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Goodell: We’re moving ahead with plans for 18-game season 08.25.10 at 6:26 pm ET
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Roger Goodell. (AP)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the league is going to propose an 18-game regular season schedule to the players’ union as part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Speaking at a press conference at an owner’s meeting in Atlanta, Goodell said the support for what backers are calling an enhanced season was “overwhelming.”

“We think we’ve moved this concept along,” Goodell told reporters at a news conference following the one-day owners’ meeting, who said the league is hoping to introduce the 18-game season in 2012. “There’s a tremendous amount of momentum for it. We think it’s the right step to take. But we want to do that with our partners, including the players.”

Goodell said owners see two more regular-season games — and two fewer preseason games — as a way to enhance revenues. But while owners appear solidly behind the plan, several players have already questioned the idea of an 18-game regular season, including Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who questioned the long-term health issues for players that would be raised by more football.

“I’ve taken part in several postseason runs where we have played 20 games,” Brady said in a statement issued in June by the National Football League Players Association. “The long-term impact this game has on our bodies is well documented. Look no further than the players that came before we did. Each player today has to play three years in order to earn five years of post-career health care. Our Union has done a great job of raising the awareness on these issues and will make the right decision for us players, the game and the fans.”

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Three Pats on ‘Greatest Numbers’ list from SI.com 08.25.10 at 4:26 pm ET
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SI.com unveiled their list of the best players in the NFL history to wear each number on Wednesday — 00 (Jim Otto) and 0-99 — and three Patriots were on the list.

Tom Brady was named the best No. 12, beating out an impressive collection of talent — Terry Bradshaw, Joe Namath, Roger Staubach and Ken Stabler — for the honor. Of Brady, SI.com wrote: “Tough call over Terry Bradshaw but Brady gets the top spot for winning in a tougher era. He’s 111-34 as a starter, including 14-4 in the postseason and holds the NFL record for the most consecutive wins (10) in the postseason. Plus, well, Gisele.”

In addition, Nos. 55 and 73 went to players with Patriots’ connections. Junior Seau got No. 55, and SI wrote, “One of the great linebackers of the 1990s, starring at outside linebacker for the Chargers, Seau was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1992 NFL Defensive player of the year. He also played for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.”

No. 73 was awarded to John Hannah. “SI proclaimed him ‘The Best Offensive Lineman of All Time’ on the cover of the Aug. 3, 1981 issue,” wrote SI. “Believe the hype. Hannah played 13 seasons for the Patriots and was named All-Pro 10 straight years from 1976 through 1985.”

Here’s the start of the full list.

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Ingram on new rule protecting long snappers: ‘It’s an awesome rule’ 08.25.10 at 4:04 pm ET
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Jake Ingram is entering his second year as the Patriots long snapper. (AP)

While most of the rule changes the NFL put into place this year focused on the different circumstances around overtime as well as the movement of the umpire from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side, the increased protection for long snappers was what caught the attention of New England’s Jake Ingram.

Ingram, entering his second season as the Patriots’ long snapper, was happy to see the NFL alter the rules to create more protection at his position.

Last season, the rule read: “During a field-goal attempt or a Kick Try, a Team B player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the snap, must have his helmet outside the snapper’s shoulder pads.” This year, it reads: “During a punt, field-goal attempt, or a Kick Try, a Team B player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the snap, must have his entire body outside the snapper’s shoulder pads.”

It’s only been two games, but Ingram has already noticed a change.

“Oh yeah. Oh yeah,” he said with a smile. “I wouldn’t say it changed my game, but it’s definitely nice to know they can’t line a guy up right over you and just bull rush you. It gives you a chance to get your head up and protect better.

“It’s an awesome rule, and I’m glad they brought it about.”

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Weston clears waivers, will go on IR this season 08.24.10 at 5:51 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Tuesday afternoon that rookie defensive lineman Kade Weston had cleared waivers and would be placed on the Patriots’ injured reserve list for the 2010 season.

A seventh-round pick of the Patriots out of the University of Georgia, Weston has struggled to stay on the field since he was drafted this past spring — the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder had a problem reporting to Foxboro because of a work visa issue (he was born in Trinidad & Tobago), and when he did arrive, he opened camp on the physically unable to perform list.

Weston had 78 career tackles and four sacks in his collegiate career with the Bulldogs, with his finest season coming as a senior when he started nine games and finished with 28 tackles and two sacks.

