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Archive for July, 2011

Sunday News and Notes

Yet another chaotic day in the NFL since the lockout has ended. Teams shuffling their respective rosters, trades, and training camp. The Patriots were busy on the practice field Sunday, here are some notes from the teams seventh practice this camp:

  • The teams morning session was held in full pads and in warm and sunny conditions. Great atmosphere and Celtics point-guard Rajon Rondo even stopped by to say hello to the team.
     
  • Albert Haynesworth was the topic of conversation Sunday. After passing his conditioning test, he was dominant in drills early. He absolutely displayed his talents and what he might be able to contribute moving forward. Bill Belichick did keep his work load light and restricted his repetitions during the back half of the morning.
     
  • The offense had a very tough day. Very sloppy with a lot of drops by the receivers. Chad Ochocinco was off to a rough start but stayed after practice to run routes and catch balls.
     
  • At one point, the defense was in a 4 –  3 defensive alignment that featured Cunningham, Wilfork, Haynesworth, and Moore (from left to right). This could be an interesting defensive front moving forward if the team is serious about making the switch from a 3-4 base defense.
     
  • Stephen Gostkowski, who is coming off quad surgery last season, is still being eased back into action at practice. Undrafted rookie kicker Chris Koepplin took much of the kicking duty but definitely struggled early. Also, I found it interesting that linebacker Rob Ninkovich handled long snapping duties. Patriots veteran long snapper Matt Katula remains sidelined.
     
  • On Saturday the Patriots announced they had re-signed veteran safety Brandon McGowan and linebacker Tracy White. Both players were unrestricted free agents and under the new CBA transition rules, neither player can practice until Aug. 4th.
     
  • The Seattle Seahawks released linebacker Lofa Tatupu on Sunday morning. He is an interesting name to keep in mind for the Pats. I believe he would be a great additionand I am not the only one who believes so. Former Patriots Safety, Lawyer Milloy, said on twitter, “#Seahawks run a 4-3. Lofa would fit in perfectly in Bill’s scheme because he’s smart.”. Nothing imminent, but Tatupu seems to be the best available linebacker available if the team looks to add another player.
     
  • Plaxico Burress signed with the New York Jets and I could not be more pleased. Yes, I still believe Burress has something left to offer but, the 34-year old receiver is on the very end of his career. Why is this good news? This almost all but guarantees Braylon Edwards will not be returning to the team for this next season. While Edwards is not an elite wide-out, he definitely burned the Pats secondary on a few occasions last year and i see this move as a downgrade for New York.
     
  • Some Patriots fans have mention New York Giants DE Osi Umenyiora as a possible addition for the defense. While the disgruntled defensive lineman may be a fit here in New England, he is still under contract with the Giants. During a conversation between the Giants and Osi on Sunday morning, the team told him if they would shop him they would ask for a first round draft pick. Definitely too high for Belichick to pull the trigger.
     
  • The Patriots will not be practicing on Monday. Under the rules of the new CBA, teams are required to give players a day off the first week of camp.

- Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me onTwitter @PatriotsHaven! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

Patriots Re-sign Veterans McGowan, White

On Saturday the Patriots announced they had re-signed veteran safety Brandon McGowan and linebacker Tracy White.

Both players were unrestricted free agents and under the new CBA transition rules, neither player can practice until Aug. 4th.

McGowan missed all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle but started 11 games for the Patriots in 2009. McGowan also excelled playing against opponents Tight-Ends and the seven year veteran had 79 tackles with the team.

Linebacker Tracy White returns as mainly a special teams specialist for the Patriots after finishing second on the team last season with 18 special teams tackles. White was acquired from the Eagles by the Patriots for a 2012 seventh-round draft choice in exchange for a 2012 sixth-round draft choice; virtually nothing.

The veteran resigning process is still on going and there are new pieces being added from all over the NFL. There will be more news coming in every day and I will be sure to keep you updated as the “free agent frenzy” continues.

- Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @PatriotsHaven! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

As I was surfing the internet today, I came across another interesting video that I thought Patriots Nation would like to see. The video is short, but I think the clip gives great insight into Bill Belichick’s and newly acquired wide receiver Chad Ochocinco’s relationship.

