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New CB E.J. Biggers: Patriots are ‘top of the food chain’

05.19.16 at 2:10 pm ET
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E.J. Biggers sounds excited to join the Patriots.  (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

E.J. Biggers sounds excited to join the Patriots. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — When it came to selling cornerback E.J. Biggers on the Patriots, it probably didn’t take a long time.

Speaking Thursday afternoon during a break in the action at Gillette Stadium, the 28-year-old veteran said he held the franchise in pretty high regard over the course of his career.

“Top of the food chain,” he said when asked about the chance to play in New England. “It’s somewhere you want to be.”

He added: “Being in the league going on [six] years now, you kind of know what to expect when you come here. It’s a job. You come in here to the best organization in football, so you have to make sure you have your ‘A’ game. You just fall in line.”

The 6-foot, 180-pound Biggers has played with the Bucs, Redskins and Eagles over the course of his NFL career, with his best year coming in 2012 with Tampa. That season, he played in 13 games with 12 starts and finished with seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles, one sack and 39 tackles.

The Patriots likely got a good look at him recently, as he was part of a Washington team that conducted joint practices with the Patriots in 2014. Asked what stood out about New England in those workouts, Biggers smiled.

“Everything they run through will be full speed,” he said. “[They’re] an A-1 group of guys. Just watching how they do things each and every day, there’s always something. When you’re not here, you kind of envy that. It’s always something you want to be a part of.

“[Now], you know you’re in an A-1 organization, and you put your cleats on and you’re ready to strap it up every single day.”

With New England, Biggers will likely provide depth at corner, either in the slot or outside. In addition, he should provide a boost on special teams. (For the record, in the Eagles’ 35-28 win over the Patriots last December in Foxboro, he had three tackles, one pass defensed and one special-teams tackle.)

But at this point on the calendar, he sounds like someone who will play wherever he’s asked.

“You see the success. You see how those guys go about things,” he added. “You get [to Foxboro], and you understand what all that was for.”

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Eric Decker: Tom Brady suspension puts AFC East ‘up for grabs’

05.19.16 at 1:53 pm ET
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Jets wide receiver Eric Decker told NFL Network that a potential four-game suspension for Tom Brady would put the AFC East “up for grabs.”

Decker, speaking while at the NFL’s annual broadcast bootcamp from NFL Films, believes that the rest of the division could get a boost from Brady being sidelined the first four games of the season because of Deflategate.

“You’ve got to win your division games,” Decker said. “[But] with Brady being suspended four games, I think [that] makes the division up for grabs.”

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Read More: Deflategate, Eric Decker, Tom Brady,

5 thoughts on Kevin Faulk, Patriots Hall of Famer

05.19.16 at 11:15 am ET
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Kevin Faulk distinguished himself as a franchise Hall of Famer over the course of his career with the Patriots.  (Elsa/Getty Images)

Kevin Faulk distinguished himself as a franchise Hall of Famer over the course of his career with the Patriots. (Elsa/Getty Images)

1. I’m going to be honest here: I’m probably incapable of writing unemotionally about Kevin Faulk. I know that’s probably considered a violation of some sort of journalistic code, but when it comes to stuff like this, I don’t really care. I’ve covered the team since 2001, and I got the chance to know him a little when he was a player, and I had the great fortune to sit next to him as a broadcast partner for a year, and he was always good company who treated me (and whoever he was working with) with respect. So if you’re looking tor a straightforward analytical look at the newest member of the Patriots Hall of Fame, you’re probably in the wrong place. (You’re also in the wrong place if you’re looking to rehash the Bill Parcells/Patriots Hall of Fame debate. Let’s all agree to meet back here next spring to talk about that again.) What I can tell you is that Faulk is eminently deserving of this honor, and I was proud to be one of the people who backed him at the Hall of Fame committee meeting. Look up the numbers if you want here, but just know that Faulk did a little bit of everything over the course of his career: feature back, third-down back, return man, direct-snap specialist. There were probably better players, but he put together a wildly underrated resume that deserves to be honored. An eminently reliable, consistent and dependable performer who went to five Super Bowls and played a role in three wins, he probably would have won the award even if he didn’t stroll out the second night of the NFL draft with a Tom Brady jersey on. (Our poll had him leading before that night.) After that, Mike Vrabel and Raymond Clayborn didn’t stand a chance.

