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Thursday Patriots Notebook 4/23: Caserio Again Looking For Value, Mayo Restructures, More Notes

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted April 23, 2015 at 9:07 am


Dominique Easley was taken with the 29th overall pick by the Patriots in 2014.

The Patriots are no strangers to picking at the back half of the first round of the draft, having not finished a season with fewer than 10 wins since 2002. Director of player of personnel Nick Caserio said on Wednesday that the team will, once again, be trying to find a quality player when their turn comes up in the upcoming draft.

“I’d say there’s going to be players at multiple levels that you feel could come in and help your team,” said Caserio during his pre-draft press conference on Wednesday. “Maybe there’s some that are a little bit further along than others, but I think the draft process in and of itself, just talking to that 20-45 range, I think you’re going to find quality football players within that range. In the end, the most important thing for us is what’s the role for our team, how do we see that player, and then we make the determination based on that.”

After losing Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in free agency, the team will obviously look quite different at the cornerback position in 2015. However, Caserio didn’t sound too concerned and said that the process of evaluating players is just starting and they’ll let things work themselves out as they begin looking at players on the field.

“I think we’ve added some players, I’d say, across positions that have experience in the league, that have played a number of snaps,” said Caserio. “The reality is we just started working with the players here Monday. I mean, not even working with them, they go in the weight room and started doing the strength and conditioning. We’ll have a better idea when we actually get on the field, start working with them in the coaching sessions and then going into the OTAs. The players that we added to the team, we brought them here for a reason because we think they can help. Obviously we’re going to let the competition sort itself out. We’ll have a better idea here once we get a little bit further down the road.”

This year with the team set to pick at 32, Caserio was asked about whether or not with the CBA if the pick had more value than in past years. He scoffed at the notion, and said that they’re always ready to pick regardless of where their turn is, and if they trade out, the media won’t be happy about it anyway. Christopher Price of WEEI pointed out that the team has traded up or down in the draft 17 times since Bill Belichick took over the franchise in 2000, including four trades up in the first round four times and two trades out of the first round.

“Look, in the end, you’re going to pick a player,” said Caserio. “Forget about all the other variables that are involved. If there is a player there and you think he makes sense for your team, then you’re going to pick the player. So I wouldn’t say it’s driven by any other factors. The reality is we’re always prepared to pick wherever that is – 22nd, 25th, 32nd – wherever that might be. We’ll be prepared to pick. If it works out that way and we have to pick the player, then we’ll pick. If we don’t pick, then you guys will be all pissed off because you won’t have anything to write a story about the next day except that we traded out of it.”

MAYO RESTRUCTURES:

After a season where he suffered a knee injury and was forced to be a spectator during the Patriots Super Bowl Championship run, Jerod Mayo made a move on Wednesday that will ensure he’ll be back in the line-up when the team takes the field in 2015.

Mayo was set to carry a $10.2875 million cap number coming into this year, which was the second highest beyond Tom Brady and he restructured his deal and took a pay cut, lowering his cap hit for the team. According to the Boston Globe the new contract turns the final two years of his contract into option years, essentially making it a one-year deal.

The veteran has had a tough run over the past two years, suffering season-ending injuries in Week 6 of both seasons, but he’ll be needed more than ever as New England is dealing with the loss of Dont’a Hightower, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and may not potentially be at 100% by the time the 2015 campaign begins.

The former number 10 overall pick in 2008 has 756 career tackles as well as three interceptions, ten quarterback sacks, eight forced fumbles, eighteen pass deflections, and four fumble recoveries.

Mayo said earlier this month that New England is his home and that he loves it here.

“You know what? I met my wife here. My kids go to school out here. I love it out here,” Mayo said, via the Providence Journal. “I’m from New England now as well, even though I’m from Virginia. The fans, the family I’ve gained is great. We’ll see.”

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– The Patriots are headed to the White House today in recognition of their Super Bowl Championship. The trip will reunite some now-former players as Shane Vereen (now with the Giants), Darrelle Revis (now with the Jets) are among several who will be donning a different uniform next season but were contributors to this year’s championship. Matthew Slater said earlier this week that it marks the end of the season and he’s excited for the event. “I think that’s a tremendous experience to be able to go to the White House and meet the president,” Slater said via NESN.com. “I know we’re all excited about it, and we’re going to enjoy it. I think we should. So yeah, we’re excited.”

– The NFL received final approval from a federal judge on Wednesday to a settlement in a lawsuit brought by about 5,000 former players who accused the league of covering up the dangers of concussions. According to report from GMANetwork.com the settlement includes allowing monetary awards of up to $5 million per retired player for serious medical conditions associated with repeated head trama and could cost the league $1 billion over 65 years. Former Patriots running back Kevin Turner, who is part of the class-action settlement, said he just hopes it moves forward as soon as possible so players who are in need can get help. “What matters now is time, and many retired players do not have much left,” said Turner. “I hope this settlement is implemented without delay so that we can finally start helping those in need.”

– The Boston Herald has a quick entry with a message from Rob Gronkowski on what it takes to ride his party bus. According to Gronkowski it requires, focus, fitness, teammwork the will to win, and “commitment to Taylor Swift.” They explain more via this link.

– Former Patriots defensive tackle A.J. Francis, who is now a Miami Dolphin, proclaimed yesterday via Twitter that he’s applying to be an Uber driver to earn some extra money. Considering the money players make, many asked him why he would do it and Francis said, “People ask me why would you want to be an @uber driver if you play in the NFL… You know what’s better than NFL money? More money.” There it is.

Wednesday Patriots Notebook 4/22: McCourty Unsure About Secondary, Eagles Were Almost Pats’ Opening Match-Up, More Notes

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted April 22, 2015 at 9:00 am

Brady and the Patriots have a challenging finish coming up in 2015.

The NFL schedules were announced last night, and the Patriots will kick off the season against the Pittsburgh in their quest to follow-up February’s Super Bowl championship when the 2015 begins.

New England received little love from the schedule makers, who set up the back half of the campaign with the team being forced to play five of their final eight games on the road, including three of their last four at home.  Their final two are key Division games against the Jets on Sunday December 27th, followed by a trip down to Miami on January 3rd.  They also placed the team’s bye week in week four, removing the opportunity for a midseason break for players to get healthy.

They’ll play five night games this season, with their Thursday night match-up against the Steelers to kick off the season, and from there they’ll play a Sunday night game on the road against the Colts in Week 6, a Thursday night game home game against Miami in Week 8, as well as two back-to-back night games in Weeks 11 and 12 against the Bills (a Monday night game at home on 11/23) and Broncos (a Sunday night game on the road on 11/29).

