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Ed Reed ‘all good’ with Tom Brady after he apologizes for slide

01.22.13 at 5:45 pm ET
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Ravens safety Ed Reed told a Baltimore radio station Tuesday that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has reached out to him to apologize for his slide late in the first half of Sunday’s AFC championship. Reed was spotted limping immediately after the play but walked it off and did not miss a snap. The NFL confirmed on Tuesday that the play was under ‘routine review’ for possible disciplinary action.

“We talked,” Reed told WJZ-FM. “We talked actually not too long ago, we talked on the phone. He actually reached out to me, texted me. I tried to text him back, but the message exploded after 12 seconds, so I had to call him … and he’s just apologized and what not. But I told him, ‘You know, it’s good, man.'”

Brady scrambled inside the Ravens 10 and had his right leg raised off the ground and kicked Reed on the inside of his upper right leg.

“For the most part, I didn’t say anything to him when he said something to me at the game,” Reed said. “… He was going, ‘You want to play like that, let’s go.’ But no, Brady’s a great competitor and I love going against him and I know where his heart is at for this game. It was all good.”

The incident sent Bernard Pollard into a rage heading into the locker room, where he reportedly used the moment to fire up his teammates and inspire them to a hard-hitting second half. Pollard delivered huge blows to Wes Welker and Stevan Ridley.

The hit to Welker was followed three plays later by Welker’s key drop on third down. In the fourth quarter, Pollard drilled Ridley, causing a fumble that set up Baltimore fourth and clinching touchdown. Ridley did not return after the hit and left with a head injury.

As for Reed, the perennial Pro Bowl safety said he still has total respect for Brady.

“I know he’s a great player,” said Reed. “I respect Brady and his game for all it stands for, and I know he’s not a dirty player. And emotions get going in the game.”

The irony to the story is that Reed is a free agent after the Super Bowl appearance with the Ravens and could wind up in New England next season if the Ravens don’t sign him. Brady and Bill Belichick have long raved about the veteran safety’s leadership and ball-hawking skills.

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed, New England Patriots

Poll: Who and what should be the biggest priorities for the Patriots this offseason?

01.22.13 at 5:13 pm ET
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With season over and the Patriots watching Super Bowl XLVII on TV, the focus has already turned to the 2013 NFL draft and building the roster for the 2013 season.

The Patriots have several decisions facing them. What to do with Aqib Talib? Should they franchise Wes Welker again for $11 million? What should they do with Kyle Arrington, Julian Edelman, Danny Woodhead and Sebastian Vollmer?

As Bill Belichick pointed out in detail on Monday, there are many factors to consider before starting to make decisions that will shape the roster for 2013.

The Patriots must decide how to go about getting more pressure on the quarterback. They must decide how they will upgrade a secondary that was mediocre without Talib. They must decide if less is more in the running game as they split carries between Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead and Brandon Bolden.

They must decide how to upgrade a return game that was again in the bottom third of the NFL and inconsistent at best, even though Welker and Devin McCourty showed occasional flashes this season.

Imagine yourself in the shoes of Belichick and top personnel executive Nick Caserio. What would you do to improve upon a team that was just 30 minutes from its sixth Super Bowl in 12 seasons. We want your opinion.

What is the top priority of the Patriots?

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Read More: 2013 NFL draft, Aqib Talib, New England Patriots, Wes Welker

Reports: Patriots sign defensive lineman Armond Armstead

01.22.13 at 5:04 pm ET
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Former USC defensive Armond Armstead has signed a futures contract with the Patriots, according to multiple reports.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder, a USC product, was a three-year star for the Trojans in college. After a junior year spent at defensive end — where he had 43 tackles, six of which were for a loss (three sacks) — he was set to open his senior year at defensive tackle, but suffered a heart attack before his senior season and was never cleared to practice. As a result, he went undrafted last spring, and ended up with Toronto of the Canadian Football League, where he led the 44 tackles and six sacks to help the Argonauts to a Grey Cup championship. (Armstead was recently released by the Argonauts after informing them of his desire to play in the NFL.)

