|02.26.12 at 2:10 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Scott Pioli is getting the band back together.
Well, maybe not the entire band. But the combination of Romeo Crennel as head coach and Brian Daboll as the offensive coordinator — not to mention the fact that Matt Cassel is still very much in the mix as the Kansas City quarterback battle — certainly gives the Chiefs a familiar look.
That’s why it’s been no surprise the Chiefs have been linked to running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, an impending free agent who has rushed for 1,675 yards the last two seasons for the Patriots. While not addressing Green-Ellis’ situation directly, Crennel said that just because a free agent flourished in New England, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’d achieve success with the Chiefs.
‘The schemes are not necessarily the same. They are different. Schemes change over time,’ he said. ‘Each year, coaches make adjustments. That’s what we do. We adjust to our personnel. We adjust to the opponents. We study ourselves and try to figure out what’s good and what’s bad and try to keep the good things in and get rid of some of the bad things so systems change.
‘Some of the terminology might be the same and all that, but that doesn’t mean every free agent New England has I want automatically say, ‘Hey, he needs to be on my team.’ That’s not the case. We have to look at every person and every player individually and try to figure out how they fit on this team and how we can use them and if they can help us. Then you make a decision on a player. So whether it’s a guy from New England, from Chicago or wherever, that’s the process you have to go through.’
And then, there’s the addition of Daboll, who was the offensive coordinator last year in Miami but made his bones as an assistant in New England — he was the defensive coaching assistant in 2000 and 2001, and later moved on to become the wide receivers coach from 2002 through 2006.
‘I’ve worked with him before and I know what he’s about,’ Crennel said of Daboll, who was quarterbacks coach with the Jets and OC in Cleveland before joining Miami prior to the start of last season. ‘I know how hard he works. I know how thoughtful he is. Then what he was able to do with Miami and how particularly toward the end of the year how that offense did was helpful in making me decide he was the guy.
‘The thing about Brian is I’ve seen his career grow from the time we were in New England when he was just a young whippersnapper and then he got to receivers and moved on to quarterbacks and became an offensive coordinator, so I’ve seen his growth and development, and thought he was on a good track and thought he would be good for the Chiefs.’
|02.26.12 at 1:56 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — While the workouts are watched closely by NFL teams, one of the biggest tests players can face at the scouting combine is their session with reporters.
Last year, the media eagerly awaited Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, a potential first-rounder whose name and character was being questioned over rumored drug use. To put it lightly, Mallett was overwhelmed, all over the place and took an attitude with each question asked. A session like Mallett’s is every troubled player’s worst nightmare, and it wouldn’t be too unfair to suggest that it was part of the reason he fell to the third round before the Patriots ended his slide.
So who was this year’s Ryan Mallett? The closest thing might be North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins. He could be the best corner in the NFL before long, but he’s got to prove he’s got his act together. Unlike Mallett’s rumored drug use, which was never confirmed by failed drug tests, Jenkins’ drug use was confirmed many times. All things considered, Jenkins handled the media a heck of a lot better than Mallett did.
A star corner at Florida, Jenkins failed a drug test and was arrested three times — two of which were for marijuana possession. The first arrest came in June of 2009 when someone grabbed his gold chain in a bar, so Jenkins punched him in the head. After his junior season, Jenkins was arrested twice in a three-month span for marijuana possession, and that was enough to boot him from the program. Now, he swears he’s done smoking.
“I’m done with it forever, man,” Jenkins said. “I can’t do it. I can’t let myself do it again.”
After being dismissed from Florida, Jenkins went to North Alabama, where he got thrown at so little that he had to work as a special-teamer just to keep himself busy. It was hard for Jenkins, who had previously given top receivers like Georgia’s A.J. Green fits. He went from being a star at the highest level to facing minimal competition. What was even worse was that North Alabama played their games on Thursdays, so Jenkins had his Saturdays free to watch Florida and think about what could have been.
“We didn’t really play on Saturdays, so my Saturdays, I’d watch Florida and watch some of my old teammates play,” he said. “It struck me and hit me as a kid. I was just like, ‘Man, I’m supposed to be there with those guys,’ just thinking about my past.”
