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Bowling them over…

12.17.08 at 12:22 pm ET
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Steve Gostkowski and Wes Welker are both headed to their first Pro Bowl. And on Wednesday, they both had the chance to react to the honor.

For Gostkowski, he followed a legend in Adam Vinatieri in New England. Now, he is able to now claim the same Pro Bowl status as the kicker who has made some of the biggest kicks in NFL history, including two boots that won a pair of Super Bowls.

“Anytime you come in after a guy that has done what Vinatieri did, it’s a little tough,” Gostkowski said. “It’s nothing I ever thought about. He paved the way for kickers and has gotten kickers a lot of respect. I respect everything he’s done and hope I can do half of the things he’s done in his career.”

And by respect, we can assume he referring to the five-year, $12 million contract he signed prior to the 2006 season, including a $3.5 million signing bonus.

Gostkowski said that he is hoping long-snapper Lonie Paxton gets to make the trip with him to Hawai’i (just showing off there).

“Hopefully, Lonie will get selected as a snapper,” Gostkowski said. “He’s long overdue to get a chance to go snap down there. He’s such a good snapper. It stinks that you can’t vote on those players but hopefully whoever the coaches are will pick him.”

As for the honor itself, Gostkowski said he can’t get too caught up in it right now.

“It’s an honor but it’s not something that can sink in really until I get there,” he added. “We’ve still got two games left in our season and we have to win both of them and I need to put all my efforts and concentration into these last two games and not what’s going on in February. When the time hits then, I’ll be able to really celebrate and be excited for it.”

Then there’s Mr. Durable, Wes Welker, who said the honor makes up for not making it last year, when most felt he was ‘snubbed’. He took one of the most vicisious hits of the season from Ryan Clark. While he missed the rest of that game, he came back to play key roles in wins over Seattle and Oakland. He also set a new NFL record by recording at least six catches in each of his first 11 games this season.

“It means a lot,” Welker said. “It’s definitely a position I didn’t think would ever come true. But I’m definitely very excited and very humbled by it.”

“Wes is a hard-working guy, very conscientious and diligent,” coach Bill Belichick added on Wednesday. “I think he is very professional, puts a lot into his job. He’s here early, stays late. For his size and the amount of hits he taken and everything, he’s been very durable.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, NFL Pro Bowl, Steve Gostkowski

Bits of Brady…

12.17.08 at 8:46 am ET
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The man with the most famous, most watched, most prayed-about left knee in New England spoke for an extended period for the first time since his injury on Sept. 7 on Tuesday at the Patriots annual Salvation Army Holiday event at Gillette Stadium.

Tom Brady was asked immediately about his left knee, which underwent reconstructive surgery on Oct. 6 in Los Angeles. And he immediately danced around it as nimbly as if he were stepping up in the pocket.

‘€œI’€™m here to talk about this Patriots Charitable Foundation. That’€™s what we’€™re all here for,’€ he said.

Other questions thrown Brady’s way…

On getting out in the public again.
‘€œIt’€™s the holiday season, so I think everyone’€™s got that holiday spirit. You see the kids and I was there one day. I had so many idols growing up, people that I loved to watch on TV. All of our teammates come out and support the foundation, and I know it’€™s an important part for Mr. Kraft, so I think it’€™s important for all our players to do this.’€

On being in hiding while he rehabs.
‘€œI’€™ve been out. I’€™ve been out, moving around, excited to see our team win. I think that’€™s the most exciting part for me.’€

On how he feels.
‘€œI feel great when our team wins, I’€™ll tell you that. This last weekend; we have a lot of toughness on our team. I hope we can win out, this game certainly, and move forward and hopefully get a little bit of luck.’€

On Matt Cassel.
‘€œHe’€™s done incredible. I think he’s had a very tough week. He’€™s had a lot of support from his teammates. He’€™s a great person, a great teammate, a great friend, and he’€™s such a mentally tough person. Just the success that I’€™ve seen from him and his maturity is exceptional.’€

On the condition of his left knee.
‘€œBelichick never wants us to talk about any of that. We’€™re just going to root, the season is not over. I’€™m on injured reserve, so I can’€™t do much for the team at this point, other than show my support.’€

On watching the team this year.
‘€œLike I said, when we win, I’€™m excited for us. When we lose, it stinks. It’€™s no different when you’€™re playing or when you’€™re watching. My heart and soul is with this team, so you live and die with every win and loss.’€

He then was asked if he were healthy enough to play golf.

