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Patriots official Twitter account takes former NFL executive to task over insensitive remarks about Brazilian soccer team killed in plane crash

11.30.16 at 10:43 am ET
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Former NFL executive Joe Browne recently retired after 50 years in the league office, but the Patriots are keeping their eyes on him.

On Tuesday, Brown tweeted — and then deleted — about the deadly plane crash that virtually wiped out Chapecoense, an inspirational Brazilian soccer team.

“NFL club partnership so strong that if there were tragedy similar to Brazilian soccer crash other NFL clubs would restock affected team,” Browne tweeted from his account, @JBeonTheHill.

The Patriots official twitter account immediately fired back, which caused Browne to delete the tweet in question and issue an apology for his “ill-timed and poorly worded” observations.

For those wondering, Comcast’s Tom Curran noted that Browne was no favorite of the Patriots for his perceived bias against the team, and furthermore suggested that rebuking him so publicly via the team’s official Twitter account would not have been done without ownership approval.

Read More: Chapecoense, Joe Browne, Patriots,

Bill Belichick: ‘I’m glad we have [Marcus Cannon] going forward’

11.30.16 at 10:25 am ET
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Bill Belichick seemed pleased to have Marcus Cannon around for the next five years. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick seemed pleased to have Marcus Cannon around for the next five years. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — On Tuesday, there was a report of the Patriots extending right tackle Marcus Cannon for five years and although Bill Belichick wouldn’t directly confirm the deal, he all but said it was true while praising the TCU product.

“Marcus is having a good season,” Belichick said on Wednesday. “He’s been a good player for us. He’s had to fill in when Sebastian [Vollmer] and Nate [Solder] in previous years. We felt like we’ve had three good tackles and usually two of the three have ended up playing, how ever it went. It’s varied from year-to-year over the last few years, but Marcus has always done a solid job for us whenever he’s played. I’m glad we have him going forward.

“He works hard. Quiet kid, but he’s very dependable. Team-oriented. He’s done a good job for us in the running game, in the passing game. Good player.”

Cannon has started 10 of the 11 games this year, as he missed Week 5 with a calf injury. He’s having his best season as a professional, which is likely due to having offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia back on the staff, but also losing weight in the offseason.

The extension is reportedly worth $32.5 million with $14.5 million guaranteed. This likely means Vollmer is done in New England as the 32-year-old will be a free agent after the season.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Marcus Cannon,

5 things to know about Rams: Aaron Donald is really good and Jeff Fisher isn’t

11.29.16 at 10:03 pm ET
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Aaron Donald can mess up your day. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Aaron Donald can mess up your day. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Five things you have to know about the Los Angeles Rams, who will come to Foxboro to meet the Patriots Sunday at 1.

Aaron Donald is a bad man. And we mean bad in the sense that he can ruin the afternoon for an opposing offense. The 25-year-old defensive tackle has quickly become one of the best in the game at what he does. Working along the interior, the 6-foot-1, 285-pounder out of Pitt demands extra attention on every snap, and will present a sizable challenge for New England’s offense. He had 35 tackles (28 solo) this year, to go along with a team-high six sacks. Part of an impressive defensive front, the whole Los Angeles defense revolves around Donald. If you find a way to slow him down, you can go a long way towards limiting the Rams.

They are one of the better young defenses in the league. Truth be told, it’s not just Donald. The guys next to him — particularly Robert Quinn — do a good job feeding off him. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end manages to pick up some of the slack when Donald is double-teamed, and has managed to come away with four sacks on the year. Old pal Dominique Easley is also part of the rotation along the defensive line, and has chipped in with 2.5 sacks of his own. As a group, Los Angeles has allowed an average of 21.5 points per game, tied for 12th in the league. The Rams are seventh against the pass (227.5 passing yards allowed per game) and 20th against the run (112.3 rushing yards allowed per game). Los Angeles is middle of the pack when it comes to forcing turnovers (13 takeaways are tied for 19th in the league). Linebacker Mark Barron leads the team with two picks.

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Read More: Aaron Donald, Benny Cunningham, Dominique Easley, Greg “Legatron” Zuerlein

How the beast Aaron Donald has helped Dominique Easley find new life in L.A.

11.29.16 at 9:25 pm ET
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Oct 2, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) fumbles the ball as Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Dominique Easley (91) defends during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Dominique Easley forces a fumble earlier this season on Arizona running back David Johnson. (Matt Kartozian/USA Today Sports)

The Los Angeles Rams were the perfect fit for Dominique Easley.

