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Archive for the ‘ Football ’ Category

Tom Brady Among NFL’s ‘Iron Men’

It’s hard to believe 2008 was that long ago.


Tom Brady is among the NFL’s ‘Iron Men’ with 60 consecutive regular season starts. (FILE:USPresswire)

Tom Brady’s season was over before it really got started that year, and one year later he was back and as we know he hasn’t really skipped a beat and hasn’t missed a game since.  Taking a quick look today Brady has managed to string together 60 straight regular season games, ranking 4th among active NFL quarterbacks.

Leading the current list of “iron men” is Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who has 130 straight regular season starts, followed by San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (108) and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (76).

There’s a 13 start difference between Brady and the guys tied for the fifth spot, with Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and the Jets’ Mark Sanchez both having started 47 straight consecutive games.  Ryan’s club currently sits tied for the NFL’s best record with Houston at 11-1, but Sanchez’s future appears a little cloudy.  He was yanked from Sunday’s 7-6 win over Arizona after throwing three first half interceptions, including one on the first play of the game.

Needless to say he may see his consecutive start streak come to an end in the near future.

However, there’s something to be said for what Brady has managed to accomplish, especially when you look at the fact  he’s still playing at a high level after all these years.

Had it not been for Bernard Pollard…but that’s another story.

Friday Patriots Headlines – July 23rd

TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN: 6 days until Patriots training camp

We’ll kick off this morning with a piece from Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, who took the time to look at all the different scenarios surrounding the Tom Brady contract saga, which has caused quite a stir this entire offseason.  As far as a potential holdout goes, Riess held his weekly chat yesterday and stated quite emphatically that when camp begins – Brady will be there.

Jeff Howe of NESN.com previews the Patriots tight ends, and feels that this could potentially be one of the most versatile groups they’ve had in quite some time.

Howe also has another entry focusing on the fact that with all the departed veterans, the team is in need of leadership in order to be successful this year.  In the article he takes a look at several different groups of players who could end up stepping into that role.

Andy Benoit of the New York Times has their preview of the Patriots, and he claims that “the dynasty has ended” here in New England.  He offers up a bunch of reasons why he believes that, along with looking at each position on the team heading into this season.

Christopher Price of WEEI.com has an article this morning where he breaks down the roster heading into camp, and he’ll be rating players from 1-82, with the first 10 available in today’s edition.  Be sure to check it out.

First round draft choice Devin McCourty experienced his first taste of Massachusetts rush our traffic last night, which caused him to be 45-minutes late for his appearance at Modell’s Sporting Goods in Medford.  The good news for Patriots fans is that the rookie appears pretty confident that his contract is going to be done in time for him to report to Foxboro this Sunday, and when asked by the Boston Herald what he hoped to get out of camp, he’s told the newspaper that he’s simply just excited to start working with his teammates.

“Just bond with my teammates,” he answered. “It’s my first time ever playing in the NFL. It’s a dream come true. Just getting out there, being with those guys, learning from the older guys, guys who have been there. I’m just excited being able to play at this level and learning so many different things.”

A terrific story that needs to be pointed out is one that is in the Boston Herald this morning, with Patriots receiver Wes Welker spending time with U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Downing.  According to the report, after 9/11, Downing re-enlisted into the military, only to become a double-amputee when his Humvee hit a roadside bomb while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2008.  His story inspired Welker, who said he wanted to meet him.

“Society has it completely wrong by making athletes heroes,” Welker told the newspaper. “Mike Downing is the real patriot. When I heard his story, I wanted to meet him.”

“He’s such an inspiration,” said Welker. “He’s not bitter or angry. I don’t know if I would have re-enlisted after serving my country. He’s made such tremendous sacrifices, and he has a great attitude. It’s something we can all learn from.”

It’s a great story, so be sure and take a moment to read the whole thing.

Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe addressed Brady’s contract situation on Fox 25 here in New England, and also shot down the idea that Brady has become too Hollywood - along with the notion that there’s a disconnect between fans and New England’s star QB.  Disregard the headline, and if you watch the video you’ll find that the footage of him with Gisele makes them look less like two famous people, and more like a couple who is simply in love.

Glen Farley has an article that ran in the Norwich Bulletin this morning where he says that New England’s offensive line feels incomplete without Logan Mankins, and his absence would definitely be a downgrade to that unit.

Joe Gill of Boston Sports Then and Now is doing a series on “50 Years of Patriots Football”, and will be offering up a piece over the next week looking at each decade that we’ll be running here at PatsFans.com.  His first edition ran late last night, covering the birth of the franchise and its first decade - and is definitely worth checking out. 