Needless to say on paper it looks like a big challenge facing Bill Belichick’s team for 2015.  But the release of how it will play out signals the fact the NFL season is creeping closer, and it certainly can’t get here soon enough.

MCCOURTY UNSURE ABOUT SECONDARY:

Obviously losing Darrelle Revis sets up the Patriots with a lot of question marks heading into this season in the secondary, and veteran safety Devin McCourty acknowledged on Tuesday that even he’s not sure what to expect.

McCourty said he’s confident in the preparation he and his teammates are going to put in, but he knows they’ll have their work cut out for them.

“I guess right now we don’t know what it’s going to be,” McCourty said via CBS Boston. “I’m confident in the hard work that we’re going to put in, but I’d be lying if I came out here and said we’re going to be great. Same way last year when we got together; we didn’t know what to expect. We’ve got to put the work in now and we’ll grow as the process goes on. Once we get on the practice field for OTAs, and we’ll start practicing, doing things like that, that’s where you put the work in and you give yourself a chance to be a good secondary and a good defense.”

One option to add some talent could obviously be via the draft, and the Patriots have certainly taken a look at a fair amount of options.  According to NFLDraftScout.com’s Frank Cooney, the Patriots have brought in a host of defensive backs for visits heading into the NFL Draft, with nine visits and six workouts, including:

–Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest (WO)
–Bobby McCain, CB, Memphis (WO)
–Bobby McCain, CB, Memphis (WO)
–Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State (WO)
–Justin Coleman, CB, Tennessee (WO)
–Cedric Thompson, FS, Minnesota (PV)
–Nick Perry, FS, Alabama (WO)
–Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State (PV)
–Chris Dunkley, WR/CB, South Florida (PV)

It’s a lot to ask for a draft choice to come in immediately and make significant contributions, although McCourty was the exception after he arrived as a rookie in 2010 and managed to make an impact in his first season, which is something that the Patriots could certainly use this year.

As for Revis, McCourty joked, “Who? We’re past that,” although he admitted the two players are “still friends”.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– The NFL took a long look at having the Eagles as the Patriots’ potential opening opponent, but eventually settled on Pennsylvania’s other team instead and went with the Steelers.  “We knew Pittsburgh was a great opener,” NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz told Peter King of TheMMQB.com. “But we spent a lot of time looking at Philly as the opener. We really did. We didn’t go away from that path because we were worried about the Eagles quarterback. We really went away from it because we came to the conclusion that we needed that Philadelphia-New England game on Fox as a doubleheader game later in the season [Dec. 6]. We had a sort of finished puzzle, but part of that puzzle was going to be Philly-New England game as a Fox doubleheader.”

– The Patriots will be heading to Washington tomorrow for their trip to the White House, which Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe pointed out is happening 4-6 weeks earlier than other previous Super Bowl winners.  With players just this week returning to Gillette Stadium, the timing certainly works out well as it will be a short break but gets it out of the way so they can focus on the upcoming season.  “I think from a team aspect standpoint, it really puts everything in the past,” McCourty told the Boston Globe. “I think it will help us focus on 2015 now.’’

– For those of us who are older and get exhausted just hearing about Rob Gronkowski’s off the field life, it appears there are some of his teammates who feel they wouldn’t be able to keep up with his lifestyle either.  McCourty joked on Tuesday about Gronk’s life, telling the Globe about being able to keep up with the tight end, “On the football field? Yeah. Off? Maybe for like two days,” McCourty said. “I’m not too old, so maybe for like two days, but he’d probably outlast me after that.”

– Speaking of off the field life, McCourty talked about Tom Brady’s offseason cliff-diving video and he had no issue with it at all.  “I thought that was cool,” he said via the Boston Herald. “Tom’s got, what, four Super Bowls now? You’ve got to live on the edge to win that big.”  McCourty did admit, however, that he wouldn’t have done it.  “He’s a great swimmer, I guess,” said McCourty.  “I wouldn’t have jumped. I can’t swim.”

Tuesday Patriots Notebook 4/21: Solder Reveals Cancer Scare, Brady Declined to Help RGIII, More Notes

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted April 21, 2015 at 8:40 am


Solder was reportedly diagnoses with testicular cancer before the start of last season.

It’s often forgotten that football players are real people off the field and undergo the same trials and tribulations as the fans who follow them, and there was a scary reminder of that this morning regarding left tackle Nate Solder.

According to a report this morning by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the veteran was diagnosed and treated for testicular cancer prior to the 2014 season.  Solder, who told Reiss there was no history of it in his family, credits a routine physical for finding it.  Doctors reportedly found that it was restricted to only one testicle and hadn’t spread, and removed it.

“I knew nothing about it. It was a complete surprise,” Solder told Reiss. “You Google something like that and it kind of scares you, so I was like, ‘I’m not going to freak out about this.’ Had I not had a routine physical, I probably wouldn’t have checked it, saying, ‘Oh, it’s just in my head, I’m going to be fine.'”

Solder’s experience is a reminder that things like that can happen to anyone, with the Patriots left tackle coming forward now due to the fact April is national Testicular Cancer Awareness month and wanted to get his story out there.

RGIII: BRADY ‘DECLINED TO PROVIDE HIM ANY TIPS’

An interesting note in the Washington Post this morning with an article on quarterback Robert Griffin III and his experience last year practicing against the Patriots in training camp.

According to the article, Griffin said that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ‘declined to provide him any tips on how to become a better player’ when the two teams held three days of joint practices in Richmond last year leading up to their preseason game, although the signal-caller claims the experience of seeing how New England operates under Bill Belichick was a learning experience.

“For us to see that, as the Washington Redskins — to see exactly where it starts, and then to see the result — that’s big,” Griffin told the newspaper. “We can’t ignore that. We don’t need to mimic them or try to be like them. We need to create our own culture — but we can learn from some of those things.”

ADDTIONAL NOTES:

– The Patriots began their offseason workout program on Monday at Gillette Stadium, with Tom Brady reportedly the first in attendance, setting the tone for a team that’s looking to follow-up their 2014 Super Bowl-winning campaign.  The workouts go in three stages, with players allowed to do conditioning drills without instruction from staff in Stage 1, while Stage 2, which begins on May 4th, they can work with coaches both individually and with the team but without live contact and no full-team drills.  Stage 3 will involve organized team activities and minicamp, which is always one of the bright spots of the offseason before the start of training camp.

– The 2015 schedule will be announced on Tuesday, which will  be released at 8pm on NFL Network.  Fans will find out who the Patriots will open the season against in what will be a Thursday night match-up on September 10th, giving them a nice stretch of days off following the match-up before they play their second regular season game.  Some of the potential match-ups involve a potential visit by Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills, as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Darrelle Revis and the Jets, or Philadelphia.  We’ll find out tonight for certain.

