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Pats add three to practice squad, including McKenzie

09.07.10 at 1:51 pm ET
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The Patriots have signed cornerback Tony Carter, linebacker Tyrone McKenzie and cornerback Prince Miller to the practice squad today. In addition, they released tight end Jeron Mastrud from the practice squad.

Here’s a portion of the release issued by the team, and a quick YouTube look at the two new guys (Carter and Miller):

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Belichick: No news on contracts

09.07.10 at 1:30 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick spent a good portion of his Tuesday afternoon conference call fielding questions about Tom Brady and Randy Moss, two players whose contract situations have been in the news over the last 24 hours.

Moss, who is entering the final year of his deal, made his feelings about his contract known in an interview with CBS Sportsline. And it was reported Tuesday that Brady, who is also in the final season of his contract, is closing in on a new deal of his own, a reported three-year contract.

“I don’t have anything to report on any contracts,” Belichick said after being questioned about the news regarding a new deal for Brady.

As for Moss — who said Monday he felt unwanted in New England — Belichick reiterated that Moss has been a “professional” over his three-plus seasons with the Patriots.

“He’s had a good training camp. He’s played very well since he’s been here,” Belichick said. “He’s played at a very high level and I hope that continues. He’s brought a lot of passion to the game – for the game – since he’s been here. He’s well liked and he’s well respected on the team.”

As for the belief that Moss was unhappy or unwanted, Belichick said he wasn’t aware of that.

“He didn’t say that to me, so I don’t really have any comment on that,” Belichick said.

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Highlights from Bill Belichick conference call, 9/7

09.07.10 at 1:06 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are some of the highlights from this afternoon’s conference call between coach Bill Belichick and the media:

Q: There was some talk this morning that a possible contract extension was afoot for Tom Brady.
BB: I don’t have anything to report on any contracts.

Q: I know I asked you this last week, but with the timing with everything, if any contract is going to happen with any player, does it behoove the team and the player to get it done before the season opener and not have anything extend into the season?
BB: You can use the same answer I used last week. If it’s the same question I’d give you the same answer, how about that?

Q: What does it mean for a team to have a quarterback like Brady, so consistent year after year? What does it do for an offense or a team to have his presence there?
BB: It’s always good to have consistency on your team at every position and every unit. Certainly quarterback is in that category.

Q: Randy Moss mentioned that he wants to feel more wanted, as he is entering the last year of his contract.
BB: I would just say on Randy that he is a professional. He’s had a good training camp. He’s played very well since he’s been here. He’s played at a very high level and I hope that continues. He’s brought a lot of passion to the game – for the game – since he’s been here. He’s well liked and he’s well respected on the team.

Q: Do you expect that whatever he is feeling or not feeling won’t play out into season and become a distraction for him?
BB: I think I just answered that. As I said, he has been very professional. He’s been very productive for us. He is well liked by his teammates and he brings good energy to the field.

Q: Were you surprised that he said he was feeling unhappy or unwanted by the team?
BB: He didn’t say that to me, so I don’t really have any comment on that.

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What a new Brady contract would mean

09.07.10 at 11:36 am ET
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NFL/

Tom Brady and Robert Kraft. (AP)

A new contract for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would have a ripple effect across the National Football League like few other deals in modern history. Here’s a look at what it would mean to the most interested parties:

Tom Brady: The Boston Herald is reporting that the current deal on the table, which would kick in for the 2011 season, following the final year of his current six-year, $60 million deal that runs through this year, is for three years and $58 million deal. If that report is accurate, it’s a win-win situation for both the quarterback and the team.

The deal the quarterback signed in 2005 was a good one that put him in the upper echelon among his contemporaries. However, it was consistent with the Patriots’ traditional team-building technique — team-friendly enough that it didn’t hamstring the Patriots in their attempts to bring in new players. (Brady would also show a willingness to rework his deal to allow for pricey new acquisitions like Randy Moss.) With a labor showdown looming, no one is sure what the future holds for the NFL’s salary structure. But at first glance, it appears that this is a deal that will allow each side to claim a certain measure of victory.

