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Tom Brady spends some quality time at his alma mater

08.22.13 at 11:33 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady visited with the University of Michigan football team Thursday morning.

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Pete Prisco on D&C: Tim Tebow ‘just not good enough to play in the National Football League’

08.22.13 at 11:04 am ET
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Pete Prisco checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, and the senior NFL writer didn’€™t hold back when it comes to expressing his dramatic views on Tim Tebow and the Patriots’€™ AFC East rivals.

Tebow, as Prisco sees it, doesn’€™t have an NFL future, nor did he ever. The only reason he’€™s still in Patriots camp is because Bill Belichick is stubborn and is still trying to prove everyone wrong.

‘€œHe is what he is,’€ Prisco said of Tebow.

‘€œHe’€™s just not good enough to play in the National Football League, and if his name was anything other than Tim Tebow, the New England Patriots would have cut him by now. How can the Patriots look at that skill set and think he should be a quarterback in the National Football League? OK, let’€™s talk about other the positions. What else can he do? He can’€™t do anything else. The bottom line is he needs to be let go, he needs to get on with his life’€™s work, let the end come.’€

Fortunately for the Patriots, their season doesn’€™t exactly hinge on Tebow’€™s fate. Prisco said he expects Tom Brady and the offense to be just fine this season, despite the losses of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, plus Rob Gronkowski‘€™s pending health situation.

Prisco went as far to say the combo of Brady and Danny Amendola would be even more productive than the Peyton Manning-Welker duo in Denever, if only because Brady has fewer receiving weapons.

‘€œLast year, even with Gronkowski and Hernandez, when you watched them play and they put up big numbers, they were a slow team,’€ Prisco said of the Pats offense. ‘€œThey were a slow offense. I think this year you’€™re going to see a faster offense, so from that standpoint there’€™s going to be some change, some adjustment, but it’€™s Tom Brady. Brady will make those younger guys be better football players.’€

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Read More: Bill Belichi, Danny Amendola, Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez

Preseason fantasy football rankings: Wide receivers

08.22.13 at 10:58 am ET
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We’re back with a look at the receivers. This is our last look at the preseason positional rankings. We’€™ve previously covered the running backs, tight ends and quarterbacks. For updates on all these rankings, you can check us out at, where we refresh our rankings and cheat sheets frequently.

Let’€™s take a quick look at overall receiver strategy before we dig into the talent pool. When I’€™m drafting, I break theses receivers into three primary groups.

  • The elite, which is comprised of the top seven options.
  • The WR2 capable receivers. These are the guys who you project to be weekly starters as opposed to matchup plays. For my money, this groups starts to dwindle as we get close to the 30th-ranked receiver.
  • WR3-level options. This group goes on and on, and the way to get value out of it is to not tap into it too early. These players start going off the board in the seventh round, and you’€™ll be able to get this kind of value all the way through the 12th and often much later. Patience is usually rewarded with this group.

We’€™ll be getting into the depth and shape of the talent pool over at Rotobahn tomorrow when we start our Drafting In Reverse series. If you like deep sleepers at every position, we have them for you. For alerts to all of our new content, follow us on Twitter @rotobahn. I’€™ll be happy to address your questions there as well. Send them to me with the hash tag #FantasyWEEI. Finally, listen to our wide receiver and running back rankings podcasts.

1. Calvin Johnson, Lions

He’€™s going to score more touchdowns this year. Probably a lot more. Like Adrian Peterson and Jimmy Graham, Megatron gets a tier all to himself atop his position group. He’€™s that good, and he has a QB who can make any throw imaginable. As soon as you just can’€™t pull the trigger on a RB, you go to Calvin Johnson — not a QB. This dude is the truth. Draft him with confidence. I am looking to take him at about 10 overall unless a highly rated back slips.

