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James Harrison, Dunta Robinson also fined for hits

10.19.10 at 4:53 pm ET
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Brandon Meriweather was not the only player fined by the NFL Tuesday for a helmet-to-helmet hit. Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison was fined $75,000 for his hit on Cleveland wideout Mohamed Massaquoi and Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson was docked $50,000 — the same amount as Meriweather — for his hit on Philadelphia receiver DeSean Jackson.

There were no suspensions handed out. Harrison’s fine was the largest because he, unlike Meriweather or Robinson, is a repeated offender. Harrison was reportedly fined $5,000 for his hit on Vince Young in a Week 2 Steelers win over the Titans.

Tedy Bruschi on D&H: Linebackers have potential

10.19.10 at 4:40 pm ET
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Tedy Bruschi joined the Dale & Holley show on Monday to discuss the team’s linebacking corps and being around his old team.

The ESPN analyst also talked about spending time around the Patriots and how surprised he was with Deion Branch’s first game back with the team.

Below is a full transcript of the interview with Bruschi. To hear the full audio transcript, visit the Dale & Holley Audio-on-Demand Page.

What was your take on the helmet-to-helmet hits?

I think those are some vicious hits, some of them blatant. I think that some of these defenders so have time to make a proper decision-to either hit the head or hit the shoulder and what to hit with. So I think that it’s good that the NFL is being proactive and doing something about it because the rule is in place. The rule is fine in what it states word-for-word but the proper enforcement [isn't]. The players are going to take their chances, lay out guys and just deal with the ramifications. Read the rest of this entry »

Meriweather will be fined $50K, but won’t be banned

10.19.10 at 4:13 pm ET
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Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather has been fined $50,000 for his two helmet-to-helmet hits to Baltimore tight end Todd Heap but won’€™t be suspended, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.

The news was first reported by ESPN.

Meriweather’€™s two hits, which took place during Sunday’€™s win over the Ravens, drew the attention of league executives earlier in the week, with NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson, telling ESPN Radio the hit was ‘€œflagrant’€ and ‘€œegregious.’€

‘€œThat in our view is something that was fragrant, that was egregious,’€ said Anderson. ‘€œEffective immediately, that’€™s going to be looked at at a very aggressive level, which would include suspension without pay. ‘€¦ What I would tell you is that if there are flagrant and egregious violations of our current rules, we will be enforcing, effective immediately, discipline at a higher level.’€

The first hit came on the goal line on a Baltimore touchdown. Meriweather was not flagged for that one, but was penalized for the second hit, a second-quarter collision where Heap was hit by the New England safety after he was leaping for an errant pass from Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. The tight end lay on the turf for several minutes before getting up and walking off under his own power. (He soon returned to action.)

Following the second hit, Meriweather was quickly pulled from the game and sat for a series of plays before being re-inserted back into the contest later in the first half. Patriots coach Bill Belichick did not say whether the fact that Meriweather was removed from the game after the second hit on Heap was because of the penalty and how much it might have had to do with personnel or scheme.

Meriweather told WEEI earlier in the week that the hits were just a ‘€œsplit-second decision’€ to be aggressive.

‘€œI just attacked,’€ Meriweather said. ‘€œI wasn’€™t trying to hit head-to-head contact or injure anybody or play dirty in any kind of way. It just happened.’€

Added Meriweather: ‘€I don’€™t want to make a big deal out of it. I was playing aggressive and something happened. I’€™m trying not to look at it and make it a big deal, like everybody else is doing. ‘€¦ It’€™s football. You’€™ve got a lot of good players, where you think one thing, and another thing can happen in a split-second. So, you’€™ve always got to make a split-second decision, and my split-second decision was to be aggressive and not wait for it.’€

Meriweather wasn’€™t the only player who was hit with a sizable fine. Pittsburgh’€™s James Harrison was fined $75,000, while Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson was also fined $50,000. It appears the trio of big hits will spark a change in the NFL goes about disciplining players ‘€” Aiello tweeted Tuesday afternoon, ‘€œA communication will go to the clubs, coaches, and players tomorrow about the increased discipline for violations of player safety rules.’€ In addition, in a letter to  all three players who were fined, Anderson strongly hinted that similar actions will draw even harsher punishment.

‘€œFuture offenses will result in an escalation of fines up to and including suspension,’€ wrote Anderson, according to NFL.com.

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, Greg Aiello, ray anderson, Todd Heap

Pats officially announce return of Ventrone

10.19.10 at 2:34 pm ET
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The Patriots just announced they have officially re-signed safety Ross Ventrone and placed him on the practice squad. Here’s the full statement from the team on the move:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. ‘€“ The New England Patriots signed S Ross Ventrone to the practice squad today.

Ventrone, 5-8, 190 pounds, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Villanova on April 29, 2010. He was waived by the Patriots on Sept. 4.

Read More: Ross Ventrone,

Mike Florio on D&C: ‘I’d be surprised’ if Brandon Meriweather isn’t suspended

10.19.10 at 2:14 pm ET
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Appearing on the Dennis & Callahan Show Tuesday morning, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com and NBC Sports suggested that the NFL’s trade deadline (which is at 4 p.m. Tuesday) is too early, resulting in limited activity. “You can’t have a fire sale six weeks in,” Florio said.

