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Antonio Smith: Patriots ‘spying’ comments were a joke

12.02.13 at 11:08 pm ET
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After saying there was something “fishy” and “highly suspicious” about the way the Patriots were able to make adjustments in the second half of New England’s 34-31 win over Houston on Sunday, Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith quickly backtracked from his comments on Monday, saying it was all a joke.

‘€œIt tickles me how much the country loves the Patriots so much they take everything so seriously,’€ Smith told reporters Monday evening. ‘€œI wasn’€™t angry or serious and I didn’€™t say that’€™s why they beat us.’€

After the Patriots rallied from a 10-point deficit with a 27-point second half to pin the 10th straight loss of the year on the Texans, Smith intimated something was up with the way things happened in the second half.

‘€œYou can tell they changed their scheme in the second half,’€ Smith told reporters after the game. ‘€œIt’€™s miraculous they changed some things on offense that keyed on what we put on this week to stop what they were doing. They did things they never did all year before. It was a specific thing that was important to what we were going to do today, as to how we were going to call the defense. We’€™d not ever did it before, and they never changed like that before. It just let me know that something wasn’€™t right.

‘€œTom Brady and Bill Belichick are among the best at their craft because they work so hard at their craft. But you have to be a descendent of ‘€˜Tones-tradamus’€™ to know what we put in this week to be able to change that fast. I’€™ve got the only crystal ball in existence. I don’€™t know what it is. Either teams are spying on us or something’€™s going on.’€

On Monday, Smith was singing a difference tune, saying he wasn’t aware his comments created such a controversy.

‘€œI was definitely surprised,’€ he said. ‘€œI didn’€™t think anything else about it after we talked until I woke up this morning and everybody wanted to kill me on Instagram.

‘€œMy teammates were telling me about ESPN. I don’€™t really watch ESPN that much, but [my teammates] pretty much got a good laugh out of it, me being the butt of everybody’€™s jokes today. I had no idea it would have that (kind of) effect.”

Smith said it was taken the wrong way.

‘€œI said it, but you have to check the manner in which I said it,’€ he added. ‘€œI didn’€™t accuse them of beating us with cheating. Come on, don’€™t you have a sense of humor? Though it may be something I was curious about it, I wasn’€™t thinking they spied on us or they were cheating.

‘€œHalf the stuff I say is spontaneous and witty, and I don’€™t think anything else about it. I’€™m sorry I said the word spying. I was joking and having fun with it.’€

Asked about it on Monday, Belichick said it was a league matter, while Brady dismissed it, saying he didn’t think much of the allegations. And Texans coach Gary Kubiak didn’t sound like he was too pleased with Smith’s comments.

‘€œI have the utmost respect for their organization, their players, their coaches, their head coach,’€ Kubiak said. ‘€œI mean, the standard that they’€™ve been setting for a long, long time in this league. They did a great job (Sunday). They’€™ve been doing it for a long time.’€

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Antonio Smith, Bill Belichick, Gary Kubiak, Tom Brady

Patriots shuffle practice squad, adding R.J. Dill and releasing Patrick Ford

12.02.13 at 6:59 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Monday they have re-signed offensive lineman R.J. Dill to the practice squad and released tackle Patrick Ford from the practice squad.

Dill, 23, was originally signed to the New England practice squad on Sept. 3, and was released on Sept. 13. The 6-foot-6, 316-pounder was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie free agent out of Rutgers on April 28, and was released by the Jaguars on Aug. 30. He started all 13 games at right tackle for Rutgers in 2012 after transferring from Maryland following the 2011 season. Dill was a three-year starter at Maryland.

Ford, 23, was signed to the New England practice squad on Nov. 27. He was originally signed by the New York Jets as a rookie free agent out of Eastern Kentucky on Aug. 13, 2013, and was released on Aug. 26. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder, was a three-year starter at Eastern Kentucky, serving as both a guard and tackle during his collegiate career. He spent the majority of his final two seasons at left tackle.

Read More: Patrick Ford, R.J. Dill,

Joe Andruzzi Foundation’s annual gala set for Monday night in Foxboro

12.02.13 at 1:18 pm ET
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Former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi — a cancer survivor — is set to headline the feature event of the year for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation Monday night at Gillette Stadium. Andruzzi, as well as several local celebrities and current and former Patriots, will get together for the sixth annual gala to help raise money for his foundation, which helps cancer patients and their families and supports pediatric brain cancer research at Boston Children’€™s Hospital.

The Andruzzi’s will be joined at the gala by many of his former Patriots teammates, as well as current players, celebrities and sports stars from across New England.

