|08.26.10 at 8:56 am ET|
ESPN NFL analyst Marcellus Wiley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Wiley weighed in on the top teams in the league this season. Wiley, wo spent 10 years in the NFL as a defensive end, likes the Jets, but not as much as some others in the media.
“I think that they have a great chance. It’s going to be interesting to see,” he said, noting that there still are question marks, especially regarding chemistry issues. “When you have a good team and you add some great players, human nature makes you think you’re going to be great automatically. It’s not automatic. So, they have to go out there and work for it.”
Wiley said he doesn’t think the Jets’ appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” will be a problem, even though they are providing opposing teams with ammunition. “I think it’s a great thing for them,” Wiley said. “I’m always a fan of anybody that can show personality and back it up.”
Wiley has the Cowboys as his top pick to win the Super Bowl. “I’m just thinking the Dallas Cowboys are loaded,” he said. “I just can’t see how they can mess up this team. The defense is so good. … They’re loaded on offense. I think [Tony] Romo is maturing and taking his game to the next, elite level. There’s too many weapons.”
Wiley did not have much confidence in the Patriots. “I just don’t see it this year. The defense has a lot of issues,” he said, adding, “I would keep [the Patriots] out of the short conversation.”
Wiley was asked about a recent story indicating that a number of former NFL players are dealing with symptoms of ALS due to the pounding they take during their playing days. Wiley said he recalls two major concussions “where I blacked out and didn’t know where I was,” along with “dozens” of less visible head-rattling moments as well as body-numbing “stingers,” and he still has regular pain from a career that included four major surgeries. “There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about what did football do to me in the long haul,” Wiley said. However, he added: “Would I do it all again if could do it all again? Most definitely. … There’s a give and take with everything in this world.”
Added Wiley: ”You think about all those things, but then you also think about what the game gave back to me. Where else would I have spent my 20s and early 30s and had such a wonderful experience, when you’re talking outside the pain.”
|08.25.10 at 7:05 pm ET|
According to a report from ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots have reached a contract extension with kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The Boston Herald is reporting it’s a four-year deal worth nearly $14 million that will begin in the 2011 season.
Gostkowski was drafted by the Patriots out of Memphis in the fourth round of the 2006 draft after Adam Vinatieri departed via free agency. He has been the starter ever since, as a competition at the kicker spot with Martin Gramatica was short-lived in the Gostkowski’s first preseason.
Gostkowski was an All-Pro an Pro Bowler in 2008. Last season, he made 26 field goals, including two of three from 50 yards or more.
|08.25.10 at 6:26 pm ET|
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the league is going to propose an 18-game regular season schedule to the players’ union as part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Speaking at a press conference at an owner’s meeting in Atlanta, Goodell said the support for what backers are calling an enhanced season was “overwhelming.”
“We think we’ve moved this concept along,” Goodell told reporters at a news conference following the one-day owners’ meeting, who said the league is hoping to introduce the 18-game season in 2012. “There’s a tremendous amount of momentum for it. We think it’s the right step to take. But we want to do that with our partners, including the players.”
Goodell said owners see two more regular-season games — and two fewer preseason games — as a way to enhance revenues. But while owners appear solidly behind the plan, several players have already questioned the idea of an 18-game regular season, including Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who questioned the long-term health issues for players that would be raised by more football.
“I’ve taken part in several postseason runs where we have played 20 games,” Brady said in a statement issued in June by the National Football League Players Association. “The long-term impact this game has on our bodies is well documented. Look no further than the players that came before we did. Each player today has to play three years in order to earn five years of post-career health care. Our Union has done a great job of raising the awareness on these issues and will make the right decision for us players, the game and the fans.”
|08.25.10 at 4:26 pm ET|
SI.com unveiled their list of the best players in the NFL history to wear each number on Wednesday — 00 (Jim Otto) and 0-99 — and three Patriots were on the list.
Tom Brady was named the best No. 12, beating out an impressive collection of talent — Terry Bradshaw, Joe Namath, Roger Staubach and Ken Stabler — for the honor. Of Brady, SI.com wrote: “Tough call over Terry Bradshaw but Brady gets the top spot for winning in a tougher era. He’s 111-34 as a starter, including 14-4 in the postseason and holds the NFL record for the most consecutive wins (10) in the postseason. Plus, well, Gisele.”
In addition, Nos. 55 and 73 went to players with Patriots’ connections. Junior Seau got No. 55, and SI wrote, “One of the great linebackers of the 1990s, starring at outside linebacker for the Chargers, Seau was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1992 NFL Defensive player of the year. He also played for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.”
