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Bernard Pollard fined for hit on Wes Welker

01.25.13 at 4:32 pm ET
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According to the NFL, Ravens safety Bernard Pollard has been fined $15,250 for his third-quarter hit on Patriots’ wide receiver Wes Welker during Baltimore’s win over the Pats in the AFC Championship Game.

Earlier in the day, Pollard had told reporters he wasn’t fined for any of the hits he delivered in last Sunday’s AFC title game against the Patriots.

The controversial defensive back, who has been responsible for tackles that have injured quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski in the past, delivered a nasty shot to the head of New England running back Stevan Ridley in the fourth quarter, one that sidelined Ridley for the rest of the game.

After the game, Pollard explained the hit on Ridley, saying it was just part of the game.

‘€œHe got loose and for me as a safety, and for us as safeties, our job is to take down a guy,” he said. “If you get to our level we have to hit you and I got a chance to kind of unload. In the moment we’€™re competitive, but right now, we have to hope he’€™s OK.’€

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Vote: Which one of their own free agents should Patriots target first this offseason?

01.25.13 at 4:12 pm ET
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We wrote about the free agents the Patriots have to make a decision on this offseason — now, we want to hear from you on who they should prioritize. Vote for who you think New England needs to prioritize, and add your take in the comments section.

Which one of their own free agents should the Patriots target first this offseason?

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Peter King on M&M: Trading Darrelle Revis would be ‘more Jets idiocy’

01.25.13 at 2:05 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King spoke with Mut & Merloni Friday about the legacies of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the “idiocy” of a potential Darrelle Revis trade, and Terry Francona‘s book.

King, a lifelong Red Sox fan, said he’d gone to a New York bookstore where Francona was signing copies of the book with the intention of meeting the manager and thanking him for everything he’d done for the team. When he found there would be a 75-minute wait, though, he decided against it.

“I just started to think to myself, this is behind enemy lines and you’ve got an hour-and-15- minute wait in the dead of winter to get Terry Francona’s signature on his book,” King said. “I thought that spoke volumes about Red Sox fans and about their feelings about Terry Francona.”

King also sided with Francona on the issue of Red Sox management trying to bring in players who would draw ratings, regardless of how they fit with the team.

“I’ve been a sportswriter since 1980, and if people’s ratings are down, people always start talking about, let’s get [Tim] Tebow, let’s get that guy, let’s market to the women, let’s do this,” King said. “The bottom line in all of this is the only thing that gets people to watch your games and gets people to sit in the stands is winning. If you want to have great ratings in April, go get Mr. America. but as soon as you go 6-12 and it’s May 1, people say, ‘I have other things to do tonight, I’m not going to watch a game.’ The only way to appeal to a fan base is to win, and then they won’t care if you’ve got 11 schnauzers out there.”

On the topic of the upcoming Super Bowl, King said he thinks the most interesting storyline is the comparison between the styles of Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick.

“Even though they play a lot of no-huddle now in Baltimore, Joe Flacco is not running around very much,” King said. “He’s not the mobile guy. And Colin Kaepernick, he can do anything. He can sit there in the pocket and study you and beat you with a great arm. ‘€¦ Everybody’s talking about his running. Can you see this guy throw, what an incredible arm he has? So I think if you underestimate his arm he’ll kill you throwing it, and everybody’s seen that he can beat you running it, too.”

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Audio: Latest edition of ‘It Is What It Is’ podcast takes a last look at AFC title game

01.24.13 at 5:52 pm ET
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In the latest edition of the “It Is What It Is Cast,” Chris Price and Mike Petraglia break down the Patriots’ loss in the AFC title game to the Ravens. They also take a quick look at the start of the offseason for New England, and give their thoughts on Super Bowl XLVII. Click here to listen.

Patriots sign seven to future contracts

01.24.13 at 2:34 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Thursday they have signed defensive end Marcus Benard, running back James Develin, wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, wide receiver Andre Holmes, quarterback Mike Kafka, defensive lineman Tracy Robertson and linebacker Jeff Tarpinian to future contracts. Develin, Ebert, Holmes, Robertson and Tarpinian ended the season on the New England practice squad.

Benard, 27, is a veteran of three NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns. The 6-foot-2, 256-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Cleveland out of Jackson State. He has played in 25 NFL games with two starts and has registered 39 total tackles, 11.5 sacks and two passes defensed. Benard began last season on the reserve/non-football injury list and was then released by Cleveland on Oct. 10.

Develin, 24, joined the New England practice squad on Sept. 1, 2012, and was signed to the 53-man roster on Nov. 28. He played in his first NFL game vs. San Francisco on Dec. 16. The 6-foot-3, 251-pounder, from Brown University, spent most of the 2010 and all of the 2011 season on the Cincinnati practice squad. He originally entered the NFL in 2010 when he was signed to the Cincinnati practice squad on Nov. 30, 2010 after playing for the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League. Develin played four seasons as a defensive lineman at Brown.

Ebert, 23, joined the New England practice squad on Nov. 28, 2012. He was originally selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft with the 235th selection overall out of Northwestern. The six-foot, 195-pounder, was released by the Patriots on Aug. 31, 2012, and spent one week on the Philadelphia practice squad in early September.

Holmes, 24, was signed to the New England practice squad on Jan. 8, 2013. He originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Minnesota out of Hillsdale in 2011. The 6-foot-4, 223-pounder was released by Minnesota after training camp and was signed to the Dallas practice squad. Holmes was signed to the Dallas 53-man roster late in the 2011 season but was inactive for the final four games of the season. He made the Dallas 53-man roster out of training camp in 2012 and played seven games, registering two receptions for 11 yards. Holmes was released by Dallas on Nov. 25 and signed back to the practice squad on Nov. 27.
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Report: Tom Brady fined $10K for slide into Ed Reed

01.23.13 at 8:16 pm ET
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Tom Brady was fined $10,000 for unnecessary roughness for his cleats-up slide into Baltimore’s Ed Reed in the first half of Sunday’s AFC title game against the Ravens, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

In the final minute of the second quarter, the New England quarterback was scrambling for extra yardage when he slid, and it appeared his upraised leg hit Reed. According to Reed, Brady has since reached out to him to apologize for the incident, and Reed later added that he and Brady are “all good.”

‘€œI know he’€™s a great player,’€ Reed told reporters. ‘€œI respect Brady and his game for all it stands for, and I know he’€™s not a dirty player. And emotions get going in the game.’€

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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

01.23.13 at 3:55 pm ET
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Every week, we present a list of the Patriots’€™ ‘€œoffensive touches,’€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for the 2012 postseason:

RB Stevan Ridley: 34 (33 rushes, 1 catch), 3 negative runs
RB Shane Vereen: 18 (11 rushes, 7 catches), 1 negative runs
WR Wes Welker: 16 (0 rushes, 16 catches)
TE Aaron Hernandez: 16 (1 rush, 15 catches)
WR Brandon Lloyd: 12 (0 rushes, 12 catches)
RB Danny Woodhead: 5 (4 rushes, 1 catch)
QB Tom Brady: 3 (3 rushes), 1 sack, 1 kneel down
WR Deion Branch: 2 (0 rushes, 2 catches)
TOTAL: 106 touches (52 rushes, 54 catches), 4 negative plays, plus 1 sack and 1 kneel down

By position:
Running back: 57 touches (48 rushes, 9 catches), 4 negative runs
Wide receiver: 30 touches (0 rushes, 30 catches)
Tight end: 16 touches (1 rush, 15 catches)
Quarterback: 3 (3 rushes)

Here’s a look at how the offensive opportunities broke down over the course of the 2012 regular season.

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