|Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht says his experience with Patriots sparked decision to draft kicker in second round||05.20.16 at 2:09 pm ET|
Tampa GM Jason Licht said he made his notable decision to draft kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round this year in part because of his background with the Patriots and Bill Belichick.
In an interview with PewterReport.com, Licht, who made his bones in the New England front office before taking the reins with the Bucs, said that Belichick once asked all his scouts to break down the entire roster in order of value
“None of us had the kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, in our top 10 — even though he was an excellent kicker,” Licht said. “After we were done, Bill said, ‘Nobody wants to put Gostkowski in our top 10? Why, just because he’s a kicker?’ Bill made us ‘rethink that’ and he got his point across. He said, ‘You tell me 10 other players that are more important than him?'”
Gostkowski was taken in the fourth round of the 2006 draft out of Memphis, and has gone on to become one of the better kickers in the league over the last decade.
Licht said his resolve to draft a kicker early was strengthened when he saw Tampa kicker Kyle Brindza miss five field goals and two extra points in consecutive losses to Houston and Carolina last year.
“It was an eye-opening moment for me. I had been around Adam Vinatieri and Gostkowski, and those are two of the best,” Licht added. “I know how good of a feeling that is to have a guy like that when you know that a lot of the games are going to come down to field goals — a lot of the games come down to the kicker.”
|How does Patriots current roster break down by school, conference?||05.16.16 at 10:50 am ET|
Bill Belichick still has a soft spot for the Scarlet Knights.
The Patriots’ roster is at 90 players, and while it will obviously continue to grow and evolve and change as the regular season draws closer, at this point on the calendar, no school is better represented than Rutgers. Five former Scarlet Knights — Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan, Jonathan Freeny and Kevin Snyder — are currently on the Patriots’ roster, making them the school of choice.
Four different schools have at least three players on the New England roster: Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina State and Stanford. (It’s been a big offseason for the Wolfpack, as three former N.C. State players: defensive lineman Markus Kuhn, offensive lineman Joe Thuney and quarterback Jacoby Brissett were all added within a month or so of each other.) Sixteen different schools are represented with two players, while everyone else is tied with one.
Check out the complete list below:
Rutgers — 5
Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina State, Stanford — 3
Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Eastern Illinois, Florida State, Georgia, Houston, Illinois, Kent State, Marshall, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pitt, Texas Tech, UCLA — 2
Alabama A&M, Arizona, Boise State, Brown, Cal, Colorado, Connecticut, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, LSU, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan State, Missouri State, Monmouth, Navy, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, Sacramento State, Southern Miss, Tarleton State, Temple, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Christian, Tiffin, Vanderbilt, Virginia, West Alabama, Western Michigan, Wisconsin — 1
When it comes to the roster breakdown by conference, the Patriots are currently led by Big 10 players (17). The SEC is a close second (16), while the Pac 12 (12), ACC (10) and American Athletic Conference (7) round out the Top 5. A complete list is below:
Big 10 — 17
SEC — 16
Pac 12 — 12
ACC — 10
American Athletic Conference — 7
Conference USA, Big 12 — 5
Mountain West — 3
Ohio Valley, Mid-American, Missouri Valley — 2
Southwestern Athletic, Ivy League, Sun Belt, Big Sky, Mid-American, Gulf South, FCS, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic, Lone Star — 1
Veteran pass rushing specialist Dwight Freeney is 35 years old, but he doesn’t sound ready to retire.
The veteran free agent, who had eight sacks last season with Arizona and 119.5 sacks over the course of his illustrious career, is interesting in sticking around as long as possible, and said he would love to return to the Cardinals, even after they swung a deal to obtain Chandler Jones.
Freeney, a New England native who has long been a favorite of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, was also asked about the idea of continuing his career in New England.
“Well, that’s hard to fathom. But I’m not against Bill,” Freeney told Peter King’s MMQB. “I understand the dynamic involved, but at the end of the day, this is a business. My first allegiance right now is to Arizona, if they’re interested. But if it happened that I ended up in New England, I can tell you, both sides would win.”
With the Colts, Freeney was always a handful for the Patriots to deal with — Matt Light said Freeney was the toughest matchup he faced over the course of his career.
“He’s a guy that I had a lot of respect for. It’s not just the way he plays the game, it’s how many different ways he can make you look silly out there, [of] which, there are plenty,” Light said of Freeney in 2012 shortly after New England’s longtime left tackle announced his retirement. “I can go through them all. We can go watch film of he and I, and you’ll see it yourself. He’s just an all-around great player. And he’s not a guy that talks a lot out there, he doesn’t have anything to say to you, he’s not trying to beat you with his words. He’s going to go out there and he’s going to put the work in and he’s going to show you how bad you can look.”
