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Vince Wilfork at No. 35 and Logan Mankins at No. 39 in ‘NFL Network’ Top 100 series

06.12.11 at 9:24 pm ET
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Two Patriots players highlighted this week’s edition of the NFL Network’s “Top 100″ series, a players-only poll on who’s the best in the game. Offensive lineman Logan Mankins was slotted at No. 39, while defensive lineman Vince Wilfork was at No. 35.

Mankins was presented by coach Bill Belichick, and here are a few highlights of what Belichick said about New England’s first-round pick in 2005:

‘€¢’€œThere are tough players and then there are the super tough guys. I’€™d say Mankins would go into [the second] category. Both physically and mentally, he’€™s as tough as they come. …  You could honestly pick out any one of 30 plays of him in any game and find him really dominating guys.’€

‘€¢’€œHe played left tackle at Fresno State. He made the move inside right away and became an immediate starter for us from the first preseason game, the first year he’€™s out there. He’€™s been our most durable and consistent performer on the offensive line for several years.’€

‘€¢’€œWith a quarterback like Tom Brady who needs to step up into the pocket — who likes to step up into the pocket — there has to be somewhere to step up into. Logan does a great job of that, of staying firm on the line of scrimmage and not getting driven back, so that Tom can step up and avoid the rush and make the throw.’€

‘€¢’€œI think Logan is really a force in the running game because he’s able to play with great leverage and power, and get movement. A lot of plays that run to our left side, you see him getting push at the line of scrimmage and creating seams for the back. He’s also a very good puller, and a lot of plays to the right, he ends up pulling around and leading the runner through the hole. A lot of times Logan is at the point of attack in the running game regardless of where the play is called.”

Wilfork was at No. 35, and presented by former college teammate and current New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Here’s Vilma’s take on Wilfork:

‘€¢’€œHe was with me in college for three years, I played against him twice a year when I was with the Jets, and the best thing about him is that as big as he’€™s gotten, it looks sloppy, but when you watch him on film it’€™s not. He’€™s very explosive, very athletic.’€

‘€¢’€œFrom college, we knew he had good feet, which is pretty impressive for a guy his size to have feet like that. All those things you want in a defensive tackle, that rough, down-in-the-trenches-type mentality, he has that. He’€™s going to disrupt it. If you’€™re one-on-one, he’€™s going to make the tackle. You have to double him. … You turn on the film and watch that and you know, that was because of him. [Someone else] may have gotten the stats, but that was because of Vince.’€

‘€¢’€œHe lets you know ‘€˜this is how I’€™m going to set the tone,’€™ and you love that, especially in a d-lineman, where it’€™s that big personality. He wants to be that guy who takes the leadership as far as being on the field and showing you how I’€™m going to play. … He’€™s a helluva player.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jonathan Vilma, Logan Mankins, Tom Brady

Tom Brady’s personal quarterbacking guru Tom Martinez gravely ill

06.12.11 at 3:05 pm ET
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Sad news out of California, where Tom Brady‘€™s longtime quarterback guru Tom Martinez reportedly has been ‘€œa week to a month’€ to live, according to a statement from the Martinez family that was posted on Facebook. (Martinez has struggled with complications brought about by diabetes for a number of years.) The statement, from Martinez’€™s daughter Linda Martinez Haley, reads as follows:

‘€œWe have received some bad news that I wanted to share with all of you. I have been given a week to a month to live, depending on my body’€™s response to medication. I want to thank you for the relationship that we shared and the friendships that allowed me to have a very successful career. As much as I would like to talk to you each in person, that is not feasible so please respect my family’€™s need for some privacy now. If the number of lives that I’€™ve been involved with are in the thousands, then it isn’€™t possible to talk to each and every one of you. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to teach and coach you all and I ask that you take one or two of my life lessons and pass them on to your family and friends and that will keep me alive forever. With much love and appreciation, I wish all of you a very successful and fulfilled life. TM.’€

Martinez has worked with Brady for nearly 25 years ‘€” the two first met when the quarterback was a struggling high schooler. They’€™ve continued to maintain a close relationship over the years ‘€” the quarterback gave the game ball from his first win as a starter in the NFL to Martinez, and they stayed in touch on a regular basis even as Brady became an MVP. According to this story from the San Jose Mercury News, Brady was back in the Bay Area this past week working with some of Martinez’€™s pupils at the Riekes Center in Menlo Park.

Brady’€™s father spoke with the Mercury-News about Martinez, a California coaching legend who served as head coach of the football, women’s basketball and softball teams at College of San Mateo for many years.

‘€œThis will be such a loss to so many kids on the Peninsula, not to have him be there as a mentor,’€™’€™ said Tom Brady Sr. ‘€œIn our family he helped all three of our daughters and our son as recently as last Sunday. He had just got out of the hospital Saturday, but on Sunday he was sitting in his chair directing what was to be done. He is one of the great tacticians ever. His passing will be a major loss.’€™’€™

Read More: Linda Martinez Haley, Tom Brady, Tom Brady Sr., tom martinez

Despite recent workouts, Willie McGinest says he’s not coming back as a player … but dropped a major hint for the Patriots

06.11.11 at 11:01 pm ET
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Willie McGinest is a busy guy these days.

