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Patriots sign first-round pick Dominique Easley

06.23.14 at 2:44 pm ET
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Dominique Easley

Dominique Easley

The Patriots announced Monday that they have signed their first-round draft pick, Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley.

The 22-year-old was selected with the 29th overall pick after playing just three games as a senior for the Gators due to a knee injury. The 6-foot-2, 288-pound Martin finished his Florida career with 81 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks and one fumble recovery in 32 games (26 starts).

The Patriots also announced the signing of rookie free agent Chris Martin, an offensive lineman from Central Florida.

Martin, 24, signed with Texans on May 16 but was released 11 days later. A 6-foot-5, 305-pounder, Martin was named to the All-American Athletic Conference second team as a senior after starting 11 games at right tackle and two at left tackle.

Read More: Chris Martin, Dominique Easley,

Numbers game: Tom Brady can move up several all-time statistical lists in 2014

06.23.14 at 1:43 pm ET
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Quarterback Tom Brady is in the Top 10 of most of the NFL's major all-time statistical categories. (AP)

Quarterback Tom Brady is in the top 10 of most of the NFL’s major all-time statistical categories. (AP)

When it comes to covering the NFL, one of the greatest single resource tools is the statistical database at Pro Football Reference. And sparked by the discussion regarding whether or not Adrian Peterson has a legitimate shot at catching Emmitt Smith for the all-time rushing record, we decided to take a look at where Tom Brady stands — at least statistically — when it comes to measuring his individual numbers against some of the best in the game.

Career passing touchdowns — 359, fifth overall.
Like most of the rest of the categories, he’s a step or two behind Drew Brees. In this case, Brees has 363 career passing touchdowns, fourth on the list. However, Brady and Brees should be able to pass Dan Marino within the next two years, as the former Miami quarterback is third  all time with 420. Meanwhile, Brett Favre (508) and Peyton Manning (491) are at the top of the list.

Career passing yards — 49,149, seventh overall.
He’ll likely pass Warren Moon (49,325 career passing yards) relatively early in the season to move into sixth place. Brees is fifth overall at 51,081, and he will almost certainly add to that total in 2014. He and Brady should pass John Elway this year, as the former Broncos QB is fourth overall at 51,475 career yards. After that, it gets a little dicey — the top three are far removed from the rest of the field, at least at this point. Favre is first overall with 71,838 yards, Manning is No. 2 at 64,964, while Marino is third at 61,361. Again, once Manning, Brees and Brady are all done, they will all be in the Top 5 all time, provided they stay on their current pace.

Career passes completed — 4,178, fifth overall.
Brady is part of a top five of Favre (6,300, first), Manning (5,532, second), Marino (4,967, third) and Brees (4,481). Assuming that Brees is going to keep slinging it for at least the next three years, it appears unlikely Brady could pass him, but the Patriots quarterback could pass Marino between now and the end of his career, which would likely have him fourth when he decides to call it a career.

Career passing attempts — 6,586, good for ninth overall.
Brady figures to pass Vinny Testaverde for the eighth spot some time in the first month of the season, as he’s only 115 attempts behind Testaverde. In fact, he could rise a couple of notches on this list, as Drew Bledsoe (6,717, seventh) and Moon (6,823, fifth) are within reach this season. Of course, he probably won’t leapfrog Brees, who is sixth overall at 6,799. For comparisons sake, Favre (10,169) and Manning (8,452) are 1-2.

Career interceptions — 134, 70th overall
When you’re talking about the Brady/Brees/Manning group, one area where he’s better than his contemporaries (although you could say it’s because he’s attempted fewer passes) is interceptions. Among current active quarterbacks, Manning has 219 career picks (19th place on the all-time list), while Brees is second at 177 (38th in NFL history). Eli Manning is third with 171 (43rd on the all-time list), Jon Kitna is fourth with 165. Brady is seventh with 134 career interceptions, 70th overall. Again, by way of comparison, Favre is tops with 336 career interceptions, 59 more than George Blanda, who is second overall at 277.

