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John Harbaugh: Patriots’ Super Bowls are ‘stained’

05.01.12 at 11:49 am ET
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Ever since the Spygate scandal of 2007, the Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ Super Bowl titles have been questioned by the media, fans and, often in the Steelers’ case, players.

On Tuesday, it was a coach — and a friend of Belichick’s — who had some interesting words regarding the New England coach. Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked about the urge to bend the rules while making an appearance on 98 Rock Radio in Baltimore. Here’s what he had to say:

“In the end everything is brought before the light of day when it’s all said and done. … So what happens is, even the thing in New England and the thing … No matter whether those things had any impact on whether they won their championships or not, they got asterisks now. It’s been stained. So to me it’s never worth it.

“You’ve got to figure out ways to use the rules to your advantage, you’ve got to figure out ways to make the most of everything, we’ve got new work rules here as far as what we can do and what we can’t do with our players, we’re going to make the most of it and what we’re finding is, man, in a way we can do things even better than we did before because these rules make us focus more on things we didn’t focus on before, and you’ve got to make them work for you. That’s what success is in the world – you’ve got to find a way to do things better than somebody else. But in the end, if you’re cheating, you’re going to get discredited. It’s just not worth it.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh, SpyGate,

Pats add Kentucky wide receiver Matt Roark as an undrafted free agent

04.30.12 at 1:29 pm ET
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University of Kentucky wide receiver/quarterback Matt Roark will join the Patriots as an undrafted free agent, per the official Twitter feed of the Kentucky football program. A 6-foot-5, 214-pounder, Roark had 54 catches for 584 yards and a touchdown in four seasons with the Wildcats, including 36 receptions for 349 yards as a senior.

By the looks of things, Roark can do a little of everything: in addition to his work as a wide receiver, he’s spent a lot of time on special teams. (Going into his senior year, he blocked six kicks in his career, five extra points and a field goal.) In addition, when the Wildcats suffered a rash of injuries, he took snaps at quarterback this past season, and helped UK pull off the upset against Tennessee, 10-7.

One video of note on Roark: The win over Tennessee was so unlikely that the fans carried him off the field at the end of the game. That’s him wearing No. 3 in the middle of all the madness:

Read More: Matt Roark,

Looking at the Patriots 2012 draft class and their representation

04.30.12 at 12:22 pm ET
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Here’s a look at who will be representing each one of New England’s seven draft picks at the negotiating table:

First round
Chandler Jones: The former Syracuse defensive end is repped by the agency of Lock, Metz, Malinovic and Panos, a group that had 13 athletes selected in the NFL draft, including three in the first round. Part of their team is former NFL offensive lineman Joe Panos, a veteran who some Patriots fans might remember as being in training camp in 2001 for a few days before ultimately deciding to retire.

Dont’a Hightower: Hightower, taken with the 25th overall pick, is represented by Pat Dye, Jr., of SportsTrust Advisors. SportsTrust had 10 clients selected in the draft, according to Darren Heitner of the Sports Agent Blog, but the Alabama linebacker was their only first-round pick.

Second round
Tavon Wilson: The Illinois defensive back lists Integrated Sports Management as his agency. ISM has repped a few former Patriots, including Shun White and Kyle Eckel.

Third round
Jake Bequette: The defensive lineman out of Arkansas is represented by Athletes First, a group that had 13 clients taken in the NFL draft, including four in the first round. Athletes First is an extremely well-known agency around New England, as they represent several current Patriots, including Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Nate Solder, Shane Vereen, Zoltan Mesko, Ryan Mallett and Brian Waters.

Sixth round
Nate Ebner: As of right now, Ebner’s representation is not known. Ebner is a defensive back and former rugby star out of Ohio State.

Seventh round
Alfonzo Dennard: The cornerback out of Nebraska is also repped by Athletes First. If Waters does return and both Dennard and Bequette stick, that would make 10 players from Athletes First on the New England roster, far and away the largest number for any agency.

