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Report: New labor deal ’80-85 percent done’

06.14.11 at 10:02 pm ET
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Discussions regarding a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL owners and players are estimated to be 80-85 percent of the way done, according to Mike Freeman of Freeman’s report includes a quote from one source that says that at this point, it would be “very difficult” to screw things up. Several reports indicated that the owners and players are meeting this week in suburban Washington, D.C., in the latest attempt to bring a resolution to the longest work stoppage in NFL history.

Read More: lockout, Mike Freeman,

Tedy Bruschi sounds an optimistic note about NFL labor situation

06.14.11 at 6:37 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi expressed optimism on Tuesday afternoon about the NFL labor situation. Speaking at his fourth annual SBLI Youth Football Clinic at Gillette Stadium, Bruschi sounded like someone who believes the players and owners would reach an agreement sooner rather than later.

“I’m getting optimistic, and so are some of the guys. Having talked to them and they’re hearing the same things ‘€” looks like a few weeks maybe,” he said.

“But I think the whole thing about it is that when it’s resolved ‘€” and it looks like it may be … I hope it is ‘€” when it’s resolved, what’s the formula after that? There just can’t be an explosion of free agency, signing undrafted free agents, rookies, having to sign rookies, having to sign free agents. There has to be some type of structure. I think that’s what has to be worked out, because you would have football chaos if there wasn’t.”

Bruschi added that because of the relative stability in New England ‘€” coach Bill Belichick is entering his 12th season with the Patriots, while quarterback Tom Brady will be going into his 11th year as a starter ‘€” that once the lockout ends, the Patriots will be better situated than many teams across the league who have new coaches or relatively young quarterbacks.

“There’s a strong advantage, I think it’s obvious. To be comfortable with the system, with your coaching staff … think of all the players out there that have had to get used to [it]?” he said. “I remember having to get used to Pete Carroll and getting used to coach Belichick. It took a little bit of time on what we wanted, what they expected of me, and then, learning the system that they wanted to implement and how they wanted me to play it on the field. There’s a little bit of a [stretch] there. How long does that take? Does it take a month? Does it takes two months? That’s possible.”

He also wasn’t surprised to see the Patriots’ players organize a three-day series of workouts at Boston College earlier this month.

“If you think about when it was for New England, it was around the same time when the three-day minicamp usually is,” he said. “So I don’t think there was any coincidence on that. We’ve had players in the past here that weren’t a part of offseason programs, but they always came back for those three days and so to have the participation they had for those three days is something regular for them. And talking to the guys too, I think they got a lot out of it. They told you guys also that it can be productive if you have guys that know what they are doing, that are arranging it.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, lockout, Pete Carroll, Tedy Bruschi

Marcus Stroud on joining the Patriots, the work stoppage and how much he’s got left in the tank

06.14.11 at 2:20 pm ET
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New Patriots defensive lineman Marcus Stroud appeared in SiriusXM NFL Radio with hosts Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan on Monday afternoon. Here are a few highlights of the Q&A:

Give us your perception of the lockout and work stoppage: ‘€œI think everybody is going to get back to work on time. I think both sides have realized that you have to put the egos aside and do what’€™s going to be best for both sides of the game. I think everybody is coming to that realization. I’€™m confident they will get something done. I definitely don’€™t think we’€™d miss any regular-season games.’€

On how he came to be a part of the Patriots: ‘€œOnce I got realized, [agent] Drew [Rosenhaus] gave me a call and was like, ‘€˜The Pats want to bring you in,’€™ and I was like, ‘€˜Yeah let’€™s do it.’€™ … [Bill Belichick] told me they’€™d definitely like to have to have me up there and he felt I could come in and help in the role I was going to play and the role I’€™m definitely going to try and get up there and play. I felt it will be a good fit for me and I definitely think I could fit in and do the things they want me to do.’€

How much is left in your legs? ‘€œOh, man. I think I have some gas left in the legs, man. I’€™m a pretty young guy who takes pretty good care of himself. I still think I have a lot of gas left in the tank. I’€™m not going to be one of those guys who keeps holding on and kicking the tires until they’€™re bald-headed. I still feel like I have some tread left on these.’€

