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Report: Unapproved special teams football was given to locker room attendant by NFL employee

02.18.15 at 7:37 pm ET
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Tuesday night ESPN’s Outside the Lines had a report of a Gillette Stadium locker room attendant giving an unapproved special teams football to an alternate referee to be put into play during the AFC title game against the Colts. Wednesday, it’s being reported an NFL employee was the one who gave the locker room attendant the football, as part of a sting of stealing game-used footballs intended for charity, and instead being sold for a profit.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the referee locker room attendant, Jim McNally, who tried to introduce the unapproved special teams football into the AFC Championship game was actually handed the football by an NFL employee. One of the special teams balls went missing and an NFL employee who is in charge of collecting game balls for charity gave another ball to McNally.

McNally then gave the football to Greg Yette, the alternate official who was in charge of putting the special teams balls into play. It was then Yette noticed the ball wasn’t one approved by head official Walt Anderson prior to the game, and it was then NFL officials in the press box were alerted.

The exchange of the football between the NFL official and McNally is on video and part of what attorney Ted Wells and his team are reviewing as part of the Deflategate investigation.

The NFL employee who gave the unapproved football to McNally has been fired for selling the footballs meant for charity for a profit over a period of time, according to Schefter.

Schefter will join Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning at 8:30 to discuss this story.

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Could next great Patriots tight end be at NFL combine?

02.18.15 at 5:25 pm ET
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Could Minnesota’s Maxx Williams be the next great Patriots tight end?

He just might be if he makes it to the end of the first round in this year’s draft.

Williams is a special talent, and looking at Bill Belichick‘s history with tight ends, it’s hard to imagine him passing up a player who would create a mismatch no matter where he’s lined up. And, by our view, he’s ready to contribute right away and make Tom Brady‘s life a little easier. Expect him to post impressive numbers at the combine in his Friday workout.

Could tight end Maxx Williams be wearing a Patriots uniform next year? (Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Could tight end Maxx Williams be wearing a Patriots uniform next year? (Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Perhaps with certain teams adding a tight end when you already possess an all-time great at the position would be considered poor team-building. Not so for the Patriots under Belichick, who have shown the ability to use multiple tight ends in various ways. It’s seemingly their preferred base offense.

Looking at the Patriots, a player like Williams could help in two crucial ways. First, he’s a every-down player who can be used as such under their current offensive paradigm. Second, he gives them a player who can be dynamic and potentially dominant if forced to fill in for Rob Gronkowski. Williams can do some of the things that Aaron Hernandez used to do, but he can also do some heavy lifting as an in-line tight end if need be. Williams’ red zone ability is also outstanding. From this viewpoint, he’s the favorite tight end prospect in this year’s draft with many draft experts agreeing. For what it’s worth, he’d be above any tight end in last year’s draft as well.

Projected at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, Williams is not as physically imposing as Gronkowski. Having said that, he is a similar receiver in many ways — overcoming some technique issues with freak athleticism and rare determination.

Here’s a look at Williams’ highlight reel. It’s an attention grabber.

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Buccaneers GM Jason Licht: ‘We think the world of Logan [Mankins]’

02.18.15 at 2:09 pm ET
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Long-time Patriots guard was traded to the Buccaneers just a few weeks prior to the 2014 season — a move which ultimately kept Mankins from winning his first Super Bowl ring, after coming so close in his nine seasons with the Patriots.

While his new team Tampa Bay went 2-14, good for the worst record in the league and the No. 1 overall draft pick, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith raved about their new guard Wednesday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

“We think the world of Logan,” Licht told reporters. “He’€™s part of the solution, wasn’€™t part of the problem. Having him for another year, the full offseason which he’€™s already told me he wants to be there for the whole offseason, and having him in the room — I think it’€™s going to be extremely valuable to this football team moving forward. Yeah, he has a future with us.”

Being an 11-year veteran, Mankins is a player some of the younger players can look up to and learn from, as the former Patriots guard is one of the hardest working, true professionals in the game.

