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Rex Ryan refuses to wish Shaun Ellis well in New England

08.07.11 at 8:54 pm ET
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Jets coach Rex Ryan had a few parting compliments for former defensive lineman Shaun Ellis after learning he signed with the Patriots, but according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Ryan refused to wish Ellis well in New England.

“The fact that he chose [the Patriots], there’s no way I’m going to wish him well,” Ryan said. “There’s no chance of that.”

Ellis reportedly wanted to stay in New York for an extended period, and turned down the one-year contract offered by the Jets. The 34-year-old defensive end had 36 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in 2010.

Read More: Rex Ryan, Shaun Ellis,

Why Brian Hoyer is playing mind games to stay sharp

08.07.11 at 2:37 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Now entering his third season in the NFL, Brian Hoyer is getting used to playing the game of football in his head.

Hoyer knows that what may look boring to some from a distance – the walk-throughs and casual appearance of practice without pads – is the lifeblood to his career, which includes completions on 26-of-42 passes for 264 yards and a TD over 10 NFL games, all in relief of Tom Brady.

Hoyer needs to stay sharp and mentally focused for any situation and circumstance that may arise in a game.

Remember the lesson Bill Belichick taught him in the season finale against the Texans on Jan. 3, 2010?

Brady played most of the game despite the Pats having already clinched their playoff spot. Belichick called on Hoyer late in the second quarter and on the Patriots’ last drive of the game, trailing 34-27.

“We didn’t really have anything set,” Belichick said at the time. “We just went out and played. We let him play a couple of times, maybe those are good situations that are going to come up for him. We played the game like we thought we needed to play it.”

The Patriots lost the game but Hoyer gained valuable experience that only game experience can teach.

And sometimes, when you’re the back-up QB taking reps with the second unit, the only way you can stay sharp is by watching what the first until does in practice and think through, ‘What would I do on that play?’

“You have to take a lot of mental reps,” Hoyer said. “There’s obviously not as many practices as we usually have in training camp so it’s a lot of more mental reps that you’re trying to get and whenever you get in there, you try to take the most advantage you can.

“I think with any extra year you have, there’s more comfort level but there’s always a lot of room to grow. With the limited amount of reps you have now, you really have to go out here and think about every play, even if you’re not the quarterback in there. You have to call the play in your mind and go through it just the way you would.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 training camp, Brian Hoyer, Michigan State, New England Patriots

Reaction from the Jets on news that Shaun Ellis is set to sign with Patriots

08.07.11 at 2:11 pm ET
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Courtesy of Randy Lange of NYJets.com, here’s a sampling of some reaction in the Jets locker room Sunday on the news that Shaun Ellis is set to sign with the Patriots (click here for the complete story):

‘€œI respect Shaun more than as a football player,’€ said nose Sione Pouha. ‘€œI respect him as a father and as a former teammate of mine. He was here when I first got here, so he had such a huge influence on me. He deserves the respect to make that decision.’€

‘€œWhen I came in, Shaun was a big brother to me,’€ said defensive lineman Ropati Pitoitua. ‘€œHe’€™s a great leader and mentor. I learned a lot from him. We all know it’€™s a business. It is what it is. I wish him the best.’€

‘€œShaun is definitely a Jet,’€ said defensive lineman Marcus Dixon. ‘€œHe took me under his wing, taught me how to play up here. Not having him here, it’€™s sad, but we’€™ve got to move on. The Patriots are fortunate to be getting a guy like that.’€

‘€œI have a great deal of respect for Shaun. He made the Pro Bowl my first year here, and the biggest game he played last year, we all remember, was against New England,’€ said coach Rex Ryan. ‘€œHe is a tough guy and he’€™s going to be missed.’€

Read More: Marcus Dixon, Randy Lange, Rex Ryan, Ropati Pitoitua

A closer look at Shaun Ellis and his impact

08.07.11 at 12:11 pm ET
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Suddenly, Vince Wilfork isn’€™t one of the biggest guys on New England’€™s defensive front anymore.

Pending a physical, the Patriots will apparently add 34-year-old Shaun Ellis to their defensive line in 2011. If the 6-foot-5, 290-pounder has anything left in the tank after 11 seasons with the Jets, it will add serious depth to New England’€™s run and pass defense, likely from the end position either in a 3-4 or 4-3 ‘€” both of which appear to be options for the Patriots in 2011.

While Ellis has fit neatly into both schemes over the course of his career, his work as an end in the 4-3 would give New England a four-man defensive front of Ellis, as well as Wilfork (6-foot-2, 325 pounds) and Albert Haynesworth (6-foot-6, 335 pounds), a massive defensive front that would be difficult to run against. (His versatility also provides some insurance if Haynesworth does break down physically.)

In addition, Ellis has shown an ability to generate some pass rush over the course of his career. He’€™s not the sort to generate double-digits sacks anymore, but his 72.5 sacks over the course of his career (including 4.5 last season) suggest the sort of player who can get after the quarterback on a fairly consistent basis ‘€” he’€™s had at least 4.5 sacks every year since 2005. (However, at least right now, newly-acquired Mark Anderson is still likely the best bet to serve as a defensive end on passing downs.)

