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Patriots by Position: Running Back

01.29.11 at 12:02 am ET
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As the Patriots offseason gets underway, we’€™ll continue to present a snapshot of the team by position. We’€™ve already examined the defensive backs, the linebackers, the defensive line, special teams and quarterbacks. Here’€™s a look at the running backs:

On the roster: Thomas Clayton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor and Danny Woodhead. (Kevin Faulk ended the season on injured reserve.)

Stat standouts ‘€” total rushing yards: Green-Ellis, 1,008; Woodhead, 547. Yards per carry (minimum 20 carries): Woodhead, 5.6. Rushing touchdowns: Green-Ellis, 13; Woodhead, 5. Total receiving yards: Woodhead, 379 yards. Best single game: We’€™ve got two: The first is Green-Ellis against the Vikings in October, when he had 17 carries for 112 yards (6.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Second is Woodhead against the Bills in December where he finished with 13 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown on the ground, to go along with three catches for 32 yards in the air.

2010, in three sentences: Much better than anticipated. After the September trade of Laurence Maroney and the season-ending injury to Faulk (plus multiple injuries to Taylor), not much was expected from the running back position. But the combination of Green-Ellis and Woodhead proved more than a serviceable duo, doing their part to help fuel a record-setting New England offense.

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Report: Kosar meets with Belichick about job

01.28.11 at 5:09 pm ET
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According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, retired NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar has met with Patriots coach Bill Belichick about a position with the Patriots. While the report said that Kosar would “probably not” be interested in a coaching gig, he would welcome work as a consultant to a team’s football operations.

Kosar played for Belichick with the Browns in the early-1990s, when the coach infamously cut the Cleveland icon. But the two have since reconciled any differences (Kosar spoke highly of Belichick when he was named coach of the Patriots), and Belichick recently praised Kosar when Tom Brady surpassed his record for most consecutive passes without an interception.

“Bernie, like Tom, was very diligent in his preparation. He studied everything ‘€” the schemes, the players, the individual tendencies as well as the overall teams schemes and tendencies,” Belichick said in late-December. “I’€™d say both players are very well prepared and neither one make a lost of mistakes in terms of misreading something or not knowing who was going to run a certain route or who was hot or getting fooled by different defensive looks. Things like that.

“So Bernie’€™s preparation was excellent, and he was a good decision-maker ‘€” very careful about where he threw the ball in terms of not turning it over and making throws like that and making good decisions and knowing when he was pressured, not taking a sack and turning it into an interception and things like that. Trying to make plays that were impossible. I think Tom’€™s kind of the same way. He reads things. Even when plays break down for one reason or another, a receiver gets jammed or there’€™s a breakdown in protection, or sees a good coverage that matches up particularly well against a pattern you have called, that’€™s when a quarterback really has to be his most sharp and most alert and not let that become a turnover or a worse play than what’€™s already not a good play. I’€™d say Bernie and Tom throughout their careers, do a good job of that ‘€” better than a lot of quarterbacks do. It’€™s not only taking the plays that are there, it’€™s taking the plays that aren’€™t going to work out well, and keep them from being bad plays or turnovers.’€

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Tandon Doss

01.28.11 at 4:12 pm ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2011 NFL draft.

Tandon Doss

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Indiana

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 20o pounds

Achievements: First Team All-Big Ten (2009), First Team All-Big Ten (2010), Biletnikoff Award Watch List (2010)

What he brings: A possession receiver, Doss has terrific hands and runs routes well. Good size, but lacks the speed to be a serious deep threat. He was a productive kick returner at Indiana and could develop into a solid special teams player at the NFL level.

Where the Patriots could get him: Third or fourth round.

Notes: Doss led the Big Ten and finished fourth nationally with 175.8 all-purpose yards per game in 2010. His 5.7 catches per game ranked second in the Big Ten in 2010 and his 64.2 yards receiving per game finished eighth. Doss collected 1,016 yards on 41 kick returns for Indiana in 2010, a single-season school record and fourth all-time in conference history.

Video: Here’s a September 2010 interview with Doss.

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Peter King on D&H: Jay Cutler is not very well liked in the league

01.28.11 at 2:03 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports NFL reporter Peter King made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday to talk about the latest news around the league. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

The Titans’ decision to fire Jeff Fisher with one year left on his contract was a surprise to many, but King said it makes sense for owner Bud Adams if he did not plan to give Fisher an extension.

“If you look at the Tennessee Titans right now, they’re fated to have the kind of year ‘€” if there’s a normal NFL season in 2011 ‘€” that the Carolina Panthers have just gone through, if Fisher had stayed ‘€” lame duck coach, no starting quarterback, problems all over the roster as far as depth and ability go,” he said. “That’s a bad team right now. So, first of all, if you’re Bud Adams, why do you want Jeff Fisher to be a lame duck? Why can’t you start your rebuilding process right now? You look at it right now, it makes a lot of sense. But that assumes you can get a coach you really like. ‘€¦ I just think you’re better off trying to start anew when you know ‘€” or you’re almost positive ‘€” that Jeff Fisher is not returning in 2012. Why wait?”

