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Pats make Laurence Maroney deal official

09.14.10 at 6:44 pm ET
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The Patriots officially announced the trade of Laurence Maroney to the Broncos. Here’s the full text of the statement issued by the team:

The New England Patriots traded RB Laurence Maroney to the Denver Broncos for undisclosed draft considerations today, pending a physical exam.

Maroney, 5-11, 220 pounds, was originally drafted by New England in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of Minnesota. During his four seasons with the Patriots he appeared in 52 regular-season games with 14 starts and seven postseason games with two starts.

Maroney’s regular-season Patriots totals included 2,430 rushing yards on 582 carries with 21 touchdowns. He also added 41 receptions for 1,062 yards receiving. Maroney was inactive for 2010 season–opener vs. Cincinnati.

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Analysis of Laurence Maroney deal

09.14.10 at 4:50 pm ET
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Laurence Maroney's stint with the Patriots came to an end Tuesday when the former first-round pick was dealt to the Broncos. (AP)

Laurence Maroney's stint with the Patriots came to an end Tuesday when the former first-round pick was dealt to the Broncos. (AP)

In his four seasons with the Patriots, few players sparked more debate than Laurence Maroney.

There was no lukewarm feeling toward the running back, who was dealt to Denver for a 2011 draft pick on Tuesday afternoon. Supporters of the first-round pick out of Minnesota were convinced that if he only got the carries, he would be a consistent 1,000-yard presence, while his critics saw a player who danced before he hit the line and shied away from contact.

To be fair, when he was healthy and did get the carries, Maroney — who was in the last year of his rookie contract — gave the New England running game a real bite. He split time with Corey Dillon in 2006 as a rookie, but took over the starters’ role in 2007, and finished with a career-best 835 rushing yards. That season, he had five games where he topped 100 yards, including a 156-yard performance in a December win over the Dolphins and back-to-back 122-yard performances in the playoffs.

But he suffered a shoulder injury in September 2008, and would never reach the same heights with the Patriots. He finished that season on injured reserve, and in 2009, he started out as part of a running back-by-committee, sharing carries with veterans Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris. He was able to break out on occasion, including a season-high 123 yards in an October rout of Tennessee.

However, he was getting fewer and fewer carries as the season went on. The first real sign Maroney was on the outs with the team first popped up last season when Maroney had four bad fumbles, with many of them coming in the red zone (the ones against Indianapolis and Jacksonville were especially ill-timed). It was something new for Maroney, who, to that point, had been pretty good when it came to taking care of the ball — he fumbled just once in his rookie season, didn’t turn the ball over in 2007 and 2008. By the time the end of the season rolled around, Maroney was on the outside looking in. He saw just six total carries over the Patriots final three games, including just one carry in their playoff loss to Baltimore.

This past preseason, it appeared to be more of the same when the Patriots leaned heavily on almost every other member of their running back corps except for Maroney. He got eight carries in the preseason opener against the Saints. He dressed but did not play for the second and third preseason game, and saw limited action in the preseason finale, a clear sign he had slipped down the depth chart In addition, he was an inactive for the season opener against the Bengals last Sunday.

Going forward, the Patriots will rely heavily on Taylor and Morris, two veterans who have struggled to steer clear of injuries. (Both missed sizable chunks of last season because of injury.) Expect more from youngster BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who had been used sparingly as of late because of depth at the position. In addition, it wouldn’t be surprising to see veteran third-down back Kevin Faulk get some more carries in a traditional offensive set.

As for Maroney — who finishes with 2,430 yards in just over four seasons with New England — he will be reunited with former Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who took over the Broncos before the start of last season and brought a few former Patriots with him, including Jabar Gaffney and Lonie Paxton. The Denver backfield has been hit hard by injury since the start of training camp — the Broncos lost LenDale White to a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in the preseason finale, and Knowshon Moreno, who missed the preseason with a hamstring injury, and Correll Buckhalter combined for 65 yards on the ground Sunday for Denver.

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Highlights from Tuesday conference calls with Belichick, Brown and Caserio

09.14.10 at 3:50 pm ET
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Here are some of the highlights from Tuesday afternoon’s conference calls with Bill Belichick, Corwin Brown and Nick Caserio:

Bill Belichick
Opening statement

“We of course spent a lot of time watching the Jets in the offseason and even in the preseason a little bit when we had a little break. Of course now we’re into them all the way. [They’re a] good football team. [They] had an outstanding year last year. They have a lot of weapons. They’re very aggressive. They obviously did a good job against us down there last year in the first game. We know we’ll be going into a hornet’s nest this week. They’re tough. They’re well coached. They’re physical. They play hard and we have a good rivalry with them. We know it will be that kind of game. It’s our first division game. [It’s] always good to get off to a good start in the division. We’ll need a real good week of preparation because they do a lot of things and they’re a hard team to get ready for. They have a lot of looks on defense and they give you a lot of looks and different personnel groupings and formations on offense, too. They’ll be a challenge from a preparation standpoint. [They’re] always good in the kicking game and that’s always a strong suit for them there, so we know that will be a big challenge for us, too.”

