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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — If the New England Patriots are to make a charge in their final five games of the season in hopes of a long-shot playoff berth, they’ll need to duplicate the formula that helped them upset the Arizona Cardinals 20-17 on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

The defense mostly bottled up dangerous quarterback Kyler Murray and didn’t allow him to beat them with his legs. The kickoff- and punt-return units delivered big plays, which, in turn, helped the not-too-explosive Cam Newton-led offense with short fields to make life easier for them.

It’s what coach Bill Belichick often refers to as “complementary football.”

Yes, it also came with some good fortune, with Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez missing a 45-yard field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter, which could have been the knockout punch.

That allowed Newton and the Patriots’ offense to take over at their own 35-yard line to set up Nick Folk’s 50-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.

The Patriots improve to 5-6 with the victory, with their next three games on the road — against the Chargers, Rams and Dolphins — before wrapping up the regular season with home games against the Bills and Jets.

They’ll likely need to run the table to have a shot of playing in the postseason.

While a tall task, they ensured that there is still something to play for by recovering from a slow start against the Cardinals, and giving Murray — who was playing through an injured right shoulder — all he could handle.

QB breakdown: Newton completed 9-of-18 passes for 84 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. The first pick wasn’t necessarily his fault, as the Patriots struggled with a blitz pickup off the right side of the line, and the ball was tipped in the air. Newton added nine rushes for 46 yards — with his most important yards coming on a 14-yard run during the game-winning drive, a play that included a penalty on Cardinals rookie Isaiah Simmons for unnecessary roughness that added 15 yards. Newton appeared to be apologizing to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels after the game for the fourth-quarter pick, but he made up for it with his play on the game-winning drive.

Describe the game in two words: Containing Kyler. The Patriots’ defense, which was shredded by Deshaun Watson the week before, bounced back in a big way, with defensive tackle Adam Butler as one of the stars of the show.

Pivotal play: They don’t get much bigger than a 50-yard field goal with no time left, with veteran Folk thrusting his arms in the air right after the ball left his foot. He knew it was good. It was his second game-winning field goal of the season in that type of situation.

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NFL mandatory minicamps 2021 — Derek Carr’s stance, Julio Jones’ debut, Tua Tagovailoa’s rough day and more

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From quarterback Derek Carr making a bold statement about his commitment to the Las Vegas Raiders to Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throwing five interceptions in a heavy rainstorm to wide receiver Julio Jones taking the field in the Tennessee Titans‘ No. 2 uniform, some of the big names in the NFL made waves on Tuesday during NFL mandatory minicamps.

Eighteen NFL teams opened their mandatory three-day minicamps this week. Ten held theirs last week, with four teams electing to cancel. Teams that opted out of mandatory minicamps this week are the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers. The Philadelphia Eagles were the first team to skip theirs when they did so a week ago.

While practices were underway for half the league, much of the talk of Tuesday’s camps included the players who haven’t stepped foot on the field because of ongoing contract negotiations. Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams were among the notable players absent from their respective team facilities.

Teams already have been going through organized team activities, but this marks the first time that many veterans will take the field since the end of the 2020 NFL season. That includes some players who joined new teams this offseason, including prized free agents and edge rushers Matt Judon (Patriots) and Yannick Ngakoue (Raiders).

Here are some snapshots, many from ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters who are on the scene at this week’s activities, from Tuesday’s minicamps:

Jump to the best of the day:
Photos | Videos | Quotes

Top news of the day

Carr says he has no desire to leave Raiders
Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr re-asserted his desire to remain with the team that drafted him in the second round in 2014. “I’d probably quit football if I had to play for somebody else,” Carr said.

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Derek Carr explains why he has no interest in playing for a franchise other than the Raiders.

Howard not at Dolphins camp over ‘unique’ situation
Xavien Howard, who hasn’t shown up to any portion of the Dolphins’ voluntary offseason program this year, was not in attendance for minicamp meetings Tuesday, and he’s officially a holdout as he seeks a new contract. Coach Brian Flores noted the cornerback’s situation is “unique” in regard to his contract because Howard feels like he has outplayed the five-year, $75.25 million extension he signed in May 2019.

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Dolphins coach Brian Flores discusses the team’s desire to keep Xavien Howard amid a contract dispute.

Packers’ Rodgers jokes about ‘quiet offseason’
Aaron Rodgers, who has dominated the NFL headlines this spring because of his dissatisfaction with Green Bay, showed his sense of humor during a promotional video in advance of the July 6 golf match featuring Rodgers and PGA Tour star Bryson DeChambeau against Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson.

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Adam Schefter says Green Bay’s front office isn’t doing itself any favors when it comes to keeping Aaron Rodgers.

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Quotes of the day

“I played with Julio [Jones], Mohamed Sanu, since Day 1, those guys, I feel like I’ve been moving toward that way of I can do it by myself. Obviously I’m not by myself, we have other players who are really good, but I feel like I’ve been ready and I just needed an opportunity to get in those positions.”

Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley

“I was surprised. … You never like to see things like that.”

