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Highlights from Tuesday conference calls with Belichick, Brown and Caserio

09.14.10 at 3:50 pm ET
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Here are some of the highlights from Tuesday afternoon’s conference calls with Bill Belichick, Corwin Brown and Nick Caserio:

Bill Belichick
Opening statement

“We of course spent a lot of time watching the Jets in the offseason and even in the preseason a little bit when we had a little break. Of course now we’re into them all the way. [They’re a] good football team. [They] had an outstanding year last year. They have a lot of weapons. They’re very aggressive. They obviously did a good job against us down there last year in the first game. We know we’ll be going into a hornet’s nest this week. They’re tough. They’re well coached. They’re physical. They play hard and we have a good rivalry with them. We know it will be that kind of game. It’s our first division game. [It’s] always good to get off to a good start in the division. We’ll need a real good week of preparation because they do a lot of things and they’re a hard team to get ready for. They have a lot of looks on defense and they give you a lot of looks and different personnel groupings and formations on offense, too. They’ll be a challenge from a preparation standpoint. [They’re] always good in the kicking game and that’s always a strong suit for them there, so we know that will be a big challenge for us, too.”

What is the most challenging thing about the Jets defensively, recognition or the physical act of blocking them?
“A little bit of both, but I’d say the bigger problem is just blocking them. Blocking them and getting open and blocking them in the running game, blocking them in the passing game, getting open. But they definitely give you some recognition problems and tough looks and move people around and try to defeat your protection schemes and that type of thing, so that’s very challenging, too. You can’t afford to turn a guy…it’s bad enough that you have to block them, but if you a turn a guy loose and miss him completely then you have no chance. First thing we have to do is get them identified and get them picked up.”

What kind of player is Kris Jenkins and how big of a difference is it if he can’t play?
“Kris is an outstanding player. There aren’t many guys like him. He’s a major force at his position. That being said, he missed a good part of the season last year and the Jets did very well. I don’t want to diminish anything that he’s done –really he’s an outstanding player, he’s one of on the toughest guys to block in the league– but at the same time, even without him last year, the Jets were very, very good on defense. Whoever’s in there we’ll have to do a good job with, however they do it, whoever it is, we’ll have to do a good job.”
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Fan dies after apparent heart attack at Pats game

09.14.10 at 1:24 pm ET
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A 40-year-old Patriots fan from Chicopee who had an apparent heart attack at Sunday’s season-opener and was taken to the field for medical assistance was later pronounced dead at Caritas Norwood Hospital, according to Foxboro fire chief Roger Hatfield. The man, who was attending the game with his 6-year-old son, was stricken about a half-hour before the start of the game while sitting near the south end zone. The man’s name was not made public.

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Randy Moss on comments: Not the best timing

09.14.10 at 12:18 pm ET
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Randy Moss

Randy Moss

In a wide-ranging interview on ESPN, Randy Moss acknowledged that the timing of his contract comments following Sunday’s season-opening win over the Bengals might not have been good, but that he felt he needed to say it.

“I think that the timing could have been bad, but it was actually my first time speaking to the media this year and I wanted to get it off my chest instead of waiting until Week 12 or Week 13 to where it really could be a distraction to our team and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Moss said. “It was something I just wanted to do. Maybe it was bad timing, but it’s something that I cleared my mind to feel good about myself.”

Asked if he recognized that the public perception is that his comments detracted from the Pats win, Moss answered, “I do understand that. But I think when it comes to the business side of football, hopefully my coaches and teammates didn’t take it in a disrespectful manner and understood where I was coming from. This is the first and last time that you’re going to hear me talking about my contract.”

Moss also said that he spoke with Bill Belichick and the coach told him to, “Watch what he does and watch what he says. I told him point blank, ‘Yes sir, I got you.’ Simple as that.”

Moss added that he was happy for Tom Brady, who signed a new contract last week, and that he wanted to remain with the Patriots.

“Let me say this again: I do not want to leave New England because I love what they do,” Moss said. “I love coach Belichick. I love the team. I love the coaching staff and I love playing here on Sundays. From a business standpoint, I have to look out for the best interests of me and my family. So, next year I don’t know where I’ll be playing. Hopefully it’s here in New England, but if it’s not here in New England then whoever wants to give me a shot to come and help their team I look forward to that opportunity.”

