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Stephen Neal on D&H: No regrets about returning for 2010

09.10.10 at 11:04 am ET
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Stephen Neal

Stephen Neal

Patriots lineman Stephen Neal joined the Dale & Holley show Friday morning as the team prepares for Sunday’s season-opener against the Bengals. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Neal said Tom Brady‘s car accident Thursday morning isn’t a problem for the Patriots. “I didn’t think too much of it,” Neal said. “We just started our preparation for the Bengals. We’ve got a tough task at hand. … I don’t think it was a distraction at all.”

Asked about the Bengals, Neal said the Patriots linemen will have their hands full. “They have a really good defensive line and they’ll all play everywhere,” he said. “They all have different skill sets. They’re all physical and tough. Some of them are a little bigger, more powerful. Some of them are a little quicker. Then you’ve got the linebackers. They’re also great. They’re young, fast, athletic. They’re real good.”

Neal considered retirement in the offseason before re-signing, and he doesn’t regret his decision now that the season has arrived. Said Neal: “It’s just great to get over here and put the gear on. It’s not over. Where I was thinking for a while, ‘Hey, this might be it,’ but then you start thinking it’s going to be done. I’m pretty excited to be here. It’s opening week, and the excitement with that. We’ve got a Friday practice today, and we get to eat some pizza after that practice, so that’s always a good thing. Jumping back into the routine is always a good thing. The body’s feeling pretty good.”

Read More: Bengals, Patriots, Stephen Neal, Tom Brady

Gameday Nuggetpalooza: Patriots vs. Bengals

09.10.10 at 9:46 am ET
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nuggetpalooza-smallFinally! From now on, the games count! Time to kick off the third season of Nuggetpalooza Patriots game previews. For the uninitiated, each week during the season I’ll break down the stats and present a whole slew of numbers that help shape that week’s Patriots matchup.

If you’re new to this, I hope these previews will enhance your enjoyment of the game. If you’re a seasoned veteran, welcome back!

As always, leave a comment or email me at gmarbry@weei.com if there’s something that you like, don’t like, or would just like to talk football.

Let’s get to it, keeping in mind that using last year’s stats to preview this year’s game ain’t perfect, but it’s all we’ve got for now.

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* – Turnover Margin: If you consider the Patriots to be a playoff caliber team, then here’s a clip and save: The Bengals are 4-52 since 1997 vs. eventual playoff teams when they don’t win the turnover battle. Keep in mind that includes games in which each team commits the same number of turnovers.

I should mention: During that same span, they are 15-13-1 against eventual playoff teams when they win the turnover battle.

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* – Move the Chains: The Patriots led the NFL in first downs in 2009 at 23.3 per game, but the Bengals allowed the 5th fewest first downs (17.3). Also, New England gained 2.3 first downs per game via penalty (1st in the league), however, Cincinnati allowed just 1.0 per game (2nd fewest).

I should mention: The Bengals allowed 15.8 first downs per game on the road in 2009, the lowest figure by a Cincinnati defense in the last 20 years.

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* – Late Half Action: The Bengals scored 25.9% of their points last year in the last two minutes of either the first or second half. That was the 3rd highest percentage in the league:

30.9% – St. Louis Rams
28.9% – Oakland Raiders
25.9% – Cincinnati Bengals

What’s more, 24.1% of all points scored against the Bengals came within the final two minutes of a half, the 2nd highest percentage in the league:

24.4% – Dallas Cowboys
24.1% – Cincinnati Bengals
24.0% – Philadelphia Eagles

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* – Not On The Ground: New England has not allowed a rushing touchdown in the 3rd quarter at home since December 17, 2006, a streak of 24 straight home games. It’s the 2nd longest active streak of it’s kind in the league (Pittsburgh is currently at 28 home games in a row). San Diego had a streak of 30 straight home games without allowing a 3rd quarter rushing TD from 2005-2008.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bengals, Patriots,

Jerod Mayo on D&C: Keep an eye on Devin McCourty

09.10.10 at 7:43 am ET
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Jerod Mayo

Jerod Mayo

Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about team news heading into Sunday’s season-opener vs. the Bengals. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Mayo said he isn’t concerned about the team’s young players. “I think we have some guys that are willing to learn, that are willing to get better, that aren’t stuck in their ways,” he said. “Sometimes when you have older players, they get stuck in their ways, they think they know it all. These guys are very coachable. We’re getting better each and every day.”