No. 73 was awarded to John Hannah. “SI proclaimed him ‘The Best Offensive Lineman of All Time’ on the cover of the Aug. 3, 1981 issue,” wrote SI. “Believe the hype. Hannah played 13 seasons for the Patriots and was named All-Pro 10 straight years from 1976 through 1985.”
|08.25.10 at 4:04 pm ET|
While most of the rule changes the NFL put into place this year focused on the different circumstances around overtime as well as the movement of the umpire from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side, the increased protection for long snappers was what caught the attention of New England’s Jake Ingram.
Ingram, entering his second season as the Patriots’ long snapper, was happy to see the NFL alter the rules to create more protection at his position.
Last season, the rule read: “During a field-goal attempt or a Kick Try, a Team B player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the snap, must have his helmet outside the snapper’s shoulder pads.” This year, it reads: “During a punt, field-goal attempt, or a Kick Try, a Team B player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the snap, must have his entire body outside the snapper’s shoulder pads.”
It’s only been two games, but Ingram has already noticed a change.
“Oh yeah. Oh yeah,” he said with a smile. “I wouldn’t say it changed my game, but it’s definitely nice to know they can’t line a guy up right over you and just bull rush you. It gives you a chance to get your head up and protect better.
“It’s an awesome rule, and I’m glad they brought it about.”
|08.25.10 at 10:44 am ET|
What The Lions Did Well Last Season (not much):
* – Had Lots of Long Drives: Believe it or not, the Lions were quite proficient at putting together long drives of 10 or more plays, ranking 9th in the league with 29. They put together 17 scoring drives of 80+ yards, which accounted for 37% of all their scoring drives, which was the 2nd highest percentage in the NFL (Indianapolis, 39%).
* – Rushed For Respectable Gains: 47.2% of Detroit’s rushes gained 4 or more yards in 2009, the 2nd highest percentage in the NFL:
48.8% – Buffalo Bills
47.2% – Detroit Lions
46.6% – Miami Dolphins
For some context, the NFL average was 42.5%.
* – Drew Lots Of Flags On Opponents: Detroit accepted 113 penalties against their opponents last season, 2nd most in the NFL (SF, 114).
|08.24.10 at 10:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It didn’t take Patriots offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka long to understand job No. 1 with his new employer in his first two practices this week.
The 26-year-old guard will start off on the second unit and second on the depth chart behind Dan Connolly as Logan Mankins is reportedly ready to hold out and Nick Kaczur is out indefinitely with back surgery, according to the Boston Herald.
If Connolly or another starter along the O-Line becomes unavailable for whatever reason, it will be the 6-5, 312-pounder who steps into the fold to help protect the franchise quarterback.
“It’s an upgrade with Tom Brady, a future hall-of-famer,” Ojinnaka began. “I’m not saying Matt Ryan wasn’t good. He’s a great quarterback or is going to be a great quarterback. You definitely have to bust your butt to make sure he doesn’t get touched. It was the same in Atlanta.
“You still have to work hard, study and get in your play books and bust your butt every day.”
While he rarely got the chance to show off his talent under Falcons head coach Mike Smith, Bill Belichick will expect him to be up to speed right away. That, after all, is why the Patriots traded for him over the weekend.
“It’s fast-paced,” Ojinnaka said following Tuesday’s practice. “I know coach Bill Belichick is really hard on his players, but not in a bad way but just to push him. That’s what I’ve heard. I’m adjusting to it. It’s been fun so far.
“It’s just the pace of how things move down here are just a tick faster than Atlanta, and that’s a good thing.”
Ojinnaka was thrilled to get the news over the weekend that he would be moving north – and not just because his new team prevailed over his old, 28-10, at the Georgia Dome.
“It hit me by surprise but I’m happy to be here, thought,” he said. “A rich tradition franchise like the Patriots, who wouldn’t be?
“It’s looks like I have a pretty good chance but at the same time, right now I’m just focused on learning the offense and playing football.”
Due to a domestic issue involving his wife in May 2009, and the fallout associated with that, Ojinnaka will have to sit out Week 1 before formally beginning to help his new team on the field.
“I haven’t really thought about the suspension,” he said. “It is what it is. I got suspended and I’m just moving on from that now. I’m not even thinking about that. Right now, I’m just focusing on football and helping the Patriots win.
“This is a definitely a new page, a chapter of my life. This is definitely a chance to start over with a new team, a new home.”
Expect to see Ojinnaka on the field this Thursday night for the Patriots as they take on the Rams in preseason game No. 3 and he starts all over again.
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