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They were fast, but were they good players in the National Football League?

01.21.11 at 3:15 pm ET
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With thoughts of the NFL Draft are cropping up among those Patriots fans choosing to look forward instead of back, let’s take a look at some of the results from the NFL Combine last year and how they translated into production on the field in 2010. Today … the 40-yard dash:

Best 40-yard dash times:

QB: Jarrett Brown (4.54) — The West Virginia product was signed by the 49ers as a rookie free agent, but had to settle for a spot in the practice squad. He was ultimately released, but did sign with the Browns on Jan. 6.

RB: Jahvid Best (4.35) — The former Cal running back was taken 30th overall by the Lions. He played in all 16 games, but rushed for just 555 yards on 171 carries (3.2 avg.), along with four TDs. He battled Turf Toe for much of the season. (To see Best’s run, click here.)

WR: Jacoby Ford (4.28) — (Patriots’ wideout Taylor Price was second at 4.41) — Was drafted in the fourth round by the Raiders after turning in the combine’s best 40-time. He proved one of the league’s best return men, bringing back three kickoffs for touchdowns. Ford caught 25 balls for 470 yards and two touchdowns. (To see Ford’s run, click here.)

TE: Dorin Dickerson (4.40) – The former Pitt star was drafted in the seventh round by the Texans. He played in seven games, but didn’t make a catch.

OL: Bruce Campbell (4.85) — A product of the University of Maryland, Campbell was taken by the Raiders in the fourth round. The Raiders moved him from tackle to guard, and while he did play special teams, the 6-foot-6 lineman had a hard time cracking the team’s starting lineup. (To see Campbell’s run, click here.)

DL: Dexter Davis (4.64) — Hailing from Arizona State, Davis was taken by the Seahawks in the seventh round. He played in 15 games, making 13 tackles while notching a sack. (To see Davis’ run, click here.)

LB: Jamar Chaney (4.54) – The Mississippi State product went in the seventh round to the Eagles. Chaney got his big chance when Philadelphia starter Stewart Bradley dislocated his elbow in Week 14, allowing the rookie to step into the starting lineup. He finished with 42 tackles for the season. (To see Chaney’s run, click here.)

CB: Brandon Ghee (4.45) — After finishing at Wake Forest, Ghee became a third-round pick of the Bengals. He would play in six games, primarily appearing on special teams, finishing with nine tackles. (To see Ghee’s run, click here.) (The Patriots’ Devin McCourty had the fourth-best 40-time among cornerbacks, coming at 4.48. See see his workout, click here.)

S: Taylor Mays (4.43) — After being taken out of USC in the second round by the 49ers, Mays finished with 38 tackles. He made some news when he criticized his former college coach, Pete Carroll, for not preparing him for the NFL Draft. (To see Mays’ run, click here.)

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Peter King on D&H: Steelers better equipped than Patriots to beat Jets

01.21.11 at 1:03 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports football analyst Peter King made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday to talk about the NFL playoffs. To hear the interview, including King’s thoughts on Bill Belichick‘s legacy, the NFC championship game and the Tom Jackson controversy, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

King said in the days before the Jets knocked off the Patriots, Rex Ryan went to his staff and defensive team leaders and asked them for suggestions on how to stop the Patriots offense. Explained King: “He said, ‘Listen, if you’ve got some ideas, give them to us. We’re looking to do new things to try to confuse the Patriots.’ And I think what they ended up doing was basically fairly consistently putting [Antonio] Cromartie and [Darrelle] Revis alone with whoever the Patriots put outside. It wouldn’t have mattered whether it was [Wes] Welker, it wouldn’t have mattered whether it was Deion Branch ‘€” I guess most often it was probably Deion Branch and [Brandon] Tate.

“And they said we’re not going to concentrate ‘€” I’m not saying we never will ‘€” but we’re not going to concentrate on giving them any safety help. They’ll just handle those guys, and then we’re going to cloud the middle of the field, and we’re going to make Tom Brady, when he looks over the field, we’re going to make him look at traffic everywhere he looks. I think that’s, in essence, a lot of what happened in this game.”

As for why the Patriots were not able to successfully combat the Jets’ strategy, King said: “I’m not really sure what you can do without either sort of the blazing speed or the big, type Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss in his prime on the outside to really affect the game. For instance, I think that the Pittsburgh Steelers probably right now are more well equipped to face that secondary because they’ve got three speed receivers that they can put on the outside now. It’s going to be difficult, in my opinion, anyway, for the Jets to match up the way that they were able to match up on the Patriots.

