Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Eagles cornerback Cary Williams had a seemingly cordial exchange at the conclusion of New England’s preseason victory in Foxborough Friday night. Williams had some pretty critical words about the Patriots franchise prior to last week’s joint practices and preseason contest, calling them “cheaters.”
The veteran cornerback was singing a different tune after the game, very much backpedaling on his criticisms.
“It was just mutual respect between two guys,” the former Baltimore Raven, who intercepted a Tom Brady pass and returned it for a touchdown in the game, said of his chat with Belichick afterwards.
“Coach Belichick respected me and I respected him. I respect the organization and I told him I was sorry for the words that I said. That was just pure emotion and sometimes you say things that you don’t really think about. That was a situation where, playing these guys in the playoffs, you kind of develop a hate for them and you try to use anything to get your mind going and get going. In that situation, I could have chosen my words a little bit wiser. But it is mutual respect and we were able to come together and tell him I was sorry. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the organization and him as a GM and head coach. He just said there were no hard feelings and he appreciated the comments I made this week. It was just two guys respecting each other and understanding there is some history there. It is not necessarily bad blood but the spirit of competition. I said some things that I wish I could take back.”
Fullback strong for Pats
Fullback James Develin had a pair of receptions for 27 yards in the preseason action against the Eagles, including a 15-yard touchdown from rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the first quarter.
Develin has taken some reps as an extra tight end in training camp work and continues to show impressive hands and athleticism for a converted defensive lineman. While the neck-roll-wearing brute will never be known as a pass-catching weapon, he could be another versatile option for the Patriots offense on occasion.
“Whenever my number is called and I get the opportunity, I’m going to go out there and do my best and try to get in the end zone like in that case and just try to get out there and help the team win,” the sort of throwback player said after the win. “I enjoy playing fullback and enjoy playing football. It’s just a great game and I really love contact and I like hitting guys out there. It’s fun being a fullback for the New England Patriots.”
Backup QB battle continues
Ryan Mallett and Garoppolo will continue to battle this week for the right to back up Brady. While there would seem to be a likelihood that Belichick will decide to keep three quarterbacks in 2014, one more than he’s carried on the roster the last two seasons, the second-round rookie Garoppolo is at least attempting to make a run at the No. 2 job.
Garoppolo ignited the Patriots offense in the second half of the preseason opener in Washington and then followed that up by earning the first reps after Tom Brady in the preseason Week 2 win over the Eagles. He’s moved the ball well in his playing time over two weeks, looks relatively confident running the offense and getting through his reads and is improving seemingly every day.
Mallett followed up a poor preseason debut with a more impressive effort against the Eagles, throwing and running for a touchdown. He’s the more proven commodity, but if Belichick feels that his development has plateaued in his fourth season, there is a slight chance the one-time trade bait could be left on the outside looking in come cuts.
NOTEBOOK: Tight end Rob Gronkowski was once again absent from preseason action. The Pro Bowler took part in 7-on-7 last week for the first time as he continues to slowly work back from a torn ACL suffered last December. … Wide receiver Aaron Dobson did not play in the second preseason game and has yet to take part in full contact drills as he works back from offseason foot surgery, despite having been taken off PUP last week. … Defensive tackle Dominique Easley has now missed his first two preseason games while working to full health from the torn ACL that cut his final season at Florida short. The first-round pick was taken off NFI last week and has practiced on a limited basis, but full-contact work remains a hurdle. … Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard sat out the second week of preseason, continuing to work back from offseason shoulder surgery. Dennard was more active last week in practice, taking part in 7-on-7 action. … Defensive back Tavon Wilson missed the second preseason contest with an unknown injury after sitting out practice all last week.