Archive for July, 2012

Patriots Broadcaster Gil Santos Spent Five Weeks in Coma This Offseason

The voice of the Patriots was nearly silenced this offseason.

According to an article in the Metrowest Daily News this morning long time radio announcer Gil Santos found himself in a medically induced coma that lasted 5 weeks after being diagnosed with double pneumonia in one lung, single pneumonia in the other, blood poisoning and a pulmonary obstruction shortly after the Super Bowl.

Santos reportedly started feeling poorly during last season and just got worse from there.  He ended up in the hospital following a casual breakfast with his wife at a local diner in Middleboro where he was taken away by ambulance.

“I came out of the men’s room and staggered a little bit so Roberta asked Jack (Spinetto), who runs the diner, to help me out to the car,” Santos told the newspaper. “On the way out, they decided that I should go to the emergency room and I said, ‘OK. Fine.’

“So an ambulance came, they put me in and we’re doing down (Route) 44 to the emergency room at Morton and I don’t remember getting there. The next thing I remember, I was asking Roberta where I was and what happened. That was five weeks later. I’d had the last rites three times.”

After the event he’s spent much of the offseason learning how to use his arms again as well as how to walk again, although he plans on being ready for this season.

Santos is reportedly going to retire after this season, joining former fellow commentator Gino Cappelletti who is also retired.

You can read the complete article here.

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Vikings Staff Highlight Patriots Tight End Tandem


The play of Rob Gronkowski (pictured) and teammate Aaron Hernandez has other teams trying to match their success. (FILE:USPresswire)

The Patriots have obviously caught everyone’s attention thanks to the offensive success of tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski over the past two seasons, and it appears that the Minnesota Vikings would like to see the same thing from two of their own players this season.

According to Jeremy Fowler of the Pioneer Press, the Vikings staff recently gave tight ends Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson video clips of the tight end sets from every Patriots game last season, and the two are now trying to implement it out in Minnesota.

“If we can take both of those aspects of their game and implement it to what we’re doing here, we have a chance to be successful,” said Rudolph, the Vikings’ second-round draft pick a year ago who has a similar build to Gronkowski at 6 feet 6 inches and 258 pounds.

Fowler also writes that they’re taking a conservative approach when it comes to “mirroring” New England.

“To compare us to those two tight ends is not something I’m going to do right now,” said Carlson, who signed a five-year, $25 million deal in March after four seasons with Seattle. “We’ve got a lot of work to do; we have a long ways to go. It’s been done. It’s being done out there. We have to work to improve to get toward that point.”

You can read the complete piece here.

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BY THE NUMBERS: Spotlight on Welker and Hernandez


Welker could potentially be entering his final season as a Patriot. (FILE:USPresswire)

There’s been some interesting discussion recently regarding the contract status of Wes Welker and whether or not one of the issues may be the team wanting to instead focus on making sure they can keep tight end Aaron Hernandez in the fold long-term.

It’s lead to some heated debates among fans who argue over whether or not the Patriots should make more of an effort to make sure Welker stays in Foxboro, or to let him go to make sure the tandem of Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski remain intact.

Obviously there will be some other factors that will weigh into whether or not the Patriots could still find a way to keep him in Foxboro. However, with that in mind, here are some numbers breaking down the performance of both players over the past two seasons.  

I’ve broken it down by taking a look at the two players over the first 8 games and the final 8 in each season, including performances by down, redzone, etc. These numbers don’t include postseason numbers, but those can still be found at the links at the end of this entry.

Here is the complete breakdown:

2010 FIRST 8 GAMES:

Aaron Hernandez: 29 receptions (targeted 37 times), 388 yards (13.4 YPC), 0 TD’s
Wes Welker: 40 receptions (targeted 56 times), 319 yards (8.0 YPC), 3 TD’s

During that span, here’s a look at how each one performed on 1st down, 2nd down, etc.:

1st Down:
Aaron Hernandez: 
13 receptions (targeted 16 times), 147 yards (11.3 YPC), 0 TD’s
Wes Welker: 15 receptions (targeted 17 times), 111 yards (7.4 YPC), 0 TD’s

2nd Down:
Wes Welker: 14 receptions (targeted 20 times), 114 yards (8.1 YPC), 2 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 9 receptions (targeted 11 times), 110 yards (12.2 YPC), 0 TD’s

