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Vote: Who was the best second-round pick in Patriots history?

04.13.11 at 2:22 pm ET
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With the NFL draft on the horizon, we’€™re going to look back at the Patriots’€™ best draft picks by round. We’€™ve already put the eighth through the third rounders in the spotlight. Now, we’€™ve got the best of the second round, an intriguing list of four players who have nine Pro Bowl berths and one spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame among them, and all of whom had lengthy careers with the Patriots. Vote for your favorite:

Kevin Faulk: 1999: 46th overall. The running back hasn’€™t always put up the biggest numbers, but his durability (he’€™s the only current player on the roster who predates Bill Belichick as head coach) and his leadership have been large parts of the Patriots’€™ success over the last 10 years. Taken out of LSU, he’€™s worked as a return man and third-down/changeup back, and remains a valuable option in the passing game. A knee injury early in the 2011 season put his rest of his career in doubt, but Faulk has already put together an impressive resume, one with three Super Bowl rings.

Steve Nelson: 1974, 34th overall. Part of a collection of great linebackers in the 1970s and 80s, Nelson was a three-time Pro Bowler who recorded over 100 tackles nine times during his career and finished with 1,776 tackles, an average of 10.2 per game. For his efforts, the North Dakota State product was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1993, and had his No. 57 jersey retired.

Andre Tippett: 1982, 41st overall. A resume unmatched by just about anyone in the history of the franchise. A Pro Football Hall of Famer, the Iowa product was one of the best pass-rushers of his era ‘€” he holds the team record with 100 career sacks, including 18.5 in 1984. In his 12 seasons with the Patriots, Tippett tied cornerback Michael Haynes’€™ team record for a defensive player by going to five consecutive Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1999, and elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

Julius Adams: 1971, 27th overall. This Texas Southern product played 16 seasons for the Patriots, and like Faulk, his numbers weren’€™t always overwhelming. But his durability and consistency made him an invaluable part of many Patriots teams throughout the 1970s and 80s. He led the team in sacks four times (including three straight seasons in the early 1970s). Named to the Patriots’€™ 50th anniversary team, he’€™s second in franchise history in games played (206).

Who is the best second-round draft pick in Patriots' history?

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Just missed the cut: Deion Branch (2002, 65th overall); Matt Light (2001, 48th overall); Lawyer Milloy: 1996: 36th overall; Ted Johnson (1995, 57th overall); Garin Veris (1985, 48th overall); Robert Weathers (1982, 40th overall); Bob Golic (1979, 52nd overall); Horace Ivory (1977, 44th overall); Don Hasselbeck (1979, 52nd overall).

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Andre Tippett, Bill Belichick, Julius Adams

Six thoughts on the ‘Brady 6′

04.13.11 at 12:26 am ET
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Six thoughts on ESPN’€™s ‘€œBrady 6’€ special that aired Tuesday evening:

1. Bolstered by exclusive interviews with five of the six quarterbacks (hence the name of the hourlong documentary) who were taken before Tom Brady in the 2000 draft (as well as Brady himself, his father, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick), it provided some real insight into Brady’€™s fire, his motivation and what really makes him great. He’€™s had a chip on his shoulder about his abilities since he was in high school, and has turned that intensity into a surefire ticket to the Hall of Fame. And the shot of him tearing up when it came to his draft day wait was fascinating television. We’€™ve always known that he’€™s leaned on his family for support over the years, but for him to mention his father and mother and what they did for him in that moment was especially telling.

2. No one is better at seizing an opportunity than Brady. The quarterback was stacked against the six guys who were taken in front of him, and many of them ‘€” including Tee Martin and Spergon Wynn ‘€” confessed in Tuesday’€™s show that they were not ready when they were called upon as young quarterbacks. In addition, few are more confident in their abilities. Not in a cocky way, but especially confident. There was the oft-told story of his first meeting with Kraft, but Brady’€™s college teammate Aaron Shea recalled how Brady told him before the fall of 2001 he was going to take Drew Bledsoe‘€™s job.

3. It was great to see the video of the 2000 Hall of Fame Game between the Patriots and 49ers. In a contest that was better known at the time as being the ‘€œMonday Night Football‘€ debut of Dennis Miller, it was a game that served to illuminate the differences between Brady and Giovanni Carmazzi. Video from the game had Carmazzi scrambling to avoid sacks and generally looking unprepared. As for Brady, he looked smooth and relatively polished. The quotes from Belichick regarding that game were especially illuminating: ‘€œI think we walked out of that game feeling that we probably had taken the right guy.’€
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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Aaron Shea, Bill Belichick, Charles Pierce

Patriots scheduled to face Jags, Giants, Bucs and Lions in 2011 preseason

04.12.11 at 4:16 pm ET
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Despite the labor uncertainty, the NFL announced the 2011 preseason schedule on Tuesday, and the Patriots will host Jacksonville the weekend of Aug. 11-15 and the New York Giants on the weekend of Sept. 1-2. In addition, they will travel to face Tampa Bay on Aug. 20 and Detroit on Aug. 27, with the game against the Lions set to start at 8 p.m. and be broadcast nationally on CBS. (The dates and times for the rest of the games will be announced at a later date.)

