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Pats release Murrell to make room for Ojinnaka

09.13.10 at 3:31 pm ET
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The Patriots have just announced that linebacker Marques Murrell has been released to make room on the roster for offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka. Here’s the full text of the statement from the team:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced today that LB Marques Murrell has been released.

Murrell, 6-2, 250 pounds, was signed by the Patriots on March 10, 2010. He is a veteran of three NFL seasons (2007-09) with the New York Jets. Murrell originally joined the NFL as a rookie free agent with Philadelphia out of Appalachian State in 2007 and began his career on the Eagles’ practice squad before being signed to the Jets 53-man roster on Nov. 7, 2007. Murrell saw action on special teams for New England on Sunday against Cincinnati.

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Vince Wilfork on D&H: ‘We’re one heartbeat’

09.13.10 at 2:39 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork (AP)

Vince Wilfork (AP)

Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork joined the Dale & Holley show for his weekly Monday appearance and talked about Sunday’s 38-24 victory over the Bengals.

Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

On the defense’s play in Sunday’s win:

Guys were having fun, guys were excited, guys were making plays. We were getting on and off the field. Anytime you have energy like that, we played well. We stressed that, “Hey, guys, when we’re making plays, we’re bringing the fans alive. We bring each other alive.” But when we’re up there and we’re giving up first-and-10s and they’re just moving the chains and everybody’s walking around like, “What are we going to do?” that’s a problem.

So, we wanted to start fast, and we wanted to finish. I think we did both. I’m not saying it was perfect, by any means. I’m not saying that. But you know what? It’s a good start to play a good team, a playoff-caliber team who had a bunch of weapons on that offense. We came out and we basically did what we had to do.

On the defensive line’s responsibility stopping the run:

It starts with us. When they run the ball, we’ve got to be able to stop the run with our front seven, front six, whatever it may be. … Let those guys [in the defensive backfield] worry about covering, and let us worry about the run.

On the team’s improved attitude this season:

If you believe in one another out there on the field, it’s strong, the bond is strong. We’re one heartbeat, and we played like that yesterday. Going forward, that’s exactly what we need. And if we do that, I’m telling you, if we do that, man, you’ll see some good things coming from this ballclub. And I’m talking about some real good stuff. We’ve just got to stay focused and just keep grinding away. Just keep grinding away and getting better every week. Make the corrections and move forward from there and be better.

On what it means that Randy Moss was not elected a captain this season after he was one in 2009:

I wouldn’t even feed into that, because that is so out of left field, it’s unbelievable. On this team, you’ve got a bunch of guys that are capable of doing a bunch of things. Just because you’re not announced a captain, it doesn’t mean your input isn’t heard.”

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Tom Brady on D&C: A different team this year

09.13.10 at 1:33 pm ET
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Tom Brady had plenty to get excited about during Sunday's win over the Bengals. (AP)

Tom Brady had plenty to get excited about during Sunday's win over the Bengals. (AP)

Following an impressive performance Sunday, when he completed 25-of-35 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns in a season-opening victory over the Bengals, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning for Coffee with the Quarterback and discussed Sunday’s game, Randy Moss‘ postgame comments, Wes Welker‘s comeback, his car crash, and more.

Following is a transcript. To listen to the interview, visit Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On the excellent protection he received from his offensive line:

I felt as good as I’ve ever felt after an opening game, it’s pretty remarkable what the guys up front did. The challenging part about that defense is the way they rush the passer, and their blitz schemes, and I thought up front we played an incredible game. If we can keep playing like that it’s going to be pretty tough on opposing defenses. That was a great start by the offensive line, the backs protected great, the tight ends protected great, and you know, we ran the ball. It’s a different team this year, I’m telling you.

On the last month and a half of preparation:

We obviously know what we’re gearing up for the whole training camp. A lot of the extra time that we have is spent working on their blitzes, the challenges that their defense presents. We had five days to practice for them, that’s a lot for anybody. So, I thought we were pretty prepared, and I think we started fast and everything we talked about before the game, we really went out there and executed. And that’s why everyone was really happy after the game because kind of what we said we were going to do and what we wanted to we ended up accomplishing.

