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Chance to catch passes from Tom Brady played major role in luring Brandon LaFell to Foxboro

03.19.14 at 6:38 pm ET
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When it came to the possibility of the Patriots landing free agent wide receiver Brandon LaFell, Tom Brady didn’t have to do any recruiting. Turns out, his mere presence was enough to lure LaFell to Foxboro.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver, who spoke with the New England for the first time Wednesday since signing a three-year deal with the Patriots, answered quickly when he was asked what went into his decision to depart Carolina.

“Because I had a chance to play with a Hall of Fame quarterback,” he said on a conference call with reporters. “One day, Cam [Newton] will be there probably, but he’€™s not there now. I felt like it was a better chance to come up here to get more balls and win up here than it was in Carolina. Nothing against those guys, it’€™s a great organization. Those guys are going to win, I can see them winning but it’€™s proven up here, man.

“We were winning last year in Carolina,” he added. “These guys were winning up here for the last 10-plus years, so why not come to a winning organization?”

LaFell recalled watching film of Brady and the New England offense last season, and recalls being amazed at the level of quarterback play.

“We were watching film last year when we were going to play those guys, (and) we were always like, ‘€˜Man, those receivers have to put their hands up.’€™ No matter what route they ran, no matter how the guy was on them, if they just put their hands up, the ball was always in perfect placement,” he said.

“When you have a guy that can pinpoint the ball like he does year-in and year-out, it’€™s great.”

The 27-year-old LaFell is an LSU product who has been in the league for four years ‘€” all with the Panthers ‘€” and has 167 career catches, including 49 receptions for 627 yards and a career-high five touchdowns last year.

While he hash’t had the chance to connect with Brady face-to-face quite yet — he said they’ve traded texts the last few days because Brady is out of the country — he has spoken with another LSU teammate in running back Stevan Ridley, who was apparently pretty fired up about the possibility of lining up alongside his old friend.

“He was so excited. He was like, ‘€˜You have to be lying to be right now,'” recalled LaFell. “He was like, ‘€˜We have a bunch of young guys that play a lot of good ball, but we need another veteran that will step in and help those guys grow. You’€™re proven and this and that. You can be one of those final pieces of us, taking us to the next level.’€™

“He just kept saying the word sacrifice; sacrifice and hard work. ‘€˜If you’€™re committed to do that with the rest of the guys, you’€™re going to fit in well and help us win games.’€™”

Here are some of the highlights of the rest of the Q&A:
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon LaFell, Cam Newton, Tom Brady,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Arizona RB Ka’Deem Carey

03.19.14 at 6:34 pm ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.


Position: Running back

School: Arizona

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 207 pounds

Achievements: 2013, 2012 consensus All-America, 2013 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, 2013, 2012 first-team All-Pac-12

What he brings: Carey is a strong back who can churn out yards, isn’t afraid to take contact and has good vision. His performance doesn’t suffer as his carries rise throughout a game. Many scouts are worried about his lack of speed, evidenced by his 4.7 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He has solid hands but isn’t considered a receiving back. There are concerns about Carey’€™s character, based in part on a run-in with the law in late 2012.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: Carey, 21, was born in Arizona and has lived there his entire life. In late December 2012, Carey was charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct after an incident involving his ex-girlfriend. Carey pleaded not guilty the following month, and in June 2013 the charges were dropped. Arizona suspended Carey for the first game of the 2013 season. Despite missing that game, Carey ran for 1,885 yards and 19 touchdowns on 349 carries for 5.4 yards per carry as a junior in 2013. Carey’€™s numbers were better in 2012, as he rushed for 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns on 303 carries for a 6.4 average per carry.

Related articles:

USA Today: Top RBs Carlos Hyde, Ka’Deem Carey feeling unappreciated

SB Nation: Ka’€™Deem Carey a cross between Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy Ka’€™Deem Carey sets Arizona records in upset of Oregon

Video: Here are Carey’€™s 2013 highlights with Arizona.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Ka'Deem Carey,

Patriots sign long snapper Charley Hughlett

03.19.14 at 4:12 pm ET
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The Patriots have signed long snapper Charley Hughlett to a two-year deal, according to Hughlett’s agent Brett Tessler.

The 6-foot-4, 251-pound Hughlett is a Central Florida product who spent time with the Cowboys last year. The 23-year-old figures to serve as competition for Danny Aiken, who has been New England’s long snapper the last three seasons.

