Pats cut Mixon, Slaughter

The Patriots have just issued the following release:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots have released cornerback Tim Mixon and linebacker T.J. Slaughter.

Slaughter, 30, is a veteran of seven NFL seasons and has played in 78 career games with 32 starts since being selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round of the 2000 NFL Draft (92nd overall). He was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on Feb. 12, 2008. The 6-foot-1-inch, 233-pound linebacker has played for Jacksonville (2000-03), Green Bay (2003), Baltimore (2003-04), New Orleans (2005) and San Francisco (2006). He spent the 2007 season out of football. Slaughter has recorded 358 career tackles (172 solo), two sacks, one interception, eight passes defensed, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 47 special teams tackles.

Mixon, 23, was signed to the Patriots practice squad on Oct. 9, 2007 and spent the remainder of last season as part of the squad. He was signed to the active roster on Feb. 5, 2008. Mixon was originally signed by the Chicago Bears on May 7, 2007 as an undrafted rookie free agent from the University of California. The 5-foot-9-inch, 184-pound cornerback was released by the Bears on Sept. 1, 2007. He was signed to the Cleveland Browns practice squad on Sept. 4, 2007 and was released from the Browns practice squad on Sept. 14, 2007.

Ex-Patriot Patrick dies

The Patriots have just released the following statement:

The New England Patriots are saddened to learn that former punter Charles Michael “Mike” Patrick passed away suddenly Sunday morning in his hometown of Biloxi, Mississippi at the age of 55.

Patrick spent his entire professional football career with the Patriots in four seasons from 1975-78.

Patrick left the Patriots as the team’s third leading punter. He presently ranks fifth on the Patriots’ all-time punting leaders list after accumulating 8,481 yards on 225 attempts in 43 career games with the organization from 1975-78.

After being signed as a rookie free agent in 1975, Patrick burst onto the scene with the Patriots and had his finest professional season as a rookie. In his very first NFL game, he boomed a 62-yard punt against Houston, a punt that was the Patriots’ longest since 1968.

“I think what people would remember most about him is that he was probably the most gregarious, happy-go-lucky guy you would ever meet,” said longtime friend and former Patriots teammate John Smith. “He was the most generous man I’ve ever met and would give you the shirt off his back. He had that great Southern drawl and people were just drawn to him.”

In his collegiate career at Mississippi State University from 1972-74, Patrick claimed several season punting records with the Bulldogs. Patrick still ranks fifth on Mississippi State’s career punting list in punts (171 attempts), yardage (6,999) and average (40.9 yards per attempt).

Memorials may be given to: Hope Haven, P.O. Box 3777, Bay St. Louis, MS 39521.

The funeral service will be held on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 1 p.m. where friends may call from 11 a.m. until service time at the Riemann Family Funeral Home, 274 Beauvoir Rd, Biloxi, MS.

Shawn Crable Q&A, 4/27

Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the transcript of Shawn Crable’s Q&A with the New England media from earlier today:

Q: Do you have any experience playing in a 3-4 defense and how do you see yourself fitting in?
SC: No, not really. But I played a lot of outside linebacker at Michigan. I’m hoping I can just get with the coaches, watch a couple of the veterans and learn from them.

Q: Do you know [Patriots linebacker] Pierre Woods at all?
SC: Yes, we are close friends.

Q: Did he brief you? What has he told you about the Patriots?
SC: No we haven’t talked yet, but I have talked to him in the past and he told me it was a nice program that takes a lot of discipline. They ask you to do what you do and do it well. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him today, but I’m sure he will give me a call. I plan on talking to him within the next hour or so.

Q: How much experience do you have playing with your hand down as opposed to standing up, and which do you think you are more comfortable with at this point?
SC: I have been learning both since I was in high school, so I have never just focused on one of them. Where I am more comfortable, I don’t know. I have been doing both for a while. I will just wait until I get to the coaches and see what they want me to do.

Q: How did an Ohio kid end up at Michigan?
SC: I think I just thought it was a better fit for me. I think it was a great academic school with great football. Also, I’m in love with the color blue so I just think it was a great fit for me.

