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Morris on D&H: ‘This is the lightest I’ve been’ entering camp

08.13.10 at 12:19 pm ET
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Running back Sammy Morris joined the Dale & Holley show on Friday to talk about his health entering training camp and the crowded backfield of the Patriots.

“We have a lot of depth that we are able to take the pounding off each other,” Morris said. “I’m doing pretty good, this is the lightest I’ve been as far as weight that I’ve come in in long time. So it’s pretty good and like I said, just trying to get better every day.”

Morris also touched on contributing in other areas and playing on special teams.

Below are the highlights of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

How has camp been going for you?

I think camp has been going pretty good. Just coming in, I think everyone comes in and hopes to do their best and stay healthy. Try to improve every day and try to improve as players which will help improve the team.

As far as your health, how are you coming into camp?

Pretty good. We have a lot of depth that we are able to take the pounding off each other. I’m doing pretty good, this is the lightest I’ve been as far as weight that I’ve come in in long time. So it’s pretty good and like I said, just trying to get better every day.

Is that something you were trying to do?

Yeah, you know Mike Woicik, our strength and conditioning coach, he’s been around a long time. He was telling me about his days with the Cowboys and how he would tell Emmitt Smith, especially with running backs that the older you get, the less you should weigh. He actually told me that for two years and I’m just now taking heed and taking his advice. Between Kevin [Faulk] and Fred [Taylor] and myself, we’ve tried to come in a little lighter and I feel pretty good. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Fred Taylor, Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris,

Neal on D&H: I can’t let Mankins situation ‘affect me’

08.13.10 at 11:07 am ET
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Patriots’ guard Stephen Neal joined the Dale & Holley show on Friday morning to talk about playing the defending champs in the opening preseason game and the Logan Mankins situation.

“I think it was a good first step,” Neal said of Thursday’s win. “We obviously have a long way to go. It’s still early, it was a first step to get out there under the lights and in front of a crowd. We have a lot of work to do, we’re just going to keep working hard and we’ll be better next week.”

Neal also touched on Julian Edelman’s electrifying play and his improvement as a wide receiver.

Below are the highlights of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

What did you think of the line’s performance last night against the Saints?

I think it was a good first step. We obviously have a long way to go. It’s still early, it was a first step to get out there under the lights and in front of a crowd. We have a lot of work to do, we’re just going to keep working hard and we’ll be better next week.

How much did this resemble a normal work week in the NFL? What’s it like compared to a game in mid-September?

Well, this week was a very unusual week. We had the Saints come into town and we practiced against them twice a day. I think we really had to scout because we had to play against them. We were able to learn throughout the week what they do and who the guys are. So, instead of doing all the studying you normally have to do on film, we were able to practice with them and get to feel them out there.

How special was it to play in the game last night? Was there a little more extra playing the defending champs?

I guess so but my opinion of a preseason game is that you can still get hurt in a preseason game. So, if you’re not going out there 100 percent, you’re going to get yourself hurt or someone else hurt. Everybody always says its preseason, preseason, but it’s a real game. There is real stuff going on out there, people are getting hurt. If you don’t go out there 100 percent, either you’re going to get hurt or one of your teammates that you’re trying to protect is going to get hurt. I always thought there was everything but it was great to go up against the Saints. It was good to go out there and compete against a good team. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Julian Edelman, Logan Mankins, Stephen Neal,

Mayo on D&C: ‘These guys are young, they’re hungry’

08.13.10 at 10:09 am ET
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Patriots’ linebacker Jerod Mayo joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Friday morning to recap the first preseason game vs. the Saints and happenings around training camp.

“I think everyone is hungry. Sometimes when you get old, you get complacent,” Mayo said of the young players. “These guys are young, they’re hungry and they’re working the wire, that’s the biggest thing.”

Mayo also talked about possibly being named a captain this season.

Below are the highlights of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

How did you think Brandon Spikes played in his first start?

I think he did pretty well. In his first time out there, I thought it was good to come in as a rookie and be asked to start as a rookie, a preseason game at that. It feels like a regular season game for somebody from college. I think he handled it pretty well in the way he executed plays. I think he did a good job.

You’re only in your third year but you’re in a mentoring role with him. What do you try to teach him in his rookie season?