Career completion percentage (minimum 1,500 pass attempts) — 63.4 percent, 11th overall
One statistical area that’s hard to define is career completion percentage. PFR has a minimum of 1,500 pass attempts needed to qualify, so you see quarterbacks on this list that might not necessarily be considered elite-level signal callers. However, it’s still a good indication of a quarterback’s decision making skills and his comfort level in the offense. At this point, Brady has a 63.4 percent career completion rate, which is 11th on the all-time list. Chad Pennington is the all-time leader with a 66 percent completion rate. Compared to the other lists — including Brady — nine of the top 12 quarterbacks on the list are still active, with Brees (65.9 percent, second), Aaron Rodgers (65.8 percent, third) and Manning (65.5 percent, fourth) rounding out the active quarterbacks who are currently in the top five.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Brett Favre, Chad Pennington, Dan Marino

Patriots announce training camp practices will begin July 24

06.23.14 at 1:24 pm ET
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Note: Updated with times and more details.

The Patriots announced Monday their first training camp practices will be held on Thursday, July 24.

Veterans are expected to report on Wednesday, July 23, while the first full training camp practice will be open to the public the following day at 9:15 a.m. The Patriots will practice once daily, and have confirmed that they will be conducting practices from July 24 through Sunday, July 27, at 9:15 a.m. each day.

The first preseason game is Thursday, Aug. 7, at Washington. The following week, the Patriots will hold joint practices with the Eagles on Aug. 12 and 13 (2 p.m. each day) before hosting Philadelphia on Friday, Aug. 15.

The Patriots Hall of Fame induction for Ty Law will take place Friday, Aug. 1, at 4:30 p.m. The ceremony, to be held outside The Hall at Patriot Place, is free and open to the public. That will be followed by the team’s annual in-stadium practice for season ticket-holders at 7 p.m.

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

Aaron Hernandez leaves jail for brief visit to hospital

06.23.14 at 8:55 am ET
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Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was taken to a local hospital for a confidential medical issue over the weekend, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said Sunday.

Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in connection with the deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in the South End in 2012 and the slaying of Odin Lloyd in 2013, was taken from his cell in Bristol County jail in Dartmouth to St. Luke’€™s Hospital in New Bedford Saturday.

Hernandez was not there for long, returning to Bristol County jail about an hour after he left. Hodgson could not reveal the reason for Hernandez’€™s hospital visit, citing medical privacy laws.

Hernandez’€™s trip to the hospital came just a day after his lawyers, Michael Fee and James Sultan, announced in a transfer request that their client should be moved to another prison closer to Boston because communication between both parties as well as Hernandez’€™s well being are at risk at Bristol County.

Fee and Sultan said that Hernandez has dealt with “bizarre and unprecedented”€ issues during his attempts to communicate with then, as the former Pro Bowler cannot talk in private on the phone and can only meet with his lawyers in a specifically designated room at Bristol County.

Hernandez’€™s lawyers added that they believe Hernandez’€™s life is at risk after he faced charges for allegedly threatening to kill a prison guard and his family, as well as an alleged jail brawl with a fellow inmate. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to these charges.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Bristol County, Daniel de Abreu, Odin Lloyd

Sunday NFL Notes: Even though it’s quiet, team-building and roster-tweaking continues through June, July

06.22.14 at 6:00 am ET
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Getting first-round pick Dominique Easley signed will likely be the top priority over the next couple of weeks, but that doesn't mean it'll be completely quiet when it comes to personnel moves for the Patriots. (AP)

Getting first-round pick Dominique Easley signed likely will be the top priority over the next couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be completely quiet when it comes to personnel moves for the Patriots. (AP)

1. With the spring practice sessions — OTAs and minicamp — squarely in the rearview mirror, there’€™s the assumption that the NFL pretty much goes dark and rosters are frozen over the next six weeks until the start of training camp in late July. And while there are few seismic moves made between now and the start of training camp, there’€™s always some roster movement, a reminder that the team-building process never stops. Last year — not counting the signing of their own draft picks — the Patriots made eight personnel moves between the end of minicamp (June 13) and the start of training camp (July 25). Those moves included the release of tight end Aaron Hernandez and wide receiver Donald Jones, as well as the addition of practice squadder Justin Green and Tim Tebow‘€™s favorite target, wide receiver Quentin Sims. This year, there are a few moves New England could make between now and late July, including the addition of veteran tight ends like Jermichael Finley or Dustin Keller. In addition, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them shuffle some personnel at the back end of the roster trying to gain more depth at a variety of positions. (Linebacker? Tight end?) In addition, there are always interesting prospects who become available for one reason or another at this time on the calendar. And as of Saturday afternoon, first-round pick Dominique Easley remains unsigned. The larger point here, however, is that there are always moves to be made, even if we are in the most fallow period of the NFL calendar.