Armstead, who visited with the Patriots, Eagles and Colts (according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter), likely projects as a defensive end in a 3-4 alignment in the NFL.

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Bill Belichick: Now is not the time for decision-making

01.22.13 at 1:43 pm ET
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FOXBORO — To Bill Belichick, Monday was a day to reflect not only on the AFC championship loss but another winning season for the Patriots. It was not the time to make personnel decisions on key players like Wes Welker, Aqib Talib, Kyle Arrington, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman and Sebastian Vollmer.

All of those players are among those are not signed for next season. Some can become free agents (like Talib) and some can be franchised (like Welker).

Whether he has a good feeling about a player or not, he and the franchise will not be making knee jerk reactions, considering there’s college scouting at the Senior Bowl this week and a market of free agents to consider in the next six weeks. Belichick was asked specifically about Talib but used it as an opportunity to paint with a broader brush.

“We will not make any decisions on any players into the future now,” Belichick explained. “You just can’€™t do it. There are too many factors, too many unknown things. All the things I said about Aqib, I meant and I still feel that way. Nothing has changed, but I can’€™t put into place an entire plan for the team at this point in time. There’€™s just not enough information; it’€™s too early.

“And again as I said, I don’€™t think you can, as much as you want to just go case by case and list each guy and what his deal is, I think that there is some of that, no question ‘€“ but at the same time, when you’re trying to put together a team, you’€™ve got to look at the entire team before you just say, ‘€˜OK well, we want to try to keep this guy. Well, we don’€™t want to keep this guy’€™ or ‘€˜We want to try to get somebody else,’€™ or whatever. You’€™ve got to look at the entire context of the team and not just take it one guy, piece by piece. I don’€™t think that’s the way you put together an entire football team. You’€™ve got to see the big picture and how it all fits together and there are a lot of factors that go into that. That’€™s why it takes some time.”

Welker, who signed his $9 million franchise tag last April, went out and had another Pro Bowl season. What about his future? Will he be franchised again at just over $11 million or will he be allowed to play the field? Will he want to come back or will he want to test the market.

“It’€™s the same answer [as Talib],” Belichick said before the question could even be finished on Monday.

Some of the key dates to consider coming up:

  • Jan. 26 Senior Bowl, Mobile, Ala.
  • Feb. 20-26 NFL Combine, Indianapolis
  • March 9-11: Clubs are permitted to enter into contract negotiations with certified agents of players who will be Unrestricted Free Agents at the end of the current League Year.
  • March 12: Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must exercise options for 2013 on all players who have option clauses in their 2012 contracts.
  • March 12: Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit Qualifying Offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
  • March 12: Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit a minimum salary offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2012 contracts and who have fewer than three seasons of free agency credit.
  • March 12: All 2012 player contracts will expire at 4 p.m. ET.
  • April 25-27: NFL Draft

    “On balance I still thought that certainly there were a lot of positives from this football team,” Belichick said. “It’€™s a team that I enjoyed coaching. I thought that the players worked hard behind the scenes; everybody doesn’€™t see that, but on a day-to-day basis they worked hard, they competed well, they didn’€™t make excuses. They got better over the course of the season, both individually and collectively. We wouldn’€™t have gotten to where we were without a lot of good, consistent performances from a lot of people in a number of games and countless practices and meetings and all the things that lead up to that. That part of it, I thought there were, again, a lot of positives that we accomplished. Certainly, the outcome [Sunday] is not where we wanted to end up. I give these guys a lot of credit for what they did do and the number of times they did it and the number of times they did it in tough situations. Hopefully we can continue to build on that. I don’€™t think anything this year really means too much for next year. Each year is a new year and we start all over again just like everyone else does. Some of our younger players will have a little bit more experience. Hopefully that will be a good thing, but that doesn’€™t really count for anything until we go out there and start doing it again.” Read the rest of this entry »

