|04.10.10 at 11:15 am ET|
The Patriots made it officially this morning, signing veteran defensive lineman Damione Lewis. Here’s the press release issued by the team on the move:
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced the signing DL Damione Lewis. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Lewis, 6-2, 301 pounds, is a veteran of 10 NFL seasons with the St. Louis Rams (2001-05) and the Carolina Panthers (2006-09). He has started 65 of 131 regular season games and has accumulated 360 total tackles, 22.5 sacks, 14 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. Lewis’ best statistical season was in 2004 with the Rams when he registered 61 total tackles and 5.0 sacks.
Lewis originally joined St. Louis as a first-round draft choice (12th overall) out of Miami in 2001. He was signed by Carolina as an unrestricted free agent on March 14, 2006. He was waived by Carolina on March 4, 2010. Last season, Lewis started all 16 games for the Panthers and finished with 41 total tackles, 0.5 sacks and one fumble recovery.
|04.10.10 at 1:19 am ET|
Let’s start with this idea: Of the areas of real need for the Patriots entering the 2010 draft, quarterback is way down the list.
But many teams believe that regardless of how stable the position might be, it’s a good policy to either draft a quarterback or bring in a rookie free agent every season. Bottom line? You can never have enough quarterbacks. And sometimes, it’s the football equivalent of digging up your front yard and finding gold bars. (See Brady, Tom.)
It’s an idea New England clearly espouses — despite having a veteran leader at the position, since the start of the Bill Belichick Era, quarterbacks like Brady, Brian Hoyer, Matt Cassel and Kliff Kingsbury have all been either late-round picks or undrafted free agents who have eventually signed with the Patriots. Some of them have worked out, some of them haven’t, while some are still a work in progress.
To that end, New England has worked out or will work out a handful of signal-callers in the final weeks leading up to the draft. While they have publicly flirted with the much-ballyhooed Tim Tebow, it appears they have been mostly targeting relatively under-the-radar guys with the hope that if they do end up taking one of them, they could challenge Hoyer for the No. 2 job (or gain a spot on the practice squad).
To that end, according to the National Football Post, New England recently worked out Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka. The 6-foot-3, 225 pound Kafka threw for a career-high 3,430 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. (For his career, he passed for 4,265 yards and 19 touchdowns.) The number that really stands out for Kafka is his accuracy — when looking for quarterbacks, the Patriots value accuracy above almost every other measurable, and that’s certainly something he can bring to the table, having completed 65 percent of his passes last season for Northwestern. Kafka has reportedly also worked out for Cleveland, Oakland and Cincinnati.
In addition, WEEI.com has verified a report via a league source that the Patriots will work out Florida Atlantic quarterback Rusty Smith this weekend in Jacksonville. Smith is a 6-foot-5, 230-pounder who is FAU’s career leader in passing attempts (1,073), completions (603), passing yards (8,197), touchdowns (62) and total yards (7,930). It’s all part of a busy weekend for the 23-year-old Smith, who is also scheduled to get married this weekend and had to finesse his schedule to fit the Patriots in. (“There is a window of about four hours where I didn’t have anything; then a rehearsal dinner at 9,” Smith told reporters. “It worked out great. I now have a completely packed day.”)
|04.09.10 at 12:19 pm ET|
The draft is drawing closer, and the Patriots continue to meet with players. The National Football Post is reporting that New England will host Minnesota wide receiver Eric Decker for a visit, and have already had a visit with University of Washington defensive end/outside linebacker Daniel T’eo-Nesheim.
Decker is a 6-foot-3, 217-pounder who was hobbled by a Lisfranc sprain as a senior, which limited him to 50 catches for 758 yards in eight games. (As a junior, he had 84 receptions for 1,074 yards with seven touchdowns, which earned him a spot on the first-team All Big Ten roster.) We’re hardly surprised because we’ve seen this happen before, but other teams with ex-Patriots officials (Denver and Kansas City) are also reportedly taking a look at Decker.
T’eo-Nesheim is a 6-foot-3, 263-pounder who had 37 tackles (14 for loss) and 11 sacks in 2009. In his collegiate career, he finished with 194 career tackles, 37 for losses and 30 sacks. T’eo-Nesheim, a native of Hawaii, has also visited with the Eagles and Raiders.
|04.09.10 at 12:10 am ET|
Each Friday leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, WEEI.com will focus on one player the Patriots could be targeting. Here are the draft prospects that have been put in the spotlight thus far:
After thinking offensively last week, another college defensive end-turned 3-4 outside linebacker gets this edition’s attention in the form of Texas Christian’s Jerry Hughes, whom the Patriots held a workout with last month. Considering he was once a top recruit at running back, he is an intriguing prospect to say the least.
Combine height: 6-foot-1 6/8
Combine weight: 255 pounds
40-yard dash time: 4.69
Bench reps: 26
Best season: 2008 (52 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 15 sacks).
Perhaps the most popular line of thinking among prognosticators has been that the Patriots will use the 22nd pick on Graham, but Hughes may be the reason they don’t. Hughes has a nearly identical skill set and is similarly proportioned, so the probability of him being available at No. 44 could mean the Pats will use their top pick to address a different need and solve their pass-rush problem in the second round. Given his ability to get after the quarterback and above-average play against the run, he could be a value with any one of the team’s second-round choices.
Because he has a build similar to Graham, it’s no surprise that the Patriots may be scared off by Hughes’ height. With the Patriots being as stingy as they have been regarding drafting outside linebackers under 6-foot-5, one would think there is a very small chance the team would use its first pick in such an important draft on a guy like Graham, despite his terrific motor. That’s where Hughes comes in. It isn’t that the Patriots don’t need a guy like Graham — they undoubtedly do — but if they can get the same guy with better speed a round later for less money, perhaps that is where they turn a blind eye to the Belichick line.
|04.08.10 at 7:30 pm ET|
WEEI.com has confirmed via a league source a report that Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant had a workout with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Thursday.
