Tag Archives: Eric Decker

Eric Decker Announces Retirement From The NFL

Robert Alvarez
August 26, 2018 at 8:50 pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Eric Decker announced his retirement from the NFL in a written statement on Instagram Sunday.

A post shared by Eric Decker (@ericdecker) on

Decker, who signed with the Patriots August 2nd, saw limited action during the preseason as he struggled with dropped catches and penalties.

In three games, Decker logged two catches for 12 yards on seven targets.

Decker never saw any reps with quarterback Tom Brady and the first team offense during Friday nights loss to the Carolina Panthers.

A 2010 third round draft pick of the Denver Broncos, Decker played eight professional seasons for the Broncos, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans, logging 439 receptions for 5,816 yards and 74 touchdowns.

With Decker retiring, the Patriots wide receiver depth chart takes another hit and looks as followed.

Best Of Social Media: Preseason Week 1 Redskins vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
August 12, 2018 at 4:18 pm ET

Thursday night marked the New England Patriots first preseason game of 2018.

Checkout some of the best sights and sounds over social media from the teams come from behind victory over the Washington Redskins.

It’s Game day #LETSGOOO @tombrady #Gameday

A post shared by Chris Hogan (@chrishogan_15) on

It was an ugly first quarter for the Patriots offense as they failed to get much going.

The Redskins took a 10-0 lead after a quarter of play.

In the second, Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy continued his hot start, and Washington added to their lead. 17-0 midway through the quarter.

With the clock winding down on the first half, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer finally found rhythm and the Patriots got on the board heading into the half following a 52 yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. 17-3 Washington.

Heading into the locker room at halftime, head coach Bill Belichick was in regular season form when he was asked about his teams first half performance.



The Patriots came out firing to open the second as running back Jeremy Hill tallied the teams first touchdown of the new year and cut the deficit to 7 at 17-10.

In the fourth quarter the Patriots still found themselves trailing by seven, but newly signed wideout Cordarrelle Patterson hauled in his highlight catch to put the patriot in position to tie the game.

2018 Undrafted free agent Ralph Webb found the end zone to get the Patriots back in the game, however they weren’t looking to tie.

Hoyer again found Webb for a successful two–point conversion attempt and their first lead of the night. 18-17 Patriots.

With under four minutes to go in the game, the defense stepped up as Geneo Grissom scooped up a loose football and nearly scored.


Ralph Webb again found the end zone to seal the comeback victory for the Patriots.


Starting off the preseason with a W.

A post shared by New England Patriots (@patriots) on

Dear Lord I thank you felt good to be back out there again

A post shared by Jeremy Hill (@jeremyhill) on


Turning what I love into a career, now that’s a dream come true

A post shared by Braxton Berrios (@hnynut_berrios) on


Patriots Release Wide Receiver Malcolm Mitchell

Steve Balestrieri
August 6, 2018 at 3:11 pm ET

The Patriots are releasing wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, according to NFL insider Jason La Canfora.

Knee issues have dogged Mitchell since his playing days at Georgia and are the cause of his release. The Patriots tried unsuccessfully to shop Mitchell around this summer but his inability to get on the field had no interested parties.

Mitchell, who just turned 25, was a key contributor in the Patriots Super Bowl run in 2016. He caught 32 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie, nearly all of it in the second half of the season. He missed part of that season with an elbow injury but came back and earned the trust of Tom Brady. He steadily gained confidence and was a huge part of the 4th quarter comeback against the Falcons in the Super Bowl.

He caught five passes for 63 yards in the second half of the Super Bowl.

His future looked bright, however,  the very same knee issues robbed him of 2017. He never made it onto the field last season and his knee woes held him to just a couple of all-too-brief cameos this spring. That led to the Patriots shopping him unsuccessfully.

The team can either convert him to IR again with an injury settlement or outright release him, depending upon the health of his knee. It is a case of oh-so-close for the talented wide receiver.

So where does this leave the team? In the short term, it immediately opens up a roster spot, despite the fact he hadn’t been practicing. That will be filled quickly. But it was clear before training camp even began that Mitchell wasn’t going to be in the team’s plans for 2018.

With Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Eric Decker, Kenny Britt, and younger players Riley McCarron, Braxton Berrios, Devin Lucien and Paul Turner, they have enough depth to carry them through the season. Although Britt too has missed some valuable time this camp. Julian Edelman will miss the first month of the season due to his suspension.

As we posted in our 53-man roster projection this morning, Mitchell wasn’t on the roster and youngsters Berrios and McCarron were still on the outside looking in for a roster spot.

It is a shame to see a player as talented as Mitchell lose his career on an injury. But the chances of another team taking a flyer on him at this point would remain pretty slim.

The 2018 New England Patriots On Social Media

Robert Alvarez
August 2, 2018 at 6:03 pm ET

The following list is a reference point for the 2018 New England Patriots social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube.

(NOTE: Most Snapchat account links only available within app and are not listed publicly)

Ryan Allen 

David Andrews

Ja’Whaun Bentley

Braxton Berrios

Brandon Bolden

Tom Brady

Kenny Britt

Rex Burkhead

Marcus Cannon

Patrick Chung

Adrian Clayborn

Duke Dawson

Phillip Dorsett

Eric Decker

Nate Ebner

Julian Edelman

Danny Etling

Trey Flowers

Marquis Flowers

Mike Gillislee

Stephon Gilmore

Rob Gronkowski –

Lawrence Guy

Duron Harmon

Dont’a Hightower

Jeremy Hill

Chris Hogan

Jacob Hollister

Brian Hoyer

Cyrus Jones

Jonathan Jones

Ted Karras

Harvey Langi

Brandon King

Devin Lucien

Shaq Mason

Jason and Devin McCourty

Sony Michel

Malcolm Mitchell

Cordarrelle Patterson

Derek Rivers

Elandon Roberts

Eric Rowe

Christian Sam

Danny Shelton

Joe Thuney

Vincent Valentine

Kyle Van Noy

LaAdrian Waddle

James White

Deatrich Wise

Isaiah Wynn

Patriots – Titans Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge

Steve Balestrieri
January 12, 2018 at 7:30 am ET

The New England Patriots return from the bye week to take on the Tennessee Titans in the Divisional Round of the 2017 Playoffs. The game will be played at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, where if the team is successful this week, will be the place for the AFC Championship Game.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Saturday, January 13, at 8:15 p.m. ET and can be seen on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Tony Romo as the color analyst. Tracy Wolfson will work from the sidelines... The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (13-3) took care of business in Week 17 beating the Jets to end the season and had a much needed week off to heal up the many injuries that they have suffered this season.

The Titans (10-7) stormed back from a big 21-3 halftime deficit to stun the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round 22-21. The team rushed for 202 yards with Derrick Henry accounting for 156 of them. QB Marcus Mariota completed a TD pass….to himself in one of the crazier plays you’ll see.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2017 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 Titans are meeting for the 42nd time going back to the old days of the AFL and when the Titans were the Houston Oilers. Overall the Patriots hold a 24-16-1 edge. The Patriots have won the last six meetings including a 2003 season Divisional Playoff win.

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

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Titans Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Tennessee

The Patriots running game was firing on all cylinders until Rex Burkhead and James White went down with injuries. However, Dion Lewis has been simply outstanding in the second half of the season. Lewis will get the lion’s share of the work in the running game, even if both of those backs return.

The Titans are very stout against the run allowing just 88 yards per game. It starts with the big men in the middle, Sylvester Williams, Jurrell Casey and Austin Johnson. They’re big and physical and will make the going tough.

Look for the Patriots to pass to set up the run. The Patriots have run for more yards in the red zone in 2017 than any other team in the league. When they get down low, they like to run Lewis inside and catch teams in a pass rushing situation.

Patriots WRs vs Titans Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game should get Chris Hogan, James White and maybe ….Burkhead back this week which will be a huge boost for the passing game.

The Titans can get after the passer and have 43 sacks, they also have the biggest ball hawk in All-Pro Safety Kevin Byard, but the two areas that they struggle in are the two are the Patriots strengths, covering running backs in the passing game and covering tight ends. They’re going to have to bring pressure up the middle if they’re going to slow down this passing offense.

Look for the Patriots to target Gronkowski and the backs early and often in this one. With the big men up front, the Patriots may try to keep them in their base look and then go hurry up to wear those big men down. If Brady has his full complement of receivers this week, this offense should easily have its way with Dick LeBeau’s defense.

Next up the Titans offense:

Titans RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Tennessee

The Titans have the big man, Derrick Henry at running back and Marcus Mariota, who is a dual threat to run or throw. They averaged just over 114 yards per game on the ground. Demarco Murray has already been ruled out of this one with an injury so it will be Henry. He gets better as the game goes on, so if the score is still close late in the game, that’s when he’s at his most effective.

The Patriots run defense has had major issues this season defending the run especially on the edge but they’ll be getting Alan Branch back inside and the addition of James Harrison should really pay dividends. That means Kyle Van Noy, who is also returning from injury can move inside where he’s more effective.

The Titans are a run-first team, but they’ll want to mix things up and keep New England off-balance. But will Henry influence the game enough to tip the scales for the Titans? He’ll get his yards but the Patriots have gotten better against the run down the stretch. Shutting down the Jets and Bills on the ground.

Titans WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Titans have 3rd year QB Mariota who had a great 2016 but slipped badly this year throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. Tennessee has a talented group of receivers with Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker and Corey Davis outside and Delanie Walker at tight end. Walker led the team with 74 catches for 807 yards and three scores.

The Patriots struggled horribly in September against the pass but since then, things have tightened up considerably. The Patriots on third down have the fourth best opponent passer rating of just 76.8. The corners and safeties have tightened things up. Look for Pat Chung to battle Walker which will be a key area to watch. Harrison may add a bit to the pass rush for the Patriots who got 42 sacks on the season. Mariota averaged just 199.4 yards per game passing this year. If the Patriots get off to a quick start, the big question is, can he throw enough to keep up?

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots’ Special Teams are among the best in the NFL, they excel in punt and kick coverage and continuously turn in big plays. Stephen Gostkowski had a very solid season and his kickoffs consistently put opponents deep in their own end. Ryan Allen is very adept at pinning opponents inside the 20 and the team has perennial Pro-Bowl ST player Matthew Slater on the coverage units.

The Titans punter Brett Kern led the league in punting average with 49.7 yards per punt and have Adoree Jackson on both their punt and kick return units.

Next up, who wins and why…


Once again the key here from a Patriots perspective is to get off to a quick start. They haven’t been good at throwing the ball (23rd in the NFL) so they’re not going to be at their best if they have to throw and get away from the run.

With the Patriots getting most of their weapons back this week, look for Tom Brady to spread the wealth around and test this pass defense. Dick LeBeau’s zone blitz schemes are the same defenses that he ran in Pittsburgh. There is no mystery there for the Patriots or Brady. Will LeBeau mix things up and play more man coverage this week? That’s the big question here. If they sit back in a zone, the only chance they’ll have is if they get great pressure up the middle. Another key is ball security. With an offense that scores just about 20 points per game, the Pats can’t afford to give Mariota and the Titans offense short fields and easy scores. They have to feel pressure to score every time they get the ball in order to keep up.

Tennessee is at their best when the force the game into a physical slugfest where the score is a 17-14 type of game into the fourth quarter. Those are the games tailor-made for them to win. Mariota is a dual threat to run/pass but I don’t expect the Patriots to “spy” him with a linebacker. It will just come down to the players doing their job and the defensive ends not getting too far upfield.

Brady, Gronkowski, and Lewis will have big games this week and New England advances for the seventh straight year to the AFC Championship Game with a solid team victory as they pull away late.  Patriots 31-14

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 – Jets II Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 23, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots return to the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for their final regular season home game to take on the New York Jets. The game is scheduled for Saturday Christmas Eve, at 1 p.m.

CBS will televise this week’s game and it can be seen locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn 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 Cappello.

The Patriots (12-2) improved to 7-0 on the road this season with a convincing 16-3 win over the Denver Broncos. Dion Lewis rushed for 95 yards and the Pats got three turnovers while holding the Broncos to just three points and shut them out for the final 53 minutes of the game.

The Jets (4-10) were hammered by Miami last week. Career backup Matt Moore threw for four touchdowns in the win. QB Bryce Petty was hit hard and had to leave the game but is expected to play this weekend.

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 Jets meet for the 116th time on Sunday in an intense rivalry that dates back to 1960. The Patriots hold a slight all-time 60-54-1 edge in the series that has been incredibly even and always tough.

The Patriots hold a 32-25-1 edge overall at home and have won 9 of the last 11 meetings. The Pats won a close 22-17 win in the Meadowlands in the first meeting this season as Tom Brady hit Malcolm Mitchell with the game-winning touchdown pass with less than two minutes to go. Mitchell had a pair of touchdowns in the game.

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

First up is the Patriots offense:

Wednesday Daily Rundown 6/1: New England Patriots News and Notes

Ian Logue
June 1, 2016 at 8:42 am ET

A quiet morning on this Wednesday, but here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s top stories.

Brady Gets Some Help – Patriots quarterback Tom Brady got a little help last week from a group of independent scientists as well as Robert Kraft, with both filing “friend of the court” briefs in an effort to bolster Brady’s shot at getting a rehearing in front of the U.S. Second Court of Appeals.  However, Tuesday a report came out that saw a key player step forward and file a brief that could hopefully tip the scale and get Brady’s case back in front of the judges.

According to reports, the AFL-CIO joined the case, with the Federation of Labor Organizations filing a brief that certainly hits home with what’s transpired over the last year-plus.

The brief leads off with a key point as it pertains to collective bargaining agreements with discipline, and feels Roger Goodell didn’t fairly handle the arbitration process.

“The AFL-CIO is a federation of 57 national and international labor organizations representing approximately 12.2 million working men and women,” the brief, prepared by attorney James Coppess, stated.  “Most collective bargaining agreements negotiated by AFL-CIO-affiliated unions contain arbitration provisions to resolve disputes over the meaning of the contract, including with regard to discipline. As a result, the AFL-CIO has extensive experience with the operation of arbitration procedures in the disciplinary setting and a significant interest in the application of the proper standard for judicial review of decisions rendered pursuant to arbitration procedures.”

From there, the brief gets right to the point and immediately points out what most of us already know, which was this whole procedure was never fair and Brady never had a shot at a proper arbitration hearing, which – like most of us obviously feel about the entire investigation – was never neutral.

“Because the Commissioner – who issued the discipline to Brady in the first instance – failed to follow basic procedural fairness and acted arbitrarily as an employer seeking to justify his own disciplinary decision rather than as a neutral arbitrator considering an appeal – his decision should be vacated,” the brief stated.

“While the NFL and NFLPA bargained to allow the Commissioner to hear appeals of disciplinary decisions, they did not agree to let the Commissioner, sitting as an appellate arbitrator, to act in a manner that is arbitrary and capricious. Regardless of who hears appeals, labor arbitration always must be fundamentally fair.”

“Fundamentally fair” is hardly how anyone would describe what’s gone on.  In fact, the brief goes on to point out one key fact that “rather than limiting his review to his initial
rationale for the discipline,” the Commissioner “instead “changed the factual basis for the
disciplinary action after the appeal hearing concluded.”  From there Goodell, “rather than engage with this issue to test ‘the correctness of [the discipline]’ based ‘upon the reason given at the time,’ the Commissioner “attempted to strengthen the employer’s defense.”

Obviously when a key labor organization can see the obvious, that should hopefully be enough to give Brady another shot at beating this thing.  It backs attorney Ted Olson’s argument about the fact this ruling goes well beyond football, and now places even more importance on the outcome of the case given the precedent it will obviously set.

This whole thing hasn’t been fair since it started, and seeing anyone lose in a situation where they never had a fair chance is always frustrating.  A decision on whether or not the Second Circuit will rehear the case will reportedly be made the end of June.  Most experts, including SI.com and UNH Professor Michael McCann, thought it would be a long-shot that Brady would get that chance.

After Tuesday, things are certainly a little more encouraging.

Another player threw their hat into the ring in support of Brady this week.

Butler To Show Up at Patriots OTAs – Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported on Tuesday that Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler will be at OTAs this week, despite Mike Reiss’ report about the fact he’s unhappy about his contract.

According to Howe, Butler’s absence last week had nothing to do with his current contract situation.

“The Herald was given a strong indication Butler’s absence last week was not related to his contract,” Howe wrote on Tuesday. “Furthermore, Butler doesn’t want to draw any added, unnecessary attention to himself this offseason, particularly as it relates to his contract, after last offseason when he missed a flight and reported late for OTAs.”

Malcolm Butler will be at the OTAs this week and Jeff Howe from the Boston Herald is reporting that his absence last week had nothing to do with his contract situation. (USA TODAY Images)

Having Butler back at work is obviously a big key as now is the time to start building some continuity among some of the new players who will be in the locker room this season.  After the Patriots finish these final practices, they’ll break one last time before training camp starts next month.

With Butler back in the fold, that will certainly help shift the focus back to where it should be, with Butler seeing if he can’t help get his team back to playing at a championship level one more time.

Jets See Decker and Marshall Return – If you’ve been following the disaster going on down in New York, their situation finally settled down a bit this week.

After skipping workouts in support of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall were back at voluntary practice despite the fact no deal has been reached to keep their QB in the fold.

According to reports, the offer on the table for Fitzpatrick is 3-years, $24 million which includes $15 in guaranteed money.  Part of that guarantee includes $12 million in the first year, but from there it starts to come to light as to why Fitzpatrick remains at odds.

According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Fitzpatrick’s compensation over the final two seasons drops to $6 million per season.  Fitzpatrick isn’t a dumb guy, having come from Harvard and he likely knows how important his role is to keeping the Jets on the upward trajectory they finished on last season.  They have a good nucleus in place and bringing Fitzpatrick back once again makes them a dangerous team heading into 2016 that could surprise people.

But that won’t happen unless they lock up Fitzpatrick, and give him credit for playing hardball.  Their current stance reportedly has the veteran frustrated, to the point they’re even worried about him taking less money out of spite.  The New York Post suggests making the deal a one-year contract at $12 million and letting Fitzpatrick gamble and see if he can cash in during free agency in 2017.

At 33-years old, he’s still got some good years left.  But at this point it’s been a contentious offseason and not having him around certainly isn’t helping their preparation.  That’s certainly fine for everyone following this story here in New England.  It’s always fun watching the Jet squirm, and it looks like this current mess is definitely far from over.

New England Patriots News 5-29, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
May 29, 2016 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news 5-29 notes and what’s happening around the AFC East.

Memorial Day Denotes Sacrifice: We wish all of our readers a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. But at the same time take an opportunity to remember the countless Americans who’ve paid the price to keep our way of life intact.

Freedom isn’t free and it isn’t a right that everyone in the world is blessed with. Our freedoms to choose our own path were paid for by Patriots who paid the ultimate price. The New England Patriots are fortunate to have both a coach in Bill Belichick who spent his early life at the Naval Academy and a player in Joe Cardona who know and respect the commitment that goes with protecting those freedoms.

Balestrieri family WWII

Growing up in a military family that saw my father and his five brothers serve in combat in WWII, the appreciation was inbred at an early age. Growing up two of my favorite NFL players were Roger Staubach who after winning a Heisman, went to Vietnam and Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Rocky Bleier who was wounded in the same conflict and was thought to have no chance of resuming an NFL career as a result. And of course, Pat Tillman who gave up a million-dollar NFL career and died in Afghanistan.

And today there are many Americans serving far from home in harms’ way that are still serving and protecting our freedom. To them we thank you.

“When you go Home, tell them of us and say, for your Tomorrow, we gave our Today” John Maxwell Edmonds 1916

Patriots Conduct OTAs, Let the Overreactions Begin:
With the Pats back on the field doing football-type stuff initially in 2016, it was an opportunity to see many of the players in a Patriots uniform for the first time.

And as frequently happens in the early going, a fair amount of overreaction occurs in regards to who is or isn’t present and who is making the big plays of the day. Many fans were upset at the high number of veterans who weren’t present at the only media portion of the week’s practices. But many could be explained away as being vets, perhaps they were given the final practice of the week off.

It’s important to remember the beat writers can only report on what they are seeing in front of them. But also remember this, it is still only May, and the players are in pads yet.

There are still a lot of practices to go before they even get to the pads of training camp and then plenty of work between July 27 and the first regular season game in Arizona. With that in mind….let’s take a look at who was starting quickly this spring.

Bennett wastes no time in working closely with Brady:
New tight end Martellus Bennett, signed this spring away from the Bears was, to no surprise a frequent target for Tom Brady in the Thursday’s practice. With Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola not present, it was Bennett who was getting frequent attention in the passing game with Brady.

As we pointed out early in the week about OTAs, the big thing to take away from the early work was building the rapport and “trust factor” with Brady. And right away, as soon as the team broke down into a special teams’ exercise, Brady and Bennett moved off to the side and began working on situational football. Later they were reportedly joined by TE Clay Harbor and FB/TE/HB James Develin.

That’s the big takeaway from the early work here. Bennett and Gronkowski who is already wired in tight with Brady will be his first reads in the red zone and the possibilities with the two are intriguing, to say the least.

Good Battle Brewing at Center with Stork/Andrews:
One of the more intriguing positional battles this year will be at center. Bryan Stork played well for the Patriots during the Super Bowl run but began 2015 on the IR-designated to return list. David Andrews, a UDFA center from Georgia, started the first nine games until Stork returned.

Now the two are seemingly locked in a tough positional battle heading into mini-camps and training camp. Stork is a versatile player that can play guard and even slid out to tackle during a pinch last season, while Andrews is strictly just a center. It should be an intriguing battle to watch.

Darryl Roberts Picks Up Where He Left Off:
After an impressive start to training camp last year where he earned the start in the team’s first preseason game, CB Darryl Roberts suffered a wrist injury that landed him on IR and he missed all of the 2015 regular season.


Now with all eyes on this year’s top draft choice Cyrus Jones, the 2nd year corner from Marshall is out to make people stand up and take notice again. With both Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan not present on Thursday, Roberts made the most of his opportunities, just like last year where he led the team with 10 passes defended in camp. Just don’t call these chances “first team reps”.

“I wouldn’t say really first-team reps. We don’t really have starters,” Roberts said to the media Thursday. “Everybody just out here having fun, flying around and competing, so with those guys not being here, I’m just trying to step up and try to help the team any way I can.”

“I’m just trying to come out here and grind and try to compete and get better each day,” Roberts added.

If last summer’s performance was any indication, he should be ready to compete for not only a roster spot but some playing time.

East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Dolphins Parker Ready for Year 2 Jump/Misi Involved in Bar Fight:
After at times frustrating rookie season, Miami WR DeVante Parker seems poised to be the playmaker he was envisioned when the Fins drafted him in the first round of the draft. Miami’s prior regime seemed reluctant to cut the rookie loose and it wasn’t until after Rishard Matthews got injured that Parker was able to make an impression.

He finished with 26 catches for 494 yards and three touchdowns with 22 of his grabs coming in the final six weeks of the season. Now he’s ready for a bigger role and new coach Adam Gase and his QB thinks he’s going to produce.

“I expect big things out of him,” Ryan Tannehill said. “I expect him to be a heck of a football player — a guy that other teams fear because he can make big plays down the field and inside.

“He’s a big-bodied guy. He’s a guy that we’re going to want to use in the red zone and we’re going to want to use him on third downs and to stretch the field.”

In other news, Miami LB Koa Misi was involved in a bar fight where another man got knocked to the ground and needed medical attention. In a story from Ft. Lauderdale’s Local News 10, Misi apparently had words with a patron then rushed back to the entrance of the bar and assaulted a man, knocking him to the ground.

A police officer detailed to the establishment had his statement posted to the story and tried three times to bring Misi to the ground but he each time Misi was assisted by 10-15 members of his entourage (Cris Carter must surely approve). Eventually, Misi was released as the victim declined to press charges. Not a good look for the player or the team there.

Jets Offer to Fitz Reported $12 Million in Year 1:
While QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets haven’t yet come to terms with a contract for the 2016 season and beyond, it is now being reported that the two sides weren’t as far apart as previously reported.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini has reported that the Jets offer, originally thought to be around $8-million was in fact in the neighborhood of $12-million in Year 1 however, the exact amounts and the guaranteed amount of money haven’t been specified. So now the game has resorted to a he said-she said.

Fitzpatrick certainly has the backing of many of his teammates. Both Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall have stayed away from OTAs, Decker was openly stating that he was doing so to support the QB while Marshall’s reasoning, although technically not known was reported to be a show of support as well.

Rob Ryan Says Bills Will Beat the Patriots:
There are two Ryans in Buffalo this season, so the rhetoric is bound to be ratcheted up even more in 2016. So not surprisingly,  the first shot fired across the bow was not done by Rex, but by his brother Rob whom he hired to run the defense for the Bills.

“All the respect in the world for Bill Belichick. That was fantastic training, working for him for four years, and I learned a ton,” Rob Ryan said. “Look, he is the No. 1 nemesis of every coach in this league. So it’s not just Rex. Rob was an assistant coach with the Patriots from 2000-2004.

“But I know one thing, we are going to beat them. We are together, we’re going to beat the best. It’s two against one. Him one-on-one against any coach in the league, that guy is pretty damn good. And he’s also got his best buddy Tom Brady with him. He trained him, and he single-handedly made him great as well.”

Although Ryan-coached teams always play the Patriots as tough as any team, he’s still only 4-11 head-to-head against Bill Belichick. And the Bills are just 4-28 against Bill Belichick since he took over the reins in 2000. So while the results have been decidedly one-sided, the hype just increased quite a bit this season.

The first meeting between the two teams is slated for Week 4 at Gillette Stadium on October 2.

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.

New England Patriots News 5-22, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
May 22, 2016 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news 5-22 notes and what’s happening around the AFC East.

Congratulations to former running back Kevin Faulk who was elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame this week. Well-deserved and with three quality candidates this year it was a tough decision.

Injuries/Surgery to Edelman and Amendola Highlight Attention to WRs:
The Patriots added four wide receivers this spring, Chris Hogan and Nate Washington during free agency and Malcolm Mitchell and Devin Lucien during the draft. Now we know why.

With the latest surgery for Julian Edelman to insert a screw in his injured foot and the offseason knee and ankle surgery for Danny Amendola, in a worst case scenario, the Patriots could begin training camp without either being ready to go.

But the team had this scenario well planned, however. The addition of Hogan who can play anywhere from the slot to the outside should address one of those issues and the veteran Washington, as well as Mitchell, will vie for the Brandon LaFell role outside.

One thing that will benefit the newcomers on the roster is that they’ll get more reps with Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo this spring with the two vets on the shelf. No better way to build their rapport and trust factor with the QBs.

Arian Foster a Fit for the Patriots?
Foster the free agent, running back for the Texans set the tongues wagging this week when he was spotted at Logan Airport in Boston at a rental car booth and then on Friday evening taking in the Red Sox game against the Indians.

Later it was explained that Foster was in town on personal business which lends itself to the truth since if the Patriots were bringing him in for a visit, they’d have picked him up at the airport and not have required him to rent his own car.

However, as we’ve done on this column in the past, we’ll ask the question, could he be a fit for the Patriots offense? And the answer is…absolutely if he’s healthy. Foster suffered an Achilles injury which has really affected running backs ability to move, cut and change direction in the past. Other players have returned as good as new, but the team will have to ensure he’s healthy and check him out thoroughly with the team doctor’s first. If healthy, (a big if), he’d be a nice upgrade to the NE running game.

Full Padded Rookie Camp, Where’s the Outrage?
Chalk this one up as another arbitrary ruling by the league…this week it was reported that the Baltimore Ravens conducted part of their rookie mini-camp in full pads. That is a direct violation of the CBA which coach John Harbaugh is “more probable than not” “generally aware” of.

Such a clear violation of the rules and integrity of the game surely would invite the league to step in and protest against such practice…By the way, this is the second time that Baltimore has been caught doing this and as such would be considered a repeat offender.

But so far from the league….nary a peep, nor a blip from the national press. One can only imagine the orgy of outrage that would be falling now if that had been in Foxboro.

Easley Lands with the Rams but at the minimum:
Former Patriots 1st round Dominique Easley’s unemployment time is at an end. After just five weeks, the Rams have signed the former Patriots defensive lineman.

The Rams, who have a very talented defensive front seven could strike oil giving Easley a fresh start to the gifted but injury-prone disruptor. Reportedly the Rams are giving Easley on a $600,000 salary with no guaranteed money, no bonuses, and no incentives.

That is a pretty steep fall for a player entering just his third year in the league. But comments supposedly made by Easley to a fellow player stating he didn’t care if the Patriots won or lost the Super Bowl before opting to go to Vegas instead of with the team may have a play in that.

Brown and the 2nd year Jump:
The Patriots top draft pick from a year ago, DT Malcom Brown is in a totally different category. The talented big man from Texas caught on slowly in his rookie season but got better and better as the season went on and ended up with a solid first campaign.

Now Brown will be looking to make what Bill Belichick terms the big second-year jump in player development. “There’s a lot on his plate as a rookie in the different situations that he plays in and the number of things that we do on the front,” Belichick said of Brown.

“So it’s not easy, but he’s improved his techniques, his fundamental play and he’s improved his communication and overall understanding of the multiples that are involved. It’s been good.” Brown shook off early struggles and finished 2015 as the 4th best run-stuffing DL according to Pro Football Focus.

Brown played in about 47 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie. If his development follows that of fellow veterans who the Patriots brought in prior to his arrival, he should see a significant jump in time on the field. With Alan Branch, Terrance Knighton, Markus Kuhn, Anthony Johnson and rookies Vincent Valentine and Woodrow Hamilton, they should have quite a good rotation inside.

Steelers Experiment with a new MVP:
One way to minimize injuries in practice and still get in the practice of tackling is to do what the Pittsburgh Steelers are trying out is the Mobile Virtual Player (MVP).

Mobile Virtual Player, is a robotic tackling dummy on the cutting edge of technology that is operated by remote control. This was a program something designed and first implemented at Dartmouth College and is now being experimented with by the Steelers during their offseason workouts.

Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering took up the reins of the issue when head coach Buddy Teevens banned live tackling from practice to minimize injuries. Hence, the MVP was born.

“I imagine it’s a great tool from a tackling tech standpoint,” said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. In today’s NFL, with player safety the focus that it is, I think it’s going to provide opportunities to improve in that area without the hand to hand or man to man combat associated with that teaching.”

The “MVP” has the ability to cut, weave, stop and start, and it has speed. The test version the Steelers are experimenting on in practice is a prototype with the goal is to have it available everywhere in 2017.

Check out another video with the Dartmouth players putting it through its paces.

East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Dolphins, Jordan Play Waiting Game with the NFL on Reinstatement:
The Miami Dolphins are hoping that DE Dion Jordan can suit up for the team in 2016. The #8 overall pick of the 2014 draft was suspended for the entire 2015 NFL season due to numerous league infractions.

Eligible for reinstatement since April, Jordan and the Fins are forced to play the waiting game with Roger Goodell and the league. The team signed former Bills and Texans DE Mario Williams this spring and have Cameron Wake returning after tearing an Achilles tendon last year against New England.

The 6’6”, 280-pound Jordan would give Miami an added dose of youth and athleticism to the defense but for now, they are in a holding pattern.

Decker says Jets ready to Challenge Pats in AFC East:
New England has won the AFC East seven straight years and 13 of the past 15, but Eric Decker thinks this is the year that the Jets break thru and win the division for the first time since 2002.

In an interview with the NFL Network, Decker thinks the Tom Brady suspension will bring the Patriots back to the pack and open the door for the 10-6 Jets, who narrowly missed the postseason last year.

“I think we’re there, to be honest,” he said. “We’re set up with a tough schedule, a playoff team schedule. You’ve got to win your division games. With Brady being suspended four games, I think it makes the division up for grabs. I believe in this team and that we’re ready to make the run now.”

Bills Haven’t Heard from Archer:
The Bills a week ago, added one of the fastest players ever in the NFL when they claimed running back/return man Dri Archer off waivers from the New York Jets. Archer also spent time with the Steelers in 2015.

Then on Wednesday, the Bills placed Archer on the reserve/did not report list after he failed to show up. Not only that he won’t even return calls from the coach or the team.

“I never even talked to the kid, so we’ll see what happens,” Bills head coach Rex Ryan said.

“He won’t return a call. Is it him not wanting to be a Bill, or is it something else? I don’t know, but I guess there’s a reason Pittsburgh let him go [last November]. But when you find something out, let us know, because I’ve never even talked to him”.

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

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ICYMI Patriots vs Jets: Best of Patriots Social Media Week 16

Robert Alvarez
December 29, 2015 at 10:00 am ET

Week 16 began on a festive note for the New England Patriots as quarterback Tom Brady got into the Christmas Spirit by posting this funny Facebook photograph with Santa Clause.

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I'm telling you why… Santa Claus is coming to town! Seriously I saw him

Posted by Tom Brady on Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gronk also got in on the action with this Christmas day Facebook post.

Merry Christmas PatsNation. #HOHOHO #NaughtyOrNice

Posted by Rob Gronkowski -Gronk on Friday, December 25, 2015

Devin McCourty posted this photo to his Instagram account of himself dressed up in a new suit his mother got him as a Christmas gift.

But it was all business for Brady and the Patriots following the holiday as he geared up for the divisional rivalry by going with a menacing  “Top Gun” theme Facebook photo.

Mission: Beat the Jets!!!

Posted by Tom Brady on Sunday, December 27, 2015

Another week, another injury. This time tackle Sebastian Vollmer (76) was the latest victim following this pile up on the Patriots first drive of the game. He did not return with a leg injury.

The game started off slow for the Patriots as they only mustered three points in the first half and then former teammate Darrell Revis hauled in this interception of Tom Brady to start the third quarter.

Down 17-6 late in the third quarter, linebacker Jamie Collins stepped up big. He scored the first touchdown of his career following a Jabaal Sheard stripped fumble of Ryan Fitzpatrick that was returned by Collins to the end zone.

Rob Gronkowski hauled in this clutch fourth down pass to keep the Patriots alive.

Running back James White was later found wide open for the easy game tying score to force overtime.

Then came the most controversial coin flip of recent memory when the Patriots chose to kick the ball away despite calling heads and winning the toss. Cue the Steve Harvey jokes.

Slater explained the confusion to reporters following the game.

So the Jets were given the ball for overtime and Ryan Fitzpatrick capitalzied by driving his team down the field leading to his Eric Decker walkoff touchdown pass that sent the MetLife Stadium crowd into a happy frenzy. The Patriots were handed their third loss in five games by a final score of 26-20.

After the stunning overtime defeat the New York Jets players celebrated hard on their way to the locker room after the game.

Jets owner Woody Johnson with the very awkward celebratory “dab.”

The fans treated the win like a championship.

It was a crushing, ugly loss for the New England Patriots, but they will have one more crack at obtaining the number one seed in the AFC Playoffs with a win at the Miami Dolphins in the 2015 season finale next weekend.