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National media sounds off on Saints’ bounty system 03.05.12 at 3:35 pm ET
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Never without controversy lately regarding issues of rough play and player safety, the NFL has another scandal on its hands as a league investigation found that the Saints were guilty of a wide-reaching system of payments to defensive players from former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for knocking out star offensive players on opposing teams.

The system of bounties reportedly involved between 22 and 27 players and spanned from 2009 to 2011. With the information now at the heart of discussion surrounding the NFL, many have begun to opine on what should happen to the Saints and how player-conscious NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will punish Williams and the Saints franchise for their transgressions.

Sports Illustrated NFL writer Don Banks wrote that because of this bounty system, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton face the most trouble of anyone in this saga.

Wrote Banks: This one stinks, NFL fans, and the stench goes top to bottom in the Saints organization. New Orleans can’t realistically make everyone pay with their jobs. There will be league fines and likely suspensions. But for Loomis and Payton, the accountability should be at a level commensurate with their responsibility. They were in charge of this show, and they know what comes with being the men at the top.

You get the credit and the blame. And this time, there’s nothing but blame to go around.

While Banks wrote that Loomis and Payton will undoubtedly be in trouble and could face the threat of losing their jobs, ESPN NFL writer Ashley Fox takes it a step further — she feels that the two men should be fired for their involvement and lack of action in helping prevent Williams’ payment system.

Wrote Fox: According to the NFL’s report, when [Saints owner Tom] Benson directed Loomis earlier this season to ensure that any bounty program be discontinued immediately, Loomis did not follow Benson’s directions. “Similarly, when the initial allegations were discussed with Mr. Loomis in 2010,” the report continued, “he denied any knowledge of a bounty program and pledged he would ensure that no such program was in place. There is no evidence that Mr. Loomis took any effective action to stop these practices.”

If the NFL’s report is true, Loomis defied a direct order from his owner. That is grounds for dismissal. And Payton was no better.

For others, though, the issue of the Saints’ bounty system extends far beyond a single team. Greg Couch of Fox Sports believes that those behind the bounty system in New Orleans should undoubtedly be punished, but that the culture of the NFL is also to blame in all of this.

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Read More: Brett Favre, Charles Barkley, Damien Woody, Dave Duerson
Damien Woody on D&C: This is Albert Haynesworth’s last chance 09.09.11 at 10:57 am ET
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Former Patriots and Jets offensive lineman Damien Woody said that this is Albert Haynesworth's last chance to revitalize his career. (AP)

Recently retired offensive lineman and current ESPN football analyst Damien Woody joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning. The former Boston College star said he thinks defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth will fare well on one of Woody’s former teams, the Patriots.

“[Haynesworth] can still be a dominant force in the league,” Woody said. “If you ask any offensive linesman when Albert Haynesworth was in Tennessee and playing in that 4-3 scheme, he was an animal. Bill [Belichick] does a great job of revitalizing guys’ careers.”

Haynesworth remains a question mark after playing in just one preseason game for the Patriots, but the former Redskin has had nothing but positive things to say about his short time in New England so far. Woody said that he thinks this is Haynesworth’s final shot to revitalize his career and return to the level that he played at in Tennessee.

“To be frank, if it doesn’t happen now, it’s never going to happen,” Woody said of Haynesworth. “This is probably his last chance. This will be his last chance to really show what he’s capable of doing, and you’re with a winning organization. So, I think this guy could definitely have an impact for the team.

“He’s a talented guy, there’s no question about that. Now the question is: Does he want it? It’s all on him. Does he want it bad enough? So, we’ll see how it goes.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On which of his former teams he would return to play for, the Patriots or the Jets: “I love both organizations. People in New York know how I speak loyally about the team. And the reason I speak loyally about the Jets is because they gave me an opportunity when I was with the Lions. I had only played five games at tackle. So they really gave me a shot as a starting right tackle and things worked out well.

“But my time in New England was priceless. I’ve always said Bill is the best coach I’ve ever played for, he’s the smartest guy. Just his genius as far as strategy and preparation and stuff like that. But I also have my love for Rex [Ryan]. So, I’m torn on that one, I can’t really give an answer.”

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Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Damien Woody, Peyton Manning
Veteran center Dan Koppen offers his take on the state of the Patriots’ offensive line 08.18.11 at 1:01 pm ET
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Dan Koppen (AP)

FOXBORO — You want an assessment of the Patriots’ offensive line? Go to the most important cog in the machine, center Dan Koppen.

While Matt Light has him beat when it comes to seniority — by roughly two seasons — no lineman is more respected by his peers than the Boston College product. A fixture in the middle since he took over for an injured Damien Woody at center early in his rookie season back of 2003, Koppen has been every bit as durable as any other center in the league: Since the start of the 2003 season, the Patriots have played 128 regular-season games, and Koppen has started 119 of them.

With Koppen as the fulcrum of the o-line, the New England offense has finished in the top 10 in total offense seven times in his eight NFL seasons. The 6-foot-2, 296-pounder earned his first career Pro Bowl selection in 2007 and was named to the AP All-Pro Second Team, becoming the third center in Patriots history to earn all-star honors. And in 2008, Koppen started every game at center as part of an offensive line that supported the best rushing season for the Patriots in more than 20 years in terms of rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and average yards per carry.

The current group was honored on Tuesday with the presentation of the Madden Protectors Award, an award that “recognizes the accomplishments of the highest performing offensive line unit and their best-in-class ability to provide consistent, powerful protection,” according to the press release. The Patriots were selected based on a combination of analysis by John Madden and fan voting.

Since 2003, Koppen has been able to count on seeing many of them same guys to his left. On that side, it’s been  Light (left tackle) and Logan Mankins (left guard) on fairly constant basis since 2005, save for Mankins’ holdout last season over his contract situation. Both recently signed new deals.

