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Archive for the ‘ News ’ Category

Patriots Release Brandon Spikes


Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes seemed pretty happy to be back in the mix here in New England, but it didn’t take long for him to sabotage his second stint with his former team.

The veteran was reportedly involved in a collision late Saturday night that reports indicated may have involved another vehicle, with a car registered to Spikes having been abandoned in the median on I-495 in Foxborough with major front end damage.

That vehicle’s OnStar system reportedly said the driver of the car claimed to have struck a deer, while a 2009 Nissan Murano nearby was said to have been rear-ended by a car they didn’t see, with three people reported to have been taken to the hospital and treated for injuries.

The obvious assumption was that Spikes was likely involved, and the release by the Patriots indicates that was probably the case.

Not too many players get that type of second chance and it’s certainly a shame when they waste it.  Unfortunately fans won’t see him back on the field in Foxboro, and Spikes will likely have to go back to blocking people on Twitter as he starts looking for a new football team.


Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes talked recently about the fact he was glad to be back in New England, but his future may potentially be up in the air following a report on Sunday that may find him in some trouble.

According to MyFoxBoston, a vehicle registered to the veteran linebacker was reportedly found abandoned on Saturday night at around 3:30am, which came following state troopers responding to a report of a car with front-end damage in the median strip of the highway on I-495 in Foxborough.

That car reportedly belonged to Spikes, with the vehicle’s OnStar system saying that the owner reported hitting a deer.  No deer was said to be found near the scene.

To make matters worse, the report claims a 2009 Nissan Murano was reported having been rear-ended nearby by a car they didn’t see, with three passengers being taken to the hospital and examined and treated for minor injuries.

If the accident ends up being connected to Spikes’ car, it may end up being spelling the end of what could have been his second chance as a Patriot, and likely won’t help him landing a job somewhere else if that’s how it plays out.

Hopefully more details will come out and, for Spikes’ sake, that won’t be the case. No charges have reportedly been filed yet, and the investigation is still ongoing.

Here’s a recent interview with Patriots safety Duron Harmon, who talked to Russ Goldman and Steve Balestrieri recently about a variety of topics, including an upcoming football camp he’ll be a part of hosting along with several other Patriots players at UMASS Lowell from July 12-15.

If you have a youth football player and you’d like to look into getting them registered for what should be a terrific experience, you can sign them up by Clicking This Link.

Full Site Link: https://www.footballcamps.com/default.asp?page=20&camp=5

PF: Joining us now is Patriots safety Duron Harmon. Duron, welcome to PatriotsFourthAndTwo!

DH: Thank you for having me, it’s an honor to be on the show today.

PF: Well it’s great to have you on Duron. Let’s start here, I want to ask you several questions. You’re going to be participating in the Sports international football academy, which takes place at UMASS Lowell from July 12-15. Tell us about this academy and what campers have to look forward to during the camp?

DH: Well, I was able to partake in it on a minor role last year with Aqib Talib and just go out there for a day or two and spend some time with the campers, just trying to show them some things that I’ve learned on my journey to the NFL. I think it’s a weekend camp if I’m not mistaken, 4 or 5 days you get to work on your offensive game, defensive game, just build on your knowledge and learning, not only from NFL players, but from coaches who know the game as well. Just enhancing your abilities to play the game. It’s a fun time, you meet new people, and you get to have a great time and just play football, what we love to do each and every day for four days. It’s a four day grind and it’s amazing. If I had this when I was in high school, and even younger, I definitely would have went.

PF: That’s great, and I noticed that a few of your teammates are going to be joining you as well.

DH: Yes, definitely. We’ve got Dont’a Hightower coming, Chris Jones, I believe [Dominique] Easley’s coming as well, some other guys are coming, I can’t name them all off the top of my head, but it’s going to be a bunch of us out there who are eager to work with these kids and these younger adults because we know that it’s an important time, especially for the high schoolers, it’s an important time for them, they’re trying to get ready to perfect their craft, get better at their craft, continue to get better, try to get ready to go play in college. So it’s a great time, an enjoyable time, it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to have a lot of interaction between us and the campers.

PF: Listen, talking about working with people, during the season one of the things that tends to get unnoticed is a lot of the charity work you guys do on your off days. Can you talk a little bit about some of the things you did last season, some of the organizations that you enjoy supporting?

DH: Well, one organization that I’ve worked with is “Fuel up to Play 60”. It’s a breakfast type program that teaches kids the importance of eating breakfast. So I’ve gotten to go all the way to Vermont, I went to New Hampshire, I’ve been in Massachusetts, schools all around those areas just talking about the idea, basically, “enjoy and eat breakfast so you can have a great day.”

And then I did other things, hospital visits, school visits, Reading across America, just all different types of events that just help us show our faces in the community to let them know that we’re not just NFL players, we are the community as well. We love this community. The way they cheer us on, the way they come out to the games and the way they show us the amount of love, we want to show it back. We love being able to inspire people by going. Like I said, going to a hospital visit, going to a veteran home, going to read books to the children, just that anything that we can do, this organization does a great job of putting us in positions to give back to the community.

PF: That’s great, it sounds like you enjoy giving back and that’s a wonderful trait to have, Duron, honestly.

Alright, let’s move on, let’s now talk some football and before I ask you about the Super Bowl, I want to go back a little further and talk about the AFC Divisional Round against the Ravens, your interception late in the game was crucial to this victory. Walk us through what was going through your mind on the play that changed the playoff game.