‘€œI wish,’€ he responded. ‘€œNot in this weather, although yesterday I probably could have.’€

Read More: Matt Cassel, New England Patriots, Salvation Army, Tom Brady

Watch out for the wide outs…

12.16.08 at 11:11 am ET
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While stopping short of comparing Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to Jerry Rice and John Taylor, Bill Belichick did give the two star receivers of the Arizona Cardinals credit for being two of the best in the game, including Boldin, who took a jarring hit early in the season at the Meadowlands and has come back to Pro Bowl form.

“I don’t know about making all-time comparisons,” Belichick said in Tuesday’s conference call. “They’re good receivers. They’re big, physical, they run after the catch. Fitzgerald has real good hands, Cris Carter-kind of hands.”

In addition to Fitzgerald and Boldin, the Cardinals feature Steve Breaston, Jerheme Urban and speedy rookie Early Doucet.

Kurt Warner has already passed for 4290 yards this season and will be bringing the aerial assault to Gillette Sunday afternoon.

“They have obviously have had a good season and qualified for playoffs,” Belichick said of the 8-6 NFC West Champs. “They can move the ball and score a bunch of points. They break a lot of tackles. Boldin, Fitzgerald. They’re tough. Not only the first two guys, but the quality of the whole group is really outstanding.”

Read More: Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald

Belichick… “I blew it.”

12.15.08 at 7:04 pm ET
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Even the great coaches can admit when they make a mistake. Bill Belichick did exactly that on Monday when he was asked about the two challenges he missed on Sunday, including missing for the second time this season trying to catch the opposing team with 12 on the field in the first half.

“On the first one, I blew it on that one,” said a frank Belichick. “What I saw was two players coming onto the field and only one going off for Oakland. I knew what I saw and I knew I was right on that and only one player came off the field. My mistake was I didn’€™t realize that they only had 10 players on the field the play before. When we ran that play, I didn’€™t catch that they only had 10 players out there. I thought that they had 11. I was looking at the front and it was a running play. So, when they sent two players on, they were trying to get the right people on the field. I mistakenly thought they were trying to substitute players to get the proper matchup and they were actually getting their 10th and 11th players on the field. They took one off to give them nine but then added two. I saw the two for one and thought it was 12 to 11 and it was actually 10 to 11.”

On Nov. 2 in Indianapolis, Belichick challenged the Colts for 12 men in the third quarter and it back-fired with the Patriots’ drive stalling.

Belichick also challenged a spot that gave the Raiders a first down late in the fourth quarter as the Raiders were driving for a touchdown.

“The other one, we were trying to stop them,” Belichick said. “It was a close play and they made the first down by a couple of inches. We didn’€™t really need the timeouts at that point in the game,” Belichick added.

Read More: Bill Belichick, challenge, New England Patriots,

Calling all Pats…

12.15.08 at 12:28 pm ET
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Sammy Morris and Brandon Meriweather, both of whom had big roles in the two-game sweep of the West Coast swing through Seattle and Oakland, spoke with the media on Monday, upon their return to New England. The players will return to practice on Wednesday, getting ready for the 8-6 Arizona Cardinals, who despite being embarrassed at home by Minnesota, have already clinched the NFC West.

Morris not only ran the ball 14 times for 117 yards, including a 29-yard TD, he was back on kickoffs, helping Ellis Hobbs as the secondary returner, replacing Matthew Slater in that role. His biggest thrill was being on the same field as Ellis Hobbs returned a kick 95 yards for a TD in the second quarter.

‘€œIt’€™s good when you can see the play unfolding and you have your block, and you don’€™t know where the returner is but you can hear the crowd. And just by the sound the crowd was making, you knew a big play was coming. Especially at that point in the game, where they were making moves back to kind of gain the advantage, we were able to take that right back,” Morris said.

Meanwhile, fresh from his safety blitz that sealed the win the week before in Seattle, safety Brandon Meriweather spoke about his rising confidence and his emergence as the top safety on the team, with Harrison gone for the year and Sanders nursing an abdomen injury.

‘€œMy comfort level is pretty high right now. I’€™m having fun playing the game,” Meriweather said.

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Sammy Morris

Seau back in the fold… Hold off on ‘Oprah’

12.05.08 at 8:22 am ET
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Probably the biggest reason Junior Seau is headed back to the West Coast as a member of the New England Patriots and not surfing is because he and head coach Bill Belichick have what the other needs. That and the Patriots are in a bind with regard to field healthy linebackers.

The mutual admiration, much like what we see from Belichick when he talks about Troy Brown and Kevin Faulk, was on display in the Gillette Stadium media workroom on Friday morning before the team headed out for their final practice before jetting west.

