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Ryan Clark: Tom Brady toughest QB out there

05.10.13 at 12:35 am ET
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Earlier in the week, he made headlines for suggesting that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady “sees ghosts” when he’s pressured, but Steelers safety Ryan Clark said Thursday that “ghosts or no ghosts,” Brady is still the best in the business.

“I have to go with the greatest living American, and that’s Tom Brady,” Clark told ESPN when asked about the toughest quarterback he has to face. “You know, I said what I said, and I do believe it, and it’s true. But when this guy has the opportunity to set up and throw the ball to his receivers, there’s nobody better at pinpointing guys out and making plays for his team.”

Check out the video below for his full statement:

Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez at No. 77 in ‘NFL Network’ players poll

05.10.13 at 12:11 am ET
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Aaron Hernandez was voted the 77th best player in the league in the latest edition of the NFL Network’s “Top 100″ players poll.

The 23-year-old tight end, who was the second Patriot to appear on the list — guard Logan Mankins was 82nd — is making his first appearance on the list. Last season. he had 51 catches for 483 yards and six touchdowns while working in a limited capacity because of injuries. For his career, he has 175 catches for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns in his three seasons in the NFL.

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Report: Pats agree to two-year contract with WR Lavelle Hawkins

05.09.13 at 12:52 pm ET
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The Patriots and wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins have agreed to a two-year contract, according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

The 5-foot-11, 194-pounder has 71 catches for 771 yards and one touchdown in his five-year NFL career, all spent with the Titans, who released him last week. He had just five catches for 62 yards in 2012. His best season came in 2011 when he came away with 47 catches for 470 yards and a touchdown.

“He liked the situation in New England,” agent Brian Overstreet told The Tennessean. “They are going to throw the ball a lot, and they have one of the best quarterbacks of our time in Tom Brady. It’€™s a great situation for Lavelle. They use a lot of guys, and he’€™s going to get a shot.”

According to the Tennessean report, Hawkins also visited with the Texans and had interest from the Giants. He was slated to make $1.9 million 2013 when the Titans released him.

Hawkins was a fourth-round pick of the Titans in 2008 out of the University of California, where he twice was named All-Pac-10 second team.

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Report: RB Felix Jones works out for Patriots

05.08.13 at 8:30 pm ET
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File this one under “due diligence.”

Despite the fact that the Patriots have a fully-stocked collection of backs, including Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, Leon Washington and (the recently acquired) LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots are reportedly kicking the tires on veteran running back Felix Jones this week, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

The 5-foot-10, 215-pounder has shown some ability to be a multidimensional threat over the course of his career — the 26-year-old had a career-best 48 catches for the Cowboys in 2010, and has rushed for 4.8 yards per attempt since entering the NFL in 2008. For his career, he’s rushed for 2,728 yards and 11 touchdowns, and has 127 receptions for 1,062 yards and 11 touchdowns.

An unrestricted free agent who has also worked out for the Eagles and Bengals, he’s coming off a season where he was nagged by injuries, and finished with a career-low in games played (six), rushing yards (266), receptions (two) and receiving yards (10).

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NFC scout on Patriots draft: 4 players could contribute immediately

05.08.13 at 1:49 pm ET
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While the grades are starting to trickle in on how the Patriots fared last month in the NFL draft, one NFC scout said he was impressed by what New England was able to do, saying the Patriots picked up at least four players who will be able to contribute as rookies.

‘€œThe Patriots seemed to have a solid draft,’€ he told on Wednesday. ‘€œThey went out and picked potential playmakers that have the ability to contribute immediately.’€

On offense, the selection of wide receivers — Aaron Dobson in the second round and Josh Boyce in the fourth round — defined New England’€™s draft, as far as he was concerned. While his team had some questions about Dobson as a collegian, he feels that the Patriots will be able to develop Dobson into a ‘€œsolid player.’€

‘€œDobson is a size/speed wide receiver that has tools to develop into a solid pro,’€ he said. ‘€œHowever, he does have some motor and contested-catch inconsistency in college but if Patriots can get it out of him, he can be a solid player. Boyce could also be a solid contributor as a developmental wide receiver and special teams player in his first year in the league.’€

While several people have raved about the football IQ of both Dobson and Boyce, the two receivers are unlike most receivers the Patriots have targeted in the draft the last few years in that they are bigger, more physical types: Dobson is a 6-foot-3, 203-pounder out of Marshall (tied with P.K. Sam as the tallest receiver Bill Belichick ever drafted) who ended up with 165 receptions, 2,398 receiving yards and 24 touchdown catches. Meanwhile, the 5-foot-11 Boyce electrified the combine after recording 161 catches for 2,535 yards and 22 touchdowns in his three seasons at TCU.

