Tag Archives: Arian Foster

New England Patriots News 10-16, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
October 16, 2016 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news 10-16, and AFC East Notes for this week.

Belichick Promotes Team Building, NFL History:
One of the more intriguing but understated moves by Bill Belichick a week ago was after the win over the Browns. Belichick decided to stop the team buses on the way to the airport at the statue of Jim Brown to honor the former Browns great.

Belichick developed a close relationship with the Browns great when he coached there back in the 1990s. During a conference call with the media, he went into detail how close.

“I think, honestly, any person – football player or otherwise – can learn a lot from Jim Brown and what he represents and what he stands for. But particularly, as it relates to our football team, Jim Brown, in my opinion, is the greatest player that ever played.”

“I’m not sure how many of our players really understand or appreciate what he meant to the game, through his continued involvement – not only with football but with young football players,” Belichick said.

“So that’s why we did it. Hopefully, that’s something, as part of their football career, that will be one small memory. It’s just a recognition of a great player and a great person, and somebody who has really made the game better for all of us.”

“Honestly, I wish Paul Brown’s statue would have been right there with it because we could have knocked out two birds with one stone,” Belichick said. “It hits a little special chord for me when you think of Paul Brown when you think of Jim Brown and the Cleveland Browns – who are named for Paul Brown – and being in that stadium. Not because I was the coach there, but because of what Paul Brown and Jim Brown did for professional football in that city. It has a special place in my heart.”

These are the little things that players will take with them after their playing days are over and will remember fondly. It also builds up more respect and dare I say it…integrity of the game with the players to recognize and pay respects to one of the greats.

Bennett Got to Know His Teammates in Training Camp by Hitching a Ride:
In a fantastic piece by the ProJo’s Mark Daniels, he wrote about the colorful new tight end for the Patriots Martellus Bennett. With training camp kicking off, Bennett wanted to get to know each of his new teammates.

So he hitched a ride with a different player to and from the workouts every day. The charismatic Bennett has numerous interests outside of football and he spoke with his teammates about a variety of different subjects other than football on their 15 minutes of alone time with the “Unicorn”.

This is a guy who gets it. He’s not interested in being a diva, but building relationships and friendships beyond the game which ultimately makes the team stronger. You can read the entire piece here: It is worth it.

Brady Has Every Right to Stay Quiet on Politics:
In what has to be one of the ridiculous non-stories of the week, Tom Brady has been taken to task by those who are beating the political drum this week for not denouncing Donald Trump.

When the 11-year old video of Trump’s “locker room” talk surfaced last week, it was just a matter of time before someone asked Brady about it. Sure enough on Wednesday, a reporter did just that at the QB’s regularly scheduled presser. Brady declined to answer and guess what? He’s entirely within his rights to do so.

Yes, he’s a public figure and the QB of the Patriots but he’s not a political figure and has no responsibility or duty to air his political leanings. He’s also within his rights to do so if he felt so inclined. Having a Trump hat in his locker this summer is far different than stumping for him politically. The two have maintained a professional friendship for years.

Everyone has jumped on the bandwagon for Colin Kaepernick. Regardless of how they feel about his stance, he has every right to voice his feelings on what he sees as social injustice. News flash friends, Brady has the same right to stay silent.

Some of the more strident voices calling out Brady for his silence need to take a step back and stop the judging…lest they are judged.

Gronk Back to Being Gronk:
When not discussing books with Martellus Bennett, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been looking a lot like himself lately and it couldn’t come at a better time. Hampered by a bad hamstring issue that occurred during the joint practices with the Bears two months ago, Gronk was sidelined for the first two games of the season. He then was very limited for the next two. But no more.

On the field in Cleveland a week ago, Gronkowski looked like the big man who’s run roughshod over opposing defenses since 2010. He was an active target in the passing game and instead of just being a blocker on the field. And his five catches for 109 yards were a welcome site for Patriots fans as well as the coaches.