Asked to name a player that will be a pleasant surprise this weekend, Mayo went with rookie cornerback Devin McCourty. “McCourty, he’s a studious guy,” Mayo said. “He has a big task on his hands this weekend. Any side that he lines up on, those guys have great wide receivers. Hopefully, he shows up Sunday and makes a lot of plays.”

Mayo said he wasn’t concerned that the Bengals receivers have a big height advantage. “Our DBs are pretty physical now. These guys really get in the face of receivers,” Mayo said. “It doesn’t matter the size. [The DBs] have long arms. Look at [Darius] Butler‘s arms. Look at McCourty’s arms. I think that will be an advantage for us.”

Asked about Tom Brady‘s new contract, Mayo said all the players have respect for the quarterback. “Tom’s a great guy. He’s been here a long time and done a lot for the organization. We’re all happy for him,” he said.

Mayo said the team was not concerned about Brady’s car accident Thursday morning. “We knew he was OK,” Mayo said. “When coach told us, we figured he was all right, because he didn’t really comment on it too much. But when we saw him, we were happy to have him back.”

Read More: Devin McCourty, Jerod Mayo,

Report: Brady, Patriots agree on four-year deal

09.09.10 at 10:12 pm ET
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Tom Brady. (AP)

It was quite a day for Tom Brady.

The Patriots quarterback started things off with a nasty car accident while he was on his way to work outside his Back Bay home. He’s reportedly ended his Thursday by agreeing to a new four-year extension that will make him one of the richest players in NFL history, according to a report from Peter King of SI.com, who announced the news at halftime of Thursday’s Vikings-Saints game saying he spoke to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who told him the deal was finalized.

The former NFL MVP is scheduled to earn $6.5 million this season in the final year of a six-year contract he signed in 2005 where he earned approximately $10 million annually. It was a deal that was considered close to being an upper echelon contract when he signed in 2005, but now, leaves him woefully underpaid when compared to other quarterbacks around the league — especially the younger crop of signal-callers, including rookie Sam Bradford and second-year quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Now, King reports Brady’s new deal is one of the richest annual contracts in the history of the league. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the four-year contract is worth $72 million, $48.5 million of which is guaranteed.

Both the Patriots and Brady have been mostly mum about any sort of negotiations regarding a new deal, and the quarterback said earlier this summer he’s “not into playing games” when it comes to hammering out a new contract.

In his weekly press conference on Wednesday, he talked a little more about his situation.

“I hate when athletes say it’s not about the money,” Brady said Wednesday. “It’s our job. I think really you love playing the game, that’s why you do it. I think we’re fortunate to get paid for something we love. If we weren’t getting paid, we’d all probably have to find something else to do.

“There’s no better job in the world that I’d rather have than do what I’m doing. Everything else, for me in my life, really pales in comparison to how much I enjoy this. In that sense, it’s about winning games.”

Read More: Tom Brady,

Bengals practice report for Thursday

09.09.10 at 4:55 pm ET
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Bengals’ Thursday injury report

Did Not Participate in Practice
WR Andre Caldwell (groin)
CB Brandon Ghee (head)

Limited Participation in Practice
HB/FB Brian Leonard (foot)

Full Participation in Practice
DT Geno Atkins (knee)
DE Jonathan Fanene (hamstring)

Read More: Bengals, injury report,

Patriots practice report for Thursday

09.09.10 at 4:10 pm ET
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Patriots’ Thursday injury report

Did Not Participate in Practice
OT Nick Kaczur (back)
CB Terrence Wheatley (foot)

Limited Participation in Practice
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
RB Laurence Maroney  (thigh)

Full Participation in Practice
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
DT Ron Brace (ankle)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
LB Jermaine Cunningham (ankle)
DE Brandon Deaderick (toe)
TE Aaron Hernandez (knee)
DE Myron Pryor (knee)
WR Matt Slater (hamstring)

Read More: injury report, Patriots,

Brady moving without an issue at start of practice

09.09.10 at 1:32 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looked to be moving without an issue at practice today, hours after he was involved in a Thursday morning car crash near his Back Bay home.

The New England quarterback, who did not speak with the media during locker room availability, went through the usual routine of stretching and drills during the 10-15 minutes of practice the media is allowed to observe. He was moving without an issue, and participated in all the drills.

In other, news, wide receivers Julian Edelman and Randy Moss and running back Laurence Maroney all returned to practice after going absent for the start of Wednesday’s practice session. Three players were not in attendance: cornerback Terrence Wheatley, offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka and offensive lineman Nick Kaczur were not on the field for the start of practice, which was held on the lower field behind Gillette Stadium and was in full pads.

Read More: Tom Brady,
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