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Report: Vince Wilfork fined $8,268 for late hit against Colts

01.23.15 at 6:05 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork was given a 15-yard penalty for a late hit on Andrew Luck in the second quarter of Sunday’ AFC championship game, but that wasn’t the only slap on the wrist.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the defensive tackle was fined $8,268 for the play. It was on a drive that led to the only touchdown of the game.

Fine aside, Wilfork is looking forward to next weekend’s Super Bowl — his fourth as a member of the Patriots.

“Everything you dreamed, it’€™s about to come true,” Wilfork said Friday. “Enjoy this feeling, enjoy this time, [and] feel proud of yourself because we’€™ve battled a lot, we’€™ve played a lot of football, we’€™ve been grinding for a long, long time, and for it to be here is a special moment for us, so we should all cherish that.”

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Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Super Bowl XLVI, Vince Wilfork,

Former Patriots FB Dan Klecko: ‘[Deflategate is] really going to lock [Patriots] in on the us against the world mentality’

01.23.15 at 5:51 pm ET
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Dan Klecko. (Getty Images)

Dan Klecko. (Getty Images)

Dan Klecko was a member of the Patriots from 2003-05 before playing for the Colts, Eagles and Falcons the rest of his career. Being around Bill Belichick and Tom Brady for three seasons and winning back-to-back Super Bowls with the team, he can offer a sense of what is going on behind closed doors leading up to the Super Bowl.

Klecko feels the team and Belichick will use this as an “us against the world” motivation mentality.

“[This is] going to make them hyper focused for the game,” Klecko said via phone on Friday. “It’s really going to lock them in on the us against the world mentality, and we all know what happened the last time something like this — got accused, or found — that was Spygate and they almost went undefeated and being the greatest team of all-time. It’s fun to watch on the outside because I know what is going on in that room.”

“You’ve seen it — ‘We’re onto Cincinnati.’ That’s the joke, but that is the truth,” he added. “This is Tom’s whatever year in the league, he can put this stuff out of his mind. I am sure they are thinking right now, the way we rectify this is — first of all we make the balls are what they want and we go out and smoke Seattle and then hand the balls to everyone and go, ‘There’s your answer.’ I think that’s how they rectify this.”

Klecko said he’s upset at all the criticism directed at Brady because a couple PSI really is not a huge advantage in the grand scheme of things, especially with other players in the league such as Aaron Rodgers saying he likes his balls on the heavier side.

“The biggest thing I keep coming back to that I am most pissed about is Tom. This is ridiculous,” said Klecko. “People really aren’t taking a step back and looking at this situation like it’s some big advantage in the game. The guys from ESPN are bashing Tom. The guys that lost to him. The guys that have agendas on TV. Every other quarterback you’re hearing, even active ones playing in the league, why is there no out cry? They know it’s not a big deal. [Colts tight end] Dwayne Allen came out and said they could have came out with soap bars and beat us. What’s the big deal here? I don’t think people are really taking a step back and looking.”

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Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Dan Klecko, Super Bowl XLIX

Patriots officially list six as ‘questionable’ week before Super Bowl

01.23.15 at 4:56 pm ET
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Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner

FOXBORO — There were no changes to the injury report Friday in the second of four Foxboro practices before the team leaves for Glendale on Monday.

The second practice of the week Friday was only a walkthrough inside Dana-Farber Fieldhouse, with the team reporting perfect attendance.

Rookie center Bryan Stork (knee) practiced for the second time since suffering the injury in the divisional round against the Ravens. He didn’t practice all last week prior to the AFC championship.

Other than Stork practicing, the report was the same as it was on Wednesday’s projection, as they had five other players limited and Tom Brady (ankle) a full participant. As required by the NFL, the Patriots projected the game status of everyone on their injury list. All six players who were limited were listed as “questionable” while Tom Brady was listed as “probable.”

For the Seahawks, Marshawn Lynch (not injury related) returned to practice after missing Wednesday and Thursday.

Earl Thomas (shoulder), who also missed Wednesday and Thursday, returned to practice Friday on a limited basis.

Here is Friday’s complete Patriots practice report, along with the projection of their possible availability for Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1:

Limited participation

CB Brandon Browner (knee) QUESTIONABLE
LB Dont’€™a Hightower (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
DT Chris Jones (elbow) QUESTIONABLE
WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder/toe) QUESTIONABLE
DT Sealver Siliga (foot) QUESTIONABLE
C Bryan Stork (knee) QUESTIONABLE

Full participation

QB Tom Brady (ankle) PROBABLE

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Bryan Stork, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks

Vince Wilfork has a ton of respect for Marshawn Lynch, an ‘old-school running back that can do everything’

01.23.15 at 4:30 pm ET
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Marshawn Lynch dives into the end zone after a 79-yard TD run against the Cardinals (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Marshawn Lynch dives into the end zone after a 79-yard TD run against the Cardinals (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — As some of the questions finally turned back to football strategy Friday, one of the first subjects addressed to Vince Wilfork is what the Patriots plan to do with Marshawn Lynch.

Wilfork made it perfectly clear that he thinks Lynch is the best running back in the game and the toughest ground game challenge the Patriots defense will face this season.

What comes to mind when Wilfork thinks of Lynch?

“Beast,” Wilfork said in a one-word answer that doubles as the first half of the running back’s “Beastmode” nickname. “I mean, he is an old-school running back that can do everything. There’€™s not one thing he cannot do. He is very, very, very tough. I remember playing him when he was in Buffalo as a rookie, and I went up to him at the end of the game and I said, ‘€˜You have something special. You’€™re a hell of a ball player.’€™ I said, ‘€˜I have to give my hats off to you,’€™ and he kind of smiled and was like, ‘€˜Thank you.’€™ It seems like he’€™s been getting better and better.”

