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Patriots shuffle practice squad, adding R.J. Dill and releasing Patrick Ford

12.02.13 at 6:59 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Monday they have re-signed offensive lineman R.J. Dill to the practice squad and released tackle Patrick Ford from the practice squad.

Dill, 23, was originally signed to the New England practice squad on Sept. 3, and was released on Sept. 13. The 6-foot-6, 316-pounder was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie free agent out of Rutgers on April 28, and was released by the Jaguars on Aug. 30. He started all 13 games at right tackle for Rutgers in 2012 after transferring from Maryland following the 2011 season. Dill was a three-year starter at Maryland.

Ford, 23, was signed to the New England practice squad on Nov. 27. He was originally signed by the New York Jets as a rookie free agent out of Eastern Kentucky on Aug. 13, 2013, and was released on Aug. 26. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder, was a three-year starter at Eastern Kentucky, serving as both a guard and tackle during his collegiate career. He spent the majority of his final two seasons at left tackle.

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Joe Andruzzi Foundation’s annual gala set for Monday night in Foxboro

12.02.13 at 1:18 pm ET
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Former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi — a cancer survivor — is set to headline the feature event of the year for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation Monday night at Gillette Stadium. Andruzzi, as well as several local celebrities and current and former Patriots, will get together for the sixth annual gala to help raise money for his foundation, which helps cancer patients and their families and supports pediatric brain cancer research at Boston Children’€™s Hospital.

The Andruzzi’s will be joined at the gala by many of his former Patriots teammates, as well as current players, celebrities and sports stars from across New England.

It’s an important night for Andruzzi, who has been instrumental in helping raise thousands of dollars to help fight cancer.

‘€œOur gala is such an important night for our Foundation, and with each year, I’€™m more appreciative I’€™m still here, and that my wife Jen and I get to do this work,” Andruzzi said. “We’€™re still in awe of how far we’€™ve come in six years, and humbled by our collective power to help others. The funds we raise at this year’€™s gala will continue to help us alleviate cancer’€™s financial burden on patients and families, as well as fund crucial pediatric brain cancer research, and we’€™re incredibly grateful to all those who have joined us along the way to make nights like tonight possible.’€

For more on Andruzzi and his work, check out their home page here. And for more information on Monday’s event, check out this page.

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Bill Belichick on Stevan Ridley benching: ‘There’s no sending a message’

12.02.13 at 1:03 pm ET
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FOXBORO — After quickly dismissing the question in his post-game comments Sunday after a 34-31 win over the Texans, Bill Belichick was somewhat more effusive and forthcoming about his decision to sit Stevan Ridley Sunday after his three-game bout with fumblelitis.

Belichick was asked Monday in his conference call about the decision to bench Ridley when Julian Edelman has fumbled five times this season (including twice on one punt against Denver), recovering three of them. Ridley has four fumbles this season and hasn’t recovered a single one. Ridley has nine fumbles over three seasons.

How do Belichick determine when a player sits after fumbling and when he doesn’€™t?

“Well, that’€™s easy,” Belichick said. “We always do what we feel is best for the team in every situation. That’€™s the way it’€™s always been and that’€™s the way it will always be as long as I’€™m here. I have to do what I feel like is best with any decision, in any situation, with what I feel is the overall best decision for the football team. That’€™s what drives every decision I make, on everything: plays, players, you name it. I have to do what I feel like is best for the team.”

So, it’€™s never about sending a message?

“If I have a message to send to somebody, I’€™ll just sit down and talk to them and tell them what it is,” Belichick said. “I can have a conversation and do have a conversation with anybody on the team that I need to have a conversation with. That’€™s not a problem. There’€™s no sending a message. You sit down and talk to somebody man-to-man and talk about the situation so that we’€™re all on the same page as to whatever it happens to be and what the direction is going forward. That’€™s easy. There’€™s not sending a message. You just have a conversation with somebody. This isn’€™t cryptic. We’€™re just trying to win a football game, that’€™s all.”

Did Ridley specifically not play on Sunday because of his fumble issues?

“The inactive players every week are based on, in part injuries and ultimately what we feel like for that particular game is the best decision for the football team in that game to try to win,” Belichick said. “Along with every other decision on the team that I make, it’€™s made with what gives our team, in our opinion, the best opportunity to win on Sundays. That’€™s what all decisions are based on.”

Belichick was also asked whether he read the comments of Houston defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who was very suspicious of the adjustments the Patriots made to Houston’s defense after trailing at halftime Sunday, 17-7.

