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Another day, another transaction involving safety Ross Ventrone

11.03.11 at 4:47 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Thursday that the team has released safety Ross Ventrone — the ninth transaction involving the defensive back out of Villanova since the start of the regular season. Ventrone, 25, has spent time on both the practice squad and 53-man roster this season, playing in four games. Ventrone, 5-foot-8, 190 pounds, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Villanova on April 29, 2010. He spent the majority of his rookie season on 2010 on the New England practice squad.

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Target Practice: Who has been Tom Brady’s favorite receiver through seven games?

11.03.11 at 3:24 pm ET
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Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains an imperfect stat ‘€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback ‘€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. After seven weeks, here’€™s a look at the target breakdown in the New England passing game for the 2011 season:

Kevin Faulk: 5 catches on 5 targets (100 percent)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 4 catches on 5 targets (80 percent)
Rob Gronkowski: 36 catches on 47 targets (77 percent)
Danny Woodhead: 8 catches on 11 targets (73 percent)
Wes Welker: 57 catches on 83 targets (69 percent)
Stevan Ridley: 2 catches on 3 targets (66 percent)
Deion Branch: 30 catches on 46 targets (65 percent)
Aaron Hernandez: 29 catches on 45 targets (64 percent)
Chad Ochocinco: 9 catches on 16 targets (56 percent)
Julian Edelman: 3 catches on 6 targets (50 percent)
Matthew Slater: 1 catch on 3 targets (33 percent)
Taylor Price: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)
Dane Fletcher: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)
TOTAL: 184 catches on 272 targets (68 percent)

By position:
Running back: 19 catches on 24 targets (79 percent)
Tight end: 65 catches on 92 targets (71 percent)
Wide receiver: 100 catches on 154 targets (65 percent)
Other: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Chad Ochocinco, Dane Fletcher

Taylor Price ‘excited’ about the possibility of seeing the field more

11.03.11 at 12:46 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Wide receiver Taylor Price is ready.

Earlier this week, offensive coordinator Bill O’€™Brien hinted that we could see more of the second-year receiver out of Ohio, who has played just 30 snaps since being taken 90th overall by the Patriots in the 2010 draft.

‘€œHe’€™s practiced well. We need to get him in there more,’€ O’€™Brien said of Price, who was on the field for six plays last Sunday against Pittsburgh. ‘€œHe’€™s done a good job in practice. He’€™s a guy that we’€™ve got to give him more reps in the game.’€

‘€œObviously I’€™m excited to get on the field more,’€ Price said before practice on Thursday. ‘€œIt’€™s never a good situation to stay on the sidelines and watch your team play. You always want to be in the game and be in close games and go into battle and go into war with your teammates. Nothing has changed for me. I’€™m going to keep going to practice every day. Keep preparing every day. Keep working hard.’€

The 24-year-old Price is a 6-foot, 212-pounder, who caught three passes for 41 yards in the 2010 regular-season finale against the Dolphins. He knows that if he wants to succeed in the New England offense, it starts with building trust with the quarterback.

‘€œThat’€™s a big part of it, obviously. He runs the show,’€ Price said of developing a rapport with Tom Brady. ‘€œGet on the same page with him and you’€™re good to go after that.

‘€œI’€™ve always had a confidence in myself. In my game. And it’€™s just a matter of getting comfortable with the offensive system and getting comfortable with the quarterback and get on the same page. Just being there and just being reliable for the quarterbacks to go to and just being reliable like that.’€

However, when he was asked directly about Price and his development, Brady gave a lukewarm response, saying that the wide receiver is like anyone else on the roster.

‘€œWe’€™re all trying to be consistent with what we’€™re doing and whatever role our coach gives us, we’€™re trying to do it the best you can,’€ Brady said. ‘€œThat goes for the receiver position, running back position — there are young guys at that position as well that could obviously help the team.

‘€œAny time you’€™re on the active roster, you have an opportunity to help the team. That’€™s what you’€™re trying to go out there and do every day at practice. It’€™s about gaining the trust of your teammates and coaches so that you’€™re able to go out there and do it with confidence in the game.’€

For his part, Price said he’€™s over any of the injury problems that dogged him over the course of his relatively brief NFL career (including a hamstring issue earlier this season), and believes he’€™s ready to contribute on a consistent basis.

‘€œI’€™m healthy. I’€™m feeling good. My legs are feeling good,’€ Price said. ‘€œThat’€™s a big part of it. I can be out there for more consistent practices, back to back and games back-to-back, and just like I said, be more consistent. Be out there more so there’€™s not that inconsistency factor. If you see someone out there day to day and they’€™re improving every day, that’€™s a good sign.’€

Read More: Bill O'Brien, Taylor Price, Tom Brady,

Super Bowl XLII is must-forget TV for both Patriots and Giants

11.02.11 at 10:18 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It’s completely understandable that the Patriots want no part of watching Super Bowl XLII.

After all, most Patriots fans can barely stand to watch the highlights.

“First and foremost, that is not going to have any [impact] on the game this weekend,” said Kevin Faulk with a lot of force on Wednesday. “They won that game. That’s the only thing you can say about it. They have a couple of guys on that team that was on that team at that time but, at the same time, it’s a different team, different and a different situation, really.

