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Joe Theismann on D&C: Peyton Manning ‘the right move’ for Broncos

03.21.12 at 12:09 pm ET
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Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Joe Theismann joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday to discuss, among other things, the Broncos’ signing of Peyton Manning and what may become of Tim Tebow‘s future in the wake of Manning’s arrival.

When asked if the Broncos made the most sense of the teams that Manning was considering, a final list that reportedly also included the Titans and 49ers, Theismann said that while we may never know what the main deciding factors were in Manning’s decision, he feels that Manning was heavily influenced by the presence of Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway.

‘€œWell, it depends upon what Peyton wanted and what Peyton saw,” Theismann said. “We can prognosticate about a lot of different things — what he might have wanted, what he thought about things — [but] he’€™s the only one that really looked at the organizations and said, ‘€˜This is the best chance for me to do what I want to do at the end of my career.’€™ I think he connected with John Elway. You’€™re talking about two of the greatest players that ever played the game getting on the same page, having a vision.’€

With Manning now in the fold for the Broncos, Theismann said the team is unquestionably better with its high-profile addition at quarterback.

“Everyone in the organization is going to be better because of Peyton Manning,” Theismann said. “Last year in Denver, you have to understand, you had Tim Tebow learning how to play professional football. He still has to learn to be more accurate throwing the football if he wants to have a career in this league.

“So you had him learning, you had [Eric] Decker learning, you had Demaryius Thomas learning, you had John Fox learning. Now you have someone that brings a lot of experience, and I think it’€™s the right move for the Denver Broncos.’€

Manning’s arrival in Denver casts immediate doubt over Tebow’s future as the Broncos quarterback. It has been widely speculated and reported that Tebow is likely to be traded. Theismann said that Tebow, despite the success he has experienced thus far in his career, still has a long way to go before becoming a standout NFL quarterback.

‘€œHe’€™s going to have to be a more accurate thrower of the football,” Theismann said. “If Tim Tebow can approach 58-60 percent throwing the football, I think he can be a great asset to any football team, but that’€™s a big if. I think that’€™s a bigger if than Peyton Manning’€™s health is an if.’€

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Read More: Brett Favre, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Joe Theismann

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Notre Dame S Harrison Smith

03.21.12 at 11:21 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2012 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

HARRISON SMITH

Position: Safety

School: Notre Dame

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 213 pounds

Achievements: 2011 Thorpe Award preseason watch list (2011), Nagurski Trophy preseason watch list (2011), Notre Dame Nick Pietrosante Award winner (2011)

What he brings: In a weak draft for safeties, Smith is an imperfect but talented prospect who certainly looks the part, bringing prototypical size and solid speed to the position. After spending some time at linebacker early in his career at Notre Dame, Smith made the full-time move to safety during his junior season and has thrived ever since. The former team captain has built a reputation as an instinctive player with solid football intelligence that was a key part of Notre Dame’€™s overhaul of its defense over the past few seasons.

As would be expected, the former linebacker is solid in run support, whether it’€™s from a deep safety position, from up in the box or when he’€™s asked to blitz from the edge on the line of scrimmage. Smith is known to lay the hammer on defenders and take on blockers well, especially for a safety, showing an ability to take on and discard blocks rather than go around them and catch up in pursuit.

When he is in coverage, Smith is aggressive, working well out of zone coverage with a keen ability to read to quarterback, diagnose the play and use his instincts to jump the route. More fast than fluid and quick, Smith is great when asked to drop back and anticipate the play rather than playing man-to-man, where he’€™s been known to struggle against quick receivers.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Smith is best when he’€™s attacking downhill from the safety spot, where his aggressiveness and power best suit him. He can handle tight ends well in man-to-man coverage, in which he can counter against players that try to box out defenders with their size. However, against a spread offense where he’€™ll be asked to run with flexed-out Aaron Hernandez-type tight ends and Wes Welker-type slot receivers, Smith’€™s aggression and lack of fluidity will be tested early and often by opposing offenses.

Smith has seen his stock consistently rising as of late, with draftniks such as ESPN’s Mel Kiper having him off the board as early as the late first round. Outside of Alabama’€™s Mark Barron, Smith is mostly competing with a weak draft class, where his aggressive upside shines more brightly against a cast of weaker-than-usual prospects. Smith could come off the board earlier than expected if a team with a need at safety misses out on Barron and feels desperate.

