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Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio talk about their interaction with Dez Bryant before the 2010 draft

10.11.11 at 4:01 pm ET
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So, how close did the Patriots come to drafting Dez Bryant? I asked both coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio Tuesday afternoon about their pre-draft interaction with the occasionally controversial wide receiver, who was the focus of several character questions in the months leading up to the 2010 draft.

New England had Bryant in for a meeting before the draft that year, but ultimately ended up passing on the receiver, who ended up going to the Cowboys … who are set to visit Gillette Stadium this week for their first regular-season to Foxboro since 2003.

‘€œWe definitely did our work on Bryant,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œI think the things that we see: he’€™s a big receiver, a strong guy, hard to match up on outside, hard guy to tackle after the catch. He’€™s got, like a lot of these receivers, it seems like we see one every week that have outstanding size or they’€™re very strong, they have great reach and even if you have them covered, you really don’€™t have them covered because of their length and their ability to either body-up the defender or just out-jump them or out-reach them for the ball. He’€™s definitely in that category and a hard guy to tackle when he gets the ball in his hands.’€

‘€œThere’€™s no question he was an explosive player — similar to what he’€™s done so far with Dallas,’€ recalled Caserio. ‘€œHe makes a bunch of big plays. He had a bunch of big plays early against the Jets and a number of big players early against ‘€“ I think it was a Washington game ‘€“ had a couple touchdowns early. He’€™s a talented player [and] somebody that we will certainly have to figure how to defend come Sunday.’€

Bryant was available at No. 24, but the Patriots ended up trading the pick to Dallas instead and selecting cornerback Devin McCourty at No. 27. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Bryant has 55 catches in just 15 career games with the Cowboys, including 10 through three games this season, while McCourty was a Pro Bowler in his rookie season in New England.

‘€œI think where you pick in that particular situation, there’€™s a handful of players that you think about picking in some capacity. Trades if they happen, they happen,’€ Caserio said. ‘€œIn the end, we make a decision that we feel is the best for our team. I’€™m sure Dallas is happy with the pick they made and I would say we’€™re thrilled with the player we have in our program, so I think it’€™s worked out for both teams.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty, Dez Bryant, Nick Caserio

Fantasy Football: Week 6 Waiver Wire

10.11.11 at 3:48 pm ET
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Here are the big names on the week six waiver wire. As usual, we’€™ll be adding players all day at, and we’€™ll have more options for those of you who play in deeper leagues. We also have forums for those of you with burning questions, so please feel free to check us out and to submit a question.

Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos

If you read us, you know how much we like this kid for fantasy, and our reasons for this were on display Sunday. He’€™s got a ways to go. He doesn’€™t throw the ball like Cam Newton, but he will generate foot-points like Newton. He’€™s Cam-Lite. If you have a roster spot in any format, we’€™d add Tebow. If you have a need at QB, it’€™s an even easier decision. Denver has their bye in week six, and though coach Fox has yet to name Tebow the starter, it’€™s hard to see it breaking any other way after what we watched on Sunday.

Curtis Painter, QB, Colts

No way do they go back to Kerry Collins now. Reggie Wayne was right all along; Painter can play a little bit when he’€™s getting first-team reps all week. The Colts’€™ offense  actually functions with him in there. Some days will be better than others, but he at least has potential. He can be a backup for you in deeper leagues and a bye week replacement in all leagues.

Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins

He stayed on a few waiver wires because he had his bust-out game as he headed into his bye week. He should start this week and he can start for you in any format. Is he a long term answer? Maybe, but he’€™s never stayed healthy for more than a few weeks at a time, so we’€™d roster Roy Helu along with him in larger formats. As much as we like what Torain can do, the guy gets hurt with stunning regularity.

Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Steelers

Don’€™t get too excited about his performance unless you play in a large format. Dwyer is a talented back who has failed to find traction on the Steelers’€™ depth chart. Here’€™s what we had to say about Dwyer ten weeks ago…

‘€œPopular theory on the best back to draft as a handcuff to Mendy leads us to Isaac Redman, but do not discount Jonathan Dwyer, whom we see as a better candidate to be a lead ball carrier, which is what they’€™d need if Mendenhall were to go down.’€

So yeah, we like this guy as far as skill goes. The issue here is Mendenhall. If he is active along with Mewelde Moore, then Dwyer most likely goes back to being inactive.  The way he gets in there is if Mendenhall is out. Basically, this backfield is now a mess.  If we had to guess, in deep leagues, the best guy to roster behind Mendenhall is Dwyer. In smaller leagues, this is probably not a hancduff situation.

Delone Carter, RB, Colts

With Joe Addai down for a week or more, Carter should be a solid bet for production. He may end up sharing some with Donald Brown, but we expect Cater to maintain his goal line role.  He’€™s a nice short term add with long term potential. Carter is worth a spot in all leagues right now.

