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Archive for the ‘ Daily Links ’ Category

Patriots Huddle: Friday’s News and Notes 7/11


Bill Belichick making a move for receiver Andre Johnson seems unlikely. (USA TODAY Images)

Another quiet morning, but here are some news and notes on this Friday:

DON’T COUNT ON ANDRE JOHNSON IN NEW ENGLAND:

There are plenty of fans who would love to see Andre Johnson catching passes from Tom Brady, but as it currently stands, the Patriots would have to be considered a long shot to acquire him.

Johnson has told the Texans that he no longer wants to be there and wants to be traded, which reportedly stemmed from an earlier situation where the star receiver missed the early portion of the offseason workouts and cost him a $1 million bonus.  According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Johnson requested the opportunity to workout extra to make up for the time he missed, but the team told him no.

That sets up where he is now, which has the two sides in a standoff and Johnson at the center of trade rumors.

Looking at the implications of him coming to New England, the numbers don’t really work out too well.  As our colleague Miguel Benzan points out, Per the CBA, the Patriots would have to be under the cap by $10,580,000 in order to take on Andre Johnson’s 10 million salary and 1 million roster bonus.  According to Benzan, the team is currently below the salary cap by $6.4 million, which would require a series of moves to squeeze Johnson under and he goes over a series of moves to shave off the additional $4.2 million that might make it work.  Some of those moves would involve extensions for Devin McCourty along releasing Dan Connolly or even Logan Mankins, among other necessary transactions.

That’s a lot of work for one player and doesn’t exactly fit how the Patriots have previously done business.  Not to mention the fact that it leaves them without any breathing room or the ability to adjust in the event of disaster from an injury standpoint, and puts them in tough shape cap-wise heading into 2015 unless Johnson would be willing to take a pay-cut in order to make it work.  Rapoport reports that Johnson is willing to restructure, but it doesn’t sound like lowering his salary is something he’s willing to do.

Needless to say it seems unlikely that he may end up in a Patriots uniform.  Granted stranger things have happened, but the numbers don’t add up and that’s one of the bigger reasons why he’ll probably end up elsewhere if Johnson and the Texans can’t work out their issues.

CHUNG HOLDING A PEP RALLY:

According to the Boston Herald, Patrick Chung and his wife Cecelia recently threw a pep rally with JAM’N 94.5’s Maverik, crooner Louie Bello, and hip-hop dancers Phunk Phenomenon and Fame or Juliet to kick off his free summer music academy, SMART, at the Josiah Quincy School.

“We’re excited to welcome music students from all levels and backgrounds to join us once again for SMART,” Patrick Chung said in a recent press release. “Both of my parents were music professionals – my mother a singer and my father a producer. Because they followed their passions, they were able to give me the opportunities I’ve had to succeed. I’m thrilled we can offer the same opportunity for music students to follow their passions.”

The academy is designed for music students between the ages of 12-15 and from the Greater Boston area.  The program is currently taking place from July 7 through August 15th, but the application process is closed.

GRONK SPENDS TIME AT THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL:

It’s probably only a matter of time before photos appear of Rob Gronkowski at a recent Katy Perry concert, but for now it’s nice to see him giving back to the community, which is something he’s spent a lot of time this offseason doing and those things don’t tend to get enough press.

Gronk recently visited the Boston Children’s Hospital and brought some ice cream to some of the patients there, and the Hospital tweeted a photo of him:

Good stuff.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Our friend James Christensen has a good article on how the Patriots defense will be better without Brandon Spikes – READ MORE

Nick Underhill of MassLive continues his series of ranking the Patriots, will Darrelle Revis coming in at number two – READ MORE

Erik Frenz of Boston.com looks at the battle potentially looming between Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce for the final roster spot at the receiver position heading into training camp - READ MORE

Frenz has another article on the back-up tight end position and the upcoming competition heading into training camp. – READ MORE

Have to love this title of an article on Gisele in the Daily Mail “Gisele Bundchen shows lean legs in skin-tight faded skinny jeans while shooting commercial for Falabella in Miami”.  Purely for clicks, but it obviously worked – READ MORE

 

Patriots Huddle: Thursday News and Notes 7/10


The offseason criticism of Tom Brady continues, with critics doubting whether or not he’s still one of the best in the NFL. (USA TODAY Images)

A quiet morning on this Thursday, but here are some quick news and notes from this morning:

CRITICISM OF BRADY CONTINUES:

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA TODAY apparently isn’t happy with how the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2014 turned out, especially when it came to where Patriots quarterback Tom Brady fell in the rankings:

Tom Brady’s ranking would be disputed no matter what, given his tumultuous season. But the Patriots quarterback finished No. 3 on this year’s list, behind Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. It’s clear players who voted found some explanation for Brady’s struggles at the start of the year.

Whether it was on Brady or not, the Patriots’ early offensive woes were evident. A thin receiving corps contributed to an eight-game slump for Brady, which he then seemed to break out of. But he still finished with a pedestrian 6.9 yards per attempt (easily his lowest in a full season since 2006) and unremarkable numbers both downfield and on third down.

USA TODAY’s Nate Davis pegged Brady as the No. 3 QB and No. 12 overall player two weeks ago. The Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg went further by claiming the Patriots’ star doesn’t belong as one of the league’s top-five signal-callers. That’s probably a step too far; Brady’s entire season didn’t definitively indicate a fall from the elite.

Peyton Manning actually came in at number one overall, while Brady came in at number three.

There has been plenty of criticism surrounding Brady’s play this past season from those who didn’t watch every game and were purely looking at numbers on paper.  The offense evolved over the course of last season before injuries, once again, simply set them back and made it too much for them to overcome.  That’s something that most critics seem to overlook, and that appears to be the case, once again, with this piece as well.

