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Poll: What should be Patriots’ positional priority this offseason, either in free agency or draft?

01.21.14 at 7:00 am ET
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Poll: What should be the Patriots positional priority this offseason, either in free agency or the draft?

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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price wrap up 2013 Patriots, look forward to busy offseason

01.20.14 at 10:40 pm ET
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Read More: AFC Championship, Chris Price, Denver Broncos, Mike Petraglia

Knee injury will force Aqib Talib to skip Pro Bowl

01.20.14 at 9:43 pm ET
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Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib has bowed out of the Pro Bowl, and will be replaced by New York’s Antonio Cromartie.

Talib suffered a knee injury in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Broncos, and as a result, won’t get to make the trip to Hawaii. It was the first Pro Bowl invite for the 27-year-old, who finished the season with four picks.

The play on which the injury occurred has become a flashpoint, as New England coach Bill Belichick argued that Denver wide receiver Wes Welker made one of the “worst plays” he had ever seen when he deliberately crashed into Talib.

“It was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib. No attempt to get open,” Belichick said. “I’ll let the league handle the discipline on that play, whatever they decide. It’s one of the worst plays I’ve seen. That’s all I’ll say about that.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: antonio cromartie, Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, Wes Welker

Patriots sign 7 to future contracts

01.20.14 at 5:37 pm ET
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The Patriots signed seven players to future contracts on Monday: offensive lineman Braxton Cave, tackle Jordan Devey, wide receiver Reggie Dunn, offensive lineman R.J. Mattes, running back Sam McGuffie, wide receiver Greg Orton and linebacker Taylor Reed to future contracts today. All seven of those players ended the season on the New England practice squad.

Cave, 24, was claimed off waivers by the Patriots from Cleveland on Sept. 1 and released on Sept. 5 before joining the practice squad on Sept. 7. The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder was originally signed by Cleveland as a rookie free agent out of Notre Dame on April 30. He was released by the Browns on Aug. 30.

Devey, 25, was originally signed by the Baltimore as a rookie free agent out of Memphis on May 3. The 6-foot-6, 317-pounder was released by the Ravens on Aug. 30 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 1 before being released on Sept. 2. He was signed to the New England practice squad on Sept. 3.

Dunn, 25, was originally signed by Pittsburgh as a rookie free agent on April 7 out of Utah. The 5-foot-9, 178-pounder was released by the Steelers after training camp and spent time on the practice squads of Green Bay, Cleveland and Miami before joining the New England practice squad on Jan. 7.

Mattes, 23, was originally signed by New England as a rookie free agent on May 13 out of North Carolina State before being released on May 23 and re-signed on June 3. The 6-foot-6, 315-pounder was released again on Aug. 24 before being signed to the practice squad on Dec. 30.

McGuffie, 24, was originally signed by the Raiders on April 29 as a rookie free agent out of Rice. The 5-10, 200-pounder was released by Oakland on Aug. 26 and signed by the Cardinals to the practice squad on Sept. 3 before being released on Sept. 17. He was signed to the New England practice squad on Dec. 27. McGuffie began his college career at Michigan as a running back, seeing action as a true freshman, before transferring to Rice. After two seasons as a running back at Rice, he made a successful transition from running back to slot receiver as a senior in 2012 and finished with 54 receptions for 603 yards and five touchdowns.

Orton, 27, spent part of 2011 and all of 2012 on the Denver practice squad. The 6-foot-3, 199-pounder originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Bengals out of Purdue in 2009. He had stints with the Arena Football League’€™s Spokane Shock and the United Football League’€™s Omaha Knights before joining the Denver practice squad. Orton went to training camp with Denver last summer. He was signed by New England to the practice squad on Dec. 31.

Reed, 22, was originally signed by the Cowboys as a rookie free agent out of SMU on May 5. The 5-foot-11, 236-pounder was released by Dallas on Aug. 31 before being signed to the Cowboys practice squad on Nov. 18. He was released from the practice squad on Nov. 26. He joined the New England practice squad on Dec. 30.

Read More: Braxton Cave, Greg Orton, Jordan Devey, R.J. Mattes

Patriots players discuss pick plays, season coming to an end

01.20.14 at 3:48 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The day after the Patriots fell to the Broncos 26-16 in the AFC championship game it was a somber locker room at Gillette Stadium, where the players cleaned out their lockers and many said goodbye to teammates, some of whom likely will not be teammates again because of free agency and the general nature of the NFL.

A few players spoke with the media reflecting on both the season and Sunday’s game, with pick plays in the league being a main focus.

Here are a few quotes:

Devin McCourty

On the season coming to an end: “It’€™s always tough when your season ends in the playoffs, it just ends so fast.”

On the Broncos and their pick plays: “Each team is different, but they run that a lot and do a good job doing that.”

Steve Gregory

On what the the defense could have done better in the loss: “I wish we could’ve gotten off the field a little bit. Third downs we weren’t able to get off the field, they kind of pretty much moved the ball and chewed up a lot of clock. We would’ve liked to have gotten a turnover or two and given the ball back to our offense in good field position, even just forcing a punt. We weren’t able to, they were clicking. Peyton [Manning] was on his game. They are a good football team. It’€™s going to be a good game.”

Overall thoughts on the season: “At the end of the season there is only one team that is going to be happy. Every other team is going to go home and wonder what they could’ve done more of to accomplish their goals. I am proud of this group of guys. They played hard all year long. We had so much adversity that we overcame. By no means was it a bad season, we made it to the AFC championship and played a great team in the Denver Broncos and yesterday they were just a little bit better than we were. They made more plays than we did and they deserved it. At the end of the day we can hold our heads high. We played a heck of a year, the guys fought hard, you just have to learn from it, move on.”