3rd Down:
Aaron Hernandez: 7 receptions (targeted 10 times), 131 yards (18.7 YPC), 0 TD’s
Wes Welker: 11 receptions (targeted 18 times), 94 yards (8.5 YPC), 1 TD

RED ZONE RECEIVING:

Wes Welker: 6 receptions (targeted 9 times), 34 yards (5.7 YPC), 3 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 2 receptions (targeted 5 times), 16 yards (8.0 YPC), 0 TD’s

1ST DOWN RED ZONE:

Wes Welker: 1 reception (targeted 2 times), 4 yards (4.0 YPC), 0 TD
Aaron Hernandez:
 0 receptions (targeted 1 time), 0 yards, 0 TD

2ND DOWN RED ZONE:

Wes Welker: 3 receptions (targeted 4 times), 20 yards (6.7 YPC), 2 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 0 receptions (targeted 1 time), 0 yards, 0 TD

3RD DOWN RED ZONE:

Aaron Hernandez: 2 receptions (targeted 3 times), 16 yards (8.0 YPC), 0 TD
Wes Welker: 2 receptions (targeted 2 times), 10 yards (5.0 YPC), 1 TD

2010 FINAL 8 GAMES:

Wes Welker: 46 receptions (targeted 67 times), 529 yards (11.5 YPC), 4 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 16 receptions (targeted 27 times), 175 yards (10.9 YPC), 6 TD’s*

*Hernandez didn’t appear to be himself later in the second half of his rookie season, with fans later finding out he suffered a hip injury that caused him to need offseason hip surgery.

Once again, during that span here’s a look at how each one performed on 1st down, 2nd down, etc.:

1st Down:
Wes Welker: 21 receptions (targeted 27 times), 262 yards (12.5 YPC), 2 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 5 receptions (targeted 9 times), 42 yards (8.4 YPC), 2 TD’s

2nd Down:
Wes Welker: 
17 receptions (targeted 25 times), 185 yards (10.9 YPC), 2 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 3 receptions (targeted 6 times), 38 yards (12.7 YPC), 2 TD’s

3rd Down:
Aaron Hernandez: 
7 receptions (targeted 11 times), 90 yards (12.9 YPC), 2 TD’s
Wes Welker: 7 receptions (targeted 14 times), 71 yards (10.1 YPC), 0 TD’s

RED ZONE RECEIVING:

Wes Welker: 8 receptions (targeted 12 times), 82 yards (10.3 YPC), 3 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 6 receptions (targeted 7 times), 24 yards (4.0 YPC), 6 TD’s

1ST DOWN RED ZONE:

Wes Welker: 3 receptions (targeted 3 times), 39 yards (13.0 YPC), 1 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 2 receptions (targeted 3 times), 11 yards (5.5 YPC), 2 TD’s

2ND DOWN RED ZONE:

Wes Welker: 2 receptions (targeted 4 times), 23 yards (11.5 YPC), 2 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 2 receptions (targeted 2 times), 3 YDS (1.5 YPC), 2 TD’s

3RD DOWN RED ZONE:

Wes Welker: 3 receptions (targeted 5 times), 20 yards (6.7 YPC), 0 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 2 receptions (targeted 2 times), 8 yards (4.0 YPC), 0 TD

——–

2011 FIRST 8 GAMES:

Wes Welker: 66 receptions (targeted 93 times), 960 yards (14.5 YPC), 6 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 33 receptions (targeted 50 times), 333 yards (10.1 YPC), 5 TD’s

1st Down:

Wes Welker: 28 receptions (targeted 37 times), 458 yards (16.4 YPC), 2 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 19 receptions (targeted 24 times), 172 yards (9.1 YPC), 4 TD’s

2nd Down:

Wes Welker: 25 receptions (targeted 34 times), 323 yards (12.9 YPC), 2 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 10 receptions (targeted 16 times), 146 yards (14.6 YPC), 1 TD

3rd Down:

Wes Welker: 11 receptions (targeted 20 times), 168 yards (15.3 YPC), 1 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 4 receptions (targeted 10 times), 15 yards (3.8 YPC), 0 TD’s

RED ZONE RECEIVING:

Wes Welker: 11 receptions (targeted 13 times), 82 yards (7.5 YPC), 5 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 7 receptions (targeted 13 times), 52 yards (7.4 YPC), 5 TD’s

1ST DOWN RED ZONE: 