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Tuesday Practice Notes 08.24.10 at 2:48 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Just finished up another soggy practice down here at Gillette. The Patriots were inside the practice bubble for the second straight day for a practice that ran for roughly two hours. Practice was in shirts and shells. Here are a few quick notes:

•The following players were in sweats: wide receiver Matthew Slater, linebacker Eric Alexander, tight end Aaron Hernandez, linebacker/defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and wide receiver Darnell Jenkins. The following players were absent: wide receiver Julian Edelman, defensive back Bret Lockett, offensive linemen Nick Kaczur and Logan Mankins and defensive back Josh Barrett.

•Running back Laurence Maroney, offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka and defensive back Ross Ventrone all drew sizable media crowds after the workout.

•It wasn’t what you would necessarily call a high-intensity practice session. Lots of families were in attendance, including the Wilfork and Morris families. There seemed to be a real emphasis on scout team work, as both sides continued prep work for Thursday’s preseason game against the Rams.

•Ojinnaka lined up at both guard and tackle throughout the session, but spent most of his time with the backups.

•Lots of woofing between the offense and the defense today. The offense reacted with a shout when the defense jumped before a snap, and inside linebacker Gary Guyton had to run a lap. Late in the practice, it was clear there was something wrong with the defense, and they were forced to run a pair of laps together as a unit. (It’s worth mentioning that assistant coach Pepper Johnson and Eric Alexander were the only two guys who ran outside the lines around the entire field.) After the second lap, the entire defense was called together and received a talking-to from assistant Matt Patricia.

•Without Hernandez on the field, it was another day for Rob Gronkowski to shine. The rookie out of Arizona made several nice catches from both Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer. Tight end Rob Myers — who spent last season on the practice squad — also made a couple of nice catches.

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Bill Belichick Q&A, 8/24 08.24.10 at 2:45 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the full transcript of today’s Q&A between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and the media:

BB: We’re kind of finishing up our preparations here for St. Louis today and then we’ll have a walkthrough tomorrow. We had a couple roster moves. I think everybody has those. So we’re just trying to push ahead here and take advantage of this week’s opportunity against the Rams. They provide some – again, kind of like Atlanta – different looks [and] things we don’t really do. They have a little different style of play, so that will be good for us in all three phases of the game. I think our team will benefit from playing a different type of team than what we are or what we saw more from New Orleans. So that’s where we’re at.

Q: What challenges does Sam Bradford present and did you do any work on him in preparation for the draft?
BB: No, we didn’t think he would be in there when we picked. He had a good junior year [and] a tough senior year with the injury and all, but [he’s] a very talented player. Like all rookies, I’m sure he’s learning a lot, like we all do our first year in the league. [He’s] a talented guy, [they have] a really good running back, a couple of interesting tight ends, good returners, good receivers, so I’m sure we’ll see a lot of people in there like we’ll have ourselves.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Rookie Bradford will get the start vs. Pats Thursday 08.23.10 at 7:58 pm ET
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Rookie Sam Bradford will start at quarterback Thursday against the Patriots. (AP)

FOXBORO — Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo announced Monday that rookie quarterback Sam Bradford will get the start in Thursday’s preseason game against the Patriots. Noted Patriots’ killer A.J. Feeley, who had been starting for St. Louis, will not practice this week because of thumb and elbow injuries he sustained last week in a preseason game with Cleveland.

Prior to the news that Bradford would get the start, the Patriots were facing some uncertainty about which quarterback would be getting the call — the first pick in the 2010 draft and former Heisman Trophy winner; or Feeley, who has performed well against the Patriots in three career games against New England (including a 345-yard effort in a narrow Nov. 2007 loss to the Patriots when he was with Philadelphia).

That dilemma is one of the more unique aspects of playing a preseason game — because teams aren’t required to file injury reports with the league, an opponent must prepare for everyone because they really don’t know who will play.

“We prepare for all the players,” Belichick said when asked about the challenges of the Patriots preparing for either Bradford or Feeley.”We don’t know if they’re going to play or not. There’re no injury reports, so whoever is there…We’ll prepare for all of them. If they play they play; if they don’t they don’t.”

And that goes for more than just quarterbacks.

“It’s just more of an awareness of knowing which quarterback is in there and how they play, which receiver is in there, which tight end is in there, which running back is in there, and what the skills are of those players and how we would want to defend them or attack them if we’re on the other side of the ball, whatever it happens to be.

“If they play, they play; if they don’t play, they don’t play, he added. “But we prepare for all of them as if they are going to play, just like we would in the regular season. Unless we absolutely knew somebody was out, we prepare for all the players that are on the roster and should be aware of whichever ones come into the game.”

For his part, in two preseason games, Bradford has gone 12-for-27 for 81 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, and he’s been sacked four times.

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