Interesting feature on Junior Seau

Here’s the link to a good Associated Press story that details the information surrounding Junior Seau’s recent surgery on his left rotator cuff, as well as what the future might hold for the veteran linebacker.

Report: Faulk passes drug test

According to this report in a Louisiana newspaper, Patriots running back Kevin Faulk “has been cleared of any illegal drug use after the results of a controlled substance test were revealed today.” Faulk spoke with the paper, and said he has talked to Head Coach Bill Belichick about the incident.

Pats cut Colvin, Lua

The Patriots have just announced a pair of personnel moves, cutting loose linebackers Rosevelt Colvin and Oscar Lua. Here’s the complete release from the team:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots released linebackers Rosevelt Colvin and Oscar Lua today.

Rosevelt Colvin, 30, has played in 117 career games with 75 starts over nine NFL seasons with the Chicago Bears (1999-2002) and the Patriots (2003-07). Colvin’s career statistics include 414 tackles (293 solo), 52.5 sacks, three interceptions, 18 passes defensed, 13 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries. His 52.5 career sacks rank fifth among all active NFL linebackers.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 250-pound linebacker was signed by the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent on March 11, 2003. Over five seasons with New England, Colvin has played in 61 games with 39 starts and recorded 203 tackles (136 solo), including 26.5 sacks, one interception, eight passes defensed, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. In 2007, he started 10 of the season’s first 11 games and totaled 28 tackles, four sacks and an interception before being placed on the reserve/injured list with a foot injury. He scored his first career touchdown on Oct. 28, 2007, when he returned a fumble 16 yards against the Washington Redskins.

The Indianapolis native led the Patriots with 8.5 sacks in 2006 and also paced the team with 7.0 sacks in 2005. In 2006, Colvin started 15 of 16 games and totaled 26 quarterback hits, a total that was double the next highest on the team. In 2005, he played in every game and started the final 11 contests while finishing fourth on the team with 73 tackles, the second highest total of his career. He played in all 16 games in 2004 and totaled 38 tackles (20 solo), including five sacks. In his first season in New England in 2003, he started the first two games and had two sacks before suffering a season-ending hip injury at Philadelphia on Sept. 14.

Colvin spent the first four seasons of his professional career with Chicago after being selected by the Bears in the fourth round (111th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft out of Purdue. He led the Bears with 10.5 sacks in both 2001 and 2002, becoming the first Chicago player in more than a decade (and the only linebacker in team history) to have a double-digit sack total in consecutive seasons.

Oscar Lua, 23, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round (211th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft out of the University of Southern California. The 6-foot-1-inch, 240-pound linebacker was placed on the reserve/injured list on Sept. 1, 2007 with a knee injury and missed his rookie season.

Pats change up coaching staff

The Patriots have shaken up their coaching staff — here’s the full text of the release just issued by the team:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots have hired veteran coach Dom Capers as special assistant / secondary, appointed Nick Caserio director of player personnel and named Bill O’Brien wide receivers coach. Capers served as the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator in 2007, while Caserio served as New England’s wide receivers coach and O’Brien was a Patriots coaching assistant.

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick on Dom Capers
“I have known Dom for a long time and respect him tremendously as a coach, particularly defensively. To add a coach of his caliber is an outstanding opportunity for us. I look forward to getting to work with Dom and Dean [Pees] immediately.”

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick on Bill O’Brien
“In his first year, Bill made a very positive impact on our offensive staff. We are excited about him building on his experience in the system as he moves into his new role.”

Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli on Nick Caserio
“Nick has exemplified versatility and loyalty to this organization. We are happy to welcome him back to the personnel department where we will benefit from his great understanding of our program.”

Dom Capers is a veteran of 36 years as a coach, including 22 years in the NFL, 16 of which have been as a defensive coordinator or head coach. He spent four seasons as head coach of the Carolina Panthers (1995-98) and five years as head coach of the Houston Texans (2001-05). He has also held defensive coordinator duties for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1992-94), Jacksonville Jaguars (1999-2000) and Miami Dolphins (2006-07).

Capers most recently completed a two-year stint during which he had defensive coordinator responsibilities with the Miami Dolphins, holding the titles of special assistant to the head coach (2006) and defensive coordinator (2007). Last season, the Dolphins’ pass defense was the highest-ranked unit on the team, finishing the season ranked fourth in the NFL. In 2006, Dolphins defensive lineman Jason Taylor won NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors under Capers’ tutelage as the team finished fourth in the league in overall defense.

