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Mock draft roundup: Jabrill Peppers to Patriots at No. 32 seems to be early consensus 02.11.17 at 11:24 am ET
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Jabrill Peppers to the Patriots at No. 32 seems to be a favorite in early mock drafts. (Mike Carter/USA Today Sports)

Jabrill Peppers to the Patriots at No. 32 seems to be a favorite in early mock drafts. (Mike Carter/USA Today Sports)

If the early mock drafts are any indication, Patriots’ fans should get to know Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers.

Several initial mocks — including the latest from our pal Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network — indicate that when it comes to New England at No. 32, the Patriots would love to go with the defensive chess piece out of Michigan. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder filled a multitude of roles for the Wolverines the last few years, including as a defensive back, linebacker and return man. Check out more on Peppers here.

As you can see from the list below, there’s also a feeling that Temple linebacker Haason Reddick could also appeal to the Patriots at the end of the first round. The 6-foot-2, 237-pounder had 17.5 sacks in his four seasons with the Owls.

–Yahoo’s Eric Edholm
Michigan DB/LB/PR Jabrill Peppers

–Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network
Michigan DB/LB/PR Jabrill Peppers

–Nate Davis, USA Today
Michigan DB/LB/PR Jabrill Peppers

–Todd McShay, ESPN
Temple LB Haason Reddick

–Matt Miller, Bleacher Report
Temple LB Haason Reddick

–Rob Rang, CBS Sports
Florida State DE DeMarcus Walker

–Dane Brugler, CBS Sports
Alabama OLB Tim Williams

–Walter Football
Florida CB Quincy Wilson

–Dan Kadar, SB Nation
Auburn DE Carl Lawson

–Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated
Miami TE David Njoku

Read More: Haason Reddick, Jabrill Peppers,
Chris Long on Super Bowl LI, the 2016 Pats being ‘toughest team of all time,’ and what his future holds 02.11.17 at 8:33 am ET
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Chris Long said the 2016 Patriots were the "toughest team of all time." (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

Chris Long believes the 2016 Patriots were the “toughest team of all time.” (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

Chris Long believes the 2016-17 Patriots were the “toughest team of all time.”

The veteran defensive end, a guest on the “Pardon My Take” podcast, said this year’s New England team proved its bonafides in that department with the 25-point comeback in Super Bowl LI.

“I really do think I just played on the toughest team of all time,” he said.

“The guys in that locker room, like, literally did not flinch,” Long said of the sizable deficit the Patriots faced at halftime. “I knew I was like, I’m a human being, I was like, ‘Golly, like I got some doubts right now. We’ve got to play way better in the second half.’

“Duron Harmon, who’s a safety for us, walked in and goes, ‘We’re about to make the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.’ I was like, ‘Dude, can we get a stop? Can we just like do one good thing? Maybe put one foot in front of the other?’”

The 31-year-old Long, who had never made the playoffs prior to arriving in New England prior to the 2016 season, said he had to operate on some level of faith.

“But like if it wasn’t for guys like Duron who had no doubt … I’m not used to this winning thing. Maybe to guys that have been around there for a while, they’re like, ‘Well, [expletive] will just work out. You know?’ I didn’t have that instinct, for whatever reason.

“But yeah, it wasn’t like a big speech. We just went back out and did it.”

Long said there were a lot of things that went into the comeback, but in the end, it’s about coaching.

“Bill [Belichick] does a great job of throwing curveballs at us. He did all year. Everything he does is by design,” he said. “I do think he’s the greatest coach of all time.”

“Any curveball you get on Super Bowl Sunday, you might think the hill is too steep. But guys were just conditioned to be able to go out there, hit the curveball, keep rolling. We got a break or two, that’s all it took, and then you can feel once you get that break or two, the momentum it turns into like, ‘Oh [expletive]’ on the other sideline.

“And on our sideline, we’re trying to go win a football game. You know what I mean? It turned fast. But I do think it’s because we’re mentally very tough.”

Long also added that he’s not retiring.

“I’m not retiring,” Long said. “But I don’t know what I’m doing.”

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

Read More: Chris Long, Super Bowl LI,
LeGarrette Blount talks about possibility of returning to Patriots for 2017 and beyond 02.10.17 at 12:53 pm ET
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LeGarrette Blount is an unrestricted free agent, but sounds like a guy who wants to return to Foxboro. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

LeGarrette Blount is an unrestricted free agent, but sounds like a guy who wants to return to Foxboro. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

LeGarrette Blount is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this spring, and while he sounds like a man who wants to return to Foxboro, the 30-year-old running back understands the reality of the situation.

“I don’t know what the future holds,” he told The Rich Eisen Show on Thursday. “That’s for them and my agent to discuss. I love being here. They know I love being here. This is one of the best organizations in the entire NFL and sports in general. I don’t know of anyone who wouldn’t want to be a part of this. If you hear anyone saying they wouldn’t want to be a part of this, I don’t think they’re telling the truth. You play this game to win, and all they do here is win football games and win championships.”