“[Logan Mankins] was everything I hoped he would be and I’€™m talking about a veteran who played at a high level, leadership, Logan is a good player,” Smith said. “Logan played well for us. We need to get others play up to his level.”

Mankins opened up to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan about his season towards the end, admitting it was a tough transition going from one of the best teams in the league, to one of the worst teams in the league, but going on what members of the Buccaneers are saying, the guard will be a major part of the team’s turnaround.

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Rex Ryan: ‘It was terrible’ watching Patriots win Super Bowl XLIX

02.18.15 at 1:36 pm ET
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Although Rex Ryan is no longer coaching the Jets, he didn’t go very far as he’s still in the AFC East coaching the Bills, which means the Patriots remain his top competition within the division.

Speaking at the NFL combine Wednesday, Ryan was asked what it was like to see the Patriots win the Super Bowl.

“It was terrible, next question,” Ryan joked to reporters. “No, you know what? That was a great game, obviously a great game. I think it was anticipated it was going to be a great game. You had two outstanding teams, both of them really well coached. And, obviously, it was an outstanding game.”

The day of the Super Bowl a report came out that the Bills would be interested in acquiring Patriots star cornerback Darrelle Revis, reuniting Revis with his former coach in New York. Ryan was asked if he had any interest in the Patriots’ corner, and Ryan didn’t take the bait, as he didn’t want to get himself involved with potentially tampering with another team’s player.

“All right, now, I was waiting. I knew it would come from somebody,” said Ryan. “See, my first year, I would have done this and I would have swung at that pitch, and probably been fined for tampering or something like that. This time, no way am I going to talk about somebody else’s player, so I refuse to do that.”

Ryan also was asked about Deflategate, and if the accusations changed the way he viewed the Patriots winning the Super Bowl. The Bills coach said it shouldn’t take away from the win, as the team earned it.

“I think they earned the Super Bowl, period,” he said. “That’s the way I’d see it.”

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NFL combine preview: Receivers

02.18.15 at 1:31 pm ET
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As we head into the 2015 NFL combine, this year’s crop of draftable receiving talent is starting to take shape. In the wake of the 2014 class, just about any draft in league history looks disappointing, but football fans would be wise to get up to speed on this year’s group. Some of these players can make an impact right away, and there is plenty of depth, too. Will there be any Odell Beckhams? No. In fact, I don’t see any Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins either. That doesn’t mean this class lacks talent. Far from it. In fact, I like this class much better than the 2013 class.

I’ll break the top 20 prospects into four tiers to give you a general sense of value and where the drop-offs are. These ratings can and will change as we move through the draft process and watch more film … a lot more film.

Be sure to check out Rotobahn in the coming days and weeks as we roll out our long-form scouting reports and start to tackle the puzzle that is the 2015 fantasy draft board. This is going to be one of the most interesting drafting seasons ever. Has the era of the running back ended? If so, what defines where we are now? Be sure to tune in to the next fantasy football podcast, when Jim Hackett and I will dig into these topics and a whole lot more.

Click on the player’s name to watch a sample of his game film.

Amari Cooper (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Alabama’s Amari Cooper is one of the top-rated receivers in the 2015 draft class. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Tier 1

Amari Cooper, Alabama
DeVante Parker, Louisville
Kevin White, West Virginia

Take your pick. These three players could go off the board based on scheme fit as much as anything else. They all are high-quality players who are NFL-ready. The general consensus seems to be that Cooper will be taken first, but White is an imposing physical receiver who some teams will covet, and Parker has a little bit of everything. For anybody who did film work on Teddy Bridgewater last season, Parker should be well-known. He was on the other side of most of Bridgewater’s big plays, and that’s no coincidence. Parker reminds me of Dallas’ Terrance Williams when he left Baylor, but with better hands and more developed routes. One thing all three of their top guys have in common is that their value is not all that dependent on the combine. Barring something really off-the-charts bad, the film and a clean bill of health is all these players need to sell themselves on draft day.