When the Patriots surprised some and released the 6-foot-2, 285-pound defensive lineman on April 13, it didn’t take too long for New England’s 29th overall pick from the 2014 draft to land on his feet. On May 17, Easley signed a one-year, $600,000 contract with the Los Angeles Rams after working out for Jeff Fisher and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Easley showed signs of being a dominant force along the defensive front. Just not enough. And the biggest issue was staying on the field.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the Patriots placed Easley on injured reserve with a knee injury. In 11 games of his rookie season, Easley finished with nine tackles, a sack, one pass defended, and one interception. Easley would earn a Super Bowl ring when the Patriots beat the Seahawks.

When Vince Wilfork left for Houston, Easley began the 2015 season as one of the Patriots’ starting defensive tackles. It was the perfect opportunity for Easley to show his skills. But nearly a year to the day of his initial season-ending injured reserve designation, the Patriots placed Easley on injured reserve once again with a thigh injury. He ended the season with 15 tackles and two sacks.

Now, after being able to stay on the field for all 11 games, he’s become a big piece of the Rams’ defensive front. He’s had six games of at least 30 snaps. He has 2.5 sacks and 24 tackles.

“I think pretty much the player that we saw when he was here,” Bill Belichick said Tuesday during a conference call. “He’s got an explosive first step. When he gains an advantage on that, whether it be power rush or getting to the edge, he can be a disruptive player. He’s very quick off the ball, he’s got an explosive first step, and like I said, when he gains the advantage, it’s hard to get it back.”

But the biggest benefit for Easley is getting the chance to play alongside one of the most dominant defensive linemen in football in Aaron Donald, the 6-foot-1, 284-pound behemoth that anchors the Rams front. Donald has six sacks, 35 tackles and two forced fumbles.

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Read More: Aaron Donald, Bill Belichick, Dominique Easley, Los Angeles Rams

Following the flags: Patriots nearly had penalty-free afternoon for first time all year Sunday against Jets

11.29.16 at 7:39 pm ET
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On Sunday against the Jets, the Patriots were hit with two penalties for 15 yards, not including the calls that were declined or offset. In terms of total flags, it was the fewest all season for New England, and tied a single-game mark set against Houston for fewest penalty yards incurred this year. Through 11 games this year, the Patriots have been whistled for 66 penalties (fifth fewest in the league) and 611 penalty yards (14th fewest in the league). Here’s a breakdown of the flags that have gone against New England after 11 regular-season games:

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Patriots reportedly sign OL Marcus Cannon to 5-year contract extension

11.29.16 at 2:49 pm ET
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Marcus Cannon

Marcus Cannon

The Patriots have signed one of their upcoming unrestricted free agents.

No it’s not Dont’a Hightower or Martellus Bennett — it’s right tackle Marcus Cannon.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates and Mike Reiss, the Patriots and Cannon have agreed on a five-year contract extension.

[UPDATE 3:45 p.m.: NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reports the deal is worth $32.5 million with $14.5 million guaranteed.]

Cannon has played very well this season, which likely has had a lot to do with the return of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. The right tackle likely would have been one of the biggest names in terms of offensive linemen on the market, so the Patriots did a good job signing him early.

It also likely means Sebastian Vollmer has played his last game as a Patriot. He is on injured reserve and will be a free agent.

“The improvement we’ve noticed has really been this year,” Scarnecchia said during the bye week about Cannon. “We asked him to play a different way and do things differently. He’s such a good guy, he really tries to do them that way, and I think he’s made great strides. He’s improved over the course of this season, and that is all you can ask of any player. He’s a big man that moves very well and uses his hands much better in pass protection. He can be a real force in the run game, so I’m pleased with where he is. But neither one of us is satisfied, so we just keep moving forward.”

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Read More: Marcus Cannon,

Patriots reportedly could play Raiders in Mexico City next season

11.29.16 at 1:47 pm ET
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One week after the Texans played the Raiders in Mexico City, there are already rumors for a similar game in 2017.

According to ESPN’s John Sutcliffe, the Patriots could face the Raiders at the Estadio Azteca at some point in 2017. On the ESPN Deportes broadcast of Monday Night Football this week, Sutcliffe said Patriots owner Robert Kraft is very interested in the possibility of playing in Mexico City.

The Patriots are scheduled to play the Raiders on the road next season, so it would work out.

New England isn’t afraid to play in International games as they have played in London twice — in 2009, the Patriots beat the Buccaneers 35-7 and in 2012, they took down the Rams, 45-7.

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