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Bill Belichick introduces us to ‘Jersey Rock’ and hopes to miss Hurricane Irene

08.25.11 at 11:32 am ET
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FOXBORO — Everyone who’s followed the career of Bill Belichick in the last decade is aware he is a huge Jon Bon Jovi fan, as well as a good friend of the rock star.

On Wednesday, he welcomed the rock star once again to one of his practices outside Gillette Stadium.

“That eases the music play selection,” Belichick chimed Thursday during a very wide-ranging presser with reporters. “We know what we’re playing that day.”

While he didn’t grow up there, obviously Belichick has serious New Jersey roots, having worked there with the Giants from 1979-90 and again with the Jets from 1997-99.

Belichick was then grilled about what happens when the Patriots play the music of another New Jersey-bred megastar – Bruce Springsteen – at practice. Is there an explanation needed?

“No! I think Jon and Bruce are Jersey rockers, Jersey rock stars,” Belichick answered without hesitation. “I think they have a pretty good relationship and mutual respect for each other. It’s different but it’s still Jersey rock and roll.”

Bon Jovi wasn’t the only big name in attendance Wednesday. Boston College hockey coach Jerry York stopped by and Belichick paid him a Rex Ryan-sized compliment.

“Pretty big day for us yesterday to have a guy who’s sold 120 million records and Jerry York out there that’s won whatever it is, 800 or 900-however many games, a lot more than I’ve won, I’ll tell you that. Interesting day,” Belichick said. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston College hockey, Bruce Springsteen, E-Street Band

Ras-I Dowling has some catching up to do, but how much?

08.24.11 at 7:18 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Clearly, the Patriots and Bill Belichick believe Ras-I Dowling has the potential of being a very special cornerback in the NFL or they wouldn’t have spent their second-round pick (33rd overall) on him this past April. After all, there aren’t many defensive backs who stand 6-foot-2, weigh 200 pounds, and who can hit, cover and possess a 4.4 in the 40.

But early on in his first NFL training camp, Dowling suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to miss 13 practices until returning to full pads practice on Monday.

“Just happy to be out there, happy to be out with the team and just try to get better every day,” Dowling said.

This is a player who — as a freshman at Virginia in 2007 — played in 12 games recording 44 tackles and two interceptions. As a sophomore in 2008 he started nine of 11 games. He finished the season with 43 tackles and a team leading three interceptions.

In 2009, Dowling was voted All-ACC second team. He was voted ACC Defensive Player of the week vs. Indiana with nine tackles and the first sack of his career. Dowling ended his junior season with three interceptions. Dowling was voted 2010 Pre-season All-ACC selection and second team All-American.

But on Wednesday, Dowling showed he clearly got the message to play it close to the vest and act like a rookie, humility and all.

What are his goals for the two weeks leading up to the season?

“Just get better every day, take one day at a time,” he said.

Since they went through some of the same growing pains, have young defensive backs Devin McCourty, Darius Butler and Patrick Chung offered advice? Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ACC, ACC football, Bill Belichick, football

Bill Belichick is the ‘best coach in the game,’ according to Rex Ryan

08.24.11 at 6:03 pm ET
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In an interview set to run Wednesday night on the NFL Network, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan talked about Patriots coach Bill Belichick and called him the ‘€œbest coach in the game.’€

‘€œI can put my resume out there, stats, with anybody’€™s who’€™s ever coached in this league. That’€™s a fact. Defensively, that’€™s a fact. But I don’€™t need any credit. I just want to win. I want what Bill Belichick’€™s got,’€ Ryan told Michael Irvin.

‘€œI think Bill Belichick is the best coach in this game. I don’€™t even think it’€™s close. But I’€™m trying. And I know one thing ‘€” he knows that I’€™m going to compete with him every time we play him,’€ he added. ‘€œIf it ever comes down to just me versus him, we’€™re going to end up on the short end of the stick. But when it’€™s about us ‘€” our football team versus his football team ‘€” that’€™s where I even have more confidence.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Michael Irvin, Rex Ryan,

With Ndamukong Suh up next, Tom Brady isn’t afraid to take a hit

08.24.11 at 6:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady remembers the first half last Thanksgiving in Detroit against then-super rookie Ndamukong Suh and the Lions.

The Lions made life tough on Brady, hurrying him several times, with Suh getting through for a sack (see below) on Brady’s first drive, as the Patriots offensive line was back on its heels. The Patriots trailed 17-10 at half before outscoring the Lions, 35-7, in the final two quarters to breeze to victory at Ford Field. Suh didn’t really bother Brady the rest of the game as he finished 21-of-27 for 341 yards, four TDs and a perfect rating of 158.3.

