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Malcom Brown embracing ‘tough love’ from Bill Belichick

05.27.15 at 12:41 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Malcom Brown, like the rest of the 2015 Patriots rookie class, is learning fast.

He’s learning a new system. He’s learning a new way of life. And he’s learning about what Bill Belichick expects on a daily basis from his players.

Brown, the first-round (No. 32 overall) pick of the Patriots, was asked about his first impressions of Belichick Wednesday during his introductory press conference on the Gillette Stadium field.

“Great guy. He’€™s my new coach now and he shows everybody a lot of love ‘€“ tough love ‘€“ and sometimes you need that,” Brown said.

Something else that will come in handy – that Belichick will no doubt emphasize – is the value of wearing ear muffs and blinders whenever the news comes on. Blocking out distractions like Deflategate has always been a trademark of a Belichick-coached team. Brown has had the advantage of not being in tune with controversy as he is focused on doing what it takes to impress as a rookie.

“I haven’€™t really been focusing towards that,” Brown said. “I’€™m just here to work. That’€™s all I’€™ve been focusing on is getting better every day and learning the material and getting better and working hard.”

Belichick let all of his rookies know immediately after the NFL draft concluded that he expects everyone to get with the program and that their college days are over.

As for his boss’s boss, Brown was asked what was it like to walk through the offices with Robert Kraft and Jonathan Kraft on Wednesday for his press conference.

“It was great,” Brown beamed. “Those guys are at the top of the food chain. It’€™s great being around those guys. They sign my paycheck. It’€™s fun when you have somebody that’€™s like that, not just stuck up in an office and won’€™t to talk to you. They’€™re guys that will just sit there and talk to you.”

Despite coming in as a first round pick, Brown also made a point Wednesday that his mind isn’t on replacing Vince Wilfork but rather just working to earn his way onto the roster.

“I haven’€™t really thought about replacing anyone,” Brown said. “I’€™m just here to work. I can’€™t stress that enough, just compete every day and work because nothing is given to you.

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Malcom Brown learns an early lesson on humility as vets take him ‘under their wing’

05.27.15 at 12:02 pm ET
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Patriots No. 1 draft pick Malcom Brown stands between Robert Kraft (left ) and son Jonathan (right) Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/

Patriots No. 1 draft pick Malcom Brown stands between Robert Kraft (left ) and son Jonathan (right) Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/

FOXBORO — Humility is one of the first traits any Patriots rookie learns. Even first round picks.

That was evident Wednesday as defensive lineman Malcom Brown was finally introduced to the media in a press conference at midfield at Gillette Stadium.

It was Brown who declared in a conference call hours after being chosen by the Patriots that he would show that he would be the best draft pick New England ever made.

On Wednesday, the man who will help replace Vince Wilfork admitted getting some unwanted attention over that bold proclamation.

“There’s a lot that’s been going on with all that but I just can’t focus on it,” Brown said. “I’m not really trying to. I’m just trying to work hard, contribute to the team and do whatever I’m asked to do.”

But Brown said he hasn’t been getting too much grief from his new Patriots teammates since everyone is too busy working and trying to get ready for OTAs.

“Everybody is just really focused,” he said. “There’s a lot to learn. There’s a lot going on right now, with OTAs. Everybody is just trying to learn, get better and work hard.”

“Everything is just on the fly here. Everything is on the go. You’€™ve got to learn, but you’€™ve got to take time out of your day to learn the stuff, too. You can’€™t expect to get it all in during meetings. You’€™ve got to be able to manage your time and learn everything.

Brown said not even Tom Brady gave him any serious grief about it.

“Nah. Actually, I just walked up to Tom, shook his hand and went to work. Everybody is trying to work right now,” Brown said. “It’s easy to learn right now because we’re doing everything stage by stage. Everybody is just trying to really focus and work towards being better [this] year.

“Obviously, there’s not one perfect player in the NFL but you can also work and get better at many things. After practice, whatever my coaches think I need work on that’s what I will take it to [heart] and will spend my own time working on that, after weights or after practice, get my own time in.”

If there’s one theme Brown kept repeating over and over it was the “hard work” needed to acclimate to the Patriots system in Foxboro.