“Felt like myself last week, just getting into the groove now, week-in, week-out now,” Gronkowski said to the media on Thursday. “Just have to stay in a groove.”

So was his resurgence a case of him getting healthy or was it having Tom Brady back?

“I would say it’s a little of both,” Gronkowski said. “First myself, always have to get healthy. When I am healthy I can go out there and do what I have to do — blocking, running wise, catching wise, running full speed at all times, going full speed every single time I am out there.”

“It was great to get Tom back, but I feel like just my game I feel like I can go out there and do what I have to do. What I try and do no matter who the quarterback is, I’m just trying to do whatever is best for the team and do my job to my best of my ability to help out the team.”

That’s good great news for the Patriots, bad news for the rest of the league.

Who Do You Like This Week:
Was 7-6 picking last week’s slate which brings me to 41-35 on the year. So, who do you like today?

I am going with for the games on tap today Denver from TNF (ugh picked last Sunday), NE, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Tenn, NYG, NO, Jax, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Seattle, GB, Indy, Arizona on Monday Night Football

Early pick for Thursday Night Football, (GB over Chi).

Eastbound and Down, AFC East Notes:

Bills May Be Without Dareus Again This Week:
The Buffalo Bills were hoping to get DL Marcell Dareus back on the field last week after he fulfilled his league-mandated 4-game suspension. But after suffering a hamstring injury during practice a week ago, that reunion had to be shelved.

Things aren’t looking much better this week, the big DL still hasn’t practiced and has been forced to just ride a stationary bike during the Bills practices. Although doubtful to play today, head coach Rex Ryan hasn’t ruled him out yet.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Ryan stated, “We’ll see what happens,” said Ryan. “Never say never. If he’s feeling great, I’m not one of these coaches where you have practice. If you’re a great player, then I’ll throw you in there.”

The Bills face the 49ers at home this week and will be trying to shut down the running game of San Francisco. Especially that of Kaepernick.

Dolphins May Be In-line for another Roster Overhaul:
There was much optimism resonating from the Miami Dolphins camp this spring and summer. They hired the right coach in Adam Gase and brought in the players that they hoped would be ready for the franchise to turn the corner. That hasn’t worked out and now they’re facing another rebuild.

The Dolphins are 1-4 and seem no closer to a contender than they were a decade ago. And the big names that they brought on this season? It has been ugly. Mario Williams came from the Bills with supposedly a new attitude and inspiration to resurrect his career. Thru five games, he has five tackles, one sack, and his defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph says he must play harder.

Byron Maxwell came in a trade with the Eagles and he’s been…to put it clearly a disaster. He was picked on for four games and benched for a fifth and this week, the Miami secondary is facing arguably the best passing game in the league.

Arian Foster has missed three games and is a near lock to be let walk next spring. TE Jordan Cameron has been nearly invisible and then suffered his fourth concussion. And QB Ryan Tannehill? Aside from one-half against New England, he’s been awful and has been hearing it from the Miami fans. That must make Miko Grimes happy.

What’s Wrong with the Jets Defense?
The New York Jets have been saddled with a very tough early season schedule, that isn’t even a question. But few people thought that the Jets would be 1-4 and facing a near must-win game in Arizona if they want to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

While most have focused, and rightfully so on the struggles of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Jets defense, which was a source of strength in 2015 has been struggling.

Last season, they had the third most takeaways, with 30. This year they have the league’s second-fewest (four).

Last season, they were third in 3rd down defense and 1st in the red zone. This season, they are 13th and 15th.

And last season, they had the league’s sixth-best quarterback rating allowed. This season, they have surrendered the highest quarterback rating so far. Darrelle Revis’ struggles have been well documented but the problem goes deeper than that. The pass rush has been inconsistent. After sacking Andy Dalton seven times in the opener, they’ve generated just five since.