Q: How excited are you to join Jerod Mayo, two young linebackers on a team that’s adding you to that position?
SC: I’m excited. I talked to him at the combine. He’s a funny guy. I think we will get together, learn together and try to watch people. We will sit back and watch how things flow as we learn. I think we will be very competitive with each other.

Q: How much interest did the Patriots show in you from when your season ended up until this point?
SC: I had a workout with them and came to the facility. I met with the coaches, I don’t know how much interest there was but they got me.

Q: Could you talk about your foster Mom and what she means to you?
SC: She means the world to me. She is an angel. She got me on track. I was a little rough around the edges before I got with her. She took the time, nurtured me and got me on track to where I thought I could do something in college. She’s the one who got me into sports.

Q: Do you owe what has just happened to you to your foster Mom?
SC: Yes, I owe a lot of it to her. I say my prayers every night and pray the best for her.

Q: How long were you in foster care and how did you end up there?
SC: Since I was five I was in foster care. There was a situation with my Mom and that’s how I ended up in foster care. I moved to a couple homes but nothing too major.

Q: Can you talk about your visit here. Jerod [Mayo] yesterday talked about how they quizzed him on how to draw up some plays. What did you talk about in your visit here? Did they test your football IQ?
SC: It was along the same lines. They put stats on the board and I watched them figure out what I have done at Michigan. They drew some plays on the board to see if I could remember them. They wanted to test to see what kind of football IQ I had. Things that you need to decide, what you were supposed to do on the field. They picked my brain about where I was from and things like that. I think most of it was that I met a lot of people and talked to a lot of people in different areas from secretaries to media. A lot of people had a lot of different things to say about what it would be like to be in the organization. It was a great learning experience, also with them picking my brain and seeing what I need.

Q: What do you think of the fact that your offensive coordinator is a McKinley High School graduate?
SC: Hopefully we will win when we play them. When Washington plays McKinley, hopefully we will win.

Jerod Mayo Q&A, 4/26

Here’s the full look at Jerod Mayo’s recently concluded Q&A with the New England media:

Q: Were you surprised that it was the Patriots who called your name and that high?
JM: I definitely was surprised. This is a winning organization and even for them to have a pick this high really surprised me. I’m just overwhelmed and I’m ready to get to New England and play for a great coach and a great team.

Q: Did you have any inclination at all that the Patriots were interested in you?
JM: I had a great visit when I came down there. The coaches and I sat down and talked football for a long time. Like I said, I just had a great visit and I felt like we clicked. I’m just excited, man, I just can’t even explain right now. I just got drafted and I’m just excited. I’m pretty much speechless.

Q: Usually when players think about getting drafted, they think about getting drafted by teams that are rebuilding or not very good. What does it mean to you to come to a team that has been in Super Bowls?
JM: You hit the nail on the head. It’s like a dream come true pretty much. You don’t expect a team that only lost one game last year to have a top 10 pick, but at the same time, they were winning before me and they would be winning even if I’m not there, so I just want to come in and make a contribution and learn from some of the greats at the position.

Q: Given the fact that this team has had such a great history of linebacker play recently, what does it mean to you to be joining that corps?
JM: I can’t help but to be good as long as I listen and take notes and learn from a great coach and a great coaching staff and great guys like Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi and all those guys. I’m just going to be like a sponge and try to take as much in as possible.

Q: Are there guys in the NFL right now who you try to model your game after?
JM: Not at all. I just try to be Jerod Mayo. At the end of the day, I think after playing with [New England] and learning from the coaches here that I will be a good linebacker and you’ll be asking another linebacker about that question. I’m just excited to get there. I feel like, learning from these guys, these are the best. Junior Seau’s a Pro Bowl guy, a Hall of Fame guy. I’m just going to be a sponge and learn from him and hopefully I can become just as good as he is.

Q: If someone has only seen your statistics, is there something they would be missing? What are some of the intangibles you bring to the field?
JM: I feel like I bring a winning nature. The Patriots already have a winning nature. I feel like I bring a work ethic. They already have that as well. You can’t really bring too much to a team that only lost one game in a season. I’m just excited to be in the position that I am and to be able to learn from some of the greats in the game.