On why this a “different” team:

I think there’s a lot of things. I think there’s three different tight ends that have different skill sets, that’s a big position in our offense. You know, Fred Taylor, you saw the way he ran yesterday, he wasn’t out there a whole lot last year. You add that with a bunch of other new additions in terms of the defense and leadership and our attitude like you said and it’s just a whole different take from everybody.

I think really it’s been a good attitude this whole year. That’s what we’ve got to continue, that’s how you win games. That’s why I think we were really able to spread the ball to a bunch of different people yesterday offensively instead of just Randy and Wes, which it puts a lot of pressure on those two if the ball only goes to those two guys all day, and we become relatively easy to defend. But when they got to defend every receiver and every tight end and the running game, they got to pick what their issues are.

On out-game-planning and out-coaching the Bengals:

Yeah, I agree, and we did. We had a great plan. There were things that we saw that we felt we could take advantage of. Those are things we have to go out and execute, and if we do that then we are able to have those plays where you’re right, you don’t have to fire the ball in there into a space that’s two feet wide, you have guys that are running open. And that’s the goal of our offense, that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. I thought the offensive staff, really all the coaches did great.

On hugging Bill Belichick:

Yeah, I was pretty fired up, I was pretty fired up. It’s a lot of energy and excitement out there. So that was fun. Bill and I have got a great relationship, so it’s a lot of fun to come and celebrate with him.

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Robert Kraft on D&H: ‘Never had a deal with Logan Mankins’

09.13.10 at 12:26 pm ET
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kc_robertkraft

Robert Kraft

Patriots owner Robert Kraft made a surprise appearance on the Dale & Holley show Monday morning to address recent reports about the team’s contract dispute with holdout offensive lineman Logan Mankins. Referring to Adam Schefter’s story that a deal fell apart when the Patriots demanded a public apology from Mankins for accusing team executives of lying, Kraft called the report a “bold-faced fib” and repeatedly stated, “We have never had a deal with Logan Mankins.”

Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

First of all, I must tell you, I was diligently working away and [media relations director] Stacey [James] popped down and said you folks were discussing the Mankins situation. I just said, you know, I want to come down here. I’m coming down as a fan of the New England Patriots. I want to correct a misconception that I believe is out there.

First of all, I’ll just tell you, it’s been a real busy week. We had that little automobile incident. We were happy and glad that we could sign our quarterback so that he’ll be playing here for five more years. We were able to sign Vince [Wilfork] to a long-term contract. And speaking as a fan, what happened here against Baltimore and the end of last year was really draining, draining. I’m glad we could get that corrected.

Yesterday we had a great victory. I think all phases of the team performed very well. I think it’s a time that those who are fans of the New England Patriots should feel good and real excited. I know I am about this upcoming season, and especially headed down to the New Meadowlands Sunday afternoon. Actually thinking about it, we’ll all be watching [Jets-Ravens] tonight and hope it’s a good physical game. I think we have a lot of friends in Baltimore who will be watching it as well.

I want to correct this. There’s a a misconception that we have had a deal with Logan Mankins. We have never had a deal with Logan Mankins. And I hate violating a private conversation, but I think it’s worthy, because it speaks to this issue. I got a call three weeks ago maybe, something around that time, from Logan, and he apologized to me for the comments that he made in the public media. He said he regretted he did it. He knew in retrospect that they were not true. I accepted his apology, because he’s a very high-quality guy. I also said to him, “You know, Logan, it would be nice if that was made public, because I’m hoping we do a deal with you. And I don’t want people to think that the way you do a deal is to say something that’s not true or involve ownership.”

And I also want to be clear about this: Ownership of the New England Patriots does not get involved in negotiations of contracts or make commitments to players. We bless them, we bless the deals. But we’re not involved. We never make commitments.

He understood that and he said, “Look, Mr. Kraft, I feel bad. I will correct what I said either when I sign with the New England Patriots or I get traded and sign somewhere else.” And he said, “But my hope and intention is that I’ll be a Patriot, I’ll go in the Patriot Hall of Fame,” and I said the same thing to him. And then there’s been a negotiation. But we have never had a deal.