The former Patriots linebacker was tutoring some players before the draft, a group that included Fresno State linebacker Chris Carter. He’s involved in several businesses out West. And in addition to his regular work as an analyst on “Total Access” on the NFL Network, he also recently took part in some workouts with the Detroit Lions, workouts that raised the eyebrows of some around the league when he busted out with this statement:

“We’re going to see if I get offered a contract now,” the 39-year-old McGinest told the Detroit Free Press. “After I send this tape out to a few teams, we’re going to see.

“Thank God I was in shape and I was able to do all the stuff,” he added. “It was a different type of workout, though. I’ve never experienced something like this with the Art of Strength. It was less football work, but it was a lot of core conditioning, getting the heart rate up. And talking to (trainer Mike Knight), this is one of those workouts they would implement like one or two days a week out of the other regular stuff you do as a changeup, which was good for me.”

Turns out McGinest isn’t making a return to the game, at least not as a player. On Saturday, McGinest issued the following statement through his publicist, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press which can be seen here and here: ‘€œEven though I looked as good as I did, this number 55 has been retired for three years and plans to stay retired. The only thing that will bring me back is a one day contract with New England to retire as a Patriot.’€

Read More: Chris Carter, Dave Birkett, Willie McGinest,

Cunningham looking to make the leap

06.11.11 at 7:40 pm ET
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Patriots linebacker Jermaine Cunningham told reporters Saturday that despite the lockout, he’s continuing to work out in hopes of making that jump from rookie part-timer to full-time contributor.

‘€œI feel like if you’€™re not getting better, you’€™re getting worse,’€ he told reporters after speaking with kids at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury to talk to a group of children after a free camp. The camp, named ‘€œFootball for YOU,’€ is put on by the New England Patriots Alumni Club.

‘€œI felt like I definitely didn’€™t get worse. So, I did get better (in 2010). But you can always be better, which is what I’€™m working for right now,” he added. “That’€™s the transition you gotta go through. It ain’€™t going to get no easier, it’€™s always going to get harder, with better athletes, grown men out there. Gotta go out there, work harder and compete.’€

In his first season with Ne England, Cunningham plated in 15 games and had 35 tackles and one sack.

Read More: Jermaine Cunningham,

VOTE: Tell us which free agent the Patriots should go after this offseason

06.10.11 at 1:25 pm ET
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Gotten a lot of feedback from the “Free-Agent Snapshot” series we’ve been running over the last month or so. Here are direct links to the players we have profiled so far:

Matt Roth
Cullen Jenkins
Mathias Kiwanuka
Manny Lawson
Jason Babin

Santana Moss
Brad Smith
Billy Yates
Donte Stallworth

We want you to chose No. 10. Below is a list of candidates. If you don’t see your favorite, feel free to add him in the comments section. (Can’t pick a player who is currently on the Patriots’ roster, like Kevin Faulk or Matt Light.) The winner will be profiled early next week.

Read the rest of this entry »

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BenJarvus Green-Ellis tops interesting study from Pro Football Focus

06.10.11 at 12:56 am ET
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The fellas over at Pro Football Focus have put together an interesting study,  measuring a running back by examining the strength of schedule. Author Mike Clay looked at the top 40 rushers in terms of carries, and, in his words, “normalized each player’€™s yards-per-carry and touchdown rate marks to reflect what they would’€™ve been had they played a league average schedule each week of the 2010 season.”

Using that formula, the biggest difference between a running backs’ actual numbers and the adjusted numbers came from Patriots’ running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis started 11 games and led the Patriots with 1,008 yards on 229 carries and an average of 4.4 yards per carry last season. But according to PFF’s study, when you put those same carries against a statistically “average” team, he finishes with 1,109 yards and an average of 4.6 yards per carry, the best differential of any back in the study. Brandon Jackson, Michael Bush, Cedric Benson and Fred Jackson round out the Top 5.

Read More: BenJarvus Green Ellis,

Robert Kraft sounds optimistic, but adds that there’s ‘a lot left to solve’

06.09.11 at 3:45 pm ET
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Patriots owner Robert Kraft sounded an optimistic note on Thursday afternoon regarding recent talks between the players and owners, but added that there’€™s still ‘€œa lot left to solve’€ when it comes to ending the lockout.

‘€œWe’€™re talking about how we improve the game and how we solve our problems and the only issue is how do we get football back, no other agendas,’€ he told reporters. ‘€œI think thats a very positive thing, but we still have a lot of hard work to do. A lot left to solve. At least we’€™re there talking to one another.

‘€œThe good news for me is both sides care about ‘€” having the union and the players involved there and the owners and the commissioner, we all care about the health of this game long term and thats our sole focus, so building on that is gratifying.’€

The lockout, which will reach its’€™ 90th day on Friday, is the longest work stoppage in NFL history.

Read More: lockout, Robert Kraft,
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