Aaron Hernandez: 5 receptions (targeted 7 times), 32 yards (6.4 YPC), 4 TD’s
Wes Welker:  4 receptions (targeted 4 times), 20 yards (5.0 YPC), 1 TD

2ND DOWN RED ZONE:

Wes Welker: 4 receptions (targeted 4 times), 50 yards (12.5 YPC), 2 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 10 receptions (targeted 16 times), 146 yards (14.6 YPC), 1 TD

3RD DOWN RED ZONE:

Wes Welker: 2 receptions (targeted 4 times), 6 yards (3.0 YPC), 1 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 0 receptions (targeted 1 time), 0 yards, 0 TD

2011 FINAL 8 GAMES: 

Wes Welker: 56 receptions (targeted 80 times), 609 yards (10.9 YPC), 3 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez: 46 receptions (targeted 63 times), 577 yards (12.5 YPC), 2 TD’s

1st Down:

Aaron Hernandez: 25 receptions (targeted 29 times), 288 yards (11.5 YPC), 1 TD
Wes Welker: 23 receptions (targeted 31 times), 284 yards (12.3 YPC), 2 TD’s

2nd Down:

Wes Welker: 18 receptions (targeted 25 times), 171 yards (9.5 YPC), 1 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 13 receptions (targeted 21 times), 166 yards (12.8 YPC), 1 TD

3rd Down:

Wes Welker: 15 receptions (targeted 24 times), 154 yards (10.3 YPC), 0 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 7 receptions (targeted 12 times), 98 yards (14.0 YPC), 0 TD

RED ZONE RECEIVING:

Wes Welker: 6 receptions (targeted 7 times), 51 yards (8.5 YPC), 1 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 5 receptions (targeted 11 times), 25 yards (5.0 YPC), 1 TD

1ST DOWN RED ZONE:

Wes Welker: 1 reception (targeted 1 time), 10 yards (10 YPC), 0 TD’s
Aaron Hernandez:  
2 receptions (targeted 4 times), 4 yards (2 YPC), 0 TD’s

2ND DOWN RED ZONE: 

Wes Welker: 2 receptions (targeted 3 times), 7 yards (3.5 YPC), 1 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 1 reception (targeted 2 times), 1 yard (1.0 YPC), 1 TD

3RD DOWN RED ZONE:

Wes Welker: 3 receptions (targeted 3 times), 34 yards (11.3 YPC), 0 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 2 receptions (targeted 5 times), 20 yards (10.0 YPC), 0 TD

You can find more numbers in our Statistics Database, located via these links:

2010 Stats Database – CLICK HERE
2011 Stats Database – CLICK HERE

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Patriots receiver Julian Edelman has come a long way as a punt returner in three seasons in New England. (FILE:USPresswire)

Patriots special teams coach Scott O’Brien had some good things to say about Julian Edelman on Sunday, telling reporters that for a guy who didn’t really have any experience returning punts out of college, he’s performed pretty well so far as a pro.

“In Julian’s case, he’s one example of a lot of examples through the history of the National Football League – had no experience doing it, had some natural instincts, pretty good ball skills. Again, it was a learning curve for him, not only catching the ball, understand what the ball was doing in the air, how it was going to come down and worked really hard on it.

The biggest improvement for him, like all young guys, is not only learning our schemes and what our strategies are for certain situations but field awareness. When you’re on the field, what’s happening to the coverage that you’re going to face? What do you have to do as a returner? What decision do I have to make? It’s hard for young guys, even if they have experience, coming in with us at the beginning, let alone a guy who has never really done it. He’s worked hard. He’s still working on it. He still has some things that he has to improve on now but he’s more comfortable now. It’s like he plays everything before the play even happens and that’s what you’re looking for. “

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In an entry this afternoon, NFL.com’s Albert Breer has been in Foxboro to get a glimpse of this year’s Patriots team and it appears he’s been impressed by what he’s seen.


According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, Tom Brady has been sharp so far during training camp. (FILE:USPresswire)

According to Breer Tom Brady has been “sharp as ever”, with the 35-year old veteran still looking “very much on top of his game” early on during training camp:

Brady’s sharp as ever. OK, so we just went over how this could be the twilight of Brady’s career? With the caveat that things can change in a hurry (See: Manning, Peyton), be aware of this: He still looks very much on top of his game. It’s hard not to appreciate how every receiver is hit in stride, with a chance to get upfield. Or how every teammate is having his feet held to fire constantly, with Brady just a drop or a bad route away from lighting into someone. Or why it works for him because of the massive credibility he has with teammates. Brady mentioned to me on Saturday that he thinks “the great part about being around here is that the expectation is only to win, and there’s nothing else. It’s not about selling tickets or t-shirts, it’s to win football games.” And that is just it for No. 12. It’s easy to respond to someone like that when it really, genuinely is as much about you as it is him.