 

 

- Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @PatriotsHaven! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

 

Patriots Acquire Chad Ochocinco from the Bengals

After yet another afternoon of fan and media speculation, reports have surfaced indicating the Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco has been traded to the New England Patriots.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes that the Bengals will be receiving two late draft picks for Ochocinco, in both 2012 and 2013.

The terms of the trade are not yet known in full but Ochocinco was seen catching a plane to Boston Thursday. He was scheduled to make $6.35 million for the Bengals this season. The Patriots wanted him to restructure his contract to fit their cap and the two sides have reportedly agreed to a 3 year deal.

Earlier today, ProFootballTalk reported that the wide – out “Direct Messaged” a fan saying “Media knows nothing but I’m going to enjoy clam chowder.”

Seems the media smoke has finally led to fire, metaphorically speaking, and Ochocino will bring his talents to New England. The Pats beat on the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers for the receiver.

- Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @PatriotsHaven! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

Checking In: Patriots Show Up to Morning Walkthrough

The Patriots held their first day of training camp Thursday morning, with a light walkthrough. Players wore shorts and jerseys, and there were no pads or helmets. Under the new CBA teams can still hold two – a – day practices, as long as one of the practices is similar to the Pats practice this morning.

73 Patriots participated in the walkthrough this morning with 14 absences — 7 veterans, 7 unsigned draft picks.

Arrington, Green-Ellis, Mankins, Kaczur, Crumpler, Pryor, Stroud, Mallett, Dowling, Vereen, Ridley, Williams, Cannon, and Solder were all absent.

There are some restrictions for when players can get on the field. No real reason to worry about the list of players above for their absence today. As the practices continue and the off season further develops, I will have updates for you.

- Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @PatriotsHaven! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

Is a Heath Evans Return Possible?

Former Patriots and Saints fullback, Heath Evans, is now a free agent. After several years with the New Orleans Saints, he is now back on the market.  A few weeks ago, Evans had a conversation with WEEI’s Christopher Price that caught my eye. When discussing his free agent options, Evans had this to say -

“New Orleans would still be my first pick, because how I get used — I get my hands on the ball and get on the field more,” Evans said, per Christopher Price of WEEI.com.  “But what I learned in New England is irreplaceable.  It’s all about humble leadership.  They do things the right way, which is very attractive to a player.”

Evans won a Super Bowl with the Saints, but he arrived in New England after the team won its third Super Bowl.

“In my four years there, I learned so much football,” Evans said.  “I am forever indebted to Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli and Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison and guys like that — they taught me how to become a true professional.  I loved my time in New England and it made me the player that I am today.”

I’m not sure how Heath would fit in the New England offense now compared to his first stint with the club. However, now that fullback/running back Sammy Morris seems to be on his way out, Evans could once again land in New England. Even with the new rookie backs in Ridley and Vereen, there is still an opening for a veteran blocking back.

I feel that if Belichick made the call to resign Evans, the club would benefit from the move. Even though the backfield could be crowded, the team usually brings in veterans to mentor the younger players. He is familiar with the system and is obviously open to a return. With all of the free agent options available, Evans should be one name Patriots Nation keeps in mind as the off season continues to develop.

-   Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @PatriotsHaven!Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

Patriots Undrafted Free Agent Signings

After the first couple hours of the free agency frenzy, there was certainly no shortage of NFL news. While the Patriots did not make a big splash in terms of veteran free agents, the front office seemed to be busy making calls to undrafted free agent rookies. Here is a list of all the reported signings -

Corey Woods (OT, Akron)
Jeremy Ross (WR/KR, Cal)
Alex Silvestro (DE, Rutgers)
Jeff Tarpinian (LB, Iowa)
Kyle Hix (OT, Texas)
Mike Berry (OL, Auburn)
Will Yeatman (TE, Maryland)
Ryan Coulson (DE, Nevada)
Clay Nurse (DE, Illinois)
Anthony Leonard (LB, West Virginia)

Even though many of these young athletes will struggle to make the roster, there are a few names that stand out. Mike Berry is an interior lineman who has experience starting at several positions along the line. The 6’3, 318 pound lineman has played both guard positions and starting experience at center.