This sets up a very interesting chess match when they lock horns with the disappointing Cardinals (2-3) on Monday night.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Dolphins Keys to the Game, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
September 16, 2016 at 6:37 am ET

The New England Patriots will play their home opener of the 2016 NFL season at Gillette Stadium against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The game will be televised by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ with Greg Gumble and Trent Green handling the play-by-play and analysis duties. Jamie Erdahl will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (1-0) defeated the Arizona Cardinals 23-21 on Sunday Night Football as Jimmy Garoppolo was impressive in his first NFL start throwing for 264 yards and a touchdown. LeGarrette Blount ran for 70 yards and a touchdown. Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal with under a minute to go.

The Dolphins (0-1) lost to the Seattle Seahawks 12-6 when Russell Wilson connected with Doug Baldwin for a game-winning touchdown pass with less than a minute to go. Miami had chances to win with a field goal being blocked, a fourth and inches attempt failing from the Seattle 17-yard line and Kenny Stills dropping a sure-fire 71-yard score.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and Dolphins will be meeting for the 102nd time with Miami holding an all-time 53-48 edge. The Patriots hold the all-time edge in home games 33-18 and hold a sizable advantage at Gillette Stadium where they are 12-2. The last three years have seen the series split along home lines with each team holding serve on their home field.

The Patriots crushed Miami 36-7 in Gillette and Miami dominated in a 20-10 win in the final regular season game of 2015.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots 2016 Opponents, 5 First Impressions of the Dolphins

Steve Balestrieri
September 13, 2016 at 11:50 am ET

Miami Finds the right guy to lead the team in Gase

The Patriots 2016 season returns to Foxboro for the first time in 2016 and they face their divisional rival Miami.

The Dolphins have been in turmoil for several years at the top despite being big spenders in free agency. No more. They seem to have finally found the right guy to lead the team in Adam Gase, we’ll have more on him below but they get high marks with his hiring.

The Dolphins lost a tough heartbreaker to the Seahawks on a Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin pass with just 31 seconds left. The 12-10 loss stings because Miami felt and rightfully so, that they left some points on the board.

Miami has some talent on both sides of the ball, the question is, is it enough to compete for a playoff spot and how quickly will Gase turn things around.

Here are our Five First Impressions of the Dolphins:

Gase Was the Best Move Made in Offseason: When Miami landed Gase this offseason, it was perhaps the best move the franchise has made in many years and arguably one of the best that any team had done this spring.

The acquisition of the Nick Saban disciple in Gase, was a much needed and smart move by Miami who has had a coaching carousel for far too long. Gase worked well with Peyton Manning and now will try to turn the fortunes around for Ryan Tannehill who hasn’t had a stable coaching staff in his career.

Gase is going to a simpler offense that plays to the strengths of his QB and his talented skill players. Instead of the deep play offense that didn’t work, but more of a methodical approach that the Patriots employ.

The youngest coach (38) in the NFL got a ringing endorsement from Manning, who called him, “the smartest man I know.”

Tannehill Should Benefit from the Hiring: If there is a coach that can bring out the best in Ryan Tannehill it is Gase and while the Dolphins are paying him like a franchise QB, he’s yet to produce like one.

While his numbers were pedestrian against Seattle on Sunday, 16-29, 186 yards and no touchdowns, that isn’t exactly an uncommon result from teams that play in Seattle against the Seahawks defense. Tannehill did have a deep pass to Kenny Stills that should have went for a deep 71-yard touchdown but Stills dropped it while all alone behind the defense.

Tannehill didn’t dwell on it, determined to move on, “I don’t know what happened on his end, but that’s football. We just moved on from it and kept playing. We had other opportunities other than that to make plays,… I saw a lot of good things from our guys.”

Dolphins Defensive Line Strong, Disruptive in Opener: Miami spent a ton of money on the defensive line in recent years, and if the season opener is any judge on how the rest of the season is going to go, then they’re going to reap the benefits soon.