“Yeah, I saw them. I don’€™t have any comment on them. I think that’€™s a league matter,” Belichick said.

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Read More: Antonio Smith, houston texans, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Rob Ninkovich on M&M: Antonio Smith’s insinuation ‘kind of a silly comment’

12.02.13 at 12:24 pm ET
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Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about New England’€™s 34-31 win over the Texans on Sunday.

The Patriots moved to 9-3 on the season, but Houston defensive end Antonio Smith stole the spotlight with his comments after his team’€™s 10th straight loss. After the game Smith said he was ‘€œvery suspicious’€ of New England’€™s adjustments in the second half, after the Patriots fell behind 17-7 in the first 30 minutes.

‘€œIt’€™s kind of a silly comment,’€ Ninkovich said. ‘€œI’€™m sure they’€™re a little upset that in the second half they couldn’€™t stop Tom [Brady] and our offense. It’€™s a comment where I really don’€™t know where that would come from.’€

Stephen Gostkowski kicked the game-winning field goal with just over three minutes remaining to complete the comeback. The Texans also held a 31-28 lead in the fourth quarter.

‘€œIt’€™s an emotional game that we play, and people put a lot of heart and effort into preparing for a football game,’€ Ninkovich said, adding: ‘€œThat’€™s a tough loss. ‘€¦ When you lose 10 in a row, I’€™m sure there’€™s a ton of frustration in that locker room.’€

Ninkovich and his defensive unit did not play well against the hapless Texans. Rookie quarterback Case Keenum threw for 272 yards, and running back Ben Tate rushed for 102 yards and three touchdowns. Keenum also ran for a touchdown.

‘€œWe definitely do have to do a better job of playing our responsibilities and everyone doing their job,’€ said Ninkovich, who made four tackles and recorded two QB hits. ‘€œGood team defense is everybody playing their gap responsibly and not having those holes.’€

The game was the Patriots’ second straight come-from-behind win. Two weeks ago, New England trailed the Broncos 24-0 heading into the third quarter. The Patriots went on to win 34-31 in overtime.

‘€œWe need to figure it out and play better, because you can’€™t spot a team 17, 24 [points], whatever it may be, in the first half and expect to win every game,’€ Ninkovich said.

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at

Read More: Antonio Smith, Ben Tate, Case Keenum, Rob Ninkovich

What pundits were saying about Patriots on Sunday

12.02.13 at 10:42 am ET
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Here’€™s a quick rundown of what some NFL analysts were saying about the Patriots before and after Sunday’€™s game against the Texans.

Sterling Sharpe on NFL Network before the game: ‘€œThe New England Patriots are the only team that doesn’€™t care whether they get the No. 1 seed.’€

Steve Mariucci on NFL Network before the game: ‘€œThis team is just getting better and better, and gaining some confidence’€¦This is a very dangerous team and it’€™s the best team in the AFC.’€

Bill Cowher on CBS before the game: “New England can wait for one of the slip’€‘ups right there because they hold the tie-breaker now over Denver having beaten them last week. From where they’re sitting right now, I think their schedule may be the easiest of those three. Certainly, Denver, look at them there. They should win out. If they win, get by [Sunday]. Right now, New England is sitting there at number two.”

Tony Dungy on the Patriots on NBC after the game: ‘€œThis team reminds me so much of our 2006 Super Bowl team in Indy. They’€™re decimated on defense, but they’€™ve got a great quarterback who’€™s making plays and keeping them in every game. Tom Brady is the reason they’€™re winning.’€

Marshall Faulk on NFL Network after the game: “The mismatch of [covering] Shane Vereen [in the passing game] will be giving teams trouble [the rest of the season].”

Read More: marshall faulk, Sterling Sharpe, Steve Mariucci, Tony Dungy

Adam Schefter on D&C: ‘Antonio Smith doesn’t realize the power of his words and the ramifications they will have’

12.02.13 at 10:10 am ET
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ESPN’€™s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ 34-31 win over the Texans on Sunday, and other news from around the NFL.

One week after rallying from a 24-0 deficit against the Broncos, New England forged its second straight comeback, as the Patriots overcome a 17-7 first-half hole. Houston defensive end Antonio Smith made headlines with his comments questioning the Pats‘€™ ability to adjust in the second half.