Jeff Tarpinian is the other name that stands out on the list. Tarpinian, who played four years for Iowa, is considered a big hitting special teams contributor who could make a serious run at the active roster. His impact on special teams may put pressure on current special teamer Tracy White for a roster spot. White was brought over from the Eagles during last season and Tarpinian could offer more in terms of athleticism.

Cal special teams weapon, Jeremy Ross, has also agreed to sit down with our own Damien Jarrett for an exclusive interview. Be sure to look for that on PatsFans.com over the next couple of days.

-    Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @PatriotsHaven!Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

Lockout is Over: Outlining CBA Details

The news broke early Monday morning that NFL fans around the globe can breath easy. After 136 days, the lockout has finally been lifted and football is back.

The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will keep NFL action in play until at least 2021. Assuming most of you will not be reading the 400 page CBA that has been agreed to be both parties involved, here are some key bullet points:

  • 10 year deal, through 2021
  • $ 120.4 Million Salary Cap for 2011
  • League-wide commitment to spend 99% of cap cash for the next two years (2011 & 2012 seasons)
  • No opt-out clause after 7 years (insurance cost was too expensive). Also easier for the NFL to get better TV deals and build new stadiums.
  • Recertification process will take place “over the next few days” but the details don’t appear to be completely set at this point. One of the few topics that have not yet been made clear to the public.
  • Team rosters have now been expanded to 90
  • Player minimum salaries increased by $55,000 from 2010
  • 4 year contracts for draft selections, with a team option for 5th year for all 1st round picks.
  • No change to 16 game season through 2013, any subsequent changes must be approved by NFLPA.
  • Reductions in OTA’s and padded practices. No more than 4 and a half hours per day during training camps.

For even more details, here is a link to a PDF file Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter received of the CBA early this morning.

-       Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @PatriotsHaven!Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

Analyzing the Patriots Upcoming Free Agents

Now that the NFL lockout has finally ended, this is a great time to evaluate the Patriots current roster. Now that the Pats brought in talent from the draft, it could alter their decision to re-sign some of their expiring veterans. The Patriots made re-signing their own veterans priority one last off-season and I feel they should do the same this season. The following is a list of the 2010 New England Patriots free agents heading into the off – season. Here is my thoughts on each players stance with the team moving forward:

CB Kyle Arrington – After Kyle Arrington played mainly special teams in his rookie season, he stepped up to play starting corner across from Devin McCourty since week 3. I certainly expect this young man to be back on a multi-year deal and play in the slot with Leigh Bodden returning from injury next season regardless of the Ras I – Dowling selection.

S Josh Barrett – The veteran safety, claimed off the Denver Broncos waiver wire during the season, was immediately placed on IR after signing with the team. I feel Belichick wants to see Barrett in camp for his league renown special teams skills, but wouldn’t necessarily expect a long term commitment with the team.

RB Kevin Faulk – After a devastating knee injury cut Kevin Faulk’s 13th season with the Patriots short, the 34 year old has been undergoing rehab trying to make a comeback for 2011. It has been understood that if Kevin wants to return next year he can, but at what point can the Patriots not hold a roster spot for the veteran?

K Shayne Graham – Graham stepped up in Stephen Gostkowski’s absence to deliver a solid effort the final half of the season. Even though Graham did not miss a field goal during his Patriots tenure, there is only  one roster spot available for the kicker. I would be surprised if Graham was not in camp with the patriots just in case Gostkowski is not ready to return in 2011.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Heading into the season, BenJarvus Green-Ellis appeared to be at the bottom of the Patriots roster. Months later, he eclipsed the 1000-yard mark for the first time in his career and scored 13 touchdowns. In almost any CBA scenario, he will end up a restricted free agent, which gives the Patriots an edge to re-sign him. While he has been a near perfect fit in New England, he might not be the future feature back. Cal running back Shane Vereen may be taking more of the spotlight than people realize and don’t count out LSU tailback Stevan Ridley, who Belichick loves. The teams backfield could be very dynamic when the seasons begins.

OL Matt Light – At first glance, I expected the Patriots will not re-sign Matt Light and instead utilize Colorado LT Nate Solder at 17 overall in the NFL Draft. Even though he had one of his best seasons, Light will be turning 33 next season and it is hard to imagine his return to the team. Although Solder could start immediately, he could learn a lot from the pro bowl veteran Light. Second year tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who can play either position, will stay at the right tackle position for the next season. This by far is the toughest decision to make but I think the team will not re-sign Light because he will be looking for more money.