LOOKING AT THE TITLE WINDOWS FOR THE NFL’S ELITE:

Field Yates has a good piece in ESPN’s Insider looking at the title window for some of the older elite quarterbacks in the NFL, which included Brady along with Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

Yates feels that a regression in 2014 is unlikely, but that it’s fathomable that his play will slide at some point before he reaches 40, but either way if Bill Belichick remains as head coach, he still believes they’ll remain a contender.

As stated, a Brady regression is far from a guarantee. He’s under contract for four more seasons, and while there’s little precedent for quarterbacks playing into their 40s, he’s a rare player.

Moreover, while the sample size is small, we’ve seen the Patriots without Brady in 2008, and they won 11 games. Even if it was against a watered-down schedule, that’s hard to do in the NFL. Belichick is the preeminent coach of his generation (perhaps of all time), and the organization is strong in all the foundational positions. (Their front office ranked seventh overall in our FPR, and the coaching staff ranked first.) Few teams adapt to change better than New England, and if Belichick stays in it for the long haul, the Patriots cannot be counted out.

As for the Broncos and Steelers, he believes Denver is in tough shape without any real answers in the post-Manning era, while he also feels Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is “underrated”.

FORMER PATRIOT SEYMOUR MAKING RUN AT WORLD SERIES OF POKER:

After retiring in 2012 from the Oakland Raiders, it appears that former Patriot, Richard Seymour, is looking for a new challenge and has decided to focus his competitive energy playing poker.

“Now that I’m done playing football I realize that poker is competitive,” Seymour told Pokerlistings.com. “A lot of the qualities I had on the field I can use on the poker table.”

According to SilverAndBlackPride.com, Seymour survived day one and is currently still alive on day two in the tournament. There were 2,571 players still left at the beginning of the day, which may seem like a lot but considering the Main Event had 6,683 entries and the entire tournament began with a record 82,360 entries.

Seymour has reportedly played poker his whole life, so this isn’t new to him as he often played with his teammates in Oakland on plane trips.

For now it appears he’s trying to compete in something with much higher stakes, with the big prize being $10 million should he be able to survive and win it all.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Mike Reiss continues his “Checking the locks” series, with this morning’s edition focusing on the cornerbacks – READ MORE

Nick Underhill of MASSLIVE continues his series ranking the Patriots players, with Rob Gronkowski coming in at number three in this entry – READ MORE

Erik Frenz of Boston.com has a piece this morning on Bleacher report pondering whether or not Ryan Mallett has become a forgotten man in New England – READ MORE

James Christensen also has an article looking at a lot of the recent buzz surrounding the team – READ MORE

Patriots Huddle: Wednesday News & Notes 7/9


A recent ESPN Insider article believes Darrelle Revis may help put the Patriots over the top in 2014. (USA TODAY Images)

Some news and notes on this Wednesday:

DOBSON UNSURE OF STATUS HEADING INTO CAMP:

Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson will likely be a big key to New England’s success in 2014, but for now it sounds like it may be difficult to say exactly when he’ll be available to hit the field.

According to Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe, Dobson’s availability heading into training camp appears to be up in the air after Dobson downplayed his status on Tuesday.  The receiver was taking part in his annual football camp for kids at Merrimack College, and just said he’s continuing to work on getting healthy after undergoing foot surgery.

“I don’t know, it’s hard to say,” Dobson said. “I’m taking it one day at a time, rehabbing hard, just to get back out there as quick as I can.”

The second-year receiver said that he’s been trying to work on his strength and doing what he can to stay mentally prepared as well.

“It’s frustrating but I’m just trying to stay humble and do what I can do to stay fresh on everything,” said Dobson.  “Still thinking about plays, upperbody lifting, core, everything that I can do that can help me benefit on the field while I was down, but like I said, I’m just trying to get better every day.”

TALIB ON BEING A PATRIOT, “IT WAS A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE”

Talib is also taking part in running the football camp with Dobson, and he spoke about his time in New England, saying he learned a lot while he was there.

“It meant a lot,” Talib told the Boston Globe.  “I learned a lot, learned a lot about just being a professional, learning from Bill [Belichick], seeing how Bill ran his building. It was a wonderful experience for me.” 

So far he’s already been through minicamps as a member of the Denver Broncos, but he said that so far he’s happy with how things are going.

“It’s definitely good work,” he told the newspaper regarding OTAs. “Every day it’s either Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders coming out there, so it’s definitely good work, Peyton [Manning] is the quarterback, man, a lot of fun. Great locker room. No complaints.”

JOYNER: PATRIOTS WILL HAVE NUMBER ONE SECONDARY IN 2014

Joyner has a piece for ESPN Insider this morning looking at New England’s secondary, and believes that after the additions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner that the Seahawks title reign may come to a close much sooner than expected due to a strong challenge from the Patriots.

In the article Joyner points out that looking at the metrics, the addition of Revis over Talib will make a dramatic difference in their defense.

A detailed analysis of their relative metrics indicates that replacing Aqib Talib (who signed with the Denver Broncos) with Revis will save the Patriots somewhere in the range of 200 yards this season. Revis is not known as being quite as accomplished a ball hawk as Talib, but that study illustrated how Revis is likely to generate just as many pick chances, and possibly more interceptions, than Talib posted last season.

As significant as that upgrade would be, it likely pales in comparison to the impact Browner will have. Browner had a lower YPA than Sherman in 2012 (6.2 for Browner, 7.4 for Sherman) and should provide a huge coverage improvement over Alfonzo Dennard (9.3 YPA) and Kyle Arrington (9.2 YPA). Browner has nearly as many career interceptions (10) as Dennard and Arrington combined (13) and thus could improve the turnover total as well. Any impact will be delayed until at least Week 5, as Browner will start the season by serving a four-game suspension, but that may not be an issue given that New England begins the season with games against Miami, Minnesota, Oakland and Kansas City — teams that all have issues in the passing game.

One can only hope Joyner is right.

GIRL TRADES FIRST CLASS AIRLINE SEAT IN EXCHANGE FOR GRONK’S BOXERS

File this under one of those stories you wish you hadn’t heard, but apparently a girl emailed into Barstool Sports about a recent encounter with Gronkowski.

