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Bill Belichick wanted Kenbrell Thompkins on Patriots practice squad

10.07.14 at 2:58 pm ET
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Kenbrell Thompkins

Kenbrell Thompkins

Going into Sunday’s game with the Bengals it was clear the Patriots were short on depth at the linebacker position even before Dont’a Hightower was inactive for the game, so to provide depth at the position they promoted Ja’Gared Davis from the practice squad.

In order to make room for Davis the Patriots needed to release a player, and with the number of wide receivers on the 53-man roster, the Patriots cut Kenbrell Thompkins with the hope of him clearing waivers and being added to the practice squad. That now can’t happen as the second-year wide out was claimed by the Raiders on Monday.

“I’€™d say almost any player that’€™s practice squad eligible that’€™s on our roster that if he wasn’€™t on our roster we would want to work with him on the practice squad,” Bill Belichick said on a conference call Tuesday. “I’€™d say that would always be the case. Not 100 percent of the time, but close to it. But yeah, I think KT has a future in the NFL. But we obviously have a depth issue at linebacker and we’€™re heavy at receiver so something has to give.”

With Thompkins coming off a rookie season where he compiled 32 catches for 466 yards and four touchdowns, it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

“It’€™s always tough to release a player, especially one like KT who works extremely hard and was really a dedicated athlete and certainly had a lot of good moments of performance for us,” Belichick said. “We have other players at that position that also work hard that are talented. In the end, in order to get a guy on the roster you have to take a guy off. It just came down to that decision. It’€™s a hard decision to make, you know. We had other ones we had to make relative to the two players that we added yesterday from the reserve list.

“If we could have more players, we would have them. We’€™re fortunate that we have a lot of the players that we want to work with on the practice squad. But we know that anytime you expose a player, there’€™s a chance you could lose them. We were prepared for that. Oakland will be getting a young, hardworking player.”

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Rodney Harrison on MFB: ‘I think there is a form of bitterness’ from Tom Brady toward Patriots

10.07.14 at 12:12 pm ET
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NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Patriots. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The big story of the past week was the reported tension between Tom Brady and the coaching staff. Brady denied the report, but Harrison said he wouldn’t be surprised if there was some frustration there.

“It’s not just Brady. All players talk about — whether it’s to their wives, whether it’s to their buddies, to other players — about maybe moves that have been made, free agents that have been brought in, or guys that have been released, and you might not be happy with it. But unfortunately it’s a situation where you can’t control any of that,” Harrison said.

Tom Brady, he’s human just like the rest of us. If he sees someone gets released or traded or something like that, of course if he’s not happy with it he’s going to discuss it with someone. But I can’t begin to think that after Tom Brady’s been there for 15 years, to think that’s he’s just going to open up to somebody and just completely blast [Bill] Belichick. And Belichick, over the course of all these years he’s done a wonderful job of putting great talent around Tom and building a team.

“Unfortunately every year you can’t have the A-list players. Sometimes you have to go through growing pains. Unfortunately it’s just that Tom is in the latter part of his career and he’s going through those pains right now.”

Harrison acknowledged that Brady sacrificed financially and the team has not done a good job of using that money to surround him with quality talent.

“I think there is a form of bitterness,” Harrison said. “But at the same time, I think it’s still business/professional relationship, where every decision that coach Belichick makes, Tom’s not going to be be in complete agreement with, but at the same time, Tom knows that he can only control his job, be a leader on that team and continue to try to win football games.”

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Fantasy Football: Week 6 waiver wire

10.07.14 at 9:52 am ET
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What a difference a week can make, huh? Well, maybe not for Calvin Johnson owners like myself, but for Patriots fans, a week has cured a host of ills. Now it’s time to cure some fantasy football ills. This is a week to really focus on free agency, because things are coming into focus now. The good options are drying up, but you still can get impact talent if you act now, especially in smaller formats.

The ownership percentages are listed for each player. These rates of ownership are based on Yahoo! leagues, which tend to be smaller and more representative of the 10-team leagues most of us play in. Obviously, these numbers are mostly for perspective. What really matters is which players are available in your particular league, and you’ll need to do the legwork on that. If you play in really big leagues, as I tend to do, you should head on over to Rotobahn this afternoon and check out my expanded waiver wire. The expanded edition gives you about twice as many options. To keep pace with all WEEI and Rotobahn fantasy football content, including Sunday chats and The Fantasy Football Hour with my good buddy Jim Hackett, follow me on Twitter.


Eli Manning, Giants — 66 percent

He’s clearly the guy to go after if you are lucky and he’s still available. With the addition of Odell Beckham, Jr., Manning now has a very nice array of targets. The Giants can create mismatch havoc against most secondaries, and the pass protection has improved as well. And, as I’ve said each of the last few weeks, the schedule is mostly friendly. Manning could post QB1 numbers going forward.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals — 30 percent

He’s been dumped in a lot of leagues, but he may be back this week, and we’ve seen how much the Cardinals need their veteran signal caller. Palmer is past his bye and has really good matchups the rest of the way with a few exceptions. I’m looking to add Palmer in all leagues where I need some QB help.