‘€œ[The Texans have] lost 10 straight games, it’€™s been a really disappointing season, they have been maybe the most disappointing team in the NFL, they’€™re in contention for the No. 1 pick when many people thought they might win the division and go to the Super Bowl,’€ Schefter said. ‘€œAntonio Smith is as bewildered and as frustrated as anybody else. ‘€¦ Somebody like Antonio Smith doesn’€™t realize the power of his words and the ramifications they will have when he says something like that and they go viral on national video.’€

Schefter added that it would surprise him if the league fined Smith for his comments.

‘€œIf the league wants to fine players for saying something, they could do that all the time,’€ Schefter said, adding: ‘€œI think it’€™s a case where Antonio Smith can say whatever he wants, and they’€™re just words that kind of vanish after a while.’€

On Thanksgiving night, the Ravens beat the Steelers, 22-20, but it wasn’€™t without major controversy. Mike Tomlin faced severe scrutiny after he stepped on the field during a Jacoby Jones kickoff return and seemingly impeded Jones’ progress. The NFL reportedly is considering disciplinary action against Tomlin, and ESPN reported that it’€™s possible Pittsburgh could lose a draft pick for Tomlin’€™s antics.

‘€œI don’€™t know that they’€™re going to a take away a draft pick, I think that would surprise me in the end. They’€™re going to discuss that,’€ Schefter said, adding: ‘€œI think at the very least you’€™re going to see a six-figure fine for Mike Tomlin and a six-figure fine for the Steelers organization.’€

The Giants-Redskins game on Sunday also ended controversially. One play after awarding the Redskins a first down with Washington driving with less than two minutes remaining and down seven points, the officials took away the first down and set up a fourth-and-one. Washington converted but fumbled, and the Giants secured the 24-17 win.

‘€œThe officials basically blow the call at the end of the game, [and] change the dynamic of the Redskins’€™ play-calling,’€ Schefter said, adding: ‘€œThere’€™s no doubt that that call by the officials changed the way they were operating on offense.’€

To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at

Read More: adam schefter, Antonio Smith, Jacoby Jones, Mike Tomlin

Tom Brady on D&C: ‘I don’t really think much of’ cheating accusations

12.02.13 at 9:59 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, joining Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning for his weekly conversation, dismissed the insinuation by Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith that the Patriots somehow cheated in order to gain an advantage in Sunday’s 34-31 comeback victory in Houston.

The Patriots trailed by 10 points at halftime but turned things around in the second half. Smith questioned how New England could have figured out what the Texans were doing defensively and made the necessary adjustments so quickly and seamlessly.

Brady said the players learned of Smith’s comments after their plane landed back home Sunday night.

“Truthfully, we just played a little bit better in the second half,” Brady said. “We’ve kind of been through a lot of this before, so I don’t really think much of it, truthfully. I just kind of have moved on. I’ve already started work on the Browns and trying to figure out a way to play those guys better and get off to a better start.

“Houston was a really good team and they played well. We certainly didn’t play well in the first half to get us in that deficit. They’ve got a good defense, they’ve got good cover guys. With [J.J.] Watt and Antonio Smith they can really rush the quarterback. It was a tough game, but we found a way to win on the road, which was something that we talked about all week.”

Brady explained that the Patriots did not make major adjustments until halftime, but he said the turnaround had more to do with performance than strategy.

“If you have a bad first drive, you don’t really come over to the sideline and go, ‘All right, guys, we’ve got to change everything. Let’s scrap all the crap we’ve been practicing all week and just start making stuff up on the fly.’ But I think by halftime you have really a good enough sample size to figure out how the game’s being played, the matchups that go in our favor and the matchups that don’t go in our favor, maybe there’s some new things that they’ve done that we’ve got to adjust to,” he said.

“But ultimately, after halftime when you get a chance to kind of evaluate and say, ‘OK, well, how did that half play out?,’ you’ve got to be able to say, ‘Well, let’s stick with it and stick with what we’re doing,’ kind of what we did against Denver, or last week we said, ‘OK, these are some of the things that we’re going to get to and these are some of the matchups that we like, and we’ve got to start making the plays that we’re capable of making.’ You can call the perfect play against the perfect defense, but if I make a crappy throw, it doesn’t matter. It’s a nonproductive play. I know it’s boring, but execution is the name of the game.

“I thought we did a good job there in the second half of trying to figure out — they had a few new things that they had implemented for our game, and they definitely did some different things than we were expecting, but nothing that really blew our mind. It just was different, and we had to adjust. Then the execution ultimately was better in the second half than it was in the first half, obviously. I think that was the major difference.”

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Read More: Antonio Smith, Bill Belichick, James Develin, Julian Edelman
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