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Rob Ninkovich talks Vince Wilfork, Patrick Chung and rest of Patriots offseason moves

04.08.14 at 4:20 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Rob Ninkovich talked about the additions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner on Tuesday morning, but also addressed a handful of other topics, including the return of Vince Wilfork, the loss of coach Pepper Johnson and some of the other offseason moves made to this point by the Patriots:

On the return of Vince Wilfork: I’€™m happy I’€™ll be able to look inside and see him next to me. I’€™m happy that he’€™s still my teammate, and we’€™ll be able to go out there and win some football games.

On the offseason return of Julian Edelman — who Ninkovich referred to as “my guy” — as well as some of the other moves: We’€™ve got some great receivers coming back, and with Tom (Brady), we can pretty much do anything. Offensively, we’€™re looking good. Defensively, just adding a couple pieces, and what we have so far, those guys are tremendous talents. As a defensive end, I’€™m happy to have two great talents that can shut down two receivers at the same time. That’€™s awesome. And we have a great safety. So again, defensively, we’€™ve improved, but we’€™ve got to put in the work. That starts now. That starts in the offseason, because you have the talent, but you’€™ve got to put in the work together to get to that ultimate goal. ‘€¦ We’€™re in this thing to win. Everything that we do is directed toward winning football games. The way things work around here is to give our team the best chance of winning, and with those guys, it gives us a better chance.

On the return of Pat Chung: Pat, obviously, went somewhere else and it didn’€™t work out. Coming back, he’€™s a good football player. He’€™s a good, competitive, talented football player who obviously is going to go out there and play hard. He has experience here, he knows what to expect, and it’€™s good to have him back.

On the offseason workouts to this point: Me and (Jerod) Mayo are in there. He’s a pretty explosive guy, so I try to keep up with (him). He’s looking good right now. I’ve been training with him for a long time, and it’s always good to have somebody to push you and make you better.

On losing Pepper Johnson: Pep obviously, he was a tremendous coach in terms of having that game-time experience. But again, the coaching staff that we have here, they’re pretty good. Having Bill involved with the defense all the time, that’s helpful. Any time I have a question or there’s something going on, I’ll go right to Bill and ask him, ‘€˜Hey we’€™re doing this, we’€™re doing that, give me the stuff that I need to know.’€™ I was with Pep for awhile, and wish him all the best in the future. But that’s part of the business. You always have to adjust to changes. There’s always people leaving — coaches leaving, coaches coming. And that’s the way of type game. You deal with it and the new coach that comes in, you get them up to speed on what we’re doing, and get ready to roll.

On motivation needed to get back to AFC title game: I’€™m very motivated. I need to get back to that game and we have to win it this time. Nobody thinks about the time and effort put in to get to a championship game, and the workouts, the offseason, minicamp, training camps, 16 games you have to get through just to get to the playoffs, and then, getting to that AFC Championship Game, it’s a long road. It’€™s a lot of work, and to get back there I have to do it all over again. I’€™m up for the challenge. I want to get back there.

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Rob Ninkovich: Darrelle Revis ‘best corner in the league’

04.08.14 at 12:01 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Count defensive end Rob Ninkovich as part of the Darrelle Revis Fan Club.

During a break in offseason workouts Tuesday morning at Gillette Stadium, Ninkovich was eager to sing the praises of Revis, as well as cornerback Brandon Browner.

“We have the best corner in the league coming in. That’s always good thing for a defensive end like myself — give me a little more time. I’ll be happy to use that,” Ninkovich said of Revis. “I’m happy he’s on our team. He’s a great, great football player. The more great football players you have on your team, the better chance you have to win. Again, I’m happy he’s playing for us.

“You can do whatever you want with him. You can put him on the best receiver, tight end, whoever, and just say, ‘Go cover this guy,’ and he can do it. Whenever you have a guy who’s that talented, it’s always great, as far as defensive schemes and stuff like that.”

As for Browner, Ninkovich said he was amazed by the size of the former Seahawks defensive back.

“That guy is bigger than me,” the 6-foot-3, 251-pound Ninkovich said of the 6-foot-4, 221-pound Browner. “When I first met him, I didn’t know he was a corner. Again, he’s big, physical guy. He’s tall and long. He’s another guy who is a piece you can put on the field anywhere to go cover a guy and shut them down. That’s another great addition we have to our secondary.”