Alex Smith, Chiefs — 45 percent

There are a lot of good matchups left on the schedule, but be wary of Smith’s bye week. It’s this week. If your QB2 needs are further ahead, Smith makes sense. He’s got a solid weekly floor even if he doesn’t post a lot of huge numbers.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins — 35 percent

His schedule is nothing scary for the next few weeks and he performed well going into Miami’s Week 5 bye. Tannehill’s an option to consider in all formats as a QB2.

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Read More: Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Kirk Cousins

Pressure Points: Which Patriots have done best job getting after QB

10.07.14 at 8:45 am ET
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Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

Every week over the course of the 2014 season, we’€™€™ll provide a look at the Patriots pass rush numbers. Like all stats, the numbers have to be placed on context of game-situations and personnel. And while sacks can be overrated, when evaluated as part of a bigger picture that includes quarterback hits and quarterback pressures (the latter courtesy of Pro Football Focus), it should provide a good picture as to which defenders are consistently able to get after the quarterback. Currently, the Patriots are tied for 15th in the league in sacks with 10. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™€™s a look at the pass-rush numbers for the Patriots after five games for the 2014 regular season:

Sacks (via gamebooks)
DE Chandler Jones: 2.5 (11 yards)
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 2 (22 yards)
DL Chris Jones: 1.5 (12 yards)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 1 (10 yards)
LB Jerod Mayo: 1 (9 yards)
DL Joe Vellano: 1 (4 yards)
DB Kyle Arrington: 1 (0 yards)

Quarterback Hits (via gamebooks)
DE Chandler Jones: 5
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 4
DE Rob Ninkovich: 3
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
DL Chris Jones: 1
DL Joe Vellano: 1
LB Jamie Collins: 1

Quarterback Hurries (via PFF)
DE Chandler Jones: 9
LB/DE Rob Ninkovich: 6
LB Jerod Mayo: 5
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 5
DL Vince Wilfork: 4
DL Sealver Siliga: 2
DL Joe Vellano: 2
DL Chris Jones: 2
DL Dominique Easley: 1
DL Casey Walker: 1
LB Jamie Collins: 1
CB Alfonzo Dennard: 1

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Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

10.07.14 at 7:30 am ET
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Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat –€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback –€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™€™s a look at the target breakdown after five regular-season games this year.

WR Julian Edelman: 31 catches on 44 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 19 catches on 37 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 18 catches on 24 targets
WR Brandon LaFell: 11 catches on 28 targets
TE Tim Wright: 9 catches on 10 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 catches on 11 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 4 catches on 8 targets
RB James White: 3 catches on 3 targets
FB James Develin: 3 catches on 3 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 3 catches on 4 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 2 catches on 3 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 1 catch on 3 targets
TE Michael Hoomananwanui: 1 catch on 1 target

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Tedy Bruschi on Dale & Holley: ‘I hope there was tension last week’ for Patriots

10.07.14 at 1:07 am ET
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ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, in his weekly visit on WEEI’s Dale & Holley Show, downplayed the suggestion that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady might be at odds with the New England coaching staff and the idea that backup quarterback Jimmy Garappolo might end up starting in the more immediate future than anticipated.

Nonetheless, Bruschi felt that his former team seemed to benefit from the discomfort engendered by a 2-2 record entering Sunday night against the Bengals.

“I don’t know about Jimmy Garappolo being in there sooner than later, but I hope there was tension last week. I really do,” said Bruschi. “There should have been in terms of the way things were going. Maybe it’s not the tension I’m referencing that the report is talking about. The tension I’m talking about is the tension that you’re tired of losing and you’re tired of having the wrong answer and you really want to figure it out right away, and especially if you’re a veteran player in your 12th, 13th year, you’re not looking down the road. You’re not looking for three years down the road or maybe four years. Your chances are getting fewer and farther in between. That’s where the tension comes from. Read the rest of this entry »

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Patriots announce DE Michael Buchanan will go on IR, clearing way for CB Brandon Browner and WR Brian Tyms

10.06.14 at 5:02 pm ET
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Michael Buchanan

Michael Buchanan

The Patriots announced Monday that they have added cornerback Brandon Browner and wide receiver Brian Tyms to the 53-man roster. To make room, they have released defensive lineman Joe Vellano and placed defensive end Michael Buchanan on injured reserve. Here’s a portion of the release issued by the team on the moves.

The New England Patriots announced that the roster exemptions for cornerback Brandon Browner and wide receiver Brian Tyms have been lifted.

In addition, the Patriots announced that have released defensive lineman Joe Vellano and placed defensive end Michael Buchanan on injured reserve.

Vellano, 25, originally joined the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Maryland in 2013. The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder played in 21 games with eight starts for the Patriots and registered 54 total tackles and three sacks. He played in five games in 2014 and had six total tackles and one sack.

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Read More: Brandon Browner, Brian Tyms, Joe Vellano, Michael Buchanan
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