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‘Happy’ Welker not worried about a new deal

10.15.10 at 2:28 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Randy Moss may have been concerned about getting a new contract as a star wide receiver. And Deion Branch went so far as to restructure his base salary to return to a place where he won a Super Bowl MVP.

But Wes Welker said Friday he is concerned about the here and now. And not the money.

With all of the uncertainty revolving around the NFL labor situation and the move by Branch to restructure his contract, Welker was asked Friday if he would like to see the Patriots come forward and re-work his current, five-year, $18 million deal, signed in March, 2007.

“Not really at all,” Welker said. “All I know is, I’m under contract and I’m just happy to be here, happy to be a Patriot and just look forward to winning some ballgames.”

On Friday, the NFL Players Association officially adjusted Branch’s 2011 salary. He will be paid $2.2 million, a savings to the Patriots of $3.75 million in base salary.

Welker is considered one of the most underpaid receivers in the NFL and with the trade of Moss to Minnesota, he becomes the active team leader in receptions and touchdowns since his arrival in 2007. This season, Welker leads the Patriots with 26 catches, 217 yards and three touchdown catches.

Read More: Deion Branch, New England Patriots, nfl, Randy Moss

Peter King on D&H: Brandon Tate will be a revelation

10.15.10 at 1:32 pm ET
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Peter King

Peter King

Peter King from Sports Illustrated and NBC joined Dale & Holley for his weekly conversation about the Patriots and the NFL. Among the topics discussed by the crew: Brett Favre’s status, the return of Ben Roethlisberger and how the Patriots offense will perform without Randy Moss.

Click here to hear the whole interview on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page

Even without Moss, King thinks the Pats will still have a high-scoring offense and he is high on Brandon Tate and Aaron Hernandez.

“I sort of think Brandon Tate is going to be a revelation to a lot of people who don’t know him very much,” King said. “I think Aaron Hernandez has shown the ability to be not just a tight end. You saw against the Jets in Week 2, cornerbacks were lining up against him and there was one completion from [Tom] Brady where he beat [Antonio] Cromartie on a play. I think he’s going to be really different kind of player.

“As far as [Deion] Branch goes, who knows? It’s hard to think that, even though he played with Brady, it’s hard to think he can come in right away and have the impact that Hernandez and Tate could have right away against Baltimore this Sunday.”

As to whether Favre would sit out this week after missing practice with elbow tendinitis, King thinks Favre will play. “I don’t think it’s going to happen this week,” King said. “I don’t see Favre missing a game unless the tendinitis [has] really worsened or he had significant swelling in the elbow. I’ve just seen him play with much worse. I think if he misses a game this year, unless it gets worse, I think it will be because of the commissioner, not his elbow.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Tate, Brett Favre, Peter King

Belichick, Woodhead and Mel Kiper

10.15.10 at 1:27 pm ET
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FOXBORO — In case you’re wondering, Bill Belichick didn’t need to watch “Hard Knocks” this summer to know who Danny Woodhead was.

Turns out, as a football guy, Belichick had his eye and his scouts on the all-purpose back long before Woodhead became a star on the small screen. The show focused on Woodhead as he battled for a spot on the New York Jets, one season after making it as a undrafted player out of Division II Chadron State in Nebraska.

“Yeah, how do you think he got here? Just parachuted in? Yeah, we scouted him,” Belichick said in his best “Hard Knocks” tone.

Belichick was asked if the HBO show helped Woodhead get exposure for his talents this summer, entering his second season in the NFL.

“What exposure? I’ll take your word for it,” Belichick said. “I don’t know anything about that.”

The Patriots had their eyes on Woodhead just in the event circumstances arose that would require an additional running back. They watched every Jets game because they would play them in Week 2 at the Meadowlands. The Ravens beat the Jets in an ugly 10-9 game on the season’s first Monday night.

“We saw a lot of him in preseason,” Belichick said. “We saw in him all the Jets preseason games, which we spent a lot of time on those. Their first game was the night game against Baltimore.

“All the information we had to go on until that game came in was really the preseason and last year.”

At the beginning of September it hardly seemed like the Patriots needed another running back, with five healthy backs already in their stable.

But if there’s one coach in the NFL who takes after the Boy Scouts motto, it’s Belichick. He spends countless hours preparing for just about every possibility that could arise on a roster. This is where Mel Kiper comes in. Let the coach explain. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chadron State, Danny Woodhead, Hard Knocks, HBO

Stephen Neal on D&H: ‘I don’t even know who Justin Bieber is’

10.15.10 at 1:17 pm ET
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Stephen Neal

Stephen Neal

Offensive lineman Stephen Neal made his weekly Patriots Friday appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday afternoon, as the Pats prepare to host the Ravens on Sunday.

Neal was asked how he felt about watching game film from last season’s playoff game in which the Ravens routed the Patriots, 33-14. “I really don’t like to think back about how it felt that day and the next couple of months that followed, but it’s important to go back and watch to see what could have been a lot better and what was pretty good,” he said. “It definitely gives you a little bit of extra motivation. It was not something I wanted to do, but it’s something that’s necessary.”

