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Why did Trevor Scott pick the Patriots? They’re ‘natural-born winners’

05.03.12 at 11:35 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Trevor Scott has a good memory.

Asked Thursday about his 2008 game against the Patriots as a rookie with the Raiders, he allowed himself a small smile. That was a contest where he brought down New England quarterback Matt Cassel twice in a game that was a muddy mess out in Oakland.

‘€œI was just reminded of that the other day. It was my rookie year,’€ he said. ‘€œPretty disastrous game — the weather was just awful. I remember that.’€

And the sacks?

‘€œYeah, too bad it wasn’€™t [Tom] Brady,’€ he added with a laugh.

A 6-foot-5, 255-pound defensive end/outside linebacker who was taken by the Raiders in the sixth round of the 2008 draft out of Buffalo, Scott spent the last four seasons with Oakland before signing a one-year deal with the Patriots as a free agent in March.

His best season came in 2009 when he had 43 tackles (38 solo) and seven sacks for the Raiders. In all, the converted tight end has 13.5 sacks in four seasons with Oakland.

In between workouts Thursday at Gillette Stadium, Scott sounded like a guy who was targeted by the Patriots early on in the free-agent process. Asked if there was an opportunity to take visits with other teams, he shrugged.

‘€œNot really,’€ said the 27-year-old. ‘€œI was just glad things ended up the way they did, right off the bat, so I could put it behind me and what better way to start than to come to an organization like this.

‘€œYou just know what to expect when you come here. Natural-born winners. They want to compete for the Super Bowl every year. To come in here, I’€™m going to have big shoes to fill.’€

Scott will likely be filling the shoes of Mark Anderson, who finished last season with 10 sacks, but departed as a free agent. He could also provide some support as a pass rusher, depending on whether or not veteran Andre Carter does return. Regardless, he would love to return to his 2009 form — a torn ACL in 2010 left him on IR, and he has struggled to regain his pre-injury state, saying he ‘€œdefinitely’€ plans on returning to his pre-injury level of production.

‘€œI mean, it was what it was. That’€™s the name of the game,’€ he said. ‘€œI’€™ve seen a lot of different things in he league, and like I said, I’€™m just glad to be here and to start over.’€

He said the transition from Oakland to New England has been ‘€œpretty good, so far,’€ said Scott, helped out by the fact that former Raiders’€™ offensive lineman Robert Gallery was also picked up by the Patriots this offseason.

‘€œI mean, there’€™s a great atmosphere here, don’€™t get me wrong. There’€™s also a great atmosphere in Oakland. I’€™m just glad for the new opportunity,’€ he said. ‘€œ[Gallery and I are] just hanging together as we get to know all of the guys, but all the guys are really nice and pretty cool and guys are taking me under their wing and showing me the ropes and stuff.

‘€œWe’€™ve just been working. Just different position stuff. That’€™s been cool. Getting to meet the coaches, on and off the field. We’€™ve definitely been working hard, that’€™s for sure,’€ he added. ‘€œThey just play the game the way the game is supposed to be played — hard and tough football. You can tell that through their play. They’€™re great leaders on and off the field.’€

Here are some other highlights of the Q&A:

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Wes Welker reveals what it takes to win a game ball with the Patriots

05.03.12 at 4:49 pm ET
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Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker joined ESPN’s “Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable” on Wednesday for what might best be described as a wide-ranging interview. It included his thoughts on when he believed he could be a consistent part of an NFL offense, how “brutal” a Super Bowl loss is, Tom Brady‘s house, and what former teammate Larry Izzo may or may not have done on the sidelines during a Patriots game:

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Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich recall Junior Seau’s impact on the game

05.03.12 at 4:07 pm ET
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Both Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich issued statements through the Patriots on Thursday afternoon regarding the death of former New England linebacker Junior Seau:

Mayo: ‘€œI was shocked and deeply saddened when I heard the news about Junior. I spent my first two years in the NFL with him. He was so approachable and welcoming and really worked with me to help me to adjust to life in the NFL. He was a true mentor and teammate. He had a legendary NFL career and had a passion for the game that I try to emulate. This is a sad day for me. My thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and his many friends. ‘€œ

Ninkovich: ‘€œI grew up watching Junior Seau play linebacker. He defined the position and I try to emulate my play on the field after his. It was an honor to play with an NFL legend. 2009 was my first year with the Patriots and when Junior came in, our lockers were right next to each other. As a veteran, he shared valuable advice with me and was a true teammate. I am deeply saddened by the loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.’€

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Matt Slater remembers Junior Seau as a passionate leader and icon of the game of football

05.03.12 at 12:53 pm ET
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FOXBORO — As a football-loving kid growing up in Southern California, Matt Slater had two categories of football hero: his father Jackie, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman with the Rams and Junior Seau. Then, there was everyone else.

