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Judge Nelson refuses to grant stay to league in lockout case

04.27.11 at 10:16 pm ET
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U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson denied a request from the league for a stay in its case against the players on Wednesday evening, which maintains her ruling from Monday that lifted the lockout that was put in place by the owners last month. The owners are expected to appeal Nelson’€™s ruling to the 8th Circuit Court in St. Louis.

Nelson wrote that the NFL ‘€œhas not met its burden for a stay pending appeal, expedited or otherwise.’€

‘€œIn short, the world of ‘€˜chaos’€™ the NFL claims it has been thrust into ‘€” essentially the ‘€˜free-market’€™ system this nation otherwise willfully operates under ‘€” is not compelled by this court’€™s order,’€ Nelson wrote.

The league had wanted Nelson ‘€” who ruled earlier this month for the players ‘€” to keep the lockout in place while the ruling was appealed, saying that if the league began football activities, it could be damaging to the league’€™s long-term health. Meanwhile, the players argued against a stay, saying that if the lockout was extended, the league and the players would continue to be harmed.

Read More: lockout, Susan Richard Nelson,

Bill Belichick: We’ve ‘definitely had a lot’ of trade discussions

04.27.11 at 6:19 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday that they’ve “definitely had a lot of discussions” about potential trades, but people shouldn’t look for anything until the draft gets underway.

“Those things don’t really crystallize until draft day, or a lot of times, when you’re on the clock,” Belichick told the NFL Network. “It’s been pretty unusual to see these type of trades being done prior to the draft. I think the last one was when I traded with Jimmy Johnson in Dallas in 1992 or 1993, we made a deal three days before the draft ‘€” that was pretty much unheard of.”

Regardless, with six picks in the first three rounds ‘€” including Nos. 17, 28 and 33 overall ‘€” the Patriots are poised to be one of the major power players in this year’s draft. Belichick said New England is able to approach this draft with more “flexibility” than they’ve had in year’s past.

“We’re fortunate because it gives us a lot of flexibility ‘€” I think that we could move up, move down,” he said. “A couple of years ago we were at seven and 56, or whatever it was. There’s not too much you can do when you’re in a spot like that. But hopefully, we’re well-prepared on the draft board, and we’ll try to find a spot where we can get good value for our picks.”

The plethora of early picks forces you to know the draft better than if you were toward the end of the first round.

“I think it really forces you to know the board. You need to know what’s above you, what’s below you and what’s in between on all those picks, because there’s a possibility that teams could ask you to move, or you may want to move to [get] a particular player, so you’ve really got to do that. If you’re not going to move ‘€” let’s say you’re picking at 20 ‘€” you can pretty much eliminate the first 10 players because there’s no way you could get to some of them. I think it just forces you to prepare well for the draft, all the way through, every round and every pick.”

Belichick also discussed a number of other topics:
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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick,

A look into what mock drafts are saying: Part three

04.27.11 at 4:47 pm ET
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Tomorrow night is the kickoff of the draft, and things are starting to look a little clearer than at the beginning of the week. Cam Newton seems to be the consensus favorite for the Panthers at the top of the order, followed by Alabama’€™s Marcell Dareus, Texas A&M’€™s Von Miller, and the remaining usual names following them.

But outside of the top 10, things are still a little foggy. Where will Jake Locker land? Will he slip past Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton? And what about Ryan Mallet? These are all good questions that won’€™t have answers until this thing commences.

A few players that weren’€™t in the top round in any drafts have jumped up into the first 32 ‘€“ names not many people have heard mentioned among the Thursday selections.

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Aaron Williams, Cam Newton, Christian Ponder

What do the Patriots look for when they draft a wide receiver?

04.27.11 at 12:28 am ET
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Good speed. Nice hands. Dependability and toughness. All traits the Patriots look for when it comes to drafting a wide receiver. But New England also loves its’ coneheads ‘€” that is, prospects who starred in the 3-cone drill.

The drill ‘€”a standard at the combine and collegiate pro days ‘€” starts with a player in a three-point stance before three cones that are set up in a triangle or L-shape before them five yards apart. The player starts at the first cone and sprints up to the second cone and then back again. Then, they head back to the second cone where they run around it and cut right to the third cone. The players then run a circle around the third cone from the inside to the outside and run around the second cone before returning to the first cone. (Check out a complete breakdown of the drill here at NFL.com.)

The drill is designed to test agility and footwork, and when it comes to measuring the abilities of wide receivers and defensive backs, it’s a drill the Patriots seem to put a lot of stock in. At wide receiver, Deion Branch, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman all had extraordinary 3-cone times at either the combine or at their pro day. (In addition, both Chad Jackson and Matthew Slater, both of whom were drafted as wide receivers but struggled at the position in New England, also had great times in the 3-cone drill as collegians.)

