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Patrick Chung on M&M: Brandon Meriweather’s gone, but ‘we’ll be fine with the guys we’ve got’

09.09.11 at 11:37 am ET
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Patriots defensive back Patrick Chung joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning for his weekly conversation.

The Patriots cut ties with Brandon Meriweather last week, but Chung said the players aren’t letting their thoughts linger about the departure of the two-time Pro Bowl safety.

“We’re not worried about that,” he said. “We’ve got the guys we have here, and it’s just going to get better as the season goes along. We’ll be able to communicate a lot better, and it’s just going to get better as the time goes, with experience. We’ll be fine with the guys we’ve got.”

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

On Dolphins running back Reggie Bush, whom Chung faced in college: “He’s good, he’s a good player. He’s fast, he’s explosive. He can catch the ball, he can run. He’s overall a very good player. We have to bring our ‘A’ game and everybody has to be on the same page and take care of him.”

On Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall: “He’s a very good player. He can make plays. We’ve got to keep them to a minimum. Just play the game and play football. It’s go-time now.”

On being able to play either safety position and if it was a difficult transition coming out of college: “It’s not difficult. It’s whatever coach wants you to do, period. You have to play down, you have to play deep, you have to cover, you have to tackle, you’ve got to do everything that you need to do to make yourself a good player in the back here. You’ve got to do all those things. And regardless of where you are at any given time or on any play, you have to do it to the best of your ability.”

Read More: Brandon Marshall, Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung, Reggie Bush

Jerod Mayo on M&M: ‘There’s a chip on the whole team’s shoulders’ this season

09.09.11 at 11:21 am ET
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Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning as part of WEEI’s Patriots Friday.

The Patriots open the season Monday night in Miami. Last season, the Patriots ranked in the bottom half of the league in total defense. Mayo was asked if there’s a chip on the shoulders of the defense heading into this season.

“Yeah, there’s a chip on the whole team’s shoulders, to be honest with you,” he said. “We want to win games, and continue to win. When you look at stats like that, at the end of the day, it’s all about wins and losses. We struggled at times last year, and we also had good games at times. We’ve got to continue to work hard and get better.”

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

On being named a captain again: “It was a great honor, being selected by your teammates. I respect all these guys. What it means to be to be a captain is just making sure everyone is doing the right thing. Coach can’t always be there. Just kind of the eyes of the coach, and make sure everyone’s on the same page.”

On the challenges presented by the Dolphins: “Obviously, Brandon Marshall with his catch-and-run ability, he’s a big guy. He’s built like a tight end but also can run. Then you have [Davone] Bess in the slot, who can make a lot of people miss. And then you add a guy like Reggie Bush, who’s so versatile, he can motion out of the backfield, he can take a toss sweep, he can take a 2-yard run and turn it into an 80-yard run. So, they have a lot of weapons and they’ll be a good challenge for us.”

On changing the schedule so that the Patriots and Dolphins play in Foxboro in September and in Miami in December: “I don’t know how that stuff works. That’s a good idea, though. Call Roger Goodell about that one.”

Read More: Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, Jerod Mayo, Reggie Bush

Fantasy Football: Rotobahn’s Week 1 starts and sits

09.09.11 at 11:09 am ET
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Here are our Week 1 starts and sits. Join us at Rotobahn.com every week for full lineup rankings, game capsules and waiver wire reports. Our full week one lineup rankings will be released Friday!

Quarterbacks

Starts:

Matt Stafford, Lions at Bucs

He’€™s on the road at Tampa Bay and he is healthy. With a solid assortment of weapons, plus Calvin Johnson, he has big upside. He has a solid matchup and we like him to post good numbers in the opening stanza of 2011. Play him with confidence.

Josh Freeman, Bucs vs. Lions

He’€™s hosting the Lions. We like this game to feature some scoring and we expect them to move Freeman around and get the ball in the air. It should be a good week for the young passer. Start him if he is your guy.

Jay Cutler, Bears vs. Falcons

We like the matchup, and Cutler has looked very much under control so far. If you need a QB this week, Cutler is a good option.

Sits:

Tony Romo, Cowboys at Jets

We like Romo a lot overall, but this might be the best week all year to sit him. The Jets are tough as heck to throw on. If you rostered a guy like Freeman or Cutler behind Romo, this might be the week to use your backup. It’s a close call, but don’t expect typical Romo output.

