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No Madden cover for Rob Gronkowski

04.11.12 at 11:43 am ET
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All the promotional videos in the world couldn’t help Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, as he lost in the quarterfinals for the Madden 13 cover vote to Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, 63 percent to 37, it was revealed Wednesday morning. Johnson advances to the semifinals against Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Calvin Johnson, Cam Newton, Patrick Willis

Why I delivered a Hall Pass to these three Patriots

04.10.12 at 4:55 pm ET
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FOXBORO — One of the best parts about my job is the fact that on an annual basis, I get to vote as part of a process to determine the list of finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame class. Players and coaches who have been retired for at least four years are eligible for Hall of Fame consideration, which this year, means any ex-Patriots player or head coach who retired from the NFL prior to the 2008 season.

This year, the annual meeting — which includes both current and former members of the media, as well as several other members of the franchise and employees of the Hall itself — took place at Tavolino at Patriot Place. This year, the focus seemed to be more on coaches, including one coach who was a finalist on last year’€™s ballot, Bill Parcells. Other names who were included in the back-and-forth who could ultimately make it onto the final ballot include coaches Chuck Fairbanks and Mike Holovak; wide receiver/return men Irving Fryar and Troy Brown; offensive lineman Leon Gray; defensive lineman Houston Antwine (a three-time finalist); and special teamer Mosi Tatupu.

In addition, other impressive names were on the list of potential finalists: running back Curtis Martin, defensive lineman Julius Adams, defensive backs Raymond Clayborn and Fred Marion, linebackers Ted Johnson and Roman Phifer and tight end Russ Francis.

As was the case in previous years, the discussion was interesting for several reasons, not the least of which included the fact that I had a chance to hear from several veteran media members about the contributions of players I never saw. I have covered the team on a daily basis for more than a decade and written two books on the history of the franchise, but there’€™s always more that can be learned, especially when it comes to those who were part of the team in the 1960s.

Then, there’€™s also the debate about how players would fare when matched up against those of a different era — for example, would someone like Gray, who dominated his position in the 1970s, be able to play at the same level in the 21st century?

Included on my ballot of three finalists were the following:
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Read More: Bill Parcells, Leon Gray, Patriots Hall of Fame, Troy Brown

Agent Drew Rosenhaus: Yeremiah Bell ‘drawing interest’ from Patriots

04.09.12 at 11:59 am ET
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There’s already been some talk linking the Patriots to safety Yeremiah Bellwe covered that here — but Sunday night on WSVN-TV on Miami, Bell’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, went a step further, saying that Bell will not be returning to Miami and adding that the 34-year-old is drawing interest from the Patriots, Jets and Eagles.

Bell, a 2009 Pro Bowler, has surpassed the 100-tackle mark each of the past four years, with 107 in 2011 while also totaling two sacks and an interception. In a down year for safeties (both in the draft and in free agency), he would likely be a short-term investment for New England. The 6-foot, 205-pounder has traditionally played more of a strong safety role, and so he could provide depth at a position that has been played more often than not over the last two years by Patrick Chung.

Read More: Drew Rosenhaus, Patrick Chung, Yeremiah Bell,

Some thoughts on the Patriots acquisition of linebacker Bobby Carpenter

04.06.12 at 12:18 am ET
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The Patriots added linebacker Bobby Carpenter to the roster on Thursday, and it likely represents a fresh start for the Ohio State product who has struggled to match the expectations that come with being a first-round draft pick.

The 28-year-old Carpenter was taken in the first round of the 2006 draft by the Cowboys, but was never able to make it work in Dallas. The 6-foot-2, 249-pounder played in 58 games for Dallas over four seasons, making three starts. He was dealt to St. Louis in May 2010, but did not make the Rams’ 53-man roster. He spent time with Miami and Detroit in 2010, and played 16 games last season in Detroit (three starts), recording 29 tackles.

At this point, he likely faces an uphill battle for playing time, but Carpenter does have some positional versatility, as he has played inside linebacker in the 3-4 base defense and outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme over the course of his career, and has also served as a special teamer.

(Carpenter’s father Rob was a fullback with the Giants from 1981 to 1985 — during that stretch, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was an assistant coach in New York.)

In a move that might not be unrelated, Patriots linebacker Gary Guyton will visit with the Dolphins in the next week, according to a league source. Guyton, a free agent, slipped down New England’s depth chart over the course of the last year. While it’s not likely that Guyton’s departure would open up a lot of snaps for a potential replacement, it would create a possible roster opening that could be filled by someone like Carpenter going forward.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bobby Carpenter, Gary Guyton,

Sterling Moore still can’t watch the final quarter of Super Bowl XLVI

04.05.12 at 9:00 pm ET
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Unlike some of his teammates, Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore has gone back and watched Super Bowl XLVI. Well, most of the game, anyway.

‘€œI’€™ve watched the first three quarters of the game — I refuse to watch the last quarter,’€ Moore said Thursday when asked about February’€™s loss to the Giants. ‘€œThat’€™s just me — that’€™s just my opinion. Of course, people want to talk about the game all the time and what happened on that last drive.

‘€œIt’€™s tough, but I have no problem talking about it. I can watch the first three quarters, but I can’€™t watch the last quarter, especially that final drive. Of course, I know my view is a little different than some of my teammates, but to each his own.’€

The 22-year-old defensive back had a whirlwind 2011, going from Oakland’€™s practice squad to playing a major role in New England’€™s secondary. Even after he joined the Patriots, he remained a relatively anonymous face for several weeks: There was the famous story of him shopping at Best Buy and being mistaken for an employee, and in his first start against the Jets in a nationally televised game in November, NBC didn’€™t have footage of him for their intros, and so they had to use a headshot.

But he finished the year with three starts, seven tackles, two passes defensed and two interceptions in the regular season. And he found himself in the thick of things in the postseason — he broke up what would have been a sure touchdown pass in the waning moments of the AFC championship game when he knocked the ball away from Ravens’€™ receiver Lee Evans. And he had a pair of passes defensed and three tackles in the Super Bowl loss to the Giants.

Now, with the season three months in the rearview, he’€™s allowed himself a little time to look back on a memorable year, both for himself and the Patriots’€™ secondary.

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Read More: Lee Evans, Sterling Moore,

Patriots reportedly fail to tender Bret Lockett

04.05.12 at 3:51 pm ET
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The Patriots have failed to tender restricted free agent safety Bret Lockett, according to Rotoworld, which leaves the 25-year-old an unrestricted free agent.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Lockett, an undrafted free agent out of UCLA, has suffered three season-ending injuries in three consecutive years. In 2009, he played 10 games and finished with seven tackles and a forced fumble, his finest season in a New England uniform. (It ended when he was injured late in the season.) He suffered a chest injury in August 2010 which left him on the shelf that year, and a torn groin this past preseason left him on IR for the duration of the 2011 campaign.

In his career in New England, he was more well-known for this, as well as this. He also recorded a single and made a video:

Read More: Bret Lockett,

Checking out the NFL schedule for the next five months

04.05.12 at 8:14 am ET
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Here’€™s a look at the NFL schedule for the next six-plus months:

Mid-April: Offseason programs begin (teams can hold a maximum of 10 OTAs during the offseason).
Late April: 2012 NFL schedule is announced.
April 26: First round of 2012 NFL draft.
April 27: Second and third rounds of 2012 NFL draft.
April 28: Rounds 4-7 of 2012 NFL draft.
Late July: Training camps across the league begin.
Early August: 2012 preseason begins.
Sept. 5: 2012 NFL regular season begins.

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