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller

04.08.14 at 9:39 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Kyle Fuller ended the 2013 season on the sideline with an injury, but he impressed scouts at the NFL combine. (AP)

Kyle Fuller ended the 2013 season on the sideline with an injury, but he impressed scouts at the NFL combine. (AP)

KYLE FULLER

Position: Cornerback

School: Virginia Tech

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 194 pounds

Achievements: 2013 third team All-ACC, 2012 honorable mention All-ACC, 2011 second-team All-ACC

What he brings: A smart, physical corner, Fuller isn’t the fastest (a 4.49 40-yard time at the NFL combine) or the biggest corner available in this draft, but he is solid and hard-working. Fuller shows good anticipatory skills but needs to improve to be a starting NFL cornerback. He tackles well and is strong in run support, but he has shown on tape that he can be overaggressive and make mistakes.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: A senior captain for the Hokies, Fuller had two interceptions, 10 pass breakups and 24 tackles in 2013. He missed the final four games of the season due to a hernia, which required surgery. … Fuller has three brothers who all played football at Virginia Tech. Vincent Fuller was a fourth-round pick in 2005 by the Titans and played safety for Tennessee until 2010. He had briefs stints with the Lions and Patriots in 2011. Corey Fuller was a sixth-round pick in 2013 by the Lions. A wide receiver, he ended last season on Detroit’s practice squad. Kendall Fuller just completed his freshman season as a cornerback for the Hokies.

Related articles:

The Roanoke Times: Kyle Fuller’s draft stock on the rise after strong NFL combine showing

Yahoo! Sports: Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller out for regular season with surgery for ‘core muscle injury’

Video: Here are highlights of Fuller against Marshall in 2013.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr.

04.07.14 at 9:34 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Odell Beckham (AP)

Odell Beckham broke LSU’s single-season all-purpose yardage record with 2,315 yards as a junior in 2013. (AP)

ODELL BECKHAM JR.

Position: Wide receiver

School: LSU

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 198 pounds

Achievements: 2013 Paul Hornung Award winner (nation’€™s most versatile player), FWAA 2013 first-team All-America kick returner, CBSSports.com 2013 first-team All-America all-purpose, 2013 first-team All-SEC all-purpose (Associated Press, coaches), 2013 first-team All-SEC return specialist (coaches), first-team All-SEC wide receiver (Athlon), 2013 first-team All-SEC kick returner (Sporting News), 2011 SEC coaches All-Freshman team

What he brings: Beckham is a quick, fluid player who has solid vision of the field. Analysts note that he does not have elite speed and can be inconsistent at times. He helped his cause at the NFL combine when he was a top performer in the 20-yard shuttle (3.94 seconds) and 60-yard shuttle (10.93 seconds).

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Beckham’€™s father, Odell Beckham Sr., was a running back at LSU from 1989-92 and his mother, Heather Van Norman, was an All-America track runner at LSU from 1991-93. … Beckham broke LSU’€™s single-season all-purpose yardage record with 2,315 yards as a junior in 2013, including 59 receptions for 1,152 yards and eight touchdowns, and 32 kick returns for 845 yards. In 2012 he finished with 43 catches for 713 yards and two touchdowns. As a true freshman in 2011 he caught 41 passes for 475 yards and two TDs.

Related articles:

SI.com: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry bring new level of LSU excellence to 2014 NFL draft

SI.com: LSU WR Odell Beckham, Jr. leads the charge in Sunday’s first combine drills

The Washington Post: LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr. hoping to capitalize on speed, versatility

Video: Here is a video highlighting Beckham’s career at LSU.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Missouri DE Kony Ealy

04.06.14 at 9:11 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Kony Ealy (AP)

Missouri’s Kony Ealy had the fastest 3-cone drill time for defensive linemen at the NFL combine. (AP)

KONY EALY

Position: Defensive end

School: Missouri

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 273 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-SEC, 2011 Big 12 all-freshman team

What he brings: Scouts point out Ealy’€™s athleticism and speed that allows him to have solid initial quickness off the snap. Scouts also say, though, that Ealy needs to continue developing his awareness of the game. As a junior in 2013, Ealy had 43 tackles, 14.5 for loss, 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Ealy was roommates with Michael Sam while at Missouri. Although Sam was the SEC’€™s Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Ealy is projected to have more of an upside. … Ealy had the fastest 3-cone drill time of any defensive lineman at the NFL combine. His 40-yard-dash time was an unimpressive 4.97, but he improved on that at Missouri’s pro day last month, reportedly running in the 4.6 range.