Logan Mankins: The Pro Bowl left guard isn’t foolish— he understands the importance of Brady to the franchise. But Mankins, who is currently locked in a contract stalemate with the team that doesn’t look like it’s going to get resolved anytime soon, can’t be happy. It doesn’t matter who the contract is going to — even someone like Brady — Mankins (and his agent Frank Bauer) probably aren’t thrilled that the Patriots are handing out a deal worth a reported $58 million while the lineman sits at home waiting for some movement on his own contract.

Randy Moss: The wide receiver is extremely smart and very close with Brady. As a result, there’s an excellent chance he knew about Brady’s deal almost being done when he spoke with CBS Sports about his own expiring contract on Monday evening. Would the Patriots decide to bring back Moss? Even with the receiver’s new representation, it doesn’t seem like something that would get done this season. But with Brady’s deal apparently nearing completion, if the Patriots are interested in bringing Moss back, he certainly moves closer to the top of the priority list.

Peyton Manning: Brady and the Indianapolis quarterback use each other as a barometer all the time, and this contract will be no different. In fact, Manning (who is heading into the final year of his contract) and the Colts’ front office now have a framework from which to operate when it comes to working out his new deal. In fact, the Brady deal could be the first domino in a series of contracts for veteran quarterbacks like Manning, Drew Brees and Donovan McNabb, all of whom have deals that are going to be coming up within the next year or so.

Robert Kraft: The Patriots’ owner gets the best of both worlds — he’s sidestepped a potential landmine and and signed his marquee quarterback to a deal that will expire when Brady is in his late 30s. And if the report of $58 million is accurate, it’s a certainly a contract that could be described as player-friendly and more than reasonable for a player of Brady’s caliber.

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Nuggetpalooza’s Pats schedule preview: Buffalo

09.07.10 at 10:45 am ET
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nuggetpalooza-small9The Patriots host Buffalo on Sept. 26 at 1 p.m.  They travel to Buffalo on Dec. 26 at 1 p.m.

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What The Bills Did Well Last Season:

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* – Blitzed Opposing Passers: Even though the Bills didn’t blitz a whole lot (31% of opponent pass plays), opposing passers posted just a 55 rating versus blitzes (2nd to the Jets’ 54).  Most of that was thanks to 11 interceptions on 159 pass attempts (6.92%), BY FAR the highest percentage in the league:

6.92% – Buffalo Bills
5.75% – Green Bay Packers
5.50% – Tampa Bay Bucs

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* – Cashed In On Good Field Position: Buffalo began 19 drives on their opponents’ side of the 50 yard line last season and put points on the board on 14 of those possessions (73.7%), the 3rd highest percentage in the league:

77.8% – Carolina Panthers
73.9% – Denver Broncos
73.7% – Buffalo Bills

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* – Rushed For Sizeable Gains: 48.8% of Buffalo’s rushes gained 4 or more yards in 2009, the highest percentage in the NFL:

48.8% – Buffalo Bills
47.2% – Detroit Lions
46.6% – Miami Dolphins

For some context, the NFL average was 42.5% and the league’s lowest percentage belonged to the Chargers (36.3%).

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* – Punted The Ball Well: Buffalo averaged 46.6 yards per punt in 2009, the 5th highest gross average in the league.

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* – Somehow Put Bad Mojo On Opposing Punters: Opposing punters averaged just 41.2 gross yards last season, the lowest average against in the NFL.

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* – Struck Quickly: By hitting for 8 touchdowns in four plays or fewer last season, “quick strike” points accounted for 21% of Buffalo’s total points scored, the 2nd highest percentage in the NFL.  Only Philadelphia (24%) was higher.  By contrast, St. Louis did not record a “quick strike” point in 2009.

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* – Put Up Big Play Points: The Bills scored 18 times (11 touchdowns and 7 field goals) from outside the red zone last year, accounting for 37.6% of Buffalo’s total points, the 4th highest percentage in the league:

40.6% – Oakland Raiders
40.1% – Tennessee Titans
38.7% – Carolina Panthers
37.6% – Buffalo Bills

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 1

09.07.10 at 9:38 am ET
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power-rankings575Opening kickoff is just days away when Brett Favre and the Vikings will try to avenge their conference championship loss and take on the defending Super Bowl champions and the No.1 team in WEEI’s NFL Power Rankings. The Black and Gold have a very difficult task ahead, defending the title and its No.1 ranking. Teams attempting to take that top slot and rounding off the Top 5 are Indy, Green Bay, Baltimore and Dallas respectively.