Neal spent some talking talking about the strategy of the dominating Baltimore defense. “On early downs, they line up with you and they’ll slug it out with you,” he said. “Then you get into their sub personnel, the smaller groupings, and they’ve got a little flavor there to their blitzes, a little bit of tricky stuff. For the most part, they just like to line up and bang, and hopefully that will be a good matchup for us.”

Asked what newly reacquired receiver Deion Branch brings to the Patriots locker room, Neal said: “A lot of smiles. It’s good to see an old friend come back here. He’s a great guy in the locker room and a great guy off the field and on the field. It’s good to have a guy like back in the locker room.”

Commenting on the Tom Brady-Justin Bieber haircut controversy Neal said, “I’ve got to be honest with you. I don’t even know who Justin Bieber is.” Added Neal, “I know who Hannah Montana is. I know that one. But I don’t know this other guy.”

Read More: Deion Branch, Justin Bieber, Stephen Neal, Tom Brady

Pats practice report for Friday

10.15.10 at 11:18 am ET
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FOXBORO — Running back Fred Taylor was again the only player not spotted at Patriots practice on Friday as the team worked out in a brisk wind on the stadium field at Gillette.

Taylor has been nursing a toe injury since a Week 3 win over the Bills and was inactive for the Patriots’ 41-14 win over the Dolphins on Oct. 4.

The team practiced in sweats and shells as they continued preparations for the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET in Foxboro.

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Fred Taylor, New England Patriots, nfl

Deion Branch on D&H: Unfinished business with Pats

10.15.10 at 10:56 am ET
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Deion Branch

Deion Branch

Patriots receiver Deion Branch checked in with the Dale & Holley show Friday morning to talk about his return to New England. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Branch said it was easy to return because no bridges were burned when he held out and was traded to the Seahawks in September 2006.

“No bitterness and no resentment,” Branch said. “At that time, I just really wish that we really could have gotten it done. But at the same time, I understand the business side of it. Sometimes it can work out. Sometimes you just can’t get it right. And I just think it was no hatred amongst me or the New England organization. We just couldn’t get the numbers and stuff lined up. And that stuff happens.

“And I think that’s the best part about me returning is that I think we both know and feel like, ‘Hey, we have some unfinished business, and we really want you in it,’ and I really want to be here. That makes the process a whole lot more easier to return, knowing that we didn’t leave on a sour note. When I left, everything was good. Coach [Bill] Belichick and myself continued to talk, Tom [Brady] and I continued to talk, along with the rest of the players on the team that I still keep in contact with. There were no hard feelings. I just wish at the time that we could have gotten it done and we wouldn’t have lost those four years that were lost in between.”

Branch was asked when he heard the news that he was headed back to New England. “Once the Randy Moss trade went through, that’s when the rumors kept on picking up,” he said. “You just hear the rumors, and stuff started going from there. I think the rumors turned into reality.”

Branch renegotiated his contract this week that lessened his salary for 2011. “It’s all about two organizations communicating to try to make ends meet,” he said. “And I think we both took a little to give a little — you know what I’m saying? — on both parts. I just wasn’t going to sit back and say, ‘I want this, I want that.’ I think we both sat down and we got everything done and it worked out for both us us. I think both parties are happy. It’s a win-win for both parties.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Deion Branch, Tom Brady,

Nuggetpalooza’s Patriots-Ravens preview!

10.15.10 at 10:05 am ET
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nuggetpalooza-small3Hoo, boy! A nice matchup this Sunday in Foxboro!

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* – The Pats have converted 55 percent of their third downs this season, the highest percentage in the league. The Ravens rank first in stopping third downs (27 percent) so far. New England has been successful on third-and-long (6 or more yards to go) 39 percent of the time (third) while the Ravens have allowed opponents to go just 6-for-40 (15 percent) in those spots (first).

Baltimore’s OFFENSE ranks No. 1 at converting those third-and-long situations (44 percent) while New England’s defense is second worst in the league at stopping those (also 44 percent).

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* – The Patriots have allowed 77 percent completions when they have blitzed this season, the highest completion percentage in the league. That’s reason number one for them to limit their blitzes this Sunday. Reason number two? The Ravens have averaged just 4.9 yards per pass play when their opponents don’t blitz, third lowest.

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* – 56.2 percent of New England’s pass yards have come after the catch (YAC), the fourth highest percentage in the league. But just 35.4 percent of yards against Baltimore have been YAC, the second lowest percentage allowed. Last week, that figure was just 21.3 percent as the Ravens allowed 10 or more YAC yards on just three of 21 completions.

On offense, the Ravens rank 31st in YAC percentage (36.6 percent).

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* – Baltimore opponents have been hit with 52 penalties already in 2010, most in the league. New England’s opponents have been penalized just 20 times, the fourth fewest.

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* – The Ravens have allowed only five drives of 10 or more plays this season, but they are one of only three teams that have allowed scores on all of them. They allowed no such drives in last Sunday’s game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Tate, joe flacco, Tom Brady,
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