Prior to joining the Dolphins, Capers served as the Texans’ head coach for the first five years of the franchise’s history. He was hired in January of 2001, more than a year before the team’s inaugural season in 2002.

Capers was also the first head coach of the Carolina Panthers, and in the team’s inaugural season of 1995 set the NFL record for most victories by an expansion team (7) as Capers was selected as the Pro Football Weekly/PFWA Coach of the Year. In 1996, the Panthers finished 12-4, won the NFC West title and advanced to the NFC Championship Game, with Capers sweeping all major Coach of the Year awards that season.

Capers began his pro football coaching career in 1984 as the defensive backs coach for the USFL’s Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars. The Stars won league titles in each of Capers’ two seasons with the team (1984-85). He entered the NFL in 1986, and served a six-year tenure as the New Orleans Saints’ defensive backs coach (1986-91), a period during which the team made three playoff appearances. In 1992, he became the Steelers’ defensive coordinator and served there for three seasons, with Pittsburgh qualifying for the playoffs each year. In 1994 Capers was named the Pro Football Weekly/PFWA Assistant Coach of the Year as the Steelers led the NFL in rush defense. He also earned Pro Football Weekly/PFWA Assistant Coach of the Year honors as the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator in 1999, as Jacksonville led the NFL in scoring defense (13.9 points per game). Capers began his coaching career by spending 12 seasons in the college ranks, beginning with a three-year stint as a graduate assistant at Kent State (1972-74). He went on to serve as a defensive backs coach for Hawaii (1975-76), San Jose State (1977), California (1978-79), Tennessee (1980-81) and Ohio State (1982-83).

Nick Caserio spent the 2007 season as the Patriots’ wide receivers coach after a three-year stint as the Patriots’ director of pro personnel (2004-06). He is entering his eighth season with the Patriots and his eighth in the NFL. In his one season as the Patriots’ wide receivers coach, Caserio tutored a unit that combined for 292 receptions for 3,814 yards and 39 touchdowns – one season after the team’s wide receivers totaled 156 catches for 1,798 yards and 15 touchdowns. The Patriots’ 2007 wide receivers included All-Pro Randy Moss, who set an NFL record with 23 touchdown receptions, and Wes Welker, who tied for the NFL lead with 112 receptions – the highest reception total in NFL history for a player in his first season with a new team.

Caserio has been with the Patriots organization since 2001 and has served in a number of roles in the personnel department and on the coaching staff. Caserio originally joined the Patriots in June 2001 as a personnel assistant and celebrated the Patriots’ first Super Bowl title that season. During that year, his role was expanded to include film breakdown and scouting report preparation for Charlie Weis’s offensive coaching staff. He became an offensive coaching assistant on Bill Belichick’s staff in February 2002. After a season in coaching, Caserio returned to the personnel department in 2003, serving as an area scout that year. He was named the Patriots’ director of pro personnel on February 6, 2004 and spent three years in that role. In addition to his personnel duties, Caserio filled in as the Patriots’ running backs coach while Ivan Fears was on medical leave during 2005 training camp.

Caserio began his coaching career in the collegiate ranks, serving as a graduate assistant at Saginaw Valley State University from 1999-2000. He was a graduate assistant at Central Michigan in the spring of 2001 before joining the Patriots in June 2001.

Caserio attended John Carroll University, where he was a four-year starting quarterback and a teammate of Patriots offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels, who played wide receiver for the Blue Streaks. He left John Carroll as the holder of 16 school records, including most passing yards and most yards of total offense.

Bill O’Brien will enter his first season as an NFL position coach, having begun his pro football career as a offensive coaching assistant with the Patriots in 2007 and working closely with offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels. O’Brien joined the Patriots after coaching 12 seasons in the Atlantic Coast Conference, including tenures at Georgia Tech (1995-2002), Maryland (2003-04) and Duke (2005-06).

O’Brien joined the Duke coaching staff after spending two seasons as the running backs coach at the University of Maryland. In his first season with the Terrapins in 2003, Maryland finished second in the ACC in rushing and defeated West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.