While Freeney isn’t the overwhelming pass-rushing presence he used to be, as a situational player, he could be an intriguing fit with the Patriots. One thing to remember when it comes to a possible Freeney-in-Foxboro scenario is that New England acquired a veteran pass-rushing end in Chris Long, and also has established players like Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard already in the system. If the Patriots are interested, it’s unclear how they might make it all fit, but Freeney’s response certainly provides some food for thought.
|Jacoby Brissett on his role as a quarterback: ‘I’m a rookie. I just got here’||05.11.16 at 9:58 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Just one minute into his first media scrum with reporters Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, Jacoby Brissett was hit with the Tom Brady questions.
Does he see himself competing with Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo at the quarterback position?
“I’m a rookie. I just got here. I’m trying to learn as much as I can and when my chance comes, it’ll come,” the quarterback out of North Carolina State told the horde.
What are his impressions of being in the same room with No. 12?
“Just the way he carries himself. Obviously, he’s a great player,” he added. “Just excited to have this opportunity to learn from him.”
How much is he looking forward to learning from Brady and Garoppolo?
“They’re great,” Brissett added. “They’re teaching me a lot now and [I] just continue to learn from them and try to be the best player that I can.”
Brissett, who is the only drafted rookie on the roster who hasn’t signed his contract, said he’s not worried about his contract but rather learning the playbook and what Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels expect from him.
“Definitely, definitely. They’re great coaches and I’m excited to be a part of the organization and get to learning,” Brissett added.
Much was made of Brissett’s pre-draft work with Bill Parcells, who said that Brissett would be a developmental quarterback, not quite ready to play right out of the gate.
“Right now just to take it all in and understand that it’s a great learning experience, a great opportunity to learn from some great people,” Brissett said. “We’re all still learning so we’re learning the ins and outs and what we’re supposed to do.
“It’s been great because a lot of those guys – we’re all learning – so it’s like nobody has a heads up on each other, so it’s been exciting.”
For the most part, Brissett’s answers were short and to the point, in keeping with most rookies who come through the Patriots system in their first year.
“It’s been a great experience. Learning every day and excited to be here,” Brissett said. “It’s been a great opportunity for all of us to get around this team and see why they do so well.”
|Ex-Arizona State standouts Devin Lucien, D.J. Foster working together to achieve NFL dream with Patriots||at 1:31 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Arizona State isn’t known as a school that has most favored nation status with Bill Belichick, but that might be changing.
When the Patriots were in the desert prepping for Super Bowl XLIX a few years back, they worked out at Arizona State. In the days leading up to the contest, Belichick had nothing but good things to say about ASU coach Todd Graham.
“I love Coach Graham,” Belichick said. “Coach Graham does a great job. He’s a good friend of mine. I really respect the job he’s done with this program.”
So maybe in retrospect, it’s not a big surprise that the Patriots went after a pair of former ASU standouts this spring, selecting wide receiver Devin Lucien in the seventh round and adding running back D.J. Foster as an undrafted free agent shortly after that.
Lucien is a 6-foot-2, 194-pounder who played three years at UCLA before transferring to Arizona State for his senior year. With the Sun Devils last season, he had 66 catches for 1,074 yards and eight touchdowns.
On Wednesday during a break at Gillette Stadium we asked one for a scouting report on the other.
“He’s a hard worker. He’s a great route runner. I think he can do a lot of things,” Foster said of Lucien. “That’s why he’s here — I think the coaching staff sees that, obviously. I’m just excited for him I remember I was watching the draft and hearing his name called, I was just so excited for him. I was so happy, because I know how talented he is and his story and his progress. I think he can do great things.”
As for Foster, the multidimensional offensive threat is a 6-foot, 195-pounder who lined up at wide receiver and running back while at ASU.
“D.J. is a very versatile player. He’s a great teammate and a great all-around person,” Lucien said of Foster, who topped 2,000 yards rushing and receiving in his career at Arizona State. (He finished his college career with 4,813 total yards from scrimmage and 32 touchdowns.
Lucien can also lean on childhood friend Chris Harper, who was an undrafted free agent who ending up sticking with the Patriots last year. He said yesterday he’s known Harper since the two were seven years old, and said it’s already been a “special” experience to be part of the same NFL team as his buddy.
“He’s like a family member to me,” Lucien said of Harper, who went to college at Cal. “To be here with Chris, really, it’s great. We worked out together in the summers while he was in the league and talked about possibly playing in the league. We’re living the dream right now.
“Being in the league is a dream by itself,” he added. “But being able to play with someone you’ve known since you were seven … regardless of if we’re both on the 53 or not, at least we had the opportunity to say we were pros together.”
Lucien’s versatility is clearly a draw. He said Wednesday’s he’s been primarily been working with the running backs, but it’s clear that if he has success in that area, the Patriots could expand his role.
