|Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard banged up in Tuesday OTA session||06.04.13 at 1:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard appeared to suffer a left shoulder or collarbone injury late in New England’s OTA session, and had to be carted off the field before practice came to a close.
Dennard, a seventh-round pick out of Nebraska last season, had 35 tackles (34 solo), seven passes defensed and three interceptions for the Patriots last season. Along with Aqib Talib, the 5-foot-10, 200-pounder projects as one of New England’s two starting cornerbacks in 2013.
Dennard, running back Stevan Ridley and tight end Jake Ballard were three players who appeared to get banged up over the course of the session, which ran for nearly two hours on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. Ridley suffered a right hamstring pull roughly halfway through the practice session and sat out the rest of the workout, while Ballard — who sat out all of the 2012 season because of a knee injury — appeared to come down awkwardly on his left foot or ankle relatively early on, and was sidelined for the rest of the outing.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard receives 30-day jail sentence||04.11.13 at 10:12 am ET|
Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was sentenced on Thursday to serve 30 days in jail next spring by a judge in Lincoln, Neb., for his behavior during an incident outside a bar last April. Dennard also was put on probation for two years and ordered to perform 100 hours of law enforcement-related community service, and he is barred from travel other than between Massachusetts and Nebraska or related to work with the Patriots (unless he gets approval from the court).
Dennard won’t serve his jail time until next March, and Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy indicated there is the possibility that the term will be reduced or even suspended entirely. Either way, the sentence means Dennard will not miss any part of the season — or even training camp — with the Patriots.
Dennard faced a maximum of six years after being found guilty of three charges, including assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, following a February trial.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini wrote letters on Dennard’s behalf that were submitted to the court. Pelini accompanied Dennard to the sentencing.
“That wasn’t me at all,” Dennard said, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. Dennard apologized to coaches, fans and family.
Dennard, who was projected to be an early round pick, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round last year, just days after the incident caused his stock to plummet. The University of Nebraska product had a solid rookie season, playing 10 games (starting seven) and recording 35 tackles and three interceptions.
|Four final Saturday thoughts on Patriots and free agency||03.17.13 at 12:36 am ET|
Four Patriots-related thoughts as business comes to a close on Saturday:
Brandon Lloyd: There’s extreme makeover, and then, there’s what the Patriots are doing at wide receiver. As it stands right now, the Patriots don’t have a single receiver on the roster that caught a pass for them last season. That doesn’t mean that they won’t bring back Lloyd (who was cut Saturday afternoon) or re-sign Julian Edelman (who is still an available free agent). But right now, New England is looking at a depth chart at wide receiver that includes newcomers Donald Jones and Danny Amendola. Strange days, indeed.
Two more notes on the wide receiver position: First, as of this moment, there’s no offer sheet for Emmanuel Sanders. The receiver, who will turn 26 on Sunday, caught 44 passes for 626 yards and one touchdown in 2012 for Pittsburgh, starting seven games. In his three-year career, Sanders has 94 receptions for 1,290 yards and five TDs. And two, this little nugget showed up late Saturday night: the Patriots were initially interested in Greg Jennings. According to Bob McGinn, “According to an NFL source, the New England Patriots offered Jennings a deal averaging $6 million but didn’t get very far. Then the Patriots turned to St. Louis’ Danny Amendola as the replacement for Wes Welker.” Jennings ended up signing with the Vikings, a five-year deal valued at $47.5 million with $18 million guaranteed.
Sebastian Vollmer: The right tackle is playing the waiting game at this point — along with most of the other elite free agent offensive linemen like Jake Long and Andre Smith — as the market continues to shake itself out. The first domino that is expected to fall is Long, who is still picking and choosing after a ridiculously long visit with the Rams. After Long’s deal sets the marketplace, Vollmer should follow soon after that. If he did come back to New England (and right now, it’s my guess that he does return, eventually), the Patriots might build some playtime incentives into his deal like they apparently did with Amendola. The new receiver has incentives for staying healthy — if he plays all 16 games all five years of his contract, he’ll make an extra $500,000 a year. Vollmer, who has also struggled with injuries over the last couple of years, has been an elite tackle when healthy, but injuries have slowed him in the past (particularly in 2011). But considering the market, the Patriots were wise not to use the franchise tag (it would have been $9.7 million) on him this year.
Aqib Talib: You rarely see two sides display such astounding common sense when it comes to negotiations, but the Patriots and the veteran corner handled this situation about as well as could be expected. New England read the market perfectly in this case — it’s a depressed year for corners — and instead of panicking and slapping the franchise tag on him (particularly in the wake of Alfonzo Dennard‘s murky legal future) which would have cost them $10.7 million, they waited it out and let the market set. As for Talib, he’s betting on himself to have a top-level year, and test the market again in 2014. The Patriots get a motivated player, while Talib gets a market-value deal and one more chance to prove to the rest of the league he deserves a big payday. Both sides get a big thumbs up for this one.
|Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard found guilty of assaulting police officer in Nebraska||02.20.13 at 12:12 pm ET|
The trial of Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard ended Wednesday when the jury returned a verdict of guilty to a felony charge of assaulting a police officer and a misdemeanor for resisting arrest. He was found not guilty to a third charge, for misdemeanor assault. Dennard faces up to six years in jail and $11,000 in fines at his April 11 sentencing.