According to the story, after asking for her first class seats during a recent flight where his ticket was in an extra leg room aisle in coach, Gronkowski was propositioned by the girl who asked, “what’s in it for her?”  Apparently a pair of boxers and a chance to touch his junk.

“I gave up first class seats to grab gronks d&*k. His ticket was in an extra leg room aisle, I was in first class and he asked for our seats. I told him I’d do it but asked what’s in it for me. He signed his boarding pass and gave it to me, we shot the shit for 20 minutes in the air and he gave me his boxers after. Win win, no??”

There are photos from the encounter here - READ MORE.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Mike Reiss continues his “Checking the locks” series, and this morning focuses on the linebackers – READ MORE

Erik Frenz of Boston.com believes running back James White is a threat for major touches heading into training camp. – READ MORE

The National Football Post looks at the 10 most expensive tickets for 2014, with the Patriots match-up against Denver in Week 9 among that list – READ MORE

MASSLIVE’s Nick Underhill continues his series ranking Patriots players, and has Devin McCourty coming in at number four – READ MORE

James Christensen has his Top 5 Sleepers for the Patriots to watch in camp – READ MORE

Nice piece from Oliver Thomas with a look at Josh Boyce’s performance last season – READ MORE

Patriots Huddle: Tuesday News & Notes 7/8


Kyle Arrington has made the most of his opportunities since becoming an important part of the Patriots’ secondary. (USA TODAY Images)

Today marks the start of our series of Pre-Camp Player Profiles where we’ll be releasing at least three player spotlight pieces each day throughout the week leading up to the beginning of training camp later this month.

One will run each day at 8am, noon, and 3pm, with the first one spotlighting Stevan Ridley now available. So be sure and check back throughout each day for the next few weeks as we make our way down the roster heading into training camp. You can also follow us via our official Twitter feed at @PatsFans to be alerted to when they’re posted.

But in the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of today’s stories:

ARRINGTON MAKING THE MOST OF HIS OPPORTUNITY:

Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington has worked hard since arriving in New England, and he’s quietly become an important asset to the Patriots’ secondary.

The former standout from Hofstra recently admitted that coming from a small program in college and living the dream of playing of the NFL proves that anything is possible. He’s going to be hosting his newly formed “Kamp Kyle” football camp, which will take place July 19th in Plainfield, Connecticut working with players from ages 7 to 18 years old.

“To be in this position, I am a prime example, a real-life example of whatever your dreams are or aspire to be, with undeniable faith, determination, resilience, what can happen. It is possible,” Arrington told Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal. “To be in a situation where I can have a positive impact on just one life, it makes it all worthwhile.”

Heading into training camp Arrington knows that the competition will be tougher than it’s been in recent years with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner now in the mix, but he told the newspaper he’s looking forward to it.

“Oh man, that’s what it’s all about in this game. It’s all about competition, and we have a great group of guys,” Arrington said. “The guys you just mentioned, Revis, Browner … their body of work speaks for itself. I’m definitely looking forward to training camp. When things get full throttle, things should get interesting and be fun.”

EDELMAN SET TO DRIVE THE PACE CAR FOR A NASCAR EVENT:

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman will be taking part in an upcoming event this weekend in New Hampshire for NASCAR’s Camping World RV Sales 301 Sprint Cup Series.

Edelman will reportedly be driving the pace car for the event, although unfortunately for the Patriots receiver he won’t be driving a glitzy race car during the event. Edelman will be driving a Toyota Camry SE, but he’s still excited about participating.

As a punt returner in the NFL, I know all about teamwork, high-speeds and collisions on Sundays,” said Edelman in a media release. “But my goal on Sunday, July 13 will be to get those guys around the track safely before they drop the green flag for what is sure to be a highly-competitive race. I am honored to be chosen to drive the pace car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and I can’t wait to take in my very first NASCAR race from what will certainly be the best seat in the house.

GRONK ON TRACK FOR WEEK ONE RETURN, SPOTTED IN CHICAGO RECENTLY:

After the uncertainty that surrounded him in the early part of last season, the Patriots were forced to live without Rob Gronkowski as he continued recovering from an infection in his forearm, as well as offseason back surgery at the start of 2013.

The good new is the torn ACL he suffered against the Browns sounds like it’s continuing to recover well and according to Paul Perillo of Patriots.com, Gronkowski may be on the field for New England’s opener in Miami.

Perillo, in his examination of the tight end position, writes, “At this point all signs point toward Gronk being ready to go in Week 1,” which would certainly be good news for an offense that struggled in the early part of the season without him.

In the piece Perillo wonders what most fans are also thinking, and that’s whether or not Gronkowski can make it through an entire season healthy and move on from his injury woes. According to the Chicago Tribune, the veteran tight end apparently spent the fourth of July weekend in the windy city, hanging out with DJ Dante The Don, along with WWE developmental talent Mojo Rawly:

JIM BROWN SAYS ’64 TITLE RING WAS STOLEN:

File this under a story that’s certainly bizarre, but Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown spotted his 1964 NFL Championship ring being auctioned online, a ring that Brown claims was stolen from him more than 40-years ago.

The ring is reportedly up for bidding on lelands.com until July 25th, with the highest bid on Monday at $33,275.  Brown told cleveland.com that a claim by the auction company that he authenticated the ring is “a lie” and that he was unaware the ring was being auctioned off.

A spokesman for the online auction house, Lelands.com, told ESPN’s Darren Rovell that the company would be issuing a statement in response to the claims made by Brown, who said he believed a police report was filed when it was first discovered that it was stolen.

Lelands.com claims the ring has actually been sold several times after it was passed down from Brown to a family member. It’s currently owned by Josh Evans, the owner of the auction house, which first sold it to a bidder in 1998 before buying it back again.

The obvious question now is whether or not Brown will be able to recover it.