“This is a great honor to be here and just to contribute to a team that’s hard-working and get in the program and work with them,” he said. “You get in here and I got in here two weeks ago and right from the get-go you see the hard work and you see everything that’s thrown at you. You have to grasp it and go.

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Rob Parker on D&C: Tom Brady should be suspended 8 games for Deflategate

05.27.15 at 10:10 am ET
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Rob Parker

Rob Parker

Rob Parker, formerly of ESPN and The Detroit News, joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss his column at in which he calls for Tom Brady to admit his guilt in Deflategate and accept his suspension. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Parker said he believes Brady should be suspended eight games, twice as many as the suspension the Patriots quarterback was given by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He denied having any bias toward Brady or New England that affects his position.

“I don’t know Tom Brady. I have no reason to hate Tom Brady,” Parker said. “It’s just the idea that — and people can pooh-pooh it all they want — when you mess the integrity of the rules — and I believe, in the stuff that I read, that Tom Brady instructed the ball boys to do his dirty work — it makes no other sense whatsoever that a ball boy would take the air out of a football. Even the greatest football quarterbacks have all come and said the same thing: That’s something that would be instructed by Tom Brady. I just think he’s lying and got caught.”

Parker said Brady should have acknowledged from the beginning that he played a role in the deflation, and then it would have been over quickly, with a much lighter punishment. Now he suggests Brady accept his four-game suspension and put this issue behind him.

“Stop trying to save face. Just own up to it,” Parker said. “Bob Kraft has already given up the fight, and I think he was even more stern about it and mad and angry, huffing and puffing, but he gave in. Tom should just give in, accept your punishment and move on.”

Parker acknowledged that the evidence against Brady is circumstantial — indicating the texts from the ball boys were key — but he said that’s enough to convince him of Brady’s guilt.

“People in Boston, more than anybody, should know that, because you just saw in the [Aaron] Hernandez trial, where Robert Kraft testified, a murder trial, he basically lost on circumstantial evidence,” Parker said. “A lot of people get way harsher penalties in the criminal justice system on circumstantial evidence.”

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Oklahoma DC Mike Stoops: DE Geneo Grissom has versatility needed to succeed with Patriots

05.27.15 at 7:00 am ET
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Geneo Grissom was taken 97th overall by the Patriots. (Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Geneo Grissom was taken 97th overall by the Patriots. (Brett Deering/Getty Images)

When Oklahoma defensive end Geneo Grissom was taken in the third round of the NFL draft earlier this month by the Patriots, Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was maybe the least surprised guy on the planet.

“When I heard about the pick, it just kind of made sense, because he can do so much and he’s going to a team that asks their players to do a lot,” Stoops said of Grissom, who was taken 97th overall by the Patriots.

“I think that there wasn’t one thing or one game that really stood out. With Geneo, it’s a combination of things that he does that enthralls you — that’s what I ultimately think attracted the Patriots to him,” Stoops added. “Their defensive staff probably saw him rush and play well against Alabama and what he did in the Sugar Bowl as a four- and a three-technique against some of the best players in the country. They saw him stand up this past season. That’s really where his value is, and I know that’s what important to the Patriots, more so than most teams. Just the versatility that he brings.”

Over the course of his collegiate career, the 6-foot-3, 262-pounder didn’t put up overwhelming numbers. At Oklahoma, he played in 39 games with 11 starts, and finished with 88 tackles (55 solo) with 17 tackles for loss, eight sacks and a pair of picks. His finest season came as a junior in 2013, when he had 40 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and one interception.

Instead, as Stoops suggests, Grissom made his name with the Sooners as a versatile presence who can do plenty of things as an edge defender, including work with his hand on the ground as a defensive end or more of a stand-up presence. He played both defensive end and outside linebacker over the final two years of his career, and was named All-Big 12 honorable mention linebacker in his final year with the Sooners while he was making the transition from defensive end to linebacker. He played in 10 of 13 games with starts at linebacker in all 10 of those. (He missed three games because of injury.)

Any way you slice it — defensive end, outside linebacker, hand up, hand down — Grissom is best as a “five-technique outside edge guy, whether he’s standing or with one hand down,” according to Stoops.

