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Patriots sign two practice squadders to future contracts

01.19.11 at 8:07 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Wednesday night they have signed offensive lineman Thomas Austin and tackle Steve Maneri to future contracts. The two players finished the 2010 season on the Patriots practice squad. Here’s a portion of the announcement from the team:

Austin, 6-4, 310 pounds, was originally signed by Minnesota as a rookie free agent on April 24, 2010 out of Clemson. He was waived by Minnesota on Sept. 4 and joined the New England practice squad on Sept. 29.

Maneri, 6-6, 290 pounds, spent the first three weeks of the 2010 season on the 53-man roster of New England after being claimed off waivers from Houston on Sept. 5, 2010. He was waived by the Patriots on Sept. 27 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 29. Maneri originally signed with Houston as a rookie free agent on May 7, 2010 out of Temple. Maneri was inactive for the first three games of the season for the Patriots.

Read More: Steve Maneri, Thomas Auston,

Deion Branch: ‘The Jets had a great game plan’

01.19.11 at 1:54 pm ET
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Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch spoke Tuesday with KJR Radio in Seattle about the season-ending loss to the Jets, what the New York players did that made him angry and the amount of trash-talking that was going on on the field during the game:

What happened in the game against the Jets:
‘€œIt just goes to show you that if you don’€™t come to play week-in and week-out what can happen. We had a great season, finished the year 14-2, by far the best team in the NFL during the regular season but once the postseason starts it is a different season. The Jets came out. They had a great game plan. They executed their game plan. Now going into the game we had a great one as well but we didn’€™t execute our game plan and that is the difference. You can’€™t just rely on what happened during the regular season even though we didn’€™t do that, we didn’€™t execute our plays.’€

Anything but winning the Super Bowl is a failure in New England:
‘€œThat is the mindset. It was here when I came here in ‘€™02 and when I left they had the same mindset, when I returned it was the same exact thing. The goals around here are a whole lot bigger than just winning the division, winning the conference, just getting to the playoffs, it is bigger than that and I think that we didn’€™t do a good job executing the things we set out to do, and the goals we set as a team. Like I said, it was a great season. I think we don’€™t have to hang our heads down low. Guys went out and played good this season but we didn’€™t finish off what we set out to do this year.’€
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Read More: Deion Branch,

Who’s ready for the NFL Draft?

01.19.11 at 12:55 pm ET
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The end of the Patriots’€™ season means the beginning of draft season, and that’€™s both crushing news for some and delightful news for others. Just like last year, we’€™ll have plenty to prepare you for this year’€™s draft. We’€™ll start this week by highlighting some positions the Pats could go after with their stockpile of draft picks.

Given the Richard Seymour trade and the Armanti Edwards highway robbery (the Panthers gave up their second this year for a third-rounder so they could select the Appalachian State quarterback in last year’€™s draft) among others, the Patriots’€™ currency in this year’€™s draft is very top-heavy. This isn’t as deep a class as last year’s, but the Pats have plenty to work with. Here’€™s what their picks look like:

First round

No. 17 overall (from Raiders)
No. 28 overall

Second round

No. 33 overall (from Panthers)
No. 60 overall

Third Round

No. 74 overall (from Vikings, Randy Moss trade)
No. 92 overall

Fourth Round

(Slot depends on compensation picks in third round)

Fifth Round

(Slot depends on compensation picks in previous rounds)

Sixth Round

From Saints, David Thomas trade. (Slot depends on compensation picks in previous rounds).

Stay tuned as we begin highlighting each position we feel the Pats could look at.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft,

D&C report: Tom Brady may have suffered foot injury

01.19.11 at 11:31 am ET
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On Wednesday’s Dennis & Callahan show, John Dennis reported that multiple sources indicated Tom Brady suffered a foot injury either before or during the Patriots’ 28-21 loss to the Jets on Sunday.