Additional Links:

Jordan Jennings of the Postgame blog for Yahoo! Sports has a nice entry on Devin and Jason McCourty teaming up for Sickle Cell awareness, which is a cause close to both of them because their father carried the trait – READ MORE

MassLive.com continues his series ranking the Patriots, and has Chandler Jones coming in at No. 5 in his latest entry – READ MORE

Patriots.com’s John Rooke has some notes this morning, and wonders how Darrelle Revis will fair along with a couple of other bits in this piece – READ MORE

Boston.com’s Erik Frenz looks at the quarterback position, and feels that Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo are in a battle this preseason to lead the team in the event the Patriots face a worst-case scenario with Brady getting injured – READ MORE

Patriots.com’s Paul Perillo has a good look at the Patriots’ defensive line, and believes health will be a major factor up front for the Patriots’ defense. – READ MORE

ESPN BOSTON’S Field Yates highlights a couple of pieces focusing on the NFL’s top 100 players, which obviously contains some Patriots on each list – READ MORE

ESPN BOSTON’S Mike Reiss continues his series on who he feels are locks to make the roster, with this morning’s edition focusing on the defensive ends. – READ MORE

Patriots Huddle: Monday News & Notes 7/7


It sounds like WR Aaron Dobson could be ready to go by the time training camp begins. (USA TODAY Images)

Some news and notes on this Monday:

PATRIOTS ARE THE SMARTEST NFL SPENDERS:

USA Today has an article this morning looking at the fact the Patriots have compiled a 61-19 regular season record from 2009-2013 and did it with payrolls that ranked, on average, in the bottom half of the league.

Of course they credit Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, calling Belichick “not only one of the best in the league, but among the best in any sport, anywhere.”

“How did they do it? It starts with two people who’ve been with the franchise over a decade – and one of them doesn’t count toward the team’s payroll at all. The latter, of course, is Bill Belichick, the head coach universally regarded as not only one of the best in the league, but among the best in any sport, anywhere. No matter how much the Patriots retool their roster, Belichick remains in complete command of the franchise, and his steady stewardship (though not so steady that he won’t make adjustments on the fly as needed) has produced a 163-61 regular season record with the Patriots, as well as 11 straight seasons of 10 wins or more. Grantland’s Bill Barnwell suggested in 2012 that top coaches are undervalued, since they play a vital role in a team’s success without costing a cent against the salary cap. For that reason, no matter what the Patriots pay Belichick – and no one outside the organization has much of an idea - he’s worth every penny.”

You can read more here – CLICK HERE

DOBSON OPTIMISTIC ABOUT BEING READY FOR TRAINING CAMP:

After missing spring practices following offseason surgery on his foot, it sounds like Aaron Dobson may be making enough progress to potentially be out on the field in a few weeks for the start of training camp.

According to MASSLIVE’s Nick Underhill, there is now optimism the second-year receiver may be ready to hit the field later this month, which is good news for a player who will likely be a big key to the Patriots success this season.

Dobson suffered a foot injury against the Broncos in week 12 that caused him to miss three games, but then he reaggravated it against the Bills in the season finale.  He initially avoided surgery after there was a belief it would heal on its own, but clearly that wasn’t the case and he underwent the surgery in March.

Fortunately it sounds like he’s making progress.  Hopefully he’ll be ready to go and won’t suffer any setbacks.

JAMIE COLLINS MAKES THE “MAKING THE LEAP” LIST:

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com continues his series of top 25 players he believes will “make the leap” in 2014, with Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins coming in at number five on this list.

Rosenthal calls Collins a “cornerback trapped in a 250-pound body”, and writes that, “while most linebackers are forced into pass coverage duties, Collins looks at home on an island.”

“As a rookie, Collins played inside and outside linebacker. He lined up at defensive end occasionally to rush the passer, and could blitz up the middle. Moving forward is typical of a guy his size, but it’s not typical to see the same player line up one-on-one outside the numbers against receivers, and win.

Bill Belichick has found a new sort of prototype. Nearly 30 years removed from establishing what NFL teams look for in a 3-4 linebacker, Collins is the right player for this era. Once a safety at Southern Mississippi, Collins can go entire games without going after a quarterback. (Week 16 against Baltimore was a great example; he shut down their tight ends on passing downs.)”

One interesting comment is the fact Rosenthal believes that “Collins is the player that Adalius Thomas was supposed to be.”  He also feels that Collins is much like a five tool player, making a baseball reference and believes that while teams love hybrid linebackers, the Patriots may have finally found one.

MCCOURTY BROTHERS MAKE A CASE FOR RUTGERS:

Dan Duggan of the Star Ledger has an article with Devin McCourty and his brother Jason among former players making a case to recruits as to why Rutgers is their best choice to come and play college football.

“You get an opportunity to be in a program where you can go talk to a coach about anything in life,” said Devin, a Patriots safety. “He’s a very open guy where he can laugh, he can joke with you, he can be strict. I think just on a personal level it’s a great fit. But like I always say, Rutgers has to be a fit for you. I don’t know if every guy can go there and work hard and be willing to put in that work and sacrifice. I think it has to be a good fit. I think for guys that are young and hardworking and want to be the first guys to do something under a great coach that might not have a huge name, but you can be the first just like he’ll be, it would be a perfect fit for you.”

Linebacker Steve Beauharnais also had high praise for coach Kyle Flood, calling him a “players coach” and believes that he’s just as tough as former coach Greg Schiano.

Duggan writes that Rutgers hasn’t landed any of the top 17 recruits in New Jersey’s class of 2015 according to Rivals.com’s rankings, and has just three in the top 35.  Then again, it’s not always the biggest names that necessarily become the brightest stars.  However, it never hurts to get some endorsements by former alumni who have been there and have proven that players from that university can go on and do great things in the NFL.

BOB KRAFT COMMITS FUNDS TO CROSSROADS CAMP PROGRAM:

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is a Brookline resident, surprised Crossroads for Kids last month with a commitment of up to $100,000 to send 100 young people to its residential “Camp Wing” program.