Q: Do you feel you’re better suited to play outside or inside?
JM: I don’t have a preference at all. Wherever coach wants to put me, pretty much. I can learn from a couple of the best outside linebackers or I can learn from a couple of the best inside linebackers. So wherever coach wants me to play, I’m willing to play. Like you said, I’ve played all three spots. We even have a 3-4 package in our system at Tennessee and I feel the transition won’t be a problem, but like I said earlier, I am just going to be as sponge and learn from those guys.

Q: You mentioned there was 3-4 package at Tennessee. Where did you play in that package and how often did you guys use that package?
JM: To be honest, I played the inside guy and the outside guy. I know, you’re going to say, “this guy is a versatile guy.” I was fortunate enough to be able to play the outside and the inside. Like I said, wherever coach wants to put me, that’s where I’m willing to play.

Q: As you thought about the draft and who might take you, and if you went to a team that was not as good as this one, did you have a different idea of what your impact would be?
JM: To be honest, my mindset was set on – any team I go to I want to make a contribution, whether it be starting linebacker or on special teams. Whether it be a 1-[15] team or anything like that, I want to make a contribution somehow. The Patriots, they pretty much have their team set in stone. These guys only lost one game last year, I just want to come in and make a contribution whether it’s on special teams or as a starter.

Q: Coach talked about the fact that you had faced the best competition in the SEC. Can you talk about how that helped you prepare for the NFL?
JM: Just having SEC pride… that’s pretty much the minor leagues for the NFL. At the same time, the NFL is a whole new game. The game speed changes, everybody’s good. It’s more of a mental thing I think. Like I said, I’m just going to be a sponge and try to learn form those guys and see how they study film and study tendencies and things like that. Hopefully it won’t be a major adjustment for me.

Q: Over the last couple of years, what kind of preconceived ideas did you have or do you have about the Patriots and that group of linebackers in particular?
JM: That they play hard. They’re always making plays and that they’re winners. They win a lot of games, ever since I’ve been watching those guys. Coach Belichick is great. The 3-4 defense, those guys put a lot of pressure on offenses and that’s the type of defense that I like to play in.

Q: You said a minute ago that you just want to come in and make a contribution. How confident are you that you can come in and make an impact your first year?
JM: To be honest, I’m really confident. When people hear contribution, they think, “Well, this guy is going to come in and get Defensive Rookie of the Year,” And things like that. That’s a goal of mine, but at the same time, you can make a contribution on special teams. That’s one-third of the game. If that’s the case, then that’s the case. If I come in and do become a starter and I want to make a contribution there, that’s a way to go. Any part of the game, any aspect of the game that the coaches want me to play, I feel like I can succeed in.

Q: Coach Belichick said that you were one of the higher rated linebackers on their board in a while and the Patriots, under Coach Belichick, had never drafted a linebacker higher than the fifth round. How does that make you feel that they used a first-round pick, No. 10, on you?
JM: It makes me feel great. He’s a great coach, a Hall of Fame coach. Just to have a compliment like that come from a guy like that, it’s just means the world to me and I can’t wait to get up there in New England and just learn from him, study the game with him and become a great player.

Q: When you made your trip here to New England, what struck you about the organization? I’m assuming you’ve been to other places as well. What was different about the Patriots? What impressed you about the Patriots?
JM: To be honest with you, I had 11 visits during this whole process and there wasn’t an atmosphere that you felt the winning tradition like you did when you walked into the building with the Patriots. I’m not sure if that’s because I watch all of their games, but it was just in my mind. I felt the vibe from the coaches and just from everybody, everybody from [Director of Scouting Administration] Nancy [Meier], I just felt this was a winning organization and I’m just happy to be here.

Q: Coach Belichick has been noted for taking rookies in and pushing them a little bit mentally. Tell us a little bit about what he talked to you about and maybe any mental games he might have played with you.
JM: I wouldn’t say he played any games with me or anything like that. He just told me, “The draft is a crazy thing and you never know what’s going to happen. We would love for you to be a Patriot, but we just don’t know what’s going to happen. If it does happen, then it’ll be a good experience for you.” If it didn’t happen, then he thought I’d be a good player somewhere else. I’m just happy to be a Patriot. I’m just ready to get up there.

