Patriots Notebook: Perfect attendance at practice, Gilmore talks Pro Bowl

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots had a full slate at the start of practice Wednesday afternoon, as the complete roster was present on a clear and cool day on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. One interesting wrinkle? There was a new player wearing the number of former New England practice squadder Eric Smith, who was signed by the Jets off the Patriots' practice squad. We'll find out who it is later Wednesday.


So the new offensive lineman? It's Toby Weathersby. Weathersby, 22, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a rookie free agent out of Louisiana State on May 11 and was released on Oct. 2. The 6-foot-6, 308-pounder appeared in 31 games with 15 starts at right tackle over three seasons for LSU. Weathersby saw action in 12 games as a true freshman in 2015 and started all 11 games he played in as a junior last season. He decided to forgo his senior season at LSU.


Here's a look at the injury report for both teams -- again, a good one for New England. We'll see how that translates to Sunday's game.


Stephon Gilmore got the call he was hoping for on Tuesday.

The cornerback was informed he had made the Pro Bowl a phone call from Bill Belichick. How did Belichick delver the news? According to Gilmore, it was short and sweet.

“Congrats and get ready for work this week,” Belichick told Gilmore.

The coach was a bit more expansive when asked about Gilmore and his development earlier in the day on Wednesday.

“Steph’s had a good year,” Belichick said of the veteran on Wednesday morning. “I thought he had a good year for us last year. I mean, all players improve as they’ve been in the system longer. He was a good player when he got here. He’s had a good year for us.”

“It’s good to get recognized,” Gilmore said. “I was excited. It’s something you work for as a kid. You go out and want to accomplish those things. It’s an honor to get chosen.”


A few notes from Sean McDermott's Q&A with us earlier Wednesday.

What does Josh Allen bring to the table? "Young quarterback, naturally as you know, and with some of that there’s some good and there’s some bad and some areas for growth. I think what you see on probably TV the most is the competitiveness, the ability to make throws and a guy that – he’s taken some lumps but at the same time, he’s been resilient in terms of his approach every week to try and better himself."

Did that surprise you? When he was coming out of the draft, all anyone could talk about was his arm, and now his legs seem to be doing a lot of the damage. "Yeah, that’s a good question. Honestly, that did surprise us. When we went through the film, as you kind of stack up the different qualities that all the quarterbacks that went through the draft this year that they had, that was one of the areas that Josh did bring to the table."

The Patriots have been far better at home than on the road this season. Have you seen any trends as to why that might be the case? "I don’t. There’s probably a lot written and a lot said over the years as to why they’re better at home. That’s a good aspect – a good, I guess, character trait. When you play well at home, it usually leads to winning in the playoffs, and they’ve been able to do that for a number of years."

This year Tom Brady’s behind pace to where he was statistically last year. In a league where stats seem to be going up for quarterbacks, is there anything you’ve noticed? Is he declining? Where is he at compared to last year? "No, to me, he looks even better than he has in years past, believe it or not. I know that the numbers may not support that, but I think his game is strong, he doesn’t turn the ball over. I think he’s as good as ever."

What’s changed about the Patriots offense since you saw them in Week 8? "Again, I think just more variety in terms of what they do, how they play the different weapons they have. They’ve got a ton of weapons. You go right down through the list starting with the guys that have been there a long time with Tom [Brady] and then the line, the continuity that they’ve had over the years and they play as good as any line out there, they’re well-coached. So a lot of respect for what they do up there."

More updates throughout the afternoon...