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Michael Silver on M&M: ‘Arbitrary nature’ of NFL discipline troubling

08.25.11 at 1:48 pm ET
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Yahoo! Sports NFL writer Michael Silver joined the Mut & Merloni show Thursday afternoon, and he spent much of the conversation talking about Albert Haynesworth and the league’s disciplinary policy. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Haynesworth struck a deal with prosecutors Monday and pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge in a case involving a hotel restaurant waitress in Washington. There has been speculation that the new Patriots defensive lineman will escape punishment from commissioner Roger Goodell.

“In terms of Haynesworth, it’s another example of the arbitrary nature by which these things seem to be decided, and that’s how Roger Goodell likes it,” Silver said. “I believe in the negotiating process for this new CBA that [DeMaurice] Smith and the union should have pushed for some clarity in that process, among other things. And the notion that some of these people are now facing discipline for conduct that occurred during the lockout, to me, is just staggering. And if [Smith] signed off on that type of deal for some of them, as I report he did today, I think that’s just a terrible move by the union.”

Added Silver: “From what I can tell from the reports, it doesn’t look like [Haynesworth will be suspended], and that would be inconsistent. Players are troubled by the inconsistencies. I think what troubles them more is that when it comes to non-players, it’s just outright hypocrisy. Exhibit A being Tom Cable, when he was the coach of the Oakland Raiders [in August 2009], walking into a meeting with four assistants, one of whom emerged with a broken jaw and later told me Tom Cable tackled him and hilarity ensued.

“Roger Goodell exonerated Tom Cable. He never interviewed Randy Hanson, the assistant in question, who had the broken jaw. To my knowledge, he never interviewed Tom Cable or the other three witnesses in that room. And then he went out and said, ‘You know what, it’s all good. No punishment for Tom Cable.’

“If you’re a player, and you see something like that, and then you have guys getting punished for alleged offenses — or in Ben Roethlisberger‘s case, an offense for which he was not even charged — I think you wonder how there can be such a double standard.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Ben Roethlisberger, Bill Belichick, DeMaurice Smith

Bill Belichick ‘absolutely knew’ about legal issues of Albert Haynesworth

08.25.11 at 1:18 pm ET
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FOXBORO — After the arrival of Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth has been the single-biggest focal point of discussion in Patriots camp this week.

That continued on Thursday when Bill Belichick was asked if Haynesworth, who practiced for the third straight day Thursday, might play in his first preseason game this Saturday in Detroit.

“Obviously, players that are just coming back have a long way to go but it’s good to see all the players out there that have come back,” Belichick said. “We’ve had quite a few re-join us so that’s good. Every day they can get out there and practice and work on their skills, their techniques and start to work in their unit and start to develop that cohesiveness and that playing together, that’s good for them, good for the unit and good for the team.”

Then Albert Breer of the NFL Network began a 1-on-1 with Belichick on Haynesworth’s character and whether the Patriots knew of his legal issues when they traded for him before camp opened.

Was his absence the last two weeks due to injury?

“He missed practice because he wasn’t ready to practice,” Belichick answered.

Did he show up In shape?

“That’s as much as I can tell you,” Belichick said. “Players that are ready to practice, practice. The ones that aren’t don’t practice. When they’re ready, we put them out there.”

What about Haynesworth’s issues in Washington? How concerned were the Patriots?

“I can’t really tell you what happened anywhere else, Albert,” Belichick said. “I’m sure you can get a lot of details on him from somewhere else. But I can just tell you here when the players are ready to practice, they practice. When they’re not ready to practice, then they do what they need to get ready to practice. When they’re ready to go on the field, we put them out there on the field. It’s the same for everybody else.

“When they’re ready to practice, they practice. He was out there before that.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Albert Breer, Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Chad Ochocinco

Patriots in shorts and shells for Thursday morning practice

08.25.11 at 11:52 am ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots were in shorts and shells for the start of their Thursday morning practice session on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. No surprises when it came to the injury report, as the same 14 players were missing from practice on Thursday as Wednesday. Among the notables present were defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (on the field for the third consecutive day with his teammates), as well as running back Danny Woodhead (back for a second straight day after taking a nasty shot to the head in last Thursday’s preseason win over Tampa Bay).

The following players were not in attendance at the start of practice: Stevan Ridley, Leigh Bodden, Kevin Faulk, Malcolm Williams, Eric Kettani, Jeff Tarpinian, Dane Fletcher, Brandon Spikes, Marcus Cannon, Ryan Wendell, Brandon Deaderick, Jermaine Cunningham, Ron Brace and Mike Wright. With the Patriots trying to replicate a regular-season work schedule for this week’s preseason game ‘€” and traditionally, the players that miss practice at the end of the week do not play that weekend ‘€” those 14 players are probably a safe bet when trying to handicap who will play and who might miss Saturday’s game against the Lions in Detroit.

Read More: 2011 training camp,

Bill Belichick introduces us to ‘Jersey Rock’ and hopes to miss Hurricane Irene

08.25.11 at 11:32 am ET
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FOXBORO — Everyone who’s followed the career of Bill Belichick in the last decade is aware he is a huge Jon Bon Jovi fan, as well as a good friend of the rock star.

On Wednesday, he welcomed the rock star once again to one of his practices outside Gillette Stadium.

“That eases the music play selection,” Belichick chimed Thursday during a very wide-ranging presser with reporters. “We know what we’re playing that day.”

While he didn’t grow up there, obviously Belichick has serious New Jersey roots, having worked there with the Giants from 1979-90 and again with the Jets from 1997-99.

