Thursday, April 24, 2014
The New England Patriots enter their bye week with a 7-2 record and a lot of momentum coming off Sunday's 55-31 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But before the players took off for a five-day minibreak, they met the media on Tuesday, talking about everything from the Miami Dolphins situation to their own health, and the Patriots made some roster moves.
The moves first:
New England waived veteran wide receiver Austin Collie, who left Sunday's game with a knee injury. Collie played four games with one start and made three catches for 34 yards.
To take his spot on the 53-man roster, the Patriots signed wide receiver LaQuan Williams, 25, a second-year player who was released by Baltimore in September. Williams has played in 23 games the last two years and is known primarily as a special teams player. A good one, according to Matthew Slater, who is only regarded as the Patriots best special teams player.
The Patriots also signed rookie running back Cierra Wood to the practice squad. Undrafted out of Notre Dame, Wood made the Houston Texans 53-man roster but was released on Oct. 21.
Onto other things:
The team held a practice before taking its break, and at the time only Collie, safety Steve Gregory and running back Brandon Bolden were missing. Gregory broke his thumb in Sunday's game.
The only fortuitous part of that is the schedule. With the bye week, he has time to heal.
Other good news out of the practice is that Rob Ninkovich practiced. He also left Sunday's with an injury. That being to his foot.
Chris Price of WEEI.com spoke to Ninkovich. Here's the story. Sounds like the week off will do Ninkovich some good.
Price also spoke to running back Stevan Ridley, whose third-quarter fumble helped the Steelers get back into the game - albeit only momentarily - on Sunday. Here's what Ridley had to say.
Some Patriots also took time to talk about the situation in Miami, where veteran guard Richie Incognito has been suspended indefinitely by the team. The Dolphins and the NFL are looking into reports that Incognito bullied his teammate, Jonathan Martin, and that he sent racist and threatening text messages.
Slater, speaking to the media, said it is important for all players to respect each other: "I don’t care if you’ve been in this league 20 years or you’ve been in this league three weeks. We respect everybody here and that’s important to us. We respect everybody here because we’re all here for the same reason, trying to accomplish the same goal. We’re all on the same team. Respect is a huge thing for us. I think we have a locker room with a lot of respect. I’m not saying that we don’t have our fun, because there’s a time and a place for that but we always do it within the boundaries of respect.''
He added that every NFL team should be watching this situation: "I think in a general sense, when things happen on other teams, whatever it may be, there are lessons to be learned there. I think sometimes it’s better to learn from someone else’s experience than making that mistake yourself.''
Guard Logan Mankins, like Slater a team captain, said the Patriots locker room atmosphere starts with Bill Belichick. "When the guy at the top lets you know it’s a business and we’re here to work and everything like that.,'' he said. "We have tons of time in there where we’re doing a lot of joking around, messing around. We have a lot of fun with each other, too, but I don’t think it’s ever taken too far.''
Mike Lowe has covered the New England Patriots since 1999 for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and has had a nice view of their emergence as one of the NFL’s premier franchises.
He’s been at the paper since 1982 and has covered everything from a Little League World Series to the Summer Olympics. He is married to Tracie and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeLowePPH.