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NFL announces 2014 regular-season schedule will be unveiled Wednesday night

04.23.14 at 12:21 am ET
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The NFL announced Tuesday that the 2014 regular-season schedule will be unveiled Wednesday at 8 p.m. While we don’t know the dates and the times, we do know the opponents:

Home: Jets, Dolphins, Bills, Bengals, Broncos, Bears, Lions, Raiders
Road: Jets, Dolphins, Bills, Chiefs, Chargers, Colts, Packers, Vikings

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Boise State DE Demarcus Lawrence

04.22.14 at 5:14 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Demarcus Lawrence (AP)

Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence led the Mountain West Conference with 10.5 sacks last season. (AP)

DEMARCUS LAWRENCE

Position: Defensive end

School: Boise State

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 251 pounds

Achievements: 2013, 2012 first-team All-Mountain West, 2011 first-team JC Gridwire, 2011 second-team NJCAA All-American

What he brings: Lawrence is a versatile player who has demonstrated a good initial reaction off the snap with natural pass-rush ability. He needs to become stronger and play with more power to succeed at the next level.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: During his final season with the Broncos, Lawrence recorded 20.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks — the most in the Mountain West. … He was suspended three times during his time at Boise State — twice during the 2012 season (including for the Las Vegas Bowl) and one game of the 2013 season for unspecified violations of team rules. … Before committing to Boise State, Lawrence earned second-team NJCAA All-America honors at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan.

Related articles:

USA Today: Lots of teams looking at Demarcus Lawrence

Idaho Statesman: How Lawrence performed at the NFL scouting combine

Video: Here is a video highlighting Lawrence’s time with Boise State.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Demarcus Lawrence,

Why Matthew Slater feels ‘there’s a lot to be excited about’ Darrelle Revis and 2014 Patriots

04.22.14 at 4:01 pm ET
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Matthew Slater has shown the ability to fight his way up the ladder in his time in New England. (AP)

Matthew Slater has shown the ability to fight his way up the ladder in his time in New England. (AP)

FOXBORO — Matthew Slater is a natural-born optimist.

Every time the Patriots special teams captain speaks, you can hear it in his voice. So, it should come as no surprise that Slater is like all the other Patriots players who are reacting to the addition of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and the chances for the 2014 Patriots.

“I’ve gotten a few chances to visit with Revis,” Slater said Tuesday, taking a break from his workout at Gillette. “Obviously, competing against him over the years, got a chance to meet him and spend some time with him in Hawaii this year. Really a good guy, does everything the right way, plays the game the right way, and you respect that about a guy, no matter who he plays for. If he plays the game hard and plays the game the right way, you respect it and he’s definitely one of those guys.

“I don’t really follow a whole lot of football in the offseason. I heard it and that would be great if he came [to the Patriots] I thought. Obviously, when you get a player like that, you’re excited about the opportunity to play with them. You know what he brings to the table. They’re 31 other teams out there that are trying to get done what they need to get done. And we’ve got to try to focus on us and improve.”

Slater and Revis spent time together in Hawaii this past January, when Slater participated in his third straight Pro Bowl. His father, Jackie, was a seven-time Pro-Bowler. With 10 Pro Bowl nods between them, the Slaters are the second most nominated family in NFL history. (Archie, Eli, and Peyton Manning have 18).

Revis is just one of a handful of new additions that will be on hand this spring and summer when the Patriots get back on the field to begin practicing for real. In addition to Revis and Browner, there’s wide receiver Brandon LaFell and all the draft picks and rookie free agents who will be descending upon Foxboro. This week marks the true beginning for NFL teams, as players are permitted back at their club’s facilities for offseason weight lifting and training.

“There’s a lot to be excited about,” Slater said. ‘There’s some extremely talented players that we’ve added to the roster along with some extremely talented players that we’ve had here for a while. All that is on paper. It really doesn’t mean anything right now. We haven’t even had one practice together. We have a long ways to go.

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Read More: Archie Manning, Darrelle Revis, Eli Manning, Jackie Slater

Matthew Slater explains why Patriots are ‘ultimately the perfect fit’ for his career

04.22.14 at 2:09 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Matthew Slater knows a good thing when he sees one.