Lynch was drafted by Buffalo in the first round in 2007 out of Cal and promptly ran for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, to go with 15 touchdowns. But after his second season, things started to go south in Buffalo. Following his guilty plea on misdemeanor weapons charges, Lynch met with Commissioner Roger Goodell for a disciplinary hearing. Lynch had been arrested in Culver City, Calif., for having a gun in his backpack in the trunk of a car he was in.

The NFL announced that Lynch would be suspended for the Bills’ first three games for violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Lynch appealed the league’s suspension on May 14 in an attempt to have it reduced or nullified, only to have it upheld by Goodell later on August 3. When interviewed on the topic, Lynch has said that he was not surprised when the suspension was upheld, and that he loves playing too much and will try to keep himself out of situations in which there is a risk of being suspended.

He suffered a sprained ankle in 2010 and was traded in October to Seattle, where’s he’s been in “Beastmode” ever since. He has rushed for over 1,200 yards in each of his last four seasons in Seattle, including 1,306 yards with a career high 13 touchdowns this season. His season was defined by a spectacular 79-yard touchdown run on Dec. 21 against the Cardinals, on the same field he’ll be playing the Patriots on Feb. 1. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Beastmode, Marshawn Lynch, New England Patriots

Robert Kraft issues Deflategate statement, says Patriots taking ongoing investigation ‘very seriously’

01.23.15 at 3:16 pm ET
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Robert Kraft says his team is taking Deflategate very seriously. (Getty Images)

Robert Kraft says his team is taking Deflategate very seriously. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Roughly an hour after the NFL released its statement of an ongoing investigation of Deflategate, Patriots owner, Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft pledged complete support and continued cooperation with a statement of his own.

“On Monday, I received a letter from the league office informing me that they would be conducting an investigation into the air pressure of the game balls. Immediately after receiving the letter, I instructed our staff to be completely cooperative and transparent with the league’€™s investigators.

“During the three days they were here, we provided access to every full- and part-time employee the league’€™s representatives requested to speak with and produced every communication device that they requested to search. It is an ongoing process that the league and our team are taking very seriously. I very much support the league’€™s desire to conduct a complete investigation and welcome the appointment of Ted Wells to lead the process.

“Competitive balance and the integrity of the game are the foundation of what makes our league so special and I have the utmost respect for those principles. Our organization will continue to cooperate throughout the league’€™s investigation. Meanwhile, our players, coaches and staff will continue to focus on our preparations for Super Bowl XLIX and the many challenges we face as we prepare for the Seattle Seahawks.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Deflategate, New England Patriots, Robert Kraft

Adam Schefter on MFB: Any discipline for Deflategate not likely until after Super Bowl

01.23.15 at 2:54 pm ET
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Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss Deflategate and preview the Super Bowl. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

“The Patriots might be the most polarizing team in all of sports,” Schefter said, discussing how the controversy has grown. “People love them and people despise them.”

Added Schefter: “There are going to be some people that are naturally disposed to taking their shots and wanting there to be an extreme form of punishment given to them. … It’s the week before the Super Bowl, if there’s a whiff of controversy, it’s going to take on a life of its own, and this certainly has.”

Schefter is cautious about passing judgment on the Patriots or the league with so little information available so far.

“Let’s see how this all works out here, let’s see what the evidence actually is,” he said. “A lot of people want to jump to conclusions. … The league wants to be very thorough and methodical in its investigation. … They can’t afford any form of embarrassment.”

Schefter said he does not believe that the issue will be resolved any time soon.

“When I spoke to people earlier in the week, there’s not going to be any discipline until after the Super Bowl, if there were any discipline.”

Schefter said he believed Tom Brady‘s claim that the QB was unaware of the issue until Monday morning.

Bill [Belichick] spoke with more conviction than Tom did … I believed what Tom Brady was saying, I really did,” he said.

Added Schefter: “It’s a difficult situation for everybody right now because they want answers as to how any of these footballs that allegedly were deflated got the way they were, and we don’t have that right now. … I don’t want to be naive to think that nothing happened, but it’s possible nothing did. It’s possible that they didn’€™t take the measurements at the right time. There’s so many different explanations.”

When asked how the controversy will affect the PatsSuper Bowl performance, Schefter said: “A lot of this, I think, plays into the Patriots’ hands. … They feel like it’s them against the world.”

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Read More: adam schefter, Bill Belichick, Deflategate, Tom Brady

Rob Gronkowski says ‘thank you’ to Jeremy Lane for his critique of TE

01.23.15 at 2:52 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski isn’t about to get into a trash-talking war with Jeremy Lane — or anyone else for that matter — leading up to Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale.

For that reason, he took the high road on Friday when asked for his reaction to the scouting report from Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane that Gronk is “not that good a player.”

“Everyone’€™s entitled to their own opinion,” Gronkowski said. “They’ve got a great defense overall. We’ve got to be worried about their whole defense. We’ve got to be sure we practice hard, prepare hard all week so we’€™re ready to roll.”

Does it tick Gronkowski off? Will it motivate him?

“I just keep doing what I’ve got to do.” Gronkowski said. “I’ve just got to keep working hard at practice, keep bringing it at practice, keep preparing. Just keep getting ready, because it’€™s not just one player on their defense, there’€™s 11 guys out there at the same time. It’€™s not just 11, they’ve got the backups, too. So I’ve got to prepare for their whole defense, no doubt about that.

“I’ve got much respect for the Seattle Seahawks throughout their whole team. Just got to keep working hard and practicing and getting ready for the game. Bring it out there on the field.”
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Read More: Jeremy Lane, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, Seattle Seahawks
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