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Thursday, September 4, 2014
Leftover nuggets from the Patriots

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A few leftovers from New England Patriots headquarters as the team continues preparations for Sunday’s season opener against the Miami Dolphins:

Importance of in-game adjustments. Seven-time captain Vince Wilfork talked about how the Patriots focused on the running game and third down in Wednesday’s practice. Overall, Wilfork said players have to be prepared to adjust on the sidelines because of the unpredictable nature of season opener. “It’s always tough because of the unknown. Too many people don’t show their hand in the preseason. ... This game is going to be a game that is going to come down to sideline adjustments, doing some things we haven’t even practiced.” Wilfork added that the coaching staff regularly throws curve-balls at players in practice to prepare for those types of situations.

Wright and Brady working on the side. Tight end Tim Wright, who joined the Patriots just nine days ago,is still developing a rapport with quarterback Tom Brady. “We just try to do as much as we can on the side, just trying to get that connection down and trying to get that relationship up,” Wright said. “He’s a great guy on and off the field. I’m really gravitating towards him and I think he’s liking me.”

Rookie CB Butler makes an impression on teammates. Undrafted Malcolm Butler of West Alabama was one of the surprise performers in training camp, earning a spot on the 53-man roster. As the Patriots prepare for the Dolphins this week, receiver Brandon LaFell said Butler “reminds us a lot of [Miami’s] Brent Grimes. He’s a smaller guy (5-foot-11, 190 pounds), but he has that quick twitch going just like Grimes.”

Butterflies will be there. When four-time special-teams captain Matthew Slater was asked if there are more butterflies for the season opener than there normally are, he said, “I think that’s safe to say. It’s been a while since we’ve teed it up with records on the line. There definitely will be a lot of butterflies going.”

Dolphins know close games. On the weekly opponents’ conference call, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin made the point that a lot of games are “decided in the last two minutes both of the first half and the football game” while pointing out that Miami was involved in 10 one-possession games last season. Philbin explained how the Dolphins devote a lot of practice time to those areas.