Jim Donaldson talked about what it was like to cover the team “back in the day”, and has comments from some of the guys who covered the Patriots before they became one of the NFL’s elite franchises.

Christopher Price takes a look at New England’s training camp schedule and notes that the Patriots will be among the top teams in the league in terms of the number of two-a-days by the time it’s over.  With all the young guys they have this year it appears that head coach Bill Belichick is trying to get everyone working together, and more time on the field means more time to bond and become a tighter group. 

Albert Breer of the Boston Globe takes a look at another Patriots’ opponent, focusing on their week 10 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.

 OTHER NFL HEADLINES:

ESPN.com has an interesting look at Michael Vick, who is back in bankruptcy court.  The article outlines Vick’s unbelievable financial spending, along with the chain of events that lead to him spending time in prison over the dogfighting ring that put him behind bars. 

Recent reports have said that Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed may start the season on PUP, but it appears that there’s quite a “disconnect” between him and the Ravens after the team recently refused to send him game tape.  His comments in the Carroll County Times certainly make it sound like things are starting to get ugly between the two sides.

In case you haven’t heard, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant became the first player to reach a deal with his new football team yesterday.  According the Associated Press the deal is for $11.8 million over five years, with at least $8.3 million guaranteed.

That’s it for this morning.  Enjoy your Friday, and we’ll have more updates throughout the day.

Is A Holdout By Brady Coming?

ESPNBoston.com’s Tim Graham reported on Monday that there may be trouble on the horizon with just a little over a week to go until training camp begins, and he feels it could involve quarterback Tom Brady holding out when the team comes together at Gillette Stadium next week.

In Graham’s report, according to ESPN’s John Clayton, the preliminary talks haven’t gone well.

“They’re nowhere close,” Clayton said, “and Tom has made it clear to management that he doesn’t want to give any sacrifices. He wants top dollar, and he’s earned top dollar.”

Will New England QB Brady be in Foxboro next week? (PHOTO: Icon/SMI)

An interesting note started last week when Vince Wilfork spoke with “Toucher & Rich” show on 98.5 regarding his “Help Vince” scavenger hunt event that he’s put together.  A couple of his comments during that interview  raised an eyebrow among Patriots fans who initially may have thought nothing of it, but now after Graham’s report may have a reason to be concerned. 

When asked about whether he’d be surprised if Brady didn’t show up, Wilfork didn’t just come right out and say he expected him to be there.

“I try not to pay (attention) to anyone else’s business because everyone handles their business in different ways,” said Wilfork.   ”Me personally, I know Tom personally, and he’s a great guy. He’s all about football. He loves his teammates . . . at the same time it’s a business. When business plays a part in it, of course you’re going to have some areas where people are going to do different things. Only Tom knows what he’s going to do. I really can’t comment on if he’s coming or not coming.”

When asked if he’d be surprised if Brady didn’t show up, Wilfork replied, “Like I said, business is businesss. Knowing Tom, he’s going to do what’s best for himself, and he’s going to keep the team in mind. I’m going to leave it at that. I can’t say what he’s going to do, or what he’s not going to do. I’m going to be there.”

The other part of the equation is the fact that St. Louis Rams QB and No. 1 draft choice Sam Bradford, has yet to reach a deal, although  Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that negotiations are underway.  According to Schefter  Bradford is reportedly looking for guaranteed money in the range of $45 to $50 million. CSN New England’s Tom Curran pointed out last week that Bradford will likely be looking for a deal larger than the six-year one signed last summer by Matthew Stafford, who got $41.7 million guaranteed.

How that will factor into the negotiations remains to be seen, but it’s expected to play a part in not only Brady’s negotiations, but also in Colts QB Peyton Manning’s as well.

Needless to say things aren’t looking good so far.  Considering practice more or less revolves around the quarterback, a holdout by Brady would certainly be a setback for everyone on the offensive side of the football.  It would also create a lot of uncertainty on a team where Brady is well respected by everyone in that locker room.  After all, there are probably some guys who are already upset about what’s going on with disgruntled guard Logan Mankins, seeing their offensive and locker room leader holdout definitely wouldn’t help.

As Wilfork said, he expects Brady to “keep the team in mind”, although he still also has to do what’s “best for himself”.

Hopefully that means we’ll see him in practice next week.