Bryant is a 6-foot-2, 225-pound receiver who had 87 receptions for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior in 2008, but sat out most of 2009 after the NCAA ruled him ineligible because he reportedly lied to investigators about his affiliation with Deion Sanders.
“It was a bad mistake,” Bryant acknowledged at the combine in February. “But I’m a great person. I enjoy the opportunity to make people smile. I’m good at making people smile. People that know me, they know it was a mistake. They know I’m a fun type of person and I love to have fun.”
Since then, Bryant has found himself under increased scrutiny on several issues, including what some considered a lackluster Pro Day, where he reportedly forget to bring his cleats he planned for wear for the workout and ran a 4.52 and 4.68 40-yard dash.
“The 40 is going to bother some teams. When you’re talking about an elite receiver and a potential top-10 pick, a 4.55 doesn’t always add up,” NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock told reporters who have asked about Bryant. “You say Larry Fitzgerald ran 4.50 and 4.52 at 223 pounds, but Larry Fitzgerald was 100 percent clean off the field; Dez has some issues to deal with there.”
Bryant recently compared himself to Patriots’ wide receiver Randy Moss, saying that teams that decide to pass on him — as several did with Moss in 1998 — would regret the decision.
“Any teams who don’t draft me who think I have background problems or any of that, you’re not going to draft me because of stuff that happened in my childhood? What about now? What’s been going on with Dez now? Nothing bad’s been going on with Dez. Nothing at all,” Bryant told reporters.
“Whoever passes up on me, it’s over with. I feel like I’m going through the same situation Randy Moss did,” he added. “That man had issues and teams were passing up on him, and when he got on that field, he killed them. He murdered them. Look at him today: One of the best players in the NFL.”
Bryant was recently profiled as part of WEEI.com’s “Potential Patriots” series — check that out here.
|04.08.10 at 4:01 pm ET|
Here are some quick hits from running back Kevin Faulk from earlier today at Gillette Stadium:
On Tim Tebow: “He’s a winner. That’s all I have to say. He’s a winner. Who doesn’t want a winner on their team? That’s it.”
On the relief from having his contract done: “What a relief. Try to balance that and try to get everything situated for renewing my vows, whoa. I think my wife was more … upset than me. But at the same time, it’s like when your Mom and Dad tell you that you can’t do something. You understand later on what happens and what goes on, and you just move on, and it’s all love again.”
What’s the attitude in the locker room? “We didn’t have a real good year last year. It was an up and down year. Inconsistent. And I think one of the main focuses is consistency. Coming to work everyday. … When you wake up in the morning and you don’t want to be here, you’ve gotta do it. When you finish with it at the end of the day, you feel better. It helps you get better that day, and you just move on. You see the results in the season.”
What are your thoughts on the McNabb trade? “Bill’s going to kill me for this. I’m not supposed to let my opinion go. They’ve been criticizing the guy. He’s a good friend of mine, and they’ve been criticizing him for a long time, and he’s done nothing but good things for Philly, and a lot of fans, they don’t appreciate it. But, like he said, he believes he’s done a lot of great things there, he came up short a couple of years, but he enjoyed his time there. If he’s happy with it, I love it.”
On the playoff loss to the Ravens: “I think it’s really showing now in the offseason program and how we’re trying to prepare for the season and how the guys are getting back. It was very disappointing. That wasn’t Patriot-like at all. But it’s football. Anything can happen. The great thing about it is you get to come back and try to do it again.”
|04.08.10 at 12:04 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Even now, 11 years later, Kevin Faulk can still recall the slight.
One of the premier backs in the SEC, the Louisiana State product was told by several teams that he would be a first-round pick when their choice came up in the 1999 NFL Draft. But the first round came and went, and Faulk was still on the board. He remembers being more than a little upset.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t I be? You go on visits, you get told you’re a first-round pick,” he said Thursday morning after a workout at Gillette Stadium. “You get told by a couple of teams, ‘We’re going to draft you. We’re going to draft you with our pick.’
“The team I love the most, standing on the surface right now, told me we’ve got two picks in the first round, and we’re going to take you with one of them. Two picks came, and I wasn’t taken,” Faulk said of the Patriots, who took center Damien Woody and linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer. “But it’s like I said, it’s like [a] marriage. You’re mad one day, and then, it’s like, ‘OK, here I am. Here’s what I have to do.’”
Faulk did eventually get the phone call from New England personnel chief Bobby Grier — he was taken in the second round with the No. 46 pick overall — while he was out on a four-wheeler.
“I was on a four-wheeler in the dirt way out in the country,” he remembered with a smile. “Got the phone call, and I had to come.”
Asked what sort of advice he’d give players who might be suffering from a case of nerves on draft weekend nerves, Faulk said “just be normal.”
“Do what you normally do. It’s OK to watch the draft, but don’t just sit there preparing and waiting for a phone call. You’re going to be nervous the whole day,” he said. “Understand that you can’t do anything those days, because everything you’ve done so far to that point is what’s going to get you drafted. You can’t do anything that day, so just be normal.”
- In the Mind of Destruction
- Patriots vs. Browns Final Score: Gronkowski Injured in Dramatic 27-26...
- Halftime: Patriots Struggle Again in 1st Half, Trail Browns 6-0
- Week 14 Game Thread: Patriots vs. Browns
- Patriots vs. Browns: Thompkins, Hoomanawanui Both Inactive
- Belichick on Ridley, Faulk, and Ozzie Newsome
- The Best Around