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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

Tom Brady reportedly set for foot surgery

01.19.11 at 10:25 pm ET
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Tom Brady will undergo surgery on his right foot as early as Thursday, according to a report from Boston.com, as the Patriots quarterback will take care of a lingering stress fracture in his foot with a procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The injury first came to light in November, when the quarterback was listed on the injury report with a foot problem, and Brady was listed on the injury report for much of the rest of the season with a foot injury. He did miss an occasional practice, but played in all 16 regular season games and helped lead the Patriots to a 14-2 regular season record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

The injury didn’t seem to hinder Brady’s performance, as the quarterback had one of the finest seasons of his career ‘€” he threw 36 touchdowns and just four interceptions over the course of the regular season, and is the odds-on favorite to take home his second NFL MVP award.

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Report: Tom Brady’s foot will leave him a no-go for Pro Bowl

01.19.11 at 9:37 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will not be going to the Pro Bowl because of his injured foot, according to a report from WCVB-TV. Instead, Brady will be replaced on the AFC roster by Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel. Brady’s foot was a problem for much of the 2010 season ‘€” the quarterback was frequently listed on the injury report with a foot issue. In addition, WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan reported Wednesday morning that the New England quarterback suffered an injury to his foot either before or during the divisional playoff loss to the Jets.

Read More: Matt Cassel, Tom Brady,

Patriots sign two practice squadders to future contracts

01.19.11 at 8:07 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Wednesday night they have signed offensive lineman Thomas Austin and tackle Steve Maneri to future contracts. The two players finished the 2010 season on the Patriots practice squad. Here’s a portion of the announcement from the team:

Austin, 6-4, 310 pounds, was originally signed by Minnesota as a rookie free agent on April 24, 2010 out of Clemson. He was waived by Minnesota on Sept. 4 and joined the New England practice squad on Sept. 29.

Maneri, 6-6, 290 pounds, spent the first three weeks of the 2010 season on the 53-man roster of New England after being claimed off waivers from Houston on Sept. 5, 2010. He was waived by the Patriots on Sept. 27 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 29. Maneri originally signed with Houston as a rookie free agent on May 7, 2010 out of Temple. Maneri was inactive for the first three games of the season for the Patriots.

Read More: Steve Maneri, Thomas Auston,

Deion Branch: ‘The Jets had a great game plan’

01.19.11 at 1:54 pm ET
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Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch spoke Tuesday with KJR Radio in Seattle about the season-ending loss to the Jets, what the New York players did that made him angry and the amount of trash-talking that was going on on the field during the game:

What happened in the game against the Jets:
‘€œIt just goes to show you that if you don’€™t come to play week-in and week-out what can happen. We had a great season, finished the year 14-2, by far the best team in the NFL during the regular season but once the postseason starts it is a different season. The Jets came out. They had a great game plan. They executed their game plan. Now going into the game we had a great one as well but we didn’€™t execute our game plan and that is the difference. You can’€™t just rely on what happened during the regular season even though we didn’€™t do that, we didn’€™t execute our plays.’€

Anything but winning the Super Bowl is a failure in New England:
‘€œThat is the mindset. It was here when I came here in ‘€™02 and when I left they had the same mindset, when I returned it was the same exact thing. The goals around here are a whole lot bigger than just winning the division, winning the conference, just getting to the playoffs, it is bigger than that and I think that we didn’€™t do a good job executing the things we set out to do, and the goals we set as a team. Like I said, it was a great season. I think we don’€™t have to hang our heads down low. Guys went out and played good this season but we didn’€™t finish off what we set out to do this year.’€
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Read More: Deion Branch,

Who’s ready for the NFL Draft?

01.19.11 at 12:55 pm ET
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The end of the Patriots’€™ season means the beginning of draft season, and that’€™s both crushing news for some and delightful news for others. Just like last year, we’€™ll have plenty to prepare you for this year’€™s draft. We’€™ll start this week by highlighting some positions the Pats could go after with their stockpile of draft picks.

Given the Richard Seymour trade and the Armanti Edwards highway robbery (the Panthers gave up their second this year for a third-rounder so they could select the Appalachian State quarterback in last year’€™s draft) among others, the Patriots’€™ currency in this year’€™s draft is very top-heavy. This isn’t as deep a class as last year’s, but the Pats have plenty to work with. Here’€™s what their picks look like:

First round

No. 17 overall (from Raiders)
No. 28 overall

Second round

No. 33 overall (from Panthers)
No. 60 overall

Third Round

No. 74 overall (from Vikings, Randy Moss trade)
No. 92 overall

Fourth Round

(Slot depends on compensation picks in third round)

Fifth Round

(Slot depends on compensation picks in previous rounds)

Sixth Round

From Saints, David Thomas trade. (Slot depends on compensation picks in previous rounds).

Stay tuned as we begin highlighting each position we feel the Pats could look at.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft,

D&C report: Tom Brady may have suffered foot injury

01.19.11 at 11:31 am ET
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On Wednesday’s Dennis & Callahan show, John Dennis reported that multiple sources indicated Tom Brady suffered a foot injury either before or during the Patriots’ 28-21 loss to the Jets on Sunday.

Brady was listed on the injury report before the game as having a right shoulder/foot injury. That’s how he was listed since the middle of the season. He was listed with just the shoulder injury since the start of the campaign.

There also were rumors that Brady was sick Sunday, but Brady denied that during his WEEI Patriots Monday appearance on Dennis & Callahan. “I didn’t have the flu,” he said. “I felt fine.”

Brady did admit to feeling the effects of a hit to his upper body on a strip sack Sunday, saying, “Yeah, they got me pretty good. It’s just a bruise. It’ll be fine, though.”

He went on to make a general reference to surgery and rehab and said, “Fortunately, I won’t have any of that.”

Read More: Tom Brady,
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