DH: Well, it was just knowing the personnel. You see Tori Smith coming out of the huddle, him and Joe Flacco had, like, an extended look. I took a peek out there when the play was developing and saw that Tori Smith took an outside release. I looked back at Joe Flacco and he is really staring over there, so I’m trying to make my way over there and you see the ball released, and I’m like, “Ok, I’m right here, just come down with the ball, just catch the ball, come down with it, focus on catching this ball, and then we’re getting this game this way.” It really was that, just me focusing on squeezing the ball and just taking a knee in the end zone. The way the crowd erupted in the stadium was amazing. I’ve never heard a stadium, probably that loud until Malcolm [Butler’s] interception in the Super Bowl. But that right there was an amazing feeling and I’m just happy and thankful and blessed that I was able to make that play.

PF: Let’s talk about the Super Bowl. Just share with us your thoughts and emotions after Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson which turned out to be the difference in the game, what happened right afterwards?

DH: To be honest, I ran on the field. I just ran on the field and I was in on the pile that was literally probably suffocating Malcolm. He probably couldn’t breathe. There was about 10 of us, probably about 12, maybe about 15 of us on him. It was crazy because a couple plays before, I’m in on the play where the ball takes a crazy bounce. I think the ball hits off the ground, so I jump over [Seahawks receiver Jermaine] Kearse and Malcolm, and then I turn around and I see Kearse is up. Like, literally, my heart is broken on the sideline because I feel like I let the team down, I felt like I let up. But then that play literally lifted me back up. I just had to run on the field, I really couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t have been a better ending to a story. When everybody thinks a game is over, Malcolm comes out and makes a tremendous play.

PF: Steve and I were down for minicamp, we saw Malcolm Butler shine a little bit at minicamp and then also at training camp. Was this an often occurance that you guys would see in practice with Malcolm Butler being able to make plays?

DH: Oh yes, definitely. Every week, he got his hand on a ball in practice either if it was when he was playing our defense or when we were on the scout team, his hands were always on the ball and it was something that we saw when he came in minicamp and OTA’s, he always had his hands on the ball and you could tell that he was going to be a special player then. It was just the amount of time that it would take for him just to keep learning the defense and keep learning the terminology of the defense and keep working to get better and you could just see the transition from when he was there in minicamp to the end of the season and the sky is really the limit for him.

PF: Duron, I know last season you stayed here all through the offseason and you did your workouts. Did you do the same thing this season, or did you go down to Arizona? I know a lot of the guys went down there this year…

DH: I did both. I trained here, as usual, but then one week this spring I went to Arizona to see what everybody was talking about and how good the training was out there and it was amazing. It’s something that I definitely plan on doing in the future. A couple weeks probably before camp, a week in the spring, just going out there, probably working out with my guys, Devin, Logan [Ryan], Tavon [Wilson]. We’ve all been out there and it was great to work out with your teammates with just no distraction and just getting after it. It kind of felt like college a little bit again. We were all staying together, all living together, and then we go work out. Then we just chill around, have a good time, play video games, listen to music and stuff like that. Eat together, so it’s been good. It’s a great bonding time too, so it’s something that I’m definitely looking forward to doing again.

PF: I know that you guys had a very short spring this year because you’re already right back into the workouts. How are you feeling physically? Are you feeling like you’re ready to go?

DH: I mean, the good thing about me is I’m still young. I don’t really feel too bad right now. You probably have to ask the older guys, they’re the ones that might not feel too good. But I’m feeling great. I’m ready to go and I’m really, really looking forward to this season to get starting up again.

PF: I have to ask you a question about another charity you were involved in. On May 1st you and Patrick Chung had a “World of Taste” for Charity, who’s the better chef?

DH: I would say me. I feel like we really did get cheated in the tasting, but I won’t go too much in detail in that, I’ll just let that be. But I would just say that was an amazing event, it was so much fun. Being able to bring that many people there, raise money, and have a good time doing it, you really can’t beat that. Everybody was there, they were nice, just being able to cook in front of everybody. I really felt like I was a chef even though I really wasn’t doing too much. I was letting Chef Josh, who I was working with, I was trying to let him do everything. I had my gloves on, I didn’t do the apron, I should have, maybe we would have won if I had done the apron. But it was an amazing event, it was a great night and it was a great turnout.

PF: I did see that, I didn’t get a chance to go down there but I wanted to find out who the next great chef is on the Patriots?

DH: We’ll say Patrick for right now. But next year, if we’re fortunate enough to do it again, he’s going down.

Once again, if you have a youth football player and you’d like to look into getting them registered for what should be a terrific experience, or if you have a friend who may have a child playing football, you can sign them up by Clicking This Link.

Full Site Link: https://www.footballcamps.com/default.asp?page=20&camp=5

Patriots DL Malcom Brown Focused As He Gets To Work With His New Team


Brown was introduced to the media on Wednesday. (USA TODAY Images)

As they do every year, the Patriots introduced this year’s first round selection to the media on Wednesday, with Malcom Brown on hand at Gillette Stadium as he gets ready to begin his life as a member of the Patriots.

Brown, who was selected 32nd overall during the NFL Draft, spent 10 minutes speaking to the media and seemed pretty upbeat while letting everyone know he’s looking forward to begin getting to work.

“We got in here two weeks ago on Thursday. Just right away from the get-go you see the hard work and you see everything just thrown at you, so you’ve got to grasp it and go,” said Brown.

The rookie also said that he’s been welcomed by the guys in the locker room, who he says have taken him under their wing thus far, making the acclimation process a little easier for him.

“Everybody is taking me under their wing and everybody just wants you to work hard,” said Brown.  “Really you don’t have a choice but to work hard because everybody’s going to compete.”

“Everybody wants you to work hard and help the team win games. As long as you’ve got that mindset, everybody’s happy with you.”

So far his impressions of head coach Bill Belichick have been positive, with the rookie admitting he’s been getting a little bit of “tough love”, which isn’t a bad thing.

“Great guy,” said Brown.  “He’s my new coach now and he shows everybody a lot of love – tough love – and sometimes you need that.”