O’Brien spent eight seasons at Georgia Tech (1995-2002), and served as the Yellow Jackets’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in his final two seasons. In addition to his normal duties, he also served as an assistant head coach in 2002 and was Georgia Tech’s recruiting coordinator from 1999-2000. He spent his first three seasons at Georgia Tech as an offensive graduate assistant (1995-97) before beginning a three-year stint as the Yellow Jackets’ running backs coach (1998-2000). In each of O’Brien’s three seasons coaching the running backs, Georgia Tech finished no lower than third in the conference in rushing. During his two-year tenure as offensive coordinator (2001-02), the team played in a bowl game each season. In 2001, under O’Brien’s direction, the Yellow Jackets led the ACC in passing and finished third in the league in scoring.

O’Brien is a native New Englander, hailing from Andover, Mass. He attended Brown University in Providence, R.I., where he was a linebacker and defensive end from 1990-92. O’Brien began his coaching career at Brown, coaching tight ends in 1993 and tutoring inside linebackers in 1994.

Mel Kiper on the draft

Hey everyone … back from some well-earned time off. ESPN conducted a pre-NFL Combine media conference call Monday with NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. Here are a few of his comments.

On the decision facing Bill Parcells and the Miami Dolphins with the No. 1 overall pick …
“He has a decision to make initially about John Beck, and if they don’t feel like John Beck’s the right guy moving forward with, then you look at Matt Ryan. I think Matt Ryan is the kind of quarterback that would fit what Bill wants. … You look at what Drew Bledsoe had coming out and you see some similarities there. I think the first question is, if John Beck’s not their guy, the first pick overall – where do you go? Had they drafted Brady Quinn last year — the previous organization — instead of Ted Ginn, then they wouldn’t be drafting Matt Ryan. Brady Quinn would’ve been their guy moving forward. But, the fact that they went Ted Ginn and then John Beck obviously puts them in a position that instead of utilizing that pick for another position, now they’re pretty much forced to take Matt Ryan.”

On the elite players in this year’s draft …
“If (John) Beck’s not the guy, (Miami) has to take Matt Ryan, but there are guys with equally as good a grade. Glenn Dorsey, (Darren) McFadden, Chris Long, Sedrick Ellis, Jake Long all have grades right in there with Matt Ryan. There are six guys that are a cut above the rest and those are the six.”

On what it will take the Falcons to move into the No. 1 spot …
“Atlanta is going to have to give up pretty much everything they’ve got to get Matt Ryan. He means as much to Miami as he does to Atlanta.”

On LSU’s Glenn Dorsey …
“When Dorsey is at full strength, he is a dominator. What I like about Dorsey is that he gives you that Ray Lewis mentality. He is so energized and football is all that matters. Everybody around him becomes better when he’s on the field. You saw him play through injuries when very few would have been out there playing. He went out there when most guys would have been in street clothes watching on the field. Dorsey is special in that sense – in his approach and attitude.”

On Arkansas running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones …
“McFadden, I like his skill level. I like his talent. I like how he did against elite teams. I like his versatility. The question I have is that he had some fumbling issues this year. Ball security is critical in the NFL. That’s something he’s going to have to work on and something that showed up this year. He’s not the violent, aggressive runner that Adrian Peterson is, but not many running backs are. He’s not a tackle-breaker like Peterson – well, that’s not his forte. When you look at his all-around capabilities, he’s certainly worthy of being a top-five pick.”

“Felix Jones, same thing. He gives you the game-breaking capability. He’s not a guy who will carry the ball 25 times a game. Teams that want a feature back will not look at Felix Jones. They’ll look at McFadden or Mike Hart. He’s not a feature back. For Felix Jones, I think Tampa Bay would be a possibility because there he would be a compliment to what they have.”

On picking a running back high in the draft …
“I would not move up to get a running back unless it was a case where you saw a guy drop significantly. Adrian Peterson was either the first, second or third guy on everybody’s board and he dropped down to seven. He dropped down to five and nobody did anything. He dropped down to six and nobody traded up to get him. He fell right to Minnesota who had a debate. When you see a Peterson drop to seven to trade up for a running back … you can find a running back in the fourth round as good as in the first. You can pick and choose other positions, but consistently in the NFL you can do that at running back.“

On Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long …
“He became a complete player this year. He was a great run-blocker, destructive run-blocker, a better run-blocker than Joe Thomas of Wisconsin was last year. The consensus opinion this year was, ‘Will he be the pass-blocker he needs to be to become a quality left-tackle in this league?’ He proved this year to be that. With his ability and aggressiveness, the team that would want him the most is Kansas City.”