I feel like I’m trying to do the same thing that guys like Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel did to me. Those guys kind of took me under their wing and showed me the ropes, how do my section on and off the field. That’s what I’m trying to do with the young guys now, even though I’m a fairly young guy, I’m only on my third year.

Are you trying to mirror the leadership of Bruschi and Vrabel or are you trying to bring your own style to it?

I’m trying to take as much as I can from guys like Bruschi because he was the ultimate leader. We still have guys on this team that have won championships. We still have Vince Wilfork, we still have Tom Brady, we still have those guys that are great leaders. At the end of the day, I’m trying to put my little twist on it but we still have great leaders on this team. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jerod Mayo, Julian Edelman, Tedy Bruschi,

Long on D&C: Patriots’ schedule a challenge

08.13.10 at 9:55 am ET
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Fox NFL analyst Howie Long joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning (listen to the interview at the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page) and talked about the Patriots’ outlook for 2010. “Well, they didn’t do you any favors with the schedule,” Long noted. “Out of the division, you get the Bengals, Ravens, Chargers, Vikings, Steelers, Colts, Packers and Bears — potentially a better Bears team. I think it’s going to be a tougher row to hoe this year. I really do.”

Looking at the AFC East, Long said the Jets appear to be stronger than last year, although the absence of cornerback Darrelle Revis is a big concern. “One way or another, they have to get him in,” Long said. “The quandary they have is that he’s got three years left on his contract. But he’s also by far the best corner in the league. He’s so big, physical, coverage, run support, ball skills — he’s as good a corner as we’ve had in the league in some time.”

Long considers the defending Super Bowl champion Saints the “team to beat” but noted that they had a huge turnover margin on defense (26 interceptions and 13 forced fumbles) last season that will be a challenge to repeat. “That number is staggering,” he said. “I think offensively they can do what they did last year. I think they’re that kind of a team. I think their pieces are all in place. [But] for them to duplicate what they did last year on defense will be difficult to do. That’s the only caveat that I have.”

Regarding the Brett Favre situation, Long said he’s OK with the quarterback being given extra time to make his decision about whether to play this season. “We had Bo Jackson [with the Raiders in the late 1980s], who played baseball and then would come to us in October. Anybody who wasn’t happy to see Bo Jackson when he walked through the door in October was a fool,” Long said. “It is what it is. In every business … not everyone on our [Fox studio] set is treated the same way. That’s the reality of the situation. The Minnesota Vikings are no different than any other company.”

Long also touched on fellow Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson, who recently returned from a taping of the reality series “Survivor.” Jimmy’s a remarkable guy,” Long said. “Jimmy’s at that stage in life we all need to get to as quickly as we possibly can — not from an age standpoint, from a philosophy standpoint. Jimmy lives life. And Jimmy doesn’t want to waste another minute of his life on people that aren’t fun. … If we all lived our lives the way Jimmy does, we’d be better off.”

Read More: Bo Jackson, Darrelle Revis, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson

Postgame notes from Pats-Saints

08.13.10 at 4:52 am ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are a few quick postgame notes from tonight’s 27-24 New England preseason win over New Orleans.

•The Patriots opened the preseason at home for only the second time in the last six years and the first time since the 2008 season against Baltimore.

•LB Jerod Mayo and the newest member of the Patriots Hall of Fame, Sam “Bam” Cunningham served as game captains. Cunningham was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in a ceremony prior the game.

•QB Tom Brady started the game and played the entire first quarter, finishing the game 5-of-8 for 67 yards. The Patriots scored a field goal and a touchdown on Brady’s two offensive drives, including a 14-play, 93-yard drive that was culminated by a 6-yard touchdown run by RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. During that touchdown drive, Brady completed three passes of 20 yards or more with a 23-yard pass to Randy Moss, a 20-yard pass to Brandon Tate and a 21-yard pass play to Julian Edelman.
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Read More: Patriots, preseason, saints,

Marques Murrell is no Adalius Thomas

08.13.10 at 12:21 am ET
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FOXBORO — It was only the preseason opener for the Patriots but Marques Murrell made a promise to himself before Thursday’s game with the Saints at Gillette Stadium. He was not going to look silly again trying to bring down Drew Brees.

Last season, like the Patriots, the Jets had the unenviable task of going to the Superdome and trying to contain the high-powered Saints offense.

And like the Patriots, they didn’t have much success. Last year, Murrell was in his second full season with the Jets and was implemented by Rex Ryan in the Jets defense as someone who could bring the heat against the quarterback.