What is the most challenging thing about the Jets defensively, recognition or the physical act of blocking them?
“A little bit of both, but I’d say the bigger problem is just blocking them. Blocking them and getting open and blocking them in the running game, blocking them in the passing game, getting open. But they definitely give you some recognition problems and tough looks and move people around and try to defeat your protection schemes and that type of thing, so that’s very challenging, too. You can’t afford to turn a guy…it’s bad enough that you have to block them, but if you a turn a guy loose and miss him completely then you have no chance. First thing we have to do is get them identified and get them picked up.”

What kind of player is Kris Jenkins and how big of a difference is it if he can’t play?
“Kris is an outstanding player. There aren’t many guys like him. He’s a major force at his position. That being said, he missed a good part of the season last year and the Jets did very well. I don’t want to diminish anything that he’s done –really he’s an outstanding player, he’s one of on the toughest guys to block in the league– but at the same time, even without him last year, the Jets were very, very good on defense. Whoever’s in there we’ll have to do a good job with, however they do it, whoever it is, we’ll have to do a good job.”
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Fan dies after apparent heart attack at Pats game

09.14.10 at 1:24 pm ET
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A 40-year-old Patriots fan from Chicopee who had an apparent heart attack at Sunday’s season-opener and was taken to the field for medical assistance was later pronounced dead at Caritas Norwood Hospital, according to Foxboro fire chief Roger Hatfield. The man, who was attending the game with his 6-year-old son, was stricken about a half-hour before the start of the game while sitting near the south end zone. The man’s name was not made public.

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Randy Moss on comments: Not the best timing

09.14.10 at 12:18 pm ET
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Randy Moss

Randy Moss

In a wide-ranging interview on ESPN, Randy Moss acknowledged that the timing of his contract comments following Sunday’s season-opening win over the Bengals might not have been good, but that he felt he needed to say it.

“I think that the timing could have been bad, but it was actually my first time speaking to the media this year and I wanted to get it off my chest instead of waiting until Week 12 or Week 13 to where it really could be a distraction to our team and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Moss said. “It was something I just wanted to do. Maybe it was bad timing, but it’s something that I cleared my mind to feel good about myself.”

Asked if he recognized that the public perception is that his comments detracted from the Pats win, Moss answered, “I do understand that. But I think when it comes to the business side of football, hopefully my coaches and teammates didn’t take it in a disrespectful manner and understood where I was coming from. This is the first and last time that you’re going to hear me talking about my contract.”

Moss also said that he spoke with Bill Belichick and the coach told him to, “Watch what he does and watch what he says. I told him point blank, ‘Yes sir, I got you.’ Simple as that.”

Moss added that he was happy for Tom Brady, who signed a new contract last week, and that he wanted to remain with the Patriots.

“Let me say this again: I do not want to leave New England because I love what they do,” Moss said. “I love coach Belichick. I love the team. I love the coaching staff and I love playing here on Sundays. From a business standpoint, I have to look out for the best interests of me and my family. So, next year I don’t know where I’ll be playing. Hopefully it’s here in New England, but if it’s not here in New England then whoever wants to give me a shot to come and help their team I look forward to that opportunity.”

Since this is Jets week, it’s also time to talk about Moss’ rivalry with Darrelle Revis. Jets coach Rex Ryan told the New York Daily News, “There’s only one guy in this league that can cover Randy Moss, and that’s Darrelle Revis. Nobody else.” Revis amped things up over the summer when he called Moss a “slouch,” on the NFL Network.

“Words don’t really hurt me.,” Moss said. “I guess he’s entitled to say what he wants to say. Then again, coming into the Meadowlands on Sunday, you got 60 minutes of this slouch.”

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

09.14.10 at 11:54 am ET
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Maybe that’s what Rex Ryan was talking about on ”Hard Knocks” when he screamed to Darrelle Revis‘ agents, “Watch what happens Monday night!” What a crazy opening weekend around the National Football League. After months of trash talk, the “team to beat” in the NFL didn’t even look like it had a playoff caliber offense, never mind Super Bowl caliber. The Jets fall to No.9.

The Colts, Cowboys, and Chargers all lost to teams that didn’t even make the playoffs last year. The Lions were close to opening their season with a rare win, the Steelers didn’t need Ben Roethlisberger to beat the Falcons, and the Patriots shocked many around the league with a dominating win over the Bengals.