The expectations will certainly be high for him heading into his rookie season.  He was a disruptive player in college, finishing with 70 tackles in 2014 including 13 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks.  That’s exactly the type of player the Patriots need in their defensive to compliment guys like Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.  Considering the losses they’ve dealt with in the secondary, having players who can cut down the amount of time opposing quarterbacks have to throw is going to be critical as they try and defend their Super Bowl title.

For now Brown isn’t letting himself get caught up with being in a locker room with great names or being around guys who were Super Bowl heroes. He just seems focused on becoming a champion himself and he’s trying to adapt the work ethic that he seems to understand is what will help him take the next step.

“I can’t be a good teammate if I’m focused on all that stuff, this and that,” said Brown.  “I just go to work. I just use their work ethic to help mine and adapt to theirs because they work hard every day and go to work.”

Willie McGinest Headed to Patriots Hall of Fame


McGinest becomes the newest addition to the Patriots Hall of Fame. (USA TODAY Images)

There have been a lot of great players over the years here in New England, and the Patriots are about to induct a couple of terrific ones into an elite group later this year.

The team announced on Tuesday that former defensive end Willie McGinest along with defensive lineman Houston Antwine will be the newest additions to The Hall at Patriots Place presented by Raytheon later this summer, although no date has been confirmed.

McGinest spent 12-seasons in New England after being drafted in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft, just one year after the Patriots selected Drew Bledsoe with the first overall selection in 1993.  The two were key parts of helping put New England back on the map as an elite franchise, with McGinest later also becoming a key part of a defensive group that helped win three titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

Bledsoe was inducted back in 2011, and now McGinest will don a red jacket of his own.

Antwine was with the team from 1961 through 1971, although he’ll be honored posthumously after having passed away in December of 2011 at the age of 72.  He was selected back in April by the senior selection committee.

The induction of McGinest is significant because he was the first player taken after Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994.

“Just a few months after I bought the Patriots, we drafted Willie McGinest in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft in a statement on Tuesday. “We came into the NFL together and will always share a special bond. During his 12-year Patriots career, Willie played a critical role in transforming us from a cellar dweller into a championship-caliber team.

“He was a leader of a defensive unit that propelled the Patriots to our first Super Bowl Championship in 2001.  His leadership during the season and dominance in the postseason proved principal to our success in winning back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004. Willie was a part of so many memorable moments for Patriots fans during his career. Now, I am looking forward to Patriots fans giving Willie a memorable moment as we celebrate his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame.”

When a date is announced, the event, as it is every year, will be free to the public to attend. McGinest also will reportedly be honored during a halftime ceremony this year.


Patriots S Devin McCourty was not franchised by the team and may reach free agency if an agreement can’t be reached in the next week. (USA TODAY Images)

Following Monday’s decision to use the franchise tag designation on kicker Stephen Gostkowski, it was interesting to find out that apparently the communication between New England and safety Devin McCourty doesn’t seem to be as good as it probably should have been.

According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, McCourty didn’t really know what the Patriots were going to do from that standpoint until the decision was made.  Now it seems like he’s starting to believe he could end up elsewhere.

“I guess it’s more realistic now that (there’s) a chance that I might not be back there,” McCourty told Anderson. “Or there’s still a chance that I will, but I guess (there’s) more of a chance now with the franchise tag going to Steve that I could be playing in a different place. Still, keeping an open mind and trying to enjoy the process.”

For now it appears that McCourty could very well be headed to free agency and that could be bad news for New England, who may see one of the league’s top safeties receive an offer far above what they may be willing to pay him.  The franchise tag number for the veteran was $9.6 million and the decision to target Gostkowski instead likely may have more to do with the fact it was a number they felt was simply too high.

There’s still time to get a long-term deal done as well as a chance to still bring him back, but it sounds like his time in New England could very well be coming to an end.  Needless to say it will remain one of the bigger things to watch in the weeks to come.

REVIS HEADED TO FREE AGENCY?

For anyone hoping Darrelle Revis may have had enough fun in his first season to try and take a shot at winning a second ring and may have been eager to get a deal done, it appears that the veteran may have alternate plans and may be focused on still getting maximum value.

According to Adam Schefter Revis may also be headed to free agency as unless the Patriots pick up his $20 million option for the 2015 season, he’s apparently ready to test the market.

Darrelle Revis has a clause in his contract that says he can’t be tagged,” Schefter said via NESN. “There’s a $20 million option bonus payment that would carry a $25 million cap number. The bottom line is, it would surprise me if New England picked that up. So, the chances are — not chances are, it’s going to happen — Darrelle Revis is going to hit the market. He’ll be another coveted free agent.”

Now the bigger question will be whether or not Revis wants to remain a Patriot, or if he’ll simply continue his stance of the business of the NFL and go wherever he’ll get the most value.

“This all comes down to whatever Darrelle Revis wants to do,” Schefter said. “He’s got a Super Bowl ring, his career has been validated. He’s got one more big score left. One score in terms of big contract. So, does he want to take that big contract with a team like the New York Jets, who are dying to make a run at Darrelle Revis? Or the Buffalo Bills? Or is he willing to take less to go back and play with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and be in the environment he’s been in in New England? “That’s a call that only he can make.”

Hopefully if the two sides are close he’ll opt to stay, but for now it’s looking like there’s a chance this team may look quite different next season.

ADDITIONAL NOTES: 

Some good news for those who wish the worst for one of the biggest Patriots killers, as it appears the Tennessee Titans appear to be on the verge of cutting Bernard Pollard.  Pollard finished 2014 on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles and the 30-year old will now be headed to free agency.  Here’s to hoping he ends up somewhere playing for a team New England won’t face next season…

With $55 million dollars to spend, the Jets are reportedly making a “big push” for Revis, if he is cut loose before his bonus money is due. According to SI, Woody Johnson has told GM Mike Maccagnan that it needs to get done. Johnson made comments about the same thing publicly in December which led to a Patriots charge of tampering. If Revis is released and signed by the Jets, how would the league view those tampering charges then?