Jeremy Ebert: Ebert, a wide receiver from Northwestern, lists Priority Sports as his representation, a group that had 13 players taken in the draft this month, according to Heitner.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Alfonzo Dennard, Brian Waters, chandler jones

Video: Chandler Jones gets the call from the Patriots

04.30.12 at 12:53 am ET
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Chandler Jones talked about the crazy scene at home when he got the call from the Patriots letting him know that he was drafted. Now, courtesy of CitrusTV, we get a look at what happened when the phone rang. Patriots director of football/head coach administration Berj Najarian is the one who speaks with Jones first. Some great video:

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Berj Najarian, chandler jones,

Breaking down the New England-area college UDFAs

04.29.12 at 12:12 pm ET
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The NFL draft may be over, but there are a lot more transactions taking place this weekend as undrafted free agents become available for teams to pick up. Not many players from New England schools ending getting drafted this weekend, but there were a whole lot more signed as free agents later that night.

While some New England schools expected some of their players to sign with teams, other small schools like Endicott are surprising places for NFL teams to be looking for talent. Here’€™s the rundown of where players have been signed as of early Sunday morning, broken down by players per school.

Massachusetts

FB/TE Emil Igwenagu — Eagles: The two-time team captain was the one Minuteman who was expected to be drafted this weekend. It turns out, though, that even though he received a combine invite, Igwenagu was too much of a tweener for a team to pick him up as a tight end or fullback. However, he gets a shot here with the Eagles.

OLB Tyler Holmes — Bears: The other two-time captain for the Minutemen, Holmes is a quick linebacker. Holmes was extremely productive for the Minutemen, recording over 100 tackles in three different seasons for the Minutemen and receiving many national FCS accolades.

G Josh Samuda — Dolphins: The 6-foot-3, 312 road grader started 11 games as a redshirt freshman at UMass and has remained a rock on the line since.

WR Julian Talley — Giants: The Giants sign another UMass receiver as an undrafted free agent, hoping he can emulate former undrafted UMass receiver Victor Cruz‘€™ breakout 2011 season. Talley was very productive during his final two seasons with the Minutemen and, while he doesn’€™t have Cruz’€™ speed, possesses more size and power as a receiver.

LS Travis Tripucka — Rams: Tripucka catches on with the Rams as a long snapper, hoping to have that skill set translate into an NFL career. Tripucka was also an exceptional defenseman for the UMass lacrosse program.

Endicott

DE Kevin Eagan — Colts: This 6-foot-4, 274 pound defensive end from West Hartford, Conn. had an exceptional career for the Division III Gulls. Eagan, who led his team in tackles in all four seasons he played, recorded 104 tackles, 8.5 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and a whopping 23 tackles for loss as a senior, earning ECAC defensive player of the year honors for his second year in a row.

LS/TE Taylor Allen — Jaguars: Another Gull catches on with a team, this time a 6-foot-5, 250 pound long snapper from Westboro, Mass. While Allen will look to catch on as a special teams ace, he did pull in 35 catches for 482 yards and six touchdowns as a tight end last season.

Connecticut

WR Kashif Moore — Bengals: Another player expected to be drafted, Moore still has potential as a slot threat in the NFL. He lacks ideal size, but Moore still has the ability to line up off the ball and use his elite speed to separate underneath and vertically.

CB Gary Wilburn — Titans: The 5-foot-11 prospect moved into a key role on the Husky defense as a senior, but didn’€™t have much production, recording just one pass breakup and one deflection. However, the Titans apparently saw enough upside in Wilburn to sign him as a free agent.

Boston College

CB Donnie Fletcher — Jets: Fletcher was another unexpected draft snub. The former Eagle showed off decent athletic ability at the combine and potential as a physical zone-coverage defender in the NFL. However, Fletcher, who remains the only former BC player other than Luke Kuechly, was picked up quickly after the draft and was likely a top free agent pickup of the Jets

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Read More: 2012 NFL Draft,

A special journey for Nate Ebner continues with the Patriots

04.29.12 at 12:32 am ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots have signed former wrestlers and lacrosse players. So when New England selected Ohio State safety Nate Ebner in the sixth round (197th overall) of the NFL draft on Saturday, it should come as no surprise. After all, before Ebner started playing football, he was considered one of the best teenage rugby players in America.

Of course, there are some connections between rugby and football. A few, anyway.

‘€œIt compares in the fact that we hit each other and there’€™s a lot of running and some big dudes,’€ Ebner said in a conference call with reporters on Saturday shortly after the Patriots picked him. ‘€œI don’€™t know that it compares a lot. I’€™d say just the speed of the game and the tackling are similar.

