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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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Read More: Deflategate, Tom Brady, Tom Brady Confidence Indez,

ESPN’s John Clayton on MFB: ‘It will be hard’ to get Tom Brady suspension reduced

05.15.15 at 2:16 pm ET
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John Clayton

John Clayton

ESPN’s John Clayton joined Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss the fallout from Deflategate and the Patriots’ reaction to the punishment handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Following the release of the Wells Report, the Patriots were given a penalty that they see as excessive: a $1 million fine, two draft picks including a first-round pick in 2016, and a four-game suspension for Tom Brady. On Thursday, the team released a document highlighting the inaccuracies in the report.

“I don’t think [the Patriots’ response is] going to change anything,” Clayton said. “One thing I think is good for the league by doing it as strongly as they did and putting out just about every argument, I think it pretty well says they’re not suing the National Football League.”

Added Clayton: “Instead of going into the court of law, they went into the court of public opinion and trying to win it there. And I think you can see from the reaction of the Patriots fans, it certainly was good for the Patriots fans, and, you know, everybody else around the country, they’re trying to make their judgments.”

Brady and the Patriots have made it clear that they will be appealing the punishment, and the NFL has announced that Goodell will be hearing the appeal himself.

“I’m not surprised that Roger’s going to legislate this, but you have to get the feeling that he’s not going to be sympathetic toward the Patriots because, you know, he has stressed so hard that he wants integrity in the game, and in his eyes at least, this does violate integrity,” Clayton said, adding: “I think it’s going to be hard to get this below four games unless there is a settlement. I mean, if Roger does try to at least say, ‘OK, we’ll take the four down to two,’ you take it and then deal with that. But I think right now, odds are at least somewhat favoring it’s going to probably stay at four games.”

One of the major criticisms of Goodell in recent days is that other players and organizations who were disciplined by the league in the past year were given relatively light penalties compared to those given to the Pats.

“There is no consistency at the moment with any penalty coming out of [Goodell’s] office, and so because of that, there is extra scrutiny,” Clayton said.

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Read More: Deflategate, John Clayton, Tom Brady, Wells Report

NFLPA: Troy Vincent had ‘no authority to impose discipline’ on Tom Brady

05.15.15 at 11:41 am ET
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The letter the NFLPA sent Troy Vincent appealing Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension became public on Friday. To read the entire letter, click here.

The letter states, Vincent had “no authority to impose discipline” and only Commissioner Roger Goodell holds that power.

Another argument brought up is the fact Brady was suspended four games, which they argue is a violation of the CBA. The letter states: Indeed no player in the history of the NFL has ever received anything approaching this level of discipline for similar behavior — a change in sanctions squarely forbidden by the CBA and the law of the shop.

Brady was suspended because of the findings of the Wells Report, which the NFLPA feels had “insufficient evidence” to find Brady committed any violation of NFL rules.

It also reiterates they would like a neutral arbiter to hear the appeal. It was announced Thursday night Goodell would be the one hearing the appeal. If they don’t get a neutral arbitrator, the NFLPA “will seek recusal and pursue all available relief to obtain an arbitrator who is not evidently partial.” They made reference to the Ray Rice case where Judge Barbara Jones heard the appeal.

Lastly, the letter states they will call Goodell and Vincent as witnesses, which raises serious questions as to whether or not Goodell should be the one hearing the appeal.

The NFL has 10 days from Thursday to hear the appeal.

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Read More: Deflategate, roger goodell, Tom Brady, Troy Vincent

Aaron Hernandez defense team appeals murder conviction, claims it was based on ‘conjecture and guesswork’

05.15.15 at 10:36 am ET
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Attorneys representing Aaron Hernandez filed an appeal of his murder conviction Friday in Bristol Superior Court in Fall River, insisting “no reasonable jury” could have found Hernandez guilty of murdering Odin Lloyd in 2013.

The defense team cited insufficient evidence and said the verdict was based on “improper speculation, conjecture and guesswork.”

The former Patriots tight end was found guilty of first-degree murder and a host of other charges in April and received a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Under Massachusetts law, his conviction is automatically appealed.

Hernandez also will be tried for the shooting deaths of two men in Boston in 2012. Earlier this week he was charged with shooting a man in the face in Florida, allegedly in an attempt to keep him quiet about the 2012 double-murder.

Also Friday, prosecutors dropped perjury charges against Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins.

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Prosecution drops perjury charge against Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee

05.15.15 at 10:23 am ET
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Aaron Hernandez‘s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, had a perjury charge against her dropped on Friday after she testified under an immunity order in March.

The prosecution said Jenkins had lied to the grand jury about where she disposed of a box that Hernandez asked her to get rid of. Prosecutors said Jenkins told the grand jury that she couldn’t remember where she threw away the box, which they believe held the murder weapon.

Jenkins pleaded not guilty to the charge and, citing her March trial testimony, prosecutors then asked a judge to drop it on Friday, which Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh agreed to.

“I’m feeling great,” Jenkins told Rhode Island’s NBC 10 News outside court. “I’m happy to start my future with my daughter and move forward.”

Jenkins’ lawyer, Janice Bassil, told NBC 10 News that the perjury charge should not have been brought, adding that Jenkins had been asked 1,630 questions in front of the grand jury over the course of two days and didn’t lie deliberately.

“She made an honest mistake,” Bassil said.

Last month, Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison with no parole and his lawyers appealed the sentence this week.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez trial, Shayanna Jenkins,
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