“Right now, I’ve been in coach Fears’ room. But at the end of the day I’m just trying to learn as much as I can. Grasp as much as I can,” Foster said. “(I’m) just working hard (and) trying to soak it all in. Every step of it. The whole playbook — just trying to learn it all as a whole, no matter what position.”
In the end, for Lucien and Foster, the ability to lean on a college teammate face when you’re in the infant stages of your NFL career can make the transition to the league a little easier.
“We’re definitely far away from home, but we’re excited to be here together and become professionals and go through each step and each stage together,” Foster said of his background with Lucien. “That’s what we’re doing right now — just working hard with this rookie group and growing every day.”
|Cyrus Jones has lines down Pat: ‘Do anything I can to help this team win games, get another Super Bowl’||05.06.16 at 2:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The career of Clamp Clampington is off to a perfect start in New England.
The cornerback also known as Cyrus Jones made his public debut Friday at Gillette Stadium, less than 24 hours after arriving in town.
He made his way to Foxboro for team meetings Friday morning and to be assigned his locker and his new No. 24. Then he made his wait out to the field he hopes to be starring on in a few months where his boss’s boss Robert Kraft introduced him by both his given name and the moniker his friend gave him.
“We’re very excited to have him here and I was asking him if there was some connection that we could have between the two of us, going back to when Jerod Mayo said, ‘Mayo and Kraft go well together,'” Kraft said, relaying his conversation with the new Patriots DB. “He said Clamp and Kraft go well together, and I guess Clamp Clampington is a name that your best friend gave you. So, without any further ado it’s my great pleasure to introduce number 24, Cyrus Jones.”
Jones then made it clear he couldn’t be happier to be with the four-time Super Bowl champs.
“Unbelievable. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, honestly. It’s a dream come true. Being in the best program in the National Football League, best organization should I say,” said Jones, still transitioning from Alabama to the pros. “Great ownership, great coaching, great locker room. I’m excited.
“It’s been a whirlwind. Just hearing my name called. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid and first picked up a football. And just to know my hard work paid off and to have Coach Belichick and Mr. Kraft see something in me to want to give me an opportunity to come make this football team better, it means the world to me.”
With Friday’s media obligations and photo shoots out of the way, he can focus on why the Patriots made him the 60th overall pick in this year’s draft.
“It’s just time to play football now. It’s time to come out here and win games,” he said. “There’s no more running around in tights and running 40s and stuff like that. It’s time to put on the pads and get after it. I can’t wait.”
What can he bring right away to New England as a rookie?
“I think I just bring a versatile playmaker, a competitor, a smart player and team-first guy always. I just want to do anything I can to help this team win games and get another Super Bowl,” he said.
“Football is everything to me. I eat, sleep and breathe it. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. My plan is just to come in here, be humble, work hard from Day 1 and earn the respect of the veterans in the locker room and earn the trust of my coaches. Get out there with any opportunities that I’m given and make the best of it to try to make this team better.”
|Matt Patricia, Patriots coaches can stop ‘staring at each other’ and get back to working with players||05.03.16 at 4:27 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Now the fun really begins for the Patriots’ coaching staff.
Ever since the day the Patriots lost to the Broncos in the AFC championship in Denver, Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and the entire staff has been working on putting together a new roster to hit the ground running with in the spring so they get get started with on-field prep for the 2016 season.
This week, in the days immediately following the draft, the Patriots’ staff can finally move on from the first offseason phase, which has included free agency, trades, veteran workouts and the draft.
“For us, the focus is really, right now, is [this week],” Patricia said during an offseason media availability at Gillette Stadium. “[This week] is Phase 2 of the offseason program where now we’ve got the guys out on the field. We can actually go out and see the new guys that we have in, see the guys coming back from being away. That’s really kind of our focus.”
The “guys” Patricia is referencing are veterans already on the roster or newcomers like defensive ends Chris Long and Frank Kearse, nose tackle Terrance Knighton and linebackers Shea McClellin and Ramon Humber and defensive back E.J. Biggers.
“Every year is a new year for us,” Patricia said. “We have to start over every year. You take the guys that come in as veteran players, guys that have gone from first-year rookies to now second-year players, the progression that they have to make, along with free agents you’ve signed that have to now kind of incorporate along with the eventual rookies and draft picks and free agents, when we finally get those guys in. So, for us it’s just a process. Basically, just starting from scratch, starting over, getting everybody back in, starting to work the offeseason program, the running and the conditioning, the [weight] lifting, all that stuff right now.
“We’ll get into the information part of it here where we’ll start learning a little bit about the defense and what we do and things like that. It’s exciting for me, it’s exciting for us as a staff to kind of have everybody back. [Coaches] sit in rooms for a couple of months and stare at each other. When the players finally get back, that’s really what’s exciting, is when we get those guys back and now we get the opportunity to get back to football.”
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