Dennard was accused of punching a man on a street outside a bar at closing time, and then punching a police officer who tried to arrest him. The incident happened in Lincoln, Neb., in April 2012, as Dennard was preparing for the NFL draft following his career at the University of Nebraska. The Patriots selected Dennard in the seventh round, and he went on to start seven games this past season, recording three interceptions.
Dennard claimed that he pushed the officer in self-defense, but two officers testified that he punched one of them in the jaw.
|Revisiting Patriots’ rookies: Measuring overall impact of this year’s group||01.22.13 at 9:04 pm ET|
This year’s group of Patriots’ rookies collectively made more of an impact in their first season than any other group of first-year players since the 2003 class. (While the 2010 draft class will likely have a greater long-term impact, the 2012 and 2003 groups were asked to do more in their first full season in the NFL — for more on that breakdown, check out the comparison I did on each draft class here.) With their first season now done, let’s take a player-by-player look at how each one of them did.
Chandler Jones: The 6-foot-5, 220-pound defensive end — the first of two first-round picks made by the Patriots last spring — started out on a great note. With eight games in the books, the Syracuse product was leading the team with six sacks (including two in a loss to the Seahawks) and 11 quarterback hits. He also had three forced fumbles (including one in the first quarter of his first game as a professional), and was named AFC Rookie of the Month and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for September. (We wrote about him as a possible candidate for the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award because of his fast start.) But over the last eight regular-season games, Jones had no sacks, no forced fumbles and one quarterback hit. A sizable portion of that was likely due to an ankle injury he suffered in November that left him on the shelf for a stretch, and probably caused a dip in his play when he did return. (While he wasn’t overwhelming statistically in the regular-season finale against Miami, he did play very well against the Dolphins, looking aggressive while doing a good job setting the edge.) He indicated Monday that he could be facing offseason surgery for his ankle issues.
Dont’a Hightower: After being slowed by a hamstring problem in September and October, the Alabama product became a steady and dependable member of New England defense, and ended his rookie season with 75 tackles (51 solo), four sacks, nine quarterback hits and three passes defensed. He managed to grow into a complimentary piece at linebacker, alongside veterans Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. No reason to think that the 6-foot-2, 270-pound defender won’t be a consistent presence at linebacker for the Patriots for years to come.
Tavon Wilson: The 6-foot, 210-pounder out of Illinois started strong, with four interceptions in his first 10 games, as well as a 10-tackle performance in an October win over Denver that likely marked the high-water mark of the season for the defensive back, who certainly surpassed the expectations of many who initially called him a second-round reach. However, the acquisition of Aqib Talib affected his playing time maybe more than anyone else — the trade for Talib meant the Patriots moved Devin McCourty from corner to safety, and left Wilson on the sidelines. (Wilson was still part of an occasional rotation in sub packages, but his overall snap count drastically decreased.) Overall, he finished the regular-season with 48 tackles (32 solo), but one of the most impressive things you can say about Wilson and what he brought to the field was a nose for the ball: in addition to his four picks, he had six passes defensed and a pair of fumble recoveries.
|Alfonzo Dennard absence at practice due to Nebraska court appearance||01.17.13 at 1:06 pm ET|
Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was back at practice on Thursday after missing Wednesday because he was attending a required pretrial hearing in Nebraska related to his felony arrest last April for allegedly assaulting a police officer. On Wednesday, the Patriots listed Dennard as not participating in practice for non-injury reasons.
Dennard, who played at the University of Nebraska, flew out to appear at the District Court of Lancaster County after being charged for an April 21, 2012 arrest, which also included two related misdemeanors outside a Lincoln, Neb. bar. He was charged with punching a police officer during a disturbance.
The court documents from Wednesday indicate a trial date has been officially set for Feb. 11, 2013, ensuring it will occur after the NFL season, which ends with Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3 in New Orleans. Dennard had his trial delayed in July and again in November.
Dennard was projected as NFL-caliber corner out of Nebraska but his value slipped with the arrest shortly before the NFL draft. The Patriots selected him in the seventh round. He played 10 games this season, starting seven and recording 35 tackles and three interceptions.
He started and had three tackles and a forced fumble against the Texans last Sunday in the AFC divisional round.
|Danny Woodhead, Chandler Jones limited, Alfonzo Dennard (personal) DNP for Pats Wednesday||01.16.13 at 5:59 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski (forearm) and Alfonozo Dennard (not injury related) were the only two missing Patriots today as the team practiced in sweats and shells in the steady rain inside Gillette Stadium. Gronkowski was missing his first practice since re-injuring his left arm and having a second surgery on Monday. Trevor Scott, Danny Woodhead, Chandler Jones, Marquice Cole and Nick McDonald were all limited.
The Patriots listed 20 players as officially “limited” last week before revising their list after practice on Friday. The Ravens listed 21 players on their injury report, including four as limited. Among those limited was running back Bernard Pierce (knee) while CB Asa Jackson (thigh) did not participate. The remaining 16 players were listed as full participation.
Here is Wednesday’s complete report:
Did not participate:
TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (not injury related)
DE Chandler Jones (ankle)
DB Marquice Cole(finger)
RB Danny Woodhead (thumb)
OL Nick McDonald (shoulder)
DE Trevor Scott (knee)
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots. WEEI 93.7FM will broadcast the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Ravens on Sunday, January 20 at 6:30 p.m.
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