|05.24.11 at 2:07 pm ET|
Patriots defensive lineman Ty Warren was the latest New England player to make an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” Tuesday, and the big guy talked about the degree he recently received from Texas A&M, his health (after missing all of the 2010 season) and what the future holds. Check out the video below:
|05.24.11 at 1:46 pm ET|
Today, I wrote about how the lockout is robbing this year’s class of valuable transition time ‘ the entire spring schedule of organized team activities, minicamps and playbook study has been wiped out, which will undoubtedly put a serious crimp in their evolution as football players. And on Tuesday, it was announced that this year’s rookie class will lose another part of that transition process, as this year’s rookie symposium, scheduled to be held in Canton. Ohio on June 26, has been canceled because of the lockout.
Created in 1997, this annual get-together is an opportunity for rookies to hear from current and former players about what to expect when it comes to both on- and off-field issues. Usually a four-day affair, this wasn’t the usual tired seminar, instead focusing on cautionary tales of sex, drugs (both performance-enhancers and otherwise), personal conduct and financial matters that have occasionally even sparked fights between players ‘ which happened in 2008.
While it has been praised as an important part of rookie life, it has also create some offseason headlines — and headaches — for the NFL hierarchy. There have been fights between rookies over contentious issues. Tennessee running back Lendale White raised eyebrows when he asked this question during a session dealing with homophobia. And a few years back, Baltimore quarterback Troy Smith challenged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, asking Goodell why he chooses to focus on all the negative things the players do, and then pressed the commissioner when Smith believed Goodell didn’t sufficiently answer his question.
The Patriots have had deep ties to the symposium over the years, whether in an advisory capacity or otherwise. In 2002, former Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour addressed the players about what to expect. (In a story he later related to reporters, he talked a night where the rookies had to take the veterans out to dinner. Seymour, a first-round pick in 2001, had to fork over $15,000. ‘That was when I decided to put myself on a budget,’ Seymour later said.) And last year, former New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi spoke with rookies.
There’s also something called the “Ultimate Rookie Challenge,” a trivia contest held at the end of the symposium that featured questions on the materials they learned. The Patriots rookies won two of the last three years, with each rookie taking home a flat-screen television for their efforts.
|05.24.11 at 9:24 am ET|
NORTON ‘ Former Patriots’ guard Joe Andruzzi always keeps an eye on the New England offensive line, but he’ll be paying some extra attention to rookie Marcus Cannon this year. Cannon, a fifth-round pick of the Patriots last month, is battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Andruzzi can tell him all about what it takes to beat it ‘ he’s waged his own fight with non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt’s lymphoma, one he’s winning.
‘If the opportunity comes, I would love to talk to him, give him a little insight,’ said Andruzzi, who played in New England from 2000 through 2004. ‘(It’s) a little different basis. He’s a rookie this year, a lot younger than when I was diagnosed.
‘I’d finished 10 years (in the NFL and had undergone) six surgeries, multiple injuries, then chemotherapy. So for me, it was the tail end. I had a great 10-year career and I wasn’t supposed to make one day in this league, so I have no regrets. I was ready to hang it up. To come back after that, it would have been pretty tough being my age and years and stuff like that. How many teams would take a chance?’
Andruzzi’s cancer is now in remission, and has spent the last two years with the Patriots as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. He continues to raise money to fight the disease with the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which had its annual charity golf tournament at TPC Boston on Monday afternoon.
As for Cannon, he continues to undergo treatment, and because of his age, health and when they discovered it, he reportedly has an excellent chance at beating the disease.
‘I’m rooting for that kid,’ Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins said. ‘I read the story about how he has cancer and everything, so hopefully, everything works out great for him. That would be a great story if he has a full recovery and can play (and) have a nice career.’
When it comes to life in the NFL, Andruzzi said Monday that Cannon faces a long road, but he believes the TCU product will still be able to have a successful professional career.
‘I’m sure he’s going to lose weight,’ said Andruzzi. ‘I’m sure he’s going to lose muscle mass … But it’ll come back. You get back on your feet.
‘I was way different. I don’t know [for] sure exactly what he’s been diagnosed with, but mine was Burkitt’s lymphoma, so it turned around and took me a good year to get back on my feet. A couple years out, I’m still battling some myopathy in my hands and feet and some other restrictions, but I’m alive here, enjoying a nice day of golf and talking to you guys and moving forward and trying to help other families that are struggling out there.’
|05.23.11 at 4:27 pm ET|
NORTON ‘ Patriots linebacker Jermaine Cunningham was aware the Patriots did not decide to take a pass rusher in the early round of the 2011 draft. But Cunningham, a second-round pick in the 2010 draft who ended his rookie season with 41 tackles, two forced fumbles and a sack in part-time duty, shrugged Monday when he was asked what he thought about it.
‘It’s the draft, you know? It goes however,’ said Cunningham before teeing off at the Joe Andruzzi Foundation Golf Tournament at TPC Boston. ‘I’m just trying to get better. Whatever happens, happens.’