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Boomer Esiason on D&C: Tom Brady is back

09.13.10 at 8:59 am ET
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Boomer Esiason

Boomer Esiason

CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Patriots’ victory over the Bengals in Sunday’s opener. Esiason said the game marked a turning point for Tom Brady. “Watching the game yesterday, Tom Brady is fully, 100 percent recovered. His knee is no longer bothering him whatsoever,” Esiason said. “I thought his decisions, not only were they good, they were quick. He was accurate, the ball was coming our great. And how about Wes Welker? To me, that’s got to be the story of the year so far. That kid, being back, doing what he’s doing, as quickly as he is, is really a miracle to me.”

Regarding Randy Moss‘ postgame speech about feeling unappreciated, Esiason was asked how he dealt with “divas” such as Moss. “In the 14 years I played, I never played with a guy that was quite like the receivers are today,” Esiason said. “They all complain, they all wanted the ball, and that was just all natural. But I never played with guys like this. I don’t know necessarily how you deal with all this nonsense that goes on. I do know this: Since Randy came there, I’ve become his biggest fan. And I think that he truly is playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback, so all of a sudden you see his production increase, you see the balls hitting him in the hand as opposed to him having to dive for everything. And I understand where he’s coming from. I know that when he sees the end of his career pretty much right there staring him in the face, and that nobody’s going to give him [$7 million] to [$8 million] to $9 million anymore, he’s actually speaking out. And I understand that.”

Added Esiason: “At the end of the day, that team is Tom Brady’s. And Tom Brady will throw him the ball, he’ll keep him happy, he’ll score a lot of touchdowns. And then where the metal meets the meat in this case will be once the season is over, once they get into the playoffs, if he’s still bitching and complaining at that moment, then it will be really interesting.”

Touching on the Logan Mankins holdout, Esiason said: “I understand where Logan is coming from and I don’t blame him. Everybody’s got to get their payday whenever they possibly can. He’s right in the midst of the prime of his career. I know it’s tough on him, and I’m sure it’s tough on Tom Brady.”

To hear the interview, including why Esiason picks the Ravens to beat the Jets in the Monday night game, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

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Bill Belichick Q&A, 9/12

09.13.10 at 2:46 am ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete postgame Q&A between the media and coach Bill Belichick after Sunday’s win over the Bengals.

BB: That was a good start for us today. I’m really proud of the team. I thought those guys did a really good job today, came out ready to go and made some plays early. [They] got on top and really made plays in all three phases of the game. That was a big drive for us after Cincinnati came back. It was about 80 yards or something like that. It really ran a lot of time off the clock. We made some plays when we needed to make them. There are certainly a lot of things we need to work on [and] things we can do better, but I thought the team really did a good job today all the way around. I’m proud of them. I thought they played well and now we’re going to New York. We know that’s a big challenge for us next week, but we’re going to enjoy this one for a while.

Q: Did you get a good read on what happened on Gary Guyton’s interception?
BB: It was man-to-man coverage and it looked like he undercut the route and made a nice play on the ball and showed some speed. That was good. Two returns for touchdowns – you hope for that, but you never really can go into a game planning on that. So to get 14 kind of bonus points like that, retuning a kick, returning an interception for a touchdown, that’s a great boost to the scoreboard there. You usually don’t count on those points.

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Behind Enemy Lines: Where were Ochocinco and T.O.?

09.12.10 at 9:17 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The 38-24 loss to the Patriots was certainly not what the Bengals were hoping for to kick off their 2010 season. However, the Patriots pounced early and never looked back. After the game, Chad Ochocinco and his teammates seemed shocked at what had just transpired.

“All I know is the better team won today,” Ochocinco said.

Certainly, the most puzzling development of the day was a play on which the two star Bengals wide receivers — Ochocinco and Terrell Owens — were not on the field. On the last play of the first half, both players were in the locker room when the Bengals attempted a Hail Mary pass. Though Palmer ended up completing a bomb to Jordan Shipley, who was downed at the 2-yard line for a 51-yard gain, the absence of two Cincinnati stars was perplexing.

After the game, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis addressed the whereabouts of his missing wideouts:

“We had [Ochocinco] go in for an IV, which is kind of normal for him any time we are on defense — particularly early in the season,” Lewis said. “Later in the year we don’t have to do that. But the doctors want to get him and get him out so he’s ready to go at the start of the second half. And Terrell went in to get work done and get looked at and so we had the other guys ready to go.”

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