Victor Cruz, WR, Giants

He’€™s for real, but he also had a long score on what was a freak play. Cruz is unlikely to maintain his current pace, but he is a decent flex option in bigger leagues and can be used for as long as he is playing this way. The guy makes plays.

Greg Little, WR, Browns

We’€™ve been harping on him a bit, but he is very skilled and now he is going to start, so the time to add him is now–if he is still available. We’€™d add him in all but ten-team leagues and maybe some of those too.

Kevin Walter, WR, Texans

He’€™s just a short term option until Andre Johnson gets back into the lineup. Walter is a decent WR3 until that time.  You can use him in most formats.

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks

He’€™s producing and he makes a contribution every week. With Seattle settling into a decent groove, he is a solid guy to roster in medium to large leagues. Seattle has a lot of receivers, so he may or may not be able to maintain his level of use, but right now, he is a decent play.

Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens

He sort of disappeared after his huge game and then he had his bye. We like his upside, so we’€™d scoop him up in most formats just in case he continues to produce against defenses that lack a Darrelle Revis.  He has legit deep speed on a team that has been lusting for it.

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals

We’€™ve been pimping him for a few weeks and this will be his last week here, but get him if you can. He is a top flight talent and Andy Dalton is proving to be a good enough quarterback to get his guys the ball.  He’€™s a good option in any format.

Jared Cook, TE, Titans

If you are looking for a TE with big upside, this could be your guy. Cook is highly talented and in the wake of Kenny Britt’€™s season-ending injury, Cook’€™s targets are on the rise. He’€™s a reasonable play in any format and a must add in larger leagues if he’€™s there for some reason.

Pressure Points: Which New England defenders have done the best job of getting after the quarterback through five games?

10.11.11 at 12:59 pm ET
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According to official NFL gamebooks, opposing quarterbacks have 194 dropbacks against the Patriots through five games this season, and have been hit by New England defenders a total of 23 times, to go along with eight sacks (tied for 24th in the league). Here’€™s a breakdown of who has been getting to the quarterback for the Patriots through five games:

Quarterback hits:
Defensive end/linebacker Mark Anderson: Five
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: Four
Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork: Three
Defensive lineman Myron Pryor: Three
Linebacker Rob Ninkovich: Three
Defensive end Andre Carter: Two
Defensive lineman Shaun Ellis: One
Defensive lineman Gerard Warren: One
Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth: One
Safety Pat Chung: One

Anderson: 3.5
Ninkovich: 1.5
Chung: One
Carter: 0.5
Wilfork: 0.5
Pryor: 0.5
Mike Wright: 0.5

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Dane Fletcher, Gerard Warren

Jets staffer spotted with video camera on sideline at Patriots game

10.11.11 at 9:54 am ET
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Editor’s note: Updated with Jets explaining man works for Jets TV.

Following the Patriots videotaping controversy a few years ago, it would seem unlikely that any team would risk breaking the NFL rule banning teams from having a video camera on the sideline.

There is a screen-grab from Sunday’s Patriots-Jets game circulating on web. In the photo, a man wearing a Jets shirt and team credential is holding a video camera while he stands behind offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

The image is from the start of the second quarter.

The Jets explained Tuesday morning that the man shoots footage for team programming, which is allowed by the league. The Patriots also have video on the sideline for use in shows like “Patriots All Access.”

WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

10.11.11 at 6:51 am ET
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Before the season started, the Eagles, Falcons and Jets were locks for the playoffs. The Bills, Redskins and 49ers were locks to have no chance. … And then they started playing the games. Now, through Week 5, the Eagles, Falcons and Jets are all under .500, and the Bills, Redskins and 49ers are all sitting pretty in first place in their divisions. It’s been an unpredictable year so far in the NFL. The Bills (7) and Raiders (8) are in our top 10. The Falcons (17), Eagles (20) and Jets (11) are not.

The elite teams in the NFL have held true to form. The Packers (1), Saints (2), Ravens (3) and Patriots (4) all have performed up to par and have solidified the top five over the past few weeks. The Lions (5) are making a case week after week that they, too, are one of the best in the league.

What to watch for in Week 6:

‘€¢ The Eagles’ season is on the brink of collapsing. They’ll play the Redskins in what is arguably a must-win situation.

‘€¢ The Bills will look to take down another solid opponent when they travel to New York to take on the Giants.

