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Boomer Esiason on D&C: Jets WR Plaxico Burress ‘a space cadet’

09.12.11 at 11:43 am ET
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CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, as the Patriots prepare to open the season against the Dolphins.

Esiason shared his opinions about enigmatic wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Chad Ochocinco and explained why he feels Ochocinco will be more successful than Burress.

“I think Plaxico Burress, I don’t think he really truly understands what’s going on in the world,” Esiason said. “The fact that he didn’t know who Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg was, the fact that in this Men’s Journal article he was blaming Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning for a thing that he did to himself, and the fact that he can’t comprehend what he did was illegal leads me to believe that he’s a space cadet.

“I know that Ochocinco is somewhat the same way, but Ochocinco doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. I think he just enjoys the whole artistry of who he is and the recreation of this alter ego of his. I don’t think he’s a mean-spirited guy. I think Plaxico Burress can be a mean-spirited guy.”

Esiason also offered his prediction for the Patriots’ opener.

“I think that it should be a one-sided game in favor of the Patriots,” Esaison said. “But it is the Dolphins and it is the Patriots, it’s opening weekend and you never know what you’re going to get.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On what makes the Patriots a great team:Tom Brady is the difference. If you take a look at teams I picked yesterday for the Super Bowl, Green Bay and New England, you have to play with the best players and the best quarterbacks. We have seen through the most part in this first weekend of the NFL season that quarterbacks who have their coordinators and their head coaches together and have been together for quite sometime are all going to be successful. The other teams are going to struggle at some point. Even though a couple of those teams had pretty good days yesterday, I don’t think they can sustain that through a 16-game season like the Patriots and the New York Jets. But to me, the New England Patriots are a better team than the New York Jets right now.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, boomer esiason, Chad Ochocinco, Plaxico Burress

Nuggetpalooza: Patriots vs Dolphins Preview!

09.12.11 at 9:10 am ET
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It’s football season and I hope you enjoy these weekly previews as much as I look forward to bringing them to you. Obviously, there are serious drawbacks to using 2010 stats at this point considering the massive personnel turnover experienced by every team in the league. But until the teams generate some stats for 2011, “it is what it is”.

For those of you that are new to these previews, when I refer to passing rating, I’m not talking about the NFL’s official (and convoluted) system. My rating takes average net yards per pass attempt (net yards equals passing yards minus sack yards lost) minus the league average net yards per attempt (for that particular situation). Then it adds 30 times the touchdown percentage and subtracts 50 times the interception percentage. If you think about it, throwing 20 touchdowns and 12 picks (1.67 TD/INT ratio) will cancel out that adjustment.

Enough with the mumbo jumbo. Go Pats!:

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* – Monday Night Magic: There have been 24 kickoff returns for touchdowns in the history of Monday Night Football, starting with Cleveland’s Homer Jones against the Jets in 1970. Of those 24, the Dolphins have allowed four of them. Only three other teams have allowed even two on Monday nights: Rams (3), Redskins (2), and Steelers (2). In their history, Miami has allowed eight kickoff return touchdowns on days other than Monday in 2,339 attempts (1-in-292 on average). On Mondays, four out of 281 (1-in-70).

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* – 4th Quarter Defense: The Dolphins allowed only seven touchdowns in the 4th quarter last season, tied for third fewest in the league:

6 – Titans
6 – Bears
7 – Dolphins
7 – Packers
7 – Redskins

On a related note: Miami and Seattle were the only two defenses that did not allow a passing touchdown in the 4th quarter of a close game last season (score within seven points either way). Seattle only defended 21 attempts (two games were close in the 4th quarter). But 12 of Miami’s 16 games were close in the 4th quarter and opponents tried 83 such passes.

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* – Mr. Catchable: New England’s Tom Brady was last season’s most accurate passer as 73.0% of his throws were considered “catchable”:

73.0% – Patriots
72.9% – Saints
72.9% – Colts
70.2% – Packers

However, Patriots’ receivers joined the Panthers and Cardinals as the only three receiving corps that dropped more than 10% of catchable balls last year.

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* – Location, Location, Location: Last year, the Patriots average drive started at their 32.1-yard-line while their opponents set up shop on average at their 28.2. Therefore, the Patriots enjoyed a net field position of +3.9 yards, third best in the league. Over the last half of the season, their average net field position was +6.9 yards. The Dolphins, meanwhile, had a net field position of -2.3 yards, ranked 24th. This was mainly due to their poor average offensive starting spot (28.6-yard-line, ranked 28th).

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* – Marching Down the Field: After leading the NFL in 2008 and ranking second in 2009, the Patriots offense ranked sixth in 2010 with 29 drives of 10 or more plays. However, they cashed those drives in at a high level, averaging 4.45 points per long drive, third best in the league:

4.65 – Colts
4.53 – Falcons
4.45 – Patriots

This is quite an improvement after averaging 3.71 in 2008 and 3.46 in 2009. New England’s defense was very poor in this regard, allowing 33 drives of 10+ plays (only Tennessee, with 35, allowed more) and gave up an average of 3.94 points on those opponent drives, ranked 26th. Read the rest of this entry »

Deion Branch and Wes Welker supremely confident in Patriots passing game

09.10.11 at 11:35 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Deion Branch and Wes Welker both exude the confidence that comes from having Tom Brady as your starting quarterback.

So, when asked this week whether he’s concerned about not having caught a single pass in the four preseason games, Branch said if the quarterback’s not worried, he’s not going to waste time fretting either.

“Trust me, I’m not worried and Tom’s not worried,” Branch said. “As long as Tom’s not worried, I’m not worried.”

Pats coach Bill Belichick also sounds like a man not overly concerned by the goose egg in the catches column so far for Branch.

