|05.29.14 at 12:01 pm ET|
Cross “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis with a dose of life in the NFL, and you’ve got Julian Edelman‘s new YouTube show, “Burgertyme.” Here’s the initial episode, with special guest star Chandler Jones.
|05.29.14 at 11:49 am ET|
With the spring practice sessions now in full swing, there are a handful of players who have spent some time in the system who are on what could be called a preliminary roster bubble. It’s important to remember that there’s a lot of football between now and the start of the regular season, and so these players will have plenty of chances to turn things in their favor. But at first glance, here are five vets who need a good spring and summer to solidify their spot on the roster.
Defensive end Jake Bequette — Bequette has been a non-factor in his first two seasons in the NFL. He’s been a game-day inactive for 25 of a possible 32 regular-season games in that stretch. With the acquisition of veteran Will Smith this spring, there’s more urgency to Bequette’s situation. He needs to take advantage of his reps this spring and summer and display the consistency that made him the 90th overall selection by the Patriots in 2012.
Defensive end Michael Buchanan — While Buchanan might not have the same sense of urgency around his situation as Bequette — Buchanan just completed his first year — he still needs to turn thing up a notch this spring if he wants to be considered a key part of the defense in 2014. The arrival of Smith and the fact that Buchanan dropped off the radar screen at the end of last season combine to make it imperative that the Illinois product has a good spring and summer if he wants to be a part of the regular defensive rotation in the fall.
Defensive back Tavon Wilson — According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson played just 19 defensive snaps in 2013. Nineteen. (As a refresher, he was the 48th overall pick in the 2012 draft.) For a team that was in need of some help at safety over the course of the season, this doesn’t bode well for the Illinois product. To be fair, he did end up being a core member of New England’s special teams unit. And he should get every opportunity to compete for the strong safety position this spring and summer, considering the depth at that spot is woefully thin, at least at this point. Regardless, anyone who ends up playing less than 20 defensive snaps over the course of the whole season and only has two inactives on the year … that doesn’t bode well for their future.
Tight end D.J. Williams — The tight end uttered one of our favorite quotes of 2013. Shortly after he was acquired, he was asked about the New England offense: “It’s just the terminology,’ Williams said. ‘The concepts are pretty much the same. It’s just called different. It’s like trying to pick up Spanish. This offense is very attractive and if you found a very attractive Hispanic lady, you’d pick [her] up pretty quick.” Right now, Williams figures to be on the back end of the depth chart, but if the Patriots do end up picking up free agent tight end Dustin Keller after June 1, he could be trying to woo someone else in some other locale come training camp.
Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins — We covered many of the reasons that the heat could be on KT going into his second year here, but when it comes to personnel and scheme and packages — as well as measuring overall special teams value — it’s clear that Thompkins could use a couple of good months. New England usually heads into the season with either five or six wide receivers on its roster — if the Patriots choose Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson, that’s four. Matthew Slater is a receiver in name only, but the special teams captain still needs a position, so we’ll award him the fifth spot. The last spot could come down to Thompkins or Josh Boyce, and Boyce has demonstrated special teams value while Thompkins has not. (Things could change if the Patriots tweak their personnel in some other offensive skill position areas — one fewer back or tight end.) Right now, it appears that Thompkins needs a good couple of months to solidify his spot on the roster.
|05.28.14 at 2:50 pm ET|
Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez appeared in Suffolk Superior Court Wednesday afternoon and entered pleas of not guilty to seven charges related to a 2012 double-murder in Boston.
The judge ordered Hernandez held without bail — he already is being held on charges related to the murder of Odin Lloyd last summer — until his next court appearance June 24.
The Suffolk County DA appears to have the cooperation of Hernandez associate Alexander Bradley, who is believed to be the man who accompanied Hernandez the night of the double murder.
The prosecution laid out the case against Hernandez, describing in detail the events of July 16-17, 2012, when he encountered Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, the two victims. The victims are not believed to have had any familiarity with Hernandez prior to that night.
According to the prosecution, Hernandez was at Cure nightclub when he was bumped into by a dancing de Abreu, spilling Hernandez’s drink. When de Abreu failed to apologize, Hernandez told his friend that he believed de Abreu “deliberately dumped him and was trying him.” Although the two had no contact after that, Hernandez already had become “increasingly sensitive and angered” about what he felt was growing disrespect from people in various area nightclubs.
Hernandez later waited outside for the victims and followed them in his SUV when they drove away with three others in their car. Hernandez drove up alongside the victims’ car and said, “Yo, what’s up now” followed by a racial slur before pumping at least five rounds from a .38-caliber revolver into the car, killing the two men and wounding a third. Two others escaped by running out of the car.
Following the shooting, Hernandez drove to Hartford. He called his cousin, Tanya Singleton, who drove up from Bristol, Conn., and exchanged cars. The SUV was found last year in a garage belonging to a relative of Hernandez’s in Bristol. It had been thoroughly cleaned and had evidence that it had not been driven in a long time.
When the prosecutor finishing speaking, Hernandez’s attorney complained that the prosecution’s speech was unnecessary, and he criticized the fact that the hearing was held in a larger courtroom to accommodate the media. He voiced disapproval with the “spectacle” created by the DA’s office that he claimed was causing a “poisoning of the jury pool.”
The judge firmly rebuked the defense attorney and ended the proceeding after about 20 minutes.
|05.28.14 at 11:34 am ET|
The Aaron Hernandez story continues on Wednesday afternoon.
