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Is Marques Murrell the latest member of the Pats’ shadow roster?

09.13.10 at 8:46 pm ET
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Marques Murrell gets after St. Louis quarterback Keith Null earlier in the preseason. (AP)

FOXBORO — Outside linebacker Marques Murrell was cut by the Patriots today, as New England made room on the roster for offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka. But when the media made its way into the locker room for media availability, Murrell still had a locker. In addition, it was clear that the locker was essentially untouched — Murrell had a lot of his personal gear left.

So what gives?

“We just had to make room,” shrugged Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday when asked about the move. “[Murrell] played in the game [Sunday], so obviously we feel comfortable playing him, but we just had to make room.”

It’s unlikely that Murrell, who is signed through 2011, was just late to clean his stuff out of his locker. The move is a strong indication that the outside linebacker is the latest member of the Patriots’ shadow roster. An unofficial designation that’s common around the league, it’s for players who do not have practice squad eligibility, but need to be rotated off the roster because of a personnel glitch.

However, both the team and player have an understanding that he won’t be out of work for long, and they inevitably find their way back — occasionally because of injury — because they represent an excellent value.

Over the years, Patriots’ shadow roster players have included tight end Marcellus Rivers (who was signed, released and re-signed all within a month in 2007), safety Ray Ventrone, cornerback Hank Poteat and linebacker Chad Brown, all of whom were signed and released and returned on multiple occasions.

Probably the textbook shadow roster player for the Belichick-Era Patriots was offensive lineman Gene Mruczkowski — he was cut and re-signed by New England a dozen times between 2003 and 2007. An interior lineman, Mruczkowski’s biggest season in New England was 2004, when he played in 13 games, including Super Bowl XXXIX.

It’s unlikely Murrell is going to leave that kind of a legacy — considering New England’s lack of depth outside, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back in the locker room sooner rather than later.

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Proof that Moss led the cheers before heading to podium

09.13.10 at 7:31 pm ET
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Just moments before going up the podium after the Patriots’ 38-24 win over the Bengals Sunday, using much of a 16-minute question and answer session to talk about contract issues, Randy Moss led the cheers in the Pats’ locker room after a brief speech from head coach Bill Belichick. Thanks to the folks at Patriots Today on Patriots.com, here is video from the scene:

It was also reported earlier in the day by the Boston Herald that Moss and Belichick had met, and discussed the wideout’s post-game comments.

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Bits from Belichick

09.13.10 at 6:20 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick just wrapped up his Monday afternoon press conference. Here are a few quick highlights:

On the release of Marques Murrell to make room for Quinn Ojinnaka:
We just had to make room. He played in the game yesterday, so we feel comfortable playing him. We just had to make room.

(For what it’s worth, don’t worry too much about Murrell — during media availability Monday afternoon, he still had a locker, and it looked like it hadn’t been touched. Chances are he’s back on the roster sooner rather than later.)

On Randy Moss’s statements from Sunday:
I feel the same way I’ve felt about Randy the last three years. He’s a good football player. I’m glad he’s on our team. I think he adds a lot to our football team. He’s got good energy. Everybody likes him. He’s fun to have on the team. He’s a good player.

Did you have a problem with the forum in which he expressed his opinion?
I really wasn’t even aware of it until today. You had the access. … You guys must have loved it [laughter].

Did you sit down and talk about it at all?
I’ll keep the conversations between myself and the players private. I think that’s where they should stay.

On working on an opponent that has a short week, like the Jets do this week:
I think both teams know each other pretty well. It’s just the reversal of what it was last year. I don’t think that was a big factor in the game. Both teams know each other real well. It’s early in the year, so it won’t be like what it’ll be when we play them a second time — they’ll be a lot more information and it’ll be a lot more current. But we know them, they know us. If you’re going to play somebody on a short week, I think it’s easier to play somebody you’re pretty familiar with — you know the personnel, you know most of the schemes. They’ll have some wrinkles, no doubt about that, along with a couple of new guys we haven’t faced before that weren’t with the Jets and vice-versa. There’s a lot of carryover from last time we faced them.

Is Wes Welker about where you thought he would be after Week 1?
Yeah, I really didn’t have an expectation as to where he would be or wouldn’t be. I just took it day by day, and everyday he came out on the field, I looked at him, saw what it looked like, saw him keep improving and it was just kind of the way it’s been through all spring, through training camp, preseason and now the regular season. So  … we felt comfortable putting him out there based on what the medical recommendations were and then what we saw on the field confirmed it. He continued to get better, so … we didn’t really have any expectations for where he would be. We just took it day to day, and tried to evaluate what I saw.