2. A.J. Green, Bengals

Green’€™s an elite option, because nobody can cover him and because he’€™s the clear-cut No. 1 option on his team. The Bengals got better all around this offseason by bringing in Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard. Now there is enough talent around Green where teams can’€™t bracket him and get away with it. He should repeat his 2012 numbers and perhaps improve them some. His QB, Andy Dalton, is just decent, but he’€™s getting better and we should see some more incremental improvement in 2013. Take Green with confidence. His knee issue appears to be over and was nothing serious.

3. Dez Bryant, Cowboys

Injuries worry me with Bryant, because he sells out for the football with little regard for his body, but that’€™s the ONLY thing that worries me. Bryant is a dominant talent, plain and simple. He’€™s now the clear No. 1 option on his team and a threat to score more than 15 touchdowns. If he plays 16 games, he’€™s an absolute monster. Do not hesitate with Bryant. Draft him and enjoy. If you want to take him ahead of Green, I have no problem with that.

4. Julio Jones, Falcons

The freak show continues … Jones is right there with Green and Bryant. Take him over anybody but Calvin Johnson and I have no complaints. He’€™s getting better every year. He’€™s got a solid quarterback and there’€™s going to be more bite in the play-action game with Steven Jackson upgrading Michael Turner‘€™s spot in Atlanta. Count on it. Big plays are coming, and more receptions, too.

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Read More: 2013 Fantasy Football, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson

Don’t expect to see these guys Thursday night against the Lions

08.22.13 at 7:10 am ET
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Based on their attendance at practice over the last week, the following players shouldn’t be expected to see time in Thursday’s preseason contest against the Lions in Detroit: Cornerbacks Ras-I Dowling and Brandon Jones, defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham and Armond Armstead, wide receivers Danny Amendola, Mark Harrison and Kamar Aiken, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Daniel Fells and offensive lineman Marcus Cannon.

In addition, it’s worth noting that defensive back Devin McCourty switched his jersey from a red noncontact jersey to the standard blue this week, which could be a sign he’ll be ready to go for this first time this offseason come Thursday night.

As for quarterback Tom Brady, we wrote on Wednesday that over the last four years, he’s played an average of 35 snaps in the third preseason game, and that would be par for the course this time around. If all goes according to plan, look for him to be yanked in favor of Ryan Mallett sometime midway through the third quarter.

Three is the magic number: Looking at Tom Brady’s past performances in third preseason game

08.21.13 at 2:59 pm ET
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It’€™s always a good exercise to guess how much Tom Brady and the rest of the starters are going to play in the third preseason game. The third game traditionally is the exclusive domain of the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense — at least for the first half — and history tells us the quarterback will play at least the first two quarters of Thursday’€™s game against the Lions in Detroit.

Brady dismissed talk this week that there’€™s an added emphasis placed on the third game of the preseason — the ‘€œdress rehearsal,’€ if you will — before the real action starts next month.

‘€œI think they’€™re all important,’€ he said when asked about the preseason. ‘€œLast week was important [and] this week is important, because it is the week we have. Nothing’€™s going to simulate what happens on opening day. That has a different feeling than any of these games; that’€™s just the way it is.

‘€œBut this is an important game because it’€™s an important step in our process to see where we’€™re at as a team. We’€™re going on the road, tough environment — we went there a few years ago and didn’€™t do very well, which we’€™ve already heard about that for three days now. So we’€™re going to have to do better than we did the last time.’€

Since 2007 — the last six years — here’€™s a look at how Brady has performed in the third week of the preseason:

2012: Last season, he played 45 snaps against the Buccaneers, going until the end of the third quarter before yielding to Ryan Mallett and finishing 13-for-20 for 127 yards with one touchdown, one interception and two sacks.

2011: Against the Lions in Detroit, Brady played 37 snaps and was lifted at 9:02 of the fourth quarter in favor of Brian Hoyer. Brady was knocked around pretty good in this game against a physical Lions front (he was sacked twice, fumbled once and was hit seven times), and ended up going 12-for-22 for 145 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Going back and reviewing this one, it was a weird game for a couple of reasons. First, Brady threw some bad passes, including one in the dirt to a wide-open Wes Welker. And at the end of the first half with the Patriots driving, there appeared to be a miscommunication between Brady and Chad Ochocinco (remember him?) on a short pass play, and the ball was picked off by defensive back Ricardo Silva. Five plays later, the Lions punched it in for a touchdown.