On pick plays and what they’ve become: “The game has evolved to that with bunches and stacks with guys trying to create separation especially in man coverage and things like that. Receivers try and rub routes with picks like that, pick plays is what they are called — trying to create separation for guys so the quarterback can get the ball in there. It’€™s kind of become part of the game. To what extent it’€™s a flag or a penalty, I don’€™t know. It’€™s something you have to deal with and work through.”

Andre Carter

On pick plays in the NFL: “It’€™s football. It’€™s part of the offensive scheme, we understand that. Sometimes for defensive linemen like myself, the crack-toss play, it happens. You just have to prepare for it. Sometimes you get caught in the wrong place, but like I said it’s football. The league will review it and see what they can do to protect players.”

Read More: Andre Carter, Devin McCourty, Patriots, Steve Gregory

LeGarrette Blount on re-signing with Patriots: ‘I’d like to be here, but we’ll see how it goes’

01.20.14 at 2:10 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount slowly removed items from his locker and into a trash bag Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after his team was eliminated from the playoffs following their 26-16 loss to the Broncos in the AFC championship game.

Monday could be the last time Blount sets foot in the Patriots locker room as the 27-year-old is now a free agent, but that doesn’€™t mean Blount isn’€™t open to a return with New England.

“I’€™d like to be here, but we’€™ll see how it goes,” Blount said.

His contract this past year was reportedly for the four-year league minimum of $630,000 with an added $50,000 workout bonus.

The 250-pound running back had a breakout season, particularly in the final two games of the regular season carrying over into the divisional round game against the Colts. He averaged 143 yards on the ground in those three games and recorded eight touchdowns, including four against the Colts.

For the season he finished with 772 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, but only ran the ball five times for six yards in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos.

“I’€™m proud of how far we went, obviously we didn’€™t reach our ultimate goal, but we’€™re proud of the strides we made,” said Blount.

He came to the Patriots from Tampa Bay this offseason in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick and sprinter Jeff Demps, who only played in two games for the Buccaneers this season.

Blount went undrafted out of Oregon coming into the league in 2010 where he rushed for 1,007 yards with Tampa. In 2011 he ran for 781 yards before a down year of just 151 in 2012. The Patriots took a chance on him and Blount joined a team where he fit right in.

“Hard, tough-nosed, the ability that this whole team has. A lot of guys here are underdogs and undrafted guys. There are a lot of not first-round guys coming in here stepping up doing things guys didn’€™t expect them to do,” Blount said of the Patriots as a team. ‘€œWe’€™ve come out here and proved them wrong a bunch of times.”

Although the team didn’€™t reach their ultimate goal, there was still a lot of take away from the season with just how many injuries the team was able to get past — something Blount took a lot of pride in.

“We did everything we could to overcome them,” he said. “We made it as far as we could’€™ve without getting to the big show.”

Whether Blount is apart of the Patriots team next year that hopes to get to “the big show” still remains to be seen.

Read More: LeGarrette Blount, Patriots,

Former NFL referee Jim Daopoulos on M&M: ‘It should have been a foul’

01.20.14 at 2:01 pm ET
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Former NFL referee Jim Daopoulos spoke with Mut & Merloni on Monday to discuss the Wes WelkerAqib Talib collision during Sunday’€™s AFC championship game. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

“€œClearly in my opinion the contact was prior to the ball being touched by Demaryius Thomas,” Daopoulos said. “It should have been a foul.”

“The way I looked at it was when Welker went across the middle he made contact with Talib prior to the ball going to the receiver.”

According to Daopoulos, Welker initiated contact with Talib and restricted him from playing defense.

“He just basically committed an illegal act where he picked Talib off and actually committed a foul by restricting Talib’€™s opportunity to play defense,”€ Daopoulos said.

“You have to have contact. You can pick all you want in the NFL. Picks are not illegal. What makes them illegal is the contact. If you pick the guy, it’€™s OK, but you cannot initiate the contact.”

Daopoulos, who spent 12 years as an NFL supervisor of officials after 11 years on the field. noted that the referees called the Patriots for a pick later in the half.

“Clearly, Welker’€™s contact gave Denver an advantage, and that’€™s what you’ve got to rule,”€ Daopoulos said. “€œThe timing is so tremendous with these athletes, and it’€™s all timing out there.

“€œThe only issue I have, we saw one earlier right at the end of the first half with New England, No. 47, with [Michael Hoomanawanui]. Same exact situation. All I think the people want, whether it’€™s coach [Bill] Belichick or players, coaches, anyone, is they want consistency out there. If you’€™re going to call it one minute against one team, then be consistent and call it against the other team and do it consistently throughout the game. You can’€™t call it against one team and let it go against the other.”

Despite what Belichick expressed on Monday, Daopoulos does not think it was a dirty hit, nor should it warrant a fine from the NFL.

“€œI can almost assure you that it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to injure Talib,” Daopoulos said. “€œI think Welker was just running his pattern, he was doing exactly what he was trying to do, he was trying to get that hesitancy in Talib’s coverage so if he hesitates that just instance that let’€™s his man gets open.”

“I’ve looked at the play many many times and there’€™s nothing that will draw a fine. All it was was an illegal pick and it should have been a foul for offensive pass interference.”€

Daopolous concedes that the game was a hard one to call.

“€œYou can stop-frame this game, this game was so difficult to officiate,”€ Daopoulos said. “As an official, what you’€™re trying to do is you’€™re trying to determine is someone getting an advantage by doing something illegal. There’€™s a lot of illegal activities that go in a football game, but as officials what you’€™re looking for is someone gaining an advantage by committing a foul.”

Read More: AFC Championship, Aqib Talib, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots

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