Added Jenkins: “Coming from Florida, getting three or four pairs of cleats a week, gloves, to going to North Alabama and getting one pair of cleats and playing in front of 3,500 people. Being in The Swamp, playing in front of 95,000 is a big difference and learning experience.”
Now, Jenkins hopes to show NFL teams that he’s a changed man. A father of four children from three months to three years old, Jenkins knows he needs to be a better man, for others if not for himself.
“I think about my mom all the time, and my kids,” he said. “In order for me to be successful and them to have a nice life, I’ve got to put some of that behind me in order for my kids to get what they want. I can be a father to my kids and just be there for my mom.”
Assuming he shows teams that he’s got his head on straight, Jenkins should be drafted somewhere in the middle of the first round. As a reminder of just how legitimate the 5-foot-10, 193-pound corner is, consider this: After Jenkins said Green, the fourth-overall pick last year, was the toughest receiver he faced at Florida, a reporter asked what Green did to him to make it so tough.
“What did he do to me? I mean, he caught a post. I gave him one ball,” Jenkins said before noting that he picked off the first pass of the game thrown Green’s way in their 2010 meeting.
Jenkins has the skill, and he has the reputation as a shutdown corner against elite competition. It’s the other reputation he has to worry about, and at least in this reporter’s eyes, he handled that well Sunday.
|02.26.12 at 1:33 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — He is the longest of long shots, but Massachusetts native Shawn Loiseau knows that he still has a chance.
The linebacker out of Merrimack College is aiming to be the next small-school star to make it to the NFL. The 6-foot-0, 244-pounder is at the NFL scouting combine this week in Indianapolis, on the field with the most elite prospects in the game and hoping to catch the eye of an NFL coach or GM.
‘My goal since I’ve been seven years old, my dream has been to play in the NFL and growing up it’s always been my dream,’ Loiseau said. ‘And then, coming into college, I was overlooked, my senior year I was Massachusetts player of the year — I led my team to 13-0 (mark) and a state championship and not one school came knocking, not even one offered me to walk on.’
As a result, he landed at Merrimack, where he became a two-time conference player of the year. He helped the Warriors win the Northeast 10 conference in 2009. All the while, he never stopped thinking about the fact that he never got any offers to play high-level college football.
‘I never stopped thinking about it; it just made me want to work harder,’ he said. ‘I have a huge chip on my shoulder. I’m always competing against the guys I can’t see, just being overlooked and being told that I can’t do things and people laughing at me ‘ when I tell people I want to play in the NFL I’ve always had people laugh at me, like, ‘Yeah, Shawn, that’s a good joke.’ But to me it’s been something that’s realistic, just a lot of hard work that I’ve been putting in.’
The Shrewsbury native would love a chance to play for New England.
‘Big Patriots fan. I love the Patriots. I grew up watching the Patriots, my family are all Patriots fans,’ he said. ‘That would be unreal. That would be awesome. My family’s like, ‘Shawn if you go to Patriots it would be unreal, we’d be at every game.’ And I’m like ‘Yeah, where were you in college and high school? You never came to my games then, now you want to come to my games. I was only down the road, it’s not like you had to travel far.’’
|02.26.12 at 12:22 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Do the Patriots need to add a cornerback in the draft again?
After taking corners very high in each of the last three drafts, it’s a position that still isn’t completely settled for the Pats. Given that they have big names in Devin McCourty and a hopefully healthy Ras-I Dowling, as well as Kyle Arrington (amongst the most underrated corners in the NFL after leading the league in picks and having the fifth-best tackle efficiency in the NFL with just three missed tackles), they probably don’t need a first-round pick to address the position.
For that reason, when it comes to this year’s cornerbacks in the NFL draft, it should be that next tier of guys that the Pats look at. One of them took the podium Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Montana product Trumaine Johnson.