 

OL Logan Mankins – Mankins return to the Patriots offensive line was flawless, even after a holdout at the early stages of the season. He continues to be one of the top guards in the league and will be paid as so in the coming months. Hopefully, for Patriots nation, he will remain a Patriot for years to come. With the offensive line aging and in need of a makeover, Mankins is one of the few bright spots this team has left in that unit. I have a feeling both Mr. Kraft and Mankins will hammer out a new contract, but with these situations, you just never know.

S Brandon McGowan – McGowan missed the whole season with a torn pectoral muscle after a solid season in 2009. Unfortunately for him, the Patriots have several players at the safety position. Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung, Jarrad page, James Sanders, and serjio Brown all got reps throughout the season. It will be interesting if the Pats bring him back but a veteran minimum contract and a training camp appearance is certainly not out of the question.

RB Sammy Morris – The 34 year old contributed sparingly in 2010 and is almost a lock he will not be back with the patriots next season. Between his age, ability, and room on the roster, I do not see room for him in 2011. The only real loss the Patriots would lose in Morris’ absence is his ability to play both the full back and tailback position.However, I feel Stevan Ridley might be able to fill that role.

OL Quinn Ojinnaka – After trading a 7th round pick for Ojinnaka earlier in the season, the veteran added quality depth for the Pats all season. Ojinnaka is so valuable as a back up because of his versatility. He can play all five offensive line positions and has game experience in all of them. I fully expect him to be back with the Patriots next year.

S Jarrad Page – After a contract dispute forced his departure in Kansas City, Page suffered a few injuries in the first few weeks. After he was healthy, he rotated in the defensive backfield and also contributed on special teams. I think he could be back with the team but part of me is curious to see if he asks for more money than he is worth.

RB Fred Taylor – Fred Taylor tried to shed the “fragile Fred” nickname this season but the veteran had no such luck. He was hampered throughout the year with nagging injuries and when he was healthy enough to play, he had lost his job to BenJarvis Green-Ellis. Taylor talked several times about retirement this season, many of those in tears with obvious frustration and sadness in his facial expression. I expect the 34 year old not to return and possibly sign with the Jaguars to retire where his great career began.

DL Gerard Warren – Gerard Warren had a great start to the season and slowly regressed as the year went along. Never the less, I thought he did a great job replacing the injured Ty Warren for the seasons entirety. I certainly expect the Patriots to re-sign the veteran DE to help add depth and experience along the defensive front.

LB Tracy White – In early September the Eagles traded White to the Patriots for an undisclosed late round pick in the 2012 NFL draft. White played in all 16 games, finishing second on the team with 18 special teams tackles. I expect White to return with the team next season and be big part of the on special teams next season.

The Patriots have once again put themselves in a position to reload on the fly. Bill Belichick and the brain trust have certainly positioned themselves masterfully. Another strong off – season should continue building this teams foundation. If all goes well, the Patriots could be a championship team in the near future.

-       Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @PatriotsHaven! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!


 

Tully Banta-Cain has surgery

Multiple reports broke out early Sunday morning that patriots Outside Linebacker, Tully Banta – Cain, had surgery and would not be ready for training camp.

There is some confusion on the specific injury for the veteran OLB, but informants with knowledge close to the situation claim he is suffering from an abdominal tear. Banta-Cain is believed to have sustained the injury last season and initially decided that no surgery was required after meeting with team doctors. However, Banta-Cain apparently tweaked the injury in recent workouts which forced him to go under the knife on Friday, July 22nd.

With an estimated 4 – 6 weeks recovery time, and the Patriots already lacking depth at the outside linebacker position, this may be a cause for concern. While he could be considered one of the teams top pass rushers,  many people believe Banta – Cain could be a cap room causality after last seasons mediocre play.

With NFL teams possibly starting training camp by the end of next week, there is no chance TBC would be ready to go until mid to late pre – season. With the NFL coaching staffs already suffering from shortened evaluation periods, Belichick and company will have to work overtime to find more quality depth availible.

As more information becomes available regarding Banta – Cain’s injury and recovery, I will be sure to keep you updated.

- Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @PatriotsHaven! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!