Joe Thuney

Tom Brady raves about Josh Gordon's mental toughness

Tom Brady raves about Josh Gordon's mental toughness

FOXBORO – Tom Brady spoke on Wednesday about players who’ve risen from apprentice or supporting roles into critical ones. Guys who were on the outskirts who are now front-and-center.

Those guys, Brady said in answering a question about Phillip Dorsett, are the ones who need to carry the 2019 load.

“The veteran players who have been around, been in the tough games, know how to do it, you’ve got to carry the burden while the other guys can get up to speed and learn,” said Brady. “So, that’s part of the responsibility as a veteran player, for a guy like Phil, for a guy like Julian [Edelman], James White, Joe Thuney. You know, they were all young players at one point. Now, they’ve become the veteran players that they’ve got to carry most of the burden.”

Josh Gordon is not a young player. He’ll be 29 in April. But he is new-ish to the Patriots, has never played in an NFL playoff game and hasn’t survived the cauldron of an NFL stretch run with a postseason on the horizon.

He is, in some ways, a tweener. A veteran without experience. There’s also nagging doubt/fear that he can’t be fully counted upon. The only way he can make that doubt shrink away is by stringing great weeks together in which he just keeps punching the clock. Like last Sunday, Brady said.

“He’s done a great job,” Brady praised. “He just puts his head down and comes to work. I think what he did last game was pretty spectacular in his own right to that number of plays that he ran. You know, other guys were going down. He was getting the ball on the reverse, he got the ball on the go routes, he got the ball, and he just kept coming back to the huddle. I kept going, “You good?” And he’s like, “I’m good,” and he just kept answering the bell.”

There may come a time when Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry – both rookies – will be in position to take on leadership roles and show teammates the ropes. Not now, though. Not this year. They – or at least Meyers, since Harry’s on IR – just need to keep their hands up and heads above water.

The Patriots could use more from Gordon. If he can give it. Again, it’s been hard to count on him. But it’s in him. And he’s trying to show it, as Brady observed.  

“[Sunday’s performance] says a lot about him and his mental toughness, his perseverance,” said Brady. “Guys were dropping like flies out there and he just kept getting back up. There were a lot of big hits that he took on a very hot day, and just proud of him, what he’s accomplished. We’re going to need to continue to do it – not just him, but all of us.” 

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Scarnecchia: Marshall Newhouse will play left tackle vs. Jets; Joe Thuney sticking at guard

Scarnecchia: Marshall Newhouse will play left tackle vs. Jets; Joe Thuney sticking at guard

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick isn't one to give away game plans, but Dante Scarnecchia doesn't have the same kind of filter in his meetings with reporters.

During a lengthy back-and-forth with reporters, Scarnecchia said that the plan was for the Patriots to start Marshall Newhouse at left tackle with Isaiah Wynn currently on injured reserve. Joe Thuney will remain at left guard.

Scarnecchia has said many times in the past, and he reiterated it during Friday's interaction with reporters, that less shakeup on the line is preferred. That means if you can get away with a one-for-one substitution -- Newhouse for Wynn, in this case -- that would be better than moving a guard and then finding a new guard as a replacement.

Newhouse has been in the league since he was a fifth-round pick of the Packers in 2010. His experience level and football IQ allows him to pick up the system more quickly than most, according to teammates.

And Bill Belichick noted recently that Newhouse's ability to pick up the system -- he played both right and left tackle last week in Miami -- might be thanks in part to his experience with the Bills, where offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is a former Patriots assistant. (Newhouse spent part of last season with Buffalo.)

"Although," Belichick said earlier this week, "he's only been here for a few days, he came from the Buffalo system where Daboll is, and I think a lot of the terminology, although maybe not exactly the same, is close and some of the same concepts, maybe different words or a different way that it's called. But the concepts and a lot of things that they do and we do are obviously the same, based on the background and carryover from Brian's system, and to what we do. So in terms of learning and all that, Marshall has a lot of league experience and experience recently in a similar system to what we run."

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Bill Belichick praises Joe Thuney's versatility amid Patriots' o-line injuries

Bill Belichick praises Joe Thuney's versatility amid Patriots' o-line injuries

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has found several quality offensive lineman in the middle to late rounds of the NFL Draft, and Joe Thuney is one of the best examples.

Thuney has established himself as a key member of the Patriots o-line as the starting left guard for all of his three seasons in New England. The 2016 third-round pick was one of the Patriots' most important players in their Super Bowl LIII victory, where he helped slow down elite Los Angeles Rams pass rusher Aaron Donald.

You cannot explain Thuney's true value without mentioning his versatility. The North Carolina State product is able to play just about every position along the offensive line, and with the Patriots losing both starting tackles to injuries over the last two weeks, Thuney's versatility has become a huge asset for Belichick.

"Very valuable. Somebody has to have versatility on that group," Belichick told reporters Tuesday. "If you take seven linemen to the game, you can't have a backup for every position, so somebody has to move. Either one of your starters has to move or your two backups have to cover all five spots in some combination of that. We need somebody that can do that and Joe's our most versatile lineman on the team, so that is an important role for us to have in terms of maintaining our depth with the group."

The latest blow to the Patriots offensive line came Tuesday, when starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury. He isn't eligible to return for eight weeks. New England also lost starting right tackle Marcus Cannon to a shoulder injury in Week 1, and he missed Sunday's win over the Miami Dolphins.

The Patriots signed free agent offensive linemen Marshall Newhouse and Caleb Benenoch over the last two weeks to bolster their depth, and both of them are options at the tackles spots.

Left tackle is one of the most important positions on the field. This player protects quarterback Tom Brady's blind side and regularly goes up against the league's best pass rushers. Thuney's familiarity with the offense and overall skill set make him a logical fit at left tackle while Wynn is out, and the Patriots could always shift guys around once Newhouse and Benenoch are more comfortable with the playbook.

Replacing a player like Wynn is going to be difficult for the Patriots, but it's nice to have lineman such as Thuney who can fill in at several spots and perform at a high level playing out of position. He's one of the most valuable Patriots players not named Tom Brady.

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