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Patriots by Position: Defensive backs

01.24.11 at 9:54 pm ET
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Over the next week as the Patriots offseason gets underway, we’€™ll present a snapshot of the team by position. Today, the defensive backs are in the spotlight:

On the roster: Kyle Arrington, Sergio Brown, Darius Butler, Patrick Chung, Tony Carter, Devin McCourty, Brandon Meriweather, Jarrad Page and James Sanders. (Jonathan Wilhite, Leigh Bodden, Josh Barrett and Bret Lockett ended the season on injured reserve, while Thad Turner ended the year on the practice squad.)

Stat standouts: Leading tackler (according to coaches film review): Chung, 89, McCourty, 83. Interceptions: McCourty, 7. Passes defensed: McCourty, 17. Best single game: There were a few good candidates, but it’€™s hard to argue with McCourty’€™s effort on Thanksgiving Day against the Lions. He had two interceptions, two passes defensed and seven tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, McCourty only allowed two completions the entire game for a combined 13 yards despite being thrown at seven times. Three of those attempts came against all-world receiver Calvin Johnson, and only one of those was complete.

2010, in three sentences: Surprising. Without Leigh Bodden, McCourty emerged as a No. 1 corner, while Chung was as a solid presence in his second season and Sanders provided a steadiness and consistency at safety. However, questions still remain about the middle to back end of the depth chart, including Arrington, Butler and Wilhite, while Meriweather is a lightning rod for criticism.
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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Meriweather, Bret Lockett, Darius Butler

Marvin Lewis: Belichick too smart to sign Ochocinco

01.24.11 at 6:15 pm ET
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Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was asked by the Boston Herald on Monday if he thought the Patriots would make a play for free agent receiver Chad Ochocinco.

“Belichick’s smarter than that,” said Lewis, who coached Ochocinco in Cincinnati for the last eight seasons.

Ochocinco recently posted a Tweet about the possibility of coming to New England, calling a potential pairing of he and Belichick “epic.” Belichick has a long history with the controversial wideout, having worked him out as a draft prospect in 2001. Belichick talked about their relationship earlier in the 2010 season.

‘€œI like Chad ‘€” I like him as a player. I like him as a person,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œI like his enthusiasm and the fun he has with football, and I like how he competes on the football field. I have a lot of respect for that.

‘€œ[We'€™re] an odd couple, but in the end I think we have a lot of things in common.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chad Ochocinco, Marvin Lewis,

Rex Ryan: Jets have ‘done a pretty good job’ of beating Patriots

01.24.11 at 5:11 pm ET
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Jets coach Rex Ryan, in a press conference the day after his team’s season came to an end in the AFC championship game, said that his team is close to its stated goal of winning a Super Bowl after making it to the NFL’s final four for two straight seasons. He suggested that the Jets need to figure out how to do more than just beat the Patriots, feeling that New York has handled its business against its foremost AFC East rival, but has lost the division (and thus been left without a bye or home playoff games) because of its performance against other teams.

“This isn’t just about beating New England because, quite honestly, we’ve done a pretty good job of it,” Ryan said. “It seems like nobody else in the league can beat them, so we’ve got to find ways to beat Green Bay, to beat Baltimore, to beat these other teams we lost to. That’s going to be a huge challenge for us.

“Unfortunately, we play a team that no other team in the league can beat,” added Ryan. “We might be able to beat them, but we’€™re not getting a whole lot of help from anybody else when they play that team. So we’ve got to be good enough to win against all these other teams.”

As for the Jets’ 24-19 loss to the Steelers, Ryan said that he was stunned by the team’s poor showing in the first half, but that he still felt that the season was a success, and that New York will be a champion soon.

“I’m kind of at a loss for why we played so poorly. … It was uncharacteristic of our team,” said Ryan. “How close are we to reaching our goals? Pretty darn close. … We weren’t good enough to get it done, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be good enough to get it done next year.”

For more Patriots coverage, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: New York Jets, Rex Ryan,

Brady, Mayo, Mankins named All-Pro

01.24.11 at 3:06 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was named a unanimous choice for The Associated Press 2010 NFL All-Pro Team, the second time in his career Brady has named as an All-Pro.

Brady, who passed for 3,900 yards with 36 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 2010, was joined on the All-Pro Team by guard Logan Mankins and linebacker Jerod Mayo. Mayo led the NFL with 193 tackles and Mankins was a dominant force on the offensive line in his nine games played this season. It was the first selection for both players.