It’s an important night for Andruzzi, who has been instrumental in helping raise thousands of dollars to help fight cancer.

‘€œOur gala is such an important night for our Foundation, and with each year, I’€™m more appreciative I’€™m still here, and that my wife Jen and I get to do this work,” Andruzzi said. “We’€™re still in awe of how far we’€™ve come in six years, and humbled by our collective power to help others. The funds we raise at this year’€™s gala will continue to help us alleviate cancer’€™s financial burden on patients and families, as well as fund crucial pediatric brain cancer research, and we’€™re incredibly grateful to all those who have joined us along the way to make nights like tonight possible.’€

For more on Andruzzi and his work, check out their home page here. And for more information on Monday’s event, check out this page.

Read More: Joe Andruzzi,

Bill Belichick on Stevan Ridley benching: ‘There’s no sending a message’

12.02.13 at 1:03 pm ET
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FOXBORO — After quickly dismissing the question in his post-game comments Sunday after a 34-31 win over the Texans, Bill Belichick was somewhat more effusive and forthcoming about his decision to sit Stevan Ridley Sunday after his three-game bout with fumblelitis.

Belichick was asked Monday in his conference call about the decision to bench Ridley when Julian Edelman has fumbled five times this season (including twice on one punt against Denver), recovering three of them. Ridley has four fumbles this season and hasn’t recovered a single one. Ridley has nine fumbles over three seasons.

How do Belichick determine when a player sits after fumbling and when he doesn’€™t?

“Well, that’€™s easy,” Belichick said. “We always do what we feel is best for the team in every situation. That’€™s the way it’€™s always been and that’€™s the way it will always be as long as I’€™m here. I have to do what I feel like is best with any decision, in any situation, with what I feel is the overall best decision for the football team. That’€™s what drives every decision I make, on everything: plays, players, you name it. I have to do what I feel like is best for the team.”

So, it’€™s never about sending a message?

“If I have a message to send to somebody, I’€™ll just sit down and talk to them and tell them what it is,” Belichick said. “I can have a conversation and do have a conversation with anybody on the team that I need to have a conversation with. That’€™s not a problem. There’€™s no sending a message. You sit down and talk to somebody man-to-man and talk about the situation so that we’€™re all on the same page as to whatever it happens to be and what the direction is going forward. That’€™s easy. There’€™s not sending a message. You just have a conversation with somebody. This isn’€™t cryptic. We’€™re just trying to win a football game, that’€™s all.”

Did Ridley specifically not play on Sunday because of his fumble issues?

“The inactive players every week are based on, in part injuries and ultimately what we feel like for that particular game is the best decision for the football team in that game to try to win,” Belichick said. “Along with every other decision on the team that I make, it’€™s made with what gives our team, in our opinion, the best opportunity to win on Sundays. That’€™s what all decisions are based on.”

Belichick was also asked whether he read the comments of Houston defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who was very suspicious of the adjustments the Patriots made to Houston’s defense after trailing at halftime Sunday, 17-7.

“Yeah, I saw them. I don’€™t have any comment on them. I think that’€™s a league matter,” Belichick said.

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Read More: Antonio Smith, houston texans, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Rob Ninkovich on M&M: Antonio Smith’s insinuation ‘kind of a silly comment’

12.02.13 at 12:24 pm ET
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Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about New England’€™s 34-31 win over the Texans on Sunday.

The Patriots moved to 9-3 on the season, but Houston defensive end Antonio Smith stole the spotlight with his comments after his team’€™s 10th straight loss. After the game Smith said he was ‘€œvery suspicious’€ of New England’€™s adjustments in the second half, after the Patriots fell behind 17-7 in the first 30 minutes.

‘€œIt’€™s kind of a silly comment,’€ Ninkovich said. ‘€œI’€™m sure they’€™re a little upset that in the second half they couldn’€™t stop Tom [Brady] and our offense. It’€™s a comment where I really don’€™t know where that would come from.’€

Stephen Gostkowski kicked the game-winning field goal with just over three minutes remaining to complete the comeback. The Texans also held a 31-28 lead in the fourth quarter.

‘€œIt’€™s an emotional game that we play, and people put a lot of heart and effort into preparing for a football game,’€ Ninkovich said, adding: ‘€œThat’€™s a tough loss. ‘€¦ When you lose 10 in a row, I’€™m sure there’€™s a ton of frustration in that locker room.’€

Ninkovich and his defensive unit did not play well against the hapless Texans. Rookie quarterback Case Keenum threw for 272 yards, and running back Ben Tate rushed for 102 yards and three touchdowns. Keenum also ran for a touchdown.

