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Report: Patriots sign LB Brandon Spikes to 1-year deal

05.18.15 at 10:28 am ET
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After one year away from New England, free agent Brandon Spikes is coming back.

With the Bills not re-signing him following the 2014 season, Spikes has signed a one-year deal with the Patriots, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates.

Known for his ability to stop the run, the addition of Spikes will surely be a boost to the Patriots’ front-seven, particularly with the loss of Vince Wilfork. It would appear the defensive focus has shifted towards the front-seven and away from the secondary following the departures of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.

It’s worth noting things didn’t end on the best of terms for Spikes in New England as he was placed on season-ending injured reserve late in 2013 with a knee injury, but reports later said it was because he was late for practice.

He and Bill Belichick had their fair share of disagreements, but it appears they have put those in the past.

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Reports: Patriots release CB Chimdi Chekwa

05.18.15 at 9:20 am ET
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Chimdi Chekwa

Chimdi Chekwa

Two months after signing free agent Chimdi Chekwa to a one-year deal, the Patriots released the cornerback, according to multiple reports.

Chekwa, who previously played for the Raiders, was not expected to earn a starting spot in the Patriots’ revamped defensive backfield, but he was thought to have potential value as a backup and special teams player.

Chekwa was a fourth-round pick out of Ohio State in 2011. He played in 32 games with four starts during his four years in Oakland, including 10 games and two starts in 2014.

The 26-year-old was a restricted free agent with Oakland, but the Raiders elected not to tender him a contact. The Patriots signed him to a one-year deal worth $825,000, with a salary cap hit of $665,000.

Earlier this month the Patriots parted ways with Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard. With Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner gone this offseason as well, the cornerback position is a big question mark for the Pats.

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Raiders coach Jack Del Rio: Deflategate penalty an ‘overreaction’

05.18.15 at 7:00 am ET
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Jack Del Rio came out in support of the Patriots over the weekend. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Former Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, now head coach of the Raiders, came out in support of the Patriots over the weekend. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Patriots fans have certainly loved seeing Jack Del Rio on an opposing sideline over the years. Now, it appears that Del Rio is in New England’s corner when it comes to Deflategate.

The new Raiders head coach, speaking prior to his induction into the USC Athletics Hall of Fame over the weekend, said he considers the punishment handed down to the Patriots an “overreaction,” comparing it to the one given to USC in the investigation into former Trojans star Reggie Bush.

“I think there are some similarities in terms of an overreaction, from my standpoint,” Del Rio said Saturday. “I think it was a little bit overdone. But that’s somebody else’s problem right now.”

Del Rio told reporters that the league would have been better off simply warning quarterbacks that tampering with the football would not be tolerated.

“Everybody understands that quarterbacks all want to get the balls how they like them, and why not?” Del Rio said. “They throw these balls around, and one of the reasons the sport is so popular is the ability of guys like Peyton [Manning] and Brady to throw the ball the way they do.”

New England quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended four games, the team has been fined $1 million and the NFL has docked the Patriots two draft picks because of their role in a scandal involving underinflated footballs. Brady’s ban is currently under appeal.

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What Deflategate? Tom Brady spent weekend in Bahamas at a wedding, golfing with Michael Jordan

05.17.15 at 4:25 pm ET
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Looks like Tom Brady isn’t sweating Deflategate, at least not too much. The Patriots quarterback was spotted this weekend in the Bahamas — reportedly for a wedding — and he spent time with his new golfing buddy Michael Jordan.

Check out the story and more pictures here.

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Report: Tom Brady hasn’t missed an offseason voluntary workout

05.17.15 at 10:11 am ET
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This may not come as a surprise to many, but with everything that has taken place this offseason, it’s newsworthy to an extent.

According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, Tom Brady hasn’t missed a single voluntary workout as part of the team’€™s offseason program since they began April 20. By many accounts, Brady has historically been the first one at the facility every day during the season, showing his dedication and strong work ethic, so this really isn’t much of a surprise.

“€œYou have to bring the energy to practice and if you don’€™t have it, you better figure out a way to get it,” Brady said earlier this month speaking at Salem State University about being a leader. “You better find a way to energize your teammates to get the best out of them. So much of being a great leader is getting the best out of your teammates. And making sure you show up every day at your best, so that you can get the best out of them.

“I’€™ve always believed when I show up I am going to lead by example –€” show up every day and work hard. Always getting in the right direction. I think that’€™s how I lead. It’€™s one of the great rewards of being a quarterback, that’€™s why I chose that position because you can have such a positive impact on the people around you, so that’€™s a trait I try and tell a lot of young quarterbacks –€” if you don’€™t believe it, why will they believe it?”

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Sunday NFL Notes: An early 53-man roster projection for 2015 Patriots

05.17.15 at 6:00 am ET
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While there are some doubt at a few positions on the roster, there's no debate as to who will be manning the tight end spot for the Patriots in 2015. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

While there are some doubt at a few positions on the roster, there’s no debate as to who will be manning the tight end spot for the Patriots in 2015. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

We are going to eschew our usual round of Sunday NFL Notes for something different this week with an early look at how the 2015 roster is shaping up. Let’s be clear — there will be plenty of roster shuffling between now and the start of the regular season. But with the bulk of free agency in the books and the draft in the rear view mirror, the basic foundational roster elements that will help shape the Patriots this coming season are already in place. With that in mind, here’s a way-too-early projection at what the Patriots 53-man roster might look like at the start of the 2015 season.