Being special teams captain on a perennial winner like the Patriots, with a chance to go to the Super Bowl nearly every season certainly qualifies.

Add to the fact that his coaches are special teams coach Scott O’Brien and head coach Bill Belichick, and it’s no surprise that Slater is loving life in New England, with no intentions of going anywhere else. Slater is entering the third and final year of a deal worth $5.4 million, signed in March 2012.

Taking time out from his offseason workout program inside Gillette Stadium, Slater, the special teams captain of the Patriots for the last three seasons, says he and the Patriots are a perfect fit because of the coaching he has received.

“I really feel like this is ultimately the perfect fit because coach Belichick understands that you have to have solid effort in all three phases to have a good football team,” Slater said. “That’s something he values and they value here and fortunate for me, I’ve been able to have a little bit of success doing that.

“I definitely think the cerebral part of the game, and really thinking about what you’re doing, having a plan of attack, understanding how you’re being attacked or blocked, understanding what you’re trying to do return-wise. He’s really opened my mind to just being more than a fast guy that’s running down and throwing my body around. It’s a thinking man’s game, believe it or not. He’s really helped me in that area. There’s also been things physically that he’s challenged me to do better. I’m really thankful to have played for a coach like that.”

Ironically, Slater, who is already entering his seventh season with the Patriots, has been in New England longer than his current special teams coach.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brad Seely, Matthew Slater, New England Patriots

Which teams are most likely to deal on draft weekend?

04.22.14 at 11:38 am ET
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Bill O'Brien and the Texans hold the No. 1 pick this year, but will they be interested in dealing out of the top spot? (AP)

Bill O’Brien and the Texans hold the No. 1 pick this year, but will they be interested in dealing out of the top spot? (AP)

With draft weekend approaching, which teams will be the most inclined to make some moves? Here are the five teams most likely to swing a deal:

1. Texans trade down – Houston holds the keys to the kingdom with the No. 1 overall pick, and no one is quite sure what’€™s going to happen. Do the Texans make what could be the safe play and go for Jadeveon Clowney at No. 1, pair him with J.J. Watt and give offensive coordinators a collective ice-cream headache for the next decade? (And hope that a quarterback can be had in the upper reaches of the second round?) Do they take a quarterback at No. 1 and roll the dice with one of the most polarizing group of signal-callers in recent memory? Or do they trade down and hope to find a player of impact, a hypothesis put forth by Peter King? (Trade down to another spot in the Top 10, land a potential game-changer in linebacker Khalil Mack and acquire more picks along the way.) For what it’€™s worth, if the last time a team dealt the top pick prior to the draft was 2001, when the Chargers dealt the No. 1 overall pick to Atlanta for a first-round selection, a third-rounder, and receiver/return man/yoga enthusiast Tim Dwight. The Falcons used the selection on Michael Vick.

2. Falcons trade up – Thomas Dimitroff has shown a willingness to push all their chips to the middle of the table and go after a highly-touted prospect before — witness what they did in 2011 to go after Julio Jones, dealing five draft picks to move up to the sixth spot and land the star receiver. As a result, it’€™s probably no surprise they’ve been mentioned as possible trade partners with the Texans, or perhaps the Rams at No. 2. Because the Falcons have Matt Ryan, Atlanta, which has the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, is probably the only team in the upper reaches of the draft that really doesn’€™t need to worry about a quarterback. That means it can pretty much steer clear of the Johnny Manziel/Blake Bortles/Teddy Bridgewater melodrama and focus on the defensive side of the ball. The thinking is if they do decide to trade up, it would be to chase after Clowney with one of the top two picks. If they decide to stick at No. 6, the thinking is it would try and land Mack.

