Archive for January, 2011

No Pro Bowl For Brady, QB Undergoes Foot Surgery

Bill Belichick may be headed to Hawaii, but for now his quarterback won’t be joining him and instead made a visit to the hospital.

Despite a report yesterday saying that he was expected to play, according to the Boston Globe Brady will now miss the Pro Bowl after electing to undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot.  He was expected to have it operated on Thursday afternoon.

Brady has reportedly been hampered by the injury for most of the season, and was even seen wearing a walking boot to alleviate some of the pressure on the injury.  The procedure shouldn’t hamper him long-term and he’s expected to be ready for Training camp.

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Brady to Play in Pro Bowl

Monique Walker of the Boston Globe reported on Wednesday that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is planning on playing in the Pro Bowl on January 30th in Hawaii, citing a source. Walker also reports that Brady was hampered by a stress fracture in his foot that occasionally produced symptoms throughout the season, again citing multiple sources. According to Walker the foot is not completely healed, but it didn’t affect Brady in Sunday’s 28-21 loss against the New York Jets.

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LB Ninkovich Tore LCL – No Surgery Needed

Some good news at least following the Patriots 28-21 playoff loss the Jets yesterday.  WEEI’s Christopher Price reported a few minutes ago via Twitter(@capeleaguer) that linebacker Rob Ninkovich’s knee injury isn’t quite as severe as some had feared.

According to Price Ninkovich tore his LCL, and will not require surgery.

An LCL (via is the lateral collateral ligament, and is the ligament on the outer side of the knee and helps keep the outer side of the knee joint stable.  Ninkovich suffered the injury late in the third quarter of Sunday’s game and didn’t return.

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Monday Morning Hangover – Some Observations

It’s a disappointing day here in New England following yesterday’s 28-21 loss to the Jets, and one day later, here are some thoughts and observations on the game.

  1. The defense did their job yesterday – New England didn’t reach the endzone for the first time yesterday until nearly the fourth quarter of play, scoring on a touchdown to Alge Crumpler with just :15 left in the 3rd.  At that point the score was 14-11, and prior to that they had eight offensive possessions but came away with just 3 points.  Hate to say it, but they played as well as we could have hoped yesterday.
  2. No adjustment on offense was an issue – There are a lot of people questioning the playcalling yesterday, but I was more confused about the lack of adjustment due to what New York was doing.  New England did the right thing by calling that screen to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, it just wasn’t executed well by Tom Brady and he completely overthrew him, and that’s why it was picked off.  From that point on we didn’t really see them go to it again, and with the way the Jets were blitzing, that was an element that seemed to be missing.
    I’m also surprised that we didn’t see New England go into the no huddle sooner yesterday, because it was clear that the Jets had a tough time dealing with substitutions when the tempo of the game increased.  Watching the game again this morning along with looking at the gamebook, we saw five injuries noted during the game by New York, at least three of which seemed to come at strange points in the game that looked like the Jets were trying and slow things down.  They really needed to try and do something to keep New York off balance, and that just didn’t materialize yesterday.
  3. They drafted both tight ends, but really haven’t utilized both completely in the same game – We saw them try and get Rob Gronkowski involved early in the game, but Aaron Hernandez didn’t get much of an opportunity, and they could have used his intensity.  As we know Hernandez has been a guy that they’ve done a good job of getting him out in the open field so he could make plays.  He had just one reception yesterday, but it didn’t seem like he was really in their game plan.  They could have used him on a tight end screen and let him make a play or two to get things going…why they didn’t is somewhat puzzling.
  4. The Welker benching was a non-factor – Obviously Belichick had to do something thanks to Welker’s comments from earlier in the week where he made the repeated foot references during his press conference.  As a result he held him out of the first offensive series, but they still had success early on from Danny Woodhead and Rob Gronkowski on their opening drive.  Unfortunately after seven plays where they had gotten down to the Jets 28, Brady was obviously picked off and that drive came to an end.  Some people out there blame Welker being benched as the reason they stumbled on that drive.  I disagree, it was just a bad throw and I don’t think having Welker in the game at that point would have changed much, although I’m sure there will be people who feel otherwise.
  5. The Fake Punt - bad idea due to the field position -  We learned last night that that call is made based on the match-ups in terms of the number of players and the distance, but I think that has to be decided more based on where they were.  Normally it would have been the right call (and we learned later that Patrick Chung made the decision) - but the wrong part of the field to attempt it on.  They were at their own 38 – had they been closer to midfield I think it would have made more sense to try.  Unfortunately it didn’t work out because Chung dropped the ball, and at that point it ended up giving the Jets great field position.
  6. That 7+ minute drive in the fourth quarter decided the game – Down 21-11 at the 13:00 mark in the fourth quarter, New England was still very much in the game.  However, they burned nearly 8-minutes on a drive that they couldn’t afford to come up empty on.  They ended up turning the ball over on downs with 5:15 left in the game, and that unfortunately was the defining moment in the game.  There was little urgency on that drive and the Deion Branch false start penalty was frustrating, because it came after five straight plays where they had gained yards and were moving the ball. The wide receiver spot should be the last person who should be drawing that penalty, and they seemed to lose momentum after that.   However, to burn that much time off the clock and come away with nothing to show for it, that was obviously tough to overcome.