Quarterback (2): Jimmy Garoppolo, Garrett Gilbert (Tom Brady suspended). We’re going to go with the presumption that Brady will have to sit for at least a game to start the season. New England could always go out and sign someone like Matt Flynn as an emergency backup. But until then, Gilbert, who was on the practice squad at the end of the 2014 season, gets the nod here.

Running back (6): Jonas Gray, Travaris Cadet, James White, Brandon Bolden, Tyler Gaffney, James Develin (LeGarrette Blount suspended). That’s a lot of running backs, but given the fact that the backfield will likely play an even greater role than usual right out of the gate if Brady is on the shelf, we feel confident in going with the extra bodies. It’ll be interesting to see how newcomers Cadet and Gaffney perform, and what sort of competition they’ll provide for the guys who were part of the mix last season.

Tight end (4): Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Fred Davis, Tim Wright. It’ll also be interesting to see how Chandler and Davis are worked into the mix. (Chandler was seemingly a perpetual thorn in the side of the Patriots while with the Bills.) Michael Hoomananwanui was the tough cut here, but he’s always a possibility to return as part of the Patriots shadow roster, or if New England makes some cuts at another position. And for what it’s worth, Wright is fundamentally a wide receiver who has been slapped with the tight end label. From this viewpoint, the Patriots will find some way to keep rookie A.J. Derby around Foxboro, perhaps as a practice squadder.

Wide receiver (5): Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Aaron Dobson. Most of the roster questions we’ve got to this point in the season — at least on the offensive side of the ball — have to do with Dobson. We’ve got him making the team here; it’s hard to believe he’s still only 23 years old. And while he had one of the nest seasons of any rookie receiver who has ever worked with Brady, at the same time, he certainly needs to start showing some urgency this summer. Brian Tyms and Josh Boyce could figure into the mix here as well. We’ll include undrafted free agent Devin Gardner — the former Michigan quarterback looking to make the team as a wide receiver — as a practice squad possibility.

Offensive line (9): Nate Solder, Dan Connolly, Bryan Stork, Ryan Wendell, Sebastian Vollmer, Cameron Fleming, Tre’ Jackson, Marcus Cannon, Shaq Mason. Lots of questions, and still lots of potential to change between now and the start of the season. Connolly is still technically a free agent, but if he doesn’t return, there could still be a spot for another interior lineman. Youngsters Jackson and Mason loom large as challengers at the guard spot, while Fleming could push for playing time at a couple of spots as well.

Defensive line (8): Chandler Jones, Dominique Easley, Sealver Siliga, Rob Ninkovich, Alan Branch, Trey Flowers, Jabaal Sheard, Malcom Brown. No surprises here. While rookies and newcomers are always worth keeping a close eye on when it comes to how they’re being incorporated into the mix, the most fascinating player here is Easley. The Florida product is coming off a truncated rookie season, but will be asked to shoulder more of a load this year. (For what it’s worth, Sheard and Ninkovich — and maybe Flowers — could also be pressed into service as linebackers, if needed.) Zach Moore will also be part of the mix as a defensive end.

Linebackers (5): Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Geneo Grissom, Dane Fletcher. The only questions here re how quickly Hightower can return from shoulder surgery, and who might fill that fifth linebacker spot. Rookie Matt Wells and youngster James Morris (who was on the shelf all last year) are also possibilities here, but both have practice squad eligibility.

Cornerback (5): Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, Darryl Roberts, Robert McClain, Bradley Fletcher. Lots of changes have happened here since the start of the offseason, and lots more could be in store. Right now, Ryan is the cornerback with the most history in the New England system, and he will almost certainly play a major role in 2015. Butler looks to build in his postseason glory, while newcomers Roberts, McClain and Fletcher will look to get into the mix as fast as possible. Veteran free agent Chimdi Chekwa is more of a special teamer, but could be added as part of the Patriots’ shadow roster.

Safety (5): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner. In contrast, there hasn’t been much turnover at safety. Richards figures to start mostly as a special teams presence, but given his smarts and versatility (Bill Belichick talked about his ability to play two different safety spots just after the draft), he could work his way into the mix sooner rather than later.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Ryan Allen, long snapper Joe Cardona, special teams captain Matthew Slater. Incumbent long snapper Danny Aiken is still on the market as a free agent, and while his future could be tied to Cardona’s potential military commitment, at least three-fourths of this group figures to stay the same in 2015.

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Report: NFL will change rules when it comes to pre-game handling of footballs

05.16.15 at 1:19 am ET
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It sounds like “Deflategate” has spurred the league to action when it comes to the pre-game handling of footballs.

According to a report from the Associated Press, the NFL will change the guidelines surrounding the way footballs are handled before games. The issues will apparently be discussed at the owners’ meetings next week in San Francisco, but according to the AP, the change would not require a vote from the owners.

The current rules allow quarterbacks to receive footballs directly from the leagues, and teams are allowed to pre-treat them a number of different ways leading up to the contest, as long as they are able to pass a pregame inspection by the officials 2 hours, 15 minutes before kickoff. Part of the pre-game inspection involves checking for air pressure, and the referee inspects each one, with a pump provided by the home team to adjust air pressure as needed. Footballs are required to have at least 12.5 psi and no more than 13.5 psi.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for four games and the Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a pair of draft picks for their role in the under inflated football scandal at last year’s AFC title game. The case is currently under appeal.

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