We survived another work week, and as we get set to kick back and relax once today comes to an end, savor your coffee and get caught up on a little news in this week’s final rundown:
Knighton Joins Patriots – New England made a big move on Thursday by adding free agent nose tackle Terrance Knighton, giving them a massive body inside that should help solidify the interior part of their defensive line heading into 2016.
According to ESPN, the 6’3″, 354-pounder’s deal is for one-year and worth a reported $4.5 million, which was reportedly similar to what Washington was offering to try and keep him from leaving. However, having played for Denver the year before and reaching a Super Bowl, that’s a feeling he may have missed and the thought of getting back there may have influenced his decision.
Knighton’s now-former teammate, Chris Baker, sounded pretty confident that the two would remain together to try and win one in Washington after he told 106.7 The Fan’s Chris Russell Wednesday that he couldn’t see why Washington would let him leave.
“It would mean the world, to me and to him, to be able to chase the Lombardi dream again together,” Baker told Russell. “It’s been a childhood dream for us. To actually live it out this past year, I had my best season of my career with him so I don’t see why we should get rid of him.”
Instead, Baker is on his own as Knighton now heads to New England where the chance to win a title is a very real possibility. One area to watch is the fact the man nicknamed, “Pot Roast”, had a rough 2015 season in Washington, reportedly dealing with “severe cluster headaches.” It’s a problem that has apparently plagued him since he was 14 and an issue he dealt with for most of the second half of last season, including forcing him to miss Washington’s match-up against New England.
He explained to ESPN last November just how debilitating the pain he deals with is.
“Usually when you get these headaches you want to bang your head through a wall,” said Knighton, who according to the Cleveland Clinic is among the statistic of 1 in 1000 people affected by it, with 90% being male. “I’m pretty sure football could do some damage to it, if you do have one [in a game]. I haven’t had to deal with that. I would be skeptical about going back on the field, because it’s so debilitating. It would be hard to concentrate on the game.”
With Knighton out of the line-up the Patriots took advantage, with LeGarrette Blount rushing for 129 yards on 29 carries along with a touchdown, his largest performance of 2015.
He’s a big presence and the signing is similar to when the Patriots added Ted Washington in a trade with the Bears back in 2003, which helped them build a defense that was 6th against the run and tied for 2nd in points per game allowed.
That signing worked out pretty well, with the Patriots winning their second championship.
That’s obviously what Knighton is likely hoping for, and it should certainly be fun to see how he fits in. For now, he already has the approval of newly-signed teammate Chris Long, who Tweeted, “Damn right.” shortly after the news broke.
With Bennett, Patriots Look Unstoppable – USA Today took a look at the Patriots personnel on the offensive side of the football, and the prospect of what they’ll take in to 2016 at this point looks pretty formidable and should create some serious match-up nightmares.
That’s highlighted mostly by newly acquired tight end Martellus Bennett, who is expected to be tough to deal with when he’s paired with Rob Gronkowski in the offense. The 6’6″ Bennett has the size and speed that should make things tough on opposing defenses.
Factor in Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis, and all of a sudden you’re looking at a group that essentially is going to have either a linebacker or a safety trying to defend a more athletic player. That should allow Tom Brady to have a field day in 2016.
Steven Ruiz writes that, when it comes to man-to-man defense, it’s obviously tough if no one gets open. What he believes will give them an advantage will be those moments where they go into a no-huddle and prevent a team from substituting, which should create a mismatch.
“There are no voids in man coverage — a quarterback, even one as good as Brady, can do nothing if no receivers get open,” wrote Ruiz. “But good luck trying to match-up with this receiving corps man-to-man.”
He also points out that this was a team where the last time they had two good tight ends and could play at a fast-pace, they averaged nearly 35 points per game and made it to a Super Bowl.
It’s definitely a talented bunch and hopefully with Bennett and their other weapons, Brady and the Patriots will be able to be back at a championship level in 2016.
Ebner Preparing For First Rugby Match – Patriots special-teamer and defensive back Nate Ebner is off chasing his Olympic dreams and is trying to earn a spot to make the United States’ rugby team for a shot to compete in Rio.
Ebner, who is working with other athletes at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, is enjoying the experience and has no regrets about his decision.
“I figured, why not, man? You’ve only got one chance to do something like this,” Ebner told NBC San Diego. “It’s definitely once in a lifetime, for me anyway. I think I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t try.”
His first rugby competition since 2012, when he played at Ohio State, will be next week when he takes part in a tournament in Hong Kong. It’s one step in a story that will be fun to follow, and if it comes to fruition the idea of being a gold medal winner and Super Bowl champion would certainly be an incredible feat. However, for now, he’s not thinking that far ahead.
“I do know it would probably be a humbling, amazing experience that I would never forget,” says Ebner. “If that does happen in the future, maybe I can answer that for you then.”
Gostkowski turns detective – Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski apparently experienced a theft back in January, and it sounds like he ended up playing a key part in solving his own case.
According to the Foxboro Patch, Gostkowski’s Ipad was stolen from his truck, which was parked outside his home in Wrentham at the time the crime occurred. After seeing a series of selfies from a stranger appear on his iCloud account, he teamed up with police and used the Find My iPad app to locate the device.
They reportedly found it in the hands of a 19-year old named Ralphy Olivero, who claimed he had bought it from someone at school. The Patch reports Olivero pleaded no contest in Providence District Court and also received a summons from Wrentham District Court, where he’ll reportedly be arraigned on April 15.
Patriots host free agent LB Mulumba – Despite the flurry of players the Patriots have been evaluating recently, that hasn’t slowed them down and they reportedly hosted another one on Thursday.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, Packers outside linebacker Andy Mulumba was at Gillette Stadium for a visit on Thursday, although he left and is reportedly scheduled to visit Kansas City.
Mulumba, who is a former undrafted free agent and joined the Packers in 2013, has had a rough couple of seasons. He tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2014 season, and coming off the injury was active in just 7 of 18 games for the Packers in 2015, finishing with just two tackles on defense, along with two on special teams. Those tackles came after playing in just 40 snaps on defense last season, as well as 19 on special teams.
One interesting note on Mulumba is the fact, according to the newspaper, he’s not a United States citizen and had to leave the country back on February 29th after his work visa ended because the Packers hadn’t made an offer to bring him back. The linebacker had reportedly been working to establish citizenship, but was instead forced to return to his family home in Quebec.
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