I think the biggest thing to note is the fact that the defense didn’t get stage fright and the new guys played pretty well, and they did about as much as we could have expected.  They’ll be even better next year with a season under their belt along with guys like Leigh Bodden and Ty Warren hopefully coming back strong next year.

In the end what was missing Sunday was they needed an MVP performance from Brady and the offense, and it just didn’t happen.  They may say defense wins championships, but with a quarterback of his caliber along with some of the new guys they added, three points in three quarters just isn’t enough to win in the playoffs.

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Early Mistakes End New England’s Season

This story was written by my colleague Bob George, who gives his thoughts following the Patriots disappointing 28-21 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday.

FOXBOROUGH — Whoever made the point this week that Tom Brady is in somewhat of a postseason slump knew what they were talking about.

Not much was made concerning this point all week long. All you heard about was the verbal slop coming out of the New York area. In every postseason game Brady has played in since the Patriots’ last Super Bowl win not against Jacksonville or the Jets, his passer rating numbers are as follows: 74.0, 57.6, 79.5, 66.4, 82.5 (Super Bowl loss to the Giants), 49.1. Nobody worried about Brady this week, everyone figured that he would take all the Jet trash talk and shovel it right back in their faces.

But such retribution was not to be. Two critical mistakes by the Patriots in the first quarter, including the seemingly inevitable first interception thrown by Brady in a coon’s age, set the tone for the entire game and gave the Jets all the bravado and confidence they would need. The Jets played an inspired game on defense, shutting down the Patriot receivers most all game long, then hung on in the end for a 28-21 AFC Divisional playoff win over the Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The Jets will play at Pittsburgh next weekend for the AFC Championship.

History be damned in a number of ways. The Patriots have now lost two straight home playoff games after not losing at home in the postseason since 1978. The Patriots lost their first AFC playoff game in team history following a bye week in the Wild Card round. Rex Ryan wins at Gillette Stadium for the first time following blowout losses in 2009 and 2010. The same time management issues which bedeviled Donovan McNabb in the waning moments of Super Bowl XXXIX defined the fourth quarter for the Patriots.

But most of all, Brady is cutting into his impeccable reputation as being an elite postseason quarterback. Though much of the reason for the loss was good to excellent pass coverage by the Jet back eight, his interception early on in the game was a poorly thrown ball on a screen pass which the Jets clearly smelled out and blew up, and it set the tone for how the rest of the game unfolded. Brady’s passer rating was 89, which isn’t terrible, but he needed a much better day and simply could not dial it up.

The interception took place on the eighth offensive play of the game for the Patriots. Brady had led the Patriots from their own 16 to the Jet 28 with relative ease. Then on first down, Brady play-faked to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, then rolled right to set up a screen to Green-Ellis. Brady’s pass sailed about three feet over Green-Ellis’s head and right into the arms of linebacker David Harris, who took the throw and lumbered 58 yards before Alge Crumpler cut him down at the Patriot 12. But the Patriots caught a break when Nick Folk barely missed a 30-yard field goal attempt.

So back came the Patriots, driving from their own 21 to the Jet 7 in eight plays. On second and goal at the 7, Brady found Crumpler in the end zone, only he dropped a perfect pass with minimal coverage from Dwight Lowery. After a sack of Brady by Shaun Ellis, Shayne Graham kicked a 34-yard field goal. Crumpler’s dropped touchdown pass was more damaging than the interception, but the pick did more to set the tone rather than anything else.