  • Read More: Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman

    Four forgotten players who could have a sizable role in 2013 for Patriots

    01.22.13 at 1:05 pm ET
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    Like every team, the Patriots suffered their share of injuries over the course of the 2012 season. Here’€™s a look at four guys who went down relatively early, and who could play a sizable role in the fortunes of the 2013 team:

    Linebacker Dane Fletcher: The 26-year-old inside linebacker was an undrafted free agent who made the 53-man roster out of Montana State in 2010. The 6-foot-2, 244-pounder, who was a defensive end in college was able to carve out on impressive career for himself in his first two seasons in the league, moving from core special teamer to backup linebacker in relatively short order. But a thumb injury slowed him in 2011, and he tore the ACL in his left knee in an August preseason game against the Saints. The knee injury left him on injured reserve for the season, but as long as he recovers, he should be expected to be in the mix as an inside linebacker and special teamer in 2013.

    Kick returner/running back Jeff Demps: The former Olympic sprinter showed up relatively late this summer, and left the Patriots with an interesting personnel decision — place him on IR (with the possibility he could return, thanks to the new DFR roster loophole) or have him occupy a roster spot until he was ready to go. The Patriots chose the former, and ended up putting tight end Visanthe Shiancoe on IR (designated for return) while leaving the 23-year-old Demps on the sidelines for the year. That’€™s a decision the Patriots would probably like to have back, as the team used the DFR-IR designation on Shiancoe before cutting him loose late in the season. (In that same stretch, the Patriots continued to struggle to find consistency in the return game.) Meanwhile, the 5-foot-7. 175-pound Demps got time to get up to speed in the New England system, essentially taking a redshirt season while learning about life in the NFL. Look for him to play a major role on special teams next season, as well as a possible dynamic new wrinkle at running back.

    Tight end Jake Ballard: Hey, another tight end. Why not? The 25-year-old Ballard, who suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in Super Bowl XLVI against the Patriots while playing for New York, was acquired this past summer by the Patriots (he was signed off waivers from the Giants, much to the consternation of New York coach Tom Coughlin). Undrafted out of Ohio State in 2010, he turned himself into a effective downfield threat in 2011 with the Giants (38 receptions for 604 yards and four touchdowns), and could provide the same sort of presence in 2013 with the Patriots. The 6-foot-6, 275-pound Ballard compares with Rob Gronkowski in his bulk and his overall playing style, and the idea of deploying a three-tight end set with Ballard, Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez would be an intriguing matchup problem for opposing defensive coordinators. Figures to weigh heavily in the Patriots’€™ plans for 2013.

    Cornerback Ras-I Dowling: Dowling, who was the 33rd overall pick of the 2011 daft, has seen his two-year career with the Patriots has been marked by injury. After a strong opening to his rookie year in 2011 where he started his first two games as a professional, he landed on season-ending injured reserve on Oct. 29 because he needed hip surgery. And 2012 started poorly when he suffered a hamstring injury early in camp and missed nearly three weeks. As a result, he slipped down the depth chart, and began the season as a nickel back. This past season, he made it all the way to late October before suffering a thigh injury in an overtime win over the Jets, which sent him to IR again. When he’€™s been healthy, the 24-year-old has been an intriguing physical presence in the secondary — at 6-foot-1 and 210-pounds, he brings a size that New England had been lacking in the defensive backfield for several years, at least until Aqib Talib came along. But Dowling, who had struggled with injury in college, has to prove that he can stay healthy for an entire season before the Patriots start to lean on him seriously. This will be a key offseason for the youngster out of Virginia.

    Read More: Dane Fletcher, Jake Ballard, Jeff Demps, Ras-I Dowling

    Mike Florio on D&C: ‘Virtually impossible’ for Patriots to live up to dynasty expectations

    01.22.13 at 12:25 pm ET
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    Mike Florio of checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to discuss the Patriots in the wake of their loss to the Ravens in Sunday’s AFC championship game.