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How Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick turned Willie McGinest into a great player

05.26.15 at 5:53 pm ET
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Willie McGinest (right) congratulates Bill Belichick after Super Bowl XLIX. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Willie McGinest (right) congratulates Bill Belichick after Super Bowl XLIX. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

To think Willie McGinest almost never came to the Patriots.

As he was elected to the team’s hall of fame Tuesday, one of the greatest defensive players in franchise history took a look back on that fateful day in the 1994 NFL draft when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones almost moved up to the No. 4 spot and drafted the stud defensive end/linebacker out of Southern Cal.

As it turned out, the Cowboys couldn’t sweeten the pot enough for Patriots coach Bill Parcells and the organization to make it worth their while. The Patriots drafted McGinest and the rest is history.

“It’s a funny situation because Parcells never really called me or kept in touch. I had one visit and I thought I was going to Dallas just because of the all representatives I had in the room and what was about to take place,” McGinest recalled on conference call. “They were going to trade [Alvin Harper] and move up and I happened to be in New England. I really didn’t watch a lot of New England football. The only way I knew about it was because Drew got drafted No. 1 overall the year before. We’re in the same draft class. It all worked out pretty well.”

In Parcells, Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick, McGinest had the privilege of playing for three head coaches in New England who have won a remarkable seven Super Bowl titles while going to another four. He spoke at length about all three Tuesday, paying particular respect to Parcells and Belichick.

“Parcells is a different animal, of course,” McGinest said. “But his knowledge of the game at every position, what he expects out of every player, how he pushes you. I had coaches with his mentality and his demeanor growing up as a kid so it didn’t bother me at all. I was actually attracted to his style as well as Bill Belichick’s style. You can’t have thin skin but the one thing that he does is he prepares you, he teaches you and he expects a lot out of you. You have some success, but to get his approval you have to have consistent success. That’s why he’s won Super Bowls, he’s in the Hall of Fame and I think Bill Belichick carried some of those same traits as a head coach.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, New England Patriots, Patriots Hall of Fame

Ben Roethlisberger: Wouldn’t be same if Tom Brady wasn’t on field for opener

05.26.15 at 4:48 pm ET
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Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger wants to see Tom Brady in the opener. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger wants to see Tom Brady in the opener. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Deflategate has made for some strange bedfellows.

While he didn’t come out and voice his support for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Tuesday that if Brady isn’t on the field opening night for the New England-Pittsburgh opener, it wouldn’t be the same.

“He’s a guy, I’ve said for a long time, he’s the best in the business. And he proved it again last year winning his fourth [Super Bowl],” Roethlisberger told ESPN on Tuesday.

“If he’s not out there, it’s not the same. I have a lot of respect for him on the football field and some of the unbelievable things that he’s done. I guess we’ll wait and see what’s finally going to happen.”

Brady was suspended for four games for his role in Deflategate — if it stands, he would miss the opener against Roethlsiberger and the Steelers. His appeal is pending.

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Patriots announce signings of LB Dane Fletcher, WR Zach D’Orazio

05.26.15 at 4:26 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Tuesday afternoon they have signed linebacker Dane Fletcher and wide receiver Zach D’€™Orazio. Here’s a portion of the statement issued by the team on the moves:

Fletcher, 28, is a veteran of five NFL seasons with New England (2010-13) and Tampa Bay (2014). The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with New England out of Montana State on April 29, 2010. He signed with Tampa Bay as an unrestricted free agent on March 16, 2014. Fletcher has played in 54 NFL games with 10 starts and has registered 101 total tackles, 4½ sacks, one interception, three passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He has also added 41 special teams tackles, including a team-high 15 special teams tackles with the Patriots in 2013. He has played in six postseason games with one start for the Patriots, accumulating 14 total tackles. Last season in Tampa Bay, Fletcher played in all 16 games with four starts and finished with 30 total tackles and 10 special teams tackles.

D’Orazio, 23, was a two-year starter at Akron, appearing in 28 games at wide receiver and finished his career with 119 receptions for 1,422 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder had his most productive season as a junior in 2014, registering 62 receptions for 658 yards and one touchdown. D’Orazio began his college career as a quarterback before switching to wide receiver in 2012.

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