Bill Belichick will also take some lumps from this game for some questionable coaching strategy at some points in the game. Wes Welker was “benched” during the first drive of the game, seemingly for his subtle press conference early in the week when he used several references to feet and toes to needle Ryan. Welker did come back on the second drive, and his absence was more inconsequential than anything else, but it did seem to get things off on the wrong foot (absolutely no pun intended).

At the end of the first half, facing fourth down and four at the Patriot 38, Belichick called for a fake punt. Patrick Chung was to take a direct snap and run off right tackle for a first down, but Chung bobbled the snap and was stopped for a yard loss. Mark Sanchez took over and put the Jets into the end zone just four plays later, hitting Braylon Edwards from fifteen yards out with 39 seconds left in the first half to make it 14-3 Jets at the half. Chung simply blew the play, but a punt probably keeps it 7-3 with the Patriots getting the ball to begin the second half.

The fourth quarter was puzzling at best and tragic at worst. The Patriots went on a McNabb-esque time consuming drive down 21-11 at the time. The Patriots took over on their own 18 with 12:55 left in the game, then proceeded to burn 7:36 off the clock before Brady misfired on a sideline pass to Deion Branch on fourth down and 13 at the Jet 34. The Patriots would get the ball back after a three-and-out, but they could only get a 35-yard field goal by Graham just after the two-minute warning.

The long drive gave the Patriots very little time to mount an adequate comeback. They had to onside kick, and Antonio Cromartie returned the onside kick 23 yards to the Patriot 25. Two plays later, Shonn Greene iced the game with a 16-yard touchdown run around right end, and a late Patriot touchdown was too little, too late.

The early miscues gave the Jets a lot of confidence, and it helped their defense play to the level they failed to do so in December. They went with a lot of packages where they rushed three and covered with eight, and Brady continually had problems finding open receivers despite having a lot of time to throw. Brady was sacked five times, all but one of them being basically coverage sacks. Branch didn’t come up for air until 2:51 left in the third quarter.

The Patriots have now lost three straight postseason games, with no win since the 2007 AFC Championship Game. The Patriots seem to be in the same funk they were in when they blew their perfect season in Arizona three years ago, despite a 14-2 regular season with some impeccable football along the way since their last loss at Cleveland. It’s almost like the veneer the Patriots used to have in the early part of last decade has been sandpapered off, and the Patriots have suddenly become tight and nervous when January rolls around.

Losing to the Jets will be particularly galling. The Jets did all the talking all week long, but once again, suffered no consequence on the field. Ryan is now 3-2 against the Patriots in his Jet career. They get to go to Pittsburgh, and who’s to say they can’t rise up on the road and beat the Steelers in their crib, something the Steelers have been known to do in AFC Championship games of years past.

As for the Patriots, the youngsters now know what it’s like to be in the playoffs, and unfortunately, to lose in the playoffs. There aren’t enough veterans still left on the team with any rings, so the transfer of heritage is somewhat wanting. The Patriots are still set up well for the future, but for right now, a season of being the number one playoff seed is now down the tubes. Sure, Atlanta lost also, and neither Super Bowl participant from last year is still alive in the playoffs.

But the Patriots have to head home, and the Jets move on.

And the Yankees got their heir apparent to Mariano Rivera in Rafael Soriano. Looks like this was a nice week for New York.

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Grogan’s Grade: Week 16 – New England vs. Miami

Did you miss Steve’s interview with Greg and the gang on Monday? If you did, here’s an expanded interview with the former New England Patriots quarterback of his thoughts on the Patriots 38-7 regular season finale victory over the Dolphins.

R.R. Marshall: Steve, the Patriots toyed with and then destroyed the Miami Dolphins by a count of 38-7 in what was supposed to be a meaningless season finale for the Patriots. Judging by the results I guess the Patriots’ players didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to take it easy with nothing on the line in this game?

Steve Grogan: I think it was the old adage that we used to joke about regarding the last game of the season. The team is out of the playoffs and they had their cars packed and running back in Miami as they could not wait to get out of town. Miami did not show up to play this game and the Patriots did and consequently it was not a close game. You had to feel for Miami head coach Tony Sporano whose job was supposedly on the line in this game. If that’s the case then his players certainly do not feel much for their head coach because they did not give a good performance.