“To me, I think it just underscores the need that ‘€” Randy Moss is gone, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t need a big receiver in a game when you’ve got two really good cover corners. A big receiver in that game would have gone a long way ‘€” a big, athletic receiver.”

King also addressed the league’s warning to players about trash-talking and then targeting players on the field. “I think the league didn’t want to come out and single out the New York Jets for basically doing this trash-talking,” King said. “But I think they wanted the Jets and every other team to know that we’re not going to tolerate having guys talking about bounties, and having guys talk like that any more.”

Added King: “Once they figure out this CBA, I think that’s one of the things they’re going to talk about. It’s just a coincidence it’s happened at the same time that we’re talking about civility in the country, but I don’t think that Roger Goodell and the NFL believe that’s a very smart way to showcase your game to have one player saying publicly, in very strong language, cursing another player on the team. And same thing with Bart Scott. I think those things are both bad. And I think those are things that the NFL really wants to eradicate.”

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Read More: aaron rodgers, antonio cromartie, Ben Roethlisberger, Bill Belichick

Adam Schefter on D&C: Packers are best team left in playoffs

01.21.11 at 9:45 am ET
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ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about ESPN colleague Tom Jackson and his controversial comments this week, as well as Sunday’€™s conference championship games. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Schefter said he had not heard the clip of Jackson saying he picked the Patriots in a blowout to motivate the Jets and later backtracking on that claim, but he said Jackson puts a lot of thought into his picks.

‘€œThe one thing about Tom, he is the most thoughtful analyst and one of the most thoughtful people I’€™ve ever met in my life,” Schefter said. “I listen to him come up with some of the viewpoints that he does and I’€™m blown away by it, because they’€™re deep. He really gives a lot of thought. I did notice on Saturday, the things he was saying about the Jets were very interesting to me, very interesting.’€

After the guys played the clip for him, Schefter said it was probably a situation where saying anything at all just made things worse. ‘€œI can’€™t speak to this instance, but sometimes, anybody when they’€™re in a bad situation, sometimes they say something and it makes the situation look or sound worse. Sometimes you just say, ‘€˜I said what I said, and that’€™s it.’€™

‘€œI have not spoken to Tom about this. I haven’€™t seen him since the show last Sunday. I have not seen him since Bart Scott‘€™s postgame rant. I’€™ll see him this weekend. The one thing I come back to is there’€™s nobody I know who’€™s smarter about these things, more insightful, and why he said some of those things, I just can’€™t answer that. I don’€™t know.’€

When asked to pick a player who might stand out this weekend, Schefter turned his attention to Green Bay. ‘€œI’€™m big on the Packers. I think they’€™re the best team left in the postseason and I think they have the best quarterback left in the postseason. I think they’€™ve got the best defensive players left in the postseason in Clay Matthews and Tramon Williams, Charles Woodson. I just think they’€™re loaded.’€

Schefter said he’€™s taking the Jets in another upset in the AFC. ‘€œI think that Pittsburgh is a little beat up after playing a physical game against Baltimore. I think they have some question marks at some key spots, at offensive tackle, at cornerback. I think the Jets are rolling, beating the Colts and Peyton [Manning] in Indy, Tom Brady and the Patriots in New England, and I think that they’€™re so confidently cocky that they believe, they’€™re convinced, they’€™re going to Pittsburgh and going to beat the Steelers.’€

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Read More: adam schefter, Tom Jackson,

Reports: Tom Brady undergoes foot surgery

01.20.11 at 8:03 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady underwent surgery on his right foot Thursday at Massachusetts General Hospital, according to multiple media outlets. (Tom Curran of Comcast New England said Brady was out of surgery at 4:30 p.m.) Brady underwent the procedure to repair a stress fracture, one that hobbled him over the course of the 2010 season. According to medical experts, the type of surgery Brady underwent should leave him with a few months worth of rehab, but if all goes well, he should be OK for the start of training camp, if not sooner.

Read More: Patriots, Tom Brady,

Carroll: It’ll be a couple of months before Tom Brady is 100 percent, but he should be ready for camp

01.20.11 at 9:05 am ET
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In the wake of his surgery, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will ‘€œtake a couple of months’€ before he’€™s 100 percent again, but there shouldn’€™t be any worries about him being ready for training camp, according to noted sports injury expert Will Carroll.