While Revis talk is dominating talk in New England, the “Spring of Suh” has begun.  Lions DT Ndamukong Suh was not franchised and will be a free agent when the period begins on March 10. He’s the biggest name, both figuratively and physically to be looking for a new team. His potential suitors are deemed to be the Raiders, Colts, Dolphins, Bears and Jaguars. Other top free agents include Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray, Packers WR Randall Cobb, Broncos TE Julius Thomas, Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin, and designated pass rushers include the Bills Jerry Hughes, Steelers Jason Worilds and the Redskins Brian Orakpo.

With the NFL mandated salary cap set at $143.28 million for 2015, the Patriots had over $6 million in carryover from 2014 which was slashed down to just over a million due to adjustments. Right now, the Patriots cap for 2015 is $144,578,084. The Patriots are currently more than $11,280,000 over the cap. They now have a week to remedy that situation. With big contracts of Revis, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo being looked at, the Patriots have some work to do…

With the Patriots using the franchise tag on K Stephen Gostkowski, they join only four other teams to use the tag in 2015. The other four teams include: Justin Houston, Kansas City, Dez Bryant, Dallas, Demaryius Thomas, Denver, Jason Pierre-Paul, NY Giants. The Dolphins placed a transition tag on TE Charles Clay which means other teams can make an offer to Clay, but Miami will have the opportunity to match any offer made.

 


Collins has become a game-changing player in the Patriots defense. (USA TODAY Images)

It was just over two years ago that we first heard the name Jamie Collins, although at the time we had no idea he would be drafted by the Patriots, let alone become the player he’s been in their defense.

In 2013 during the NFL combine, Collins caught the attention of quite a few scouts following what was considered to be one of the better performances of the weekend.

He came within an inch of breaking the event record with a 41.5-inch vertical leap, ran a 4.64 40-yard dash, and led every linebacker who was there after recording an 11-foot, 7-inch broad jump. It was quite a showing, and clearly the Patriots liked what they saw because they went on to take him in the 2nd round with the 52nd overall selection.

On paper it’s impressive but the thing that’s actually more intriguing is the fact that knowing how hard it is to stand out even when a player comes from a winning program, Collins came from a winless Southern Miss team in 2012 before the 2013 draft. When the Golden Eagles hosted their Pro Day following the Combine that February, Collins opted to let the impression he made at the Combine stand and stood on his numbers, opting instead to have teams look at him in private workouts. Two teams that he reportedly met with prior to the draft included the Bills and Steelers, and New Orleans was also said to be interested after sending four scouts to his Pro Day.

Fortunately he obviously ended up in New England, and looking back at what happened in Arizona it’s hard not to appreciate the fact that Collins was a key factor in the Patriots victory over the Seahawks. He finished the game as the team’s leading tackler, leading all Patriots defenders with eight.

Overall in 2014 Collins lead the team by a landslide with 115 total tackles during the regular season, and was also the team’s leader in tackles on third down with 22, including three QB hits and one tackle for a loss. In the postseason he also led the team in tackles with 23, recorded two QB Hits, one interception, and was tied for the team lead in passes defenssed with Devin McCourty and Malcolm Butler with three.

That just emphasizes how athletic he is and back in December Bill Belichick did something pretty surprising and praised the second-year player, admitting that Collins is a pretty special guy.

“Look, Jamie Collinses don’t … it’s not like there’€™s two or three dozen of them in the draft every year,” Belichick said at the time. “We’€™re lucky to have one. Was Lawrence Taylor a prototype outside linebacker? Where’€™s the next Lawrence Taylor? Those guys don’€™t grow on trees.”

“I think that’s part of building your team is trying to anticipate where your team is going and to a certain extent where, especially defensively because you have to react to what they put on the field. Defensively you have to be able to defend those things. How do you construct the defense so you can handle the different challenges that you have?”

Easy, you take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself and fortunately Belichick didn’t miss out on snatching the linebacker away from the rest of the league. He’s been a tremendous addition that should hopefully serve this team well for the foreseeable future, and adding “Super Bowl Champion” to his resume in just his second season doesn’t hurt.

Needless to say he should be fun to continue to watch in the years to come and as Belichick said, they’re lucky to have him.


Collins may only be in his second year, but he played like an experieneced veteran last season. (USA TODAY Images)

COLLINS RECORD FALLS AT THE COMBINE:

As they say, records are made to be broken and a local player made a name for himself this weekend after putting up some impressive numbers.

University of Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones set a combine record in the broad jump, leaping 12-feet-3 inches, eight inches ahead of the previously mentioned total by Collins, which had been the previous record.

Interestingly enough according to the official school website for UConn, Jones’ leap also topped the official World Record in the track event, which is held by Norwegian Arne Tvervaag, who jumped 3.71 meters (12 feet, two inches) on November 11, 1968.

His record may have fallen, but that shouldn’t take anything away from Collins’ accomplishment given the fact that he’s a linebacker and Jones is a cornerback, so obviously they’re two different body types. But, like Collins, that type of athleticism should hopefully help his stock rise. He’s reportedly recovering from shoulder surgery which prevented Jones from running his 40-yard dash, but he’ll apparently run one when the team holds their pro day.