– Former Patriots running back Shane Vereen will be re-joining the team this week when New England visits the White House on Thursday, and  he’s looking forward to to the event.  “Yeah, very excited, very excited,” Vereen said Monday on a conference call with Giants reporters via ESPN New York. “It always has been something I’ve wanted to do, and now I can check it off my bucket list. I’m looking forward to meeting the president.”

– Down in Texas J.J. Watt is enjoying his time with former Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.  Watt told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle that he’s liked what he’s seen from the big defensive tackle, and he’s looking forward to having the chance to play with him.  “I’m looking forward to playing on the line with him because he’s very good at what he does and he commands respect from every team,” Watt said Monday. “He’s a very experienced guy who’s had a lot of success in this league.”  The two have apparently had some conversations and Watt says they’re excited about what they can do on the field together.  “Vince and I have been talking for quite a while,” Watt said. “We’re excited about what we can potentially do (together). He’s extremely good at what he does, and I’m real excited about it. It’s going to be great for our young guys to have that veteran leadership.”

– An interesting note from the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, who has some additional details on the recent contract signed by Patriots running back Stevan Ridley.  According to Howe Ridley has a sizeable portion of his contract tied to incentives, which makes sense given the fact he’s coming off of a torn ACL last season.  He reportedly has a base salary of $750,000, an $80,000 signing bonus and $50,000 workout bonus.  He also earns  $20,000 if he is on the 53-man roster for the first game of the season, as well as a $350,000 roster bonus ($21,875 per game on the 46-man roster).

Monday Patriots Notebook 4/20: Garoppolo ‘Looks Like a Linebacker’, Hightower’s Offseason ‘Kind of a Bummer’, More Notes

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted April 20, 2015 at 7:08 am


Jimmy Garoppolo showed a lot of promise in his first season in New England.

A quick rundown of some news and notes for this morning:

HIGH PRAISE FOR GAROPPOLO FROM BELICHICK:

Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has shown a pretty solid work ethic in his first year in New England and in a recent interview with WEEI his throwing coach, Jeff Christensen, talked about a recent conversation he had with head coach Bill Belichick at the scouting combine.

“I talked to Bill (Belichick) at the combine, and I asked him how Jimmy was doing,” Christensen told WEEI.com via NFL.com. “He said ‘(Jimmy) looks like a linebacker. He works out like a linebacker. He acts like a linebacker. I really like him a lot, coach. You did a great job with him. Thank you.’ ”

That’s high praise from a coach who takes a lot of pride in the linebacker group and clearly he thinks a lot of Garoppolo, whom the team surprised everyone by using a second round pick on during last year’s NFL Draft.  Garoppolo started off slow during training camp last season but finished the preseason a respectable 46-of-79 for 618 yards and five touchdowns, along with one interception.  He saw limited action last season, appearing at the end of the team’s blowout loss against Kansas City in Week 4 where he finished 6-of-7 for 70 yards and one touchdown, and also during the team’s blowout win over the Bears in Week 8 where he went 3-of-3 for 22-yards.  He also saw time in the regular season finale in a meaningless game against the Bills, where he finished 10-of-17 for 90 yards.

Not bad for a rookie who showed a lot of poise in his first season, and he had the benefit of watching a veteran like Tom Brady guide his team to their fourth Super Bowl Championship. If he makes it that far, those same expectations could one day fall on his shoulders, but for now Christensen said Garoppolo is just continuing to work hard heading into 2015.

“I think he did very well,” Christensen told the radio station on his first year. “Over the first two weeks of camp he didn’t look good, but I think over the third and fourth week of the preseason, he made real improvement, and that’s what Bill wants to see. Jimmy is a smart kid who just wants to learn, and he’s well aware of how good a situation he’s in right now.”

HIGHTOWER’S OFFSEASON ‘KIND OF BEEN A BUMMER':

Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower hasn’t exactly been able to enjoy his offseason as he continues recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, which instead of celebrating his team’s championship has left him forced to spend his offseason doing rehab and trying to get ready for 2015.

He told the Boston Herald that a lot of the things he normally does during the offseason he’s not able to do, and it’s been a little disappointing from that standpoint.

“Yeah, it’s kind of been a bummer, not being able to do a lot of stuff I want to do right now,” Hightower told Karen Gurgian in a recent phone interview. “I can’t fish, I can’t go to the (driving) range. . . . So that’s another reason to get back to rehab.”

Hightower also said that coming off of a Super Bowl he’s decided to be more active in the community in appreciation for the fans who cheered them on, as well as in honor of one of his friends, who Hightower said passed away last year.

“I just decided, coming off a Super Bowl win, seeing how good the fans are here and seeing how much Mr. (Robert) Kraft and my other teammates give back to the community, I felt like it was time for me to step up and try to do a little bit more than what I’ve done in the past,” Hightower said. “Also, it goes back to one of my buddies that passed away a year ago, (DeShaun Greer), he was always giving back. One thing I felt with him not available, was each year, try to give back a little bit more, to kind of have that part of him living through me.”

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– For anyone who caught the Academy of Country Music awards Sunday night, the rest of the world continues to poke fun at the Patriots over deflate-gate, which now heads into it’s third month without a resolution as the league continues their ridiculous investigation.  Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was on hand at the event, which was held in Dallas at the Cowboys’ stadium.  Co-host Luke Bryant asked Romo to throw him a football, but before he did co-host Blake Shelton asked Romo if the ball was “one of those deflated balls?”  Romo responded, “Blake, we’re the Dallas Cowboys, we have real balls!”  The Patriots will actually visit Dallas this season, so file this one away.

– The Patriots are continuing to look at prospects heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, with CSNNE.com reporting that Georgia running back Todd Gurley will visit the team this week.  So far all indications seem to point to Gurley slipping into the end of the first round and with the Patriots holding the 32nd overall pick it’s possible Gurley might still be available when they make their selection.  There’s obviously a need given the loss of Stevan Ridley via free agency, as well as Shane Vereen signing in New York with the Giants, leaving just LeGarrette Blount as the lead back.  From there the team has Jonas Gray, who had one big outing before dropping completely off the radar, along with James White, Brandon Bolden and Tyler Gaffney as the other notable options.

– Karen Guregian pointed out recently that the team has some interesting decisions to make before they head into the Draft, with a couple of key ones involving a couple of important defensive players who the Patriots may want to try and extend before next season.  Guregian noted that fifth-year contract options are approaching for both Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, which should be a priority for the team to be proactive in getting extensions worked out for both.  Hightower has obviously been terrific and has been a tremendous addition to the linebacker group, while Jones has also shown a lot of promise but has been hampered with injuries.  Either way both players bring a lot to the defense, and hopefully the Patriots are able to get something done to make sure they stay here for the long-term.