Brady was listed on the injury report before the game as having a right shoulder/foot injury. That’s how he was listed since the middle of the season. He was listed with just the shoulder injury since the start of the campaign.

There also were rumors that Brady was sick Sunday, but Brady denied that during his WEEI Patriots Monday appearance on Dennis & Callahan. “I didn’t have the flu,” he said. “I felt fine.”

Brady did admit to feeling the effects of a hit to his upper body on a strip sack Sunday, saying, “Yeah, they got me pretty good. It’s just a bruise. It’ll be fine, though.”

He went on to make a general reference to surgery and rehab and said, “Fortunately, I won’t have any of that.”

Read More: Tom Brady,

Matt Chatham on D&C: Patriots were ‘absolutely blocking for a punt fake’

01.19.11 at 11:01 am ET
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Former Patriots and Jets linebacker Matt Chatham joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about Sunday’s playoff game in Foxboro. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Chatham said he was “totally shocked” watching the Jets upset the Patriots. He said the Patriots’ inability to execute and the “skittishness” of Tom Brady stood out to him more so than any strategical decisions. “If I were to think about one thing that I wish the Patriots would have done, it would be to execute the plays they did call,” he said.

Chatham spent a few minutes talking about the botched fake punt in the second quarter, when Patrick Chung dropped the snap and was tackled short of a first down. A former special teams standout, Chatham said he doesn’t think he would have made the same call. “Sometimes there’s some beauty in being young and not having that kind of perspective, because it might allow you to do some things that will make you a hero,” he said of Chung, the second-year defensive back who accepted responsibility.

Steve DeOssie said earlier this week on The Big Show that the Patriots linemen appeared to be blocking for a punt, suggesting that there was confusion on the Patriots side, but Chatham disagreed. “With all due respect to Steve, I’ve watched it now [on tape] and they’re absolutely blocking for a punt fake,” he said.

Chatham also noted that the Jets gunner on the right side, where the play was to be run, came charging on the inside, which would have made things more challenging had Chung caught the snap cleanly.

Asked about the Wes Welker suspension, Chatham said he was surprised, but, “I don’t think it really had any impact on what happened.”

Chatham said he doubts Welker is letting it fester. “I’m sure his emotions in regards to the football game are mountains above any little thing that happened with a couple of plays that he missed,” Chatham said. “I think that’s relatively immaterial. It’s such a huge letdown ‘€” those kinds of losses with those kinds of expectations ‘€” that it’s got [so] little to do on a guy’s mind at this time of year. He’s hurting for many other reasons than that.”

Read More: Matt Chatham, Patrick Chung, playoffs, Wes Welker

Fireman Ed: Patriots fans put bounty on my Jets helmet

01.19.11 at 10:21 am ET
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Ubiquitous Jets fan “Fireman Ed” Anzalone said Patriots fans placed “a bounty” on his Jets fireman helmet as he tried to leave Gillette Stadium on Sunday following the Patriots’ 28-21 loss.

The retired New York City firefighter said it’s not uncommon for fans to target him at away Jets games, but on Sunday, “getting out of there was no small task.” Explained Anzalone to Newsday: “One guy grabbed my helmet and threw it on the field. He went to take it and run away with it, but Jets fans tackled him.”

Anzalone credited stadium security and did not want to make too much of the incident.

Read More: Ed Anzalone, Fireman Ed, Jets, Patriots

Ex-Patriots’ assistant Josh McDaniels joins St. Louis as offensive coordinator

01.18.11 at 7:38 pm ET
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The Rams have hired former Patriots’ assistant Josh McDaniels as their new offensive coordinator, the team announced via Twitter on Tuesday. McDaniels, who was an assistant in New England starting in 2001, was offensive coordinator in New England from 2006 through 2008 before taking over as head coach in Denver for nearly two seasons. He fired by the Broncos last month with a 3-9 record following a videotaping scandal.

Read More: Josh McDaniels,
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