RRM: For the second straight week the Patriots piled up the rushing yards, gaining 182 yards on the ground against what was supposed to be one of the NFL’s best teams at stopping the run. This has to be a good sign headed into the postseason?

SG: When you look at Tom Brady’s stats, they really did not want to throw the ball. They wanted to hammer it on the ground and get everybody out of there fairly healthy and come away with a win and feel good about themselves. They kept hammering it at Miami and they simply could not stop them.

RRM: BenJarvus Green-Ellis became the first member of the Patriots’ 1000-yard rushers club since Corey Dillon in 2004 but he downplayed his accomplishment, preferring to give credit to his teammates on offense. You have to admit you don’t see that from too many players today?

SG: Well, you would not expect anything else from most of Bill Belichick’s players. He does have a good point. The Patriots’ offensive line has played exceptionally well this year in their run blocking and also in pass protection. They had the running game going which they have not had in the last few years and with me being an old school guys it is fun to watch. But it was quite an accomplishment for a young back like Green-Ellis to come away with a 1,000-yard season. When the season started no one really knew who he was and he has really been a nice find for them. You can’t help but be happy for what he has accomplished this season.

RRM: Despite Wes Welker, Deion Branch, and Aaron Hernandez all being MIA in this game Tom Brady and the Patriots passing game didn’t seem to miss a beat, as Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Tate had big games against the Dolphins. Doesn’t that display the diversity in the Patriots’ passing game?

SG: You keep your top receivers out and you still win in a runaway. Gronkowski had a huge game against the Dolphins and looked like an All-Pro. He had some really good catches and some good runs after the catch. Julian Edelman finally showed up and did something on special teams, and I think everyone was waiting for some big plays from him all year.

RRM: You mentioned Julian Edeleman, who brought the crowd to life with a scintillating 94-yard punt return for a TD late in the second quarter that broke the former record held by your old teammate Mike Haynes. I’ll make an educated guess that Mike didn’t do the Lambeau Leap into the stands after he scored?

SG: No, no one was jumping into the stands back in those days [laughs]. Even though Mike might have had an afro I do not think his hair was not nearly as long as Edelman’s. I don’t know if he is trying to look like Tom Brady or what, but it was a great run. He made the first guy hit him and miss. Then he made his way through the field and once downfield he used that breakaway speed. Going into the playoffs it is nice to know you have someone who can do that for you once in a while.

RRM: Back up quarterback Brian Hoyer finally got to see some extended action in the second half and played extremely well, even notching a TD pass for himself. As a former quarterback what did you think of him being subbed for Brady during the midst of a series in the second quarter?

SG: I thought that was a little strange to bring him in for a few plays and then back out like he did. I think they are looking at all scenarios at what could happen in the playoffs. They want to rehearse what would happen and how it would go and then get Brady back out there and then eventually let Hoyer finish the game. Looking back now it was probably a good idea.

RRM: The much-maligned Patriots defense has seem to come into its own the second half of the season, and they were the only team not to allow a touchdown on the opening drive in all 16 games, After this recent stretch do you think they are ready to do what it takes in the playoffs?

SG: Pretty impressive. The defense has really found itself. Devin McCourty has been a huge factor in that defense and Vince Wilfork was getting some great pressure on the quarterback. You look at some of the names of those guys that are playing on defense. Rob Ninkovich, who is he? But he makes plays. A couple of defensive lineman I never heard of are out there but they are making the plays. So it is a young defense and it looks like they have found their way. They know how to get it done and that looks extremely good for them going into the playoffs.

RRM: The young players on the Patriots have performed beyond expectation but now comes the postseason where playoff experience is all important. Will their lack of postseason experience be a factor, and is that something that the veterans can help them overcome?

SG: I think there is always a little concern on how you get young players to prepare for the playoffs when they have never been there. However, this team has enough veteran players with playoff experience and with Super Bowl wins that can lead by example and talk to these guys and let them know what needs to take place to get it done, so that may compensate for the fact that they have a lot of young guys that do not have much experience.

RRM: Speaking of the playoffs this weekend Peyton Manning and his Colts will host Rexies’ boys at the Dome while the Ravens will head to the Midwest to take on the revamped Kansas City Chiefs and Matt Cassell. What’s your take on these games?

SG: In the Colts-Jets game if the Colts can get halfway healthy I would take Peyton Manning and the Colts. They didn’t look that healthy in their season finale against Tennessee, but it’s hard to go against Peyton Manning playing at home, although the Jets have been a good road team this season.