You’€™ve played with some nice quarterbacks — your thoughts on playing with Tom Brady: ‘€œThat’€™s the excitement I have. That’€™s what I’€™m looking forward to. I know how it’€™s like to prepare for this guy; we were playing against him twice a year. To have a quarterback of that caliber on your team, week in and week out, like you said, that gives you the chance ‘€¦ Knowing that, there is like a 70 percent chance, you give this guy the ball, he’€™s going to put points on the board. You want to go out and play, and do well on this type of team.’€

On the opportunity to rush the passer: ‘€œHopefully ‘€˜Streamlined’€™ Stroud can get a few sacks [laughing].’€

It’€™s got to be a little different — you’€™re going to go to camp with Belichick and the New England Patriots: ‘€œYeah, it is. I’€™m just happy to kind of be back up under some of that tough, in-your-face, kick-you-in-the-butt type of coaching. Something like I had my rookie year with coach [Tom] Coughlin. I think it’€™s going to be something like that. I’€™m kind of prepared for it. I’€™m definitely excited and want to do things the ‘€˜Patriots Way,’€™ and to see how the ‘€˜Patriots Way’€™ works, because there has to be something about it. It’€™s been successful for this long.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Drew Rosenhaus, Marcus Stroud, Pat Kirwan

Free agent snapshot: Marcus Spears

06.14.11 at 12:13 am ET
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We put together a list of nine free-agent possibilities for the Patriots this offseason ‘€” check out that group here ‘€” but we wanted your take on who the 10th should be. We got more than 450 votes, and in the end, the people went with defensive end Marcus Spears by a narrow margin over Braylon Edwards, Plaxico Burress and Mike Vrabel. And so, without further ado, a profile of the peoples’€™ choice, Marcus Spears.

Marcus Spears
Position: Defensive end
Age: 28
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 311

The six-year veteran isn’€™t likely to return to Dallas ‘€” he announced it on his Twitter page on Feb. 28 that while ‘€œit’€™s still possible’€ that he could be back with the Cowboys, the unrestricted free agent was going to be ‘€œtesting the market.’€ The LSU product (who played for Bill Belichick protege Nick Saban for a year in college) was a first-round selection of Dallas in 2005 (20th overall). His numbers have been OK, but for such a high pick, he’€™s had something of an underwhelming career. While he has held up well against the run, in six seasons, he’€™s had just eight sacks and 185 tackles (the high point was a career-high 45 tackles in 2006). In addition, Spears was hobbled by injury in 2010 ‘€” he suffered a sprained knee, which wiped out most of August, as well as a left calf strain that ended his season.

However, his backers believe that a new atmosphere with a new series of challenges could serve to re-invigorate his career. Spears is a veteran of the 3-4, and with a background in a Saban and Bill Parcells system, it’€™s likely the transition to a Belichick defense would be fairly swift. Other than last year’€™s injury, he’€™s been very durable ‘€” 2010 marked the only season where he played less than 16 regular-season games. And by all accounts, he’€™s a solid presence in the locker room. He’€™s not going to be the pass-rushing presence that so many fans were clamoring for, but will certainly give the Patriots depth at a spot where they were lacking late last season.

Why it might not work: Despite the occasional spotty numbers, the potential and the age are going to make him an attractive target for several teams. In addition, it figures that if the Patriots are able to re-sign veteran Gerard Warren for a reasonable rate ‘€” and if fellow d-linemen Ty Warren and the versatile Mike Wright are healthy after spending extended time on the sideline last year because of injury ‘€” that would eliminate the need to bring in someone like Spears. And New England does have many young defensive linemen, including Brandon Deaderick, Kyle Love and Ron Brace, as well as freshly-signed veteran Marcus Stroud. If they feel like they are secure at that spot, they’€™d likely forget about going after Spears.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Brandon Deaderick, Braylon Edwards

Veteran linebacker Keith Bulluck expresses interest in playing for the Patriots

06.13.11 at 5:05 pm ET
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Patriots fans, what do you think of Keith Bulluck? Because it sounds like he has some interest in playing in New England. The veteran middle linebacker was on NFL Radio’s Blitz show on Monday on Sirius XM radio with Adam Schein and said he has three teams he’s interested in playing for ‘€” the Patriots, Lions and Giants.