2010: We have already established 2010 as one of the finest preseasons of his career, and the third preseason game that year (against the visiting Rams) might have been one of the best of his career. He took 30 snaps and was lifted with 12:30 left in the fourth quarter. He finished an astonishing 18-for-22 for 273 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. (That’€™s the deepest he’€™s gone as of late, but that game plan was likely altered by the fact that the Rams went on a 15-play, 76-yard drive that consumed a whopping 9:19 at the start of the second half.)

2009: The Albert Haynesworth game. (Remember him?) The Redskins defensive tackle drove Brady to the turf on the final play of the first half, and while Brady wasn’€™t technically removed from the game, he didn’€™t play at all after the hit. He ended up playing 29 snaps and going 12-for-19 for 150 yards with two touchdowns, no picks, one sack and a QB rating of 122.7.

When Haynesworth joined the Patriots for a brief spell in 2011, he said one of the first conversations he had was with Brady. “The first thing I said was, ‘Hey, Tom, what’€™s up?’ And he was like, ‘Hey, you’€™re not going to be hitting me anymore,’ ” Haynesworth said.

2008: DNP.

2007: No snap count information is available, but Brady was able to step off the plane from Los Angeles — he missed a couple of days of practice following the birth of his son — and be impressive against the Panthers. He led New England to a touchdown on an 80-yard, 18-play first quarter drive that consumed 9:43, and he finished 17-of-22 for 167 yards and two touchdowns.

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Pressure Points: Which Patriots defenders have done best job getting after QB in preseason?

08.21.13 at 1:22 pm ET
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Through two preseason games, the Patriots have 8 quarterback hits and 7 sacks as a team. Based on gamebooks, here’€™s a quick look at some pass-rush numbers for the Patriots to this point in the 2013 preseason:

Quarterback hits
Brandon Spikes 2
Chandler Jones 2
Rob Ninkovch 1
Justin Francis 1
Joe Vellano 1
Marcus Benard 1

Spikes 2 (11 yards)
Benard 1 (7 yards)
Vellano 1 (7 yards)
Tommy Kelly 1 (6 yards)
Ninkovich 1 (6 yards)
Jones 1 (4 yards)

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In Focus: Charting the offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

08.21.13 at 1:02 pm ET
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Every week over the course of the regular season, we’€™ll present a list of the Patriots’€™ ‘€œoffensive touches,’€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Two weeks into the 2013 preseason, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense when it comes to offensive opportunities:

RB LeGarrette Blount: 15 (14 carries, 1 reception)
RB Shane Vereen: 13 (7 carries, 6 catches)
RB Stevan Ridley: 13 (13 carries, 0 receptions)
RB Brandon Bolden: 11 (10 carries, 1 reception)
QB Tim Tebow: 10 (10 carries, 0 receptions) 3 sacks and 2 kneeldowns
WR Danny Amendola: 7 (0 carries, 7 receptions)
WR Julian Edelman: 7 (0 carries, 7 receptions)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 5 (0 carries, 5 receptions)
WR Aaron Dobson: 4 (0 carries, 4 receptions)
WR Josh Boyce: 3 (0 carries, 3 receptions)
TE Zach Sudfeld: 3 (0 carries, 3 receptions)
TE Daniel Fells: 3 (0 carries, 3 receptions)
FB James Develin: 2 (2 carries, 0 receptions)
WR Kamar Aiken: 2 (0 carries, 2 receptions)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 1 (0 carries, 1 reception)
RB George Winn: 1 (1 carry, 0 receptions)
QB Ryan Mallett: 1 (1 carry, 0 receptions)
RB Leon Washington: 1 (0 carries, 1 reception)

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