I saw the Chiefs play their last game at home against the Raiders and they played poorly. Although they had already won the division they could have clinched the third seed with a win so they played most of their starters. They were missing a couple of their offensive linemen and it showed, as the Raiders sacked Matt Cassel something like 6 or 7 times. But that loss might serve as an inspiration for them. That was Kansas City’s only home loss this year and that can be a tough place to play, and I’m taking them to take care of business at home over the Ravens.

RRM: It seemed like the era of sports championships in Boston had faded away, but now with the Patriots headed into the playoffs as the favorite to win the Super Bowl, the Red Sox acquiring both Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, the Celtics challenging for the best record in the NBA, and the Bruins a perennial playoff contender do we dare hope that another run of championships is in our future?

SG: There’s a very good chance of that. The Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL if not the best right now, and with all the young players they’ve brought in to revitalize the team it looks like they have a chance to be a top contender for several years. It now looks like the Red Sox are going to challenge for a championship in 2012 and the Celtics are as a good as any team in the NBA. I don’t follow the Bruins that closely but it would be great to see all four of Boston’s professional sports team challenge for championships over the next few years. Golden eras don’t come around very often and if we get another one headed this way that would be pretty remarkable.

RRM: What are Grogan’s Grades for the 38-7 demolition of the Dolphins?

SG: A’s all around for this game, for the offense, defense and special teams.

It’s been great watching this team come together and improving week after week and really hitting their stride with this complete victory in all areas of the game. I mentioned Vince Wilfork earlier and would like to give him a special mention here. He got flagged for roughing the passer because he couldn’t twist his helmet the right way, then he comes back two plays later and sacks the quarterback again. This time he got his helmet out of the way, and I’ve said this before that it is hard for me to feel bad for defensive players but sometimes you see some of the flags thrown on these guys now and you wonder what the heck the officials are looking at. But Vince Wilfork has had a great year and has really turned into a big leader on this football team. I am happy for him that he has had that kind of success. If he continues to lead this young defense with his stellar play we’ll be doing this column into February this year! Talk to you in two weeks.

Grogan’s Grades for Game #16

Offense: A
Defense: A
Overall: A

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Dan Koppen Earns TMQ MVP Honors

A quick mention for anyone who missed it, Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN listed center Dan Koppen as the 2010 TMQ Non-Quarterback Non-Running Back NFL MVP.

Easterbrook says that the Patriots 14-2 regular season is a direct reflection of superior offensive line play, with that unit finishing the year third best in sacks allowed.  He also believes that everything that happens on the offensive line starts with the center.

Koppen entered the NFL in 2003 as a fifth-round draft choice out of Boston College. Since taking over at center for the Patriots in 2004, he has held the position, starting 119 of his past 120 games. He makes the Patriots’ line calls and makes them well; Tom Brady stands unruffled in the pocket, brushing his hair, in part because New England has fewer botched blocking assignments than any other NFL team. Koppen was a key to New England’s record-setting 2007 offensive season and has been a key to this season’s seemingly unstoppable New England offense. He sometimes gets guard help, as all centers do. But you can watch a lot of Patriots film without seeing him beaten — or giving up on a play.

Easterbrook also mentions Logan Mankins in the piece, but feels that the guy who lines up next to him certainly makes his job easier.  Either way the unit overall has had a great year this season, and hopefully it continues when they take the field again in two weeks for the AFC Divisional Playoff game on January 16th.

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Playoff Tickets to Go On Sale Jan. 7th

The Patriots PR Department just issued a press release on the fact that playoff tickets will go on sale this Friday.  Here are the details:


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots earned their 12th trip to the playoffs in the past 17 years after finishing the 2010 regular season with the best record (14-2) in the NFL. By earning the top seed in the AFC for the third time in the past seven years, the Patriots are assured of hosting a divisional playoff game on Sunday, January 16 at 4:30 p.m. A limited number of tickets have been reserved for a public sale. Those tickets will go on sale on Friday, Jan. 7, 2011 at noon through Ticketmaster.

Prior to 1994, the New England Patriots hosted just one playoff game in the franchise’s first 34 seasons. When the Patriots host the divisional playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 16, it will be the 13th playoff game the Patriots have hosted since Robert Kraft purchased the franchise 17 years ago. Historically, that home-field advantage has helped propel the Patriots throughout the playoffs, as they have won an NFL-best 11 of those 12 home playoff games.