    The Patriots continue to be successful in the regular season, but they have not won a Super Bowl since 2005.

    “Every NFL team is a challenge. There’s so much parity now that the gap between the best team and the worst team is narrower than ever before,” Florio said. “It’s just the reality that when you get to the postseason, it’s so intense and everybody is reaching for that brass ring. To be in the conversation every year — you think back over the last decade, there’s only one year where the Patriots haven’t qualified for the postseason, and they were 11-5 without Tom Brady that year.

    “This is a team that is consistently knocking on the door, and you get spoiled by that run of success early on. Those three Super Bowls in four years set a standard for the franchise, a standard for Bill Belichick, a standard for Tom Brady that it’s just virtually impossible to continue that. Every other ‘dynasty’ we’ve seen fades at some point not long after winning their last Super Bowl. These guys haven’t faded. They continue to hang around. They continue to get to the final four. They continue to get to the Super Bowl. The only problem is they haven’t won one in eight years and counting.”

    Wes Welker, who had eight receptions for 117 yards and the lone Patriots touchdown on Sunday, again enters the offseason with uncertainty, as his contract is up.

    “He falls into the category of a veteran player who’s going to have to see what else is out there before he realizes whether or not he’ll take what the Patriots are offering,” Florio said. “The risk that you take as the Patriots is that there’ll be some team that has an owner who decides to make what could be a bad football decision but what definitely is a good business decision and jump on Wes Welker for the name recognition, to have the press conference in March where you hold up the new jersey and you get people excited and you get them to buy tickets, and maybe you can also hurt a division rival if you’re the Bills, the Jets or the Dolphins — not that any of those three teams are going to go after him. But that would be the kind of formula — a team willing to spend more than the Patriots will spend and a team willing to maybe make what would be a bad decision because maybe Welker isn’t the same guy in any other offense.”

    Added Florio: “Those teams that would make good football sense also have good business sense. They’re not going to go out and overpay Wes Welker. Now, the question is, would he take less money to go somewhere else? If he got to the point where he doesn’t want to play for the Patriots — I haven’t sensed that. He got paid a heck of a lot of money in 2012. He still had a good season. He’s still got some gas in the tank, but does he want to stay with the Patriots, with Tom Brady, with Bill Belichick? Nationally, people just assume that everybody in that locker room has a Super Bowl ring. Wes Welker doesn’t have one. The vast majority of those guys don’t have one, they’re still pushing for their first one, so there’s still a sense of unfinished business I would assume that Wes Welker has after completing his six seasons with the Patriots.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Read More: Mike Florio, Ray Lewis, Tom Brady, Wes Welker

    Report: NFL reviewing Tom Brady’s sliding kick

    01.22.13 at 9:57 am ET
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    According to a tweet from ESPN, the NFL is reviewing the play late in the first half of Sunday’s AFC championship game in which Tom Brady slid to avoid a tackle but lifted his foot and made contact with Ravens safety Ed Reed.

    No penalty was called on the play, but Ravens defensive back Bernard Pollard has been outspoken in saying that Brady should be disciplined.

    “You have to keep them legs down,” Pollard said after the game. “We all know and understand what’€™s going on. As a quarterback when you go to slide we’€™re taught we can’€™t do anything. We kind of run it off. But when you come sliding, with your leg up in the air trying to kick somebody, that’€™s bullcrap. We talked to the ref. They saw it. You can’€™t deny it.”

    Added Pollard on Monday (via The Baltimore Sun): “When you slide, obviously quarterbacks know when they slide, everything is on the ground. He knew what he was doing. So, I’m the type of player it has to go both ways. It really does. It has to go both ways. Hopefully the NFL will do something about. If they don’t, that’s fine. If they do, that’s fine.”

    Read More: Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed, Tom Brady,
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