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce on Le’Veon Bell’s comments about coach Andy Reid

“I wore 9 in college my senior and junior year. I’m one of 10 children, so I got 9 siblings – every time I go out there, I represent them. I like 9; that’s one of the reasons I rock it. And 99 was taken, so I chose to use the new rule.”

Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon on his jersey number

“You don’t feel like yourself, even when you pass the symptoms. There’s a certain level or feeling you have when you’re ready, and COVID made it a little harder to get to that good feeling.”

Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell has had no post-COVID issues the past couple of months


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Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers jokes about his ‘quiet offseason’ in interview for July 6 golf match

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Through everything that has happened surrounding Aaron Rodgers this offseason, one thing is clear: He still understands sarcasm.

The reigning MVP, who has dominated the NFL headlines this spring because of his dissatisfaction with the Green Bay Packers, showed his sense of humor Tuesday during a promotional video in advance of the July 6 golf match featuring Rodgers and PGA Tour star Bryson DeChambeau against Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson.

TNT’s Brian Anderson, who hosted the video conference, set up Rodgers with this: “You’ve really kept a low profile this offseason, I’ve hardly seen your name at all and you haven’t hosted any TV shows or been involved in any kind of controversy or anything. It’s been a nice, peaceful offseason for you, it sounds like.”

Rodgers’ reply was both deadpan and dripping with irony.

“It’s been one of those quiet offseasons you dream about, where you can kind of just go through your process on your own, quietly,” Rodgers said. “And that’s all you can ask for as an older player in the league and someone who’s been around for a long time and just enjoys that time to yourself, just relax, to not be bothered, to not have any obligations or anything going on.

“I think that’s what this offseason has been about. It’s been about really enjoying my time and spending it where I want to spend it, not feeling like I have to go anywhere but still be an NFL player at the same time. It’s been great.”

Rodgers skipped his only actual obligation, the Packers’ mandatory minicamp last week, and is subject to fines of $93,085. He also missed the entire offseason program, thereby forfeiting his $500,000 workout bonus.

The Packers have publicly maintained their desire to have Rodgers back for “2021 and beyond,” as team president Mark Murphy put it earlier this offseason, but it’s unclear whether Rodgers will report for training camp next month or will hold out and try to force a trade. Since the news of Rodgers’ unhappiness with the Packers broke on the afternoon of this year’s draft, the Packers have insisted they will not trade him.

Earlier this month, Murphy wrote that the situation has divided the Packers’ fan base and added that the less said publicly about the situation, the better. However, Murphy didn’t heed his own advice last week when, during a speaking engagement, he referred to Rodgers as “a complicated fella,” saying he was echoing how former Packers general manager Ted Thompson once described him.

It’s unclear whether the T-shirt Rodgers wore for Tuesday’s videoconference, which read “I’m offended,” was in response to Murphy’s comment.

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Carolina Panthers WR Robby Anderson says he sees new ‘glow’ in QB Sam Darnold

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson sees something in quarterback Sam Darnold that he didn’t in their two years together with the New York Jets.

“When I walked in the building I could see a new energy out of him, like a glow, charisma that I didn’t really see in New York,” said Anderson, who played with Darnold in 2018-19. “I can definitely see the difference in him so far.”

Anderson was the only Carolina player not seen by media for any of the voluntary portions of on-the-field offseason workouts.

So Tuesday, the first of a three-day mandatory camp, was the first time Anderson had a chance to work with Darnold since the Jets’ 2019 finale against Buffalo when they connected three times for 18 yards.

“You know when a person can see like a glow, energy, their aura?” Anderson said. “I could kind of see that when I walked in the building.”

Anderson was Darnold’s favorite target with the Jets. He had 102 catches for 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns during their time together.

Stopping short of making a prediction, Anderson expects better things for them in Joe Brady’s system at Carolina, where in 2020 Anderson had a career-best 95 catches for 1,096 yards and three touchdowns.

“The New York system was a little more complex, had a lot of nuances that was more difficult for everybody, not just him, not just me,” Anderson said. “This system is a little more graspable.”

New Carolina edge rusher Haason Reddick hasn’t played with Darnold before, but he likes what he has seen.

“Sam’s completing passes,” said Reddick, an offseason free-agent signing from Arizona. “It looks like he’s playing intelligent football.”

Coach Matt Rhule just wants Darnold, who struggled with consistency with the Jets, completing only 59.8% of his passes and going 13-25 as the starter, to continue playing “good” football in practice.

“I don’t want him to have great days right now … just steady progress to make good days roll into great days,” he said of the quarterback Carolina traded for before the draft.

Anderson, who should help Darnold’s growth because of their past chemistry, didn’t go into detail on why he stayed in South Florida throughout the voluntary portions of OTAs.

“I’m to the point of my career where I know how to get myself ready,” he said. “So it wasn’t nothing against the team or nothing like that. I feel I capitalized on this time. The work I was putting in with my trainer, I was on a good program.

“I didn’t want to step away from that.”

Rhule said it was great to have Anderson back even though Anderson wasn’t in all the team drills.

“Robby is a guy that brings energy to the practice field,” he said. “He’s in great shape. You can tell he’s been working hard. We had a goal of like three to four reps in a team drills. I’m not going to over-rep anybody.”

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