The Patriots last defensive back drafted out of UConn was Darius Butler, who was taken in the 2nd round by New England back in 2009 but was never able to settle in and is now a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

The Patriots are obviously the Champions of the league, but apparently the Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t interested in comparing themselves to Bill Belichick’s group. According to Mike Prisuta of the Steelers’ official site, Pittsburgh is more focused on making sure they measure up better to Baltimore instead of New England, since the Ravens were the team that knocked them out of the postseason. “We don’t get to compare ourselves to anyone else but Baltimore in my opinion because (the Ravens) are the ones that eliminated us,” GM Kevin Colbert said… Jets head coach Todd Bowles took the anti-Rex Ryan route at the Combine, telling reporters that focusing on New England was a bad move because it’s going to take more than that to have success next season. “I don’t think it means anything to us right now. You can’t beat the Patriots in February,” said Bowles. “Just beating the Patriots is not going to cut it if you lose to everybody else. We’ve got to have a growth process of how to win while we’re winning and trying to beat more than just the Patriots.” … The Patriots have some interesting decisions to make this offseason, one of which may potentially involve the receiver position while they decide whether to bring Danny Amendola back, as well as monitoring how things will play out with forgotten man Aaron Dobson. According to Jason LaCanfora, he believes the Patriots will be in the mix for Percy Harvin if things don’t work out in New York with the Jets. Seems like an odd fit, but obviously stranger things have happened… Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, has apparently teamed up with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) to participate in its annual player externship program that began February 16 and runs through March 6. According to the press release, as part of the three-week externship program, New England Patriots practice squad defensive back Justin Green and former Baltimore Raven Ryan Bartholomew have been drafted in the Communications and Marketing and Government Relations Departments at Events DC to gain valuable post-NFL career insight and hands-on experience to further their skills in the game of life and give them a better opportunity for life after football. It’s a great program, and always nice to see a Patriot mentioned in these… Rob Gronkowski has certainly come a long way, and his latest admission should continue to quiet his critics who in the past had questioned how he handled his offseasons. According to the Boston Herald Gronkowski has said he won’t be doing “Dancing With The Stars” and was taking a pass because the show would interfere with his offseason training. This is a guy who has already had his football mortality tested and got a taste this season of what his ability can help produce when he’s able to stay healthy. Now he’s got a ring, and it appears he’s hungry for another. Good stuff… File this under one of those articles that stood out thanks primarily to Google. A short chubby man wearing a Patriots hat reportedly handed a bank teller a note and made off with at least $1200 in cash Monday morning, which now has police looking for the suspect. According to the Cliff View Pilot The Bergen County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Identification is processing evidence but here’s a look at the suspect, and you should obviously notify authorities if you recognize him. Good to know he enjoys supporting the team while he’s out robbing banks. Nothing says “I love my team” more than that.


According to the Boston Herald, it appears that Hightower may be sidelined until at least the start of the 2015 season. (USA TODAY Images)

The Patriots have been fortunate they’ve been able to deal with the loss of Jerod Mayo to season-ending injuries over the past two seasons, but heading into 2015 it sounds like they’re potentially going to be in a bit of a bind through the early going.

According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s offseason shoulder surgery could potentially cause him to miss training camp, with a 6-7 month timetable for recovery possibly keeping him out until at least the start of the regular season.

Hightower, who underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum after the team’s Super Bowl win, had a big year all around and ended up being one of the Patriots biggest playmakers in his expanded role.  He finished second on the team behind Rob Ninkovich with 13 quarterback hits (Ninkovich had 16), tied for second on the team with Chandler Jones for sacks with 6 (Ninkovich had 8) and second behind Ninkovich in tackles for a loss with 9 (Nink had 11).

Another thing worth mentioning is the fact that as Howe points out, the Patriots are in a situation where they’re going to have to figure out how to handle Mayo’s high cap hit of $10.287, which would seemingly involve him to have to restructure his deal.  Obviously New England was able to win a Super Bowl in his absence, but there’s no denying the value Mayo brings to this defense.  Given that there’s always a possibility of a setback in Hightower’s rehabilitation, keeping Mayo in the mix would re-solidify an already formidable group that included Hightower and Jamie Collins, both of whom had terrific seasons in 2014.

Mayo also has a high cap number for 2016 and 2017, so it would make sense for the two sides to rework the deal.  Another player who could fall into that category is Vince Wilfork, who may also see his deal potentially redone.  But both veterans are important parts of the defense and two that would allow the Patriots to continue making even more dangerous heading into next season, especially if they can keep Darrelle Revis in the fold for the long-term.

At the end of the day Hightower performed beyond expectations after being thrust into his new role, and earlier this month credited his teammates for helping him through it.

“I was trying to do a little bit more than I was comfortable doing,” Hightower said via the Montgomery Advertiser. “I’m not a big vocal leader. I think that was the biggest thing. Not understanding how to operate things. … I have really good players around me to help me out a lot. … I needed that push on me.”

At 24 he’s already a Super Bowl Champion.  It’s a tough injury to come back from and his recovery, as well as Mayo’s contract situation, will be two key stories to watch in the months ahead.


Even after winning it all, Brady can’t wait to get back to work.
(USA TODAY Images)

BRADY EXCITED FOR 2015

The 2014  season was one of the more interesting ones in terms of seeing the dynamic of how people would react if this team was ever no longer a championship contender, with the even more surprising thing being how fans would treat Tom Brady if the going got tough.

The answer?  There were fans and even media who had no issue pulling the trigger and calling for the Jimmy Garoppolo era to begin at the first signs of adversity. Looking back it’s now pretty ironic considering how this group was able to turn things around as they, led by Brady, straightened out a 2-2 start and obviously ended up winning a championship.  Kudos to those who stood by him and the chants of “Brady, Brady” this season both in the Cincinnati 43-17 blowout win in Week 5 and as he walked off the field in the AFC Championship Game to an incredible ovation, stand out as two of the better moments of last season in terms of the level of appreciation that was shown for the guy who brought four titles to this region.

It’s interesting to know that the fire appears to be burning just as hot as he prepares to start it all over in the months ahead.  According to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, sources close to Brady have revealed that they’ve never seen him as excited to start putting the work in to get ready to try and win it all again in 2015.

One tidbit I came across looking back after he won the last one in 2004 was the fact that he appeared on 60 minutes and admitted that while it’s great to win, it’s important to celebrate but make sure it’s kept in perspective.