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Belichick on The Big Show: ‘Everybody loves [Moss]‘

09.13.10 at 6:01 pm ET
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p1_belichickPatriots head coach Bill Belichick, during his weekly interview on The Big Show, said that while he did not see or hear Randy Moss‘ 16-minute interview following New England’s 38-24 victory on Sunday, he did not have any reaction to the wide receiver’s suggestion that he was not appreciated by the Patriots. Belichick insisted that Moss has not been a distraction during this time in New England, and that he remains a valued member of the team both on and off the field.

“I feel the same way about Randy as I have for the last three-plus years,” said Belichick. “Good guy to have on our team. Players, coaches, everybody loves him. He’s got a great personality. Very enthusiastic. And he’s a good football player. I’m glad he’s here. …

“He adds a lot to our football team in a lot of ways: on the field, off the field. I think guys look up to him and his energy and enthusiasm for the game carries over. It helps our football team.”

Belichick declined to shed any light on whether he had talked to Moss since yesterday.

“Any conversations I have with the players I think should be stay between myself and the players,” Belichick said.

Belichick also broke down his team’s victory over the Bengals, looked ahead to the Week 2 contest against the Jets and discussed his enjoyment of Cincinnati receiver Chad Ochocinco.

“He’s a fun guy. He really is. He’s got a great personality,” said Belichick. “He loves football, and he loves to compete. We were out at the Pro Bowl after the ‘06 season. He would tell the corners what route he was going to run. ‘I’m going to run an in-cut, and you still can’t cover me.’

“He just likes to compete. He loves football. I respect that. I definitely respect that. I don’t think everyone has to have the same personality out there. I’m glad we all don’t. It makes it a lot more interesting. He loves football. I enjoyed the time out there with him at the Pro Bowl. I worked him out at USC the year he was coming out, spent some time with him there. Just on the field, he’s a fun-loving guy that his teammates like. He competes hard. I respect that.”

To listen to the complete interview, visit The Big Show Audio On-Demand page.

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How the Patriots got off to the races

09.13.10 at 5:59 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has always harped on the importance of scoring in all three phases of the game.

Yes, it’s great that Tom Brady threw three touchdowns on Sunday and it’s heartwarming and inspiring that two of them went to the NFL’s bionic man, Wes Welker.

But when you stop and look at Sunday’s 38-24 win over the Bengals, the difference in the game was evident. Gary Guyton returned an ill-advised Carson Palmer pass 59 yards for a touchdown with 5:38 left in the first half to make turn a 17-0 lead into a 24-0 cushion.

“All I could think of was, ‘Run, Gary, run. And get the touchdown,’ Guyton said. “There was definitely a fear. If I get caught by the quarterback, I won’t hear the last of it. All I was thinking about was running.

“I was just looking at the pylon. It was the closest thing to me. So I was just running. Keep on running, that’s all.”

Guyton, in his third year out of Georgia Tech, had the responsibility of covering the talented rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham on the play. He stayed with him on an edge route off the line of scrimmage and read Palmer’s eyes perfectly before making a very athletic grab of the pass.

“I was reading my responsibility,” Guyton said. “And once I looked back at the quarterback, the ball was in the air, so I decided to make a play on it. I just put my arms out, squeezed the ball and kept on running.

“It is. It’s my first one. Going into my third year, so I finally got me a pick and a touchdown.”

After putting together a 12-play drive that ended on a 54-yard Mike Nugent field goal, and after pumping fluids into Chad Ochocinco and fixing the shoe problems of Terrell Owens [no joke] the Bengals sensed a bit of momentum coming out of halftime.

That lasted all of 12 seconds.

Speedy Brandon Tate did to the Bengals what he did to the St. Louis Rams on the opening play of the game back on Aug. 26. He shredded the Bengals’ coverage unit and returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.

Nugent, fresh from his 54-yard effort, hit a knuckleball that hit at about the 15 and bounced strangely to Tate.

“First, they did like a squib kick that kind of messed up our reads, but I just got it, made a guy or two miss and I was off to the races,” Tate said. “To tell you the truth, I thought it was going to mess up everybody. I thought everybody was going to stop blocking and try to get back and get the ball, but everyone stayed to their assignment. So, like I said, my hat goes off to my teammates.

“I figured once I beat the kicker, I just threw my head back and took off.”

In doing so Tate and the Patriots essentially turned the second half into garbage time.

Belichick is more than aware that 28 is greater than 21 and with the Bengals’ offense, though dormant for most of the first half, a turnover here, a stop there and a hot Palmer against a sometimes spotty Patriots D, and 21 points doesn’t look so insurmountable.

“We made some plays when we needed to make them,” Belichick said. “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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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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