Byes: Broncos, Titans, Chiefs, Cardinals, Chargers, Seahawks

1. (1) Packers (5-0) ‘€” The comeback win against the Falcons came at a price, as starting left tackle Chad Clifton went down with a serious hamstring injury. The loss will certainly test the depth at the tackle position, because starter Bryan Bulaga has been battling a knee injury for the past two weeks. Even with the injuries, nothing has slowed down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. The defending champs are rolling. They haven’t lost a game since Week 15 against the Patriots and are playing the beat-up, winless Rams on Sunday.

2. (2) Saints (4-1) ‘€” Like other elite teams in the NFL, the Saints have a prolific offense accompanied by a mediocre defense. On Sunday against the Panthers, Sean Payton‘s defense made some key mistakes that could have cost the team the game. The five penalties the defense had on Sunday included two roughing-the-passer penalties and a personal foul on a bonehead play from Roman Harper. The Saints also were scorched by DeAngelo Williams on the ground.

3. (3) Ravens (3-1) ‘€” Coming off the bye week, the Ravens need Joe Flacco to bounce back from a shaky start to the season. Flacco’s completion percentage is one of the worst in the league, at 49 percent. He’ll look to improve against a Texans defense that is missing its best pass rusher in Mario Williams.

4. (4) Patriots (4-1) ‘€” The versatility of the Patriots offense makes Tom Brady and crew one of the most dominant teams in the game. Whether they need to pass, run, go to the no-huddle, or sustain a long drive, the Pats can do it all and are only going to get better. The production from the run game has been key. Brady can rely on his backs to move the chains, and it has helped balance the offense. Defenses have to worry about both the run and pass. The win against the Jets has to bolster the defense’s confidence as well. Although they faced a poor offensive team, the Pats should be encouraged after making big stops on third down. They’ll face a major test this Sunday against the Cowboys pass offense.

5. (5) Lions (5-0) ‘€” The Lions didn’t disappoint their fans while appearing on “Monday Night Football” for the first time in a decade. The Lions not only are relevant, they’re undefeated. The defensive line is relentless at rushing the passer. Ndamukong Suh has gone from rookie to superstar in just a year. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson have connected each week for at least one TD. Johnson now has caught nine touchdowns in his first five games. No receiver has done that in the history of the NFL.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: aaron rodgers, Calvin Johnson, NFL Power Rankings, Tom Brady

Talk Patriots Tuesday afternoon with’s Christopher Price

10.11.11 at 1:22 am ET
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Following the flags: Breaking down the Patriots penalties through five games

10.10.11 at 9:56 pm ET
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In their first five games of the season, the Patriots have been flagged for 34 penalties and 318 yards. Here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against New England, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
OL Nate Solder: three penalties (two holding and illegal use of hands), 30 yards
TE Rob Gronkowski: three penalties (holding, false start, facemask), 29 yards
S Sergio Brown: two penalties (both defensive pass interference), 51 yards
OL Matt Light: two penalties (both holding), 20 yards
OL Logan Mankins: two penalties (offensive holding and false start), 15 yards
OL Brian Waters: two penalties (holding, offensive holding), 15 yards
TE Dan Gronkowski: two penalties (both false starts), 10 yards
CB Leigh Bodden: two penalties (both defensive holding), 10 yards
S Pat Chung: one penalty (unncessary roughness), 15 yards
DL Andre Carter: one penalty (roughing the passer), 15 yards
LB Rob Ninkovich: one penalty (roughing the passer), 15 yards
DL Kyle Love: one penalty (roughing the passer), 15 yards
OL Dan Connolly: one penalty (offensive holding), 10 yards
S James Ihedigbo: one penalty (illegal block above the waist), 10 yards
CB Devin McCourty: one penalty (illegal block above the waist), 10 yards
WR Chad Ochocinco: two penalties (illegal formation, false start), 9 yards
LB Dane Fletcher: one penalty (offensive holding), 7 yards
TE Aaron Hernandez: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
WR Deion Branch: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
DL Vince Wilfork: one penalty (unsportsmanlike conduct), 2 yards
Team: two penalties (12 men on the field, offensive holding), 15 yards
WR Wes Welker: one penalty (illegal motion), 5 yards

Most penalized by position:
Offensive line: 10 penalties for 90 yards
Safety: four penalties for 76 yards
Tight end: six penalties for 44 yards
Defensive line: three penalties for 32 yards
Linebacker: two penalties for 22 yards
Cornerback: three penalties for 20 yards
Wide receiver: four penalties for 19 yards
Team: two penalties for 15 yards

Most frequently called penalties on the Patriots:
Offensive holding: 11
False start: seven
Roughing the passer: three
Defensive holding: two
Illegal block above the waist: two
Defensive pass interference: two
Facemask: one
Illegal formation: one
Illegal use of hands: one
Unsportsmanlike conduct: one
Unecessary roughness: one
Illegal motion: one
Twelve men in the huddle: one

Read More: Patriots, penalties,
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