From Wicked Local Brookline:

“Through the program, they will meet mentors and friends who will stand by them for the next 10 years as they learn to dream big and travel the path to a safe and successful future.

It costs $1,000 to send a child to a 20-day session of overnight camp, a cost Crossroads subsidizes through fundraising to ensure 1,000 kids have the opportunity to experience a safe and happy summer each year.”

According to the article, Kraft’s commitment entails that he will match all donations by new donors and past supporters who will increase their support to send a child to camp, and will mtch them up to $100,000.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Jarrrett Bell of USA TODAY has this piece in the Detroit Free Press looking at the Patriots and writes the franchise is at the milestone 10-year mark and believes it’s time for a reunion – READ MORE

Nick Underhill of MASSLIVE continues his series raking the top 10 Patriots heading into training camp, with this morning’s edition focusing on Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer - READ MORE

ESPN BOSTON’S Mike Reiss looks at some of the top plays in Patriots history, with today’s entry focusing on the infamous “Snow Plow Game”READ MORE

He also continues his series looking at players who he feels are “locks’ to make the roster heading into training camp, with this morning’s edition focusing on the defensive tackles – READ MORE

Oliver Thomas of NEPATRIOTSDRAFT.com has a nice write-up on Devin McCourty, looking at the rise of the former Rutgers standout. – READ MORE

James Christensen has a good read on Bleacher Report looking at five “dark horses” he believes may make the final 53-man roster. - READ MORE

For those who enjoyed watching him play here, Ricky Henne of Chargers.com has a nice feature on former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead - READ MORE

 

Thursday’s Patriots News & Notes 7/3


Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson had one of the longest receptions in the NFL in 2013. (USA TODAY Images)

Some news and notes on this Thursday:

BRADY MAKES ANOTHER LIST:

An article this offseason regarding the fact Tom Brady may be slipping caught the attention of most fans here in New England who disagreed that New England’s signal caller may no longer be one of the NFL’s elite, and a recent study by ESPN’s Mike Sando seems to have squashed that premise among 26 insiders around the league.

According to the study, 25 of 26 of them ranked Brady as the top quarterback as they broke the individual players into tiers.

Said one offensive assistant that took part, “Brady might be the best because he does it with the least every year, just about,” this offensive assistant said. “To me, there is no falloff with that guy. If he played with what Rodgers and Peyton and Brees have played with, it would not even be close. He has not had an outside guy since Randy Moss. These other guys have outside guys coming out of their ears, especially Peyton and Rodgers. It is such a difference when you have outside guys that can stretch, like Manning had in Indy. Then he’d kill you with the inside guys. Brady doesn’t have half the skill players that Manning has. The thing that is scary is that sneakily, the Patriots were pretty good last year anyway.”

These participants ignored the numbers put forth previously this offseason and apparently went by what their eyes told them, which more or less goes along with what those who follow this team closely already knew anyway.

TEAM SAYS THEY DON’T OWE “ANOTHER PENNY” TO HERNANDEZ:

After immediately releasing him following the news of the murder charge last year and the subsequent press conference by head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots haven’t said much regarding former tight end Aaron Hernandez.

However, after having to appear in court, the lawyer for the team, attorney Andrew Phelan, said on Wednesday that, “The Patriots believe under the terms of that contract that they owe not another penny to Mr. Hernandez,” regarding discussion of the $3.25 million contract signing bonus from Hernandez’s deal he received from New England.

The tight end has filed a grievance seeking that bonus, along with $82,000 he believes the team still owes him.

However, Hernandez’s attorney, John Fitzpatrick, is arguing that the attempt to prevent the team from paying Hernandez is “fundamentally unfair” because Hernandez needs the money to pay for his defense in the three killings and the civil cases. He wrote that depriving Hernandez access to his earnings “would impair his state and federal constitutional rights to counsel and to due process.”

It’s hard to imagine how that is the Patriots’ problem.  They originally gave him that contract with the intention of seeing him play football and have a productive career on the field and with his family at home.  Instead Hernandez put himself in this position, and the team appears set to ensure that paying him anything more than he had originally received isn’t going to happen.

DOBSON HAD ONE OF THE LONGEST RECEPTIONS OF 2013

Patriots rookie receiver Aaron Dobson had a decent start to his career in 2013, finding himself in the top 10 for longest receptions in the NFL during 2013.

Dobson’s 81-yard touchdown reception against the Steelers in Week 9 tied him for eighth in the NFL with the Rams ‘ Tavon Austin.  That 81-yard catch was also the longest offensive play for the team in 2013, with Danny Amendola’s 57-yard reception in that same game as the second longest for the Patriots.

The rookie also had the third longest play for New England last season, having hauled in a 53-yard catch against the Bengals in week 5, along with holding the 9th spot thanks to his first ever NFL reception that went for a 39-yard touchdown in week 2.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Sean Leahy of the Boston Globe has questions for teams around the NFL regarding a variety of topics in what is a decent glance at each club – READ MORE

A good read from the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels on Matthew Slate – READ MORE

Wednesday’s Patriots News Links 7/2


Patriots CB Brandon Browner. (USA TODAY Images)

A condensed version of the links on this Wednesday, but here’s a quick rundown of what’s available this morning:

ESPN BOSTON:

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston has an article on the receivers and gives his thoughts on who he feels are locks to make the roster this year in what is a competitive group – READ MORE

NEPATRIOTSDRAFT.COM:

Oliver Thomas has a good read looking at Brandon Browner in coverage – READ MORE

NESN:

Doug Kyed looks at the Patriot secondary and wonders how they’ll sort through all the collective talent they have this year. – READ MORE

In this video you’ll see Rob Gronkowski Dancing With Robert Kraft At Jay Z-Beyonce Concert - READ MORE

CBS SPORTS:

Pat Kirwin of CBS Sports ranks the top 100 players he feels still manage to thrive despite facing some obstalces – READ MORE