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Read More: Brett Tessler, Charley Hughlett, Danny Aiken,

Patriots among teams proposing handful of rule changes

03.19.14 at 3:52 pm ET
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There have been 13 new rules proposals made by the NFL’s competition committee, according to league spokesman Greg Aiello, with four of them specifically proposed by the Patriots.

1. Move kickoffs to the 40-yard line.
2. Make personal fouls reviewable.
3. No overtime in preseason games.
4. Extend the goalposts five yards higher. (Proposed by the Patriots)
5. Move the extra-point line of scrimmage to the 25-yard line. (Proposed by the Patriots.) The competition committee is — separately — proposing one preseason game this year where the extra-point snap will take place from the 20.
6. Add six cameras to all boundary lines to supplement TV camera angles. (Proposed by the Patriots.)
7. Allow any officials decision to be challengeable. (Proposed by the Patriots.)
8. Exend “roll-up” block fouls to include blocks from the side, not just from the back.
9. Allow replay communication from field to booth to include a representative from the officiating command center at league office.
10. Make the recovery of loose ball reviewable, and reorganize the replay section of rulebook.
11. Allow clock to run on quarterback sack at all times of game.
12. Elimination of the 1-yard pick zone. Pass interference enforced from line of scrimmage.
13. Simplify the enforcement spot of penalties, such as defensive penalties on loss or on change of possession.

In addition, there were seven bylaws proposed to modify roster cutdowns times (going from 90 to 53), number of players, and increase injured reserve/designated for return. And the use of racial slurs, baiting words, derogatory comments on sexual orientation would be enforced under current rules.

The issues will be taken into consideration for owners to consider at the annual meetings later this month in Florida.

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Oregon State DE Scott Crichton

03.19.14 at 9:38 am ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.


Position: Defensive end

School: Oregon State

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 273 pounds

Achievements: 2013 second-team All-Pac-12, 2012 first-team All-Pac 12, 2011 honorable mention All-Pac 12

What he brings: Scouts point out that Crichton is well built for his position and has a good initial reaction off the snap. They warn, though, that Crichton also lacks flexibility, sometimes causing him a problem when he needs to change direction.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: Crichton had 47 tackles, including 7.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss, in 2013. He led the team with 17.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks in 2012 while making 44 tackles. He set a school record for forced fumbles in a season with six in 2011, when he amassed 74 tackles, six sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. … Crichton, 22, made a name for himself at the combine by discussing how he decided to enter the draft with one year of eligibility remaining at Oregon State to help his family financially.

Related articles: Family drives Scott Crichton’s will to succeed in the NFL Film study: Anthony Barr, Kyle Van Noy, Scott Crichton, Trent Murphy

The Oregonian: Oregon State’s Scott Crichton: NFL combine 2014 preview

Video: Here is a video of Crichton during Oregon State’s game against Utah in 2013.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Scott Crichton,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Arkansas C Travis Swanson

03.18.14 at 6:43 pm ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.


Position: Center

School: Arkansas

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 318 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-America, 2013 second-team All-SEC

What he brings: Considered the best center in the draft, Swanson has ideal size, strength and athleticism to be a starting center in the NFL. He will be able to match up with the bigger nose tackles in the NFL. Swanson doesn’t have elite speed or lateral quickness, but he has above-average athleticism. The 318-pounder is considered strong in the run game and known for being alert.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 3

Notes: Swanson started four years at Arkansas and started all 50 games in which he appeared. He was named a captain during his final two years. … He snapped to current Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallet during the 2010 season. … He was an honor roll student in the fall of 2011.

Related articles:

Associated Press: Swanson lays foundations for success at Arkansas

Times Record: Ex-Hog Swanson confident at NFL combine

Video: Here is Swanson getting interviewed after a Senior Bowl practice.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Travis Swanson,

Report: Patriots have inquired about Eagles WR DeSean Jackson

03.18.14 at 5:40 pm ET
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The Patriots have inquired about Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, according to a report from Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.

Citing a league source, the report says the Eagles have taken inquiries on Jackson from the 49ers and Patriots. It’s believed that Philadelphia is seeking “at least a third-round pick and potentially more” for Jackson.

The 27-year-old had 82 catches for 1,332 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season for the Eagles. In his six seasons in the NFL, he had 356 catches for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns, and 57 carries for 373 yards and three rushing touchdowns.

It’s important to remember that “inquired about” is a broad, wide-ranging term that could range anywhere from deep, substantive talks to a 30-second phone call that may or may not have included laughter on the other end of the line. It’s also worth mentioning that Jackson — just two years into a five-year, $51 million extension — is slated to make $10.25 million in base salary in 2014. So make of the report what you will.

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