Sam Bradford, Rams vs. Eagles

We are bullish on this kid for the year, but, even at home, we don’€™t like this matchup with the Eagles’€™ strong coverage corps. Look elsewhere if you have another strong option.

Matt Cassel, Chiefs vs. Bills

We don’€™t like him much on an average week, but we would avoid him this week for sure with a limiting rib injury. Look elsewhere if you can.

Running Backs

Starts:

Peyton Hillis, Browns vs. Bengals

We worry about him wearing down, but we like him plenty in Week 1. The home matchup vs. Cincinnati is sweet, and we don’€™t think that Cleveland is ready to open up the passing game. Hillis should rip it up. RB1 all the way.

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Read More: 2011 Fantasy Football, Jay Cutler, Josh Freeman, Matthew Stafford

Damien Woody on D&C: This is Albert Haynesworth’s last chance

09.09.11 at 10:57 am ET
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Recently retired offensive lineman and current ESPN football analyst Damien Woody joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning. The former Boston College star said he thinks defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth will fare well on one of Woody’s former teams, the Patriots.

“[Haynesworth] can still be a dominant force in the league,” Woody said. “If you ask any offensive linesman when Albert Haynesworth was in Tennessee and playing in that 4-3 scheme, he was an animal. Bill [Belichick] does a great job of revitalizing guys’ careers.”

Haynesworth remains a question mark after playing in just one preseason game for the Patriots, but the former Redskin has had nothing but positive things to say about his short time in New England so far. Woody said that he thinks this is Haynesworth’s final shot to revitalize his career and return to the level that he played at in Tennessee.

“To be frank, if it doesn’t happen now, it’s never going to happen,” Woody said of Haynesworth. “This is probably his last chance. This will be his last chance to really show what he’s capable of doing, and you’re with a winning organization. So, I think this guy could definitely have an impact for the team.

“He’s a talented guy, there’s no question about that. Now the question is: Does he want it? It’s all on him. Does he want it bad enough? So, we’ll see how it goes.”

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

On which of his former teams he would return to play for, the Patriots or the Jets: “I love both organizations. People in New York know how I speak loyally about the team. And the reason I speak loyally about the Jets is because they gave me an opportunity when I was with the Lions. I had only played five games at tackle. So they really gave me a shot as a starting right tackle and things worked out well.

“But my time in New England was priceless. I’ve always said Bill is the best coach I’ve ever played for, he’s the smartest guy. Just his genius as far as strategy and preparation and stuff like that. But I also have my love for Rex [Ryan]. So, I’m torn on that one, I can’t really give an answer.”

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Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Damien Woody, Peyton Manning

Transcript of Jonathan Kraft on D&C: Albert Haynesworth understands ownership’s expectations

09.09.11 at 10:17 am ET
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Patriots president Jonathan Kraft joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about Monday’s season-opener, the NFL lockout and his father’s role in ending it, Peyton Manning‘s injury, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and much more.

The Patriots’ signing of controversial defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth was seen by some as a departure from the team’s philosophy of staying away from players with checkered pasts. Kraft explained the team’s view.

“Before Albert was signed to the team, we sat down and talked to him,” Kraft said. “It was pretty clear that Albert, like some other players who maybe have had a similar spotlight shone on them when they’ve signed here — like Randy [Moss] or Corey [Dillon] or maybe even Bryan Cox — I think when you sit and talk to Albert, what you hear is an intense frustration of a man.

“Football’s a very hard game to play. When you’re intelligent — and Albert’s very intelligent and he understands everything you’re doing to play the game — and you’re not in situations where you have a real opportunity, or where he perceived there to be a real lack of commitment to winning, you get frustrated. I think that plays out in different ways with all types of people, some of which might be appropriate, some of which might not be.

“But the biggest thing Albert said was, ‘I love to play football and I want to win.’ And much like the other players I mentioned, when we traded for him was willing to restructure his contract. And effectively, he controlled where he went, because he wasn’t going to restructure with other people, much like Randy wasn’t, much like Corey wasn’t. And he basically, and this was actions speaking louder than words, walked away from effectively guaranteed millions and millions and millions of dollars to come in and play for a base salary that’s a little bit over the minimum and a chance to earn more money if he’s on the field and performs.

