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UNH’s Sicko pulls reverse, signs with Cowboys

04.27.10 at 1:54 pm ET
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University of New Hampshire tight end Scott Sicko, who made national news over the weekend when he announced that he would focus on furthering his education rather than head to an NFL team’s camp as an undrafted free agent, caved in to pressure from the Dallas Cowboys and signed a deal with the team, according to FoxSports.com.

The report quotes an e-mail from Sicko’s agent, J.R. Rickert: “After Scott initially decided not to play football and pursue his graduate studies, the Cowboys as well as other teams continued to pursue him,” Rickert wrote. “We maintained active dialogue with the Cowboys and they also continued to speak to Scott. After considering all factors, Scott has decided to become a member of the Cowboys. We are very grateful that the Cowboys have given him this opportunity and he is 100 percent committed.”

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Patriots don’t weed out positive tests

04.27.10 at 12:14 pm ET
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This past weekend’s NFL draft was one of rare depth, the kind of draft in which the average fan had actually heard of some of the team’s later-round selections. Stars were around on the third day, though not all of the upper-echelon players that went in the final three rounds were available late due to depth. As is the case with any draft, players fell due to poor combine performances, character issues and failed drug tests.

Enter Patriots fourth-rounder Aaron Hernandez. Perhaps a second-round talent based on his speed (4.56 40-yard dash) and pass-catching ability, he was removed from many draft boards due to a history of marijuana use and positive drug tests, according to a Boston.com report. Tim Tebow’s favorite target (68 catches, 850 yards, 5 touchdowns) wasn’t removed from the Patriots’ board, however, suggesting Bill Belichick’s confidence in Urban Meyer (the Patriots selected three Gators last weekend) is enough for the New England coach not to fret on the matter.

Or maybe it’s the situation itself, and a positive recommendation from Meyer didn’t help Hernandez any more than it did teammates Jermaine Cunningham or Brandon Spikes. After all, the roster — past and present — hasn’t exactly been a D.A.R.E. campaign.

In addition to Randy Moss’  “blue moon” interview with Bryant Gumbel back in 2005 — two years before the team traded for the enigmatic receiver – the Patriots roster has seen clouds of marijuana use from the likes of Kevin Faulk, Brandon Tate and former safety Dexter Reid. While Reid, a fourth-round pick in the ’04 draft, was canned after a season when his off-field issues outweighed his contributions as a safety, the Patriots took the hit with Faulk  in the form of a one-game suspension to begin the 2008 season after he was caught with marijuana at a Lil Wayne concert. Tate, the receiver whom the Patriots selected in the third round of last year’s draft, is a case more similar to Hernandez in that the team knew about his marijuana use prior to acquiring him.

Does a player smoking marijuana make him any less of a player? Maybe not, if Moss’ career is any indication. Even so, it’s interesting to note that in the high-character, no-nonsense Belichick regime, the Patriots will take a bite on a player despite what tests suggest.

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Report: Hernandez failed drug tests as a collegian

04.27.10 at 1:03 am ET
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Tight end Aaron Hernandez failed “multiple drug tests” while playing for the University of Florida, according to a Boston.com story that quotes a league source. Hernandez, who was selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft by the Patriots, had been considered a second-round talent but apparently slipped down draft boards because of the failed tests. Hernandez did pass his drug test at the combine in February, the source said, which means he won’t be entered in to the league substance-abuse program.

Hernandez is a 6-foot-2, 250-pound tight end who led Florida in receptions last year with 68 catches for 850 yards and five touchdowns last season with the Gators. For his collegiate career, Hernandez had 111 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns.

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Belichick on The Big Show

04.26.10 at 10:23 pm ET
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Bill Belichick said the draft is very unpredictable. (AP)

Bill Belichick called in to The Big Show on Monday to check in for his annual post-draft recap. The Patriots were very busy over the three days of the draft, and Belichick said the whole NFL draft process is highly unpredictable.

“It’s a very unscientific business,” Belichick said. “You make the best decision you can and we make them here. They make them throughout the league. There are players that go undrafted that have great careers. There are players that go in the first round that end up not playing very much in this league. I think that’s the way it will always be. … It makes it a little bit unpredictable, but it also makes it exciting, because it gives you opportunity.”

Belichick and the Patriots traded twice to drop down to pick 27 in the first round, where they selected Devin McCourty out of Rutgers, and he explained the process of “value” in terms of trading in the draft.

“If you have let’s say three players, say you are at a particular point with whatever number you are at,” he said. ”You have three players and you feel that anyone of the three players would be a good pick at this point. They would all help our team and there really isn’t a strong preference, and you could pick up extra value by trading down or something like that, then you do that and say, ‘OK how far down can we go and get the same value at this point.’ ”

Belichick also commented on taking players from college programs where he has ties to the coaches, such as Urban Meyer in Florida or Nick Saban at Alabama.