2. In that same vein, there’€™s been some talk out there about the Patriots’€™ interest level two veteran defensive free agents who are still available, cornerback Brandon Flowers and defensive end Jason Babin.

a. Flowers, 28, is a 5-foot-10, 190-pounder out of Virginia Tech who has been in the league for six seasons and has 17 interceptions over the course of his career. Last year, he had 71 tackles (65 solo) and one interception. He’€™s just three years from signing a five-year, $50 million deal with Kansas City, with that deal playing a sizable role in Kansas City’€™s decision to move on from Flowers. In the past he’€™s shown an ability to be a game-changer (his five picks in 2009 are certainly proof of that) and while New England has never been shy about loading up at a particular spot, he might be a little out of New England’€™s price range, at least at this point. Of the teams who are reportedly in the hunt for Flowers, the Vikings might have something close to an inside track for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they have the most money currently available under the cap — according to Sportrac — when it comes to the teams who have shown the most interest.

b. As for Babin, it feels like New England has been down this road before. The 34-year-old defensive end, who was cut loose recently by the Jaguars, has 62.5 career sacks in 10 seasons in the league, and likely at least drew the Patriots interest when he was on the open market in the past. At this stage of his career, he’€™s likely a situation pass rusher, and if New England went after him, he would be a part of a crowded picture at defensive end, a group that includes Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Will Smith, Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette. Two thoughts jump off the page when you’€™re talking about Babin: one, if the Patriots are inclined to show interest, it could be an indication that Smith isn’€™t quite where he needs to be at this stage of the offseason. And two, in most cases when a guy has played for so many different teams over the course of his career, it could be a red flag. In Babin’€™s case, he’€™s been with six teams in 10 seasons in the NFL, an extraordinary number, even in today’€™s transitory world of professional football. New England could do its due diligence and kick the tires on Babin, but from this viewpoint, it would be a surprise if he was wearing a Patriots uniform when camp opens next month.

3. Some quick thoughts on the playbook story involving the Patriots, Jets and former New York assistant (and current Cleveland coach) Mike Pettine that caused a minor flap this week:

As many of my colleagues have pointed out over the course of the week, NFL playbooks are astoundingly easy to obtain. I have been given a couple of old Patriots playbooks, but at the same time, anyone can type “NFL playbooks”€ into Google and take a look at several from the last decade-plus. And while there’€™s something to be said for the idea that the playbook may have been obtained through nefarious means — and can occasionally be used as a first step in deciphering patterns and schemes — as my colleague Matt Chatham inferred in this tweet, a playbook is different than a game plan. Two completely different things: A playbook is purposefully kept vague, with many broad brushes to be used over the course of a season. A game plan is extremely specific in nature, and changes from week to week. There’€™s a reason you can’€™t find “NFL game plans”€ through Google.

Regardless, Pettine tried to quell the story with clarification about what he meant.

“€œMost playbooks are very broad,”€ Pettine said Friday. “We’€™ll have 80 [defensive formations] in a playbook, 30 in a game plan. We’€™ll add six or seven new ones for a given game.”

He also said he didn’t mean to imply Bill Belichick obtained the information illegally.

“€œIt’€™s a credit that [the Patriots] have been able to get that information,”€ Pettine added. “€œI didn’t mean to imply it was gathered illegally. To me, it’s a sign of a smart team. We’re not actively pursuing playbooks, but when they fall in your laps, you’ll study it.”

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Michael McCann on D&C: ‘Patriots really don’t have any legal relationship to the alleged victims’ of Aaron Hernandez

06.20.14 at 11:39 am ET
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Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to discuss a possible civil suit the Patriots could face as a result of the Aaron Hernandez murder case. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Michael McCann

Michael McCann

The Patriots have been named co-defendants in a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Hernandez. The lawyer representing families of two Dorchester men allegedly gunned down by the former tight end is seeking a court order to prevent the team from paying $3.25 million contract bonus he is owed.

“They’re usually successful against the defendant himself. They’re less successful against the employer, and that’s because the legal relationship of the employer of the defendant and the victim is often very tenuous,” McCann said. “And I think that’s true here, where the Patriots really don’t have any legal relationship to the alleged victims of Hernandez, where Hernandez clearly does have a relationship with those victims.”