3. Patriots trade down – Since Bill Belichick arrived prior to the 2000 draft, the Patriots have never had a completely trade-free draft weekend, and more often than not, they’ve traded down. Last year, New England held the No. 29 overall pick, and swung a deal with the Vikings where it dealt that selection for a second-round pick (No. 52 overall), third-round pick (No. 83 overall), fourth-round pick (No. 102) and seventh-round pick (No. 229). Ultimately, Minnesota took receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, while the Patriots got linebacker Jamie Collins (52), defensive back Logan Ryan (83) and wide receiver Josh Boyce (102), and used the seventh-round selection as part of a deal that ultimately netted them running back LeGarrette Blount from Tampa Bay. As far as possible trade partners, since Belichick took control, New England has made nine draft-related deals with the Raiders (although none since Al Davis passed away), seven with the Broncos, and six each with the Packers and Eagles. One other note worth passing along. Since he took over in 2000, Belichick has made draft-related deals with every team in the league except two: the Jets and Colts.

4. Ravens trade down – Like the Patriots, the Ravens have always been active when it comes to making draft-related deals, and this year should be no different for a few reasons, including the fact that the Ravens have the least amount of picks in the draft with four, including just one Day 3 selection. One thing to remember, at least from a New England perspective: The Patriots and Ravens have made five draft-related deals since Belichick took over New England in 2000, and have always shown a willingness to help facilitate trades. It wouldn’€™t be a surprise to see Belichick and old friend Ozzie Newsome put together at least one deal this time around.

5. Rams trade down – St. Louis owns two first-round picks — the No. 2 overall selection (thanks to a 2012 deal with the Redskins for Robert Griffin III) and its own No. 13 pick. At the combine in February, Rams GM Les Snead said trading out of the second overall spot is “definitely an option,”€ and seemed to hint that there’€™s more depth about the board this time around than in year’€™s past. “€œI think sitting at two, this is going to be a little bit different than (2012),”€ he said. “€œWhen we went out to Indy the last time (2012), it seemed like everyone knew who pick one was going to be (Andrew Luck). And probably what pick two was going to be (RGIII). I’€™m not sure we’€™re going to leave Indy and know who pick one is going to be.”€ For what it’€™s worth, Snead has never been shy about trading high-level picks. In 2012, the Rams moved from No. 2 to No. 6, and then again to No. 14 on draft night. Last year, St. Louis traded up from No. 16 to No. 8 to land receiver Tavon Auston before trading down from No. 22 to No. 30 before selecting linebacker Alec Ogletree.

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: LSU DT Ego Ferguson

04.22.14 at 9:10 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Ego Ferguson (AP)

After seeing limited action in 2012, Ego Ferguson (right) had a breakout season as a junior in 2013 with 58 tackles on the LSU defensive line. (AP)

EGO FERGUSON

Position: Defensive tackle

School: LSU

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 315 pounds

Achievements: 2013 All-SEC honorable mention

What he brings: Ferguson has good size for his position and, according to scouts, he also has good vision of the field as well as a solid ability to track the ball. Scouts also say, though, that he has a tendency to play too high and is not as quick as other defensive tackles.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-4

Notes: Ferguson moved into a starting role as a junior in 2013 and amassed 48 tackles. He missed the Outback Bowl for what the team said was an undisclosed medical issue, and he did not run at the NFL scouting combine because of a right ankle injury (although he did post 24 reps on the bench press). … After spending the first three years of his high school career in Maryland, Ferguson transferred to Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. Ferguson was ranked the No. 31 overall high school prospect in the nation and was a U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant. The Mims, Fla., native redshirted during the 2010 season and was a reserve player during his freshman and sophomore years before he became a starter during his junior year.

Related articles:

The Times-Picayune: LSU pro day breakdown: Defensive tackle Ego Ferguson

Baton Rouge Advocate: LSU defense plays with pride, honors missing Ego Ferguson

Video: Here is a video highlighting Ferguson’s performance against Mississippi State

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Ego Ferguson,

Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on Bill Parcells, Ty Law, Patriots Hall of Fame

04.21.14 at 5:56 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss why Bill Parcells belongs in the Patriots Hall of Fame as one of three finalists this year on the team’s ballot. Parcells was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton in 2013. Fans can vote for Parcells or other finalists Ty Law and Raymond Clayborn at the team’s website, Patriots.com.

Read More: Bill Parcells, New England Patriots, Patriots Hall of Fame, Raymond Clayborn
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