In an e-mail exchange with WEEI.com, Carroll sounded a relatively optimistic note about Brady’€™s upcoming surgery on his right foot, saying it’€™s similar to the process that Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia underwent for his foot injury.

‘€œThis one’€™s double-duty ‘€” if it is a Navicular fx (and pretty much all sources say it is) ‘€” then you’€™re looking at the same thing Pedroia had done,’€ writes Carroll. ‘€œThey’€™ll make sure it’€™s lined up, put in a pin or screw if needed, and it should take a couple months to be 100 percent. Just as I don’€™t expect Pedroia to have any issue once he comes back after letting it heal in the offseason, I doubt Brady will have any issue being ready for training camp.

‘€œThe only issues he might have are some residual pain, arthritis, and similar. He’€™s not mobile to begin with, so I don’€™t think we have to worry about foot geometry changes.’€

According to a Boston.com report, Brady will undergo surgery as early as this week on his right foot, reportedly for a stress fracture that bothered him throughout the season. It will be the fifth surgery for the 33-year-old quarterback, who has also had his shoulder, knee and groin operated on over the course of his career.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Tom Brady, will carroll,

In Focus: Tom Brady’s decision to have surgery

01.20.11 at 12:39 am ET
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So, another year goes by where we’€™re robbed of the opportunity to see Tom Brady play in the glorified flag football competition known as the Pro Bowl.

The news that the Patriots quarterback will undergo surgery due to a stress fracture on his right foot at Massachusetts General Hospital ‘€” possibly as early as Thursday ‘€” means Brady will be on the shelf for the start of the offseason. If the reports are accurate, Brady will have an operation similar to what Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia had last year for a fractured navicular bone. (Pedroia’s rehab process was almost three months, according to this WEEI.com story on the second baseman.)

Using the same timetable, the procedure is taking place early enough in the offseason that if the bone heals without any complications, Brady should be ready for training camp without issue. (Never the most mobile quarterback in the world, expect him to joke about how this surgery will almost assuredly make him even slower than he already is.) If all goes according to plan, as far as this having any long-term impact on his career, it should be relatively minor.

Brady dealt with the foot problem for much of the second half of the season ‘€” going back through old injury reports, the foot problem first surfaced in November and stayed with him over the second half of the season. In addition, a walking boot was spotted in his locker on several occasions, although he was never spotted wearing it throughout the year. And he did miss an occasional practice, which raised eyebrows.

However, the quarterback certainly didn’€™t let it affect his production. He played some of the best football of his career in November and December, leading the Patriots to eight consecutive wins to close out the regular season and throwing 22 touchdowns without an interception along the way. Included in that stretch was a four-game span where he went 91-for-124 for 1,203 yards, 14 touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 138.6 passer rating. He finished the season with 36 touchdown passes, four interceptions, 3,900 passing yards and a passer rating of 111.0. He figures to win his second NFL MVP award when the voting is announced next month.

This will be the fifth overall surgery for the 33-year-old Brady ‘€” earlier during the 2010 season, he acknowledged he had surgery in the past on his shoulder, his knee, his groin, as well as one other undisclosed procedure. He also finished up last season with a variety of injuries, including a rib injury and a broken right ring finger.
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Read More: Matt Cassel, Patriots, Tom Brady, Wes Welker

NFL Draft Early Look: Outside Linebackers

01.20.11 at 12:05 am ET
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(This is the first entry in a regular series WEEI.com will have leading up to the 2011 NFL draft that looks at some options available to the Patriots.)

Last season, many figured the Patriots would go after a pass-rushing outside linebacker early in the draft. Though they took Jermaine Cunningham in the second round, their choice to not go after a guy like Jerry Hughes in the first round was at least mildly questionable. Hughes is looking like a pretty bad pick for the Colts, but the Patriots find themselves still lacking a solid pass-rusher at outside linebacker.

State of the position: Tully Banta-Cain (2 years remaining), Rob Ninkovich (2 years remaining), Dane Fletcher (3 years remaining), Cunningham (3 years remaining).

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS IN THE DRAFT TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

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Read More: Akeem Ayers, Justin Houston, Mason Foster, playoffs
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