Related articles:

The Observer: Harrison Smith honored as lone captain

Chicago Tribune: Smith finds his voice

Knoxnews.com: Ex-Catholic star Harrison Smith has been a leader at Notre Dame

Video: Here’€™s a highlight package showing Smith’€™s abilities in run support as well as a solid helping of his seven interceptions as a junior.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 Potential Patriots, Harrison Smith, Notre Dame

Examining the growing market for Mark Anderson and what it means for the Patriots

03.20.12 at 10:19 pm ET
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Defensive end Mark Anderson continued his tour of the AFC on Tuesday, as the Bills announced that the 28-year-old was going to visit with Bills’ staff on Tuesday night and would also pay a visit to the team facilities on Wednesday. It marks the fourth team Anderson has visited with since free agency began a week ago — he’s also spent time with officials in Miami, Tennessee and Baltimore.

Anderson is one of the most intriguing unrestricted free agents on the Patriots’ roster. The 6-foot-4, 255-pounder was a pure pass rusher at the start of the season, but morphed into more of an every-down presence as the season went on for several reasons, not the least of which included an injury to Andre Carter. Anderson, who was signed to a one-year deal before the start of the 2011 season, finished the year with 10 sacks (plus 2.5 more in the postseason), two forced fumbles and 14 quarterback hits. (Overall, Pro Football Focus had Anderson as the Patriots’ best pass rusher, grading him at +13.2. Carter was second at 5.1.)

On the surface, Anderson doesn’t project as a premiere pass rusher, but consider the numbers — he’s under 30, is coming off a 10-sack season for a team that made it to the Super Bowl XLVI, has good playoff experience (he’s been to two Super Bowls) and is now had two seasons where he’s finished with 10 sacks or more. While he won’t command a huge deal, this offseason represents an excellent opportunity for him to land the biggest contract of his career.

While it now appears the Titans would be out of the mix with their recent acquisition of Kamerion Wimbley, the addition of Anderson to an already imposing defensive front in Buffalo that recently signed Mario Williams would certainly be an unappetizing premise for the New England offensive line in 2012. Miami has the needed cap space to give Anderson a big deal, while the Ravens would love the chance to add a pass rusher at the expense of an AFC rival.

While league sources indicate the Patriots have expressed interest in Anderson’s return, it certainly appears they now have some competition for his services if they want to retain him for 2012 and possibly beyond.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Andre Carter, Kamerion Wimbley, Mario Williams

Tom Brady: ‘It will be fun to compete against’ Peyton when the Patriots play the Broncos

03.20.12 at 5:41 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady chimed in on Peyton Manning‘s move from Indianapolis to Denver on his Facebook page. Writing on Tuesday afternoon, Brady wished Manning well.

“I have a lot of respect for Peyton Manning as a person and as a player. He is a great role model and always puts the team first,” Brady writes. “And he is a great leader and representative for the NFL. Like always, it will be fun to compete against him this year when the New England Patriots play the Denver Broncos.”

Manning signed a five-year, $96 million deal with the Broncos on Tuesday.

Read More: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady,

John Elway says Broncos might trade Tim Tebow

03.20.12 at 4:21 pm ET
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Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said at Peyton Manning‘s introductory press conference Tuesday that trading former starting quarterback Tim Tebow is “a possibility,” and that he had told Tebow that in a phone conversation Monday.

“Coach [John] Fox and I called Tim last night and talked to him about it,” Elway said of the situation. “I think that having been in this game for as long as I have and seen as many friends as I’ve seen in this game that all of a sudden are there one day and gone another or retire and leave, that this is a tough business. I want to tell you that the toughest thing about this whole thing is Tim Tebow because of what I think of Tim Tebow.

“The things that he did last year was tremendous and helped turn this organization around from a 4-12 team to a playoff team and winning the division. I’ve got a great deal of respect for him as a person and the things that he does, but that is no question the toughest thing about this business, is the personal side. We just had to make a decision as an organization — myself, coach Fox, the personnel department, the coaches [as to] what would be the best opportunity for the Denver Broncos to be competitive for a world championship, and Peyton Manning was that. That’s why we chose to go in that direction.”

Added Elway: “Obviously he was disappointed. I’m sure he was disappointed. He didn’t come out and say he was disappointed. I think it was a typical Tim Tebow response in the fact that it was very positive, and he said, ‘Well we’re talking about Peyton Manning and I understand exactly what you’re doing.'”