“At the pro day down there in Florida there were almost 140 or 150 people from the NFL there,” said Belichick, who took three players from the University of Florida in this year’s draft. “I don’t think any of those guys are any big secret. We’ve scouted the Florida players since last spring, all fall, all through the all-star games, just like everybody else in the league has. … We are not partial to any particular school, but I do think that players from some of those programs, because of the way they play, what they look for in football players coming out of high school. Often there is that same correlation that those players fit the profile and the programs that we are looking for.”

Adalius Thomas was released on Monday after three disappointing seasons, and Belichick spoke on the decision to cut ties with the outside linebacker.

“We made that decision to move on with the players that we have,” Belichick said. “I think he was a good football player. He came in and had a heck of a year for us in ’07, and again at this point in time we felt that was the direction we were going to go in.”

To hear the entire interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

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Pats issue statement on Thomas release

04.26.10 at 4:33 pm ET
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As expected, the Patriots officially announced the release of Adalius Thomas Monday afternoon. The announcement issued by the team reads as follows:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots released LB Adalius Thomas today. Thomas, 6-2, 270 pounds, originally signed with New England as an unrestricted free agent on March 3, 2007. Last season, he played in 14 games with 11 starts and finished with 31 total tackles, three sacks and two passes defensed. Thomas has played in 135 NFL games and has accumulated 584 tackles, seven interceptions, 17 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and 79 special teams tackles.

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Peter King on D&H: McCourty ‘will work harder than anybody else’

04.26.10 at 2:40 pm ET
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Peter King

After a very busy weekend in the NFL, Peter King of Sports Illustrated called in to Dale & Holley to talk about the NFL draft.

Fans may have been frustrated with the Patriots and Bill Belichick consistently trading down in the draft,  but King said that those inside the game think completely different on the subject.

“They think he’s brilliant,” King said. “I’d say over the weekend I talked to, between Thursday and yesterday, maybe 11 different coaches, GMs, draft guys, and I didn’t find anybody who said, ‘Pick somebody, will you.’ They all admire the position that the Patriots have themselves in.”

When asked if the Patriots picked an impact player this year, King said wasn’t sure if the Patriots got exactly what the needed over the weekend.

“I don’t know that they did. I don’t know that anybody knows that they did,” he said.”The Patriots need somebody to get after the quarterback. They need it bad. They may have that guy on the roster right now, and they may not. The other thing I think about their draft is that first of all, no matter how many picks you have, it’s unrealistic you are going to answer every question that you have.”

King also talked about the end of the Adalius Thomas tenure in New England, the future of Devin McCourty and the chance to hang out with Pete Carroll on draft weekend.

The transcript follows. To listen to the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

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Analysis of Adalius Thomas release

04.26.10 at 10:47 am ET
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Adalius Thomas was reportedly released this morning by the Patriots. (AP)

Adalius Thomas’ release by the Patriots brings to an end one of the most eventful three-year careers in the history of the franchise.

A sixth-round pick out of Southern Miss in 2000, Thomas was signed by New England as a free agent in March 2007 — a five-year deal worth $35 million, with $20 million guaranteed. The move by the Patriots was heralded as a masterstroke for several reasons, including the fact that Thomas was an outside linebacker in name only. He was one of only a handful of players in the history of the NFL to have lined up at five different positions in one game — defensive end, outside linebacker, middle linebacker, safety and cornerback.

That positional versatility endeared him to Patriots, and Thomas saw the chance to build on that in New England. When he signed with the Patriots, he said flatly, “I’m a football player. I don’t play a position,” he said. “That’s why the Patriots have been so successful here, because they don’t look at it as a position. They look at it as football.”

There were several moments of brilliance during the 2007 season — he finished third on the team in tackles that season with 82, and tied for second on the club with 6.5 sacks, as well as two in Super Bowl XLII. (He was arguably New England’s best player in that game — he also had five tackles, and was all over the field making plays all night.) In addition, he had a chance to flash that positional versatility on several occasions, starting eight games at inside linebacker and seven games at outside linebacker that season.

But things started to go downhill for Thomas shortly after that. He suffered an arm injury midway through the 2008 season, and was placed on injured reserve in early December, sidelining him for the rest of the year. The following season, Thomas started strong — he had two quarterback hits in the opener against Buffalo — but as the season continued, there were plenty of issues. Things boiled to a head in mid-October when he started but made one tackle in a loss to the Broncos in Denver, and the following week against Tennessee, he was a healthy scratch for the first time since his rookie year with the Ravens.
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