On potential NFL starting quarterbacks in this year’s draft …
“There are at least 12 quarterbacks that are going to have the chance to be starting quarterbacks at some point in their careers. Josh Johnson (University of San Diego) is one of them. He’s got to fill out a little bit, but he’s got talent. I think he’s the kind of guy in the fourth or fifth round you take a look at.”

“(Andre) Woodson (University of Kentucky), I think that hitch at the top of his delivery, that slow release, causes concern. He’s got ideal size. He powers the ball to any point on the field. He works hard. That delivery is going to cause concern, but he didn’t finish strong either. I started dropping his grade in November. He’s in that second or third round mix.”

“Other quarterbacks that are interesting are Caleb Hanie out of Colorado State … Joe Flacco out of Delaware is a second-round pick at worst.”

On Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco …
“He’s very confident and he has that inner-competitiveness. When you talk to him, you can sense that he competes. With his physical tools, you look at him going in the late first or worst second round. Teams that are going to be thinking quarterback — I think the Chicago Bears would be a perfect opportunity and a great spot for him. In Chicago you need someone who can cut through wind and play in those conditions. He flicks that wrist and the ball jumps off his hand. To me he’s got the best arm of any quarterback in this draft.”

On Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan …
“That Sugar Bowl showed that he’s got to put on some weight. He’s got to get a little stronger and all that, maintain that weight right around 200 pounds, not be at 185-190. That’s the big thing, and the delivery is all over the place. The arm strength is decent. He’s borderline arm strength, but he’s okay, and he doesn’t have the great arm – good enough arm. He’s a guy you would say is definitely good enough. … He competes hard and there’s an awful lot to like about Colt Brennan. In the fifth or sixth round he’ll be a nice choice for somebody, but I think the days of thinking second or third round pretty much ended at the Sugar Bowl.”

A player to watch in this year’s draft …
“Another kid that kind of gets lost in the shuffle is Chris Johnson at East Carolina. Keep an eye out for him in the second round. He can return kicks very effectively. He catches the ball downfield exceptionally well. … He moved from a fifth or sixth-rounder in the beginning of the season to second round. He’s a versatile kid with a lot of ability and someone you have to take a good hard look at.”

On Notre Dame’s 3-9 season factoring into the draft …
“I think you look at (John) Carlson, and I think it hurt a little bit because there are some other tight ends out there and that position is pretty good in this Draft. In terms of Carlson, you have to go back and look at what he could do with opportunity. The quarterback play at Notre Dame, as you know, was not very good this year. He can catch the ball and his blocking is accurate. I think at worst he’s a second round pick, definitely second round for Carlson. (Trevor) Laws is just as productive. He gives you everything he has. Here’s another guy who is high-energy and has versatility. I think he’ll be in the third round mix. (Tom) Zbikowski missed some tackles this year. His overall performance level dropped from where it had been. I think if he had come out after his junior year, he probably could have been a second or third round pick, but now I’m thinking fifth or sixth round. And for (John) Sullivan the same thing. I think a late round possibility for Sullivan also.”

On the San Diego Chargers draft needs …
“The Chargers are fortunate because they don’t have many needs. There aren’t many free agents on the team and they have a strong football team. They can feel good about the nucleus of talent they have right now. … They’re solid in all areas.”

On drafting prospects, secrets and risks …
“Coaches are the ones that talk a lot. The fear of organizations is that information is going to get out to teams. The more people know the more people will talk. I’ve had general managers say to me, ‘I wish you didn’t have this guy rated as high.’ I think the days of secrets are over. Who you like and don’t like should stay internal and that is the challenge.”

“Every player drafted is a risk. You can be praised one year and not the next. There are no guarantees.”

“I always say production over potential unless the skills aren’t within a range. If you don’t have production in college, I wouldn’t want the guy high. If you’re not productive in college, how are you going to be productive in the NFL?”

On other NFL Draft analysts and whether he checks their pre-draft rankings …
“I respect everybody’s opinion. We respect one another so much that we don’t want to see what the other has picked. I don’t want to be swayed by anyone. I’m not going to worry about what their ratings are. It’s not out of lack of respect. It is out of respect. … If they’re the same, it happens. I respect everyone that has an opinion. The way I approach it, let the chips fall where they may.”