It was Week 4 last season when Brees and the Saints scored a 24-10 win over the Jets as Murrell came close to getting Brees several times in his grasp but just couldn’t bring him to the Superdome turf. Brees was kept clean that afternoon, throwing for only 190 yards and no touchdowns. It was the only game of the season where the Saints quarterback didn’t pass for a touchdown.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick keeps track of such things. He knows that Murrell comes from a pressure defense that knows the AFC East. And he knows Murrell can help the Patriots get to the signal-caller.

It took precisely three plays into the first preseason game for Murrell to make Belichick look very wise, indeed.

Starting at the outside linebacker spot opposite Tully Banta-Cain, Murrell made an inside move around two Saints linemen and forced Brees to turtle to the ground while he finished off his first sack in a Patriots uniform. Murrell finished with that single sack for 11 yards, another quarterback hurry, and three tackles, including one on special teams, New England’s 27-24 win over the Saints.

“It felt really good because last year he was a little elusive for me at the time but this year I really put the bead in on him, started film study two weeks ahead of time,” Murrell said. “I made sure to get to the quarterback.”

But after watching the meltdown of would-be all-world pass rusher Adalius Thomas over the last two seasons in Foxboro, Belichick is not looking for someone to pile up sacks but rather apply the kind of pressure that leaves a quarterback no where to hide when everyone knows a pass is coming.

“Our defense system is not set up for anybody to be the one-man band show and go out here and freelance and do what they want,” Murrell added. “Everybody has to play within the system. That’s our main focus.”

That’s like a Bon Jovi concert to Belichick’s ears.

And for the record, Murrell never mentioned his predecessor by name. He didn’t need to.

Read More: Adalius Thomas, Bill Belichick, Marques Murrell, nfl

Same old Edelman in the opener

08.12.10 at 11:51 pm ET
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FOXBORO – When we last saw Julian Edelman, he was playing the part of Wes Welker in a playoff loss to the Ravens, catching a team-high six passes in the 33-14 defeat.

Cut to eight months (and two days) later, and Edelman once again paced New England with six catches (and 90 yards), this time in the 27-24 preseason opener win over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

The same traits that endeared Edelman to fans — and earned the Welker comparisons — last year were on display Thursday night. Tough yards after the catch, finding the first-down chains, making defenders miss, a big special teams play.

It seems not much has changed from Edelman over the last 240-plus days.

A statement that Edelman himself is quick to agree with.

“I mean, I’m more familiar with the offense, but I don’t feel like I’m a different player,” Edelman said Thursday night. “I just worry about doing my job. I still have a long way to go. I still have to keep working hard.”

The second-year wideout made an immediate impact the first time he touched the ball in the opener, returning a Thomas Morstead punt 40 yards to the New England 41-yard line (Morstead would injure his shoulder tackling Edelman on the play).

“The special teams need to execute,” said Edelman, who averaged 10.5 yards per punt return last season. “It was good to see us get off to a good start in special teams.”

Edelman — who caught all six passes thrown his way Thursday — hauled in a pair of Tom Brady passes in a 14-play, 93-yard TD drive in the second quarter. That would be it for Brady for the evening but the indefatigable Edelman kept on going, catching two more passes from Brian Hoyer for 39 yards to help the Patriots find the end zone once again and take a 17-7 lead with 5:08 left in the second quarter. On both catches he was able to make the initial defender miss, which is quickly becoming an Edelman trademark.

“That’s my job, right?” Edelman asked with a laugh. “You catch the ball and you run with it. I was fortunate enough to make the first guy miss and make some extra yards.”

The Welker stuff will probably never end for Edelman. The similarities are too great and Edelman truly arrived at the perfect time, following the Welker injury. Rather than shying away from the shadow of the All-Pro, though, Edelman is quick to shrug off any comparisons and praise Welker for the role in his development.

“It’s unfair to him,” Edelman said of Welker, who has caught at least 110 passes in each of the last three seasons. “He’s the best slot [receiver] in the game. And I’ve learned so much from him — I learned how to be a professional from Wes. I learned how to prepare, how to run routes. It was a blessing to come here and sit behind a guy like that and watch him just practice and run routes. Wes has been a huge part in helping me to develop and still is.”

Read More: preseason,
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