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Adam Schefter on D&C: Ravens have best shot to knock off Patriots

12.31.10 at 9:28 am ET
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ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Calllahan show Friday morning with guest hosts Bob Ryan and Bob Neumeier to talk about the Patriots and news from the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Schefter said Bill Belichick is his choice as the NFL’s coach of the year. “You look at the job that he’s done, and you could argue ‘€¦ that the job he’s done this year is more impressive than the job he did in 2007, and as compelling or better than the job he did in 2001, when the Patriots first really launched themselves into the national conversation and became the franchise that we know today,” Schefter said.

Schefter was not one of the many media people who predicted the Jets would topple the Patriots and win the AFC East this season. He explained why he believed in the Patriots and wasn’t convinced by the Jets.

Said Schefter: “I never bought it, and I’ll tell you why I didn’t buy it. Because, again, it’s a quarterback league. And on my visit to Patriots training camp, the one thing that I sensed ‘€” and it’s easy to say it now but I’m telling I’ve been consistent on this all along ‘€”there was a real quiet confidence there in their young talent. They really thought they had a lot of really good, young football players.

“And the reason I stayed with the Patriots and didn’t go to the flavor of the month in New York was because the best quarterback, the most proven quarterback, the most consistent quarterback is Tom Brady. And it’s a quarterback league. And you have to go with the quarterback every time.

“The best and most proven and decorated coach in the division is Bill Belichick. Any team that has the coach and the quarterback, I don’t know how you go against them. And that was why I picked them to win the division at the beginning of the year.”

Asked which team has the best chance to knock off the Patriots in the playoffs, Schefter made it clear the choice is easy. “Baltimore,” he said. “They did it last year. They almost did it in the regular season this year. It’s the only team, to me, that I could see coming into Foxboro and beating the Patriots. ‘€¦ To me, there’s nothing about the Patriots that unnerves the Baltimore Ravens. Nothing.”

Added Schefter: “Maybe the Jets could give them a game on the right Sunday. The Jets beat them earlier in the year. But I think the Jets would be a little psyched out coming back to the place where they got trampled, 45-3, in the Boston Massacre.”

The Saints went into Atlanta and knocked off the NFC-leading Falcons on Monday night. Said Schefter: “More than anything it was a message: Beware of New Orleans in the postseason. ‘€¦ It’s the world champs, and they’re not done yet.”

Looking at coaches whose futures are considered in jeopardy, Schefter said he thinks that Tony Sparano (Dolphins), Tom Coughlin (Giants), Gary Kubiak (Texans) and Leslie Frazier (Vikings) will return to their teams next season, while Eric Mangini (Browns), Marvin Lewis (Bengals), Jeff Fisher (Titans) and John Fox (Panthers) are likely to depart.

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

NFL fines Jets $100K for tripping incident involving Sal Alosi

12.30.10 at 6:03 pm ET
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The NFL has fined the Jets $100,000 for violating league rules in the tripping incident involving New York strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi, according to multiple reports.

In an attempt to intimidate Miami’s Nolan Carroll ‘€” who was serving as a “gunner” on punt coverage ‘€” during a Jets-Dolphins game, Alosi appeared to be part of a special teams “wall” that involved other players on the sidelines, and he stuck his knee out, tripping Carroll as he went by. Alosi later apologized for the incident, and the Jets suspended him indefinitely.

After the incident, Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff intimated that there other teams who engaged in the same practice, including the Patriots.

“[There are] a number of teams [that do it],” Westhoff told ESPN 1000 in Chicago. “If you watch carefully, there is a pretty good team up north that lines up their whole defense when they do it, so it’s something that just kind of happened.”

As a result, according to the NFL, a portion of the fine includes Westhoff’s remarks.

Here’s the complete announcement from the league, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

“The New York Jets were notified today that the club has been fined $100,000 by Commissioner Roger Goodell for violating league rules in the recent incident involving Jets assistant coach Sal Alosi, who placed players in a prohibited area on the sideline to impede an opposing team’€™s special teams players and gain a competitive advantage. This is both a competitive violation as well as a dangerous tactic. The discipline imposed on the club also includes the response to the incident of coach Alosi and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, who made public comments accusing other teams of employing similar tactics. Both the NFL Constitution and Bylaws and other league policies require clubs to report actual or suspected violations of competitive rules by other teams only to the league office and not to engage in public criticism of other clubs. The fine has been imposed on the Jets to emphasize that clubs are accountable for the actions of their employees and have the obligation to ensure that all members of their organization comply with league rules.”

Read More: Mike Westhoff, Nolan Carroll, roger goodell, Sal Alosi

Report: Brandon Meriweather’s fine reduced to $40,000

12.30.10 at 5:44 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Brandon Meriweather‘€™s fine for his two hits on Baltimore’€™s Todd Heap earlier this season has been reduced from $50,000 to $40,000, according to Judy Battista of the New York Times. Meriweather was hit with the penalty in the wake of his actions in the Oct. 17 game between the Patriots and fine, and in the days after the game, he issued an apology for the incident.

‘€œTo start off I want to say once again I’€™m sorry for the hit. I understand the league is trying to protect the health of all our players, but ‘€¦ I don’€™t even know how to put it, but to be honest I just want all of this to go away,’€ Meriweather said.