What We’ve Learned: TE Rob Gronkowski

After sitting through minicamp and OTA’s, we’ll be taking a look at each of the new guys over the next couple of weeks to see exactly what we’ve learned from published news reports about each of them heading into Training Camp next month.  Today we’ll look back at what we’ve heard from reports on 2nd round draft pick – tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Tight End Rob Gronkowski is a tough player who so far appears to be a nice addition to New England’s offense. (PHOTO CREDIT: Icon/SMI)

Gronkowski’s an interesting prospect, because unlike teammate Aaron Hernandez, most describe him as more of a “blue collar” type of player who’s tough, and not afraid to “get dirty in the trenches”.  Some published reports say that Hernandez gets a lot of credit for his athletic ability, while most “experts” are calling Gronkowski a “complete player”, with excellent hands and tremendous blocking ability.  He appears to be a guy that like Hernandez is very athletic with great “soft” hands, but following the offseason workouts, according to most reports he seems to be a little behind in the depth chart heading into training camp.

The good news is that despite the fact that both Hernandez and Gronkowski are going to be battling for playing time in the coming months, Patriots.com’s Erik Scalavino wrote that Hernandez told reporters that he and Gronkowski became friends upon arriving in Foxboro.

“We met at the Combine and became friends,” said Hernandez. “Since we’ve been here, we’ve been close – kind of like brothers already – working together. It’s going to be a nice road ahead.”

So far the edge seems to be going to Hernandez through OTA’s and minicamp.  In a report from the Boston Globe’s Albert Breer from back on June 15th, Breer reported that Gronkowski appeared “a little behind” the other tight ends.

Rob Gronkowski looks like he might be a little behind the other tight ends, just based on the groups he’s running with. He did get some time with Brady’s unit, but it might be taking some time for him to earn prime-time reps.

Price reported that on that day quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien publicly aired out the two rookie tight ends for failing to line up correctly.

Albert Breer of the Boston Globe had more on the exchange:

“O’Brien pulled them off the field and lit into them, and it didn’t stop with a correction, either. The message was reinforced — more than once.”

On June 17th things seemed a little better, with Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald reporting that Gronkowski seemed to be more involved in practice that day.

Where he really is on the depth chart is kind of tough to tell, as head coach Bill Belichick more or less made it clear that the minicamps are “teaching camps” and that players aren’t completely evaluated during those sessions.  That happens when training camp starts, which is where the majority of players will get their shot to earn a role on the football team.

So it’s hard to read too much into some of what’s been written to this point, and Reiss also elaborated on these reports in his June 22nd mailbag:

Gronkowski has worked a bit more behind the scenes and with the lesser experienced players, I don’t think that’s necessarily a reflection of a troubling sign when it comes to Gronkowski’s potential production. A big part of it seems to be splitting up those repetitions. Veteran Alge Crumpler, who is also new to the system, is going to probably play earlier in the season than Gronkowski.

Despite all that, Reiss feels Gronkowski is a “lock” to make the roster, and in his mailbag back on July 2nd he said he felt that a potential cut at runningback could happen to make an additional roster spot available.

Something has to give and with three tight ends looking like locks for roster spots (Alge Crumpler, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez), and I’m wondering if it could be at running back.

Meanwhile Gronkowski, has also been involved with some of the charity events here in New England, including taking part in a recent football camp put on by Arizona alumni Tedy Bruschi.  The rookie claims he had never met fellow alumni Tedy Bruschi before coming to New England, but he has become pretty good friends with the former Patriots linebacker since he’s been here.

“I’ve been pretty good friends with Tedy Bruschi since I’ve been here,” Gronkowski, the second-round pick, told me yesterday. “He just asked me to come up and participate and help out his camp and help out some kids. I definitely said, ‘Yeah.’ It’s a great thing to come out here and teach the kids some fundamentals.”

For video game fans of the Madden NFL series, the 2011 version has the top rookie is tight end for the Patriots as Gronkowski with a 77 in this year’s version of the game.

Price reports that Gronkowski remains unsigned, but has a thought as to where his deal will fall once the two sides reach an agreement.

No deal either for the 42nd overall pick in the draft, but history and the market suggest Gronkowski is looking at a four-year deal worth just over $4 million with guaranteed money in the $2 million range. (Last year, the No. 41 overall pick was cornerback Darius Butler — taken by the Patriots, he signed a four-year deal worth $4.325 million with $2.735 million guaranteed.)

He’s a hard working player, and appears to have the tools to become both a solid receiver, as well as a hard-nosed tight end who is a solid blocker.  We’ll finally get to see just what type of role he’ll fill in just over two weeks when the team finally opens training camp at Gillette Stadium.

VIDEO: Schein: Manning or Brady?