Related articles:

NFL.com: Kony Ealy doesn’t see Michael Sam as off-field distraction

USA Today: NFL Draft diary: Missouri’s Kony Ealy looks ahead to pro day

Columbia Daily Tribune: Taking stock of Kony Ealy’s stock

Video: Here is a video highlighting Ealy’s time at Missouri.

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Sunday NFL Notes: When it comes to putting together a draft-related deal, who is Bill Belichick most likely to call?

04.06.14 at 1:52 am ET
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Al Davis was a frequent trade partner over the years before he passed away. (AP)

Al Davis was a frequent trade partner over the years before he passed away. (AP)

1. One of the easiest bets every year is the fact that the Patriots will make some sort of draft-related deal. But who is Bill Belichick‘€™s favorite trade partner? We went back and tallied up all of Belichick’€™s draft-related deals over the years, and while it’€™s important to note that not all of the draft-related deals took place on draft weekend, there were a few surprises. Oakland leads the list with nine trades, with several deals of note, including Randy Moss (acquired by New England for a fourth-round pick) and Richard Seymour (dealt to Oakland in 2009 for a first-rounder). One interesting thing here is that despite the fact that Belichick has made more draft-related deals with the Raiders than any other club, he hasn’€™t made a trade with Oakland since Al Davis died in 2011. Denver is second on the list with seven draft-related deals, most of which were relatively low-level swaps between Belichick and his friend Mike Shanahan when he held the reins with the Broncos. Green Bay and Philadelphia have six each, with most of the transactions with the Eagles coming in annual draft weekend swaps between Belichick and another friend, Andy Reid. And Baltimore and Chicago have each made five draft-related swaps, with another Friend of Bill (Ozzie Newsome) willing to work with his old colleague in helping facilitate trades on a fairly regular basis. One other note worth passing along. Since he took over in 2000, Belichick has made draft-related deals with every team in the league except two: the Jets and Colts.

2. Despite the fact that this year’€™s draft is two weeks later than it’€™s been in previous years, to this point in the pre-draft process, not much is different this time around — at least from a logistical perspective. Speaking late last month at the owners’€™ meetings, Belichick said that when it comes to scouting and evaluations, ‘€œthe process is about the same’€ as it was in year’€™s past. Belichick did indicate that the upcoming stretch — “early- to mid-April,” in his words — is a key part in the evaluation process. “Then, all that information will be pulled together and added to what we had going out back in February. We’€™ll see where all that comes in,”€ Belichick said. “At some point, it will all get pulled back together. We’€™ll talk about the players on the board. I’€™m sure we’€™ll make some changes and adjustments. And then, we’€™ll continue the process from there.” While not much is expected to change when it comes to the pre-draft process (if anything, it gives teams more of a chance to evaluate), expect changes on the back end. The seven-week stretch between the draft and the pre-training camp break will now be crammed with events in hopes of getting rookies up to speed as fast as possible. And while the elite level prospects will still rise above and distinguish themselves, the players who could be hurt the most by the smaller window are the undrafted free agents and camp invitees. In previous years, those players were able to get the attention of the coaching staff in the smaller groups that are usually the norm at rookie minicamps and distinguish themselves as a potential prospect that could eventually flourish if given the proper amount of time. Now, with less of an opportunity to make a name for themselves before the rest of the veterans return, they could get squeezed out of the picture sooner rather than later.