‘€œThe Patriots seem to view wide receivers differently,’€ the scout said, ‘€œas they are willing to take a chance on size/speed guys and are willing to admit mistakes and move on if they don’€™t fit the bill.’€

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Michael Jenkins aiming to make his mark with Patriots

05.08.13 at 12:38 pm ET
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When it comes to veteran receivers hoping to revive their careers in New England, there’s been no shortage of candidates over the last decade-plus. Sometimes, it works (David Patten, Donte’ Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney) and sometimes, not so much (Joey Galloway, Chad Johnson).

Into this mix comes Michael Jenkins, who will start his 10th season in the league this year, and his first with the Patriots. The 30-year-old, who caught 40 passes for 449 yards and two touchdowns last season with the Vikings, is a 6-foot-4, 214-pounder out of Ohio State who spent seven seasons with the Falcons and the last two with Minnesota. His best years came in 2007 and 2008, when he caught a combined 103 passes for 1,309 yards and seven touchdowns.

Jenkins is well aware of both the successes and failures that veterans have had when it comes to getting acclimated to the New England passing game. And while he can’t speak to why some of his predecessors failed — instead, he can only control what he can control.

“I can’€™t say why they’€™ve struggled before. I just try to do my part in studying, kind of be well-rounded, knowing all the positions within the receiver position, and just fit in where I can,” he told reporters earlier this week. “You’€™ve seen stuff, [but] you never know what’€™s going on internally; I’€™ve always considered myself a quick learner and being able to pick it up, so hopefully that continues to happen for me and I can pick it up.”

The New England receiving corps is in a state of flux, as there’s only one receiver (Julian Edelman) currently on the roster who caught a pass from quarterback Tom Brady last season. Jenkins is part of a group of newcomers at the receiver position that includes former Bills receiver Donald Jones and ex-Rams wideout Danny Amendola, as well as a group of rookies that includes second-round pick Aaron Dobson and fourth-round selection Josh Boyce.

Jenkins is the oldest receiver on the roster right now.

“It’€™s different,” he said of being the veteran. “All of a sudden a couple of years ago in Minnesota I was the oldest guy in the room. But we got a lot of great guys here, willing to work, and I’€™ll just help out the young guys when I can and do my job.”

Jenkins has no illusions as to what might await him, other than the fact that he hopes to be a “contributor” to the New England passing game.

“Everybody’€™s competing, everybody’€™s working together now to get stronger, get faster in the weight room,” he said. “I have no predictions on what that may be, so just knowing my stuff and knowing what I need to do and get those things done, and we’€™ll what happens.

“It’€™s a great organization obviously; being in the league for a long time you see what they’€™ve done over the years, and I’m just hoping I can come in and help,” he added. “It’€™s been great, still learning names, trying to remember everybody, from medical staff to the trainers and everybody. But it’€™s been good so far; everybody’€™s been real receptive and I’€™m glad to be here.”

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Report: Rob Gronkowski will need fourth surgery on arm

05.08.13 at 11:38 am ET
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Rob Gronkowski will need a fourth operation to replace the plate that secures the broken bone in his forearm, according to the Boston Herald.

While the surgery is not unexpected — and if everything goes well, would leave him ready for the start of the season — if doctors find that the tight end still has infected tissue in his forearm, Gronkowski would need a fifth operation. That would jeopardize his chances when it comes to starting the regular season on time.

Gronkowski suffered the initial break in a Week 11 win over the Colts, and later re-broke his arm in the postseason against the Texans. The 23-year-old caught 55 passes for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Patriots in 2012.

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