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Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome says he learned the art of self-scouting from Bill Belichick

05.11.11 at 4:21 pm ET
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While much is made about the success or failure of many of the members of the “Belichick Coaching Tree,” one of the most successful men who got his start under Bill Belichick doesn’t walk a sideline. Ozzie Newsome, the GM of the Ravens, said he picked up several things while working as a special assignment scout under Belichick in Cleveland, including the art of self-scouting. In a conference call with Baltimore season-ticket holders, he stressed that one of the most important things he learned about the game came as a result of him working with Belichick.

“I was taught, by Bill Belichick, at a very early age that scouting begins on Sunday,” said Newsome. “You need to know your football team. The only way you get to know your football team is you’ve got to be able to watch them at practice, I watch the practice tape, so that’s why I do that. That’s my niche. But the only way I can do it, I have to trust [director of player personnel] Eric [DeCosta] and [director of college scouting] Joe [Hortiz] and the scouts and their ability to go out and do their job.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Ozzie Newsome,

Tom Brady ranks second on Forbes’ list of most-influential athletes

05.10.11 at 4:32 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the second-most influential athlete in America, according to Forbes. Brady, who trailed only NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson, is one of four football players to crack the Top 10: Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu is sixth overall, Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning is seventh and Denver’s Tim Tebow is 10th. In addition, Brady is one of two New England athletes on the list ‘€” Shaquille O’Neal is ranked fourth overall.

Read More: Peyton Manning, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady

Getting you caught up to date on the stories of the Patriots’ 2011 draft class

05.10.11 at 9:47 am ET
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There are more stories on the way, but in the meantime, we wanted to get you caught up on the series of full-length features has done on the Patriots’ draft class of 2011:

‘€¢On the night of the draft, we tracked down Nate Solder‘s high school coach Bob Marken back in Colorado, who told us the Patriots’ first-round pick was the sort of guy “that’s easy to root for.”

‘€¢It was more of the same when it came to second-round pick Ras-I Dowling ‘€” Jim Reid, his defensive coordinator at the University of Virginia, talked to us about how versatile Dowling is, calling him “an imposing corner” who can do whatever is asked of him as a defensive back.

‘€¢Shortly after the selection of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett in the third round, we examined the curious relationship between the quarterback and Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

‘€¢Then, there’s the story of fifth-round pick, TCU offensive lineman Marcus Cannon ‘€” perhaps the most unique draft pick in the history of the franchise.

‘€¢Fifth-round pick Lee Smith out of Marshall ‘€” whose position coach Phil Ratliff was a college teammate of Troy Brown ‘€” talked to us about how Smith was a “throwback” in every sense of the word, and believes he will make his mark in an already crowded tight end field in New England. (Our favorite quote that didn’t make it into the story? Ratliff praised the 6-foot-6, 266-pound Smith as a workout warrior, saying, “He’s the first guy you want off the bus, that’s for sure.”)

‘€¢And with lots of help from Central Arkansas defensive coordinator Matt Williamson, we tracked the evolution of sixth-round pick Markell Carter from part-time player at UCA to one of the better under-the-radar pass rushers in college football.

Whew. Like we said, there are more to come, but we’ll leave it at that for now.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft,

Report: BC’s Mark Herzlich will forgo UFL for shot at NFL

05.09.11 at 1:41 pm ET
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Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich will bypass an opportunity to play in the United Football League for a chance to sign as an undrafted free agent in the NFL. According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Herzlich tweeted him on Sunday that he would not join the UFL’€™s Omaha Nighthawks (who took him 51st overall in the UFL draft last week), but instead take his chances with the NFL and hope that the lockout ends sooner rather than later.

Herzlich, the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, was not selected in last month’€™s NFL draft. Despite that, his story remains an inspiration to many, as he overcame Ewing’€™s sarcoma in his left leg ‘€” he had a titanium rod placed in the leg ‘€” and returned to play for BC in 2010. However, by his own admission, he wasn’€™t the same player he was before he was forced to sit out a year, which likely caused the draft weekend slide.

Read More: Mark Herzlich,

Pats legend Mack Herron arrested on drug charge

05.09.11 at 7:59 am ET
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Mack Herron, the undersized running back who starred for the Patriots in the mid-1970s, was arrested and charged with heroin possession in Chicago. Police said they saw Herron on Friday with a packet that contained heroin.

Prosecutors said in court Saturday that Herron, 62, has been arrested dozens of times and has at least seven felony convictions. He was held in jail on $25,000 bail.

Herron, nicknamed “Mini Mack” because he stood 5-foot-5, joined the Patriots in 1973 after starring in the Canadian Football League following his college career at Kansas State. In 1974, he set an NFL record with 2,444 all-purpose yards. He spent three seasons in New England before joining the Falcons for one season.