‘€œHe’€™s ready to play football,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œHe’€™s a football player. You look football player up in the dictionary, Junior Seau, Troy Brown, those are the guys. They just define it in every sense of the word. That’€™s part of it. You could go on and on. Just about everything he does is exemplary and that would be part of it.’€

The short-handed Patriots made the dramatic move on Friday of signing the 39-year-old, 12-time pro bowler Seau while placing another linebacker, Adalius Thomas, on season-ending injured reserve with a forearm injury. The star inside linebacker will suit up for the Patriots on Sunday. Just how much he plays will be a play-it-by-ear situation.

Seau loves his family and the surf of San Diego but he respects Bill Belichick and his new teammates enough to give a title run one more shot.

‘€œI have a lot of respect for a coach by the name of Bill Belichick and I have a lot of love for guys in this locker room,’€ Seau said. ‘€œThat’€™s the only reason why I’€™m here. He called me up and said he needed some help. Well, I’€™m here. Let’€™s see what we can do.’€

Seau said he didn’t hand in retirement papers, sparing the NFL another retirement speech.

Seau was living in San Diego, spending time with his wife and family, when he got the call from Belichick on Wednesday. Seau visited Thursday, attended a team walk-through of practice and was signed.

‘€œI have no time to get all drama, I just don’€™t,” Seau said. “I don’€™t want to go ‘€˜Oprah’€™ on you. It is what it is. I was cutting up oranges for a cooler for (daughter) Cindy Seau and now I’€™m here putting on cleats. That’€™s life. You have to make adjustments and make them quick.’€

Seau will be eligible to play on Sunday when the 7-5 Patriots visit Seattle.

‘€œHe went from the surfboard back to the football field,’€ Belichick said on Friday morning. ‘€œHe can probably make that transition better than any player that’€™s ever played.’€

‘€œIt’€™s definitely the surf to the turf in a different manner,’€ Seau added. ‘€œWhat it took was a coach that you respect, made a call, come out and help guys that you have a lot of love for. Obviously, there’€™s a lot of history here with us and it wasn’€™t a hard decision. You just care for the guys in this locker room and you care for the coach and organization and that’€™s the only reason I’€™m here.’€

Seau said he will do what he can to be ready to contribute on Sunday, helping a team that is already missing Adalius Thomas and Rodney Harrison and could be without Pierre Woods (jaw) and Vince Redd (ankle) with Tedy Bruschi limited by a sore knee.

‘€œIt’€™s fun to be here,” Seau said. “It’€™s a great honor to be almost 40 years old and getting a call by one of the better coaches in the history of the game and be part of one the best organizations. To have a call like that made to a guy like me, I’€™m humbled, very humbled.’€

The full release from the team is below.

New England Patriots signed veteran linebacker Junior Seau today. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Additionally, the Patriots placed veteran linebacker Adalius Thomas on the reserve/injured list. Thomas will miss the remainder of the 2008 season with an arm injury.

Junior Seau, 39, is a 12-time Pro Bowler and is entering his 19th NFL season and his third with the Patriots. He played in 27 games with 14 starts for New England from 2006-07. In his first two seasons with the Patriots, Seau totaled 146 tackles (92 solo), 4.5 sacks, three interceptions and five passes defensed. Last season, he served as a team captain and played in every regular-season and playoff game, starting the season’€™s final four regular-season games and two of three playoff contests at inside linebacker.

Seau recorded 76 tackles (55 solo) in 2007, and made 3.5 sacks to tie his highest sack total in 10 seasons. His three interceptions last season were the highest total of his 18-year career. Seau was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on Aug. 18, 2006 and played in the first 11 games of the 2006 season while making 10 starts. He recorded 70 tackles (37 solo) in 2006, a total that ranked fifth on the team. He was placed on injured reserve with an arm injury on Nov. 27, 2006, and was re-signed by the Patriots on May 21, 2007.

The University of Southern California product has played in 257 career games with 241 starts for the San Diego Chargers (1990-2002), Miami Dolphins (2003-05) and New England Patriots (2006-07). The 6-foot-3-inch, 248-pound linebacker has recorded 1,870 career tackles (1,435 solo), including 56.5 sacks for 353.5 yards, 18 interceptions for 238 yards, 98 passes defensed, 12 forced fumbles and 17 fumble recoveries, including one returned for a touchdown. Seau earned 12 consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1992-2003 and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame‘€™s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. He has been an Associated Press first team All-Pro selection six times (1992-94, 1996, 1998, 2000) and has been a second-team All-Pro on two occasions (1995, 1999). In recognition of his off-the-field achievements, he was named the NFL’€™s Man of the Year in 1994.