“Yeah, sure do,” Brady told Steve Kroft back in June of 2005 when asked if he gets excited about winning the Super Bowl.  “At the thoughts of winning it. Oh, yeah. Every time, it’s been a different feeling, too. It’s been the ultimate high. You know, you gotta find a way to, as best you can, keep it in perspective, or else you’re just gonna kinda wither off those two months later.”

Brady also said something in the interview which, as we know, defines who he is here in New England.  Brady admitted that it was someone who spoke to his team about avoiding self-defeating attitudes and being positive, which if he was able to do that would affect not only himself but guys around him.

“I had talked to a guy who worked with a lot of the athletes at the school. He was a really neat person, a person I stay in contact with,” said Brady, who at the time was just 27 when he won his third ring.  “He used to come and speak in front of our whole team about self-defeating attitudes and behaviors, and how you can beat yourself before you even go out there to compete, not only athletics, but in life. And just the positive attitude, and setting goals, and understanding that the only thing you can control is your attitude. Regardless of any of the other things that happen in your life, there’s only so much you can do, and you can control what you can control. And that was my preparation, my effort, my leadership – not how other people affected me, but how I affected them.”

Obviously it’s been an approach that’s served him well, and looking back on this season it likely played a big role considering the adversity this team dealt with early on.  But in the end he never faltered, and now at the age of 37 it seems like he’s excited about getting another shot.

ADDITIONAL NOTES: 

Speaking of Brady, according to Star Magazine it appears that the thought of being in the movies is something that could be in the cards for the veteran quarterback once his career comes to an end.   The source reportedly told the magazine: “At 37, Tom knows he only has a few seasons left before retirement. He’s thinking ahead and believes he could become a huge movie star.”  Brady’s already set to appear in “Ted 2″ and “Entourage” next summer, and he had a memorable appearance on Saturday Night Live a few years ago.  It’s tough to imagine Brady not involved with football, which seems to be a more likely future.  But hopefully it will be a while before it’s something he’ll need to worry about… Steelers GM Kevin Colbert  stood behind his decision when asked about cutting LeGarrette Blount, who was let go after he walked out on the team in his final game with the Steelers after getting on the bus with plenty of time left during their Monday night win over Tennessee back in November.  When asked about if he had any regrets, he replied, “None whatsoever.”  Obviously no one in New England is disappointed and after winning a championship, one would believe Blount likely isn’t either… Last offseason Bill Belichick played an important role in one of the league’s rule changes, including the extension of the goal posts by five feet, and it actually came into play at one point in the season against the Broncos. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, Belichick’s influence on the rules may play a factor this offseason after he proposed last year at the NFL’s annual meetings to reduce current restrictions and allow coaches to challenge any call on the field, particularly judgment penalties such as pass interference. It didn’t go through, but considering the issues the league had in 2014 it’s reportedly expected to be a “major” topic of discussion this year, according to Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who is a leading member of the NFL’s competition committee…. As the “Deflate Gate” saga drags on, I came  across a tidbit from SI.com regarding the Patriots ability to file a lawsuit against the league given how this whole situation has played out should they be penalized.  Robert Kraft obviously demanded an apology before the Super Bowl if they’re cleared, but if they’re not, it sounds like they’ll be stuck with whatever penalty they’re handed and won’t be able to file a lawsuit.  According to SI.com, “Under the league constitution, the commissioner’s punishments of teams are final and not subject to review. Teams also contractually assent to not sue the league or one another, meaning the Patriots won’t be filing a lawsuit against Goodell or the NFL.”  That apparently ends the debate that the team will have any recourse, but knowing that, it now makes how this plays out even that much more interesting… Nick Caserio is going to have quite the job this offseason in trying to put together the 2015 version of this football team, which includes some deals getting done like ones for Revis, Devin McCourty, Shane Vereen, and others.  One thing he noted was the fact that things are probably going to change and that this team will be “different” next season.  Caserio told the team’s official site, “Those are decisions that will be made at the appropriate time. The reality is our team is going to be different from what it was last year.” … Former Patriot Armond Armstead saw his career in New England come to an end before it even had a chance to get started, but now according to the Boston Herald, apparently his brother, Arik, is trying to “carry on that torch” for him.  “My brother not being able to play anymore, that’s why I’m trying to carry on that torch,” Arik Armstead told the newspaper. “Going through recruiting in high school, I wanted to be like him. I really started playing football when I fell in love with the game early on when I was little. My brother, hearing his name, he was a big-time recruit in high school and I wanted to be just like him. I fell in love with football and he’s been helping me ever since. He kind of paved the way for me.” … Malcolm Butler’s life has been a whirlwind since making the interception heard around the world earlier this month and he was honored Saturday in Vicksburg, Miss. with what one resident told the Clarion Ledger was the “biggest parade ever”.  Butler’s been in quite the demand and according to the newspaper it was LeGarrette Blount who foreshadowed how different his life was about to vecome.  “Somehow, I could hear his voice,” Butler said of Blount.  “And he just kept saying, ‘You have no idea what you just did. You don’t realize how your life just changed.’ And I really didn’t. I guess it takes a day like this for it to really hit me.”  Good for him. … And finally Chris Price of WEEI pointed out yesterday that Julian Edelman has apparently moved ahead of both Brady and even Gisele Bundchen in the fashion world.   Edelman was named “the most fashionable celebrity in Boston by” US Trendy, beating out Brady, who came in at No. 7, and his wife, Gisele, who was No. 3.  Let the trash talking begin.


Edelman’s hit may sideline Seattle’s Lane heading into 2015. (USA TODAY Images)

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman once filled in at cornerback during the 2011 season and knows how to hit people, and it appears Seahawks defensive back Jeremy Lane suffered more than a broken arm when Edelman hit him following Tom Brady’s interception in the Super Bowl.