I came accross this video this afternoon from Fox Sports’ NFL contributor Adam Schein regarding the ongoing saga that is the Brady/Manning contract discussion, and thought I’d post it for anyone interested:

So Schein feels Manning is the better QB because he’s healthier?  Um…Really?

Please post your own thoughts on your reaction to Schein’s comments in the comment section below:

Saturday Patriots Headlines – June 26th

TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN: 33 days until Patriots training camp

We’ll kick this morning off with an article on former Patriots Fan of the year and legendary fan Randy Pierce, who will be making a trek up Mount Washington on July 4th.  Known as “Zip” to all of us who are lucky enough to be his friend, the amazing part of this story is the fact that he’s blind and will be making the trip up the mountain with the help of his guide dog Quinn. 

For any regulars at the stadium over the last 10-years, he was the man behind the banner that used to be seen on the field that said, “#54 Full-Tilt, Full Time” in honor of former linebacker Tedy Bruschi.  He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and he continues to be an inspiration to anyone who’s ever been told they can’t do something.  It’s a story you need to read, and there’s also a great video available if you’d rather watch the report as it originally aired on WBZ.

Meanwhile, new PatsFans.com columnist Mike Saver looks at the Patriots struggles inside the Red Zone, and the players who should make them better inside the 20 this season.  Saver highlights some of the new tight ends, who if they live up to the hype could be much needed replacements over the departed Chris Baker and Ben Watson.

Last season, a lack of a valid option at tight end greatly contributed to New England’s red zone struggles. Ben Watson and Chris Baker failed to put up notable numbers in ’09, catching only 7 touchdowns between the two of them.

The Republican has an article on former Patriot John Andreoli, who recently hosted a youth football camp called “Football For You” at Springfield College.  The free clinic is sponsored by the New England Patriots Alumni Club, the team’s charitable foundation, the Springfield Public Schools, The Hanover Insurance Group and Papa Gino’s.  There were quite  a few former players on hand, with a couple of names fans may recognize in Vernon Crawford and Ed Ellis.

Jeff Howe of NESN.com looks at the Patriots lack of commitment to a running game, and wonders if that will be an area that they’ll put more of an effort into this season.

Mike Reiss has an interesting interview with former Patriot Doug Flutie, who is a huge Red Sox fan, but doesn’t actively follow the team he started and finished his career with.  He told Reiss that these days he “loosely follows the Patriots”.

“I live for the Red Sox. I thoroughly enjoy them. For whatever reason, baseball has been a lot more fun for me in recent years. I loosely follow the Patriots and I root for them. I loosely follow the Celtics and then it gets to playoff time and I don’t miss a game. Same with the Bruins. I’m not the diehard fan anymore. I’m a diehard fan when it comes to going to the high school games and watching my nephews play.”

To us the release of runningback Pat Paschall was just another guy who we knew nothing about being sent on his way.  Locally where he played college football, there’s a quick link that also has more of an explanation as to why he was let go relating to some “issue” the Patriots apparently saw in the spring that may have influenced their decision. 

Patriots.com has an article on ”Debate Friday” where Paul Perillo and Erik Scalavino talk about whether or not Tom Brady will retire as a New England Patriot.  They’re not talking about him playing a few more years, potentially going to another team, and then coming back.  They’re talking about him only ever playing in a Patriots uniform.  Count me in as one who believes he’ll be staying in Foxboro until he decides it’s time to hang it up.

Cam Martin of ESPN’s Page 2 looks at the spme of the best Sports cities, and ranks Boston against other cities such as San Francisco, Detroit, Denver, and more.

I swear, these articles are like a car accident.  You don’t want to stop and look, but you just can’t help it.  Star Magazine reports that Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bündchen are all done with diapers, as their little man is now potty trained.  Try as you may to fight the urge, I know you’ll click the link just like I did.   So be sure to go tell all your friends about the epic event you were fortunate enough to read here this morning. 

Finally, the guys from PatsCast have Episode 8 available for download this morning.  So be sure to add it to your Ipod before you head out to mow your lawns.  It’s definitely another great show you won’t want to miss.

OTHER NFL NEWS:

ESPN has an article on former QB Matt Cassel and looks at the fact he’s under pressure to perform this season.   They point out the fact he experienced a lot of drops by his receivers, along with the fact that he was sacked more than just two other QB’s in the league last year.

“While he was often under siege behind a poor line, Cassel didn’t show the timing and ability to unload the football on time. He struggled under pressure and must improve this area of his game. He also fumbled too much. Cassel is clearly at his best in the shotgun out of the spread, but he must improve under center in order for this offense to become more well rounded and balanced.”