Carl of “ATHF” celebrates the Patriots’ demise

Not sure if any of you all are fans of the show “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” but they have a character named Carl. He’s an over-the-top buffoon, who, for my money, is the spot on personification of all Giants fans. They’ll occasionally post “rants” from Carl about sports, and the Giants in particular. Here’s the latest one — I imagine there’s a lot of this is going on in New Jersey households this week. (It has some mildly PG-13 language and an … ahem … interesting ending, so if you’re in the workplace or near young ones at home, be forewarned. And stay with it until the very end.)

Here’s to a short offseason:

Monday Morning in Phoenix

Not much to so from here, but I just wanted to add a few notes on how things went down last night after the game, what was one of the most stunning losses in Boston sports history:

•I’m not going to get into the game breakdown too much on this blog entry — you can do that here, with my weekly “10 Things We Learned Last Night” column for Metro. But I can set the scene around the stadium afterward for you. For a New England sports fan, the scene around the stadium at the end of the last night was like something out a sports nightmare: Happy, loud, screaming Giants fans. Just a bad, bad scene. Like something out of a trip to Yankee Stadium in the pre-2004 days.

•For many New England reporters, the whole thing was similarly surreal — it had been over a full calendar year since the Patriots had suffered a loss, and I don’t think many players quite knew how to react. The phrase “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet” was uttered time and again last night by both players and the media.

•I’ve already gotten e-mails on this, so I’ll anticipate more by saying: I don’t think any potential “SpyGate” distractions had any role in the defeat. I think the Giants played a tremendous game. The key for them was to get sustained pressure on Brady, and they were able to do that. For a complete game breakdown — or at least a similar looking contest where a big-time offense was slowed down — I think people would be wise to look at the playoff game between the Giants and the 49ers from the late 1980s (I forget the year) where New York knocked out Joe Montana. I’ll look back in the archives for more on that when I get home.

•Predictably, the mood was somber in the locker room and the interview area. There were a handful of guys who declined interview requests, but most of them were hustled out into the interview area to speak with reporters pretty quickly after the game. I think it says something that cornerback Ellis Hobbs was one of the ones who decided to stay and speak with reporters. He had every right to duck out of there like some of his teammates, but he stayed and answered every question that was posed to him.

•We’ll have more from Phoenix later today.

HUGE ovation for Brady

Well, I think we got an answer as to who might have the home-field edge. Tom Brady just came on the field for warmups (no Jay-Z, as they usually have for him at Gillette–they started playing Jay when some of the Giants came out, though….), and there was a big cheer for the quarterback, who came out, as usual, with the rest of the New England quarterbacks. Brady and the rest of the QBs are out there with the rest of the New England special teamers.

The Giants skill position players–led by Eli Manning–just came out to a loud ovation of their own. The energy level in the place is really starting to build.

You’ve probably gotten word on the inactives, so I won’t bore you with that info. We were all pulling for Troy Brown here in the press box, but, in truth, it’s not much of a shocker. Other than that (no Chad Jackson, Antwain Spann, Wesley Britt, Billy Yates, Stephen Spach and Santonio Thomas), no big surprises. I think no Spach means that the Patriots are pretty happy with the health of Kyle Brady and Ben Watson. (In addition, you always have guys like Ryan O’Callaghan who can fill in as emergency tight ends in a pinch….)

We’ll have at least one more post before the game starts.

More pregame thoughts

The energy level is definitely starting to pick up here inside the University of Phoenix Stadium. (Maybe that has something to do with the sudden change in music–after all, “Horse With No Name” can only put you to sleep, as far as I’m concerned.)

More players are on the field going through workouts, including Tedy Bruschi, who came back out in his warmups after spending some time on the field horsing around with his kids. He got a huge ovation when he stepped on the field. Backup QB Matt Cassel was chatting with Fox Sports announcer Chris Myers on the field as other players–including special teams ace Kelley Washington–went through warmups. On the other side of the football, a handful of Giants are on the field in white T-shirts and red shorts. New York linebacker Antonio Pierce stepped on the field and got a big ovation from Giants’ fans.

Right now, I’m not able to discern a home-field edge for either team, but we’ll keep our ears open as more players hit the field for warmups.

Tedy Bruschi and sons

Don’t know if it’s been shown at home yet, but Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is on the field right now with his family, roughhousing in the far end of the field near the New England end zone. Richard Seymour is also on the field with his family, taking pictures and enjoying the pregame.

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