3. It’€™s almost hard to fathom, but two months after the Seahawks crushed the Broncos in the Super Bowl, football players can return to their facilities for the start of offseason workouts this week. Teams that hired a new coach this offseason are allowed to begin offseason workout programs on Monday — that means Cleveland, Houston, Detroit, Minnesota, Tampa, Tennessee and Washington are all allowed to get started on their prep work for 2014. As for teams with returning head coaches like the Patriots, they have to wait until April 21. We covered much of what you’€™re allowed to do (and not do) during the offseason programs, but it’€™s worth reiterating here. Phase one covers two weeks, and only rehab and strength and conditioning is allowed. Phase two runs for three weeks, and that’€™s when individual player instruction and drills are permitted but no live contact or offense vs. defense drills. Phase three covers four weeks, and includes 10 days of organized team activities. Again, no live contact is permitted, but teams can run 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

4. The idea of Donald Trump buying the Bills surfaced this week, and at least from this viewpoint, it wasn’€™t completely coincidental that the news came down during the week of April Fools Day. The word is that the sale of the franchise is on the fast track, but the idea of selling to someone like Trump would be bad news for the Bills, as well as the rest of the league. While he would likely have some support around the league (it’€™s reasonable to think that he’€™d have an ally in Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who he counts as a friend), and it’€™s presumed he would be able to pull together the money, it would be a stretch to see him getting the requisite votes needed to gain ownership. One only needs to look at his track record as an owner in the USFL, where some believe he helped sink the league. While there are occasional exceptions to the rule (see Jerry Jones), it’€™s also likely that Trump’€™s occasionally flashy style wouldn’€™t be a welcome addition. There’€™s always the chance that Trump could change his ways, but the idea that someone of his ilk would be welcomed with open arms into one of the most exclusive sporting clubs on the planet seems far-fetched.

5. Keeping with the Bills theme, Buffalo’€™s pickup of wide receiver Mike Williams represents another offensive option for the Patriots consider when they meet their division opponents twice a year. The occasionally erratic Williams — who brings a lot of baggage to the table with arrests, fines for missing meetings and injury — was dealt by the Bucs for a sixth-round pick. If Buffalo can get him to buy into the program, he could bring an intriguing skill set to the Bills passing game. The Syracuse product (who had a contentious relationship with Bills coach Doug Marrone while the two were together at Syracuse) had three straight years of 60-plus catches, including two consecutive seasons of 65 catches in 2010 and 2011. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Williams joins an offense that already has Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, as well as running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Regardless, it’€™s clear that Williams could benefit from a fresh start somewhere, and could represent a win-win for both sides if it all works out. Williams signed a huge six-year, $40.5 million contract with the Bucs last July, but played in just six games in 2013 because of a hamstring issue. Tampa Bay would have been on the hook for a big cap hit if it kept Williams, but were able to get out from under a bad contract with the move. Conversely, Buffalo only owes Williams $1.8 million in 2014, and a sizable portion of that is tied up in a workout bonus. It also changes things when it comes to the draft — expect the Bucs to be primarily interested in a wide receiver at No. 7, with some of the possibilities being Clemson’€™s Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans of Texas A&M if they’€™re still available. Meanwhile, you have to figure that this takes the Bills out of the running for a receiver.
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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Buffalo OLB Khalil Mack

04.05.14 at 9:30 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Khalil Mack (AP)

Khalil Mack has rocketed to the top of many mock drafts. (AP)

KHALIL MACK

Position: Outside linebacker

School: Buffalo

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 251 pounds

Achievements: 2013 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, 2013 first-team All-American, 2013, 2012, 2011 first team All-MAC, 2010 third-team All-MAC

What he brings: Mack is considered by many scouts to the best talent in a talented 2014 draft class. One of the most athletically gifted outside linebackers in college, Mack has a high-energy motor, excellent frame and impressive burst. He has an ideal build and great edge speed. While Mack can get to the quarterback, he struggles in other aspects of his game, particularly dropping into coverage and tackling in open space.

Where the Patriots could get him: Mack is projected to be a top-10 pick, so the Patriots undoubtedly would need to trade up to get him.

Notes: In 2013 Mack recorded 100 tackles, 10.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. For his career, Mack had 28.5 sacks, an NCAA-record 16 forced fumbles and an NCAA-record-tying 75 tackles for loss. … In 2012 Mack got into a fight with teammate Fred Lee and was suspended for the first game of that season. … Mack did not miss any games in college due to injury.

Related articles:

NFL.com: Buffalo’€™s Khalil Mack is surest thing in 2014 NFL draft

NFL.com: Buffalo LB Khalil Mack breaks record shared by Terrell Suggs

Video: Here are Mack’€™s 2013 highlights with Buffalo.

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