“I think the most important thing for us offensively is just to play well and score points,” Belichick said. “Individual statistics and all that are not really my focus. Sometimes they’€™re going to go to one player and sometimes they’€™re going to go to another player. We always come in here on Monday and talk about the player who didn’€™t have the most statistics, what happened to him. The most important thing is how the team performs, whether we get the ball in the end zone and score points. That’€™s what our goal is offensively ‘€“ it’€™s not individual statistics.”

What did Belichick think of Branch’s preseason?

“Good. I thought he was in good condition, [he] was out there every day, practiced well, gave great leadership to the position. You love having Deion Branch on your team.”

Brady is someone else not really paying attention to the numbers – or lack of them – in the last two preseason games. Right now, all of the focus is on being ready for Monday night in Miami.

“Yeah, and I think all of the preparations over the last couple weeks have been for this night, so we’€™ve been working hard to get ready for opening night ‘€“ for obviously this week of practice,” Brady said. “So, look, if things don’€™t go well in the preseason, you correct them. If things don’€™t go well in the regular season, you correct them.

“You’€™re always trying to see the things you did wrong so you can correct those things and improve on them, and then hopefully they get better over the course of the year. We’€™re working on getting them better. You wish you had every single problem solved in week one, but I think that’€™s the goal [and] how realistic it is, we’€™ll see when we take the field. I’€™m excited to see where we’€™re at. You’€™re basing it against some pretty tough competition. We have a great test on Monday.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Deion Branch, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots

Will Nate Solder help spell Sebastian Vollmer at RT?

09.10.11 at 4:38 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Sebastian Vollmer was again a no-show at practice on Saturday and is listed as questionable for Monday night’s season opener in Miami with a bad back.

The bigger question is: If Vollmer is unable to go, who might take his spot at right tackle?

Vollmer is one of just three tackles listed on the roster, joining Matt Light and Nate Solder.

Light hasn’t played there since 2001, when Bill Belichick came to the conclusion that Light is “just a left tackle,” a very good left tackle but just a left tackle.

Solder played some right tackle in the preseason, showing promise in the first game against the Jaguars.

“I don’t know exactly what’s going to go on with that,” Solder said on Friday when asked. “I’m going to play wherever I need to be played. People think that it’s not a big deal but sometimes it is difficult to do that. When you’re playing on the left, you’re going to be working with your inside hand, so a lot of things just flip.

“A lot of things carry over from college but I’m learning so much every day. It’s been a learning process. A lot of the elements stay the same though and some things carry over, which is good.”

Asked earlier in the week, Belichick seemed OK with the thought of putting Solder at right tackle, if needed during an NFL regular season game.

“I think Nate is a pretty versatile guy,” Belichick said. “[He] seems very flexible ‘€“ athletically, his footwork and so forth. He seems to be very comfortable wherever we put him.”

Belichick confirmed what Solder said about the footwork aspect being the biggest challenge of making any transition along the O-Line.

“Different techniques, yes,” Belichick said. “Playing from inside-out and keeping your weight on your inside foot in pass protection or reach blocking, working with different people ‘€“ the right guard instead of the left guard. Tight ends are tight ends; they flip sides, but working with different guys next to you in games and blocking combinations, things like that [are some of the challenges.]”

There is one wild-card that could emerge and his name is Logan Mankins. The newly-renewed veteran played some right tackle when he played at Fresno State and it’s widely assumed, given his experience, he could make the transition over to the right side.

That would mean the moving of Brian Waters over to his most natural position at left guard, with Dan Connolly remaining at right guard.

The last possibility is signing one of three offensive linemen off the practice squad but that would also require releasing someone off the 53-man roster.

Check out a preview of this week’s ‘Patriots’ All-Access’

09.09.11 at 5:54 pm ET
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The 2011 regular season debut of “Patriots All-Access” airs Friday on WBZ-TV at 7 p.m. and is posted immediately following on Patriots.com.

Here are some highlights:

‘€¢Coach Bill Belichick explains his reasoning behind some recent roster moves as the Patriots get ready for their week one contest on Monday Night Football in Miami. He also breaks down the Dolphins on the Belestrator.

‘€¢Sights and sounds from the preseason.

‘€¢Steve Burton sits down with Patrick Chung, now the longest-tenured safety on the Patriots.

‘€¢A look back at the ten year anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 through the eyes of Patriots past and present, including owner Robert Kraft, Tom Brady, Drew Bledsoe, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown and Joe Andruzzi.

Here’s a quick preview:

Read More: Bill Belichick, Drew Bledsoe, Joe Andruzzi, Patrick Chung

Dolphins Friday injury report: RB Daniel Thomas upgraded

09.09.11 at 4:11 pm ET
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Dolphins Friday injury report:

Did Not Practice
RB Charles Clay (hamstring)

Limited
RB Daniel Thomas (hamstring)

Read More: Charles Clay, Daniel Thomas, injury report, Miami Dolphins

Friday injury report: Sebastian Vollmer misses third straight practice with back injury

09.09.11 at 4:05 pm ET
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Patriots Friday afternoon practice report:

Full Participation
CB Leigh Bodden (hand)
WR Julian Edelman (hand)

Limited Participation
DE Mark Anderson (knee)
CB Kyle Arrington (hip)
OL Dan Connolly (foot)
LB Jermaine Cunningham (groin)
LB Dane Fletcher (thumb)
WR Taylor Price (hamstring)
RB Stevan Ridley (ankle)
LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee)
RB Shane Vereen (hamstring)
OL Ryan Wendell (calf)

Did Not Practice
OL Sebastian Vollmer (back)

Read More: injury report, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, nfl
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