“I never watched the game after the game. I’ve never seen the game. So, let’s just talk about us playing them on Sunday and us trying to play better and trying to win a football game. That’s what we want to do.”

But the Giants? You would think they would be more than happy to pop the DVD into the player and sit back and take a trip down memory lane.

Not so fast.

“No, that’€™s not that case at all,” Giants then-and-now coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday in a conference call with the New England media. “We’€™re in the moment very much, just like anybody else that’€™s involved in this current 2011 season. We’€™re focused on our opponents week-in-and-week-out and that’€™s where all of our attention goes.

“I don’€™t think about it. I haven’€™t spent a whole lot of timing thinking about that. It seems like a long time ago. I certainly was very proud of our players and very happy for our team and our franchise and our ownership and I’€™ll always cherish those memories ‘€“ there isn’€™t any a question about that. The New England Patriots were a team that had gone through the regular season undefeated, which is a feat that is very, very, very rare indeed, and they deserve credit for that. That’€™s the extent of it for me ‘€“ I’€™m trying to live in the moment.”

His counterpart actually admitted to watching the game but purely as a professional tool. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Eli Manning, Kevin Faulk, New England Patriots

New York’s Eli Manning earning the title of ‘elite quarterback’

11.02.11 at 7:35 pm ET
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FOXBORO — When he was asked Wednesday afternoon what part of Eli Manning‘€™s game has improved the most over the years, Giants coach Tom Coughlin — who has coached Manning since he arrived in the NFL since 2004 — was quick to answer.

‘€œI think that he’€™s demonstrated over the course of this season — with the exception of the one game with the multiple turnovers — that he really has focused on taking care of the football and making good decisions. Good judgment. (He’€™s been) prepared to throw the ball away if necessary and not jeopardize our chances for success by having the ball,’€ Coughlin said. ‘€œI think he’€™s really worked hard at this.’€

The numbers certainly bear out Coughlin’€™s statement. The quarterback has 13 touchdown passes and only five interceptions this season, with three of those picks coming in a stinker of a game out in Seattle (a 36-25 loss to the Seahawks). Contrasted with his numbers from previous years — where he had four seasons of at least 17 interceptions, including a career-high 25 in 2010 — it certainly appears that Manning has learned the benefits of ball security.

‘€œHe’€™s accurate, he’€™s got a good arm, he makes good decisions,’€ said Patriots coach Bill Belichick of Manning. ‘€œHe’€™s a productive passer. He’€™s led their team to a lot of successful offensive plays and wins, so that’€™s how you measure a quarterback.’€

Manning’€™s career has been characterized a lot of ways, but it certainly hasn’€™t been boring. The Ole Miss product was selected by the Chargers on draft day in 2004, but was quickly dealt to the Giants. A rocky first few seasons at the center of an occasionally dysfunctional team gave way to an unlikely playoff run in 2007, where New York took off late in the year and ended up shocking the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

And while he’€™s rarely mentioned among the elite quarterbacks in the game, he’€™s certainly put together an impressive season this year ‘€“ he’€™s in the Top 10 in every major passing category, including second in yards per attempt (8.83), third in quarterback rating (102.1) and fourth in the league in passing yards per game (287.6).

But this year, he’€™s been at his best late. Four of the team’€™s five wins this season have come in the fourth quarter, and his fourth-quarter numbers are best in the league — he’€™s 49-for-70 passes for 710 yards and six touchdowns in the fourth, averaging 10.14 yards per attempt.
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, Bill Belichick, Eli Manning, Tom Brady

Patriots show max protection for Julian Edelman

11.02.11 at 1:16 pm ET
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FOXBORO — As he strolled into the Gillette Stadium media workroom Wednesday, Bill Belichick knew what was coming.

There weren’t going to be just questions about the New York Giants, their pass rush, his team’s secondary problems and even Super Bowl XLII.

There were news photographers and reporters there who never cover the team but were dispatched to cover the Julian Edelman story.

Jonathan Hall was dispatched for the second time in two weeks by Ch. 7 to ask a question about the off-the-field behavior of a player. Last week, he came looking for reaction to the Rob Gronkowski twicpic-gate.

This time, Hall sat in on the Belichick presser and was not as willing to take no for an answer.

Hall: Does you have any comment at all on Edelman’€™s arrest and what his future with the team is as a result of that?

Belichick: No, I don’€™t have any comment. I think his representatives made their comment on it, I don’€™t have anything to add to it.

JH: Considering Rob Gronkowski posed for pictures with a porn star and you’€™ve got another young player was out late at a club getting arrested, is there a discipline issue on this team?

BB: Yeah, I don’€™t have anything to add to that.

JH: Nothing at all?

BB: That’€™s correct. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jonathan Hall, Julian Edelman, Kevin Faulk, New England Patriots

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

11.02.11 at 12:56 pm ET
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According to official NFL gamebooks, opposing quarterbacks have 285 dropbacks against the Patriots through seven games this season, and have been hit by New England defenders a total of 32 times, to go along with 15 sacks (22nd in the league). Here’€™s a breakdown of who has been getting to the quarterback for the Patriots through seven games:

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

Sacks:
Anderson: 4.5
Carter: 4.5
Ninkovich: 1.5
Wilfork: 1.5
Chung: One
Love: One
Pryor: 0.5
Mike Wright: 0.5

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher

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