Florio predicted that neither Logan Mankins of the Patriots nor the Chargers’ Vincent Jackson will be moved prior to the deadline, and that he believes the most likely player to get traded is Washington’s Albert Haynesworth. “I have a feeling, and it’s just a feeling, something is going on,” Florio said. He mentions the Texans as a possible fit, citing the relationship between the two teams’ head coaches, Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak, along with the Redskins’ potential interest in running back Steve Slaton.

Florio also touched on the NFL’s recent mandate regarding dangerous plays, saying that by including that there would be discipline for a “devastating hit” the “NFL may be overreacting a bit.” “The main focus should be, on both sides of the ball, from using their helmets as weapons,” he said. Florio still believes the problem regarding players leading with their helmets won’t go away, saying, “You’re going to have guys who don’t care. They’re going to wear it as a badge of honor if they get suspended.”

A transcript of highlights is below. To listen to the complete interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The extra clause that Ray Anderson put in his missive on “devastating hits” ‘€“ is this something we have yet to find out what that means, how that applies and how that’€™s going to clean up football? What in your mind is devastating hits, or don’€™t we know yet?

We don’€™t know yet, and my concern is that the NFL may be overreacting a bit by putting that clause in there. I think that if a guy hits with his shoulder, and hits another guy anywhere from his shoulders to his waist and really all the way down to his feet, if he’€™s not a quarterback in the pocket, that’€™s a clean hit, even if it injures a player. The head is what needs to be protected and the main focus should be preventing players, on both sides of the ball, from using their helmets as weapons.

Whether it’€™s a defensive back or whether it’€™s a running back, like Adrian Peterson whom we’€™ve routinely see dropping his head and ramming it into defensive backs to try to get extra yardage. If you use your helmet as a weapon you should be penalized, fined, suspended, et cetera. That’€™s what the focus should be. There are going to be devastating hits that are perfectly clean.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Brandon Meriweather, James Harrison, Logan Mankins

O’Brien acknowledges incident with Moss before trade

10.19.10 at 1:57 pm ET
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Patriots assistant coach Bill O’€™Brien acknowledged Tuesday that he and Randy Moss were involved in an incident shortly before Moss was dealt to Minnesota earlier this month.

Speaking on a conference call with reporters, O’€™Brien ‘€” who is listed on the company masthead as the quarterbacks coach, but has served as the de facto offensive coordinator for much of the last two seasons ‘€” said something did happen after the Patriots-Dolphins game, a contest where Moss finished with no catches for the only time in his three-plus years. ESPN initially reported that a “heated exchange” took place at halftime between O’€™Brien and Moss.

But O’€™Brien added that clashes of that type between players and coaches aren’€™t anything out of the ordinary when it comes to life in the NFL.

‘€œThat was three weeks ago,’€ O’€™Brien said. ‘€œI’€™ve been coaching for upwards of 20 years. That’€™s what we do. We coach, and the players have input into what we’€™re coaching. Things like that are going to happen. Randy and I had a great relationship. I really enjoyed coaching him. Obviously, he moved on to Minnesota, and we’€™re moving on to San Diego, but I wish him the best. With coaching, something like that happens. That’€™s coaching football. It’€™s a tough sport, and that’€™s the way it is.’€

Read More: Bill O'Brien, Randy Moss,

Belichick won’t speculate on possible Meriweather punishment

10.19.10 at 1:25 pm ET
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In a Tuesday afternoon conference call, Patriots coach Bill Belichick wouldn’€™t speculate about what the future holds for safety Brandon Meriweather, who could face a fine or suspension for his hit on Baltimore’€™s Todd Heap over the weekend.

‘€œI leave anything from the NFL to the NFL,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œI haven’€™t heard anything I would want to comment on officially. Media speculation [par for the course]. That’€™s what people talk about. Whatever the league decides to do, they decide to do. Whatever their comments are, they can make their statements.’€

On a weekend with a bunch of nasty hits, Meriweather’€™s hit on Heap stood out, and sparked a response from NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson, who told ESPN Radio Tuesday morning that the hit was ‘€œflagrant’€ and ‘€œegregious.’€

‘€œThat in our view is something that was fragrant, that was egregious,’€ said Anderson. ‘€œEffective immediately, that’€™s going to be looked at at a very aggressive level, which would include suspension without pay. ‘€¦ What I would tell you is that if there are flagrant and egregious violations of our current rules, we will be enforcing, effective immediately, discipline at a higher level.’€

‘€œEvery situation is different, every play is different, it doesn’€™t really matter what I think,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œWhatever the rules are, that’€™s what they are. We’€™ve seen lots of different ones come and go. We’€™ve seen the same rules interpreted differently. We have to understand how the games are being officiated. ‘€˜What’€™s a block in the back, what isn’€™t a block in the back?’€™ You hope the official calls consistently week-to-week and that’€™s an issue too because there’€™s a lot of shades of gray.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Meriweather, Todd Heap,
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