MASSLIVE:

Nick Underhill of MASSLIVE.com is ranking the top 10 New England Patriots heading into training camp, and explains the reason why three receivers all came up at #10 on his list – CLICK HERE

BLEACHER REPORT:

James Christensen has an article on who he feels will be the last players in and out for the Patriots – READ MORE

THE SWELLESLEY REPORT:

Some Ex-NFL players who are taking part in a program called “Basic Training — It’s My Business” at Babson College this week, which is a program being run in conjunction with The Trust, an organization backed by the NFL Players Association to support retired football players and includes former Patriots LB Matt Chatham. – READ MORE

PATRIOTS.COM:

Former Patriots WR Cedric Jones caught up with NFL Engagement Insider Jim Gehman, and the full interview is on Patriots.com – READ MORE

That’s it for today, but the normal news and notes column will resume in full tomorrow.

Tuesday’s Patriots News & Notes 7/1


Bill Belichick is in the middle of a historic stretch. (USA TODAY Images)

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has certainly put together an incredible run during his tenure in New England, and he’s on the verge of doing something special this season.

Should New England finish over .500 for the fourteenth consecutive season, it would move him into second place in that category all-time with some pretty prestigious company.

Belichick’s already tied with Chuck Noll and Don Shula as coaches who have had 13-years of non-losing seasons, but Belichick and Shula are the only two coaches out of that trio to finish above .500 over that span. Knoll finished the 1981 season 8-8.

One interesting stat is the fact that Belichick is the only coach out of that bunch to finish with double digit wins in 12 of those seasons, which is an active streak he’ll carry into 2014. Shula won 10 or more games 10 times over that span, with his longest consecutive streak of six running from 1970-1975. Knoll had double digit wins eight times, but was only able to do it for five consecutive seasons.

Should the Patriots finish above .500 this season, it would tie Curley Lambeau’s mark of 14. Lambeau’s streak ran from 1934-1947 as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. The former Packer’s coach passed away in 1965 at the age of 67, but his name lives on as the team named their stadium after him following his passing that same year.

The all-time record of consecutive-winning seasons is 20 and is held by Tom Landry, who dominated the NFL from 1966 through 1985 with the Dallas Cowboys. Landry’s streak of non-losing seasons is actually 21, with his Cowboys team having finished 7-7 in 1965.

Keep in mind those previous records were set during the non-salary cap era in the NFL. So the fact the Patriots have been able to put together such an incredible run over the last decade given all the turnover they’ve experienced personnel-wise is definitely impressive, with only Brady remaining from the original team that kicked it off in 2001.

Like anything else, nothing lasts forever. So it’s just another reason to appreciate the fact that every Sunday is just adding to an historic stretch that likely will be remembered as one of the best ever, and one Patriots fans may not see again once it comes to an end.

H/T College2Pro.com

KING: BELICHICK WOULD LOVE THIS CFL RULE:

From Peter King’s MMQB from yesterday in his “10 Things I Think I Think”:

I think Bill Belichick would love the rule the CFL Competition Committee adopted this year: instant replay on pass-interference calls and non-calls. Coaches have two replay challenges per game, as in the NFL, but they can use it if they think a receiver’s gotten mugged. It turned into a key play in the first game of the season Thursday night in Winnipeg. Winnipeg coach Mike O’Shea challenged an uncalled but clear pass-interference infraction, and it allowed the Blue Bombers to get the ball at the opposing 1-yard line and score an easy touchdown.

Belichick had previously requested that the league allow coaches to challenge penalties, but that’s a rule that has yet to come into play at this point.

BRANCH RETURNS HOME FOR NINTH ANNUAL CAMP:

Former Patriots receiver Deion Branch might not be employed by an NFL team at this point, but that hasn’t stopped him from staying involved with the game he loves.

Branch recently took part in his native town of Albany’s ninth annual Skills and Drills camp, which took place last Satruday morning at Albany State University. He worked with kids ranging from 5-years old to high school who attended his camp, and he enjoys the opportunity to help teach them.

“If I could go back to being 8, 9 years old, when it all started, trust me I’d do it,” he told the Albany Herald. “For me personally, I wish there would have been somebody who could have (gone to the NFL) and came back and did something like this that my coaches and I are doing. It never happened. I don’t fault anybody. Luckily, I had enough parental guidance around me to help straighten me and push me the right way alongside a lot of my friends.”

Even if Branch doesn’t play another down, it looks like he’s paying it forward to kids who might one day become a household name thanks to his help.

MATTHEW SLATER STILL FEELS LIKE HE HAS TO EARN IT:

Matthew Slater continues to be one of the big keys to New England’s success on special teams, but despite his success it hasn’t affected his approach.

“Still just trying to make the team this year. Still see myself as a guy that does a lot of grunt work. Nothing’s owed to me,” Slater told the Boston Globe during the sixth annual Joe Andruzzi & Friends golf tournament, which raises money for cancer patients and their families. “I still feel like I have to earn it. I enjoy kind of being that grunt guy who goes in and earns everything that he can. [The] mentality’s the same seven years later.”

Slater says he’s still enjoying himself as he enters his 7th pro season.

“I still feel like the kid who’s out there at recess,” Slater told the newspaper. “Playing football and having a blast.”

SOME ADDITIONAL FINAL LINKS:

Our friend James Christensen looks at potential practice squad players for the Patriots this season – READ MORE

A look at the fact that the Broncos’ ticket prices are approaching the Patriots’ from this article from Forbes.com – READ MORE

Sam Spiegelman from XN Sports looks at some questions in the AFC East, and wonders if this is the Patriots division to lose in 2014 – READ MORE

Here’s an interesting article from the Washington Post on the fact that the league wants to put a ban on players using too many bars on their facemasks, which also applied to former Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes – READ MORE

Monday’s Patriots News and Notes – 6/30


Tom Brady has just the 8th highest salary on the team heading into 2014. (USA TODAY Images)

A quiet morning on this Monday, but here is a quick rundown with some news and notes:

INTERESTING FACT ON BRADY:

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe pointed out an interesting fact in his Sunday notes column, noting that seven players are poised to make more money in base salary than quarterback Tom Brady this season.  Those players are Logan Mankins, Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, Jerod Mayo, Dan Connolly, Danny Amendola, and Stephen Gostkowski.