Breer also has a note on Wes Welker’s potential replacement after this season, which he feels may not be a receiver at all.  Instead, he believes it could be Aaron Hernandez that the Patriots may be more interesting in retaining long-term instead of Welker and he equates it to what happened with Brandon Stokely in Indianapolis where he was ultimately replaced by another tight end – Dallas Clark.

He also gives additional thoughts on the defense, receivers, and more in this entry.

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Nate Ebner isn’t a stranger to hard work and dedication.

As a matter of fact, it was his work ethic that allowed him to make a name for himself in college, with his former defensive coordinator at Ohio State, Paul Haynes, telling NESN.com that Ebner was one of their most valuable players and that he was the type of guy who could do almost anything.

Now that he’s in camp he’s battling for a role with the team that decided to take a chance on him in the sixth round back in April, and he’s in a situation where he’s once again going to be forced to make himself stand out.  Patriots special teams coach Scott O’Brien talked briefly about the rookie on Sunday, telling reporters that it’s a little early to tell what type of role he’ll fill at this point.

“I think physically he has the skill set to have a chance to do what he did in college here and to compete here,” said O’Brien.  ”That opportunity is going to present itself but as far as being a skill guy, to us, it’s really too early to tell because with all of our young players, we’re starting with them at a position with every phase so they can just get acclimated to terminology, techniques, before you can even advance.

“What we always try to do is to put our players in positions, no matter what it is, with us in the kicking game, it’s different from the standpoint of they have to have the physical skills with what we’re asking them to do. It’s not like being a running back or being a linebacker on offense or defense. We’re putting them in positions to do something physically that they have to be able to have the physical skills to do what we’re asking them to do and then work on the technique involved there.”

Ebner, who earned the nickname “Leonidas” in college – a Greek God hero who many remember from the movie 300 – is now in the position of trying to do enough to battle his way onto the final roster.  It will be a daunting task, especially considering he’ll need to impress not only on special teams, but also likely on defense.  As we know a lot of the “bubble” guys really need to be versatile and able to fill in at multiple positions, which according to those who have been in camp it looks like it’s up to Ebner to make an impact at safety.

According to O’Brien at this point Ebner is still just trying to get the terminology down and get comfortable out on the field.

“He’s like all of our young players,” said O’Brien.  ”He’s starting at a position, he’s learning the system and he’s going out and working his technique. Overall, all the young guys are working hard and doing a pretty good job.”

He’ll be an interesting player to keep an eye on for the next few weeks.  Training camp is a grind and it generally comes down to which player can outwork the others when the final roster spots are up for grabs. He hasn’t dressed the last two days after sitting out again on Sunday, so for now he’s still got a long way to go to prove himself.

On his Twitter Bio he says he’s got a “hard working mentality” and he’s “giving it all with the New England Patriots”.  Most project him to be a practice squad player, but we’ll have to wait and see when he finally gets out onto the field if he’ll be able to make enough of an impact to do more in the coming months.

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2012 Patriots Training Camp Photos

Here are some great photos through the first few days of training camp:



Aaron Hernandez during drills during Patriots training camp.




Another great action photo of Aaron Hernandez during Patriots training camp.



Head coach Bill Belichick with tight end Rob Gronkowski and quarterback Tom Brady.



A photo of Bill Belichick during Patriots training camp.



Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with tight end Aaron Hernandez.



Brandon Bolden and Rob Gronkowski during training camp.



Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd during Patriots training camp.



Chandler Jones during New England Patriots training camp.



Another photo of Chandler Jones during Patriots training camp.



Patriots runningback Danny Woodhead during training camp.



Wide receiver Deion Branch during Patriots training camp.



Rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower during Patriots training camp.



Another great photo of rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower.



Wide receiver Julian Edelman battling against cornerback Kyle Arrington.



Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.



Another photo of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.




Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.



A great action shot of wide receiver Wes Welker.

Photos are courtesy of US Presswire and are used with licensed permission in partnership with USA Today.

