

Former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak of 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak and Bertrand" show said Brady likely wasn't even in the country this week.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Wednesday that Brady and Gronk are expected to participate in the mandatory mini-camp at Gillette June 5-7.

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