Here are a few quick notes on the preseason slate:

‘€¢ It wouldn’€™t be a Patriots’ preseason if the Giants weren’€™t involved. Someone in the NFL offices loves setting up this meeting every summer ‘€” this will mark the seventh straight time and 10th time in 11 preseasons the Patriots will meet New York.

‘€¢The most important preseason game of the four is always the third one, and this one will involve the Lions. The nationally-televised contest against Detroit will provide local football fans with the opportunity to see a pair of talented young players in quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. In addition, considering the depth of the friendship between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Lions coach Jim Schwartz ‘€” and the fact that New England held scrimmages with New Orleans and Atlanta in the days leading up to their preseason games last summer ‘€” it’s not crazy to think the Patriots and Lions could meet for a series of scrimmages in the days leading up to this game.

‘€¢The preseason opener is also the weekend of the Patriots’€™ annual alumni reunion. Starting in August of 2009, the summer after The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon opened, the Patriots began a new tradition of hosting their alumni at that opening game. This year will mark the third consecutive season that past Patriots will return to Foxborough to visit The Hall.

‘€¢For the whole preseason schedule, click here.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jim Schwartz, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh

Report: Patriots host draft prospect Jake Locker

04.12.11 at 2:09 pm ET
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According to an ESPN report, the Patriots are hosting University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker for a two-day visit starting Tuesday. Locker, who passed for 2,265 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, is projected to go in the mid- to late first round of the draft later this month. The Patriots have the 17th and 28th overall picks.

Tom Brady‘s backup in 2010 was Brian Hoyer, who was signed as an undrafted free agent from Michigan State in 2009.

Read More: Jake Locker, Patriots, Tom Brady,

2011 preseason schedule will be announced Tuesday afternoon

04.12.11 at 1:45 pm ET
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On the heels of a Tweet from Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay, it was confirmed that, despite the labor unceratinity surrounding the NFL, the 2011 preseason schedule will be released at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Gregg Rosenthal of NBCSports.com later confirmed the news, and added that the league will also be announcing the TV schedule for nationally-televised games.

Read More: Jim Irsay,

Vote: Who was the best third-round pick in Patriots history?

04.12.11 at 12:57 am ET
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With the NFL draft on the horizon, we’€™re going to look back at the Patriots’€™ best draft picks by round, with the four best selections the franchise has made in each round. We’€™ve already put the best of the eighth through the fourth round in the spotlight. Now, we’€™ve got the best of the third round, a group that includes a pair of undeniable impact players that will likely make this a two-team race. Vote for your favorite:

Tedy Bruschi: 1996, 86th overall. This undersized defensive lineman out of Arizona made the switch to linebacker when he arrived in New England, and became a defensive stalwart with the Patriots. A Pro Bowler, he was part of five AFC Champions and three Super Bowl champions, and averaged more than 50 tackles a season over the course of his career. But even more than his on-field numbers, his attitude and intensity made him one of the most popular players in the history of New England sports ‘€” in 13 seasons in New England, he became one of the players most identified with the success of the Patriots.

Curtis Martin: 1995, 74th overall. Martin, a product of Pitt, only spent three seasons in New England, but ended up as one of the most prolific backs in franchise history, finishing with 3,799 rushing yards (fourth-best in team history). He still holds the franchise marks for most rushing attempts in a season (368), most rushing attempts in a game (40) and most rushing touchdowns in a season (14) and a game (three). In 11 seasons with the Patriots and Jets, Martin accrued 14,101 career rushing yards, good for a place in the Top 10 in NFL history. (Rather surprisingly, last year he was the first of the NFL’€™s Top 10 career rushers not elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.)

Clayton Weishuhn: 1982, 60th overall. The Angelo State product was part of a brilliant coterie of New England linebackers in the early 1980s that included Andre Tippett and Steve Nelson. Weishuhn, an inside linebacker, played five seasons with the Patriots, and finished with a team-record 229 tackles in 1983.

Carl Garrett: 1969, 58th overall. A running back out of New Mexico Highlands, Garrett played four years with the Boston/New England Patriots and had 2,235 rushing yards in his time in New England. (A versatile offensive option, he also had 107 catches for 1,158 receiving yards with the Patriots as well.) A Pro Bowler, he also worked as a return man, finishing his rookie season with a 28.3 average on kick returns.

Just missing the cut: Ellis Hobbs (2005, 84th overall); Kevin Turner (1992, 71st overall); Marv Cook (1989, 63rd overall); Robert Perryman (1987, 79th overall); Stephen Starring (1983, 74th overall); Steve McMichael (1980, 73rd).

Vote: Who was the best third-round pick in Patriots history?

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Carl Garrett, Clayton Weishuhn, Curtis Martin

Fred Taylor: I’m ‘basically retired’ from pro football

04.11.11 at 2:19 pm ET
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Running back Fred Taylor, who was with the Patriots the last two seasons, told the Gainesville Sun on Monday that he’s “basically retired” from football.

The 35-year-old Taylor struggled to stay healthy in his two seasons with New England, as he was hobbled by a series of injuries that forced him to miss 19 of 32 regular-season games while with the Patriots. In two years in New England, Taylor has 106 carries for 424 yards and two touchdowns.

In 13 seasons, the Florida product has compiled some truly amazing numbers, with 2,534 carries (21st on the all-time list) and 11,695 yards (15th all-time). The Pro Bowler also average 4.6 yards per carry in his NFL career.

Read More: Fred Taylor,
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