– Mike Reiss noted in his Sunday column that second-year offensive tackle, Cameron Fleming, has devoted more time in his offseason training at the guard position.  According to Reiss Fleming worked with Sparta Performance Science in California with a focus on working on his side-to-side skills, which are important at the guard spot.  Versatility is always a good asset and it sounds like Fleming is focused on improving his value, which will hopefully provide New England with some additional depth up front.

– Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer has quite the year, with Vollmer having gotten married as well as winning his first Super Bowl championship.  He told 98.5 the Sports Hub that it’s been a great stretch, and now he’s focused on helping the team defend their title.  “I think you enjoy it for a few days afterwards, and try to re-live it, and it’s kind of a surreal feeling,” he told the radion station via Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston. “But then it’s really time to get back to work and you’re trying to catch up with the other teams and get back to business pretty quick. … It was a great time and no one can take that away, but it’s over now. We started the new year and it’s only going to be harder. Everyone wants to be the champion, everyone wants to beat the champion, so it’s going to be a tough road ahead.”

Aside From Tom Brady, Patriots 6th Round Has Been Unimpressive Since 2000

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted April 17, 2015 at 8:51 am


Brady has obviously been the brightest stars taken out of the 6th round for the Patriots.

Yesterday marked a significant moment in Patriots history, with April 16th, 2000 being a day that quietly changed the face of this franchise in New England thanks to the acquisition of a player who people thought little of when the pick was made.

No one could have ever expected quarterback Tom Brady to become who he is, and now that they’ve won four Super Bowls and have had one of the most successful NFL 15-year spans in football history, it clearly proves that you can’t judge a player by where they were taken.

As we know, Brady was the 199th selection in the 6th round that year with a selection that was a compensatory pick, which prevented Bill Belichick from trading the selection away and it obviously ended up working out quite well for this football team. Going back through the list of 6th round draft choices during the Belichick era, there haven’t exactly been a lot of gems coming out of there, or at least not guys who have turned into significant contributors compared to someone like 7th round pick, Julian Edelman.

Here’s a look back at all the guys who have come out of that round over that span:

2014 – Pick #:179 – Jon Halapio OL – Pick #:Florida
2014 – Pick #:198 – Zach Moore DE – Pick #:Concordia-St.Paul (MN)
2014 – Pick #:206 – Jemea Thomas DB – Pick #:Georgia Tech
2012 – Pick #:197 – Nate Ebner DB – Pick #:Ohio St.
2011 – Pick #:194 – Markell Carter LB – Central Arkansas
2010 – Pick #:205 – Ted Larsen C – North Carolina St.
2009 – Pick #:198 – Jake Ingram C – Hawaii
2009 – Pick #:207 – Myron Pryor DT – Kentucky
2008 – Pick #:197 – Bo Ruud LB – Nebraska
2007 – Pick #:180 – Justin Rogers LB – SMU
2007 – Pick #:202 – Mike Richardson DB – Notre Dame
2007 – Pick #:208 – Justise Hairston RB – Connecticut State
2007 – Pick #:209 – Corey Hilliard T – Oklahoma St.
2006 – Pick #:191 – Jeremy Mincey DE – Florida
2006 – Pick #:205 – Dan Stevenson G – Notre Dame
2006 – Pick #:206 – Le Kevin Smith DT – Nebraska
2003 – Pick #:201 – Kliff Kingsbury QB – Texas Tech
2001 – Pick #:180 – Arther Love TE – South Carolina St.
2001 – Pick #:200 – Leonard Myers – Miami (FL)
2000 – Pick #:187 – Antwan Harris DB – Virginia
2000 – Pick #:199 – Tom Brady QB – Michigan
2000 – Pick #:201 – David Nugent -Purdue

Looking back at when he was drafted, Belichick’s explanation for taking Brady was the value they felt he had over other players compared to who else was still available.  Back then the depth chart also included quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe, John Friesz, and Michael Bishop.  But they simply saw something in Brady that made them feel that he was too good to pass up.

“At that particular time Tom was rated by all the people who had seen him above any rating that anybody else had. I think quarterback is a position that is a valuable position,” said Belichick via Patriots.com. “I can’t think of one time when a team that had such value at the quarterback position wasn’t able to recoup something for it. Whether it is Tampa Bay trading Rob Johnson or whatever the case might be. Too many quarterbacks is a lot better of a situation than not enough. Who the better players are and what they’ll be able to do, I don’t really know. We’ll put them out there and let them play. We’ve got five preseason games this year and they’ll get an opportunity to play and we’ll see how they perform. Who’s better and who’s going to do what, that’s out of my hands. That will be decided on the field.”

Needless to say, it certainly worked out pretty well.

 

Friday Patriots Notebook 4/3: Free Agent Updates, Patriots Work Out WR, More

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted April 3, 2015 at 9:14 am


Ridley is still exploring his options in the free agent market.

A quick rundown of this morning’s top stories:

Former Patriots DL Antwine Honored Thursday:

The team recognized one of their best defensive players this week, although many fans likely aren’t aware of who he is since he’s a guy who played for the team in the 1960’s into the early 1970’s.

New England inducted defensive lineman Houston Antwine into the Patriots Hall of Fame on Thursday, with a nine-member committee of senior sportswriters and team officials among those who voted in favor of the move.  Antwine is tied for 10th all-time on the club with 39 career sacks with former Patriot Richard Seymour.

Antwine was chosen posthumously as he passed away at the age of 72 back on December 26, 2011.  According to a prepared statement by owner Robert Kraft, he’ll be honored later this summer with an induction ceremony.

“For those of us who grew up watching the Boston Patriots, we applaud the senior selection committee’s choice,” Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft said in a prepared statement. “In the 1960s, the defensive tackle tandem of Houston Antwine and Jim Lee Hunt was as good as any in the league. Houston’s play helped push the Patriots to our first division championship in 1963.

“I had the good fortune of hosting Houston and his wife, Evelyn, at my home in 2009 when we honored the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team,” he continued. “It was a thrill for me to hear his stories about those early days in Boston. I look forward to hosting his daughter, Regina, when we honor her late father later this summer for his induction ceremony.”

Ridley Visits With Jets, Connolly Visits Bucs:

According to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, free agent running back Stevan Ridley spent Thursday night in New York visiting with the Jets as he continues exploring his options.

Ridley had visited Miami on Wednesday, but for now it seems he’s yet to receive a contract offer.  He’s coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered last season that forced him to undergo knee surgery.