For more on this year’s All-Pro selections, click here.

Read More: All-Pro, Jerod Mayo, Logan Mankins, Tom Brady

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Cal’s Cameron Jordan

01.24.11 at 12:10 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2011 NFL draft.

CAMERON JORDAN

Postion: Defensive end

School: Cal

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 280 pounds

Achievements: Pac-10 First Team; In 2010, his senior season, Jordan totaled 12 ½ tackles for loss,5 ½ sacks and 62 tackles; On final watch list for Ted Hendricks Award.

What he brings: While not an off-the-charts pass rusher, Jordan has the ability to adjust to various schemes. Shows more skills in regard to stopping the run than getting the quarterback. The lineman’€™s power is perhaps his greatest asset.

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Potential Patriots,

Boomer Esiason on D&C: Sunday’s loss shouldn’t change opinions of Rex Ryan

01.24.11 at 10:01 am ET
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CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to break down the conference championship games and talk about the Super Bowl. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Steelers jumped out to a 24-0 first-half lead and were able to hang on for a 24-19 victory over the Jets in the AFC championship game.

Esiason talked about how these last couple of weeks have showcased the importance of fast starts. ‘€œCertainly yesterday, a case could be made for both teams that won,” he said. “Quite frankly, I was really shocked at the way the Jets played the first half, the amount of missed tackles. It looked like the Steelers wanted it more.’€

Esiason was asked if Jets fans will remember the game more for the slow start or the near comeback. ‘€œHere, it’€™s all about winning and losing,” he said. “If you lose, they’€™re going to take shots at you. Already there are all sorts of foot references in the articles this morning here [in New York] in the newspapers, really cheap shots if you ask me.

‘€œI would like to think that the true Jet fan, somebody who appreciates how difficult the task was yesterday, comes away from that game feeling pretty good about their football team. Certainly their football team, all year long for that matter, showed a penchant for coming back in the second half.’€

How did they come back? Said Esiason: ‘€œI’€™ll tell you what happened. They got in there at halftime and Rex Ryan chewed them out. That’€™s exactly what happened. He said, ‘€˜You guys have got to be kidding me.’€™ Usually what happens is a coach appeals to a player’€™s pride. ‘€˜What the hell are you doing out there?’€™ ‘€

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Read More: B.J. Raji, Ben Roethlisberger, boomer esiason, Jay Cutler

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn

01.23.11 at 1:55 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2011 NFL Draft.

ADRIAN CLAYBORN

Position: Defensive end

School: Iowa

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 280 pounds

Achievements: First-team All-American (NCAA, AFCA, Walter Camp); First-team All-Big 10; 2010 Orange Bowl MVP; Ted Hendricks Award finalist.
What he brings: Using a low center of gravity, Clayborn is a presence on the defensive line thanks both to an ability to rush the passer and stop the run. Use of hands, and closing speed are his primary weapon in getting to the quarterback, even though some were concerned Clayborn failed to show the same relentlessness this past season as he had as a junior. Established himself as a team leader for the Hawkeyes, exhibiting consistent on-field passion.

Where the Patriots could get him: No. 17 or higher

Notes: Clayborn a name for himself with a junior season in which he made 70 tackles (36 solo), 20 of which were for a loss. He also came away with 11 ½ sacks that season, while forcing four fumbles. Any concern regarding the St. Louis native’€™s future stems from senior campaign in which he managed just 3 ½ sacks and seven tackles for a loss. Some believe that the drop-off in productivity was due to consistent double-teams, but others would suggest that Clayborn didn’€™t produce even when left in man-on-man situations.

Teams will also be keeping an eye on Clayborn’€™s right shoulder. He was born with a condition known as ‘€˜Erb’€™s Palsy,’€™ where nerves are damaged at birth. Another red-flag centers around the lineman’€™s incident in Jan. of 2009, when he was arrested for punching an Iowa City cab driver. He would plead guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct, and was not suspended by the Hawkeyes. Despite being invited to play in the Senior Bowl, Clayborn chose not to attend the showcase.

Recent articles:

NFL Draft Bible: Adrian Clayborn

Adrian Clayborn will skip the Senior Bowl

CBSSports Draft analysis: Adrian Clayborn

Adrian Clayborn: A Villian, Big and Bold

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, playoffs, Potential Patriots,
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