According to ProFootballTalk.com, Seattle general manager John Schneider apparently revealed that Lane also sustained a knee injury when Edelman hit him on his return which will require surgery.   Now it seems that surgery may keep him out by the time the 2015 season begins, leaving the team thin at the position.

That’s bad news for Seattle, who may lose their other starting corner, Byron Maxwell, this offseason to free agency.  Listening to Schneider’s press conference on Thursday it seems like he has doubts about Maxwell’s return and that the market should be strong for his services.  Schneider said that if they lose him, they’ll simply have to look for another player like him.

“I’m sure down here at the combine you’re talking to a ton of different agents, and so his people are going to do the same thing,” said Schneider.  “We’ve had great discussions with them, we have a good relationship with those guys.  Byron’s one of ours, it would be hard to see him leave but I would think his market would be pretty strong.  He’s a heck of a kid and a heck of a player.”

“We’re not changing anything we do and so if Byron does move on, we’ll be hopefully having another young Byron Maxwell out there.  He’s a great guy.”

After losing against the Patriots earlier this month, it’s a game Schneider also said he hasn’t gotten over and that it will stay with him.  The Patriots have been in this position before having lost two previous Super Bowls and know all too well what it feels like.  This time around they came out on the right end of things, which is now pushing Schneider to try and make his team better heading into 2015.

“No, I’m not over it, I think it’s always going to stay with you,” said Schneider.  “It’s just part of life.  There’s a lot of big games that I’ve been a part of that don’t got your way, you can go all the way back to high school if you want.  It drives you.”

COLTS GRIGSON ADMITS THEY NOTIFIED THE LEAGUE BEFORE PLAYING NEW ENGLAND:

One of the more bizarre things that happened on Thursday was the fact that Colts GM Ryan Grigson admitted to reporters that they did reach out to the NFL about their “concerns” prior to their showdown against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game that lead to the Deflate Gate mess that has dragged on and still hasn’t been resolved.  It’s the first time we’ve heard a direct admission from anyone inside the Colts’ camp that they tipped off the league about the matter.


Brady and the Patriots demolished the Colts 45-7. (USA TODAY Images)

“Listen, you know, earlier in that week, prior to the AFC Championship game, we notified the league about our concerns,” said Grigson.  “We went into the game and we had some issues but we’re going to do what we can and that’s to participate with the league in the investigation and wait until the Wells report comes out. I mean we really have no other recourse but to wait until that investigation comes about.”

“I’m not going to get into specifics. Like I said, the report should have all the information for everybody. But just did my job and here we are.  Hopefully, you know, everything will come out and everyone will be able to have a clear look at the situation.”

“We had concerns just like I think any General Manager would do, [they] want their team to play on a level playing field, and we took the proper steps to try to ensure that and it’s up to the league to make sure that happens. Again, if rules were broken, we’ll see…if not, that’s what the investigation is for. But again, we’re just doing our jobs and trying to ensure we’re giving our team the best chance to win on a level playing field.”

Grigson’s admission adds further fuel to the fire by those who believe the league blindsided the Patriots with this whole situation.  As we know, the vehement denials by Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick proves that they believe otherwise, so as Grigson said, we’ll see how it plays out.

ADDITIONAL NOTES: Yet another conflicting note surrounding Grigson’s admission, Colts coach Chuck Pagano claimed he was unaware of the team’s prior concerns before the game, which seems a little strange that the head coach would be kept in the dark as he prepared his players for the contest.  He also shot down some of the theories that the Colts deflated the ball that D’Qwell Jackson brought to the sideline, saying “That’s ludicrous.”… If Jeff Howe’s latest report surrounding Shane Vereen is true, it seems that the Patriots running back may soon be headed elsewhere this offseason.  According to Howe, Vereen is reportedly seeking a deal worth $5 million a season as a free agent which likely means he’ll hit the open market on March 10th when free agency begins.  Howe points out that Vereen’s perference would be to stay, but he also highlights former Patriot running back Kevin Faulk’s largest deal, which was for six years and worth $15-million.  Looking back and remembering how valuable Faulk was it’s hard to feel like Vereen has reached that level yet. Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston said in his chat Thursday that a respected NFL source mentioned to him that a benchmark was Donald Brown’s three-year, $10.5 million pact that included $4 million guaranteed.  As a result, it’s tough to imagine a huge payday in Vereen’s future if it comes down to that, but obviously there’s plenty of time for the two sides to bridge the gap…Most Patriots fans have seen the way Julian Edelman has evolved, going from a running quarterback to one of the best receivers in the league and Lafayette running back Ross Scheuerman apparently looks a little like him to many NFL talent evaluaters who have seen him.  Scheuerman said he’s willing to make the transition.  He told the Allentown Morning Call, “A lot of teams have talked to me about that and they see me playing a little bit of that position as well, so it’s something I’m willing to do.” … Former Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett is coming off of an injury down in Houston, but the Texans seem focused on re-signing him and GM Rick Smith told the Houston Chronicle he was impressed with what he saw from Mallett’s brief time on the field before the injury.  “I was impressed,” Smith said. “He worked hard and obviously played pretty good that (Cleveland) game. … Somewhere along the line there, (he) suffered that injury. So it was disappointing for him, but we’re hopeful that we’ll get him back as well and he’ll have another opportunity to continue to help us.” … The Patriots are already doing some due diligence as they meet with players, with Doug Kyed of NESN reporting that the team met with Iowa OL Brandon Scherff on Wednesday night.    The team currently holds the 32 overall pick in the first round and Scherff is believed to be a Top-10 pick, which makes him seem like an unlikely candidate.  Although given how crazy the draft tends to go sometimes, anything could happen…Malcolm Butler is getting a little love in his home town, with WHDH reporting that the city of Vicksburg Mississippi is set to honor him with a parade.  He’s a Vicksburg High School graduate from the class of 2009, and will also reportedly receive a key to the city.  Good for him, it’s well-deserved…Devin McCourty and his brother Jason are set to host their second annual Casino Night from 7-10 pm Saturday at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ in the dowtown part of New Brunswick.  Tickets are $75 per person and corporate sponsorship opportunities are available beginning at $2,000.  “It’s amazing the amount of traction that it has picked up and the fact that people now associate us with this,” Jason said. “With Devin making it to the Super Bowl this year, I was out in Arizona doing Radio Row, wearing a (Tackle Sickle Cell) T-shirt and speaking about it to different outlets that we would never have imagined.”  Hopefully it goes well.