‘€œThey’€™re very different sports. I guess the fact that when it’€™s time to come down and hit somebody as I’€™m running down on kickoff, I’€™d say that’€™s very similar to the time it comes down you’€™re in a rugby game and you have to hit someone. The tackling, I guess, is similar.’€

Ebner joined the Buckeyes as a walk-on in 2009 after an impressive career as a rugby player — playing on the under-19 and under-20 U.S. national rugby teams, he was named MVP of those teams in the 2007 and 2008 world rugby tournaments, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

With the Buckeyes, he played sparingly on defense, but eventually landed a scholarship and became a key component of Ohio State’€™s special teams unit. He had 11 tackles as a senior, as well as a sack. He popped up on radar screens with an impressive Pro Day, where he ran a 4.55 40-yard dash, finished with 23 reps on the bench press, showed off a 39-inch vertical and impressed everyone with a 6.59 3-cone time.

‘€œNate is a guy that is a big, fast safety that has been very productive in the kicking game,’€ Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ‘€œ[He’€™s a] relatively inexperienced player that we think has a lot of good football in front of him.

‘€œOf course, we have some good connections at Ohio State, people that have worked with him that obviously that played a part in it too, just in terms of his overall development and where we think he can be.’€
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Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, Nate Ebner,

Winners and losers of Day 3 of NFL draft

04.28.12 at 10:31 pm ET
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Now that the 2012 NFL draft has come and gone, it’€™s time to take a look back at the draft’€™s last ‘€“ and longest ‘€“ day. Here are the winners and losers of Day 3 of the draft.

Winners:

Nate Ebner, DB, Patriots: Tavon Wilson may have been the biggest surprise of the Patriots’€™ draft, but Ebner is certainly as a close second. It’€™s a great story for the kid, who had just earned a scholarship as a senior after playing rugby ‘€“ and not a snap of football in high school — and walking on at Ohio State as a sophomore. There are players that come out of nowhere are having little football experience under their belts, but it’€™s especially rare for one of them to be drafted.

Steelers: After the Steelers selected Washington nose tackle Alameda Ta’€™amu with the 14th pick of the fourth round, draft experts across the nation all made a similar aside: ‘€œMan, that’€™s a good pick.’€ Like a center in the NBA, a true 3-4 nose tackle isn’€™t a common prospect, especially when it’€™s one with Ta’€™amu’€™s upside. There are weight issues and questions about effort, but if a solid franchise like the Steelers can steer him in the right direction, he’€™ll he holding up the middle of that defense for a long time. The Steelers also grabbed a solid complimentary running back/kick returner in Florida’s Chris Rainey as well as a nice seventh round pick up in Oregon tight end David Paulson.

Jets: The Jets got some solid players during the first two days of the draft, but still had some glaring needs will only sixth- and seventh-round picks remain. However, the Jets managed to land huge value at positions of need late Saturday. The Jets got some help in their backfield by grabbing Baylor running back Terrance Ganaway with the 32nd pick of the sixth round. The Jets also addressed their safety concerns by grabbing Wake Forest safety Josh Bush in round six and South Carolina safety Antonio Allen in round seven. Allen in particular is a huge addition, as he was projected as fourth or fifth round pick in most experts’ recent mock drafts. The selection of Baylor guard Robert T. Griffin also adds some depth for a weak Jets interior offensive line.

Arkansas wide receivers: Former Razorbacks Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs tied a record by having three receivers from the same school all drafted in the same year, doing so by all getting drafted in round four. Adams, the electric punt returner, came off first, becoming the ninth pick of the fourth round, followed by Wright at No. 23 to the Vikings. Childs, who was the premiere receiver for Arkansas before sustaining a major knee injury as a junior, will join Wright in Minnesota, coming off the board with the second-to-last pick of the round.

Chandler Harnish, QB, Colts: Per tradition, being the final pick of the NFL draft has many strange perks. This year, Harnish will be the guest of honor in Orange County’€™s ‘€œIrrelevant Week,’€ will also be marshal of a parade in his honor and will go to Disneyland. (Plus, there’s this.) Harnish also lands in a nice spot in Indianapolis, where he will have a shot to battle with Curtis Painter for the backup spot behind franchise savior Andrew Luck. That’€™s a better chance than most seventh rounders have of making the team.

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Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Nate Ebner, Robert Griffin,
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