I think it’s so incredibly ridiculous that Brett Favre continues to be a drama queen every single offseason regarding his future.  To put his team in the position of potentially not really knowing whether or not he’s going to call it a career (although his antics have lead to him returning 99% of the time) is just selfish, not to mention that I just find it hard to believe he can’t see how foolish he makes himself look.  Go ahead and read the ridiculous comments he continues to make in claming that he has “no clue” regarding his plans this season.  He’s definitely got no clue…just not for the reasons he’s trying to get us to believe.

”Hell, I want to know,” Favre told the Biloxi Sun-Herald regarding his future. “But I am not going to press it. If I do not play, it does not cost the Vikings a dime. They keep the $13 million. I know they have confidence in the players they have. They had a chance to draft [Jimmy] Clausen in the first round, but they didn’t want one.”

Give Favre some credit.  At least he’s giving these interviews with a small town newspaper, which grabs them some traffic and page views.   Thanks to him I had a chance to read some of the articles in that paper, including the impact the oil spill is having in that region.  It’s been devastating to the fisherman and causing events like the Billfish Classic to be cancelled due to the spill.  That’s an event that’s been going on for 14-years that won’t happen this year because of it.  It’s just sad.

Michael Vick may not have been there when it happened, but I’d have to believe that his NFL future may be in jeapordy after a shooting occurred following his 30th Birthday party.  He was already given another chance by commissioner Roger Goodell to stay out of trouble, so should this investigation lead to any involvement – one would believe more trouble is in store for the quarterback.

My first memory of former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell was when I froze my you-know-what off at Foxboro Stadium watching him battle against Drew Bledsoe in the AFC Championship game back in 1997.  So here he is years later coming off of a Super Bowl Championship season as a back-up with the New Orleans Saints, and he’s filing for bankruptcy.  I’ll never understand how guys who make so many millions end up with nothing to show for it.  It’s sad – he’s a good guy, is married with four children and has been involved with working to help critically ill children.  I just don’t get how something like that happens.

We’ll end on this note.  Say a prayer for New York Giants rookie Chad Jones, who was involved in a horrific car accident that had him in “guarded condition” after he underwent surgery to save one of his legs.   The good news is according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the surgery was successful and he has a “lengthy rehab” ahead of him.

 ”I don’t see that based on the type of athlete that Chad is that anything would prevent Chad from walking. And from running,” his agent, Rocky Arceneaux told the newspaper.

Considering the horrific images that can be seen in this video, it appears that Jones narrowly escaped what could have been a much worse fate.  Hopefully his recovery goes well and he becomes a great story in 2011.

That’s it for this morning.  Hope everyone has a good day and we’ll have more for you tomorrow.

2010 Patriots Offseason Additions

I was sitting here this afternoon and thought it would be nice to have a list of all the free agent acquisitions and new players who have joined the team this offseason.  So I put together a list based on each of the free agent transactions acquired since the season ended, as well as this year’s draft picks who were taken in April.

Free Agents Acquisitions:

February 24, 2010 - Signed WR David Patten
March 12, 2010 - Signed LB Marques Murrell
March 24 - Signed TE Alge Crumpler
April 2 - Signed DL Damione Lewis
April 14 - Signed P David King
April 20, 2010 - Signed WR Torry Holt
April 24, 2010 - Signed DL Gerrard Warren
April 29, 2010 - Signed S Ross Ventrone, DL Kyle Love, WR Bryan Anderson, S Sergio Brown, CB Terrence Johnson, DL Kyle Love, RB Pat Paschall, OL John Wise, and DE Dane Fletcher.
May 3, 2010 – Signed WR Buddy Farnham

2010 Draft Choices:

1st Round (27th Overall) – CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers
2nd Round (42nd Overall) – TE Rob Gronkowski, Arizona
2nd Round (53rd Overall) – LB Jermaine Cunningham, Florida
2nd Round (62nd Overall) – LB Brandon Spikes, Florida
3rd Round (90th Overall) – WR Taylor Price, Ohio
4th Round (113th Overall) – TE Aaron Hernandez, Florida
5th Round (150th Overall) – P Zoltan Mesko, Michigan
6th Round (205th Overall) – C Ted Larsen, State
7th Round (208th Overall) – OT Thomas Welch, Vanderbilt
7th Round (247th Overall) – DL Brandon Deaderick, Alabama
7th Round (248th Overall) – DL Kade Weston, Georgia
7th Round (250th OVerall) – QB Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State

If you see any players missing from the list, be sure to post it in the comment section below and we’ll get it updated.