The 34-year-old Bulluck, who has 1,108 tackles in 11 seasons in the NFL, was selected in the 2000 draft 30th overall by Tennessee and spent 10 seasons with the Titans. He signed a one-year deal with the Giants prior to the start of the 2010 season, and had 31 tackles and two interceptions in 13 games last season with New York, but was clearly disappointed by his Giants’ experience, saying he wanted a bigger role with whoever he played with in 2011 or he would call it a career.

“(A full-time role) is the only way I’m playing football next year,” Bullock told the Newark Star-Ledger on Jan. 3. This is the first time I’ve ever, since my rookie year and my second year in the league, come on and off the field. I’m someone that needs to be on the field all the time. That’s just how I feel, so yeah, that’s the only way I’d play football next year.”

Read More: Adam Schein, Keith Bulluck,

Bill Belichick spends a day with the 1986 Giants and talks about how that team prepared him to be a head coach

06.13.11 at 1:33 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick attended the 25th anniversary of the 1986 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants on Sunday, connecting with more than 50 former players and fellow coaches, including Bill Parcells. While speaking with ESPN, Belichick took time to reflect about that team.

‘€œIt was awesome, 25 years ‘€¦ special group,’€ Belichick told reporters. ‘€œUnselfish, it was a very competitive group, they loved to practice, they played hard. We had a lot of great players and they fed off each other.

‘€œHonestly, I think I learned something from every guy,’€ he added. ‘€œOur defense understood the team concept. The corners knew what the linebackers were doing. The linebackers knew what the nose guard was doing. The nose guard knew it. I learned from Jim Burt, George Martin, Perry (Williams), Lawrence (Taylor), Pepper (Johnson), Carl (Banks), Mark Collins ‘€¦ all those guys, I learned a lot from all those players.’€

He also talked about how his experience with the Giants would prepare him to serve as the coach of the Patriots

‘€œIt definitely helps to be in a big game and to have won them,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œYou learn something every day, every game. Each year is a learning year, it is a long process. But having done it, then when you go, like to go to the Super Bowl in ‘€™01, having been there on a short week like we did, that was a short week, we went on a short week after the San Francisco game, you are not going in there blind. You know what you are dealing with. I think that helps. And if you can convey that confidence to everybody else, look, I’€™ve been there, I know what we need to do, then maybe that comforts them a little bit. So there certainly is a lot of benefit to it.’€œ

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells,

Bill Belichick: ‘Do your job’ works in business as well as football

06.13.11 at 10:27 am ET
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Do your job. It’s the overriding philosophy for Bill Belichick and the Patriots, and one the New England coach brought with him when he recently addressed a group of financial advisors at the Pershing INSITE conference in Hollywood, Fla.

‘€œIn business things change quickly ‘€” in your profession and in ours,’€ said Belichick. ‘€œThere are always new people and new environments.’€ To stay competitive, Belichick said that everyone must do their part: ‘€œWe need to all do our job,” he added.

Belichick this means four things: being prepared, working hard, paying attention to the details and putting the team first. It also means playing to your strengths and overcoming weaknesses. Belichick used Tom Brady and BenJarvus Green-Ellis as examples of two players who have overcome obstacles to be successful.

‘€œThey still have shortcomings, but they play to their strengths,” Belichick said. “Their deficiencies don’€™t get spotlighted.’€

Belichick also talked about his evolution as a coach, what makes a good leader (he singled out Troy Brown, saying the wide receiver was great when it came to leading by example), his favorite memories as a coach and the importance of loving what you do, saying he looks at punts when he wakes up at 5 a.m.

‘€œI know it is a little screwed up. I don’€™t feel like I am working,” he said. “If you are doing something you love, you will be motivated to do it, even when the conditions are not great.’€

Read More: BenJarvus Green Ellis, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Troy Brown
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