Blount, who finished the year with a career-high in carries, yards and touchdowns, also talked with Eisen about a number of other topics, including his decision not to take part in the White House celebration, his relationship with Tom Brady, and what makes it easy for him and others to play for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

“There’s just a lot of honesty there,” he said. “Bill is really up front and honest with you. It’s a really team oriented and family place. A lot of guys who come there from somewhere else, they’re accepted with open arms. I got that same kind of acceptance. I know Aqib Talib got that same kind of acceptance; we both came in from Tampa. Michael Floyd got that same kind of acceptance when he got here. It goes on and on. They keep it real with you.”

For a clip of his conversation with Eisen, see below.

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

Read More: Bill Belichick, LeGarrette Blount,
DL Alan Branch joins growing number of Patriots who say they won’t go to White House 02.09.17 at 8:35 pm ET
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Alan Branch isn't going to the White House. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Alan Branch isn’t going to the White House. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Alan Branch told SiriusXM Radio on Thursday that he won’t be visiting the White House as part of the Super Bowl celebration.

The veteran Patriots defensive lineman said he will be “spending time with family” instead.

Branch joins a growing collection of players who have publicly said they are not going, a group that includes Devin McCourty, Martellus Bennett, Chris Long and Dont’a Hightower.

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

Read More: Alan Branch, Chris Long, Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower
Sounds like Chris Long won’t be going to the White House 02.09.17 at 10:49 am ET
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Sounds like Chris Long is skipping the White House trip. (John David Mercer/USA Today Sports)

Sounds like Chris Long is skipping the White House trip. (John David Mercer/USA Today Sports)

It sounds like Chris Long won’t be visiting the White House.

In a Thursday Tweet responding to a columnist who wrote an “open letter” saying he shouldn’t go, the Patriots defensive end said he “planned on skipping” the trip to the White House, and added that it was “my call.”

“[I] don’t need an open letter explaining my own words to me,” he added.

Long has always been very open when it comes to his stance on social issues. The veteran spoke eloquently this past season about his feelings regarding Colin Kaepernick’s protests. He’s also been active through the Waterboys Initiative in helping bring clean water to East African communities in need.

Dont’a Hightower, Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty have all indicated that they will not visit the White House.

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

Read More: Chris Long, Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower, Martellus Bennett
Dont’a Hightower talks about possibility of returning for 2017 and beyond 02.08.17 at 3:47 pm ET
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Dont'a Hightower is going to get paid. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Dont’a Hightower is going to get paid. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Dont’a Hightower sounded a relatively optimistic note about his chances of returning to the Patriots in 2017 and beyond on Wednesday.

The linebacker, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, was asked by ESPN if the fact that Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins are no longer in the picture would help his chances when it comes to re-upping with New England.

“I’d like to think. But, again, guys can get out out and traded or whatever,” Hightower said. “I’m just trying to go along with the ride right now and enjoy that Super Bowl victory. I’m sure in a couple weeks all that free agency stuff will pick up, and I’ll handle that whenever that comes.”

After he was dealt by the Patriots to Cleveland, Collins landed a four-year deal worth $50 million, a contract that some believe could serve as a framework for both sides when it comes to getting a deal done for Hightower to remain in New England. At the same time, the Patriots could also use the franchise tag on the Alabama product, which would likely be somewhere in the $15 million range.

“That’s a lot of money,” Hightower said when asked about the possibility of the franchise tag.

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

Read More: chandler jones, Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins,
Dont’a Hightower on potential White House trip: ‘Been there, done that’ 02.08.17 at 1:17 pm ET
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It doesn't sound like Dont'a Hightower is going to the White House. (Dan Powers/USA Today Sports)

It doesn’t sound like Dont’a Hightower is going to the White House. (Dan Powers/USA Today Sports)

Dont’a Hightower said Wednesday that he did not plan to go to the White House.

“Been there, done that,” the linebacker told ESPN, who noted he didn’t go in 2014 either after the first Super Bowl win, and added that it wasn’t anything specific to the president. He did note that he had been following Alabama’s national championship win when he was with the Tide as a collegian.

Devin McCourty and Martellus Bennett have already indicated they won’t be going to the White House as well, while James White is taking a wait-and-see approach.

Hightower, who was not at the parade on Tuesday, also told ESPN that the second Super Bowl win was “a million times” sweeter than the first one, referencing the fact that Tom Brady was missing for the first quarter of the season.

“For the adversity we had in the first four games, and having three different quarterbacks and obviously not having Rob [Ninkovich],” he said. “Having guys put in certain situations who weren’t ready at the time — but it didn’t matter. And the way that they responded and how well they did showed what kind of a team we are.”

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

Read More: Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower, Martellus Bennett, Rob Ninkovich
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