Despite all the madness that happened in Week 1, it’s still early and difficult to react too drastically. The Saints remain at No.1 after a very un-Saints-like victory over the Vikings Thursday night to kick off the season. The Ravens jump ahead two spots after the team’s defense physically dominated the Jets on Monday Night Football. Ray Lewis and Baltimore are at No. 2. The newest member of the top five is New England. The Patriots jumped out of the gate with a strong performance at home and their defense proved it can make big plays and put pressure on the passer. Tom Brady and the Pats are at No. 5.

Other notable teams that dropped in the rankings are the Cowboys, Chargers and Falcons. Following a bunch of head scratching and “what were they thinking?!” plays, the Cowboys fall hard to the No. 10 spot.

New Orleans Saints1. (Last week, 1) 1-0-0 The Saints played great defense, allowing just 171 passing yards and one touchdown. It was a sloppy game, but the defending champs did what they had to do and won. I’m guessing this will be the last time the Saints score 14 or less points all season.

2. (4) 1-0-0 WOW. Although the Jets offense is anemic, the Ravens defense played smash mouth football and was very impressive. Baltimore’s D held Mark Sanchez and the Jets to just nine points, 176 yards and six first downs. The Ravens also got the type of production they were hoping for from offseason acquisition Anquan Boldin.

Green Bay Packers3. (3) 1-0-0 Green Bay is a solid team all around. The key to its Super Bowl hopes lies within the team’s offensive line. If they can protect Aaron Rodgers, the Packers can compete for the championship.

4. (2) 0-1-0 The Texans followed the Dolphins’ format on how to beat the Colts — run the ball. Although the Dolphins were unsuccessful last year, the Texans ran the ball down Indy’s throat and managed to come out victorious. The Colts are too good to let that happen much more this season and will bounce back. They’re still the favorite to win the AFC South.

New England Patriots 5. (8) 1-0-0 The Patriots were very impressive in all three areas of the game: offense, defense and special teams. Enough can’t be said about the performance of the offensive and defensive lines. Brady was well protected and the Patriots found the pass rush everyone in New England has been looking for.

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Rex Ryan postgame comments

09.14.10 at 8:40 am ET
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Here’s a sampling of thoughts from a subdued Rex Ryan following the 10-9 Jets loss to the Ravens on Monday night (with thanks to …

Opening Statement:

This is obviously a very disappointing loss. That goes without saying. Every loss is tough. You have to tip your hat to the Ravens. Both of us knew it was going to be this kind of game. The two teams are built very similarly. They won the important downs, (especially) third down. We converted 1-of-11 on third down and they were 58 percent. That stat alone gets you beat, let alone 14 penalties. You have to give them credit.

We weren’t close in rushing attempts and completions, and that’s one of our staples as an organization. They ran the ball 34 times, and that’s important. I don’t know how many balls they completed, but it seemed like a bunch. One thing about this – it is a long season. It is one game, and I will say this: As everyone knows, I have confidence in every man in our locker room. There’s no question. We weren’t at our best today, but that’s a credit to the Ravens. I know we can get better, and that’s the challenge to us. We have to get better, and I believe we will.

Ryan was asked about the penalties (The Jets were flagged 14 times for 125 yards)

In the first half alone, I think we gave up five first downs on defense on holding calls, pass interference, and all that kind of stuff. That’s not who we are or how we play. We pride ourselves on being one of the least penalized defenses in the league. Today was a joke. They just threw it up there – shoot, I don’t blame them. Hope for a completion or a penalty. We’ve got to do a better job than that, and I believe we will.

Nose tackle Kris Jenkins left the game in the first quarter with a left knee injury, the same knee that required an operation to repair a torn ACL in October 2009.

Obviously, it’s a huge loss. There are very few Kris Jenkins out there. Baltimore has one in Haloti Ngata, who’s a great player. That’s a huge loss. I have no idea what the extent of the injury is, so I’m hopeful that it’s not serious, but clearly it was enough for him not to return to the game. We’re definitely hoping that he’ll be OK.

Ryan was asked about Mark Sanchez, who threw for just 74 yards and at times looked lost in the defeat.

I was alarmed that we couldn’t get off the field on defense more than I was alarmed that we did so little today offensively. That’s a pretty good team with an excellent defense. He (Sanchez) wasn’t the only one. He did misfire on a few passes, but quite honestly, he’s not the only guy that needs to improve. There’s a bunch of us that need to improve, and I believe we will.

Does the Patriots game mean even more after this loss?

It’s hard to make up games, that’s for sure. We all saw their game. New England looked pretty darn good. There are no easy games in this league. New England looks like they are right at the top, so we are going to have to play our best, no question.

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