The Patriots terminated Hernandez’s contract following his arrest for Odin Lloyd‘s murder last year, but the NFL Players Association has filed a grievance for Hernandez’s $3.25 million in signing bonus money he says he is owed.

McCann said the victim’s families want the money the Patriots may owe Hernandez depending on the result of the independent NFL grievance process.

“In terms of the legal theory it’s pretty weak that the Patriots have any obligation to these families, and that’s because Hernandez wasn’t acting within the scope of his employment with the Patriots when these murders happened,” McCann said. “Assuming for a minute that he’s guilty, what relationship did the Patriots have when he did it? It wasn’t happening as a New England Patriot; it wasn’t happening during work hours; it didn’t occur at Gillette Stadium, there was no team function.

“It seems like a pretty weak argument between the Patriots and these victims who they have no legal duty to protect. So I think it’s going to be hard to argue that the Patriots have any legal relationship.”

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Dennis & Callahan, Michael McCann,

5 picked-up pieces from end of Patriots minicamp

06.20.14 at 6:00 am ET
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Darrelle Revis had long sleeves and long pants on throughout the spring workouts, no matter the temperature. (AP)

Darrelle Revis had long sleeves and long pants on throughout the spring workouts, no matter the temperature. (AP)

1. Darrelle Revis was pretty much instantly identifiable whenever he stepped on the field this spring for a few reasons, not the least of which was the fact that — no matter the weather — he was always dressed in long sleeves and long sweatpants. Not only that, he was layered, even though things were pretty hot and steamy on two of the three days of mandatory minicamp. He was asked why he wore so many clothes throughout his workouts, and he smiled and said he’s always been about the long sleeves.

“Always, man,” he said. “It’s just learning from the old guys when I was younger, man. The Ty Laws. The David Barretts. Guys that I used to look up to. Then you asked them the question, you come out in shorts and a T-shirt. They’re dressed in long sleeves and sweat jackets and you’re like ‘Why you wearing that?’ All DBs say you’ve got to stay warm, because we run a lot. That’s the answer. We’ve got to stay warm. I always try to stay covered, man.

“And I don’t want to get a tan, either.”

For what it’s worth, Revis acknowledged he wasn’t on the field at the end of practice on Wednesday. Asked if there was any cause for concern, he seemed to suggested there wasn’t a problem.

“No [cause for concern]. I’m fine. I’ll leave the injury report up to Bill,” he said. “Whatever he says, he says. But I’m fine. I was here today and I practiced today.”

Two more notes about the defensive backs: One, the last two years, they were a very happy-go-lucky group, with Aqib Talib serving as a good time ringleader, and veteran Marquice Cole always managing to keep things light. It’s still early (and things could change once we get a chance to see them interact on a daily basis together in the locker room), but this year’s group appears to be much more businesslike than the last couple of seasons. In their initial meetings with the media — Thursday’s joke from Revis about tanning aside — there’s a different tone about this group this time around. And two, when it comes to the rest of the secondary, the job of the safety position opposite Devin McCourty is Duron Harmon‘s to lose, with Tavon Wlson and Patrick Chung behind him.

2. With Aaron Dobson still on the shelf because of a foot issue and Brandon LaFell in and out of the lineup, fellow wideout Kenbrell Thompkins did a nice job of taking advantage of the opportunities that were afforded him this spring, at least from this viewpoint. The receiver, entering his second season in New England, got extensive work with the starting offense, and had perhaps the sweetest offensive play of minicamp relatively early in Wednesday’s session. In 11-on-11 work, he and quarterback Tom Brady connected on a pass play in the corner of the end zone. The ball was lofted over the outstretched arms of cornerback Brandon Browner, floated out there by the quarterback to a spot where only Thompkins could catch it. The receiver came down the with ball, much to the delight of the rest of the offense.

“That was very challenging,” Thompkins said when asked about the play after practice. “Brandon Browner is a tremendous athlete — [a] lengthy guy, long arms. But it’€™s our job to come down with it.”

From this viewpoint — if history is any indication — Thompkins is still a candidate for the roster bubble. But in the series of workouts that were open to the media, he certainly made an impressive statement, and likely solidified his spot on the roster as a result.

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