Q: I know where your thoughts are now that you’ve been drafted by this team, but when you were growing up what pro football team did you follow? Which players did you try to emulate?
JM: To be honest, growing up in the Hampton, Virginia area, we watched the Washington Redskins and then I started watching Baltimore. They had a great defense. These past few years, the Patriots’ defense has been very stout. I feel like I can be a part of this defense and make contributions. Let me ask you guys a question. What headlines am I going to get about the Mayo last name? What can I expect from you guys? I’ve heard a lot of them, but I was just trying to see what can I expect.

Q: What’s the best one that you’ve seen?
JM: I’ve heard a lot, but ‘Hold the Mayo’ is always going to be the No. 1 thing, but that’s kind of getting played out now. I’m trying to see what you guys are going to throw at me now that I’m coming there.

Q: (Pause) Extra Mayo? How about that?
JM: Oh, so everybody goes quiet now?

[laughter]

Q: Where were you when you got the phone call? Who called you? Where were you? Did you have a draft party with friends and family?
JM: Actually, the plan was to do yard work. I was in the back yard picking up leaves. I know this time of the year, you don’t expect to see leaves, but we have leaves in our backyard. I was picking up leaves with my mom and I couldn’t do it any more after one bag. I was sitting on the porch, just sitting there thinking and Coach Belichick called me. I was very excited. I had a little get together, a little cookout, but nothing big.

Q: Where else did you visit?
JM: There was 11 of them. I might miss a couple, but I’ll give you some. The Bills. Detroit. Pittsburgh. Cleveland. Atlanta. St Louis. Dallas. Somebody help me out.

Q: The Jets?
JM: Yeah, the Jets. I don’t remember. It seems like forever ago. It’s somewhere on the Internet, I promise. Google it.

[laughter]

Q: Where did you think you would wind up?
JM: To be honest, I wasn’t really sure. Wherever I was going to end up, I felt like I was going to go in there and be a sponge. I was just fortunate to come to a program that’s already established with a winning tradition. I wasn’t really sure. I was just waiting to hear my name called.

Q: One reason that Belichick hasn’t draft linebackers this early is because they say that the defense is very hard to learn. Did you see any schemes at all and did he bring that up at all? Maybe you were a little different and you could take it on maybe earlier than most?
JM: No, as a matter of fact, when I went up there for my visit, we sat down and went over a couple of plays, adjustments, things like that. Then, they took it off the board and had me draw the plays back up with adjustments. I feel pretty confident in my skills to learn systems and things like that, but they taught me the very basic plays. I’m expecting it to get a lot more difficult. But at the same time, I feel like learning from the great guys that they have in that linebackers’ room that I’ll be able to catch on pretty fast.

Q: How much do you enjoy watching film?
JM: Oh, I love watching film. I’m always trying to get a competitive edge whether it’s in the film room or in the weight room, anywhere. I’m always trying to become a better football player. That’s just me.

Q: Did it catch you off guard that you went 10th overall today?
JM: Like I said, I came into today with no expectations. I was hoping for the best and expecting the worst. I had no expectations. I wouldn’t say that I knew, but I was hoping it would be somewhere in the first, but I just didn’t know where.

More from BB on Mayo

Here’s the rest of Belichick on Jerod Mayo:

On the three third-round picks possibly changing their approach…
I wouldn’t rule anything out. We’re not afraid to trade them, one way or another. We’ll just see how it goes — we’ll take each situation as it comes up. Whether than means moving up to the second or taking players or looking at next year, we’ve done all those things. I don’t know how it’s going to go. I don’t know what the options are going to be. We’ll evaluate whichever ones come up and do what we think is best for the football team.

When was Mayo first on your radar?
Really, after the juniors declared and he had a very good combine workout. He was a guy that I think everybody scouted in the SEC, that scouted that conference, knew about. He’s a very productive player down there for Tennessee, and has been for a couple of years now. He had a good workout. He was a productive player in every game. He’s a versatile guy. We brought him up and visited with him. He’s a very intelligent player. He’s a good football player. He’s smart. He understands schemes and concepts. He runs the defense, makes the calls, and makes adjustments. I think he has a lot to offer.