But troubles with drugs led to problems for Herron, who in 1978 was sentenced to five years in prison on cocaine trafficking charges. He received at least two other prison sentences in the 2000s.

In a story in the Chicago Sun-Times, Herron’s family members said they thought he had moved past his drug problems, calling him a devout Muslim who does not drink or smoke.

Read More: Mack Herron,

Free Agent Snaphot: Jason Babin

05.08.11 at 11:22 pm ET
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Despite the labor uncertainty, will present a list of 10 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency (under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement) this offseason.

Jason Babin
Position: Defensive end
Age: 30 (will turn 31 on May 24)
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 260

While the two previous possibilities we detailed in this space ‘€” Matt Roth and Cullen Jenkins ‘€” weren’€™t particularly known as pure pass rushers, Babin will likely be the best pure pass rusher available when free agency begins this offseason. This Western Michigan journeyman ‘€” he’€™s played for five teams in six years ‘€” figures to cash in after a 2010 season with Tennessee where he collected 12.5 sacks, a career-best. (He went to his first Pro Bowl as a result.) For what it’€™s worth, he seems to have come to terms with the idea that the Titans aren’€™t going to re-sign him, telling reporters, ‘€œThey told my agent they are letting me go to free agency and passing on the opportunity to sign me to a long-term deal.’€

He’€™s an interesting prospect for New England to consider: Houston’s first-round pick from 2004 can clearly get after the passer ‘€” he is a speedy end with an extraordinarily high motor ‘€” but he’€™s not a power guy, and his greatest success has come in 4-3 schemes. And while he is one of the best in the league the last couple of seasons when it comes to sacks, in the past, he has had problems when it comes to setting the edge and providing run support.

But no matter what you think of him, it’€™s clear Babin has had an eventful offseason: He’€™s threatened to take his talents to the UFL or the CFL if no labor agreement is reached. In addition, he’€™s reportedly started mixed martial arts training, and has an eye toward participating in an MMA event sometime this offseason, according to the Tennessean. In March, he said he had a bear-hunting expedition planned for this spring. And this past week, he was named No. 85 on the NFL Network’s presentation of “The Top 100 Players of 2011.”

Why it might not work: As stated, Babin, who will be 31 before the start of the 2011 season, has enjoyed his greatest success in 4-3 defensive sets, and has struggled in 3-4 schemes. Barring a change of New England’€™s base 3-4 defense, the marriage of Babin and the Patriots might not work. In addition, like Jenkins, Babin had his best season entering free agency ‘€” he will likely command one of the heftiest contracts across the league as a result. Despite his  2010 production, on paper, it doesn’€™t appear to be the most cost-effective move for New England to pursue Babin.

Read More: Cullen Jenkins, free agent snapshot, Jason Babin, Matt Roth

Free Agent Snapshot: Cullen Jenkins

05.08.11 at 12:34 am ET
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Despite the labor uncertainty, will continue present a list of 10 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency (under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement) this offseason.

Cullen Jenkins
Position: Defensive end/defensive tackle
Age: 30
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 305

Like Matt Roth ‘€” another free-agent possibility for the Patriots who was discussed in this space yesterday ‘€” the little brother of defensive tackle Kris Jenkins is not a particularly overwhelming pass rusher, but is the sort of defender who is a veteran of the 3-4. He has 29 career sacks in seven seasons, including a career-best seven last season.

In addition, after seven years in Green Bay, the Central Michigan product is ready to move on ‘€” he told earlier this month that he would have taken a hometown discount to return to the Packers, but that ship has sailed, saying, ‘€œI know how they handle business, and the thought was if we could get something reasonable worked out, I knew I would take less than what I could’€™ve gotten in free agency. But they never approached me with anything and never got any type of negotiations going. It’€™s just how the business is. They had a lot of younger guys and felt they could move forward in that direction.’€

Why it might not work: He’€™s been slowed by some nagging injuries the last few years ‘€” he missed five games last season with a bad hamstring and broken hand. In addition, he missed 12 games in 2008 with a torn pectoral muscle. (Of course, despite all of that, he had career-best numbers last year, so that might not matter a whole lot in the long run.) He is 30 years old, and going long-term for a player at that age might be something of a dicey situation. And if the old rules apply, Jenkins figures to be one of the pricier pickups in free agency. He had a career-best year this past season with the Super Bowl champs ‘€” his stock will never be higher than it is right now. Probably not an ideal time to invest.

Read More: Cullen Jenkins, free agent snapshot, Matt Roth,
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