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NFL will reportedly speak with players named in Al Jazeera story next month 05.27.16 at 12:38 pm ET
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NFL officials have confirmed to NFL Media that they plan to speak with the players who were linked to performance-enhancing drugs via a report from Al Jazeera last December.

Peyton Manning, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal were among those named in the story.

“We have been working with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and Major League Baseball since these allegations were raised,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart told NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. “Working with the NFL Players Association, we expect to talk directly to the players sometime next month.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Al Jazeera, Peyton Manning,
Dont’a Hightower has ‘better’ things to do than talk about a new contract 05.27.16 at 10:57 am ET
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Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower

FOXBORO — Dont’a Hightower’s contract is up at the end of the 2016 season, but he’s not talking about it.

The linebacker didn’t have much to say on Thursday when asked about the potential for a new deal, instead setting a new land speed record for most use of the phrase “get better” in a five-minute stretch. (Per Erik Frenz of Boston.com, Hightower used the word “better” as a response to 18 of the 22 questions that were asked of him on Thursday.)

“I ain’t got nothing to do with any of that,” Hightower said when he was initially asked about the potential for a new deal. “I’m just out here trying to get better with my teammates.”

Reminded he does have something to do with it — if he wants to stay, he can actually make that happen — he shrugged.

“That might be it, but there’s a time and place for everything,” he said. “And right now I’m just out here trying to get better.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: better, Dont'a Hightower,
Thursday OTA notes: Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman not present as Pats sweat it out in steamy temperatures 05.26.16 at 12:39 pm ET
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Tom Brady were on the field in Foxboro Thursday.  (Elsa/Getty Images)

Tom Brady was on the field in Foxboro Thursday. (Elsa/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The Patriots just put the wraps on an OTA session on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. The workout ran for just under two hours, and was held in numbered jerseys, helmets and shorts. (Shout out to a handful of players, including running back Brandon Bolden and wide receiver Aaron Dobson who were in long sleeves, a bold move on such a hot day.)

The following players were not present for the workout: wide receiver Julian Edelman, cornerback Malcolm Butler, cornerback Logan Ryan, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive back Duron Harmon, running back Dion Lewis, defensive back Nate Ebner, long snapper Joe Cardona, offensive lineman Tre’ Jackson, offensive lineman Josh Kline, offensive lineman Shaq Mason, defensive lineman Frank Kearse, offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, offensive lineman Nate Solder, wide receiver Danny Amendola, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive lineman Alan Branch.

One of the biggest things that stood out was the fact that most all of New England’s veteran offensive playmakers: Gronkowski, Edelman, Amendola, Lewis and Blount were all not present. In addition, a sizable chunk of what will likely be the starting offensive line was not on the field. At the running back spot, that allowed several of the guys who are presumably at the back end of the depth chart get some work. D.J. Foster did nicely when it came to keeping up with the veterans in a pass catching drill for the backs. Along the offensive line, the lack of starters also allowed some of the youngsters and new faces to get plenty of reps alongside Brady. As Dante Scarnecchia indicated a few weeks ago, rookie offensive lineman Joe Thuney was inside.

When it came to reps at the quarterback spot, it didn’t appear that the Patriots were looking to get more work for backup Jimmy Garoppolo at the expense of Brady. Wide receiver Chris Hogan with a nice catch in the corner of the end zone via Brady on a passing drill. Rookie Devin Lucien also hauled in a fade pass from Brady later in the same drill. (Hogan had a couple of other really nice grabs, including a one-hander from Brady later in the day.) Keshawn Martin had a few nice grabs in traffic.

Meanwhile, Jacoby Brissett had a couple of overthrows, but had a nice connection with Malcolm Mitchell later in practice down the sideline, and looked like he was throwing the ball with more authority as the session continued. Cyrus Jones had the pick of the day when he stepped in front of a Brissett pass for Lucien near the end of practice and brought it out of the end zone.

In these sorts of workouts in the past — particularly the spring sessions — Brady has gravitated toward a handful of guys who had most favored nation status with the quarterback. In previous years, that group has included (but not been limited to) Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Edelman and Gronkowski. With most of his buddies not present on Thursday, it appeared he spent most of his time with Garoppolo and new tight end Martellus Bennett. Bennett also spent time chatting with Garoppolo.

Later in the workout, off to the side, Brady was paired off with Bennett, new tight end/fullback Clay Harbor and fullback James Develin. (Toward the end of practice, Brady went off to work with another grouping that included Bennett, Mitchell, Nate Washington and Aaron Dobson.) While that was going on. Brissett was throwing to a group of skill position players at the other end of the field that included Hogan, Martin, Dobson and Washington. Bennett looked good for much of the day — he had a really nice catch in a red-zone drill later in the day where he wrestled the ball away from Pat Chung. But it wasn’t all good news for the newcomer, who dropped a pass in 11-on-11 drills and was forced to run a lap. Geneo Grissom and Darryl Roberts also had to run laps as well.