Seau was originally drafted by the Chargers with the fifth overall selection in the 1990 NFL Draft. In his 13-year career with San Diego (1990-2002), Seau played in 200 games, tying him for first on the Chargers’€™ all-time list. He was selected as the Chargers’€™ Most Valuable Player a team-record six times and led the team in tackles in eight of his 13 seasons in San Diego. The University of Southern California product missed only seven games over a 14-year span from 1990-2003.

He was traded by the Chargers to the Miami Dolphins on April 16, 2003 in exchange for a fifth-round draft choice. In his first year with Miami, he started all 15 games in which he played and finished second on the team with 133 tackles (81 solo), including three sacks. Over his last two seasons with Miami (2004-05), Seau started 13 of 15 games while recording a total of 101 tackles.

Adalius Thomas, 31, has played in 121 career NFL games with 97 starts for the Baltimore Ravens (2000-06) and New England Patriots (2007-08). The 6-foot-2-inch, 270-pound linebacker started in each of the Patriots’€™ first nine games this season and totaled 35 tackles (24 solo) and had five sacks. Over his nine-year NFL career, Thomas has totaled 553 tackles (370 solo), 50.0 sacks, seven interceptions for 185 yards and three touchdowns, 60 passes defensed, 17 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries for 101 yards and three touchdowns, and 79 special teams tackles. Thomas has been selected to the Pro Bowl twice – as a special teams player following the 2003 season and as a linebacker following the 2006 season.Thomas was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on March 3, 2007.

Last year, in his first season with the Patriots, Thomas played in all 16 regular-season games with 15 starts and finished third on the team with 82 tackles (60 solo) and tied for second on the club with 6.5 sacks while starting eight games at inside linebacker and seven games at outside linebacker. Over the final seven games of the 2007 season, Thomas led the Patriots with six sacks and set a single-game career high with 2.5 sacks at Buffalo on Nov. 18, 2007. He started all three 2007 playoff games for New England and led the team with two sacks in Super Bowl XLII.

The Equality, Ala. native was originally selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round (186th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft out of Southern Mississippi. He spent the first seven years of his career with the Ravens (2000-06). After playing in three games as a rookie, the Southern Mississippi product played in all 16 games with two starts in 2001 and recorded 39 tackles (27 solo), including 3.5 sacks, while tying for the team lead with three forced fumbles. He also tied for the club lead with 18 special teams tackles that season. In 2002, Thomas started 12 of 16 games at defensive end for the Ravens and totaled 68 tackles (38 solo), including three sacks, and also recorded two interceptions, one of which he returned for his first career touchdown. Thomas earned his first career Pro Bowl selection in 2003 as a special teams player, leading the Ravens with a career-high 23 special teams tackles that year.

He also started 11 of 13 games at linebacker and tallied 34 tackles (26 solo) including four sacks. Thomas started all 16 games for the first time in 2004 and totaled 80 tackles (48 solo) while finishing second on the team with eight sacks and recording a career-high four forced fumbles. In 2005, Thomas again started every game and set a Ravens franchise record by recording three defensive touchdowns (two fumble returns and one interception return), while leading the team with nine sacks and totaling 104 tackles (70 solo). In 2006, Thomas set career highs with 11.0 sacks and 106 tackles (75 solo) while starting every game on a Baltimore Ravens defense that led the NFL in allowing just 12.6 points per game. Thomas’€™ 11.0 sacks in 2006 led all Ravens defenders and tied for the fourth highest total among all NFL linebackers. Thomas recorded a sack or shared in a sack in 11 of 16 regular-season games in 2006 and tallied at least one sack seven times in an eight-game span during the season.

Read More: Adalius Thomas, Bill Belichick, Junior Seau, Kevin Faulk

Of Colvin, Welker and such…

12.04.08 at 9:04 am ET
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Rosevelt Colvin coming back into the fold and Wes Welker forgiving Ryan Clark for the devastating hit on Sunday constitute as whirlwind news activity in Foxboro.


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The Patriots get ready for their second California Dreamin’ road trip with a stop in Seattle, where the skies are always bluer.

Richard Seymour had the line of the week so far when he said that if Ty Law can get in shape, anyone can.

Amazing that Wes Welker didn’t even miss a single practice, after not showing up on the injury/participation report on Wednesday.

Welker said on Wednesday that Clark’s hit was legit.

Welker said he’s just trying to take the hit in stride.

Matt Cassel speaks today about getting back on track.

Cassel says he and the team will bounce back from last week.

Cassel on dealing with the noise at Qwest Field.

Cassel expects the 2-10 Seahawks to put up a hard fight.

Read More: New England Patriots, Richard Seymour, Ty Law, Wes Welker

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