Elway noted that he has yet to enter into trade talks with other teams regarding Tebow.

Manning said that no matter what happens with Tebow, he will support the 2010 first-round pick, whether as a teammate or otherwise.

“Let me just say this: I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is, and what kind of person he is — I’ve gotten to meet him personally one time — and what an awesome person he is,” Manning said. “If Tim Tebow is here next year, I’m going to be the best teammate I can be to him, and he and I are going to help this team win games. If other opportunities present themselves for him, I’m going to wish him the best. He’s going to be a great player wherever he is.”

Read More: John Elway, John Fox, Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow

Dolphins sign David Garrard after missing out on Peyton Manning

03.20.12 at 9:16 am ET
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After missing out on signing Peyton Manning, the Dolphins inked former Jaguars quarterback David Garrard to a one-year deal on Monday. Miami is trying to rebuild at the quarterback position after moving on from former starter Chad Henne, who became a free agent after missing the final 12 games of the 2011 season due to a shoulder injury.

Garrard seems to be Plan C for the Dolphins, who attempted to lure Manning and former Green Bay backup Matt Flynn to Miami before signing Garrard Monday. The 34-year-old, however, is expected to have some competition for the starting role. In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Garrard said the Dolphins still plan to look into signing other quarterbacks.

“They didn’t say for sure they were bringing another guy in, but they said it’s a possibility, whether in the draft or whatever,” Garrard told the AP. “It’s going to be a great competition, and I’m all about that. I’m going to do my best to make sure it’s me on opening day.”

Garrard played his entire nine-year career with the Jaguars and started in Jacksonville from 2005-10, running an overall record of 39-37. In 86 career games, Garrard earned a 90.8 quarterback rating and has thrown for 16,003 yards and 89 touchdowns with 54 interceptions.

Jacksonville released Garrard five days before the season opener last year and replaced him with Blaine Gabbert, who was drafted 10th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Gabbert threw for 12 touchdowns with 11 interceptions in his rookie season and totaled a 50.8 completion percentage. Garrard’s signing completes a quasi-quarterback swap between the Dolphins and Jaguars, as the Jaguars signed former Dolphin Henne to a two-year, nearly $6.75 million deal on March 14, giving Gabbert some competition for the starting job.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, David Garrard

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: UConn DT Kendall Reyes

03.20.12 at 8:08 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2012 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

KENDALL REYES

Position: Defensive tackle

School: UConn

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 299 pounds

Achievements: UConn team MVP and Defensive Player of the Year (2011), All-Big East first team (2011, 2010)

What he brings: In a draft loaded with top-tier defensive tackle prospects, Reyes has flown slightly under the radar as combine risers and higher-profile prospects steal much of the spotlight. In other words, the two-year UConn captain is the exact type of player a Bill Belichick-led organization would be expected to seek.

Reyes is a solid, versatile, all-around player who played in multiple positions on UConn’€™s defensive front and could move to a 3-4 defensive end at the next level. A terrific athlete for the defensive tackle position, Reyes is solid in pursuit and is most likely one of a very limited number of 300-pounders to pull off a cartwheel into a backflip.

While it’€™s difficult to find a hole in Reyes’€™ game, there’€™s also not much that will blow away fans or scouts. Reyes is an unremarkable pass rusher who relies on heavily on the bull rush. Against the run, Reyes has the ability to fight off double teams and maintain his assignments inside but lacks explosiveness and isn’€™t known for penetrating and making huge plays in the backfield.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Some of Reyes’€™ critics believe that he plays a little light for the defensive tackle position. After arriving at UConn at 245 pounds, Reyes has already gone a long way into growing into the position but could still put on some weight while maintaining his quickness.

Reyes plays the run well and maintains his assignments like a nose tackle but is stuck in the body of a 3-technique and remains somewhat of a tweener. At his current weight, Reyes could very well thrive as a 3-4 defensive end who is called upon to play two-gap assignments.

Related articles:

Nashua Telegraph: Nashua’€™s Reyes puts on a show in UConn’€™s home finale

Boston Herald: UConn DL Kendall Reyes won’€™t say if he was a Patriots fan, sounds like a Patriots player

NBC Connecticut: Reyes’€™ stock continues to soar

Video:

Here’€™s Reyes in UConn’€™s matchup against Pittsburgh in 2010. Reyes finished with three tackles, one for loss.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 Potential Patriots, Kendall Reyes, UCONN
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