Since this is Jets week, it’s also time to talk about Moss’ rivalry with Darrelle Revis. Jets coach Rex Ryan told the New York Daily News, “There’s only one guy in this league that can cover Randy Moss, and that’s Darrelle Revis. Nobody else.” Revis amped things up over the summer when he called Moss a “slouch,” on the NFL Network.

“Words don’t really hurt me.,” Moss said. “I guess he’s entitled to say what he wants to say. Then again, coming into the Meadowlands on Sunday, you got 60 minutes of this slouch.”

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

09.14.10 at 11:54 am ET
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Maybe that’s what Rex Ryan was talking about on ”Hard Knocks” when he screamed to Darrelle Revis‘ agents, “Watch what happens Monday night!” What a crazy opening weekend around the National Football League. After months of trash talk, the “team to beat” in the NFL didn’t even look like it had a playoff caliber offense, never mind Super Bowl caliber. The Jets fall to No.9.

The Colts, Cowboys, and Chargers all lost to teams that didn’t even make the playoffs last year. The Lions were close to opening their season with a rare win, the Steelers didn’t need Ben Roethlisberger to beat the Falcons, and the Patriots shocked many around the league with a dominating win over the Bengals.

Despite all the madness that happened in Week 1, it’s still early and difficult to react too drastically. The Saints remain at No.1 after a very un-Saints-like victory over the Vikings Thursday night to kick off the season. The Ravens jump ahead two spots after the team’s defense physically dominated the Jets on Monday Night Football. Ray Lewis and Baltimore are at No. 2. The newest member of the top five is New England. The Patriots jumped out of the gate with a strong performance at home and their defense proved it can make big plays and put pressure on the passer. Tom Brady and the Pats are at No. 5.

Other notable teams that dropped in the rankings are the Cowboys, Chargers and Falcons. Following a bunch of head scratching and “what were they thinking?!” plays, the Cowboys fall hard to the No. 10 spot.

New Orleans Saints1. (Last week, 1) 1-0-0 The Saints played great defense, allowing just 171 passing yards and one touchdown. It was a sloppy game, but the defending champs did what they had to do and won. I’m guessing this will be the last time the Saints score 14 or less points all season.

2. (4) 1-0-0 WOW. Although the Jets offense is anemic, the Ravens defense played smash mouth football and was very impressive. Baltimore’s D held Mark Sanchez and the Jets to just nine points, 176 yards and six first downs. The Ravens also got the type of production they were hoping for from offseason acquisition Anquan Boldin.

Green Bay Packers3. (3) 1-0-0 Green Bay is a solid team all around. The key to its Super Bowl hopes lies within the team’s offensive line. If they can protect Aaron Rodgers, the Packers can compete for the championship.

4. (2) 0-1-0 The Texans followed the Dolphins’ format on how to beat the Colts — run the ball. Although the Dolphins were unsuccessful last year, the Texans ran the ball down Indy’s throat and managed to come out victorious. The Colts are too good to let that happen much more this season and will bounce back. They’re still the favorite to win the AFC South.

New England Patriots 5. (8) 1-0-0 The Patriots were very impressive in all three areas of the game: offense, defense and special teams. Enough can’t be said about the performance of the offensive and defensive lines. Brady was well protected and the Patriots found the pass rush everyone in New England has been looking for.

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Rex Ryan postgame comments

09.14.10 at 8:40 am ET
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Here’s a sampling of thoughts from a subdued Rex Ryan following the 10-9 Jets loss to the Ravens on Monday night (with thanks to …

Opening Statement:

This is obviously a very disappointing loss. That goes without saying. Every loss is tough. You have to tip your hat to the Ravens. Both of us knew it was going to be this kind of game. The two teams are built very similarly. They won the important downs, (especially) third down. We converted 1-of-11 on third down and they were 58 percent. That stat alone gets you beat, let alone 14 penalties. You have to give them credit.