If he went to New York, he’d be up against Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, although looking closer it seems Miami might be a better option for him as he’d be paired with Lamar Miller.  The Patriots are still limited at running back with just LeGarrette Blount and Jonas Gray as the lead backs after Shane Vereen left the team via free agency.  The only issue that might affect that decision may be that Ridley might not get the opportunity to prove himself enough here with enough carries in order to land a larger deal at the end of the season.  Either way, for now he remains on the market.

Meanwhile, according to Tampa Bay Online, fellow free agent Dan Connolly was in Tampa on Thursday visiting with the Buccaneers. Adding him into the mix there would reunite him with former Patriots’ guard Logan Mankins, who was traded to Tampa Bay before the start of the season.

If the Buccaneers signed him he would project as a starting guard for the team, which is looking for an upgrade over 2014 starter Patrick Omameh as they try and strengthen their line in the likely anticipation of drafting Jamis Winston in the upcoming NFL Draft.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– USA Today has a series with prospects providing insight into the draft process, with Jamison Crowder’s latest one running and revealing that he recently had a private workout with New England.

– According to NESN.com, Patiots defensive lineman Sealver Siliga signed the Patriots exclusive-rights free-agent tender.  Siliga was tendered by the team before the start of free agency back on March 10th, although terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed.

– With former Colts receiver Reggie Wayne still out on the market, ProFootballTalk.com reports that the receiver still plans to play in 2015 and that one team that could be a potential landing spot for him is New England as Bill Belichick has always been full of praise for the veteran receiver’s route-running.

– ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports that Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio were at the University of Maryland’s Pro Day on Thursday, with Reiss highlighting some players they may have been checking out including a couple of receivers.

– Per the Boston Globe, Bob Kraft and Patriots Matthew Slater and Rob Ninkovich were at the Marriott Copley Place on Thursday night for “Game Day Gala,” a benefit for Team IMPACT, which builds relationships between college sports teams and kids with life-threatening and chronic illnesses.  Ninkovich was busy this week, as he also spent the night before with Jerod Mayo and Nate Solder, who were each out supporting former Pats player Matt Light at the 2d annual Fools’ Night Out benefit for the Light Foundation.

– According to the Boston Herald, Tom Brady was busy shooting his latest UGGS commercial on Thursday, with the veteran quarterback spending the day at the Harry Parker Boathouse on the banks of the Charles River for the shoot.  UGG’s gave Pats fans a sneak peek behind the scenes of the shoot, and they live-streamed some of it on Twitter’s new Periscope app yesterday.

– And Finally, Rob Gronkowski recently appeared on Showtime with Jim Rome and talked about a variety of topics including the type of woman who would be his ideal wife. You can see the video below to hear what Gronk had to say:

Friday Patriots Notebook 3/27 – Hightower Out Six to Seven Months, Edelman Thought About Being a Firefighter, More Notes

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted March 27, 2015 at 9:01 am


It looks like the Patriots may start 2015 without Dont’a Hightower. (USA TODAY Images)

Heading into 2015 the Patriots find themselves facing improved foes within the AFC East, and it appears that they may be without one of their better defenders by the time next season  starts.

According to a report by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe on Thursday, linebacker Dont’a Hightower may miss the start of the season after the newspaper reported that the timetable for his recent offseason shoulder surgery is six to seven months, which he suffered at the end of last season.  The veteran linebacker underwent a procedure back on February 10th to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

The injury reportedly happened toward the end of last season, which caused him to miss the Week 14 match-up against San Diego, and he also later sat out the finale against Buffalo in a meaningless match-up, but played in all but six snaps during the postseason and made the critical tackle near the end of Super Bowl XLIX when he stopped Marshawn Lynch from scoring just one play before Malcolm Butler’s game-clinching interception.

Hightower played a significant role in the Patriots’ defense last season, finishing the season second on the team in tackles with 89 and was tied with Chandler Jones for second on the team in sacks with six.  He was also second in quarterback hits with 13, as well as totaling 2 passes defensed and forcing one fumble.

Last month Hightower posted a picture of himself lying in a hospital bed in a sling on Instagram, with the caption, “The process begins now!! #rehab #determined #finallydone #iwillbewhereiworktobe”  Hopefully he doesn’t suffer any setbacks because he’s certainly become a valuable asset in New England’s defense.

EDELMAN TELLS MAXIM HIS JOB ISN’T SAFE:

Julian Edelman recently did an interview with Andrew Burmon of Maxim.com, talking about a variety of topics in a feature story for the magazine.

A couple things he mentioned was the fact that had he not been drafted, he may have instead been saving lives after telling Maxim, “I can remember, after my last game in college, thinking about becoming a fireman.”

He also talks about the fact that as much as he reveres coach Bill Belichick, he knows that loyalty, as it pertains to players, only goes so far, saying, “If there’s someone out there who’s better or cheaper or something like that, I’ll lose my job.”

Edelman also reveals a personal side and talks about the relationship with his dad, which is always great to see and there’s a terrific moment he talks about from when he was little and getting mauled by bigger kids, asking his dad, “When am I going to grow?’” with Edelman saying, “He would say, ‘Son, when you get to be the same size, it’s going to be unfair.’”

So far Edelman has evolved into one of the most dangerous players in the league and has become such a valuable asset in New England’s offense.  Not bad for a guy who was a seventh round pick and later garnered little interest when he hit the free agent market.  Now he’s one of the best in the game and was obviously a key component in the Patriots Super Bowl win.

He might not be the biggest player, but the plays he makes more than make up for his size.  Needless to say, it looks like his dad is definitely right.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– Colts coach Chuck Pagano is aware of the losses the personnel losses the Patriots have suffered so far, but he knows they’ll still be dangerous next season. “He’s always found a way,” Pagano told the Indianapolis Star of Belichick at this week’s NFL owners meetings. “He’s a great coach. I’m not going to put any credence or any weigh in that. Everybody’s roster changes. Every team is different. Every year is different.” He says the challenge now is getting to their level. “You want to be the champ, you’ve got to beat the champs,” Pagano said. “And they’re the champs. They’ve been a thorn in our side, but a great football team, a great owner, great coach. Done a great job and won the Super Bowl this year, four in the last 14 years. It’s a big challenge for us.”

NFL to expand Markets to Mexico, Germany….Others: While the league’s efforts overseas will remain tied to London, the league is looking for other markets to expand in. The league is searching out opportunities for Canada, Mexico and China to host games in the future. But it doesn’t end there, Germany is also in the mix and there is talk of holding a Pro-Bowl game in Brazil.

Germany has one issue holding it back, while the audience is strong, the Germans hosted numerous NFL Europe teams in the past, it is television rights that is holding up that venue. While the Super Bowl is regularly aired, the NFL hasn’t been able to get any of the major television stations to air the regular season in Germany.

