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Stevan Ridley: No lingering effects from head injury in AFC title game

05.02.13 at 5:43 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For Stevan Ridley, a terrific season ended on a sour note when he was knocked out of the AFC title game against the Ravens. The running back — who rushed for 1,263 yards in the regular season — suffered a head injury which left him sidelined in the waning moments of the loss to Baltimore.

In the wake of the injury, Ridley says he’s been able to shake off any lingering effects of what happened and move full into the offseason.

‘€œNone at all, man,” he said Thursday when asked if there were any lingering effects from the head-to-head collision. “Just good sleep and trying to get back on the field. I thank the Lord that I’€™m healthy and brought me back. All I can do now is move forward from that. But it was a nice hit that I took. Just got to shake it off. Comes with the game.

‘€œIt wasn’€™t pretty at all. It was one of the worst [hits] that I took in my life, [but] it comes with the game,” he added. “I love the game and I love football. I mean, it’€™s going to happen sometimes. But you got to roll with it. Adjust it. Make sure you’€™re squared away with your doctor, squared away with your team. I’€™ll be out here this year ready to go.’€

Ridley finished the season seventh in the league in total yardage, and came within 10 carries of becoming the first Patriots running back to hit 300 carries since Corey Dillon in 2004. That sort of workload helped bring some real balance in the New England offense, but also meant that Ridley needed to make sure that he caught up on his rest over the last couple of months.

“It’s always good to get a break,” he said. “For us, being in the playoffs the last few years, our break is a little bit shorter than others. But when you take that time, you have to take at least three or four weeks to take time for yourself and visit your family — step away. Once you get back up here it’s 24/7. We’re back on the clock. Once we’re back up here, we’re excited to be here and excited about a new year and a fresh start. So, some time off doesn’t hurt anybody, but we know it’s time to get back to work now that we’re here.

Coming off his first 1,000-yard season, Ridley is looking to build some consistency, and become the first running back Bill Belichick has ever had that’s been able to string together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

“I’m just still grinding. I’m happy,” he said. “Some things went well for me and the team. It worked out for me. But for the future and what’s coming up, you just gotta keep working. You know you can’t just do it one year. You’ve got to keep … be consistent with your production. We’re just gonna keep working hard. I’m gonna keep following my teammates and challenging each other and trying to put us in the best shape we can be in.”

One thing that will be different for the Patriots’ ground game in 2013 is the removal of popular veteran Danny Woodhead (who signed a free-agent contract with the Chargers) and the arrival of veteran LeGarrette Blount (who was acquired in a draft weekend deal with the Bucs).

Ridley was clearly sad to see Woodhead go, but eager to get the chance to work with someone like Blount.

“Oh, man — I’ve talked to Woody I’d say three or four times since he left here. You hate to see the guy go like that, but it was the best move for him. It was him and his family. But we’ll stay in touch and we can get across the country and see each other when we need to,” he said of Woodhead.

“You’re looking at a guy who is 260 pounds, a powerful runner,” he added when asked about Blount. “You’€™re looking at a guy who is coming in here to a stable of backs. We just had lunch, just talked a little bit, and now we’€™re excited about it. ‘€¦ The job is not going to be given to anybody, you got to work to get it. With us four in there, I think all four of us can contribute.

“We’ve got a group of guys that are working hard here, and some younger guys and guys that are hungry to play. So, we’re excited about it. Each year holds a new thing and for us, this year we lost a leader but we’ll battle back and just work hard and stick together.”

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Robert Kraft’s full Q&A with the media Thursday afternoon: ‘We felt this was a deep draft’

05.02.13 at 5:12 pm ET
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After taking part in the ceremonial presentation of the jersey to top draft pick Jamie Collins, Patriots owner Robert Kraft took some time with speak with reporters Thursday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Here’s the entire Q&A with the media, which lasted just over seven minutes:

Opening statement: ‘€œIt’€™s interesting, for us, [because] this was a nondescript draft class. There were no big names, no big schools, no career records. But we hope it parallels a couple past successful drafts we had where we had two tight ends in 2010, Gronk and Hernandez. Then in ‘€™11, we had two halfbacks with Ridley and Vereen. Now we have two wide receivers with Dobson and Boyce. As I mentioned, this our 20th draft class. It’€™s a pretty exciting time for us because doing this today really means the start of the new season. All the final pieces are in place here at the stadium. Just some interesting stats to know — we had no picks in the first round, but in the first 102 picks in the draft, we had five, which is more than any other team. We felt this was a deep draft, in the second and third rounds, so we’€™re excited about that.’€

On his initial impressions of top-pick Jamie Collins: ‘€œFirst of all, I know my mom —  bless her memory — lost her dad when she was 9. And here is a young man who lost both his parents by the time he was 6. I know how mentally tough my mother was. I think seeing him and talking to him — I guess he also lost a brother, and he went on a team this year that was 0-12, I think all of those things have weighed on him. He’€™s just a very wonderful and charming young man to talk to. I think he has had a certain resiliency that a lot of young people don’€™t have and see. I think he’€™s really appreciative of the opportunity he has to be here.’€