While the Patriots are likely going to try and find a burner, what sort of wide receivers might become the next generation of coneheads in New England? Here are three possibilities:

Alabama’s Julio Jones: Jones has a few things going for him when it comes to the Patriots: he also placed in the Top 10 among receivers at the combine in the 3-cone drill, finishing with a 6.66. The fact that he attended a school where a former Bill Belichick lieutenant is in charge (Nick Saban) means the Patriots will get the straight story when it comes to Jones’ reported foot problems. In addition to the footwork and agility, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder answered any questions about his character by competing in the drills at the combine in February while hobbled with the aforementioned foot injury. (He also gained a rep as one of the best blocking receivers in college football last season, and that ability would be utilized frequently in New England.) Considered one of the top wide receivers in the draft, the Patriots would likely have to trade up between 5-7 spots from the No. 17 spot if they wanted a shot at him, but he’s an eminently draftable prospect for New England. (For what it’s worth, the Patriots have never drafted a wide receiver in the first round under Belichick.)
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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, Chad Jackson, Deion Branch

Rex Ryan on Bill Belichick: ‘I really do respect him. I admire the guy’

04.26.11 at 9:12 pm ET
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In his upcoming book, ‘€œPlay Like You Mean It,’€ Jets coach Rex Ryan has some nice things to say about Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Ryan recounts what Belichick said to him after New York beat New England in the divisional playoffs to advance to the AFC championship game this past season.

‘€œAfter the game, Belichick was great. He came up to me and said, ‘That was an unbelievable coaching job; you deserve it and I hope you win the whole thing.’€™ He really said that, and I could tell he was sincere. People get the wrong message sometimes when I talk about Belichick. I really do respect him. I admire the guy. He has his way of doing things and he stays true to it every single week. I do the same thing, although we’€™re different types of people in a lot of ways. I may be loud and over-the-top, but we do have similarities. You’€™re not going to find two more competitive people.’€

The book is scheduled to hit stores May 3.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jets, Patriots, Rex Ryan

A look into what mock drafts are saying: Part two

04.26.11 at 2:13 pm ET
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Day two of mock draft roundups consists of a few surprises in the first and second rounds, as well as some later-round possibilities.

Offensive lineman is the focus for the Patriots in the three mock drafts reviewed Tuesday. Two have the Pats grabbing a young and promising O-lineman with the 17th pick, while Sports Illustrated’€™s Don Banks says that despite the recent ill will between Watt’s agent and the Patriots, New England builds off of the pass-rushing need, and goes with J.J. Watt at pick 17.

Banks takes into account a single trade in his latest first round mock release, which involves the Patriots moving out pick No. 28 to the Vikings for a future draft pick. This would, according to Banks, enable the Vikings to select Jake Locker as the quarterback of the future in Minnesota at a sensible spot in the draft. (The 12th pick was too high to take a shot at Locker, and it looks more and more likely each day that Cam Newton will be the first overall selection by the Panthers.) Watt satisfies the need in New England for a pass-rushing defensive lineman, while he has Cal’€™s Cameron Jordan going to the Vikings’€™ with the 12th pick.

In a draft lacking depth at quarterback, Banks predicts four QB’€™s to be selected in the top 32. TCU’€™s Andy Dalton goes to the Seahawks at pick 25. Dalton’€™s experience at TCU and his ability to run the football when necessary make him a favorite to be the third quarterback selected over Locker and Christian Ponder.

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Andy Dalton, Anthony Castonzo, Jake Locker

Matt Light: ‘Guys are wondering if they need to get on a plane today’

04.26.11 at 9:54 am ET
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Matt Light spoke to reporters on Tuesday morning at the Liberty Hotel in Boston, where he hosted a charity breakfast to support his Light Foundation.

As a player representative — well, to be accurate it appears that all player reps are now referred to as advocates — Light was asked for this thoughts on Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling on Monday to grant the NFLPA’s request for a preliminary injunction to halt the lockout

“I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” said Light. “But I would say that it was a great thing for the players, hopefully this will get back to the table and start tackling these issues, and force the issue a little bit more. I think it is a good thing.”

It seems we have entered the Great Unknown Phase of this process. Lots of questions — and not a lot of definitive answers — being kicked around in the wake of the Nelson ruling. An example: Does the ruling mean that players can show up to work out at Foxboro?

“I’ve had a lot of questions from our guys about that,” said Light. “The communication has been really good, making sure guys know what to expect. But this is pretty early in the process, when it comes to lifting the lockout and what guys are going to do. So for the time being, what I’ve been telling my guys is to give it a little time and let us have what will hopefully be a really good conference call this evening, get the word from D [DeMaurice Smith] how to proceed from here, and hopefully we can give them a little more of an insight and what to expect. Quite frankly guys are wondering if they need to get on a plane today, what’s going to happen just as far as reporting to the individual team. And I can’t give them answers on all those things but hopefully  later on tonight I’ll have some for them.”

As a free agent, does the injunction change Light’s short-term outlook regarding his NFL future, whether it be in Foxboro or somewhere else?

“Can I get a job? Can I go back to work?,” Light asked, laughing. “No, it’s been very interesting for all the free agents. For guys like myself, there isn’t going to be a lot of certainty until we get a deal in place. That’s unfortunate for a lot of guys in my position but the only thing we can do is work out and stay ready.”

Read More: Matt Light, NFL lockout, Patriots,
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