We weren’t close in rushing attempts and completions, and that’s one of our staples as an organization. They ran the ball 34 times, and that’s important. I don’t know how many balls they completed, but it seemed like a bunch. One thing about this – it is a long season. It is one game, and I will say this: As everyone knows, I have confidence in every man in our locker room. There’s no question. We weren’t at our best today, but that’s a credit to the Ravens. I know we can get better, and that’s the challenge to us. We have to get better, and I believe we will.

Ryan was asked about the penalties (The Jets were flagged 14 times for 125 yards)

In the first half alone, I think we gave up five first downs on defense on holding calls, pass interference, and all that kind of stuff. That’s not who we are or how we play. We pride ourselves on being one of the least penalized defenses in the league. Today was a joke. They just threw it up there – shoot, I don’t blame them. Hope for a completion or a penalty. We’ve got to do a better job than that, and I believe we will.

Nose tackle Kris Jenkins left the game in the first quarter with a left knee injury, the same knee that required an operation to repair a torn ACL in October 2009.

Obviously, it’s a huge loss. There are very few Kris Jenkins out there. Baltimore has one in Haloti Ngata, who’s a great player. That’s a huge loss. I have no idea what the extent of the injury is, so I’m hopeful that it’s not serious, but clearly it was enough for him not to return to the game. We’re definitely hoping that he’ll be OK.

Ryan was asked about Mark Sanchez, who threw for just 74 yards and at times looked lost in the defeat.

I was alarmed that we couldn’t get off the field on defense more than I was alarmed that we did so little today offensively. That’s a pretty good team with an excellent defense. He (Sanchez) wasn’t the only one. He did misfire on a few passes, but quite honestly, he’s not the only guy that needs to improve. There’s a bunch of us that need to improve, and I believe we will.

Does the Patriots game mean even more after this loss?

It’s hard to make up games, that’s for sure. We all saw their game. New England looked pretty darn good. There are no easy games in this league. New England looks like they are right at the top, so we are going to have to play our best, no question.

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Is Marques Murrell the latest member of the Pats’ shadow roster?

09.13.10 at 8:46 pm ET
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Rams Patriots Football

Marques Murrell gets after St. Louis quarterback Keith Null earlier in the preseason. (AP)

FOXBORO — Outside linebacker Marques Murrell was cut by the Patriots today, as New England made room on the roster for offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka. But when the media made its way into the locker room for media availability, Murrell still had a locker. In addition, it was clear that the locker was essentially untouched — Murrell had a lot of his personal gear left.

So what gives?

“We just had to make room,” shrugged Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday when asked about the move. “[Murrell] played in the game [Sunday], so obviously we feel comfortable playing him, but we just had to make room.”

It’s unlikely that Murrell, who is signed through 2011, was just late to clean his stuff out of his locker. The move is a strong indication that the outside linebacker is the latest member of the Patriots’ shadow roster. An unofficial designation that’s common around the league, it’s for players who do not have practice squad eligibility, but need to be rotated off the roster because of a personnel glitch.

However, both the team and player have an understanding that he won’t be out of work for long, and they inevitably find their way back — occasionally because of injury — because they represent an excellent value.

Over the years, Patriots’ shadow roster players have included tight end Marcellus Rivers (who was signed, released and re-signed all within a month in 2007), safety Ray Ventrone, cornerback Hank Poteat and linebacker Chad Brown, all of whom were signed and released and returned on multiple occasions.

Probably the textbook shadow roster player for the Belichick-Era Patriots was offensive lineman Gene Mruczkowski — he was cut and re-signed by New England a dozen times between 2003 and 2007. An interior lineman, Mruczkowski’s biggest season in New England was 2004, when he played in 13 games, including Super Bowl XXXIX.

It’s unlikely Murrell is going to leave that kind of a legacy — considering New England’s lack of depth outside, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back in the locker room sooner rather than later.

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Proof that Moss led the cheers before heading to podium

09.13.10 at 7:31 pm ET
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Just moments before going up the podium after the Patriots’ 38-24 win over the Bengals Sunday, using much of a 16-minute question and answer session to talk about contract issues, Randy Moss led the cheers in the Pats’ locker room after a brief speech from head coach Bill Belichick. Thanks to the folks at Patriots Today on, here is video from the scene:

It was also reported earlier in the day by the Boston Herald that Moss and Belichick had met, and discussed the wideout’s post-game comments.

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