On meeting these draft picks for the first time: ‘€œIt keeps me vibrant. Seeing the new class come in, seeing the anxiety, but also the chippiness and confidence ‘€¦ I happened to be down in New York earlier in the week with a number of owners, and of course, everyone thinks they had a great draft and improved their team. I’€™ve been listening to it, and of course in fact, none of us know for a few years. But somehow, when you think about our team, I think we have more returning starters — 22 of our 24 starters are returning [including kicker and punter]; it’€™s going to be very tough for young people to make this team. I think there will be good spirit, good competition. It’€™s such a fun time.’€

On being at the Bruins game last night: ‘€œThat was funny. I was actually chatting with Jonathan and my grandson and I don’€™t know if we were eating anything or what, and I saw the camera, so that was cool. I’€™m happy to say that when I started doing that towel, everyone started doing it, and then they scored 20 seconds later. So I’€™m hoping to be back at the next game Saturday night. It will be great to see them ‘€¦ [and] it will be good to see the Celtics win tomorrow night. It’€™s a great sports time, and the Red Sox are doing great, so hopefully we can do the same when we get our chance.’€

Will you be setting up a scouting office at Rutgers? ‘€œI spoke to Bill about that, and the good news is he’€™s done a lot of homework and he really thinks we have a family of players that can make a great contribution to us.’€

On fans being bummed out about trading down: ‘€œAs a fan, I could feel that way. As someone who hates losing in the fall, which is really what matters ‘€¦ like I said, we picked five players in the first 102, which is more than any other team picked. The real strength of the draft ‘€¦ if we had drafted in the top 20-25, we would have taken the same players that we took later. For us, from a cap point of view of having financial flexibility, and the talent, I think this draft wound up very well for us. I understand fans who don’€™t have the full knowledge of what goes and the value that’€™s there, how they could be disappointed. But I think we got the equivalent of first-round draft choices in the second and third round, the way I look at it. Time will tell.’€

On the announcement from Jason Collins and what it means to the sports world, and if he could see a day like that coming in the NFL? ‘€œMy hearty congratulations for [Jason]. I think 10 years from now, people won’€™t even talk about it. We’€™re about winning and if someone can come in here and help us win, I don’€™t care what ethic background, what racial background or what gender preference they have. If they can help us win and they’€™re about team, then we’€™re happy to have them here. I think we’€™re living in a world where there are no boundaries any more. There are no borders. We’€™re connected by technology and I don’€™t like what’€™s going on in Washington with this partisanship on both sides. I think we overcome it by being understanding and welcoming all points of view, and good human beings. So good luck to him.’€

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Robert Kraft on Jason Collins: ‘My hearty congratulations to him’

05.02.13 at 4:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots owner Robert Kraft was asked Thursday about his thoughts regarding the recent announcement by Jason Collins, and what that meant for the world of professional sports as well as what sort of a reaction a gay player might get in New England.

“My hearty congratulations to [him],” he said Thursday afternoon. “I think 10 years from now, people won’t even talk about it. We’re about winning, and [if] someone can come in here and help us win, I don’t care what ethnic background, what racial background, what gender preference they have, if they can help us win and they’re about team, then I’ll be happy to have them here.

“I think we’re living in a world where … there are no boundaries anymore. No borders. We’re connected by technology. I don’t like what’s going on in Washington with this partisanship on both sides. I think we overcome it by being as understanding and welcoming all points of view and good human beings. So good luck to him.”

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Watch Patriots second-round pick Jamie Collins dunk on some guy

05.01.13 at 3:20 pm ET
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This is one of those cases where the headline pretty much leaves nothing to the imagination — Patriots’ second-round pick Jamie Collins, who has been described as something of a physical freak, is seen here dunking on some guy in a college pickup game. (Just like the YouTube title suggests.) Enjoy.

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Take 3: Hitting reset button on Patriots depth chart at wide receiver

05.01.13 at 11:03 am ET
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For the third time this offseason, the Patriots wide receiving corps has undergone a redo — New England picked up four wide receivers on draft weekend, adding rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce in the second and fourth round, as well as undrafted free agents T.J. Moe and Kenbrell Thompkins. They join a group that includes newcomers Danny Amendola, Mike Jenkins and Donald Jones.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick acknowledged in an interview with the NFL Network on Saturday the team has undergone a “redo” at the position this offseason, and he expanded on that once the draft was done Saturday night.

“Look at the guys who have caught balls at that position, and we don’€™t have a lot of them on our team,” he said. “[Julian] Edelman and then a couple of balls here and there, so we’€™ll see how it all comes together. I don’€™t know.

“We’€™ve gone through that with other positions on our team. We did that with the tight end position a couple of years ago. We did it at the running back position when that turned over. Certainly, almost the entire defense has turned over, other than Vince [Wilfork]. The specialists all turned over; other than Steve [Gostkowski], they all turned over a couple of years ago. It’€™s part of football.”