‘€œJunior Seau was a legend,’€ Slater said Thursday during a break between workouts at Gillette Stadium. ‘€œBack to his time at USC, to his time with the Chargers. I grew up idolizing Junior.

‘€œIf you were a kid who loved football in Southern California, Junior Seau was right at the top of the list. He meant so much to the NFL in general, but to Southern California, he had a huge impact on that region.’€

Slater had the unique opportunity to live out a dream — after he was drafted out of UCLA by the Patriots in 2008, he spent part of two seasons as a teammate of Seau.

‘€œAnd then having a chance to play with him for two years and seeing how he was off the field — the type of man he was,’€ Slater said. ‘€œHe was a leader that was second to none.’€

Seau was found dead on Wednesday, a shocking and sad end to football life that touched thousands of people, particularly for those who knew him like Slater.

‘€œHe was so full of life and it just comes as a total shock,’€ Slater said. ‘€œYour heart really goes out to his family. You know, you saw his mom’€™s response. No mother should have to bury her son, so I just think we’€™re all in a state of shock right now.

‘€œIn here this morning, we’€™re just kind of … the guys who knew Junior and played with him are just sharing our experiences and memories of him. I know some of the Southern California guys, we’€™re just remembering his time at USC, and at the Chargers.’€
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Ted Johnson on D&C: ‘Sick’ over the passing of Junior Seau

05.03.12 at 10:40 am ET
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Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday to discuss the death of NFL great Junior Seau. The former Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots linebacker committed suicide Wednesday, which has brought about questions of whether Seau was suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative disease common with athletes who have dealt with multiple head injuries.

Johnson said he is “sick” over the passing of Seau, but that there’s no denying that head injuries extend well beyond the game.

“It’s hard to quantify all the hits and what they mean in your life and the decisions you make, but there’s obvious evidence out there that hits to the head can cause problems,” Johnson said. “‘€¦ It affects your mood, it affects your decision-making. It’s really hard for a lot of guys, especially when they retire, to handle stress-related things. It’s a lot more difficulty to kind of sift through things in life that maybe earlier you could handle.

“People are making judgements as far as perhaps there’s a link to it, and there might be. They’ve done 36 autopsies of former athletes that have had concussions, and 35 of them come back with signs of CTE, which is particularly in guys that have had multiple concussions. You have to think that Junior, if hopefully they can do an autopsy on his brain, will show the same effect. It’s a serious issue.”

Johnson estimates that he himself suffered between 100-150 or more concussions during his 10 years in the NFL. Seau shot himself in the chest, suggesting he may have wanted to leave his brain to be studied. Given that, Johnson noted that “if there’s a tipping point for this issue, this puts it over the edge.”

“There’s this idea that we’re bigger than life, that we have no [weaknesses]. We are football players, we are gladiators, this is what we do. People don’t want to hear about the other stuff,” Johnson said. “I think people are going to find out that there was a lot more demons that Junior had to deal with.

“To link it back to concussion stuff, there’s no question that when your head takes that many hits, that physiologically there’s a shift in your brain. Something changes that you have to deal with and Junior was obviously at a point where he had no other options in his mind other than doing what he did.”

Johnson remembered Seau as a “pro’s pro,” but noted that the perhaps Seau had another side that he kept shielded from teammates and the public eye.

“Somebody who feels life that much who is just that passionate — and the highs, you see him so up and so pumped, and that’s how he was — the thing about it, conversely is the depths he must have gone to,” Johnson said. “He must have dealt with things and gone to levels emotionally on the lowest end that I think are going to come out, that he didn’t want anyone to know about. I wasn’t completely shocked, but at the same time, it makes you think about your own mortality, too.”