“It’s great to have those guys back,” Koppen said. “The type of player Logan and Matt are, what they’ve done for this team they’re such good guys, and to have them in the locker room and have them as good friends. It’s really good to see them come back.”

Comparatively, the right side is fairly young: Sebastian Vollmer (right tackle) settled into his spot as a full-time starter at the beginning of the 2010 season. Meanwhile, Dan Connolly (right guard) has flip-flopped over the course of his brief career, moving from one guard spot to another when Mankins was out last season and also providing backup for former starting right guard Stephen Neal, who retired at the end of last season.

“Those are guys that really have progressed,” Koppen said. “Connolly is one of those guys who have come in our system and has really made strides. He’s got a lot of playing time last year and played well for us. And Sea Bass is just one of those guys where he just comes out and works every day. With his size and ability, he’s tough to beat.”

As for Koppen, he’s entering his ninth season in the NFL, and has learned a few things about getting through training camp.

“Camp is camp — [it’s all about] coming out here and starting over and trying to get better and get comfortable with the guys around and come together as a group,” he said. “Put your head down and go. Just do what the coaches ask and do it as hard as you can. if you mess up, learn from it and come back and do it better the next play.”

Koppen says the new practice schedule — less hitting, no two-a-days — is a “double-edged sword” for players.

“You might have less two-a-days,” he said, “but that one practice you’re out here for, it’s a doozy, so you have to have your mind right and be ready to go the whole way through. It’s a long practice, so you have to be mentally ready, mentally into it.”

Read More: 2011 training camp, Damien Woody, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen
Report: Jets to release Woody, Taylor, Jenkins, Gholston 02.28.11 at 6:26 pm ET
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According to a report from Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets will release defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, defensive end Jason Taylor, offensive lineman Damien Woody and defensive end Vernon Gholston.

Sources told Mehta that there is a possibility the Jets could sign all four to reduced salaries after being released.

Read More: Damien Woody, Jason Taylor, Kris Jenkins,
Potential Patriots: Carl Nicks 02.11.11 at 1:16 am ET
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Carl Nicks (AP)

Despite the looming labor uncertainty, as free agency approaches, WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that could be available to the Patriots in free agency this offseason.

Carl Nicks
Position: Guard
Team: New Orleans
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 341
Age: 25

Why the Patriots would be interested: Odds are good the Patriots will lose at least one of their starting guards, either to free agency or trade (Logan Mankins) or retirement (Stephen Neal). If he isn’t franchised, Nicks figures to be targeted by New England as a possible replacement. According to Pro Football Focus, he yielded only four quarterback sacks in 2010, and was durable enough to play every one of New Orleans’ 1,216 offensive snaps over the course of the season. And while teammate and fellow guard Jahri Evans got a big payday last offseason from the Saints, Nicks could provide great value for New England at the position.

Why it would happen: As previously stated, the Patriots are likely going to lose one of their starting guards — maybe both of them — and while Dan Connolly played well in relief of both Mankins and Neal over the course of the 2010 season, there’s some question about his ability to be a long-term starter. (Some believe he’s better suited to the role of Russ Hochstein — a versatile and important backup who can play multiple positions along the offensive line.)

In the wake of last year’s payday they delivered to Evans, the Saints seem unlikely to tie up so much money in their guards. In addition, the Saints have some other contractual questions about some other spots on their offensive line (Jermon Bushrod, Jonathan Goodwin). If New Orleans is hesitant about paying Nicks, or if it turns its focus to another one of its 27 potential free agents with three or more years of experience, that could open the door for New England.
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Read More: Carl Nicks, Damien Woody, Dan Connolly, Daryn Colledge
Jets lose right tackle Damien Woody for playoffs 01.12.11 at 2:45 pm ET
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Jets coach Rex Ryan said on Wednesday that his team would be without right tackle Damien Woody for the remainder of the postseason due to an injury to his Achilles tendon. Woody was placed on injured reserve for a ruptured Achilles tendon, and will undergo surgery today, Ryan said.

The 33-year-old Woody, who played at Boston College and then was taken in the first round by the Patriots, with whom he spent his first five years in the NFL, missed the final three games of the regular season for the Jets with what was described as a sprained right knee. But he returned to the field for the Jets in their 17-16 victory over the Colts. However, near the end of that game, he suffered the injury that will end his season.

Read More: Damien Woody, New York Jets, playoffs,
Jets Saturday practice report: Damien Woody, Dwight Lowery questionable 12.04.10 at 5:41 pm ET
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The loss of starting safety Jim Leonhard dominated the news out of Florham Park, N.J. on Friday as the Jets and he had surgery on his fractured right tibia on Friday night. Leonhard was placed on season-ended injured reserve. Tackle Damien Woody returned to practice after missing two practices with a knee injury and is questionable. CB Marquice Cole, WR Jerricho Cotchery and DE Shaun Ellis all returned to full participation in practice and are probable.

Jets practice report for Saturday:

OUT
S Jim Leonhard (calf, shin)

Limited Participation in Practice
CB Dwight Lowery (concussion) Questionable
T Damien Woody (knee) Questionable

Full Participation in Practice
CB Marquice Cole (hamstring) Probable
WR Jerricho Cotchery (groin) Probable
DE Shaun Ellis (knee) Probable
CB Drew Coleman (groin) Probable
LB David Harris (calf) Probable
C Nick Mangold (shoulder) Probable
LB Calvin Pace (foot) Probable
DT Sione Pouha (ankle) Probable
QB Mark Sanchez (calf) Probable
G Matt Slauson (knee) Probable
WR Brad Smith (back) Probable

Read More: Damien Woody, Dwight Lowery, New England Patriots, New York Jets
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