Based on his contributions as a rookie, it’s reasonable to think that the Florida product could end up being that impact pass rusher the Patriots have looked for on the outside the last two seasons. He was banged up at the end of the 2010 season ‘ late in the year, he was suffering from some lower leg injuries, which may or may not have impacted his play down the stretch.
However, Cunningham said that at this point, he feels good with where he is physically. He’s continued to work out locally instead of returning to his home state of Florida, and said that things have been ‘going good ‘¦ going real good’ for him this offseason.
‘I’ve been here. Workouts have been good,’ said Cunningham, who started 11 of the 15 games he played as a rookie. ‘This is where I’m playing, so I might as well [stay here].
‘You just go like it’s the regular season. Try to get better,’ he added. ‘It’s going good ‘ that’s all I can say, man.’
|05.23.11 at 2:30 pm ET|
Speaking before Joe Andruzzi‘s Charity Golf Tournament at TPC Boston on Monday afternoon, Mankins said he’s all for helping out a teammate, especially one who is caught up in the throes of the lockout and hasn’t had a chance to get into the system yet.
“Yeah, I have spoken to Nate. He seems like a great guy. I gave him a little advice. Tried to help him out the best you can in the situation that we’re in right now,” Mankins said of Solder, a left tackle who was selected in the first round of last month’s draft by New England. “I’m more than willing to help any young guy who needs anything. Look ‘ he’s in a tough situation right now. He doesn’t know what’s going on. he has no coaches to talk to. He’s just trying to make it in this league, and if I can help him, I will.”
As a rookie, Mankins recalled just how beneficial the spring practice sessions ‘ the organized team activities, the workouts and the rest ‘ were for him before getting into training camp. He doesn’t envy this group of rookies, who won’t have that luxury because of the lockout.
“Oh, they’re going to be way behind,” Mankins said. “I remember when I was a rookie, I started Day One and I still felt like I didn’t know everything, and I was there the whole offseason, the whole training camp. Everything. So they’re going to be way behind, and I guess you’ll see the guys who can pick it up pretty fast.”
As for his future with the team, Mankins smiled when he was asked about the possibility of a long-term deal with the Patriots.
“Shoot ‘ the NFL and the players can’t even agree on anything right now,” he said. “We’ll worry about that once they can strike a deal.”
|05.22.11 at 9:35 pm ET|
Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo was slotted at No. 62 Sunday night in the NFL Network’s list of Top 100 players, a list put together through a players-only vote. Mayo was presented by New England coach Bill Belichick, who praised Mayo as a ‘football guy.’
‘He handles the whole front, the defensive line, the linebackers, stunts, adjustments ‘ and in a lot of the cases, he controls the entire defense,’ Belichick said. ‘Players elected him captain his second year. I think that speaks to his leadership and the respect that he has on this team.’
Belichick was asked if one particular play stood out when it came to Mayo, the 2008 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year who has led the Patriots in tackles the last three seasons.
‘When he leads the league in tackles like he did last year, it’s hard to single out one,’ Belichick said of Mayo, the first member of the Patriots to be included in the Top 100. ‘But I think that some of the plays that he’s made when he chases guys down across the field, quarterback’s scrambling in the pocket. The sack he made last year, [Ryan] Fitzpatrick against Buffalo. His range and his tackling ability are really outstanding.
‘Although he’s an emotional player, he’s not a very demonstrative player. He does his job, he plays hard, and I think his teammates rally around that because he does make a lot of positive plays for our football team.’
Mayo’s teammate and BFF Gary Guyton told me he’s happy his pal made the list.
‘The only thing I know is that Jerod’s a great player. To me, he’s the No. 1 player in my eyes,’ Guyton said of Mayo. ‘He does great things. He’s a student of the game. I wish and I pray nothing but the best for him. He’s a good player and a good guy and a good person.’
|05.22.11 at 8:19 pm ET|
The fellas over at Meat Locker Sports are having a good couple of weeks. First, they had a Q&A with Patriots safety James Sanders, and on Sunday, they checked in with an interview with Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The feature traces Green-Ellis all the way back to his college days, and includes his thoughts on making it to the NFL despite being an undrafted free agent, why he didn’t get upset about being cut initially by the Patriots and how he’s staying in shape during the lockout.
On his post-college, pre-draft thoughts: ‘Coming into the draft after the season they have a grading system, and on that grading system I was figured into the third or fourth round. It was a real funny year and with the draft, it is what it is. It just didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to. I just had to pick up the pieces and keep moving on.’
‘I’ve always been the type of person to put in the effort to work hard and to do things that would allow me to become successful. Hard work is something that kind of comes along with the area I come from. Being from New Orleans, the odds are against us’¦ We weren’t supposed to make it out of the city, we were supposed to be dealing drugs or something like that. Your back was always against the wall, you had no choice but to go out there and work hard to try and not become a statistic.’
On being cut as a rookie before being signed again by the Patriots: ‘I never thought I couldn’t compete with those guys because I was already there practicing against them. I was there for a reason. Again, it was just kind of how it panned out and ultimately I felt like I could continue to compete with those guys and beat them. Not necessarily the guys that I was competing against at running back, but going up against different defenses, I felt like it wasn’t a big drop off. I always felt like if I was confident in my abilities, everything would take care of itself.’