Brady is set to make $2 million in base salary this year, tied for eighth on the team with Sebastian Vollmer and Kyle Arrington.

For those wondering why Darrelle Revis isn’t on the list, Volin points out that Revis’ salary is $1.5 million this season, with $10.5 million more tied to bonus money.

PATRIOTS THOMAS BEING HONORED TODAY:

According to WALB out of Georgia, Patriots sixth round pick, defensive back Jamea Thomas, will be honored tonight at Jaycee stadium at 7pm in Fitzgerald.

The town is excited about Thomas achieving his dream of making it to the NFL and they’re excited to pay tribute to him tonight.

“It happens so seldom, and it’s in a community that just flat out loves high school football,” says Fitzgerald football booster and play-by-play commentator Tim Raynor. “When one of your former student-athletes attains the dream of being drafted in the pros, you need to recognize them, love on them, and pay tribute to them.”

Thomas was a four year starter with the Purple Hurricane. He was named the AJC Class AA Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.

With Thomas now ready to play for the Patriots, Raynor told the station it’s fair to say there will be quite a few New England fans in Fitzgerald this fall.

“The Patriots are one of those teams that have had so much success, they’re sort of like the Braves were a few years ago,” he laughs. “When they win so much, you always cheer for whoever they’re playing against. But now we’re all New Englanders around here.”

EVENT COMING UP TODAY FOR JOE ANDRUZZI:

Former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi is set to hold his sixth annual golf tournament today at Pinehills Golf Club in Plymouth, with Rob Ninkovich and Matthew Slater among players who are expected to attend.   Last year’s event raised $278,000 for Andruzzi’s foundation, which provides monetary support for families of cancer patients.

DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT MAKES A BIG MISTAKE:

The Dallas police department made an egregious error on Sunday after making a false report regarding former Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, leading to reports online that were untrue.

The error came on behalf of Major Max Geron, who according to his Twitter account is in charge of the media relations unit for the department.  He incorrectly Tweeted that Talib had been arrested in Dallas overnight for public intoxication, only to later Tweet that it was Yaqub Talib (Aqib’s brother) and apologized for the error.

#BREAKING CORRECTION – Yaqub Talib 31yrs old was arrested. My apologies to Aqib Talib. Original information reported was incorrect.

— Maj. Max Geron (@MaxDPD) June 29, 2014

Both Tweets have since been deleted.

Some wonder if Talib has any legal recourse for a possible defamation suit, but according to one legal expert, a Supreme Court decision found public officials have to prove actual malice in any case of defamation.

“The easy defense is ‘I’m not malicious, I’m just stupid,’” attorney David Lane told 9 News. “Which is what Dallas Police defense is going to be.”

CHAD JOHNSON MAKES TWO RECEPTIONS IN CFL DEBUT:

Former Patriots receiver Chad Johnson made his regular season debut for the CFL and caught two passes for 20 yards in a 29-8 loss for his new team, the Montreal Alouettes.

Those two receptions were his first in any football game since December 2011 when he caught a pass as a member of the Patriots, which was a 15-yard reception against the Dolphins back on Christmas Eve of that season.

Overall that year he finished with 15 catches for 276 yards along with one touchdown.

Most fans remember that as being a rough year for Johnson, who struggled to get the playbook down and couldn’t quite get on the same page with quarterback Tom Brady.  Overall he was targeted 32 times with just 15 catches (47%), with one of the more notable numbers from that season being the fact he caught only 4-of-14 passes from Brady on first down (29%).

ESPN’S JOHN CLAYTON FEELS PATRIOTS HAVE A SOLID SECONDARY:

ESPN’S John Clayton has an article with some thoughts around the NFL, and believes the offseason moves the Patriots have made have turned things round in their secondary.

From Clayton:

Since 2008, the Patriots have drafted six cornerbacks in the top three rounds, and that includes 2010 first-rounder Devin McCourty, who now plays safety. After losing Talib in free agency, Bill Belichick signed Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Browner is perhaps the most physical press-coverage corner in the league. Revis is one of the best man-to-man defenders. Now, the Patriots have perhaps the NFL’s deepest group of corners.

He also answers a question regarding the Jets and Patriots and believes the Jets won’t win the Division because, “the gap between Tom Brady and even an improved Geno Smith is too vast.”

ASA WATSON TALKS ABOUT HIS BROTHER’S FOOTBALL CAMP:

Former Patriots tight end Ben Watson held his eighth annual Ben Watson Football Clinic at District Three Stadium in Rock Hill South Carolina. About 160 campers attended, with two clinics for second-fifth graders where the children learned fundamentals, along with one for middle schoolers that was more advanced.

It’s a city that has developed quite the reputation considering the amount of talent they’ve sent to the college ranks and NFL, giving it the title of “Football City USA”.  Asa Watson, the brother of Ben Watson who is an undrafted free agent with the Patriots and trying to make the team, was there helping out and talked about how important it is to give back to the community.

“I think it’s important to give back,” Asa Watson said. “It’s really cool to see … kids (who) could probably be the next great Clowney, Gilmore, or Ben Watson. But it’s more than football. We’re telling them about life skills, perseverance, and things that will impact the rest of their lives. But the main focus is to tell them about Jesus. Christ is more important than football or sports. So that’s why you do camps like this. Even if they don’t make a decision today, it’s about planting that seed and helping them develop as young men.”