Ranked by ESPN Scouts, Inc. as the fifth-best corner in the draft, the Pats could potentially land Johnson with one of their two first-round picks. He played only one game against FBS competition, a 42-16 loss to Tennessee to open last season, but he held his own and showed that just because he comes from a small school, he plays a big game.
Yet the questions with Johnson will come down to his lack of competition. Coming out of high school, he thought he’d be going to an FBS program, but it didn’t happen.
“I went to USC camp, went to the Cal full contact camp. They said they were going to offer me [a scholarship],” he said. “They never called me back. USC never called me back either. ASU was supposed to take me out on a visit. Usually, when you go on a visit, they offer you [a scholarship], but they never called me back either. I didn’t want to go to a junior college, so I went to Montana.”
It was there that Johnson, a former quarterback who had been recruited as a receiver was moved to cornerback. The position was a fit, as he started 46 games, including six with a broken arm. At nearly 6-foot-2 and 204 pounds, Johnson is a big, physical corner who loves to tackle. He played boundary corner at Montana in run support and is willing to play safety, so for a Pats team that likes those types of defensive backs, Johnson could be a fit.
Johnson does have some character issues on his record. He was academically ineligible during spring 2011 practices, and he was arrested early in the season when he and a teammate were noncompliant with officers who showed up to a party they were having. The situation got heated quickly, as both players ended up being shot with a stun gun.
Yet while he has his issues, there’s a lot of intrigue surrounding Johnson. On paper, he has all the skills needed for his position, and the Pats sure do like corners who can tackle. It was a big reason they chose McCourty in the first round of the 2010 draft.
Another thing that comes with Johnson is his work ethic. As a guy who’s had to change positions and avoid getting too comfortable playing against lesser competition, he has focused on sharpening his technique to make as close to NFL-ready as he can be. He likens himself to Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, another FCS cornerback who showed he could play in the NFL when he was drafted 16th overall by the Cardinals in 2008.
“I love the game,” Johnson said. “I love the competition and I feed off it. I believe I belong in the NFL.”
|02.26.12 at 9:52 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Welcome back to the NFL combine, where the wide receivers, running backs and quarterbacks are working out Sunday. Defensive and a few leftover D-linemen and linebackers will meet with the media today.
As far as workouts go, wide receiver Stephen Hill is killing it. The Georgia Tech product, who we spoke to here in Indianapolis and saw as a great fit for the Pats in the second round, ran a 4.30 and a 4.31 in the 40-yard dash. Not too shabby for a 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame.
Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd ran a 4.42 in his first attempt, which is a great time for him. For quarterbacks, it’s no surprise that Baylor’s Robert Griffin III stole the show. RGIII, who is not throwing at the combine, ran an unofficial 4.38 in his first attempt.
Check back for updates throughout the day.
|02.25.12 at 4:59 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — One of the highlights of Saturday’s player availability at the scouting combine came from Alabama pass-rusher Courtney Upshaw.
Given that he played in Nick Saban‘s system, Upshaw, who is undersized (6-foot-1, 272 pounds) but good at getting after the quarterback, seemed like a potential fit.
That’s why it came as no surprise that the Boston Herald asked about the Pats during Upshaw’s availability. The question was about whether he sees similarities between the system he plays and the Pats’ defense that he sees when he watches them on TV.
“Honestly, I’m a Colts fan, so I particularly try to watch the Colts all the time,” Upshaw explained. “Watching the championship game, I’m also a big defensive fan, so I kind of paid more attention to the Giants because I know [Justin] Tuck and my friend [receiver] Jerrel Jernigan played for them. I was really focusing on the Giants. I really haven’t caught too many Patriots games, to be honest with you.”
Obviously, Upshaw didn’t mean to slight the Patriots, but it doesn’t get anymore comically bad than that. Remember, these players are coached to handle these interviews well.
|02.25.12 at 4:48 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Less than a month after his third-place finish in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Patriots coach Bill Belichick is going to hit the links again. According to ESPN760, Belichick has committed to playing the Honda Classic Kenny G Pro-Am this coming week in Florida. Belichick and pro partner Ricky Barnes shot a net 16-under par in four rounds at Pebble Beach earlier this month.