‘€œWe definitely do have to do a better job of playing our responsibilities and everyone doing their job,’€ said Ninkovich, who made four tackles and recorded two QB hits. ‘€œGood team defense is everybody playing their gap responsibly and not having those holes.’€

The game was the Patriots’ second straight come-from-behind win. Two weeks ago, New England trailed the Broncos 24-0 heading into the third quarter. The Patriots went on to win 34-31 in overtime.

‘€œWe need to figure it out and play better, because you can’€™t spot a team 17, 24 [points], whatever it may be, in the first half and expect to win every game,’€ Ninkovich said.

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Antonio Smith, Ben Tate, Case Keenum, Rob Ninkovich

What pundits were saying about Patriots on Sunday

12.02.13 at 10:42 am ET
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Here’€™s a quick rundown of what some NFL analysts were saying about the Patriots before and after Sunday’€™s game against the Texans.

Sterling Sharpe on NFL Network before the game: ‘€œThe New England Patriots are the only team that doesn’€™t care whether they get the No. 1 seed.’€

Steve Mariucci on NFL Network before the game: ‘€œThis team is just getting better and better, and gaining some confidence’€¦This is a very dangerous team and it’€™s the best team in the AFC.’€

Bill Cowher on CBS before the game: “New England can wait for one of the slip’€‘ups right there because they hold the tie-breaker now over Denver having beaten them last week. From where they’re sitting right now, I think their schedule may be the easiest of those three. Certainly, Denver, look at them there. They should win out. If they win, get by [Sunday]. Right now, New England is sitting there at number two.”

Tony Dungy on the Patriots on NBC after the game: ‘€œThis team reminds me so much of our 2006 Super Bowl team in Indy. They’€™re decimated on defense, but they’€™ve got a great quarterback who’€™s making plays and keeping them in every game. Tom Brady is the reason they’€™re winning.’€

Marshall Faulk on NFL Network after the game: “The mismatch of [covering] Shane Vereen [in the passing game] will be giving teams trouble [the rest of the season].”

Read More: marshall faulk, Sterling Sharpe, Steve Mariucci, Tony Dungy

Adam Schefter on D&C: ‘Antonio Smith doesn’t realize the power of his words and the ramifications they will have’

12.02.13 at 10:10 am ET
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ESPN’€™s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ 34-31 win over the Texans on Sunday, and other news from around the NFL.

One week after rallying from a 24-0 deficit against the Broncos, New England forged its second straight comeback, as the Patriots overcome a 17-7 first-half hole. Houston defensive end Antonio Smith made headlines with his comments questioning the Pats‘€™ ability to adjust in the second half.

‘€œ[The Texans have] lost 10 straight games, it’€™s been a really disappointing season, they have been maybe the most disappointing team in the NFL, they’€™re in contention for the No. 1 pick when many people thought they might win the division and go to the Super Bowl,’€ Schefter said. ‘€œAntonio Smith is as bewildered and as frustrated as anybody else. ‘€¦ Somebody like Antonio Smith doesn’€™t realize the power of his words and the ramifications they will have when he says something like that and they go viral on national video.’€

Schefter added that it would surprise him if the league fined Smith for his comments.

‘€œIf the league wants to fine players for saying something, they could do that all the time,’€ Schefter said, adding: ‘€œI think it’€™s a case where Antonio Smith can say whatever he wants, and they’€™re just words that kind of vanish after a while.’€

On Thanksgiving night, the Ravens beat the Steelers, 22-20, but it wasn’€™t without major controversy. Mike Tomlin faced severe scrutiny after he stepped on the field during a Jacoby Jones kickoff return and seemingly impeded Jones’ progress. The NFL reportedly is considering disciplinary action against Tomlin, and ESPN reported that it’€™s possible Pittsburgh could lose a draft pick for Tomlin’€™s antics.

‘€œI don’€™t know that they’€™re going to a take away a draft pick, I think that would surprise me in the end. They’€™re going to discuss that,’€ Schefter said, adding: ‘€œI think at the very least you’€™re going to see a six-figure fine for Mike Tomlin and a six-figure fine for the Steelers organization.’€

The Giants-Redskins game on Sunday also ended controversially. One play after awarding the Redskins a first down with Washington driving with less than two minutes remaining and down seven points, the officials took away the first down and set up a fourth-and-one. Washington converted but fumbled, and the Giants secured the 24-17 win.

‘€œThe officials basically blow the call at the end of the game, [and] change the dynamic of the Redskins’€™ play-calling,’€ Schefter said, adding: ‘€œThere’€™s no doubt that that call by the officials changed the way they were operating on offense.’€

To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Read More: adam schefter, Antonio Smith, Jacoby Jones, Mike Tomlin

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