Tier 2

Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri (never played a down for Oklahoma)
Devin Smith, Ohio State
Sammie Coates, Auburn
Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
Breshad Perriman, Central Florida
Philip Dorsett, Miami

This tier is a step down, but you still have mid- to late-first-round talent here. The difference is that some of these guys have discernible flaws, and a few are not game-ready like the Tier 1 options. Green-Beckham is a player who would possibly be off my board if I was an NFL GM. His off-field baggage is that significant. On the other hand, he has a skill set that is reminiscent of Calvin Johnson. Don’t get me wrong, DGB is not the freak that Megatron is, but his athleticism is rare for a man his size. Kevin Smith is a bit under the radar for a guy who was the lead receiver for a national championship team. Smith has an NFL skill set and he can take the top off of a defense. Coates is here for his upside. He may be the best deep threat in this year’s class, and we expect him to run very fast, but he lacks the polish of guys like Cooper and Parker. Jaelen Strong is a big name and he was a very solid college receiver who brings good hands and a big strong frame to the table. Getting consistent separation against man coverage will be the key to his success at the next level. Perriman is moving up boards, and, quite frankly, I’m not sure why it took so long. Anybody who watched Blake Bortles’ 2013 film had to notice this guy. My main concern with Perriman is his hands, and it’s a mild concern. He could end up being one of the better values if he makes it into the second round. Dorsett’s inclusion in this tier may surprise some, but at Rotobahn we love his speed and alpha attitude. The only concerns we have with Dorsett are his size and his potential lack of durability. The kid is an NFL talent. Just watch his film.

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Gary Kubiak on Wes Welker: ‘I know he wants to play some more football’

02.18.15 at 1:16 pm ET
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After a report a few weeks back saying Wes Welker was contemplating retirement, it doesn’t seem like the 33-year-old is ready to call it quits just yet, according to new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak.

Although Welker is a free agent, Kubiak spoke to Welker over the phone — as he did with every every Denver player — and Welker was working out in Arizona.

“I’€™ve spoken to every player on the team,” Kubiak told reporters at the combine. “It’€™s the first thing I did when I got there was pick up the phone and call and say hello and let them know how excited I was to be a part of it. But I had a good conversation with Wes. I’€™ve known him, know people who have known him for many, many years.

“I know he wants to play some more football and, like I said, like any of these free agents we’€™re talking about right now, we’€™d love to have them back. We’€™ll see how this thing works out. But I know he’€™s feeling good, he told me he’€™s feeling good and actually was working down in Arizona, I think, at the time I talked to him.”

Kubiak said he will stay out of Welker’s way and ultimately let him make the decision of first of all whether he wants to come back to the NFL, and secondly if that will be in Denver or somewhere else.

“€œNo, I think that’€™s Wes,” said Kubiak. “No, I do not think that’€™s my place. I’€™m just developing a relationship with Wes from his standpoint. I hope I get an opportunity to coach him and be a bigger part of his career. I have great respect for what he’€™s done and the job he’€™s done, and he did a very good job in Denver. Only he can work through that and know how he’€™s feeling, but he was very positive with me.”

Dealing with injuries in Denver, Welker has totaled 124 catches for 1,242 yards and 12 touchdowns in his two seasons as a Bronco, but finished with just two touchdowns this past year. Welker has played 11 seasons in the NFL.

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Bill Belichick reportedly gave ‘tremendous’ talk to Indiana University basketball team prior to NFL combine

02.18.15 at 12:02 pm ET
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The NFL combine kicked off in Indianapolis Wednesday morning, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t go straight to Indianapolis when he arrived on Tuesday. Instead he visited with good friend, Indiana University basketball coach Tom Crean and spoke to his team.

According to, the coach gave a “tremendous” speech. Crean thought only Mike Lombardi, an assistant to the Patriots coaches, would be going, but he brought Belichick along with him.

Crean is brother-in-law’s with the Harbaugh brothers.

Belichick will now be hard at work with the rest of the organization at the combine, which runs through Monday.

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Honored to have met two of the all time greats in the NFL earlier today, Coach Bill Belichick and Mike Lomabrdi!

A photo posted by Nick Zeisloft (@n_zeis2) on

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