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Five Quick Thoughts as Training Camp Gets Set to Begin

If you talk to most Patriots fans it’s amazing how many have already forgotten that last year’s bunch nearly won a championship.

Oddly enough, when you compare this year’s group to last year’s, it’s hard not to imagine that they’ll have just as good of a shot as anyone at potentially making a return trip.

That being said, there are several things that really need to go right in order for that to happen.  Considering the amount of bad luck this team has seen personnel and injury-wise over the past several seasons, one would have to believe they’re due for things to go their way.  However, here are a few that need to work out in order for them to have an easier road when things start over once again in September:

1) Devin McCourty needs to return to form – Give head coach Bill Belichick credit last season for moving the 2nd-year defensive back around when it was clear he was struggling.  Moving McCourty to safety ended up being a terrific move and unfortunately it was a combination of his difficulties in coverage along with injuries that put him there.  The good news is they nearly won a title that way and his better play down the stretch hopefully gave him back a little confidence.  All indications appear to be he’ll be back at corner this season and if all goes well, he’ll get back to being the guy we saw two seasons ago.

2) Brandon Lloyd needs to live up to the expectations - Last season only one receiver had any real production for New England, and that was Wes Welker who accounted for 30% of  Tom Brady’s completions with 122.  From there Deion Branch was the next closest with just 51, while Chad Ochocinco, Matthew Slater, and Tiquan Underwood all combined for 23 catches – 15 of which belonged to the now departed Ochocinco.  From there it was all Rob Gronkowski (90 catches for 1327 yds & 17 TD’s) and Aaron Hernandez (79 catches for 910yds & 7 TD’s) carrying the offense, with both tight ends becoming the focus.

Needless to say it’s going to be tough to ask Gronkowski have a repeat of a record breaking year, especially coming off of the ankle injury he suffered in February’s loss to New York in the Super Bowl.  As a result Lloyd could potentially be the dynamic receiver they needed last year that kept them from really opening up the offense and creating even more opportunities for each of the other receivers to make plays.  If Lloyd works out as advertised, we could really see something special this season. The good news is so far Lloyd and Tom Brady appear to be on the same page and it’s going to be interesting to see that dynamic up close as training camp begins.

3 ) Ras-I Dowling needs to pick up where he left off – Dowling is the X-Factor in the secondary and could be an interesting piece of this season’s puzzle in the defense.  The second year defensive back played surprisingly well early on last season before getting injured, but he’s been off to a tough start so far as most reports during minicamps said he looked a little stiff.  However, should Dowling be able to bounce back after undergoing offseason hip surgery and step back in at cornerback, it would give them the dynamic of having McCourty and Dowling at left and right corner respectively and move Kyle Arrington back to covering slot receivers.  If all three can stay healthy we could be in for quite a season.

 


With BenJarvus Green-Ellis gone, Stevan Ridley needs to step up this season. (FILE:USPresswire)

4) The health of Vince Wilfork – If ever there was a guy who gets taken for granted because he’s always on the field and ready to go, it’s Wilfork.  The 30 year old has missed just six games over the past seven seasons and he’s been the heart and soul of the defensive line.  The interesting thing about Wilfork is the fact that you’d almost have to believe he’s one of the big reasons they’ve been able to work with so many different players over the past several seasons.  We’ve heard plenty of stories over the years of how much new players appreciate his insight as they try and pick up the defense, as well as how great he’s been in moments of adversity in keeping everyone focused.  We’ve seen plenty of other teams melt down in those situations, and that’s one attribute that really can’t be overlooked and it just emphasizes how important Wilfork is to this football team.

5) Stevan Ridley needs to live up to the hype – Say what you want about BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but his loss is going to be a big one if Ridley can’t build off his rookie season.  Green-Ellis was never a flashy guy by any means, but for the most part he did just enough to get the job done.  More importantly is the fact he’s never fumbled the football, and for the most part he also wasn’t really injury prone.  Obviously he had the toe injury last season, but he never missed a lot of time and was consistently in the line-up.  It’s going to be interesting to see how Ridley handles what will likely be an increased workload this season, and hopefully he can meet the expectations the team appears to have for him.

With camp finally set to begin, we’ll finally get to see first hand how the story lines begin to play out.  They did a terrific job of loading up with what should be a better group during the offseason, and it should definitely be a competitive preseason.  It will be tough to improve on what ended up being a solid performance in 2011, but hopefully if nothing else we’ll see a bit more consistency on both sides of the football during the 2012 campaign.

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