The Dolphins nearly pulled off a big upset on the road and the DL was a big reason why. Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Phillips, Jason Jones, Mario Williams and Cameron Wake were constantly beating their opponents off the ball and causing disruptions in the Seattle backfield. They forced Russell Wilson into a couple of mistakes and were at times dominant.

Suh had four tackles, including a 13-yard sack, and three quarterback hits. He batted down a pass on third down on Seattle’s final drive, but the Seahawks were able to convert on fourth down. Jordan Phillips was very impressive and blew up a play that caused a fumble in the Seahawks backfield.

This should be another stiff test for the Patriots offensive line this week. This group can stop the run and get after the passer. Miami’s defense goes thru this front.

Arian Foster Recovers from Injury, starts in Week 1: Miami signed the former Texans running back this summer and when asked about his comeback last week, Foster bristled, stating that he was “injured not dead.”

Showing he was all the way back from his Achilles injury, he got the starting nod of incumbent Jay Ajayi and looks like the Foster of old for the most part. He managed only 38 yards on 13 carries, but that isn’t unusual for teams playing Seattle, but he did produce 62 yards on three catches including a 50-yarder.

Foster has rushed for 1200 yards or more four times in his career and the Dolphins are hoping that he can recapture some of that magic this season.

Dolphins Linebackers Still Have Questions: Miami is banking on a return to health of Kiko Alonso in 2016, the talented but oft-injured middle linebacker is a player that roam from sideline to sideline and make plays. If he can stay on the field and healthy, a big if, he’s a big upgrade from Kelvin Sheppard from a year ago.

Jelani Jenkins is another talented player but his consistency has been beset by injuries as well. Koa Misi is an athletic player but has an annoying reputation of letting the play coming to him rather than being an aggressive down-hill type player.

The depth is an issue, with the team having STs maven Spencer Paysinger, Zac Vigil, and Mike Hull as backups. That may be the reason the team is bringing in former Packer and Bengal A.J. Hawk this week for a look.

Check back with us later in the week as we’ll break down the key matchups for the game right here on PatsFans.com.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots Rumors: Free Agent RB Arian Foster Spotted in Boston?

Ian Logue
May 19, 2016 at 9:17 pm ET

The NFL Draft came and went without the Patriots addressing the running back position, which is arguably one that is dangerously thin and hardly settled heading into the start of training camp just over a month from now.

Obviously the question is still, how can that be?  With Dion Lewis coming off of knee surgery and LeGarrette Blount returning from a hip injury that ended his season in 2015, the Patriots obviously have more questions than answers at a spot where they need help in order to try and keep opposing defenses from simply teeing off on Tom Brady.

One would have to think that head coach Bill Belichick and New England’s front office must have someone in mind to add to their backfield, although to this point there has yet to be an obvious answer to whatever master plan is being concocted in Foxboro.

However, there was an interesting turn of events on Thursday after free agent running back Arian Foster was apparently spotted in Boston, with one fan pointing out his presence via Twitter.

Aside from that Tweet, there’s not much to go on and for a guy who took a selfie, there were no further Tweets following up on whether or not he broached the subject of Foster playing for the Patriots, what brought the free agent running back to New England, nothing.  Not that Foster would potentially reveal anything, but any insight into his visit would at least give people a little more to go on other than the speculation we’re left with.

Foster is obviously a talented back and at the age of 29 should still have a little tread left on his tires.  He’s coming off of a year where he tore his Achilles in Week 6 so he didn’t absorb much wear and tear last season thanks to the injury.  The bigger question now would be whether or not he’s healthy enough to be dangerous and if he still has the same burst and quickness to make him an effective running back.  That’s clearly something he’d have to prove in order to end up here.

Having played for the Texans and head coach Bill O’Brien, there’s obviously enough of a connection there for O’Brien to provide Belichick with any insight to Foster’s health to make the decision to have him in for a visit.  Without knowing why he was here, it’s tough to read too much into that.