On possibly getting better inside last season…
I think he was pretty good when he was outside. He played both Mike and Sam — those are 4-3, off-the-line positions, and in our 3-4 defense, we have only two off-the-line positions. But we sometimes adjust the front and he plays in those different spots and so forth. But he certainly improved over the course of the year. But he was pretty good at the start of the year, and he was pretty good last year and he was pretty good the year before that as well. He’s been a very productive player in a top program in a top conference at a couple of different spots, and that includes against the run and against the pass and in fourth down and in the kicking game. I don’t think there’s much more he could have done.

On his knee surgeries – are they a concern?
No, no. Of course not. Our doctors feel fine about him. I wish my good knees were as good as his bad ones. [laughs] I think he’s healthy, he’s been a very durable guy and a very productive player.

On his role next year?
We’ll put him out there with everybody else and we’ll see how it goes.

On whether or not he’s ranked higher than linebackers in past drafts?
He’s one of the better linebackers we’ve seen in a while. We haven’t been picking at this point in the draft, either. I’m glad we’re picking him where we were and for the right reasons. I’m sure there have been other good players than have come through the last couple of years, but they were so far away from where they were getting picked, there wasn’t much consideration.

On not drafting linebackers early —- what Mayo offers that some others might not…
It just worked out that way. It’s not a grand plan to take them or not take them. We evaluate all the players, grade them and then when you pick, you take a look at the players that are available and do what’s best for the football team. It worked out that way this year — it could have worked out differently in other years. That’s the way it fell, and whenever we pick, we do what we feel is best for the team, and sometimes, those options, we don’t control them.

On what this might mean for Seau…
That’s not really a factor.

On his improvement…
I think everybody gets better the more experience and more playing time, but he’s pretty good and he’s been pretty good. It’s not like he was no good and then, gradually … he’s been a productive player since he’s been there. And that’s a top conference and those are against some of the top players — the McFadden’s and the Georgia’s and the Florida’s. There are a lot of good football teams. I don’t think you have any problem buying into him in any of those years and any of those games.

More from BB on Mayo

On why a linebacker instead of a defensive back…
We did what we thought was best for the football team. There’s a lot of good players on the board. There were good players who went before us and there are good players that were there after we picked Jerod. But that was the pick we thought that was best for the football team. And I’m glad we have them.

On the trade with New Orleans developing today or last night…
We kind of anticipated a scenario and, you know, New Orleans was certainly looking for Sedrick Ellis — that was no big secret. And when he was still on the board there, that led to the next step of going through and executing that trade.

On possible contingencies that meant the Patriots could have held on to that pick…
I don’t know. We didn’t go through all the hypotheticals. We just took the situation as it came up and we were on the clock and we had a trade partner and we felt like it was a good trade for our football team, and I think it was and so we did it.

BB on Mayo

Here’s part of Bill Belichick’s opening statement after the Patriots selected Jerod Mayo. We’ll have more soon:

“We’re excited to have Jerod join our organization. He’s a pretty versatile player — he did a lot of different things at Tennessee. He played inside, he played outside. He played in their sub defense, he played in the kicking game. He’s a smart kid, runs well, pretty physical player. I think he’ll be a good addition to our football team. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Funny Mayo story

Here’s a good story that’s more about the pre-draft process than Mayo himself, but it uses the linebacker as part of the lead:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_563376.html

Links on Jerod Mayo

Here’s an ESPN chat with Mayo from earlier this spring:

http://proxy.espn.go.com/chat/chatESPN?event_id=20270

A feature on him from earlier this month:

http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2008/apr/24/mayo-ready-to-be-part-of-tradition/

And Don Banks made the call:

http://money.cnn.com/cnnsi/2008/writers/don_banks/04/25/mock.draft7.page1/index.html

We’ll have more shortly….

Another trade?

We are hearing here — like you guys are likely hearing at home — that the Patriots are likely to trade down again to a spot in the teens. We’ll keep you posted.

Next Page →