The Bills have played games in Canada and the NFL has played exhibition football in Mexico City in the past. With some upgrades to facilities there…it should be an easy slam dunk for the league to return.

China is a vast source of untapped potential, but one has to wonder if the game, so foreign to the people there would stick after the initial burst of curiousness had worn off.

Thursday Patriots Notebook 3/26: Belichick Uses ‘Choice Language’ After Rule Change, Bedard Reveals Scary Hernandez Interaction, More Notes

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted March 26, 2015 at 7:12 am

 


Hernandez showed a lot of promise, but legal troubles have seemingly ended his NFL career. (USA TODAY Images)

An interesting note on MMQB.com from former Boston Globe writer Greg Bedard, who recently attended a court session for former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Bedard painted the picture of the day pretty well, while reflecting on the contrast of seeing Hernandez in the locker room with his teammates and now seeing him on trial for murder.  He also confirms part of Ron Borges’ Rolling Stone cover story on the tight end, who felt in danger after signing his $40 million contract extension from a gang back home in Bristol, Connecticut, who was apparently making demands from him.  As a result Bedard writes that Hernandez flew in to Indianapolis at the scouting combine to discuss the possibility of a trade out of New England to get him away from them.

But that was a weekend where Hernandez seems to have shown his true colors, with Bedard revealing a scary interaction between the two after he ran into him Sunday night at a local bar while he was with some fellow NFL writers.  Hernandez “exchanged pleasantries” with their group and even bought them a round, and as the only Patriots writer there the two chatted about the Patriots and teammates who might be leaving during free agency.

Bedard says that was the end of their conversation, but later that night, he was forced to get involved after seeing Hernandez “urinating on a running taxi cab”.

That was the extent of our interaction until later that night, when I looked out the front window of the bar and saw Hernandez urinating on a running taxi cab, with the driver yelling at him. All I could think was, Great, Hernandez is going to get in trouble, and I’m going to have to write about this nonsense. I asked a confidant of his if he might want to go get his friend. “He won’t listen to me,” the confidant said, “so why don’t you go get him?”

For some reason I didn’t think this to be unreasonable. I went outside, walked up to Hernandez and suggested he should probably use the restroom inside unless he wanted to get arrested. No response. Then I lightly touched his elbow to guide him back into the bar and said, “Aaron, come on. This is stupid.” At that point Hernandez whipped around, got in my face, unleashed a stream of expletives and concluded, “I’m not a child! You’re not my dad!”

I replied, “Well, you’re acting like a child right now. Fine, do what you want to do.” Then I went back inside and joined some friends at a table.

A while later, Hernandez came back inside, shot me a My bad glance and joined the conversation. I remember him stating his desire to move to receiver full-time in the Patriots’ offense (something he had pleaded for with receivers coach Chad O’Shea, who probably didn’t take the request seriously). Hernandez was back at the bar when it was time for me to call it a night. I shook his hand and said, “I heard there’s some stuff going on with you and your family. Hope you get the resolution you’re looking for. See you later.”

It’s a scary glance into a player who had shown so much promise and seemed to have a future.  Fortunately it wasn’t any worse that night, and even now, Bedard’s still trying to reconcile the dual images he has after covering Hernandez for the two seasons he was here.

NFL CHANGES RULES ON FORMATIONS:

The NFL made more changes to the NFL rulebook on Wednesday, opting to make the use of ineligible receivers illegal outside the tackle box, which obviously takes away the ability for teams to be innovative and challenge defenders while they try and understand who they should be able to cover, and who to leave uncovered.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh lost his mind when New England pulled the move against them back during the Divisional round of the playoffs in January, screaming at the officials and throwing a fit despite the fact the team reported Shane Vereen, who was the player in question, lined up out wide in the slot to the right.  The officials had even told Harbaugh not to cover him, but he continued to yell and was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

“It’s not something that anybody has ever done before,” Harbaugh said after the game. “They’re an illegal type of a thing, and I’m sure that [the NFL will] make some adjustments and things like that.”

Unfortunately he got his way, and after the ruling was announced, the Ravens took to Twitter to let their fans know of the change.

As for Belichick, he’s not too concerned.

“Whatever it is, it is,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said via ESPN Wednesday. “It would affect a lot of other plays, the spread punt formation and stuff like that. Whatever the rule is, it is.”

The bad news for the Ravens is, while Harbaugh may likely be feeling some satisfaction in the rule change, it doesn’t change the fact that at the time the rules were still the same for everyone and Belichick got the last laugh as Harbaugh was clearly out-coached on that day.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– According to the Boston Herald, Darrelle Revis confirmed the Patriots weren’t even close in their attempt to keep him in New England.  “I’m not going to speak the numbers, but I had the option, the $20 million option, that they could’ve exercised and they didn’t,” Revis told the Herald. “We tried to work on a deal, and we felt that it wasn’t in the ballpark of what we were looking for. We just moved on and they moved on, too. I had a great conversation with Bill (Belichick), and we moved forward just like they did. That’s how you look at it.”

– The Herald also reported that changes may indeed be coming to increase the level of difficulty in regards to extra points, although the league, for now, has decided to table the vote for about a month.

– Saints coach Sean Payton had some nice things to say about newly acquired running back Travaris Cadet, who joined the Patriots in free agency this offseason.   “(Cadet’s) a real smart player,” Payton said via the Boston Herald. “He’s exceptional as a receiver. His ability to run routes other than just from the running back route tree, he is someone that can jump in the receiver line and run out-routes and run comebacks and actually has experience doing that. So when he came to us as an (undrafted) free agent in ’12, he came the first week or two and was in receiver meetings and receiver drills.  I would say his hands and his football IQ are exceptional.”

– Apparently Belichick wasn’t pleased with the NFL this week after the league opted not to add cameras down in the end zone to give officials better angles on replay reviews.  According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who cited a league source, said that Belichick used “choice language” during the meeting with NFL head of officials Dean Blandino, expressing the fact that while the league is willing to send the Pro Bowl to Brazil and play regular-season games in London every season won’t spend the money to pay for the extra cameras it would take to cover all end zone angles.

– Rex Ryan continues running his mouth this offseason as he continues talking about the Patriots and his desire to overtake them in the AFC East.  “I don’t know how wide open it is when you have New England on top who have 12 of the last 14 division titles,” said Ryan via BuffaloBills.com. “We’re going to find out. I can’t wait for it. I know I’ve got a long way to go. There’s a lot of work left to be done, but we’re coming after them.”  Ryan also doesn’t believe they’re as strong as they were last season after losing Revis and Vince Wilfork.  “I said the league got better and New England didn’t because they’re the world champs,” said Ryan. “It’s hard to get better than that. So I think I made an accurate statement when I said they’re not better than they were. They can’t be. I hope they’re not anyway. They lost some good players. You lose Revis, Vince Wilfork and what they mean in the locker room besides their play. Hopefully it catches up to them. But Brady is still Brady and Belichick is still Belichick so those two are going to make them the favorites again.”

– Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke on Ted Wells investigation into the “deflate gate” debacle and despite the fact that if Wells is able to dig up enough dirt to find the Patriots guilty of some wrongdoing, which would then in theory potentially cost them a draft choice, one would believe the goal would be to conclude the investigation before the upcoming draft.  However, according to the Boston Globe, Goodell claims there’s no timetable in place on the investigation.  “We have not put a time frame on Ted Wells,” Goodell said. “We have asked him to be thorough, complete. And when he’s finished with that, he’ll give that to us and to the public in general.”  As it stands right now it’s 65 days in, two months to figure out what Bill Belichick figured out in a few days.  It’s unbelievable.

Wednesday Patriots Notebook 3/25: Edelman Rule Passes, Vollmer Recovers From Surgery, More Notes

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted March 25, 2015 at 7:23 am


The Jets are apparently trying to turn the tables on Patriots owner Robert Kraft. (USA TODAY Images)

One thing you can say about the Patriots offseason so far as we finish out the final week of March, it certainly hasn’t been boring.

With the Jets currently under investigation by the NFL following accusations from the Patriots of tampering with cornerback Darrelle Revis, New York tried to turn the tables Tuesday after filing charges of their own against New England stemming from comments made by Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Kraft mentioned Revis briefly Tuesday as the NFL owners meetings continued, saying that he’s obviously disappointed the veteran is no longer a member of his football team.

“I speak as a fan of the New England Patriots,” said Kraft via CSNNE.com. “We wanted to keep him, we wanted him in our system. We have certain disciplines and we had hoped it would work out. It didn’t. We just don’t think about the short-term decisions. For example, next year we have three very good young defensive players coming up (for contracts) and we have to factor that we just don’t look at this year, we look out at the next few years. We’ve done okay doing that.

“[The Jets] are the team that drafted him. I think he feels a great commitment there, so we understand his going back and we’re sorry he didn’t stay with us.”

Those comments were apparently enough to make the Jets believe they could try and make a case for the league to potentially find them similar to the ones owner Woody Johnson said back in December when he said, “Darrelle is a great player and if I thought I could have gotten Darrelle for that, I probably would’ve taken him. And it was our best judgment to do what we did. Darrelle’s a great player — I’d love for Darrelle to come back.”

Needless to say, Rex Ryan may be in Buffalo, but the rivalry between these two teams rolls on.

Johnson was asked about the tampering charges by his football team but didn’t have much to say.

“It’s just something the league is looking at,” Johnson said via ESPN New York. “So, I’m not worried about anything. I’m worried about getting better.”

And now he’s trying to get back whatever draft pick they might eventually lose once the NFL ultimately makes their ruling.  It’s a curious move on their part given the difference between the two comments and the context, but given what we’ve seen since the deflate-gate investigation by the NFL, it’s impossible to predict the outcome since the league’s history of how it’s handled these situations all season has been questionable at best.

It’s obvious that these two situations are fundamentally different and this is just the Jets’ way of trying to show how they feel about the charges against them, which clearly they disagree with.  Unfortunately, it’s obvious that Johnson made poor a judgement in his comments and despite this attempt, unlike what Kraft said Tuesday, it’s not the same thing.

The good news for the Patriots is, they’re probably going to cost the Jets a draft choice by the time this is over.

RYAN FIRES A SHOT AT THE PATRIOTS:

Apparently the battle between the Patriots and Rex Ryan’s former team has the Buffalo head coach feeling a little left out, and on Tuesday he made some comments to stir the pot and grab a headline for himself.

Ryan said via Boston.com during the AFC coaches breakfast on Tuesday, “They’re clearly the team to beat and we’re coming after them,”

Buffalo has added some talent to their offense this offseason after adding running back LeSean McCoy and receiver Percy Harvin, along with quarterback Matt Cassel.  It’s a group that should be better than the one he inherited, and it’s obvious that he plans on trying to unseat New England’s dominance in the AFC East.

Ryan talked recently about the fact the team “lost some good players” but the Patriots still have the majority of their talent on the offensive side of the football and remain the favorites in the Diviison heading into 2015.  There’s still a long way to go given where we are at this point in the offseason, and Ryan will have to wait a while before this can be settled on the football field.  But much like how it was while he was coaching the Jets, it appears the battles against the Bills in the coming years will likely be anything but boring.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– Lost in the shuffle at the running back position is Tyler Gaffney, whose name hasn’t been mentioned often but Belichick gave him some praise Tuesday, telling reporters that he’s been working hard after spending 2014 on injured reserve.  “(Gaffney was at Gillette Stadium) every day,” Belichick said via the Boston Herald. “He works hard. No question, he works hard. No issue with that.”  Gaffney’s an interesting prospect given how he was acquired.  He was a sixth round pick last season and Carolina attempted to pass him through waivers to put him on injured reserve, but the Patriots managed to claim him.  Now he’s a player who could potentially have the opportunity to make an impact this season and Belichick appears positive on his outlook.  “Good athlete, has good hands,” Belichick said. “I don’t think catching is an issue. He ran for a lot of yards. He really only had one year of production out there because of baseball.”

– Julian Edelman’s hit in the Super Bowl has led to a rule change this offseason, with the NFL passing a rule Tuesday that had been discussed during the owners meetings to improve player safety.  Edelman took a shot in the fourth quarter back in January while picking up a first down against the Seahawks and appeared dazed but stayed in the game, and now the officials will have an independent spotter above the field who can stop the game if he believeles the on-field officials haven’t noticed a player who may require a concussion test.  Belichick didn’t have much to say about the situation, telling reporters via the Charlotte Observer, “You’d have to talk to the medical people. I was coaching the game.”

– One of the rule changes proposed by Belichick was the addition of cameras down on the goal line to get a better view of touchdown plays.  That one didn’t pass, and there have been comments from a couple of different owners pertaining to cost and the fact the configuration of each stadium varies, which would make them difficult to install.  Belichick sounded surprised by the news. “It’s disappointing to hear that we can’t afford that as a league,” Belichick said via the Boston Herald. “They brought that up as a concern. It’s kind of surprising to hear that.”