Seahawks Notebook: Thomas Plans On Playing Sunday vs Patriots


Pete Carroll is likely hoping for a repeat when his team takes on the Patriots next Sunday in Arizona.

This is the time of year where players are obviously banged up, but the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl certainly isn’t going to keep Seattle All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas out of action next weekend against New England.

Thomas, who injured his shoulder in the NFC Championship game, told the team’s official site after landing in Arizona that when you’ve got the opportunity to prepare for the biggest game in the world, that environment “makes it better” and he expects to be out there against the Patriots.  The veteran missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but participated in the team’s Friday session.

Having already won one championship last year, the Seahawks are obviously focused on trying to make it two in a row, something that hasn’t been accomplished since the Patriots did it in 2003-2004.  It would be quite a feat and Thomas admitted that he felt like he was in a movie and reliving a dream.

“Since I was a little kid, every time I got hurt I always came back in the game,” Thomas told the website. “I played third base on my All-Star baseball team and a lined ground ball hit me in my mouth. I was wearing braces at the time, so my lip got stuck to my braces. I had to go to the emergency room. My dad said, ‘Do you want to play? Do you want to go back and play?’ I was like, ‘Of course.’

“So this is me. I love competing. And I’m just glad. We’re reliving our dream. It feels like a movie.”

CARROLL HAS HIS TEAM FOCUSED:

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has come a long way since his days in New England, and with his team back in the hunt for another title he’s got them in the right mindset as they get set to begin their preparations for their showdown against the Patriots.

Carroll had two words for his team before they headed off to Arizona, which were “stay humble”, trying to remind them of the task at hand.  Carroll’s no stranger to big games, especially having already led them to one title, as well as the success during his tenure at USC which included two national championships.

“I think this is a good challenge,” Carroll said via Seahawks.com. “Like I told the guys today, this is a challenge to maintain the humility that you need, that is necessary. There is so much pomp and circumstance and following and praise and everybody’s patting you on the back and all that kind of stuff.

“We need to stay balanced and stay in the middle, and make sure we don’t sway from where we normally are and hold on to the mentality and the focus that helped us get to these kinds of situations. I think that’s the big deal. We’ve been through the playoffs and the matchups and those kinds of thing and that kind of conversation. But it’s more about how this whole media thing elevates the focus and attention, and we want to do it really well and handle it really well and make sure that we’re ready and capable of playing like we’re capable come game time.”

BENNETT CALLS DEFLATE-GATE “PROPAGANDA”:

Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett hasn’t been paying much attention to the “deflate-gate” story that’s been playing out across the country surrounding the Patriots, and as far as he’s concerned it sounds like he’s not reading too much into it.

Bennett, who told the Seattle Times that he was watching “Dora the Explorer” with his three daughters during Belichick’s news conference on Saturday, feels it’s nothing more than one big story line to add more build up to what should be a tough match-up.

“I think it’s all propaganda, just to get a chance to build the game up,’’ Bennett said via the newspaper. “It’s all inflating the game right now. It’s like just to make it even more worth it than what it’s really about. It’s really just about us, two great teams, playing. I think a lot of people are shying away from that aspect of it. They have the Patriots, who are arguably one of the best teams of this decade, and we’re starting to try to catch up to where they’re at and what they’ve done in the last 10 years. Bill Belichick is one of the best coaches of all time. I think people are forgetting that. The coaches going and the players playing, it’s too much about the balls. Hopefully everybody starts to talk about the game again.”

CARROLL SET TO HAVE A TALK WITH LYNCH:

Marshawn Lynch’s obscene gesture in the NFC Championship game cost his him $20,000 this week, and apparently officials have already warned the team that it will cost them 15-yards in the Super Bowl should Lynch pull the same move next Sunday should he score against the Patriots.

With that in mind, Carroll acknowledged that he’ll be having a conversation with his star running back, and said that the situation will be addressed.

“I haven’t talked to him yet about the thing that came up with the league, but that will be addressed,” Carroll said via ESPN on Sunday when the team arrived in Arizona. “I think he’s going to have a great Super Bowl week and have a great time doing this and playing in this game.”

SEAHAWKS BOOED IN PRO BOWL:

There weren’t any Seahawks participating in Sunday night’s Pro Bowl, but they found out what fans in Arizona thought of them after receiving a less than warm welcome from the home crowd.

There were five players for Seattle who were elected to attend the NFL’s annual All-Star game, but since they’re playing next weekend in the Super Bowl, they obviously declined.  However, they did make an appearance during the contest, with safety Kam Chancellor, running back Marshawn Lynch, cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and linebacker Bobby Wagner each on hand to take in the game.

Midway through the first quarter they were announced to the crowd, who booed them.  Not that it should be that much of a surprise.  With the game being played in the home stadium of the Arizona Cardinals, clearly fans aren’t happy to see their NFC West rivals with an opportunity to celebrate a Super Bowl title on their home field.

That would be the same as the Jets playing in the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.  Fortunately the odds are pretty good that won’t happen, not because Gillette Stadium probably won’t be a host for the foreseeable future, but because that would require the Jets to get there – which is the even less likely scenario.