The former Patriots tight end is due in court to be arraigned on double-murder charges from a July 2012 incident in which he allegedly gunned down two men after an encounter inside a Boston nightclub.
Hernandez is set to appear in Suffolk Superior Court in the shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. A third man was wounded in the incident.
According to prosecutors, Hernandez and an associate followed the two men in an SUV after the encounter at the club, and opened fire after pulling alongside them as their vehicle stopped at a red light.
“This is a formal appraisal of the charges,” Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann told Dennis & Callahan. “He’s already in custody, so one of the key issues that would otherwise be divisive where he should held over has already been resolved. He’s not going to be able to leave custody because we know that he’s facing murder charges for Odin Lloyd.
“He’ll learn about the charges, and we also may get some more details about the motive — why he did it, things that haven’t yet been made clear. Although I expect the hearing will probably be short. I don’t think this is going to be as dramatic as the Odin Lloyd hearing. He’s already in jail, and I think the prosecution has let out information about this particular set of murders. … I think the significance is he’s going to be a football player who’s facing two separate murder cases, three separate murders in two separate counties, and it’s hard to imagine anything like this ever happening.”
Hernandez already is facing charges in the 2013 killing of Lloyd. He was released by the Patriots following his arrest.
|05.28.14 at 10:59 am ET|
Who’s the better quarterback: Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? It’s the popular question that has consumed football fans for the last decade and has led to countless heated debates on TV and radio and even in the workplace.
Aqib Talib thinks he knows the answer.
The former Patriots cornerback, who signed a six-year, $57 million deal with Manning’s Broncos this offseason, told NFL Network that he thinks Manning — the reigning MVP — is a better quarterback than his former teammate in New England.
“You’ve got to go Peyton Manning,” said Talib, who was named the No. 79 overall player in the 2014 in the network’s Top 100 players series. “Tom is a good friend of mine … what’s up Tom, baby?
“[Manning] had an awesome year. He tore it up. He like set the record for touchdowns. He beat Tom in the AFC championship. You’ve got to give it to Peyton. Tom knows — that’s my dog, man, he knows.”
Talib said it’s “definitely a different scenery” in Denver.
Another cornerback likely to join Talib on that list is Patriots newcomer Darrelle Revis, whom the Patriots opted to sign on a one-year deal rather than give Talib a long-term contract.
“[Bill Belichick] sure didn’t want to give me that money, so hey, man, he gave it to Revis,” Talib said. “It is what it is.’
Talib also commented on Wes Welker, who ended the corner’s season in the AFC championship game with a big hit in the middle of the field that infuriated Belichick.
“Man, me and Wes, we’re good, man. It’s a football play, man,” Talib said. “It just so happened it happened on a stage in the AFC championship game. I watched the play 1,000 times. I’m sure Wes didn’t do it on purpose.”
|05.27.14 at 5:39 pm ET|
The Patriots on Tuesday announced the signing of undrafted rookie wide receivers Wilson Van Hooser and Reese Wiggins, putting them at the roster limit of 90.
Van Hooser, who stands 6 feet, 197 pounds, had 13 catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns last season at Troy. He also returned 15 kicks for 237 yards. The Alabama native played his first three seasons at Tulane, recording 55 receptions for 805 yards and nine touchdowns before graduating.
Van Hooser participated in pro days and both of his former schools, and he turned some heads when he made a behind-the-back catch of an underthrown ball at Tulane.
Wiggins, 5-foot-11, 193 pounds, was an All-Conference USA honorable mention at East Carolina in 2013 after totaling 26 catches for 372 yards and four touchdowns. In his college career he had 80 receptions for 1,012 yards and eight touchdowns.
|05.26.14 at 10:47 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sat down with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King for an interview featured on King’s website, MMQB. In the 40-minute conversation, Brady dished on his future in the NFL, New England’s selection of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of the draft and his nine-year Super Bowl drought.
While Brady will turn 37 this August, he has not showed many signs of slowing down out on the gridiron. Last season Brady passed for 4,343 yards and 25 touchdowns while leading New England to the AFC championship game despite having a mostly inexperienced receiving corps at his disposal.
“It’s hard to explain this to people, but the commitment I make, in terms of keeping my body in shape and my nutrition right, should make me healthy,” Brady said. “I feel better today than when I was 25, and I know that’s hard for people to believe, but I do. I work at it. Basically, I work all offseason to prepare my body to not get hurt. I can’t help the team if I’m on the sidelines. I’ve got to be durable.”
Brady added: “There’s nothing that can wake me up at 5 o’clock in the morning on a Thursday morning in May like getting ready for a day of football. I want to play a long time. There’s nothing I like doing that’s close to football. What’ll I do when I’m done playing? I don’t know, but I know it won’t be nearly as fun. I can tell you neither me nor Peyton [Manning] will probably be very far from the game of football when we’re done.”
Bill Belichick surprised many at the draft by selecting Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois 62nd overall. It was the highest spot that the Patriots have drafted a quarterback since Drew Bledsoe was drafted first overall in 1993.
“I felt like I had a pretty good idea we’d take a quarterback,” Brady said. “Coach Belichick doesn’t care who the quarterback is here. He’s always going to play the guy who he thinks gives him the best chance to win. It’s not my role to choose players here, thankfully. And this is not the first time they’ve taken another quarterback, either. There’s no entitlement in the NFL. I don’t expect to be given anything. I just hope I’m the one most entitled to play that position for a long time here.”
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