Martin, Jones, Chris Harper, V’Angelo Bentley were all spotted returning punts at the end of practice. It’s not known if it was physical ailment or just a way to stay warm, but during the special teams portion, Jamie Collins spent time riding a stationary bike. (He didn’t spend a lot of time on the bike, for what it’s worth.)

The Patriots dipped into the music just after the midway point of the workout with a little Guns N’ Roses (“Welcome to the Jungle”), James Brown (“Living in America”) Bon Jovi (“Living on a Prayer”) and U2 (“Beautiful Day”) among others.

Former Patriots backup QB Jim Miller recalls what it was like to break in footballs with Tom Brady 05.25.16 at 11:36 am ET
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Jim Miller spent a year in New England backing up Tom Brady. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Jim Miller spent a year in New England backing up Tom Brady. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Former Patriots backup quarterback Jim Miller spoke with the It Is What It Is podcast this week and recalled how he used to break in game balls with Tom Brady.

Miller, who was on the New England roster in 2004 with Brady, said the process was a simple one: Each team would get two dozen footballs issued to them, and the quarterback would be allowed to break them in as they saw fit. Miller and Brady were of like mind when it came to the preferred state of their footballs.

“At the end of the week, when they would get a little scuffed up, you’d go through and pick out the footballs that you’d like to throw with on Sundays,” he said. “I was like Tom — I’d like mine on the lower level of inflation. To me, it’s just how the ball feels in your hands. It’s the texture of it. You want a certain way.

He added: “We would pick out the footballs. I’d say, ‘Hey Tom, is is a great one. Tell me how it feels.’ He’d say, ‘Yeah, put that one in the pile, Jim.’ That’s what we would do. And then, as the season goes along, some of those footballs get taken out of circulation — let’s say 10 out of those 24 — and you’d break in 10 more than would be introduced into the population. But always, you’d always want them on the lower level of inflation.”

While the rules around pregame treatment of the footballs have since been changed since 2004 — Brady and Peyton Manning pushed through a rule more than a decade ago to make things easier for quarterbacks when it came to picking out game balls — Miller said that for a quarterback, it’s all about comfort and confidence.

“There’s always going to be certain preferences,” said Miller, who was in the league from 1994 until 2005. “[Quarterbacks] want to be confident on game day.”

Miller, who said the league has “botched [Deflategate] from the very beginning,” hopes Brady will be cleared sooner rather than later.

“I hope so,” said Miller, who is currently a co-host of “Movin’ the Chains on Sirius XM. “I don’t think he did anything disingenuous with the footballs. I don’t think it had any bearing on that AFC championship game whatsoever.

“When you’ve got league officials who have been in the league — Walt Anderson, he’s been in the league, he has 19 years of experience. And he’s losing the footballs the day of the game. Not following the proper protocol,” he added. “Then you have the NFL this past year doing their own investigation where they are [looking at] certain games and inspecting the PSI levels of certain footballs and not releasing that information. In terms of the integrity of the game, I just think the NFL really comes out with a little bit of egg on their face because it’s made them look extremely poor.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Deflategate, Jim Miller, Tom Brady,
Atlanta, South Florida, Los Angeles named future Super Bowl sites 05.25.16 at 7:00 am ET
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Following a series of votes at the spring meetings on Tuesday, here are the sites for the next five Super Bowls:

Super Bowl LI (2017): Houston
Super Bowl LII (2018): Minnesota
Super Bowl LIII (2019): Atlanta
Super Bowl LIV (2020): South Florida
Super Bowl LV (2021): Los Angeles

Read More: Super Bowl,
Roger Goodell: ‘Really not focused’ on Tom Brady petition 05.24.16 at 7:51 pm ET
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Roger Goodell said at the NFL owners meetings Tuesday that he was “really not focused” on Tom Brady’s recent petition for a rehearing regarding his four-game suspension.

Asked about the recent decision of Brady’s legal team to appeal the ban, Goodell said he understood the decision made by the NFLPA, but that’s not where his attention is right now.

“I respect the NFLPA’s ability to appeal if they choose to do that,” Goodell said. “They did. That’s a matter for the lawyers. We’ll see how things progress. But I’m really not focused on that at all.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Deflategate, roger goodell, Tom Brady,
Robert Kraft laments league handling of Deflategate while showing support for QB Tom Brady 05.24.16 at 7:28 pm ET
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Patriots owner Robert Kraft lamented the NFL’s handling of Deflategate on Tuesday, saying the “whole thing has been mishandled” while expressing support for Tom Brady.

“We’ve been behind [Brady]. The whole thing has been mishandled in my opinion,” Kraft told NFL Media’s Judy Battista while at the league meetings. “It’s unfortunate and we hope he prevails.”

On Monday, Brady’s legal team filed for a rehearing of his suspension case against the NFL before the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Deflategate, Robert Kraft, Tom Brady,

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