2. Faulk was never the face-of-the-franchise, elite-level superstar type like the quarterback. And he was never the emotional centerpiece like Tedy Bruschi or Troy Brown. Instead, he occupied a weird little in-between spot in the hearts of fans, an undersized back who manage to reboot his career on three different occasions during his time with the Patriots. One of only a few players who ultimately survived the purge when Bill Belichick took over in 2000, as his career continued, he soon became one of the most well-respected guys in the New England locker room, managing to garner the admiration of players on both sides of the football. Most of the time, offensive guys stick with offensive guys and defensive guys stick with defensive guys. Only occasionally, there comes along a guy who is able to get both sides to defer to his leadership skills. Junior Seau was like that. Vince Wilfork was like that. Faulk was like that. There was, of course, one bad decision. If he had one mulligan, I suspect he would have left the weed at home in 2008 instead of bringing it with him to the Lil’ Wayne concert. That got him banned for a game, arguably the only thing he ever did that reflected negatively on the organization. But there was more than enough good to make up for that.

3. It’s easy to forget how many big plays he was responsible for, particularly over the second half of his career. And there was no one else who was capable of executing the direct snap and coming away with something big better than Faulk. (Google “Kevin Faulk” and “direct snap” and you get more than 3,000 results.) Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Panthers. The 2006 divisional playoffs against the Chargers. In big moments, he was always able to come up with a big performance. Built to run gadget plays, he was one of only two guys to throw a pass to Tom Brady.

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Former teammates congratulate Kevin Faulk on Patriots’ Hall of Fame honor

05.18.16 at 8:33 pm ET
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Several former teammates of Kevin Faulk took to Twitter on Wednesday to congratulate him on reaching the Patriots Hall of Fame.

And Faulk himself took to social media to say thanks for the honor.

Read More: Devin McCourty, donte stallworth, Heath Evans, Kevin Faulk

Al Michaels on his call at end of Super Bowl XLIX: ‘I reacted like a fan’

05.18.16 at 3:08 pm ET
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Al Michaels stopped by “The Dan Patrick Show” on Wednesday and talked about a handful of topics, including his call of Malcolm Butler’s interception of Russell Wilson at the end of Super Bowl XLIX. In that one, he said he reacted to the end of the game “like a fan,” and added that he was lucky enough to have been able to recall Butler’s name quickly because the cornerback was involved in a big play only moments before.

Michaels also recalled the infamous decision to throw the ball instead of handing it to Marshawn Lynch.

“It wasn’t so much that Wilson threw it, but the actual play itself — over the middle,” recalled Michaels. “In retrospect, you go back to, ‘Russell Wilson, mobile. He could run it into the end zone himself. Get him out on the edge (and) have him throw it to the corner of the end zone.’ If it’s incomplete, it stops the clock and you still have two more plays. I wasn’t of a mind that said Lynch had to carry the ball. No. I understood maybe throwing it. But not throwing it over the middle to (Ricardo) Lockett.”

Read More: Al Michaels, Dan Patrick, Malcolm Butler, Marshawn Lynch

Per Mike Francesa, Adam Vinatieri was almost released by Bill Parcells in 1996

05.18.16 at 2:32 pm ET
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Adam Vinatieri was almost cut by the Patriots as a rookie. (Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Adam Vinatieri was almost cut by the Patriots as a rookie. (Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Adam Vinatieri’s career with the Patriots was defined by a series of clutch kicks which allowed him to grab the mantle of best big-game kicker of his generation.

But his time in New England was almost over before it began. In an interview with Bill Simmons earlier this week, Mike Francesa, a longtime friend of former Patriots’ coach Bill Parcells, said that Parcells came close to releasing the kicker when he was a rookie in 1996.

In a 17-10 loss to Buffalo in Week 2, Vinatieri missed three field goals (45, 25 and 46 yards). The following week against Arizona, he missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt in the third quarter, as well as an extra point. Late in that game with the Patriots leading 28-0, Parcells sent Vinatieri back onto the field for a 31-yard field goal attempt. According to Francesa — who told the story on his radio show — Vinatieri’s job was at stake when he returned to the field.

“I’ve had it with that kicker,” Parcells said, according to Francesa. “If he had missed it, I would have cut him.

“I told him, ‘You better make this kick’ before I sent him out there. And he made the kick, and he gained confidence little by little. And look who he became.”

Vinatieri eventually became a key part of three Super Bowl teams with the Patriots, and another with the Colts. At 43, he’s currently the oldest player in the league.

Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Bill Parcells, Mike Francesa,

Patriots over/under for 2016 regular season wins set at 10.5 by Bovada

05.18.16 at 1:10 pm ET
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The over/under on the Patriots’ win total for 2016 has been set at 10.5, according to Bovada.

New England is one of five teams that top out at 10.5 wins. It’s a group that includes Carolina, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Seattle. Six teams are listed at 9.5, including Arizona, Cincinnati, Dallas, Indy, Kansas City and Minnesota.

The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos, thought to be the Patriots’ primary rival for AFC supremacy in 2016, are slotted at 9 wins.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Niners and Titans are both at 5.5, while the Browns are 4.5.

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