“To us, those actions speak greatly about what someone’s intentions are. And since he’s been in the building, he is very well-liked in the locker room, he’s been a great teammate, and my limited experience with him has only been extremely positive.”

Kraft was asked if he, his father or Bill Belichick told Haynesworth what won’t be tolerated in Foxboro.

Said Kraft: “Bill has his own conversations, so I haven’t been privy to what Bill says one-on-one to those guys. But when Robert [Kraft] and I sit down with them, the first thing that gets said — and Robert said it very clearly in this case — is that when you’re a Patriot, you are carrying our family’s last name. And there are certain expectations that come with that that go well beyond what goes on on the football field and how you are as a football player. And if you don’t feel you can live up to that and honor that and respect that, then it’s probably better that we not move forward with this relationship.”

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Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Jonathan Kraft, Myra Kraft

Nuggetpalooza’s NFL Preview!

09.09.11 at 9:00 am ET
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It’s finally football season and I hope you enjoy these weekly previews as much as I look forward to bringing them to you. Since the Patriots don’t play until Monday, here are a couple of nuggets on each of the Sunday games to whet your appetite.

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, as someone once said, “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. Enjoy the stats, and enjoy the games, and be sure to check back Monday morning for my preview of the Patriots and the Dolphins:

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Steelers at Ravens

* – Ravens opponents started 22 drives on the Baltimore side of the 50-yard-line last year but they managed only two touchdowns on those drives (9.1%), the lowest/best percentage in the league. Pittsburgh opponents started 19 such drives and scored four touchdowns (21.1%), the second lowest percentage in the league.

* – When the Steelers blitzed last season, they recorded 29 sacks for 224 yards lost, both league highs.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

Bengals at Browns

* – Bengals’ opponents tried wide receiver screens (caught behind the line of scrimmage) 22 times last season and completed 21 (95%), the highest such completion percentage allowed in the NFL.The rest of the league allowed 67% completions on those throws.

* – Browns’opponents completed nine touchdown passes over the middle of the field last season, the most in the NFL.

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Colts at Texans

* – The two defenses in this game ranked last (Houston) and next-to-last (Indianapolis) in first down efficiency last season, allowing first down gains of four or more yards 54.2% and 54.0% of the time, respectively.

* – Colts’ opponents targeted the tight end 92 times last season and completed 80.4% of those tries, the highest such completion percentage allowed in the league:

80.4% – Colts
73.8% – Lions
71.0% – Falcons

Big day for Houston tight end Owen Daniels on Sunday?

—————————————————————————————————————————————— Read the rest of this entry »

Devin McCourty on D&C: ‘An honor’ to be named captain

09.09.11 at 8:04 am ET
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Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning as part of Patriots Friday.

McCourty, in just his second season in Foxboro, was named one of the team’s captains this week.

“It’s an honor. Still hearing it is kind of weird, but I’m getting used to it now,” he said.

Asked why he thinks his teammates bestowed him with the title, he said: “I think just going out and doing my job, kind of what coach [Bill] Belichick harps on, being a guy that’s just leading by example, and every day bringing that attitude into the facility. I think that’s probably the biggest reason why guys voted me as a captain, just seeing how I perform, how I go about attacking different things we do.”

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

On his memories of 9/11: “I’m from New York and I went to high school right along with the border in Montvale, New Jersey. We were all in high school when it first happened. The news traveled through the high school, with people not really believing it. Our principal came over the loudspeaker and actually announced it. Probably a few hours later, we were all sent home. It was just a crazy feeling, being in high school and hearing that news and kind of not believing it at first and then seeing it was actually true. I had friends and everything that had parents that worked in the building, so it was real nerve-wracking.”

On if the players discuss current events in the locker room: “Current events are always discussed. You have a bunch of guys that are in this facility for hours. You talk about football a lot, trust me. But different times when you’re in the locker room or eating lunch or something, guys talk about a bunch of different things that you probably would never imagine, that happen all across the world.”

On Monday’s game vs. the Dolphins: “I think they’ll just have a lot of energy, opening the season, Monday Night Football, it’s a home game, division opponent, I think the energy level and the excitement, those will be huge in the stadium that night. We feel like we know they’re going to be very prepared and ready to play against us. We have to, more importantly, match their energy and make sure we’re ready to go when kickoff happens.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty,
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