– Another proposal suggested by Belichick was the ability for coaches to be able to challenge any play, which also didn’t pass.  The Herald reported that Belichick did have some support from Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.   “I supported Belichick’s plan,” Lurie said via the newspaper. “I didn’t think we should increase the number of challenges, but he’s right. You should be able to challenge anything. I understand it would cause some problems, but I supported the idea.  Too bad it didn’t pass.”

– According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer recently underwent offseason shoulder surgery following their Super Bowl victory last month, which has left him being forced to spend his offseason rehabilitating his injury after he reportedly had the procedure to repair his labrum.  It’s an injury that he reportedly played through last season.  He’s reportedly been spending time at Gillette Stadium recently as he continues the process of getting healthy for next season.

– Kraft had some encouraging things to say about Eagles coach Chip Kelly Tuesday and appears to like what he’s seen in Philadelphia.  “If I were an Eagle fan, I would be excited,” Kraft said via Philly.com. “He did an outstanding job in college. I know my head coach [Bill Belichick] has great respect for him. He’s trying to put his stamp on what’s going on there. This is a tough league, so there will be some challenges. But he’s an exciting guy to be around.”

– According to Christopher Price of WEEI.com Tom Brady and Devin McCourty were among players back at work at Gillette Stadium Monday, which also included safety Duron Harmon.  Players aren’t required to be at the team’s facility at this point in the offseason, but these two appear focused on trying to set an example for the other players as they look to try and repeat another championship run in 2015.

Tuesday Patriots Notebook 3/24: New Rule May Result From Edelman Hit, Johnson Plays Dumb on Revis, More Notes

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted March 24, 2015 at 8:51 am

The NFL may enact a rule that would have, if it had been in place, taken Julian Edelman out of the Super Bowl during the final two drives. (USA TODAY Images)

Looking back at the Patriots Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks, Julian Edelman played a key role down the stretch, including catching what ended up being the game-winning touchdown to help New England secure their fourth championship.

But one play that was apparently discussed was the 3rd-and-8 play where he was drilled by safety Kam Chancellor yet didn’t skip a beat, some how staying on his feet and taking off up field for the first down after taking the football down to the Seattle 4-yard line.

Edelman seemed dazed after the hit but stayed in the game and two plays later Tom Brady found Danny Amendola for the touchdown, which pulled New England to within four points.

On the ensuing drive Brady targeted him twice, the last of which was a 3-yard touchdown that put the Patriots up for good at 28-24.  The receiver showed a lot of toughness during that final quarter and some wonder if he suffered a concussion as a result of the hit he sustained despite the fact he never came out of the game.  However, it seems like there’s a rule that may pass this offseason that could prevent a similar situation from occurring again.

According to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, there’s a possibility that moving forward if a player sustains a hit like the one Edelman took, officials upstairs in the press box will be given the authority to stop the game to communicate with the officials down on the field and force the player to come off the field for evaluation.

Apparently the play involving Edelman was one that they felt was part of the problem as the league continues trying to address the ongoing concussion concerns.

“The Edelman situation was a play we looked at and it was part of the issue,” competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay told Reiss Monday. “There were a couple of other plays that go back a couple of years that we looked at and really it came a little bit from the health and safety committee just saying, ‘We got the ATC spotters, they’ve got a really good vantage point, they’ve got technology in their booth, they’re communicating pretty well with our trainers and doctors and we’ve got a pretty good rhythm going there, why would we miss a player where a player shouldn’t come out?’

“And maybe this becomes the fail-safe. So that was the genesis of it. We do not expect this to be a rule that gets used a lot. We expect it to be a fail-safe when people just don’t see this player and the distress the player may have had, the ATC spotter does and stops the game.”

Edelman was asked about the play in an interview posted last month by the New York Times and was pretty blunt with his answers.

Q. Did you get a concussion on that play?

A. Due to our team policy, I can’t discuss that.

Q. You stumbled after that play, but you stayed in the game. Does that mean you were not injured?

A. Next question.

Q. Were you tested for a concussion?

A. I went through all the protocols.

Fortunately he was only on the field for two more plays immediately after the hit before the offense came off the field and at the end of the day he appears to be O.K.  But as the league continues clamping down on situations where players don’t necessarily take themselves out of the game for the sake of trying to play through a hit like that, the league is obviously reacting accordingly.  As a result, next season could see a situation like that play out a little differently.

WOODY JOHNSON CLAIMS HE HASN’T SPOKEN TO REVIS:

With an ongoing tampering investigation going on it was interesting to hear Jets owner Woody Johnson talk about the signing of Darrelle Revis on Monday.

Oddly enough, despite paying him a salary that includes $39 million in guaranteed money, Johnson claims he hasn’t even spoken to the veteran cornerback yet.  That’s pretty ironic considering the fact he couldn’t quite keep himself from cooing over Revis in December, which sparked the whole controversy to begin with.  Now apparently he’s keeping with the plan of just saying he hasn’t talked to him.  At all.

“I haven’t talked to him yet, no,” Johnson said via NJ.com Monday at the NFL’s owners meeting.

When asked whether it seemed odd that he hasn’t spoken to Revis yet, Johnson deflected yet again.

“I haven’t talked to Darrelle,” he answered. “You can see it whatever way it is.”

One can’t help but take that as, “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it until this investigation is over.”

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots were awarded a couple of compensatory picks last night, with the team being awarded a third-rounder (97th overall) and a seventh-rounder (253rd overall) due to a net loss of compensatory free agents LeGarrette Blount, Dane Fletcher, Brandon Spikes, and Aqib Talib balanced against the two signings of Brandon Browner and Brandon LaFell.  Obviously the irony in that situation was the re-aquisition of Blount, but the Patriots certainly probably aren’t complaining.

– Robert Kraft talked about the chances for the playoffs expanding in the future and it appears that still remains a possibility.  “Well, we’ve had a lot of discussions. It definitely won’t happen this year — a lot of people want it badly,” Kraft said via ESPN Boston. “Of course, it gives their team a greater chance to be in. We’re analyzing the facts, but I think it’s something that could happen when we go long-term with our Thursday night [television] package, that we tie it in to that.”

– Kraft also said that “two teams” appear headed to the Los Angeles market, and it could happen within the next year.  “I really believe within the next year we’ll have two teams in this market. In there are good plans, but we have a little committee that we’re working with the different owners. We have some real good options.”

– The Patriots owner also talked about the loss of Vince Wilfork, which he called “one of the toughest things” he’s dealt with this offseason.  “That was one of the toughest things. It was harder than anything else [this offseason],” he said via ESPN Boston. “He’s someone we watched come in here; I developed a very strong personal tie to him. It’s the hardest part of this game, speaking as a fan and also someone who got to know he and Bianca and his kids. He wrote something beautiful; he’ll always be a Patriot and he’s keeping his home here.”

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