Leftovers nuggets after the Patriots conducted conference calls Tuesday with coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, and director of player personnel Nick Caserio:
AP Photo/Steve Mitchell
A thumb injury has kept Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher off the field in recent weeks.1. Fletcher making progress: Inactive the past three games after suffering an apparent setback with a thumb injury, linebacker Dane Fletcher is making progress in his recovery. Said Belichick: "He’s coming along. He’s definitely getting there. Each day, he seems more upbeat and more positive on the results and how he’s coming and what he’s able to do. We’ll just keep taking it day-by-day but he’s making good progress."
2. Tarpinian making most of opportunity: Rookie linebacker Jeff Tarpinian started Sunday's game at outside linebacker and played 22 of 72 snaps overall, making four tackles in his NFL defensive debut. The undrafted free agent earned praise from Caserio. "Jeff was a player who had some injury issues his senior year at Iowa," said Caserio. "He was slowed a little bit his senior year, but he was on the field. He was productive in their defense, was a smart player, pretty instinctive, ran well. Like I said, he just kind of had his season short-changed a little bit. He came into camp and was making some progress and then he got stalled there a little bit along the way, but he... played in the kicking game for us when he finally got on the field... He played about, I want to say, 15-20 snaps, defensively [on Sunday]. I think he, along with a lot of other players, made the most of their opportunities. Hopefully, he can learn from what happened during the game on Sunday and make some of the corrections and try to improve and get ready for the next opponent.
3. No changes with no-huddle offense: O'Brien said he doesn't feel the Patriots are using the no-huddle approach more than in previous seasons, but admitted it's been a solid weapon when executed well. "I wouldn’t say that we’ve used it any more than we’ve used in the past," said O'Brien. "Again, it just something that our players have executed well to this point, for the most part, I wouldn’t say it’s been great all year. But at times, it’s been good for us and it’s basically because the players have done a good job with it." O'Brien revealed that coaches can talk to the quarterback up until 15 seconds remaining on the play clock, but suggested the advantage at the line of scrimmage is minimal since defensive coaches can do the same.
4. Pats want more out of the running game: The Patriots' running game has struggled to be a consistent weapon this season, the team's backs stuck in the mud again this past week against the Jets. O'Brien admitted he'd like more from the ground game. "We just all have to do a better job -- executing, coaching it -- everybody is involved in that. Obviously, we’d like to see more production from the running game but our players ran hard, they blocked hard. It wasn’t as good as we want it to be. We’re going to work hard every week, this week, every day, to improve that."