‘€œI want to focus, with the rest of my team, on the Chargers, really not let this come up again. I’€™m going to try my best to play within the rules, like my coach had always taught us. I’€™m going to hit and play the game like my coaches have always taught us. Even in training camp, we have always been taught the proper way to hit, and I’€™m just going to focus on that and put it in my game in some way, shape, form, or fashion. And from here on, I’€™m focusing on the Chargers and anything else spoken on this, I will not comment on.’€

According to Battista, Dunta Robinson and James Harrison ‘€” each of who had big hits the same weekend at Meriweather ‘€” also had their fines reduced from $50,000 to $25,000 and $75,000 to $50,000, respectively.

(UPDATE, 6:08 p.m.: The NFL has confirmed the reduction in the fines, and have issued the following statement, via Chris Mortensen of ESPN: The fines of Dunta Robinson of the Atlanta Falcons and Brandon Meriwether of the New England Patriots for flagrant hits against defenseless receivers have been reduced on appeal. The appeals officer, Ted Cottrell, reduced Robinson’€™s fine from $50,000 to $25,000 and Meriweather’€™s fine from $50,000 to $40,000. Following these decisions, Cottrell took the additional step of reviewing the appeal of James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Harrison was fined $75,000 earlier this season for a similar flagrant hit. Cottrell consulted with Commissioner Goodell about reducing Harrison’€™s fine to $50,000 and the commissioner fully supported the decision. Cottrell said he reduced the fines because the players said they understood the rules and have made efforts to adjust their techniques to play within the rules that protect player safety.)

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, Dunta Robinson, James Harrison, Todd Heap

Three miss practice for Dolphins

12.30.10 at 3:49 pm ET
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The Dolphins had just three players miss practice on Thursday ‘€” linebacker Karlos Dansby, tight end Anthony Fasano and tight end Lydon Murtha. Here’s their complete report:

Did Not Participate
LB Karlos Dansby (toe)
TE Anthony Fasano (knee)
TE Lydon Murtha (head)

Limited Participation
CB Nolan Carroll (head)

Read More: dolphins, injury report,

Six Patriots limited at Thursday practice

12.30.10 at 3:45 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” In addition to the three players who missed practice ‘€” Ron Brace, Dan Connolly and Mike Wright ‘€” the Patriots had six players who were limited, including quarterback Tom Brady. Here’s the complete report:

Did Not Participate
DL Ron Brace (elbow)
G Dan Connolly (concussion)
DL Mike Wright (concussion)

Limited Participation
LB Tully Banta-Cain (groin)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder/foot)
WR Deion Branch (knee)
LB Jermaine Cunningham (calf)
TE Aaron Hernandez (hip)
NT Myron Pryor (back)

Full Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (elbow)
CB Devin McCourty (rib)

Read More: injury report, Patriots,

Report: Jerod Mayo hit with fine for nailing the Bills

12.30.10 at 3:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO – Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo has been informed by the NFL he will be fined for at least one of the several huge hits he laid on the Bills during Sunday’s 34-3 rout of Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium, according to the Boston Herald.

Mayo told the paper that the league told him he’€™s been fined for at least one hit in game but wasn’€™t sure which one was deemed too violent or unnecessary.

Players typically received the formal notice of a fine and the amount on the following Friday after the game in question and Mayo had not received his as of Thursday morning. The Patriots leading tackler laid out Steve Johnson over the middle when he crashed into the receiver’s facemask with his own. Receiver David Nelson was also the victim of a Mayo hit, with some help on the play by safety Jarrad Page.

Read More: Buffalo Bills, David Nelson, Jarrad Page, Jerod Mayo

Rob Ninkovich certainly has fond memories of the Dolphins

12.30.10 at 2:38 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Things couldn’t have gone much better the last time Rob Ninkovich faced one of his former teams.

The linebacker recorded his first two career interceptions and helped the Patriots defense confuse and other confound Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne in a 41-14 romp at Dolphins Stadium on Oct. 4. He also sacked the quarterback once, defended two passes and hurried the quarterback on another snap.

“It’€™s always fun to play against a team that you’€™ve actually been on and you know the guys on the team,” Ninkovich said of playing his ex-mates. “Hopefully, I can repeat, have a repeat performance.”

Bill Belichick is fond of keeping his players focused on the job – and game – at hand. Ninkovich says this week’s regular-season finale is no different, even if that October breakout game did bolster his confidence.

“Well, it’€™s over with, so you can’€™t look back on what you’€™ve done,” he said. “It was one of those games where I knew I could do it [and] I knew I had that in me, so it was a confidence booster.”

But what Ninkovich, Patrick Chung, Brandon Tate and Kyle Arrington really showed that day was that these Patriots are capable of winning games in practically any manner possible.

“I think that’€™s one of the best things about the Patriots is it’€™s a performance-based evaluation of how good you are and if you can help the team out and do anything for the team, you’€™re going to have a chance to help the team,” Ninkovich said.

Ninkovich played at Joliet Junior College before playing at Purdue – where he caught a TD pass from Kyle Orton. Ninkovich was a star defensive end when he was drafted by the Saints in fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. After a successful 2006 rookie season, his first stint with the Saints ended before the 2007 season when he was carted off with a knee injury that forced him to miss the preseason. But he was picked up by the Dolphins and played for the team that won just one game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Tate, Joliet Junior College, Kyle Arrington, kyle orton
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