With that in mind — for the third time this offseason — here’s another reset of the Patriots depth chart at wide receiver.


Julian Edelman: While everyone else is starting from zero with the quarterback, Edelman certainly will have an opportunity to gain reps this spring and summer, because right now he’ll be the only guy coming back who caught a pass from Tom Brady last season. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder, who was a seventh-round pick of the Patriots in 2009, has spent the last four seasons with New England and has 69 catches for 714 yards and four touchdowns as a pro. He was off to a strong start last season, but a late September injury seemed to knock him off track. He’ll figure into the mix in the return game, and at least at this point he likely figures as a backup to Amendola.


Danny Amendola: The most notable addition of the offseason, Amendola does have some positional versatility, but right now, he projects as No. 1 option in the slot. The 27-year-old had a career-high 85 catches for St. Louis in 2010, and while he won’t be the only one asked to pick up the slack from the loss of Wes Welker, he’ll handle the bulk of the responsibility. It’s obviously very early in the process, but the 5-foot-11, 188-pounder is off to a good start when it comes to his relationship with the quarterback — the two were spotted working out together at USC earlier this spring.

Donald Jones: Jones — who has already proven to be a pretty good tweeter — is a 6-foot, 208-pounder who has spent three seasons in the league, all with the Bills, and has 82 career receptions. His best year came in 2012 when he caught 41 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns. He has some positional versatility, but right now he likely figures into the mix as a possible No. 3 receiver, although that could change with the development of rookies Dobson and Boyce.

Mike Jenkins: Patriots fans reacted a little angrily to the addition of the 30-year-old Jenkins, but the 6-foot-4, 214-pounder has been able to put up fair numbers over the course of his career. Jenkins, who has had knee issues the last few years, caught 40 passes for 449 yards and two touchdowns last season with the Vikings. This looks like the Patriots taking a chance on a veteran and seeing what he has left. We should know early on how much Jenkins has left — if there’s anything there, he could be an option as a No. 3 receiver.


Aaron Dobson: The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Dobson (along with P.K. Sam, the tallest receiver Belichick has ever drafted) should get every opportunity to make an impact on the New England passing game right out of the gate as a possible ‘X’ receiver. The second-round pick, who compares favorably to Anquan Boldin in his size, skill set and overall approach to the game, had 165 catches for 2,398 yards and 24 touchdowns over the course of his career at Marshall. He projects as an outside-the-numbers threat in the NFL.

Josh Boyce: While Dobson is known for his physical gifts, this fourth-round pick made his mark as a collegian in large part because he’s a physical freak who made a huge splash at the combine. The 5-foot-11, 203-pound Boyce had 161 catches for 2,535 yards and 22 touchdowns in his three seasons as a collegian. He does have some positional versatility, and while his agility and footwork (he showed tremendous amounts of both by acing the 3-cone and shuttle events at the combine) suggests he can thrive in the slot, he also has the straight-line speed to survive on the outside.
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Five things you need to know about Patriots second-round pick Jamie Collins

04.30.13 at 6:12 pm ET
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After getting a chance to talk to Trent Hammond — who coached the Patriots’ second-round pick Jamie Collins at Franklin County High School in Mississippi — I learned five things:

Collins made the most of a rough childhood, and is a Mississippi kid through and through:

“One thing I can tell you is that he was one of the most dependable guys I’ve ever come across. He came from a tough background in Southwest Mississippi — he didn’t have a whole lot, and his parents passed away when he was younger. He basically had to take care of himself, but he succeeded. A lot of those kids, maybe some of them get lost, but he got his degree in 3 1/2 years. This is a kid who had offers from Auburn and some of the other SEC schools, and he chose to play at home and be with his family and get his degree. The fact that he’s already been planning for his life beyond football, that tells you a lot about who he is.”

This picture of Collins is real and not photoshopped:

“That picture was from the New Orleans Bowl, and ESPN showed it two or three times that night. He took about two steps and got up there and blocked the kick. He actually blocked two or three of those over the course of his career. Just put him in the middle and have him get up there and try and knock it down. He has a vertical of 42 inches.” (For more of Collins showing off his physical skills, check out this video of him at the combine.)

He first displayed his freaky athletic skills as a high schooler:

“In high school, I had him at quarterback and safety. When the Auburn coaches came to visit and look at Jamie, it was the spring and he was on the track. They set the high jump bar at six feet, and he was jumping over the bar and catching footballs in the air. Just amazing.
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Patriots terminate contract of OL Brian Waters

04.30.13 at 5:59 pm ET
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The Patriots have officially terminated the contract of offensive lineman Brian Waters, according to the league’s official transaction wire.

The 36-year-old Waters, who was signed shortly before the start of the 2011 season, played at a high level for a New England team that reached the Super Bowl. However, he was placed on the reserve/did not report list prior to the 2012 regular season after not showing up for any of the OTAs last offseason, and was excused from the team’s mandatory minicamp. He did not play at all in 2012.

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