A limited number of tickets were reserved for a private sale to Patriots season ticket holders and Patriots season ticket wait list members this week. The tickets reserved for the public sale will be made available through Ticketmaster starting at noon on Friday, Jan. 7.

All Patriots playoff ticket orders will be processed through Ticketmaster. Playoff tickets will NOT be sold at the Gillette Stadium Ticket Office. Ticket orders can be processed online at or by phone by calling 800-745-3000. Visa, a proud sponsor of the National Football League and the New England Patriots, will be the only accepted form of payment.
Details for Friday’s public sale are listed below:
        Sale Date:                   Friday, Jan. 7, 2011
        Time:                            12:00 p.m. ET
        Where:                        Ticketmaster Phone Center or on-line at        Phone #:                      800-745-3000
        Payment:                    Visa debit or credit card only
        Limits:                          There will be a 6 ticket limit per person
The dates and times for the upcoming NFL playoff games are listed below:
Saturday, January 8, 2011
4:30 pm – NFC Wild Card Playoff – New Orleans at Seattle (NBC-TV)
8:00 pm – AFC Wild Card Playoff – New York Jets at Indianapolis (NBC-TV)
Sunday, January 9, 2011
1:00 pm – AFC Wild Card Playoff – Baltimore at Kansas City (CBS-TV)
4:30 pm –NFC Wild Card Playoff – Green Bay at Philadelphia (FOX-TV)
Saturday, January 15, 2011
4:30 p.m. – AFC Divisional Playoff – Indianapolis or Kansas City or Baltimore at Pittsburgh (CBS-TV)
8:00 p.m. – NFC Divisional Playoff – Seattle or New Orleans or Green Bay at Atlanta (FOX-TV)
Sunday, January 16, 2011
1:00 p.m. – NFC Divisional Playoff – Philadelphia or Seattle or New Orleans at Chicago (FOX-TV)
4:30 p.m. – AFC Divisional Playoff – Kansas City or Baltimore or New York Jets at New England (CBS-TV)
In the Divisional Playoffs, the division champion with the best record in each conference will host the lowest seeded Wild Card survivor.  Once teams are seeded for the playoffs, positions do not change:

American Football ConferenceNational Football Conference
1.  New England (14-2, AFC East champion)       1.  Atlanta (13-3, NFC South champion)     
2.  Pittsburgh (12-4, AFC North champion)  2.  Chicago (11-5, NFC North champion)
3.  Indianapolis (10-6, AFC South champion)3.  Philadelphia (10-6, NFC East champion)
4.  Kansas City (10-6, AFC West champion)4.  Seattle (7-9, NFC West champion)
5.  Baltimore (12-4)   5.  New Orleans (11-5)
6.  New York Jets (11-5)   6.  Green Bay (10-6)

The AFC (CBS, 6:30 PM ET) and NFC (FOX, 3:00 PM ET) Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 23.

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Rookie DL Deaderick Suspended

Mike Reiss of reported via Twitter Monday night that rookie defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick has apparently been suspended.

Reiss reported that the Patriots have placed the rookie on the reserve/suspended list, citing a source close to the situation.

Past situations generally indicate that a player is placed on that list for conduct considered detrimental to the team, although it’s not known just yet what prompted the decision.

Deaderick was a 7th round pick (247th overall) in last April’s draft and has played fairly well in his rookie season, finishing the year with 10 tackles and two sacks during his limited time on the field.  He missed the Bills game with an injury but was a healthy scratch for their regular season finale against Miami.  Thanks to this suspension, it appears his rookie season is now over.

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Thanks to Oakland, Patriots Picking #17

Following yesterday’s final regular season game action, the 2011 NFL draft order for draft picks 1-20 in the first round has been finalized.

Thanks to the Raiders finishing the season at 8-8, the Patriots will have the 17th overall selection. New England acquired this pick from the Richard Seymour trade two seasons ago. While many fans had hoped to have a top ten selection, it seems less necessary thanks to the tremendous play they’ve gotten from each of their picks from this year’s draft.

It should be an interesting offseason even after this amazing year comes to an end. They have six picks in the first three rounds in April’s draft, which should set them up well for both next year and future seasons.

The good news is one thing is probably certain – thanks to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, it’s doubtful they’ll use one of those selections on a tight end.

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