Johnson retired during training camp prior to the 2005 season. In the years that followed his retirement, he claimed that part of his concussion problems were the result of Patriots coach Bill Belichick making him practice after suffering a concussion. Johnson said that he has since lost touch with Belichick and owner Robert Kraft.

“It bums me out a little bit,” Johnson said. “When I came out with my story about what happened in ’02 to the [New York] Times and the [Boston] Globe in ’07, I just think, from what I was told, that put a bad taste in Mr. Kraft’s palate. I feel horrible, because it wasn’t about trying to get back at Belichick and Mr. Kraft.

“I owe so much to football. Football saved my life in a lot of ways, and the Krafts, and even coach Belichick and I were able to work things out, but this issue was so much bigger than that. Unfortunately, they took it more personally than I wish they would have. Honestly, I haven’t had any contact with them, and I don’t know. I just feel bad about it, but that’s just the way it is.”

Read More: CTE, Junior Seau, Ted Johnson,

What the return of Jabar Gaffney means for the Patriots’ passing game

05.02.12 at 11:02 pm ET
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With the news the Patriots are ready to bring wide receiver Jabar Gaffney back into the fold, it gives the New England passing game another familiar face and brings one of the most dependable No. 3 receivers the Patriots have had in nearly 10 years back to Gillette Stadium.

The 31-year-old, who played in New England from 2006 through 2008, caught 85 passes for 1,059 yards and eight touchdowns in three seasons for the Patriots while operating almost exclusively as the No. 3 receiver in the New England passing game. While others struggled in that role, Gaffney was able to flourish, and became the best and most consistent pass-catcher the Patriots have had at that spot since Brady assumed the starting quarterback job in 2001.

It was also clear that even though he departed New England for Denver following the 2008 season, he maintained a great affection for the Patriots and Bill Belichick. In the days leading up to the New England-Washington game this past season, it was clear that Gaffney still had a great affection for Belichick and the Patriots.

‘€œIt was the best,’€ Gaffney said. ‘€œHe pretty much ‘€¦ he gave me a lot of insight on the NFL. A great coach. He makes his players be students of the game. He helped me out a lot. He’€™s the man.

‘€œI’€™ll never forget what I learned there, playing under Belichick. Like I said, he taught me a lot about the NFL and how to survive in the NFL and how to be a great player.’€

‘€œJab could do everything well,’€ recalled quarterback Tom Brady the week before the Patriots met the Redskins earlier this year. ‘€œI think that’€™s his versatility, he’€™s got good size, he’€™s got long arms, he’€™s got good speed, he’€™s got good quickness, he plays every position, he’€™s smart.

‘€œHe’€™s just one of those guys that, from the day we got him here, he was just so reliable and dependable because he knew what to do and he did it well. You gain a lot of trust from the quarterback when all those things match up. I was bummed when he went to Denver, and I was bummed when he went to Washington.’€

Gaffney should still be able to have an impact on the New England passing game. He is coming off the finest year of his career, as he finished the 2011 season with career-highs in catches (68) and yards (947), and tied his career-best with five touchdown receptions, all for a Washington passing game that finished in the middle of the league in most major statistical categories. The fact that he can still get up and down the field at a good rate, his previous knowledge of the offense and his excellent rapport with Brady all figure to make him a favorite to make the final roster.

However, it was already a crowded field before the Patriots made their bid to bring back Gaffney. Now, they have 11 receivers on the roster, not including seventh-round draft pick Jeremy Ebert: Gaffney, Wes Welker (presuming he signs his franchise tender), Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Donte Stallworth, Anthony Gonzalez, Julian Edelman, Chad Ochocinco, Tiquan Underwood, Matthew Slater and Britt Davis. At least one veteran of note won’€™t make it to opening day.

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Vince Wilfork is No. 81 in NFL Network’s ‘Top 100′ poll

05.02.12 at 10:27 pm ET
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On Wednesday night, Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork checked in at No. 81 on the NFL Network’s “Top 100 NFL Players of 2012.” Wilfork is the first New England player on the list, which is counted down from 100 to one, and is voted on by players. Wilfork drops 46 spots from last year’s list, which had him at No. 35 overall. To watch the video of Wilfork’s segment, CLICK HERE.

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