Belichick was then grilled about what happens when the Patriots play the music of another New Jersey-bred megastar – Bruce Springsteen – at practice. Is there an explanation needed?

“No! I think Jon and Bruce are Jersey rockers, Jersey rock stars,” Belichick answered without hesitation. “I think they have a pretty good relationship and mutual respect for each other. It’s different but it’s still Jersey rock and roll.”

Bon Jovi wasn’t the only big name in attendance Wednesday. Boston College hockey coach Jerry York stopped by and Belichick paid him a Rex Ryan-sized compliment.

“Pretty big day for us yesterday to have a guy who’s sold 120 million records and Jerry York out there that’s won whatever it is, 800 or 900-however many games, a lot more than I’ve won, I’ll tell you that. Interesting day,” Belichick said. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston College hockey, Bruce Springsteen, E-Street Band

Ras-I Dowling has some catching up to do, but how much?

08.24.11 at 7:18 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Clearly, the Patriots and Bill Belichick believe Ras-I Dowling has the potential of being a very special cornerback in the NFL or they wouldn’t have spent their second-round pick (33rd overall) on him this past April. After all, there aren’t many defensive backs who stand 6-foot-2, weigh 200 pounds, and who can hit, cover and possess a 4.4 in the 40.

But early on in his first NFL training camp, Dowling suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to miss 13 practices until returning to full pads practice on Monday.

“Just happy to be out there, happy to be out with the team and just try to get better every day,” Dowling said.

This is a player who — as a freshman at Virginia in 2007 — played in 12 games recording 44 tackles and two interceptions. As a sophomore in 2008 he started nine of 11 games. He finished the season with 43 tackles and a team leading three interceptions.

In 2009, Dowling was voted All-ACC second team. He was voted ACC Defensive Player of the week vs. Indiana with nine tackles and the first sack of his career. Dowling ended his junior season with three interceptions. Dowling was voted 2010 Pre-season All-ACC selection and second team All-American.

But on Wednesday, Dowling showed he clearly got the message to play it close to the vest and act like a rookie, humility and all.

What are his goals for the two weeks leading up to the season?

“Just get better every day, take one day at a time,” he said.

Since they went through some of the same growing pains, have young defensive backs Devin McCourty, Darius Butler and Patrick Chung offered advice? Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ACC, ACC football, Bill Belichick, football

Bill Belichick is the ‘best coach in the game,’ according to Rex Ryan

08.24.11 at 6:03 pm ET
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In an interview set to run Wednesday night on the NFL Network, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan talked about Patriots coach Bill Belichick and called him the ‘€œbest coach in the game.’€

‘€œI can put my resume out there, stats, with anybody’€™s who’€™s ever coached in this league. That’€™s a fact. Defensively, that’€™s a fact. But I don’€™t need any credit. I just want to win. I want what Bill Belichick’€™s got,’€ Ryan told Michael Irvin.

‘€œI think Bill Belichick is the best coach in this game. I don’€™t even think it’€™s close. But I’€™m trying. And I know one thing ‘€” he knows that I’€™m going to compete with him every time we play him,’€ he added. ‘€œIf it ever comes down to just me versus him, we’€™re going to end up on the short end of the stick. But when it’€™s about us ‘€” our football team versus his football team ‘€” that’€™s where I even have more confidence.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Michael Irvin, Rex Ryan,

With Ndamukong Suh up next, Tom Brady isn’t afraid to take a hit

08.24.11 at 6:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady remembers the first half last Thanksgiving in Detroit against then-super rookie Ndamukong Suh and the Lions.

The Lions made life tough on Brady, hurrying him several times, with Suh getting through for a sack (see below) on Brady’s first drive, as the Patriots offensive line was back on its heels. The Patriots trailed 17-10 at half before outscoring the Lions, 35-7, in the final two quarters to breeze to victory at Ford Field. Suh didn’t really bother Brady the rest of the game as he finished 21-of-27 for 341 yards, four TDs and a perfect rating of 158.3.

So this Saturday night is probably just the test Brady and the offensive line need to really see if they are close to game-ready for the regular season on Sept. 12.

“We played them last year, too, so we have a very good idea of the issues they present for the front, with the running backs included,” Brady said. “It’€™s a very talented group ‘€“ a very talented front, especially pass rushing. They can get after the quarterback, so you’€™re not going to be standing back there holding onto it for too long ‘€“ not that we do that very often anyway.”

Of course, it won’t just be Suh but Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams who can make life tough on Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Matt Light, Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer.

“But especially a week like this where all those guys really feed off the sacks, the negative plays, their crowd really feeds into it ‘€“ really what was evidenced by us in the first half of the game last year,” Brady added. “That’€™s always a concern when you play a team with a good front, so there’€™s a lot of thought that goes into play calling, and obviously me making quick decisions and getting rid of the ball.”

While not being sacked, Brady was hit several times in the legs, including twice near the knees in last Thursday’s 31-14 win at Tampa. He doesn’t want to get hurt of course, but getting hit, Brady said Wednesday, does serve a purpose.

“That’€™s part of the preseason process ‘€“ to have guys sack you and knock you on the ground so your body can kind of callous to those hits. Hopefully not too much, but enough where you can — that’€™s actually a nice thing to have happen for a quarterback is to get hit you kind of settle into the game because everybody goes out there with some anxiety, some nerves. The offensive linemen, it gets knocked out of them pretty quick because they’€™re able to hit somebody right across from the line of scrimmage. For a quarterback, it’€™s nice sometimes to take a hit and you really settle into the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Corey Williams, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, detroit lions
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