One of the likely candidates for the Titans opening is Dom Capers, who is earning high praise for his work as Packers defensive coordinator, two seasons removed from his stint as Patriots assistant. King was asked why Capers spent a season in New England.

“I think Belichick has often times in his career, both with players and coaches, brought in people who may not necessarily be a great fit to their team,” King said. “And I talk about Randy Moss, maybe, as one of them. And Dom Capers is another. They may not fit exactly what they do. But Belichick is going to be a guy who’s going to want great players and great coaches around him.”

Asked for his Super Bowl prediction, King said: “I like Pittsburgh” by a score of 33-27. He also compared Steelers coach Mike Tomlin to Bill Belichick in the way they both command the respect of their team without raising their voice.

“He has that team ‘€” and I don’t want to say this in a nasty way ‘€” he’s got that team by the throat,” King said. “There’s no doubt out on that field who’s the boss, who runs it and who they’re all listening to. And he’s not one of these guys who screams a lot, at all. I remember watching the Patriots in that Super Bowl week with the Rams, and Bill Belichick in six hours ‘€” and I wrote this ‘€” never once raised his voice. And yet, when he was around, it was very, very clear that the man is here. The man’s in town. And it’s the same thing with Tomlin. He goes from person to person in practice, talking to everybody, laughing, just doing a few teaching moments on defense during a practice. And you can just tell that he’s got his finger on the pulse of his team, completely.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Dom Capers, Jay Cutler, Jeff Fisher

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Jonathan Baldwin

01.28.11 at 11:40 am ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2011 NFL draft.

Jonathan Baldwin

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Pittsburgh

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 228 pounds

Achievements: First Team All-Big East (2009), Rivals Third Team All-American (2009), First Team All-Big East (2010)

What he brings: Size. At 6-foot-5, Baldwin is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He also has strength to match his size, consistently picking up yards after the catch. The former high school basketball star boasts a 40-inch vertical leap. An excellent blocking wideout, Baldwin isn’t afraid to go over the middle to make a play. He also has the speed necessary to be a legitimate threat in the deep passing game. Baldwin suffered a drop in production from 2009 to 2010, but that was largely due to a freshman quarterback taking over at Pittsburgh.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Daniel Thomas

01.28.11 at 10:41 am ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2011 NFL draft.

Daniel Thomas

Position: Running Back

School: Kansas State

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 228 pounds

Achievements: JUCO All-American (2008), Big 12 Newcomer of the Year (2009), First Team All-Big 12 (2009), Second Team All-Big 12 (2010)

What he brings: A classic between-the-tackles back with a solid frame, Thomas is a natural runner with enough speed to give defenses trouble when in open space. An average (at best ) pass catcher, Thomas doesn’t project as an every-down back at the NFL level. Thomas will also be 24 years old when the 2011 NFL season begins, which is two or three years older than the other top prospects at his position. Thomas also was used in the Wildcat formation, and completed a 41-yard pass against Oklahoma in 2009.

Where the Patriots could get him: Third round

Notes: Thomas ran for 2,850 yards in just two seasons at Kansas State, second on the school’s all-time rushing chart (Darren Sproles). He scored 19 touchdowns in 2010, including three in a Pinstripe Bowl loss to Syracuse. He led the Big 12 in regular season rushing yardage and yards per game in 2009.

Video: Here are some Thomas highlights from 2010:

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Daniel Thomas, Potential Patriots,

Adam Schefter on D&C: Jeff Fisher’s departure comes as a surprise

01.28.11 at 10:19 am ET
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Adam Schefter of ESPN made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the collective bargaining agreement and the Titans’ coaching situation, among other things. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On Thursday, Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin was asked about the collective bargaining agreement negotiations and seemed uninterested. The hosts asked Schefter if Austin reflected the majority of players.

‘€œI think everybody’€™s got a different agenda,’€ Schefter said. ‘€œI think right now if you’€™re Vincent Jackson, if you’€™re Logan Mankins, if you’€™re Peyton Manning, somebody whose contract is expiring and you’€™re set to become a free agent, you damn well care about these negotiations and where they’€™re going. Because you’€™re not getting paid until there’€™s a new deal.

‘€œMiles Austin had a contract extension last fall, a big contract extension with a lot of guaranteed money up front. So, in his own way, I understand where he’€™s coming from. ‘€˜You know what? Can’€™t control it. I’€™ve got my money. I got paid. Whatever it’€™ll be, it’€™ll be.’€™ ‘€

Schefter also talked about the coaching situation in Tennessee, where the Titans and Jeff Fisher agreed to part ways.

‘€œThis would not have been a surprise if it had happened on January 7,’€ Schefter said. ‘€œThe fact that it happened on January 27 was a big surprise. It was a big surprise because the Titans basically had said, ‘€˜OK, we’€™re bringing back Jeff Fisher. We’€™d like to have him back.’€™

‘€œBut the truth of the matter is there was an uneasy truce between the two sides, and Jeff Fisher was not going to sign a contract extension with Tennessee. Tennessee was not going to offer a contract extension. As somebody in the NFL told me last night, if something’€™s inevitable, you might as well make the move immediately. And that’€™s what happened. Both sides knew that eventually this was going to get to a divorce.’€

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Read More: adam schefter, Jeff Fisher, Miles Austin, Plaxico Burress
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