OTHER LINKS:

James Christensen of Bleacher Report looks at who he feels are the most under and overrated offseason additions for the Patriots – READ MORE

Mike Reiss had some good odds and ends in his Sunday notes column from yesterday, including the fact that Rob Gronkowski is far ahead of where he was last year injury-wise after not suffering any setbacks - READ MORE

Chris Price of WEEI also has some good stuff in his piece from yesterday, which touches on the fact the Patriots are heading into 2014 with one of their best secondaries in recent memory – READ MORE

Patriots Morning Huddle 6/27 – Friday Morning News, Notes and Links


Tom Brady wants to play into his 40′s and former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana beleives he should. (USA TODAY Images)

A little lighter edition on this Friday as we close out the week, and here’s a quick rundown of some news and notes for this morning:

MONTANA’S ADVICE TO TOM BRADY, “PLAY AS LONG AS YOU CAN”:

Tom Brady talks all the time about the fact he wants to play into his 40′s, and one of his idols believes Brady should do his best to make sure he can prolong his career.

Former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana made an appearance on NFL Network’s Total Access Wednesday and talked about Brady and Manning’s desire to play into their 40′s.

“I say play as long as you can, because the minute you get out, no matter how ready you think you are, you say it’s time and [then] when I was leaving Kansas City, as soon as that season started the next year I was going, ‘why did I do that?’ ” Montana said via Zuri Berry of Boston.com. “I should have continued to play.

“Your body tells you something and your mind tells you something, but in reality, physically as long as you can play, I would play because it’s quitting cold turkey,” Montana continued. “You can’t go out with that kind of excitement in anything else that you’re gonna do. I always say, I wish everyone could play on a Sunday afternoon, just one game. Just so they would understand what if feels like, win or lose. [To see] what’s it like on a field on Sunday. Then you would never say, ‘why is that guy still trying to play at his age.’ [Then] you’ll understand the excitement of the game and there’s nothing like it.”

WELKER TALKS BELICHICK, OTHER TOPICS:

Former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker was in studio Friday morning to join 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb and talked about a variety of topics, including his relationship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

As most fans likely remember, the play where Welker came over the middle and hit then Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib caused an injury that took him out of the game.

Bill Belichick said after the game, “It was a key play in the game. Obviously, he’s a key player for us.”

The next day he was more vocal, saying, “It was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib.  No attempt to get open. I’ll let the league handle the discipline on that, it’s not for me to decide.

“It was one of the worst plays I’ve seen. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.”

No discipline ever came, and the irony is that the two players are now teammates.

Welker was asked if he and Belichick’s relationship is contentious.

“I don’t think so.  Not on my part,” said Welker.  “I’m fine. I’ve got all the respect in the world for Bill and what he’s done as a coach. I’ve really learned a lot from him in my time in New England. I don’t see it that way.”

Another interesting part of the interview was the fact Welker addressed all of the pre-snap calls by quarterback Peyton Manning, and was asked how much of it was real, which Welker replied that not all of it serves a purpose.

“You pay attention to it all just in case,” said Welker.  “A lot of times we’re going so fast it’s kind of nice to get a breather, so keep on doing that crap up there to get us a little more time. A lot of it serves a purpose, but not fully.”

OVERRATED AND UNDERRATED “NFL HEARTBREAK”

Yahoo! Sports’ Shutdown Corner has an entry looking at tough losses that they believe are both overrated and underrated, and there were a couple of Patriots-related ones that stood out.

One was the Super Bowl loss that cost New England the chance to be 19-0, which in the piece points out wasn’t a surprise because “you could see the cracks in the armor” and that “the Patriots were playing tight. They knew it.”  It also called the playoff victories over the Jaguars and Chargers “ugly gut-check games”.

From the article:

So losing in the Super Bowl wasn’t stunning. Yes, on paper, the Patriots were the far superior team and should have won. They played well enough to do so, with fluky plays such as Asante Samuel dropping the biggest gift of an interception with 1:20 left followed by David Tyree’s miracle catch.

On the flip side the “Tuck Rule” game against Oakland was also discussed, although the notion that it cost the Raiders is downplayed significantly:

We won’t even get into the fact that the Raiders had plenty of chances to win the game. They had the ball with less than three minutes left and couldn’t pick up a first down, for instance. There were opportunities.

Tough loss for the Raiders? No doubt. Bad call? Nope. Conspiracy? Haha, please. Cost the Raiders a Super Bowl? Very doubtful. Just a tough loss. Those happen all the time. Get over it.

So there you have it.

DURON HARMON FOCUSED ON BIG OPPORTUNITY:

With the team releasing Steve Gregory this offseason, the opportunity is there now for safety Duron Harmon to potentially earn himself a role as the starter in New England’s defense.

Harmon, who saw his playing time gradually increase as the season went on last year, has himself poised for an opportunity to step into Gregory’s shoes, but he’s not taking it lightly.

“There are no starters right now,” Harmon said via Andy Hart of Patriots.com. “My mentality is just trying to get better each and every day and just try to put myself in position to make plays when I’m out there on the field.”

For now Harmon’s goal is just to play better in his second season, which he called his most “important year” as he tries to take the next step.

“Your second year is your most important year,” Harmon said. “You want to make that jump.  Because you have all that learning experience and now you want to put those learning experiences into you knowing football and knowing different situations that make you a better football player.”

PATRIOTS TICKETS GO ON SALE JULY 15TH:

The team announced Thursay that tickets for the New England Patriots’ 2014 home games will go on sale and become available to the public on July 15 at 10 a.m.

Fans wishing to purchase tickets should go online to ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets can’t be purchased in person at Gillette Stadium, and Visa is the only acceptable method of payment.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Mike Reiss has his final chat before he leaves for vacation – VIEW

 Amid Franchise Uncertainty, Bills Tickets Least Expensive In NFL – VIEW

Mike Tanier from Sports On Earth has a good read on the Patriots Offseason – VIEW

Doug Kyed of NESN has comments from Darrelle Revis, who only misses the ‘Weather’, Teammates In Tampa Bay – VIEW