Rex Ryan and the Jets had a very productive Labor Day weekend after they finally managed to bring back All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. The return of Revis solidifies the Jets as having one of the most feared defenses in league. The ‘Hard Knocks’ stars are at No.7 to start the season. Right behind them at No.8 is their division rival New England Patriots. After a strong preseason, Tom Brady looks poised and ready to put up numbers similar to those in 2007.

No surprises at the bottom of the barrel. The Chiefs, Browns, Bills, Bucs, and Rams find themselves in a very similar position.

Enough exhibition games already, bring on the NFL season:

New Orleans Saints1. (Last year’s record, 14-2) The Super Bowl champs have earned the right to be called No.1 until proven otherwise. The dynamic duo of Drew Brees and Sean Peyton resemble that of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The Saints championship core is still intact and the team’s defense will greatly appreciate a healthy Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter to patrol the secondary.

2. (13-3) The Colts will be returning many of their starters from their Super Bowl team and will be the team to beat in the AFC this year yet again. Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and the Colts offense will put up huge numbers. On the other side of the ball, Indy has one of the best 1-2 punches at defensive end with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. The Colts are looking for 12 or more wins for their eighth straight season.

Green Bay Packers3. (11-5) Green Bay has a great opportunity to hit the ground running as they start their 2010 season playing Buffalo, Chicago and Detroit in three of the team’s first four games. Protecting Aaron Rodgers will be the key to Packers success.

4. (9-7) The loss of Domonique Foxworth and the poor pass rush are major concerns for this team entering the season but this team has always been known for a strong defense and can rely on linebacker Terrell Suggs to bounce back from an uncharacteristically poor 2009 season. Joe Flacco has emerged as on the great young QB’s in the NFL and with new weapon Anquan Boldin along with Pro Bowler Ray Rice, Baltimore’s offense will be tough to stop.

Dallas Cowboys5. (11-5) The Cowboys are the team to beat in one of the best divisions in the NFL, the NFC East. The team’s biggest concern is their aging offensive line that needs to protect QB Tony Romo. Dallas has loads of talent on both sides of the ball and Jerry Jones’ team has a  legitimate shot of being the first organization to host a Super Bowl in NFL history. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sources tell D&C that Brady deal is almost done

09.07.10 at 9:37 am ET
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nfl_a_brady3_580

WEEI is reporting that a new deal for Tom Brady is close. (AP)

“Tremendous progress” has been made on a new contract for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the deal is close to being done, according to sources close to WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan” show.

(To listen to audio of the report, click here.)

The former NFL MVP is scheduled to earn $6.5 million this season in the final year of a six-year contract he signed in 2005. It was a deal that was considered close to being an upper echelon contract when he signed in 2005, but now, leaves him woefully underpaid when compared to other quarterbacks around the league.

Both the Patriots and Brady have been mostly mum about any sort of negotiations regarding a new deal, and the quarterback said earlier this summer he’s “not into playing games” when it comes to hammering out a new contract.

“I just want to come out here and do the best I can do,” Brady said in an interview earlier this summer. “You know, whether you make $1 playing, or you make millions of dollars like we do make, I just really enjoy playing quarterback for this team. I have since the day I stepped on the field. It’s something I relish, and every year is an opportunity.”

Patriots’ management has long maintained that they want Brady around for a long time.

“[Brady’s] just somebody I have a great amount of admiration for and somebody that I like a tremendous amount and is a great guy,” Patriots president Jonathan Kraft told WEEI earlier this summer. “From where I sit the relationship that we’ve had with him and the relationship that I’ve had with him is the same as it’s always been and if anything, it’s stronger. … I’ll echo what [Patriots owner Robert Kraft] has said a bunch of times, I really believe that Tom Brady is going to be the quarterback of this team for a long time to come.”

A Tuesday morning report from the Boston Herald quotes a source close to the negotiations as saying the Patriots have offered Brady a three-year deal worth $58 million that comes out to $19.3 million annually.

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