But if that Tweet is in fact accurate and he was in town, it’s interesting to think about what type of impact he could make on this offense if he’s able to get back to close to where he was prior to the injury.  Maybe he’s the reason the Patriots didn’t take a running back, and maybe he’s been on Belichick’s radar this whole time and he’s the reason there haven’t really been any other serious moves to address the position.

Or maybe Foster’s just here to check out Roger Goodell’s house in Maine.  Either way, that Tweet will certainly have people talking and stirred things up a bit on an otherwise quiet Thursday afternoon.

UPDATE: Ian Rapoport of NFL Network says Foster is in town, but not to visit the Patriots:

Patriots Lay Back Wisely on Day 1 of Free Agency

Steve Balestrieri
March 10, 2016 at 7:30 am ET

There was a flurry of activity on the first day of the NFL’s Free Agency period as teams rushed to sign the first batch of free agents to some huge contracts. The Patriots kicked the tires reportedly on several players available, but decided and wisely so, to sit back and let the overspending flurry play itself out. It is a familiar tactic they’ve used for several years.

The Patriots made very little noise in the opening hours, just re-signing a backup swing tackle, LaAdrian Waddle and a backup linebacker/special teams’ player Ramon Humber from the New Orleans Saints.

The team was supposedly in on negotiations with WR Marvin Jones, RB Matt Forte, WR Rishard Matthews who all ended up signing with other teams. Jones signed with the Lions in an attempt to be a #1A or #1B type receiver for Detroit now that Calvin Johnson has retired.

Forte was widely linked to New England since the end of 2015 but signed with the Jets who lost Chris Ivory and appears to be set to lose Bilal Powell as well. Matthews, the former Dolphin WR who was deemed a good fit for the Patriots agreed to a deal with the Titans last night.

The other WR linked to New England, Mohamed Sanu, another player who would fit the skill set, size and speed need for the Pats offense is visiting Atlanta today and reportedly will then come to Foxboro next. With the Falcons rumored to be ponying up in the neighborhood of $7 million dollars per year, that would knock the Pats right out of contention.

What’s in store for Day 2: The Patriots traditionally have made their moves on the second day of free agency after the initial frenzy of over-priced contracts dies down. Last year, they signed DE Jabaal Sheard on Day 2 and at the time, that generated little buzz on the NFL timeline but paid big dividends for the team.

Two years ago on Day 2 is when the entire Darrelle Revis deal fell to the team after they lost Aqib Talib on the opening day of free agency. So while fans were clamoring for something…anything to be done by the team, look for them to be more active today.

Who’s still out there? There is plenty of talent left in the pool and for the Patriots needs at running back, Powell is still in the mix as well as Alfred Morris, Arian Foster and RFAs Benny Cunningham, Khiry Robinson and C.J. Anderson of the Broncos. Of course, there’s still LaGarrette Blount who made it clear earlier this week he’s open to and very willing to return for a final season in Foxboro.

Wide receivers still on the market include Sanu, although it is doubtful he leaves Atlanta without a contract. Jermaine Kearse, Anquan Boldin, Rueben Randle, James Jones, Percy Harvin as well as recently released Jeremy Kerley and Mike Wallace may interest New England.

For tight ends, the pickings are a bit slimmer with Jacksonville’s Clay Harbor and former Bengal and Cardinal Jermaine Gresham still out there as players who may interest the Pats.

One player who is still on the market that will bear watching is the Patriots Akiem Hicks. The Patriots are still interested in bringing the interior defensive lineman back and he was sitting back and watching things unfold yesterday. But Hicks has to be pleased seeing the huge contracts given to both Malik Jackson and Olivier Vernon. If those contracts are any indication, Hicks too will be moving on as those contracts are way over what the Patriots will be willing to spend.

There is still time to get long-term deals done with their own players Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Malcolm Butler. The team would be smart to lock up Sheard with a long-term deal as well this offseason.

The Patriots took the smart approach and stayed away from the massive over-spending that the bottom-feeders traditionally do on Day 1. Now is when the work really begins.

Stay tuned…

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.