The loss of Ellis hurts the Jets on the field and in the locker room, where he was one of the more respected leaders on a team full of veterans. The longest-tenured member of the team, he completely crushed the Patriots in last year’€™s playoff meeting between the two teams, recording two sacks in the first quarter and setting the tone for New York’€™s victory at Gillette Stadium. In addition, it figures that Ellis will have an ax to grind with his old team, which could add some zest to an already spicy Jets-Patriots rivalry in 2011. And finally, there’€™s a neat symmetry at play here ‘€” in 2000, Ellis was the pick used by the Jets they received when Bill Belichick switched organizations.

When it comes to playing time going forward, New England has played a lot of four-man lines in camp this far, so the addition of Ellis means Jermaine Cunningham and Eric Moore would see a cut in time if the Patriots stay with a four-man front. The two have seen the majority of time at end in the four-man front throughout the early days of camp, and both have been a bit of a mixed bag.

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Eric Moore, Jermaine Cunningham

Saturday Patriots practice: Aaron Hernandez and Nate Solder make some big catches

08.06.11 at 5:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Several noteable players were missing from Patriots practice in full pads on Saturday afternoon on the grass fields outside Gillette Stadium.

Albert Haynesworth was again a no-show, as were Kevin Faulk, Matt Light, James Sanders, Ryan Wendell and rookies Ras-I Dowling and Shane Vereen.

The team, as of late Saturday afternoon, had not yet confirmed an ESPN report that Faulk and Light had been placed on the active/physically unable to perform list.

The team focused on third-down conversions for the first time before moving on to another day of red zone and goal line execution.

Tom Brady led the first team unit with several sharp passes to Chad Ochocinco on sideline routes while also finding tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on several impressive pass and catch combintations.

Ochocinco, since dropping several balls on Thursday, had another impressive day of holding onto the ball, especially in heavy traffic. One of his best catches of the day came in route-running drills when he went up against Malcolm Williams and Sergio Brown and fought off both to come down with the ball on a 30-yard “Go” route. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 training camp, Aaron Hernandez, Chad Ochocinco, Kevin Faulk

It’s all business between Bill O’Brien and Tom Brady, with some trust thrown in

08.06.11 at 2:40 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill O’Brien is entering his first year as the formal offensive coordinator of the Patriots. But the new title is just that, as he reminded reporters on Saturday afternoon during a coaches’ press conference prior to the afternoon training camp practice.

He also reminded everyone that while this might be his first year as formal offensive coordinator, this is his fifth year in the Patriots system, working with superstar quarterback Tom Brady.

“I’m going into my fifth year here. It’s a good relationship. It’s a professional relationship. It’s a relationship where there’s a lot of communication. It’s all about football. We talk all the time. There’s a lot of trust. Again, you’re talking about a guy that works really hard, it’s really important to him, a prideful guy. And so, there’s just a bunch of trust there and good communication and I think it’s been a good relationship.”

After two seasons with Duke, O’Brien was hired by the Patriots in Feb. 2007 as an offensive assistant. He oversaw the one of the greatest offenses in NFL history as Brady and Randy Moss set passing records for TD passes and receptions and the Patriots put up the most points in their history.

After dropping Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots promoted O’Brien to wide receivers coach. He became the team’s quarterback coach and offensive play-caller following the 2008 season and the departure of quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. This past February, he finally graduated to the position of full offensive coordinator.

Have his responsibilities increased?

“No, we have a really strong staff as a whole, obviously led by Bill [Belichick],” O’Brien said. “We have a really strong offensive staff that works very well together. We’re all in it together. We each have different roles. I’m basically the guy that just kind of collects the paper and puts it all in the right stack and gets us all organized. It’s a collaborative effort.

“We all work together and try to put together a good practice plan, a good drill [plan], a good game plan and that’s what we do. That’s what it’s been about here since I’ve been here. And everybody has a role and we all work together pretty well.”

It was his background working with quarterbacks that earned him the trust of Bill Belichick and eventually Brady. On Saturday, he talked about what he has seen from Brady in his previous four seasons in New England and what makes a good NFL quarterback.

“To be a good quarterback for us, just like he’s been obviously, it’s about decision-making and it’s about accuracy,” O’Brien said. “In this past offseason he’s had, where there were no defenses out there, obviously there is a little bit of an adjustment period to when you come back to a training camp and now you have defense, different coverages, different fronts and different blitzes that you’re seeing from the defense. Just like everybody else out there, he’s working to be more consistent. I thought the past two days have been really, really good practices for him.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 training camp, Bill O'Brien, Chad Ochocinco, New England Patriots

New base salary information on several Patriots, including Haynesworth, Ochocinco and Green-Ellis

08.06.11 at 1:12 am ET
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With the lockout in the rearview mirror, the NFLPA has returned its site to normal, and that means there’€™s new information on the base salary of players. Here are a few highlights:

‘€¢When it comes to the two new high-profile Patriots, defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth has base salaries the next four years of $5.4, $6.7, $8.5 and $10.3 million. And wide receiver Chad Ochocinco will make a base salary of $6 million this year before becoming a free agent at the end of the season. (Both have reportedly agreed to restructure their deals ‘€” while they may have done so already, that information has not yet been applied to the NFLPA site.)

‘€¢Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis signed a one-year tender at $1.85 million. Meanwhile, fellow running backs Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris are on one-year deals at $910,000, linebacker Tracy White is one year at $810,000 and Matt Light‘€™s base salary for 2011 is $1 million.

‘€¢For the 2011 season, Logan Mankins and his franchise tender occupy the high end of the salary scale, which is $10,116,000. Meanwhile the rookies and undrafted free agents are all signed to base salaries of $375,000.

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Chad Ochocinco, Kevin Faulk
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