So this Saturday night is probably just the test Brady and the offensive line need to really see if they are close to game-ready for the regular season on Sept. 12.

“We played them last year, too, so we have a very good idea of the issues they present for the front, with the running backs included,” Brady said. “It’€™s a very talented group ‘€“ a very talented front, especially pass rushing. They can get after the quarterback, so you’€™re not going to be standing back there holding onto it for too long ‘€“ not that we do that very often anyway.”

Of course, it won’t just be Suh but Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams who can make life tough on Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Matt Light, Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer.

“But especially a week like this where all those guys really feed off the sacks, the negative plays, their crowd really feeds into it ‘€“ really what was evidenced by us in the first half of the game last year,” Brady added. “That’€™s always a concern when you play a team with a good front, so there’€™s a lot of thought that goes into play calling, and obviously me making quick decisions and getting rid of the ball.”

While not being sacked, Brady was hit several times in the legs, including twice near the knees in last Thursday’s 31-14 win at Tampa. He doesn’t want to get hurt of course, but getting hit, Brady said Wednesday, does serve a purpose.

“That’€™s part of the preseason process ‘€“ to have guys sack you and knock you on the ground so your body can kind of callous to those hits. Hopefully not too much, but enough where you can — that’€™s actually a nice thing to have happen for a quarterback is to get hit you kind of settle into the game because everybody goes out there with some anxiety, some nerves. The offensive linemen, it gets knocked out of them pretty quick because they’€™re able to hit somebody right across from the line of scrimmage. For a quarterback, it’€™s nice sometimes to take a hit and you really settle into the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Corey Williams, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, detroit lions

Mason Foster fined for hit on Ochocinco, but receiver says he’ll reimburse him

08.24.11 at 5:14 pm ET
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Tampa Bay’s Mason Foster was fined $20,000 for a hit on Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco in a preseason game last Thursday, according to ABC Action News in Tampa.

The shot, which took place in the first half of last Thursday’s Patriots-Buccaneers game, drew a flag for unnecessary roughness, but Ochocinco tweeted shortly after the game that he would pay any fine that Foster incurred. (That led to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello telling Pro Football Talk that Ochocinco wouldn’t be allowed to pay on behalf of Foster, saying each player must pay their own fines.)

However, in the wake of Wednesday’s news, the Patriots’ receiver tweeted that he didn’t agree with the decision, addressing a Tweet toward NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: @nflcommish Dad no disrespect but I don’€™t agree with @mason_foster fine [and] I’€™ll be reimbursing him personally. Please feel free to contact me. No word yet from the NFL on what they plan to do when/if Ochocinco writes Foster a check.

Read More: Chad Ochocinco, Greg Aiello, Mason Foster, roger goodell

Tom Brady on Peyton Manning, Jets in the Super Bowl and waterslides

08.24.11 at 3:03 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady said Wednesday he’s hardly shocked by the latest predictions coming from Jets camp that this will finally be the year the Jets win the Super Bowl.

“The Jets? Yeah, well, we’ve heard that for a few years so it’s always… you don’t ever hear us talking too much about that,” Brady said with a smile on Wednesday at the press room podium.

“I think there’s a long ways to go between now and the regular season. We’ve got a very important preseason game coming up and all these preseason games are important for us. It’s so far away at this point.”

The Patriots have outscored their opponents 78-26 in rolling to a 2-0 preseason record so far. They take on Ndamukong Suh and the Detroit Lions this Saturday night at Ford Field in Detroit.

“We’ve got other things on our mind,” Brady added, before being asked if he pays particular attention to the moves the Jets in the offseason.

“Sure, yeah. I pay attention to every team,” he said with a smile.

Then there’s the rival of the Patriots that actually has been to the Super Bowl in Brady’s tenure. And actually Peyton Manning has led the Colts to two Super Bowls, including a winning performance in Super Bowl XLI over the Bears.

But there’s plenty of speculation whether Manning will be calling signals for the Colts in their season-opener against the Texans on Sept. 11. Manning came into the NFL in 1998 and has started all 208 games in his career. With off-season neck surgery, the Colts this week announced the signing of Kerry Collins as an insurance policy should Manning not be able to go. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: detroit lions, Indianapolis Colts, kerry collins, Ndamukong Suh

Patriots re-sign rookie offensive lineman Mike Berry

08.24.11 at 2:51 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Wednesday they have re-signed rookie free agent offensive lineman Mike Berry. Berry originally signed with the Patriots on July 27 as a rookie free agent from Auburn and then was released on Aug. 3. Berry, 6-foot-3 and 316 pounds, started all 14 games in 2010 at right guard and was part of an offensive line that paved the way for 254 yards rushing and 519 yards of total offense in the national championship win over Oregon.

Read More: Mike Berry,
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